My First Job

Today’s blog stems from a daily writing prompt – “What was your first job?”.  I’m surprised that I haven’t written about this before.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that my first job actually led to my radio career!  Let me tell you how…

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Let’s be honest, what 16 year old really wants to get a job?!  I know that was the last thing on my mind!  Oh sure, I wanted to have money, but I was perfectly content asking my parents for it!  Once I got my driver’s permit, and wanted to drive the car, my dad told me I was going to have to start helping with gas money.  He thought it was time for me to work.

My dad played in a wedding band for many years.  One of the guys he played with worked at a boat marina right down the road from my house.  He asked if they needed any help and he said they did.  So I went in and talked with Dennis.  I knew him from the band.  He asked me a few questions and then told me I’d be helping out in the back cleaning and such.

I don’t really remember, but I think minimum wage was like $3.35 an hour when I started.  I was clueless about boats.  I remember the first couple days I did a lot of cleaning.  I swept the floors and emptied trash.  I also remember washing and waxing boats that were being delivered.  It was hard work.  Hell, I didn’t like cleaning my room, and here I was cleaning the shop and washing boats.  It was quite a change for me!  I remember chuckling at the brand of boat I was waxing – a Sea Nymph!

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Now, I know that according to the dictionary a “nymph” is “a mythological spirit of nature imagined as a beautiful maiden inhabiting rivers, woods, or other locations”, but a 16 year old kid knows the other (more sexual) definition and, of course, finds it funny.

Dennis was my boss.  He was also a salesman.  A couple other salesmen worked there, too.  Bob and Gary.  I remember Gary always called me Cosmo (this was long before Seinfeld).  I don’t remember much about the showroom, other than some of the boats that were in there, the racks of accessories, and a sign for one of the brands of motors we sold.

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In the shop, there were some mechanics who worked on the motors. The only one I remember was Leo.  He was a big guy who I always thought looked like a wrestler or body builder!  He was very friendly, though and I liked him.  He made me laugh a lot.

Dave was the Service Manager. I think we started talking about the Three Stooges one day, and became instant friends.  When I was promoted to work in the Parts Department, I worked very closely with him.  He would send parts requisitions and orders for jobs that they were working on in the back.  My job was to gather what parts we had in inventory and order what we didn’t have.

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It was while I was working back in the Parts Department that I really got a glimpse at how expensive owning a boat was! I was clueless about motors and Dave was very helpful in schooling me on some of the important basics.  He told me about the most commonly ordered parts and I learned about water pumps, crankshafts and O-rings! I also learned that this fancy gadget is called an “impeller”:

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And this thing is called a “Flush Muff”:

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Whenever someone came to the Parts counter, I needed to ask them what motor they had.  Once I knew if it was a Johnson, Evinrude, Mariner, Mercury or Volvo, I could grab a Microfiche and look for whatever part they needed.  We had this big honking microfiche machine where I slid the films into and it would project the schematics on the screen so I could find parts.

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There were plenty of times I had NO CLUE what the customer was asking for, so I called Dave up to the office.  He could usually find whatever it was in like 3-10 seconds!  He also knew the “exceptions”.  “Oh, that’s a 1979?  Well, for that motor, you need ….”  I was amazed at how much he knew.  He was such a great help!

I remember he always ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day.  I remember he was a big Monty Python fan, and we often spoke in quotes from their bits.  There were times where him and I would be working late and for no reason at all he’d hit the page into the shop and just laugh or say something silly.  So I’d be in the parts room and I would hear the “ding” in the shop followed by him laughing!  He did a spot on Archie Bunker impression, too!  We had a lot of laughs while I was there.

Dave remains a good friend.  He often offered up an ear when I was dealing with stuff at home.  He always had some great advice.  He also was instrumental in clearing up some issues I was having with some things of a religious nature.  I can never thank him enough for his counsel on those things!

As I think about it, I was very lucky to work here.  They were very understanding of my schedule, even if it meant more work for everyone else.  As a band kid, we had football games, concerts, after school rehearsals, band festivals, and so many other things.  I would often go right after school to work and on a normal day worked 3p-6p (they closed at 6).  Some days I would only be able to go in and work a couple hours.  Many times, I would only be there long enough to put in the orders for the day because I had band rehearsals.  I know that Bob probably hated the fact that I was there sporadically.

Summer time I was there more.  We used to run over to the Dairy Freeze for burgers for lunch.  I’d work full days until the week of Band Camp.  Summers were busy at the boat place!  There would be a steady stream of customers at the window needing parts.  The radio played all day while I worked.  The two things I remember ordering the most were (1) these little blue O-rings that everyone seemed to need and (2) propellers.

