Camera & Corrective Lenses

Camera Lens

It’s been a busy week. With Ella’s birthday just a few days away, we decided that we should take her to get some professional pictures done. Almost every picture she is in has been taken with our cell phones. We had a professional sitting at JC Penney a few days after she was born and even bought a membership for a year so that future sitting fees were free. With Covid, however, we have never been able to go back. So no 3, 6, or 9 month professional pictures were ever taken. Sam and I decided that we had to get some 1 year pictures done.

There is a little photography place about 2 miles down the road from us. The gal actually has a studio in the basement of her house.

Her house is on an area of farmland and probably has some amazing scenery for outdoor pictures. Sam’s cousin Katie made an outfit for these pictures. I snapped a picture of Ella in it before we left. It is really hard for me to believe she is going to be one. She looks so big to me and with this outfit, she almost looks like a toddler.

The photographer got just a couple shots of all of us, a couple shots of Ella with me and Sam. Ella was in a good mood and offered up many smiles. We got some of her walking and sitting and we also got pictures of her eating her birthday cake. It will be a couple weeks before the prints are available for us, and we are looking forward to them. We will get a link that we can send to our friends and relatives who want to purchase pictures from the session.

This week before pictures, she was practicing her posing … this was a wonderful shot I caught of her goofing around with the towel from her bath.

What a ham!

One more good picture I caught this week was with her and the cat. It seems like she is forever chasing the cat around. She likes to pull her tail. Normally, the cat will jump and scram as soon as Ella comes close to her. This week, albeit for just about 3 minutes, Ella walked over to the cat and sat down next to her. She actually was able to pet the cat. I have a feeling that as she get’s older, she and the cat will be close friends….

Corrective Lenses

I was finally able to get into the eye doctor today. I had Lasik surgery years ago. It was the best thing I ever did. What an amazing thing to no longer need glasses. Well, after all this time, I have noticed some issues, so I made the appointment.

Today, the doc told me that I definitely need glasses for seeing distance and for reading. I had a feeling this would be the case. I had a couple options: I could get a pair that I could wear for driving with the bifocals for reading all in one pair, OR I could get two pair of glasses. I chose the later. I can keep the glasses in the car for driving and I can keep the readers on me for reading and work.

I told the doc that the readers I have give me a headache and he said that’s because all the over the counter readers are hit or miss. They don’t line up with everyone’s pupils. He took a tablet and took a picture of my face and showed me how the readers I will get will have the pupils lined up so the head ache will go away.

Years ago, I couldn’t wait to NOT have glasses…..now, I am excited to have them again.

I Hope They Don’t Have to Blast!

When you work mid-nights like I do, you look forward to winter. I sleep better in the winter. The only thing that can really wake you up outside is the garbage truck or a snow plow. In the summer, however, you have kids outside playing, people weed whacking and mowing their lawn, and extremely loud motorcycles. You can imagine what went through my mind when I walked outside today and saw this a couple doors down…

Not one huge machine – but two!

Over the summer, our neighbor was having some sewer issues. It seemed like they were always doing something in their front yard. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen people out with big trucks in the middle of the street. One day they stuck some huge tube-thing down the sewer for a while before leaving. Obviously, something is up and they will be tearing up the street.

I began to think about my sleep (or lack of) for the next few days (or weeks, depending on what they are doing). I actually chuckled as a movie line popped into my head. In Back to the Future Part III, Marty is told by future Doc in a letter that the Delorean is in an old abandoned mine. Past Doc says to him, “We may have to blast.” They do.

Back to the Future III

At any rate, I got to thinking about how often dynamite was used in comedies and cartoons. Dynamite and laughs seem to go hand in hand. The Three Stooges used dynamite more than once…

Moe, Larry, and Shemp

Dynamite was a staple gag in cartoons like Bugs Bunny…

and Tom & Jerry…

And how many explosives did Wyle E. Coyote use trying to catch the Road Runner??

It was not just used in comedy, though. Dynamite was always something you would see in old Westerns…

I have never seen this Western ….