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I am sure they are more expensive now, but I remember these things being about $120 for aluminum props.  I remember having to know what “pitch” they were, too.  The stainless steel props were like $300 if I remember right.  We also sent props out to be reconditioned.  Usually they’d bring it in with some big chunk taken out of it because they hit a sand bar or a log or something.  Sometimes they could fix it, other times they couldn’t.

When winter rolled around, we did a lot of winterizations of motors and shrink wrapping of boats.  That’s the crappy thing about Michigan, you can really only use your boat about 3-4 months out of the year.  I want to say by October or November, they would run on a skeleton crew.  Hours were cut because we just weren’t busy.  After all the winterizing was done, I had to do inventory.  I HATED inventory.  You had to go into every box and count everything to make sure that the inventory was correct.

It was during this slow time that I paid more attention to the radio.  Paul Christy and the Christy Critters were on WKSG Kiss-FM in the morning.  I would get to work at 9am and hear their last hour.  At 10am, Jim McKenzie came on.  I listened to him every day.  I always tried to guess his “Slow Motion Stumper” (a song intro that he slowed down a lot).  One day I actually won – movie tickets to see the movie “Can’s By Me Love” which starred a VERY young Patrick Dempsey!!

The more I listened to Jim, I always felt like he was having fun.  He was great talking with listeners.  He always had great topics to talk about.  He had loads of trivia stuff that would say about the songs he played.  This guy was getting paid to do something FUN, while I was counting friggin’ O-rings and impellers! It was during the summer of 1987 that the idea of working in radio first entered my head….all because of Jim McKenzie and Kiss-FM.

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It’s funny how that first job eventually led me to my radio career.  I started as an intern and eventually got the overnight show.

I still hear from Dave regularly on Facebook.  Dennis and I are still friends, too.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work at Suburban Marine.  I had hoped to find a copy of their logo, which was kind of a boat steering wheel like this:

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I can’t remember how many years I worked at Suburban, but it was probably like 2-3 years.  I remember while I was in school, I also started doing work as a stage technician (running lights and sound), and was working at Kiss-FM as an intern every morning before school late in my senior year.

If I had actually gone out to look for a job as a 16 year old, I know I would have never looked at a boat place.  I probably would have ended up at some fast food place or something.  It was a good job where I learned a lot.  It also gave me plenty of time to work on homework, study, practice my trumpet, or go out toilet papering houses at night.

Now that I think about it … I wonder why no one from work ever took me fishing?! I must have been a real pain in the ass……

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Favorite Films – The 2010’s

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As I looked back over the last year’s worth of blogs, I was reminded that I had yet to finish a series I started on my favorite films. The premise of the series is to pick a favorite movie (that you have seen) for every year of your life. This series started with 1970 (the year of my birth) and was broken up by decade. I concluded in November with the years 2000-2009. It’s time to finish up this series….

2010

2010

In 2010, my oldest son would have been 8, and my youngest son was 3. Many of the movies I watched were kid movies. Some of them were good enough to rank as my favorite films.

Among the kid films I watched in 2010 were Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, How to Train Your Dragon, and Toy Story 3. I guess Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 could almost be classified as a kid’s movie, but I know how much adults loved the series, too. As someone who loves time travel movies, I was left a bit disappointed with Hot Tub Time Machine. Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey probably should have been a whole lot funnier, but it wasn’t. Iron Man 2 was a decent sequel. Grown Ups had potential, but was kind of a flop. The King’s Speech was a very good film. I enjoyed it a lot, but the film that stands out as my favorite is Shrek Forever After.

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My kids loved the Shrek movies. I did too. Shrek the Third was really the worst of the series. I really hoped that this final film in the series would be good – and it was! The idea of an altered universe was such a great story line. It was fun to see Fiona as this great warrior and Puss In Boots as a chubby cat. It was a fitting wrap up to a fun series. I am hoping that my daughter will want to watch them with me!

2011

2011

2011 brought me to many more kid movies, including Rango, Rio, Kung Fu Panda II, Cars 2, and the terrible revival of The Muppets. The Harry Potter series wrapped with Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows. Crazy, Stupid Love was more serious than I thought, but wasn’t a bad film. I enjoyed Limitless with Bradley Cooper a lot. Sequels included Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover II, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (which was ok), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (which I really enjoyed. I thought Robert Downey Jr. was good in these, despite the hate many reviews had for him). Cowboys and Aliens was a waste of time. Horrible Bosses was just ok. Bridesmaids was played up as this huge comedy, and while there were some funny parts, I really think this was more of a drama. I didn’t think it was as good as all the hype. My favorite film of 2011 was Puss In Boots.

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It was neat to see the origins of this character. I am glad he got his own movie. Antonio Banderas is just perfect as the voice of this character! Just like in the Shrek movies, we also see some of the fairy tale characters. Who knew Humpty Dumpty was such a bad guy!? Loved this film!

2012

2012

2012 brought us The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The kids and I watched Brave (which was a very good film) and Hotel Transylvania. As a fan of the Three Stooges, I was apprehensive about seeing the 2012 movie. It was not great, but kudos to Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos, who all did great as Larry, Curly, and Moe. Seven Psychopaths was actually a very good movie – Christopher Walken is excellent in it! Anthony Hopkins is very good as Alfred Hitchcock in the biography Hitchcock, but it was another biographical film that gets my vote for favorite – Lincoln.

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I know many folks found this film long and boring, but I found it fascinating! I remember the first picture of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln – wow! It was amazing! They really made him look like him. I read often about Lincoln’s Assassination (and JFK’s, too). His story is so intriguing to me. The supporting cast was just as good.

2013

2013

2013 had me at the movies with my kids for The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Turbo, and Frozen. Sequels included The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and A Good Day to Die Hard. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was less than incredible. We’re The Millers was quite a disappointment. Identity Thief was not as funny as everyone said it was. Simon Pegg was in two films I saw in 2013 – The World’s End and Star Trek: Into Darkness. I enjoyed Gangster Squad, but my favorite film was the biography of Jackie Robinson – 42.

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Robinson is played by Chadwick Boseman, who would go on to play James Brown in 2014. As we look back, we know how amazing a player Robinson was, but this film really shows just how difficult it was for him. I really liked this film. Harrison Ford is also good in this movie.

2014

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More kid films in 2014 – I watched Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Maleficent, Penguins of Madagascar, and The Lego Movie. I really liked the Lego movie. I found myself laughing out loud a lot. A Million Ways to Die in the West was just ok – Liam Neeson was a good bad guy in it. The Doc Brown cameo is a highlight. The Hobbit trilogy wrapped up with The Battle of the Five Armies. Guardians of the Galaxy was actually better than I thought it would be. Chadwick Boseman nails James Brown in Get On Up! He was perfect! A movie which surprised me was Kingsmen: The Secret Service. I don’t know what I expected it to be, but it was very good. However, for my favorite film, I will pick an oddball comedy – What We Do In The Shadows.

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In the documentary style of TV’s The Office, the movie follows some vampire roommates around as the live their lives as vampires in modern times. I really laughed out loud at the wackiness of this movie. It was so good, they have a TV series based on the film.

2015

2015

Kids movies I watched included Minions (a sort of Despicable Me sequel), Goosebumps, and the Peanuts Movie. A kid movie which was so good it almost made my favorite – the Shaun the Sheep Movie. My kids would watch these cartoons on TV and I found myself laughing as hard as they did at them. I bought them all the DVD’s and we’d watch them together. This full length movie was very well done and is one to take the kids to! Great movie!! Mr. Holmes was a very good film which focuses on the aging Sherlock Holmes (played by Ian McKellen). Jurassic World was yet another sequel to the dinosaur series Jurassic Park. Tom Cruise returns in another IMF movie – mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. My pick for favorite – Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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The saga continues! It was so good to see Harrison Ford back as Han Solo with Carrie Fisher returning as Leia. There were old favorites and new characters to further the story and we learn all about Han and Leia’s son gone bad. It was better than I anticipated, and at times the action was hard to keep up with, but as a Star Wars fan, it was satisfying.

2016

2016

Kid films from this year that I saw included The Angry Birds Movie (which was not very good), Sing (which was full of some great music), Trolls (which I fell asleep watching), Moana (which was good), and Finding Dory (which was better than I thought it would be). Deadpool was pretty funny – but inappropriate to watch with the kids. Star Trek Beyond was a worthy sequel. The favorite pick, though, takes us back to the galaxy far, far away – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

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What makes this such a great film is the fact that it links up the prequel trilogy to the original trilogy. You see these unknown characters in a battle to get the Death Star plans to Princess Leia. It was really an amazing film. Some people had issues with the CGI characters, but I didn’t. I thought it was awesome!

2017

2017

2017 was a year of sequels – Star Wars had The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy got a second installment, The Kingsmen had The Golden Circle, and Blade Runner took us to 2049. I sat through The Greatest Showman – a musical which was ok, but nothing I would have picked to see by myself. I’ll go back to kids movies for my pick for favorite – The Lego Batman Movie.

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Admittedly my favorite character from the 2014 Lego Movie, I was glad to see Batman get his own film. Will Arnett is great as the voice of Batman. I liked this one a lot – and I hope it gets a sequel!