In the 70’s, it was a TV catchphrase…

… in the 80’s, two good old boys blew up things with dynamite arrows…

The Dukes of Hazzard

and even though TNT is technically different than dynamite, AC/DC still had an explosive hit with …

… and who can forget our favorite nerd …

As a kid, dynamite seemed like it was something that was something very easy to get. I mean, all you needed was an ACME catalog and you could get it from them. I wonder if the coyote had a charge account with them?

Anyway, I know it’s gonna be loud in the neighborhood this week. I just hope they don’t have to blast….

One Bite Took Me Back In Time

In Psychology class in college, we had an entire unit on how certain smells can bring back memories. This happens to me all the time. What they really neglected to touch on is how your sense of taste can do the same thing!

Remember that scene in Ratatouille when the young chef brings food critic, Anton Ego, ratatouille? His coworker, his former boss, and even Mr. Ego cannot believe that this was the dish he chose to serve him. With one bite of the dish – Ego is immediately taken back to his childhood and is eating that very dish served to him by his mother. It is one of y favorite scenes in the movie.

I have certainly had this happen to me, but never with such a simple dish. I have had meatballs that taste like my grandma used to make. I have had breaded steak which tastes like grandma’s. I have had tuna noodle casserole that tasted just like my mom used to make. Today, it was something that I have certainly had more than once in the last year, and never had this happen. Today, while Ella napped, I made a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I was hungry and wasn’t really sure what to make. Sam had the peanut butter out on the counter, so I decided a PB&J would hit the spot. I threw it together and grabbed a glass of milk. I sat out on the couch and took a bite. With that bite, I was immediately 11 years old. I am home on a summer day in the back yard. Things I had forgotten about, are suddenly very vivid.

I was sitting out on our back patio at a round table with a glass top. The umbrella has a burn mark in it from when my brother set it on fire with a sparkler. In front of me is the brick barbeque that the previous owner built, but we only used it for the first few years we were in the house. It had a huge metal square lid that covered the grill. In back of me is the sliding patio door, where my mom stood and handed me my sandwich, chips, and glass of milk. In the middle of the yard is a swing set. There were two swings, a bar, and a set of rings (which I used to be able to do flips on). In one corner of the yard was a beat up dog house from the previous owner and in the other a garden.

I remember so many summer days sitting out there and eating lunch. The funny thing is, I mostly remember eating bologna and cheese sandwiches out there. Why a PB&J brought this memory back so vividly, I’m not sure.

When I was in elementary school, kids could walk home and eat lunch and walk back to school. I remember doing this on occasion. I want to say that the distance from my house to the school was like 5-7 blocks. I liked being home, but I remember you literally had to sit down, wolf down your sandwich, and get back to walking or you’d be late. In today’s society, I can’t imagine letting my kids walk that!

Today, the table, umbrella, doghouse, swing set, garden, and my mom are all gone. I think the barbeque is still there, I could be wrong. It was nice to think back on those days today.

It’s National Kazoo Day!!

Every year on January 28th, the country celebrates National Kazoo Day! What kid didn’t have a kazoo growing up? I know I had quite a few.

Why are kazoos so fun? It’s the musical instrument for those who can’t “play” a musical instrument! All you need to be able to do is hum, and you are playing the kazoo. According to Wikipedia: Players can produce different sounds by singing specific syllables such as doo, ‘’too’’, whorrrrr or brrr into the kazoo.

This made me think about hit songs that featured a kazoo. I came up with a few:

  • Joanie Sommers’ 1962 hit “Johnny Get Angry” features an instrumental break with an ensemble of kazoos.
  • Also in 1962, Jessie Fuller’s “San Francisco Bay Blues” has a kazoo solo. Eric Clapton’s version of the song for his 1992 “Unplugged” special also featured a kazoo.
  • In 1968, Pink Floyd featured a kazoo on “Jugband Blues.”

I also discovered that in 1978, a group calling themselves “The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra” put out an album entitled, “Some Kazoos,” which featured versions of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” The Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.”