2018

2018

As the decade gets closer to wrapping up, I noticed more movies that I wanted to see and didn’t. In 2018, I wanted to see Stan and Ollie and Solo: A Star Wars Story and never saw either. I guess I need to get to the video store. Movies I did see were Deapool 2, The Hate U Give (a very good film based on the book), and Won’t You Be My Neighbor (A fantastic documentary on Mr. Rogers). Bohemian Rhapsody was just amazing! The comparison between the real Live Aid footage and the film footage was so amazing to watch. It was a very good film, and almost my pick. I had to go with The Incredibles 2 as my choice.

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I waited SO long for this sequel. I hoped that it wouldn’t suck and it didn’t. I was glad that it picked up where the first one ended. It focused a bit more on Mrs. Incredible, which was ok because that led to some very funny moments with Mr. Incredible at home with the kids. This could easily be a franchise – it should get more sequels in my opinion.

2019

2019

How sad is it that I only saw one film last year!? Really! ONE movie!!! There were plenty of remakes (all of which I didn’t want to see – Dumbo, Pet Semetary, Aladdin, Lion King)! Sequels I didn’t see – The Lego Movie 2, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. I never saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Addams Family, Midway, The Joker, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Out, or 1917. One movie I am anxious to see is The Irishman. I read the book and just need three hours to watch it! So what movie did I actually see? Urgh – I am embarrassed to even share it. I wouldn’t call it a favorite. It was ok. It was better than I thought. My kids had to explain half of it to me. But, since it is the only film I saw last year – it has to be the pick, right?? At least until I watch some of the others from 2019…..

The film I saw in 2019 – Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

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See the look on his face? That’s how I feel about only seeing THAT movie!! URGH!

I really need to watch others so I can alter this …

Final Thoughts

Despite the way the decade ended … I had fun looking back through all of the various movies I watched over my lifetime. It helped me realize many movies I have always wanted to see and jot them down. It also served as a reminder of all the bad films I have seen – LOL!

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs. you may now make fun of me about that last one!

Cheers!

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2 Years of Ramblings – A Reflection

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Two Years Old

Word Press informs me that this blog turned two years old yesterday!  Two years and the blogging continues….

I wrote a blog reflecting on one year and some feelings remain the same.  Rather than look back on the entire two years, I thought I would reflect on the last year, which had many milestones!  Over the past year, I have gained many more followers, so for those new followers, let me give you a brief look at why this blog exists two years later.

The beginnings

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When I began this blog, I really didn’t have any idea of what it would be.  In my head, I thought that I might blog about some things I liked.  I also knew I would probably write about some favorite memories.  I might also write tributes to important people in my life or just random thoughts to help me deal with emotions or life situations.

This blog was meant for me.  It was to be a “sort of” therapy for me.  I envisioned it as a way to keep track of thoughts, write down stories I didn’t want to forget, and occasionally just vent. I had often joked about writing an autobiography, and in a way, this blog has become “chapters”.

I never thought that anyone would actually want to read these blogs (unless, of course, the blog mentioned them)!  Yet, here I am over two years later and I have “followers” – people who actually make it a point to read this no matter what the topic.  It humbles me.

Looking Back

If I were to compare “year one” with “year two” I would say the blogs leaned a lot more happy.  They contained many happy moments.  Looking back, I see how I have grown and learned to deal with certain people, certain situations, and look at things more objectively.  I have learned to think before reacting.  I have learned to separate myself from those things that bring on stress and make me uncomfortable.  I have gotten more in touch with the person I want to be. Looking back, I see much more happiness.  Life has been very good to me over the last year.

Musical Blogs

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Much like last year, there were plenty of blogs about music.  I began to post a song every Tuesday that held some special meaning.  Maybe the song was prompted by a singer’s birthday or it was just something I heard on the radio.  I admit toward the end of the year, I neglected the Tune Tuesday feature a bit.  I hope to be a bit more consistent with it in the year ahead.  Last year’s songs ranged from Dean Martin to Hugh Laurie to the Muppets!  I look forward to this year’s selections.

Memories of the Past

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Nostalgic memories are often featured here.  Many of them stem from things I see that bring back memories.  Some writings stem from an idea I got from a fellow blogger.  Some of the topics from last year included the ice cream man, toys I remember from my childhood, breakfast cereals from my childhood, memories of band class, the Sunday comics I used to read, books I read as a child and to my boys, and the summer baseball games I played in the neighborhood.  There was also a blog about Muppets phased out of Sesame Street.

Guest Blogger

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I toyed with this idea, and my little brother stepped up to bat.  It was fun to tell him to write whatever he wanted to and see what he came up with.  I really like this idea, and I hope to get a few others to write occasional pieces for this blog.  I am very open to this idea.  Let me know if you would like to do this!  You could write about me, our friendship, or expand on something I have already written.