What #1 song featured a kazoo (or at least something that sounds like a kazoo)? Ringo Starr’s 1973 cover of the Johnny Burnette song, “You’re Sixteen.”

According to songfacts.com: Ringo got a lot of help on his solo efforts, and on this track, Harry Nilsson sang backup and Paul McCartney made the noise that sounds like a kazoo (producer Richard Perry said he was singing; the album credits him for “vocal sax solo”).

Wikipedia also questions the “kazoo”: Although McCartney is credited on the liner notes of the album Ringo as having played the solo on a kazoo, reviewer Michael Verity has quoted the song’s producer Richard Perry as revealing that it wasn’t actually a kazoo: “In fact, the solo on ‘You’re Sixteen,’ which sounds like a kazoo or something, was Paul singing very spontaneously as we played that track back, so he’s singing the solo on that.” Starr’s version remains one of the few No. 1 singles to feature a ‘kazoo-sound’ solo.

Here it is. You decide if it is a kazoo….

The 1973 music video for the song featured Carrie Fisher!! Here’s it is:

The other song that stands out with a kazoo solo belongs to Weird Al Yankovic in his amazing parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The video is yet another example of Al’s ability to not only parody the song, but the video for the song. Listen for the kazoo in “Smells Like Nirvana”…

What other songs can you think of that feature the kazoo?

Happy National Kazoo Day!

What a wacky dream…

Dreams are funny. So was mine last night.

The above is the cover of a journal you can buy off Amazon to write down your crazy dreams. I have often thought about keeping something like this on my bedside table. I actually had a weird dream last night and wrote it down. As you know, you have to write those things down almost immediately or you are gonna forget them.

I looked back over what I wrote and it is just bizarre. So much of it doesn’t make sense at all. It makes me wonder why I dreamed about these things and the people in it. The dream itself is an unstructured mess. There were so many things, I wrote them in a hurry, because I didn’t want to forget about them.

There is really no beginning of the dream. It starts in my house and my grandpa (who passed away in 1994) is there and he wants to take a shower. He can’t figure out how to use body wash, so he is standing in the hallway in a towel asking for a bar of soap.

As I am getting the bar or soap, the doorbell rings and it is my friend, Margaret.

In the dream, I know she is coming over to baby sit Ella. I talk to her through the speaker on the doorbell and say, “Be right there you Old Bastid.” As soon as I say that, my phone rings.

I answer it and my old boss from Honey Radio, Richard D is on the phone. We often called him the “Old Bastid” at work. I answer the phone and that’s exactly what he says to me, “Uh, I believe that I am the only one worthy of the title, “Old Bastid” and he starts laughing. I’m not even sure how he knew I said this!

Now, I am in the kitchen. I’m making pasta for the boys. I am also aware that I need to hurry because I need to leave for work. My son, Dimitri, looks at me and tells me not to use the sauce I used the last time I made pasta. This in itself is weird, because he doesn’t eat spaghetti sauce. I asked him what sauce he was talking about and he pointed to a jar of salsa!

I am suddenly aware of the time and know I have to leave. Sam is in the kitchen doing the dishes and I go to grab a cup of coffee. I notice that the coffee pot is not in its normal spot and ask Sam where it is. She tells me it is on the kitchen counter (which is literally spotless – so I know this is a dream!). I look at this new “coffee pot” and it looks like a humidifier!

It was PINK! Just like the one above. It has lines on it to show how much coffee is supposed to be in there. I am staring at this thing wondering just how in the heck I am going to make coffee. I don’t even know how to fill the dumb thing! I ask Sam to show me and I am suddenly aware that I am at my dad’s house. This counter isn’t ours at all!

I then notice I am holding an empty salsa jar (so I guess I used it again). I am going to go outside and put the jar in the recycle bin. As I open the door to the garage, I realize that I am now in my grandma’s garage. I know this because it has her old gold olds cutlass in it!

I will always remember it was gold with a white hard top on it.

For some reason, I am now laying on my belly in the garage looking for something that must have rolled under the car. I can see whatever is going on in the front of the house from the garage floor because the garage door isn’t open all the way.