Friendship salutes

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This year I saluted my oldest and best friend on his birthday.  I also saluted three of my friends from school/band in one blog because they all celebrated birthdays in October. Remembering some of the funny radio stories that involved my co-host Stephanie was a blast for sure!  Some blogs were inspired by friends and their posts on Facebook.  Year three I am already planning some overdue friendship blogs.  Stay tuned!

Movies

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This year, I did a series on my favorite movies by decade.  The idea was to pick one favorite film from each year you have been alive.  I was born in 1970, so I did a blog for each decade (70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s).  I neglected to do 2010-2019, but now that we have entered the new decade, I will have to make sure to wrap that series up.  I really enjoy being able to write about my favorite films, and I found it a challenge to narrow it down to one each year.

Celebrities

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Last year I wrote about less celebrities than the year before.  I wrote about The Three Stooges, in a round about way, as I went with the boys to the Stooges Festival in Redford.  I devoted an entire blog to some of the very funny lines that Paul Lynde had from the Hollywood Squares.  The great Jack Benny got an much deserved blog on his birthday.  I also wrote about Elvis on the anniversary of his passing.  I believe that there are a few other celebrities who I could easily devote an entire blog to, I just wonder if folks would read it.

Television

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Along with movies and music, TV tends to be a topic I love to write about.  This year I wrote a blog about the classic 1966 Batman show.  I also wrote about my favorite TV shows of the 1950’s.  For Tune Tuesday, I picked Sanford and Son because of the theme song.  I really need to write about that show and some of my other favorites.  This year I blogged about the remake of All in the Family and The Jefferson’s which again brought me back to one of my original blogging ideas – “why must they remake everything!?”  I also had a chance to talk about one of my favorite Christmas TV specials this year.

Serious Topics

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While many blogs tend to focus on entertaining things, some blogs wind up being of a serious nature.  I am human.  I can’t be upbeat all the time.  I finally had the guts to write about the topic of divorce – just to see if I could do it. Death was also a topic.  I lost some close friends this year.  I also had friends of mine who lost loved ones.  Just this week alone, my buddy Chris lost his mom and a co-worker lost hers.  It’s a hard topic to write about, but I did.

Emotional Blogs

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As I look back over “year two”, there is no shortage of blogs that brought about strong emotions from me.  One of those stemmed from a photo shoot for my oldest son.  Senior pictures.  I still choke up as I think about him being a senior and graduating.  Speaking of graduation, my wife graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in April.  I felt so much pride for her as she walked that stage.  She did all the work, so why it was so emotional for me, I don’t know.  I sometimes think I can get too emotional.  Rest assured – there are more emotional blogs in the year ahead!

Rants

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The blog also consisted of many personal rants.  Some I have mentioned (TV and Movie remakes, missing Muppets, and such), but I also ranted (and whined) about having the “man cold”.  That blog brought about much teasing from friends!  I also ranted about how much I miss record stores (prompted by a record player I received for my birthday).  I know I have other “rant” topics in my blogging notebook.

A Love Story

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Sam and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  I chose to take the occasion of our anniversary to tell “our story”. The people who were close to us knew the story, but many didn’t.  As sort of a “love letter” to my wife, and as a way to tell just how our wonderful relationship began, I wrote a series of three blogs leading up to our anniversary.  Those blogs talked of how we met and became close friends, how we began dating and how I proposed, and then how we got married.  Those blogs were among my highest read last year.  A blog followed about our anniversary trip.  Sam makes me SO happy and I am sure there will be many more blogs about our amazing relationship.

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On Father’s Day, Sam told me that we were expecting a baby.  It was SO hard to NOT blog about that!!  We waited some time before spilling the beans with our big announcement.  A series of blogs about expecting a baby, then finding out we were having a girl, and finally sharing the name we had picked for her remain the most read blogs in the history of this blog!  The support from our friends and family has been SO amazing!  Sharing stories of the baby shower and 3D ultrasound pics has been a thrill.  We are closing in on the due date (February 16) and she can come anytime.  The nursery is ready and so are we! We anxiously await her arrival and with it, I will have plenty of things to share with you about being a dad again!

The Future

As I said last year – Not so long ago, I was told my someone once close to me to stop writing.  “Nobody wants to read about that crap!  It is a waste of time.  Stop trying to be creative. Nobody cares about what you like and don’t like!”  If I have learned anything from Facebook and this blog, it is that people do care!  People do like to read what I write!  In the end, I don’t really write for others, I write for myself.  The fact that other people read this blog and get some enjoyment out if it is a little bonus.

In future blogs, I will continue to write about things I love.  I will write about things that people want to know about.  I hope to do more Question and Answer blogs and I will continue to participate in Blogathons.  I want to write about how Autism played a role on my life, which I never seemed to get around to last year.  I also want to continue to write on movies and music. I will continue to write about things in my personal life (and how it is affected by the arrival of our beautiful daughter). I will continue to write – because I enjoy it.  The minute this is no longer satisfying and I feel that I have written all I can write … I will stop.  Until then, thank YOU for reading my “various ramblings”.  I appreciate you!

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

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“I wish I still had …” (Episode 1)

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This may (or may not) be the first of a series of blogs.  The idea came to me as I was looking through my blogging notebook this evening.  My notebook contains various scribbles and thoughts that I think may be worthy of a blog.  Sometimes these come from writing prompts, sometimes a fellow blogger’s blog can spawn an idea, and sometimes they come from random memories.

The premise of this idea is a simple one:  “I wish I still had (fill in the blank).”  The reason I think this could be a series is that I think there are a lot of things that could fill the “blank”.  I am sure that you could do the same.  As you read the statement, you probably had an item that immediately came to mind!  Here is my first “blank”…

1988

Back in the late 80’s there was a store at Eastland Mall called Suncoast Motion Picture Company.  I used to visit it all the time!  They had all kinds of music, movies, and memorabilia.  This was back when you could buy movies on VHS and BETA tapes!  I could spend hours in there.  I would compare it to an FYE or Barnes and Nobel.  They always had movie and TV themed shirts (much like what you would find a Spencer Gifts), books about movies, and other entertainment oriented items.

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It was at Suncoast, that I purchased the first of many Three Stooges VHS tapes.  Up to this point, if I wanted to watch the Stooges, I had to stay up until midnight to catch them on Channel 50, or rent them on the 8mm film projector from the public library.  You could video tape them from the TV, but many times they played commercials in between shorts.  With the ones I bought from Suncoast, I could watch them unedited and uninterrupted!

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One of the things that Suncoast had were these Three Stooges collectible dolls that were made by Hamilton Gifts.  The detail of the faces was just amazing!  I don’t recall how much they cost, but I remember asking for them for Christmas that year.  I remember that year, my parents got me the Moe doll.  If memory serves me correctly, my aunt got me the Curly doll.  I went and bought the Larry doll with my own money.  They stood proudly on the shelf in my bedroom for years.  When I moved out, they stood on a bookshelf in my apartment.  They were always out on display.

When I got married the first time, they were still on display in the “entertainment room” which is where I kept my many books, videos, and our computer.  Eventually, I was told to “find a place for them” outside of the house.  I had a couple radio jobs which allowed me to display them in my office.  Eventually, after losing another radio job, they came back home with me, where I was forbidden to put them on display.

Eventually, I was told by my ex that we were having a garage sale.  I was to go through my stuff and we were selling it.  Some things I didn’t mind parting with – the VHS movies I had on DVD were an easy purge.  Little by little, she kept pulling stuff out that she wanted gone.  There were things that I ended up selling that I truly regret (my first DJ rig, for example).

As the day for the garage sale drew closer, things kept getting added to the “sell” pile. When I saw my Stooge dolls on there, I blew up!  I was NOT going to sell them.  She insisted that I was!  It became the classic “they go or I go” argument.  In her magical and totally narcissistic way, she used her power of manipulation to explain I didn’t need them.  By selling them, “we’d have money to pay bills and get ahead”.  The sentimental value didn’t matter to her.  I would say that 75% of the stuff sold at the garage sale was mine.

I remember the person who bought them.  I purposely priced them high in hopes that they wouldn’t sell.  The woman dickered with me on the price and talked about how her grandson loved the Stooges and so on and so forth, which made it a little easier to let them go.  I can still remember that gut feeling when she walked out with them.  Instant regret!

Fill in the blank – I wish I still had those Three Stooges Dolls.

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I know what you are thinking – they are dolls!  What the hell would I do with them today?!  I don’t know.  I really don’t even know where I would display them.  All I know is that they meant a lot to me, and I wish I still had them – for sentimental reasons.

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Tune Tuesday Remembers Jackie Wilson

From my Facebook friend, Ric Allen and the Michigan Music History page:

It was a day that powerful voice of Detroit’s “Mr. Excitement” was silenced forever .. as Michigan Music History remembers Jackie Wilson .. who sadly passed away 36 years ago today.

The iconic, soulful and energetic stage entertainer was born in Detroit on June 9th, 1934, and raised in the rough neighborhoods of Highland Park. Joining an area gang, Jackie was often in trouble… got locked up twice in juvenile homes .. where he eventually learned to box. Entering the amateur circuits around Detroit, where he met fellow boxer and future Motown chief, Berry Gordy, Jackie would become a Golden Gloves boxer, but after his mother told him ‘that’s enough boxing’, and with a record of 2-8, he turned to music.