So the dream ends with me laying on the garage floor, in my scrubs. I am watching Margaret and her daughter (my Goddaughter) and maybe her son, all climb into their car to leave. I am waving from under the garage door and then wonder who’s gonna babysit Ella, if she left?!

What a weird dream!!

The Mittens That United a Nation

Who would have thought that a simple pair of mittens would have brought so much joy … and unity … to a nation?!

A photo of Bernie Sanders wearing mittens at the Presidential Inauguration has gone viral. In case you haven’t seen the original … here it is….

Thanks to creative people … and Photoshop … Bernie has brought the nation together in laughter. He has become the hottest meme on the internet. Social media has been flooded with pictures of Bernie is movies, TV shows, and awkward places….

So I had to share some of my favorites!

Bernie ad-libbing on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?
Bernie Sanders is Mr. Frederickson in Pixar’s Up!
Bernie sits in on a staff meeting on The Office
Bob Ross – creator of “happy little mittens”
Bernie just figured out Blue’s Clues!
Now, whenever I read Goodnight Moon to my daughter … I will think of this!
Talk about being in an awkward position!
Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi … you’re my only hope!
I would totally buy this album for Bernie’s Rhymes!
Bernie and Baby Yoda may be the cutest thing on the internet.
Obviously ready to heckle Fozzie or Kermit
Bernie is a bit ticked that his $1 bid did not get him on stage.
The Sorting Hat must decide whether Bernie goes to Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin.
Ready to ROCK!!

Thank you, Bernie for uniting a nation with laughter!

Feel free to share your favorites ….

Let’s Work Together

As the country moves forward, I am reminded of a great song everyone needs to hear.

Known for his song Kansas City, Wilbert Harrison’s Let’s Work Together still holds true today!

Lyrics:

Together we stand, divided we fall
Come on now people, let’s get on the ball and work together
Come on, come on let’s work together, now now people
Because together we will stand, every boy every girl and a man

Before when things go wrong, as they sometimes will
And the road you travel, it stays all uphill
Let’s work together, come on, come on, let’s work together
You know together we will stand, every boy, girl, woman and a man

Oh well now, two or three minutes, two or three hours
What does it matter now, in this life of ours
Let’s work together, come on, come on
Let’s work together, now now people
Because together we will stand, every boy, every woman and a man

Oh come on, let’s work togetherOh well now, make someone happy, make someone smile,
Let’s all work together and make life worthwhile
Let’s work together, come on, come on
Let’s work together, now now people
Because together we will we stand, every boy, girl, woman and a man

Well now, together we will stand,
Every boy, girl, woman and a man

From Songfacts.com:

Wilbert Harrison originally wrote and recorded this blues-style R&B number as “Let’s Stick Together,” a plea for fidelity in a fractured marriage. That version, released in 1962, didn’t make the charts (until Bryan Ferry covered it in 1976) but never left Harrison’s mind. Seven years later, he resurrected the song, keeping the melody but changing the lyrics. “I thought I’d put some words to it that meant a bit more,” he told Beat Instrumental in 1970.

Changing the title to “Let’s Work Together,” Harrison’s new message of unity was aimed at a nation rife with conflict over the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Sue Records, a small New York label, released this as a two-part single in 1969 but it took around nine months reach the charts. It peaked at #32 in February 1970. In November, a cover by the blues-rock band Canned Heat landed at #26 (#2 UK). It was Harrison’s second and last Top 40 hit. His first was a decade earlier when his cover of the Leiber and Stoller tune “Kansas City” hit #1.

Canned Heat’s version was used in the movies Forrest Gump (1994), Big Fish (2003), and Invincible (2006).

Dwight Yoakam also did a fantastic version! Here is the original, Canned Heat, and Dwight

The Radio Life of a Song

The following is a sort of transcript from an informative speech I did in college on how songs make it on the radio. Some radio friends may find that not all the info is here, but it was enough for my listeners in speech class.