Forming the original Falcons, he would be discovered by Johnny Otis, who assigned him to a group called the Thrillers, who later became the Royals, the same group that backed another Detroit legend, Hank Ballard, but Jackie left before they made their big hits. Joining Billy Ward & the Dominoes in 1953, replacing Clyde McPhatter,  Jackie would stay with the group for 3 years, cutting “St. Terese of the Roses”, until he decided going solo would be a better option … and it paid off big time.

Signing with Brunswick Records, Jackie would have his first hit “Reet Petite” in 1957, co-written by Berry Gordy, who would become good friends with Wilson over the years, and co-writing a few of his early hits. “Lonely Teardrops” would launch Mr. Excitement to a whole new level. Charting 54 hits from 1957-1974, his stage presence earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement”! Jackie would sing anything from high-powered soul classics, to opera, to ballads – there wasn’t anything Jackie couldn’t sing.

While singing “Lonely Teardrops” at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Jackie suffered a heart attack onstage and fell into a coma, of which he never recovered. Moved to a retirement community in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, where he needed constant care, the voice, the dancer and the consummate entertainer died on January 21st, 1984, at the age of only 49. Finally getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last September – we remember the iconic Jackie Wilson.

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What a voice!  What a talent!  His music was some of the best!  Here are some of my favorites:

Baby Workout

Lonely Teardrops

Doggin’ Around

Higher and Higher

Talk That Talk

Stormy Weather

That’s Why I Love You So

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What an amazing voice!  What an amazing talent!  GREAT songs!  He is missed!

The Always Fully Stocked Pantry

My friend Margaret posted this picture on my Facebook page today saying that it “reminds me of visiting grandma’s pantry!”:

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I totally laughed out loud at this picture!  The dude has a shopping cart!!!  I can totally relate to this!  My grandma’s pantry was literally a grocery store! Perhaps this is because she lived through the depression.  I really don’t know, but she was always bargain shopping.  I remember my dad taking her to three different grocery stores on the same day because of the different sales going on!  Coffee is on sale at Farmer Jack …..

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Toilet paper is on sale at A&P ….

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They have a sale on paper towel at Kroger ….

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The pantry

We rarely went into my grandma’s basement.  I don’t really recall why.  Perhaps that’s why I can only recall certain things about it.  I remember there being an extra stove down there, which she used for baking Christmas cookies.  I remember the washer and dryer and laundry area.  There was a huge freezer where she stored Wonder Bread, and meat.  I also remember a small area with peg board where my grandpa had some tools.  The one thing that I can remember vividly, is the pantry!

The pantry was directly under the stairs.  I think there was a sheet or a curtain that was used for a “door”.  In the middle of the pantry was a string that hung down from a light fixture that you pulled to turn on the light.  Once you turned on the light, you could see countless shelves, stocked fully of everything and anything!

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It was insane!  It was SO full, we used to call it “Kroger”! The above picture would be a fairly accurate comparison to my grandma’s pantry, except it was hardly as wide!  Looking at this picture made me chuckle, because as I look at it, I see many similar items that grandma had.  I see the countless boxes of noodles (which my grandma ALWAYS had).  I remember her having Prince noodles.

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There was a Prince facility close to our house (off of Groesbeck Highway, I think) which had a sign, which was a HUGE box of noodles.  On the back of it was their slogan “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day!”

One thing that I see in the pantry pic that would NEVER be in grandma’s pantry is jarred spaghetti sauce!  As I have said in previous blogs, grandma made her sauce from scratch every Sunday!  So instead of the jars, there would be can after can of Contadina Sauce, Paste, and Puree.

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I remember there being hundreds of cans of Contadina!  Cans of all sizes lined the shelves of the pantry!!

I made more frequent visits to the pantry when I had moved to Ludington when I was 21.  I would come home every other weekend and see my folks, my girlfriend at the time, and my grandparents.  I always left with a box of stuff to take home.  She made sure I always had things I wouldn’t necessarily think about.  Things like dish soap.

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Always looking for the bargain, my grandma probably had the cheapest dish soap ever made!  It was this pink generic brand that hardly made a bubble when you washed with it!  The pantry was full of this!  It was so cheap that I think I used an entire bottle every two weeks!  I can’t describe the smell of it, but I’d know it immediately if I caught a whiff of it today!!

Another thing she always sent with me was bath soap – Lux to be exact.4d3cabc87712e9cd28271ecab52e7bd7

I think my entire family razzed her about this soap!  She didn’t care.  She was an advertiser’s dream client!  When I asked her why she bought so much, she told me “Movie stars use that!!”  She obviously had heard commercials and seen print ads featuring Loretta Young, Jean Simmons, and Natalie Wood!!