How many of you have ever called a radio station to request a song … only to never hear it?

How many of you think that radio DJ’s get to play whatever they want?

How many of you ever wished that radio stations would play other songs from your favorite CD?

How many of you think radio stations play the same songs over and over and over….every hour, every day!

Prior to college, I worked as a radio personality and programmer for over 20 years.  The questions I pose to you, are similar to those asked of me by people who learn of my background. For my informative speech, I will answer those questions by explaining what a song must go through to get on the radio, and what happens to it when it gets on the air.

First things first – this speech wouldn’t be anything if the artist didn’t record a song!

Once a song is recorded by your favorite artist, and the album is complete, record executives decide which songs on the CD are “radio friendly.”  In other words, these are the people who decide what songs will be released to be played on the radio.  Some of your favorite album cuts, won’t ever make it to the radio.

The first song released from an artist’s new CD is always the one that record companies hope will make music lovers like you and me, run to the store, or surf to iTunes.  The hope is that based on that one song – you’ll pick up the whole CD. Hit records mean record sales and money for the record company … and the artist.

But as you will see, it is extremely difficult for a song to get played on the radio.

On average, a radio station will receive 10-20 songs looking for play on the radio.   At the same time, a radio station only has room to add 1 or 2 songs to their playlist each week. 

You do the math! The song had better be very good to make it to the playlist!

Two people are essentially responsible for deciding which songs are added to the station play list:

The Program Director and the Music Director

The PD

* The program director is the leader of the station.

*They put together the talent and program schedules. 

*The program director oversees music, promotions, and any production that goes on-air.

The MD

*The music director interacts with record company reps.

*They listen to new music.

* They work closely with the program director to decide which songs get airplay.

Once a song is chosen as one that should be on the playlist, there is a series of steps that it will go through which I’d like to call, the song’s “radio life”.

In order to understand the playlist, we first must understand what it is.

  • The playlist consists of every song, to be played on a certain day at a certain time.
  • Music is scheduled ahead of time
  • Each song is assigned a certain category, which in turn determines how often it is played.

This is an actual hour’s worth of music from a local station.  It shows you the songs that  played in the 5pm hour this past Tuesday (in 2010).

Notice that each song has a category.

A’s are current songs in Heavy Rotation

B’s are current songs in Medium Rotation

D’s and E’s are former current hits, that are now referred to as reccurents.

G’s, H’s and I’s are oldies, which are called “gold” songs.

L’s are Lunars, which I will explain in a minute.

Notice that Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” is in a “Heavy Rotation”.  It didn’t start there.  There were a series of steps that it went through to get there.

It first enters a Current “Light” Rotation:

• This is the song’s first spot on the play list

• It usually only plays after 7pm and overnight

• It usually plays one time approx. every 12 hours

• Programmers wait for listener feedback

•Positive feedback moves the song up in rotation

Current “Medium” Rotation

• This is a song that is getting good feedback from listeners, is researching well, and is climbing the charts

• This song plays once approximately every 6 hours

Current “Heavy” Rotation

• If a song makes it to Heavy rotation, it’s usually considered a “HIT”

• This song will play approximately every 2 ½ to 4 hours, depending on the format of the station.

Prespective

With that in mind – let me put something in perspective for you….

Here is another playlist from another station, this time a country station:

Notice the two songs highlighted in purple.  Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.  Both of these are in a “Heavy rotation” and rotate every 3 to 4 hours.

Here’s what I want you to think about. Let’s say Megan loves Kenny Chesney, but hates Taylor Swift.

She can’t get enough of Kenny – as a matter of fact, they are not playing it enough!  Taylor Swift, however, is played just way too much for her.

The truth of the matter is that they both play at the same rotation – but Megan’s perspective , and personal taste influence how she thinks about the songs….

Does that make sense?

What Next?

So after a song becomes a hit and is played to death in the “Heavy” category, what happens to it?

Many radio stations have what is called a “Recurrent” category, which may or may not be divided up into sub categories (Power Recurrent, Medium Recurrent, etc…). Now that the song is a hit and familiar to the audience, it moves into this category. People are still requesting it and it is familiar to the audience.