As far as I know, there were no Lux ads with men promoting it!

Another shelf was loaded up with Ketchup.  I’m sorry, Catsup.  I remember grandma using Del Monte for most of my childhood, but at some point, switched to Hunts or Heinz.

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Just what is the difference between Ketchup and Catsup anyway?!  We must have used a different brand at home, because I remember the ketchup at grandma’s house tasted different.  Maybe because (according to the picture above) Del Monte used PINEAPPLE to make it?!?

Another thing that was always in grandma’s pantry was Velvet peanut butter! It had three faces on the front and they all had names (kind of like Rice Krispies Snap, Crackle and Pop) Fresh, Pure, and Delicious.

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I remember grandma making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with crunchy Velvet and apple or strawberry jelly.  She always saved the glass jars that the peanut butter came in.  They became storage for things like screws and bolts for my grandpa, as he had them lining his workbench under the pegboard.

The other things I remember from the pantry were not kept on a shelf.  There was a little area off of the door where grandma kept her storage containers.  These would be the various containers that would eventually hold the numerous cookies that she would send home with us every year.

My favorite was always the Better Made Potato Chip Can.  She would place a layer of different cookies in it starting at the bottom.  One layer would be ice box cookies, next would be sugar cookies, next were sesame seed cookies, followed by oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip.  It seemed like a million cookies in that can, although it probably only held a little over 100.

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It’s truly amazing how something like a picture can bring back something you had totally forgotten about!  Thank you, Margaret, for the laugh and for allowing me to revisit grandma’s pantry, I mean, Kroger!  Until my next visit …. let me just turn off the light ….

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From “panic” to “stupid” in 3 minutes or less …

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When I worked in radio full time, whenever I did something stupid or silly, I always shared the story on the air. It often led to many phone calls from people sharing similar things that they had done. It also led to those listeners and me laughing at each other’s stories. With the dawn of social media, I began to share those stories on My Space and Facebook. I love when one of those silly stories pops up on the Facebook “Memories” feed. It usually still makes me laugh.

I have no problem sharing my stupidity with you, so here is the latest installment, entitled “The Battle of the Belt”!

Friday morning, Sam had an appointment with a financial guy where she works to discuss retirement stuff. She wanted me to go as well. She was up and showered before me. We had to be up at the crack of dawn to be on the road, and I was pretty tired. When I finally crawled out of bed, she said that we needed to be on the road in about 30 minutes or we’d be late.

For whatever reason, I decided to shave my head, which added a few minutes to my normal “get ready” routine. Fearing that those extra minutes might put us behind, Sam told me that she would be driving because she “don’t drive like a senior citizen” and has “no problem driving over the speed limit.” Keep in mind that I usually do all the driving when we are together. I’m not sure why, I just usually do. So for this trip, I am in the passenger seat, which I suppose is the key to this story being funny.

In our relationship, Sam and I, have all of the comedic qualities of a good sitcom. What I mean by this, is that our internal thermostats are completely opposites! If I am hot, she is cold, and vice versa. When she drives in the car, the heat is ALWAYS on! Thank God there is a way to control the heat for both driver and passenger in her car! So here I am in my bulky winter coat, dying – because even though the heat on my side is turned down, it is still full blast on her side.

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Somewhere in the middle of out 35 minute drive, I slip out of the coat and it is behind me on the seat. We pulled into a parking spot and Sam shuts off the car. As I normally do, I reach to my right to unbuckle the seat belt. The problem is, I am reaching down and around the sleeves of my winter coat in a effort to find the buckle to undo the seat belt. I cannot find it! For whatever reason, this fresh wave of sheer panic overcomes me! Sam sees me starting to freak out and asks, “What’s wrong?” I can feel my heart pounding now, as I continue to try to find the damn buckle! I have what feels like the end of the belt in my hand – but there is NO buckle! I am sweating and panicking!

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I must have looked like a crazy person! Thoughts of being stuck in this car run through my mind! Scissors! Where is a pair of scissors to cut me out of here!? Why can’t I find this damn buckle! I am yelling now, “Where is the buckle?!” Let me help you visualize this:

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See the white circle and arrows?? This is the area that I am grabbing at and searching for the buckle. Now – notice the red circle …………. and the buckle?! You can imagine how stupid I felt when Sam reached over and literally pushed the button – releasing me from the seat belt.

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The entire traumatic event lasted approximately 3 minutes. As you know, when you panic, time stands still. It seemed like longer!

Let me say that this is NOT the first time I have been a passenger in this vehicle! I am not sure why, other than force of habit, I reached to my right to take the seat belt off. I am sure that it gave Sam one of the biggest laughs since we’ve been together! I have a feeling I will be reminded of this for years to come!

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