A song can stay in that recurrent category for some time before it eventually moves into one of three places….

The Gold Category

The “Oldie” or “Gold” category.  This insures that it will play at least once a day. This category also has divisions to it. A Power Gold will play more than a Secondary Gold. (See above – G’s play more than H’s, and H’s play more than I’s)

If it doesn’t go there, it may end up in a Lunar Category.

Yes, technically the song was a hit, but maybe it has a novelty feel to it, so stations may not want to play it too often. I asked a PD why they called it a Lunar, and he said, “It plays once in a blue moon.”

So, if it doesn’t go to either one of those categories…..sadly, the song goes away …….

Conclusion

So, now you know…

• The reason why your request doesn’t get played – because all music is scheduled.

•Because the music is scheduled – DJ’s are never playing whatever they want to

• The reason some songs on your favorite CD will never get played on the radio – radio stations are told what songs to play by record labels

• When you think you are hearing a song over and over again – it is merely based on your perception

I hope this answers your questions …. got any more? Ask away….

“Let’s Go – While We’re Young!”

Somewhere on the Internet I saw I shirt that read: “I speak fluent movie quotes.”

There are a few variations of this shirt that incorporate “song lyrics” and “sarcasm,” but for me – it is movie quotes. I do this all the time! Here is an example that happened to me today.

I left the house for work without my lunch. I packed it and left it on the counter in the kitchen.

I was already running late, and I debated just coming in and ordering a pizza. Knowing that we seem to have had pizza a lot lately, I decided that I would stop at the Subway down the road from work. They are usually very quick, but today was another story.

Not the Subway I stopped at – but it looks similar….

I stop there every once in a while and the guys who usually work behind the counter are friendly and fast. Tonight, there was an older lady who was working. She must have been the only one there. It was not busy, and there was a guy at the counter ordering when I got there. His order was not especially complicated, but it seemed like it took forever for the 6 inch sub to get made. It took even longer as he checked out.

When she came back to get my order, I looked at her and told her the sub I wanted and on what kind of bread. She brought the bread out and cut it, as they do, and began to talk to me about politics. I stood there looking at her as she was talking … all the while, my sub bun is sitting on the counter awaiting preparation.

She finally moves the bun down to where the meat is and asked me to clarify my order again, which I do. She asks if I want it toasted and I told her no. She puts the meat on the sub, clarifies the type of cheese I want (she had the wrong kind) and begins to put it in the toaster. I remind her that I do not want it toasted. She apologizes and sets the sub down by the veggies and again starts to talk about politics. The entire time, I am watching the clock wondering if I will ever get to work on time.

My veggies are simple: Lettuce, tomato, pickle. She puts the lettuce on, looks at me and begins talking about the government. She grabs for onions, I tell her “No onions, please.” She grabs tomato, looks at me and shifts topics. She begins to tell me that her coworkers say she doesn’t get any work done. I literally look at the clock again and start to mumble under my breath, “Come on, Let’s go! While we’re young!”

I think she has no clue that I need to get going! She grabs for onions again, and I remind her “No onions, please. You just need pickles.” She continues to talk while placing these pickles one by one by one – looking up at me and talking between the placement of each one! I am ready to scream! She again reaches for onions when she has finished with the pickles. I want to look at her and go, “Enough with the onions!!” In all honesty, I was waiting for someone to pop out and tell me I was on some reality prank show!

In the time she began making my sub, put everything on it, wrapped it, bagged it, and rang me up, I heard her talk about politics, work, her neighbor, and the state of the economy! I was in this place for 20 minutes! In that 20 minutes, “Come on, Let’s go! While we’re young!!” kept replaying over and over in my head! The line is from Rodney Dangerfield as he waits for Ted Knight to tee off in a scene from Caddyshack. While it is a very funny line from a very funny movie – I failed to find the humor in it tonight!

Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik in Caddyshack

How about you? What are some of your favorite movie lines that you have used in real life situations??