“It’s a Cop!”

Today’s writing prompt actually made me laugh: “Have you ever had an encounter with the police?” Yes. Yes, I have. I have had a few …. as a matter of fact …..

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My First Ticket

It was probably my junior or senior year and there was a very cool record store in Ferndale called “Sam’s Jams.” They had everything, including some very hard to find vinyl albums. I remember finding old Soupy Sales albums, rare Tom Lerer albums, and stuff I didn’t even know existed on vinyl there. I spent many hours there before they closed their doors.

I was driving in my dad’s 1979 Caprice Classic (I loved that car!) through Royal Oak and Steve was with me. It was in November, so it was already dark out. The speed limit was like 30 and I was going a little faster than that. I remember when the flashers went on behind me – I was terrified! I had never been pulled over before. There were butterflies in my stomach and I was sweating as the policeman approached the car.

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He asked for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He asked if I knew how fast I was going and if I knew what the speed limit was. I didn’t know either. He said he’d be back. I became more and more nervous the longer he was in his car. When he returned, he asked, “Do you know you are driving on expired plates?” My dad’s birthday is the first of November, and my dad insisted that he had until the end of the month to renew. I told the cop this and he said very sternly, “You’re dad is wrong. Are you aware that I can impound this vehicle? Where are you heading?” I told him we were going to Sam’s Jams. He told me, “No you are not. You are going home. I would recommend that you not do any driving until your dad gets these plates renewed.” He then handed me my ticket, and told me I was lucky he wasn’t impounding the vehicle. I turned around and drove home (where my dad insisted that he had until the end of the month to renew those tags!).

No stranger to tickets

Don’t take that heading the wrong way, I just have had a few tickets here and there in my 30+ years of driving. One of them came on Thanksgiving.

ERIK ESTRADA & LARRY WILCOX CHIPS (1977)

We were leaving my dad’s house and heading to my ex’s family’s house for dinner. We hadn’t been driving very long, because we were technically still in my dad’s neighborhood when I got pulled over. If my memory serves me correctly, we had stayed a bit longer than my ex wanted to at my folks house. When we left, she was angry and we were arguing in the car. I was driving in a 25 and probably doing 40-45. She was telling me that we were going to be “so late” and the more she yelled, the angrier I got.

The cop was going the other way and he swung around quick and turned on the flashers. This, of course, led to more of an argument. The cop walked up and asked for my information and I believe my ex said, “I knew he was going too fast, sir.” My son asked the cop if I was going to jail – LOL. I got a ticket and an earful that continued all the way to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

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One ticket I got was while driving to work one night. There was an accident at the intersection of 12 and Woodward. I took Woodward to work every night and had to turn right onto 12 Mile. Driving toward 12 Mile, there was a wrecker with a vehicle already on it just before you reached 12 mile. The cop was on the other side of 12 mile and his flashers were on. There were cars going the opposite way on 12 mile, so when I got to 12 mile, I turned right. (So the cop is on my left on one side of 12 on Woodward, and the wrecker is on the right side of 12 mile on Woodward). As I pull into our parking lot at work, he zips in behind me and turns on the lights.

Keep in mind, there are no flares or cones or anything on the street AND there was nothing blocking me from making the turn, so I figured I was ok to do so. Nope. I was informed by the officer that I had drove through “an accident scene” which I guess is a TON of points. He wrote me up instead for “impeding traffic”, which was a little less points, but still a few more than I ever wanted on my record.

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I am a creature of habit. I take the same way to work every day. I like to travel familiar roads. When the GPS has me take another way, or I am in unfamiliar surroundings, I start to get nervous. Especially when the roads are back roads that twist, turn and wind all over the place.

Friday, I was driving to an appointment and the GPS tells me that the road ahead is closed and has me get off and take another route. The roads are twisting and turning all over the place and before I know it, I am in a construction zone. The GPS is yelling at me to turn in like .2 miles and because I am not paying attention to my speed, you guessed it – here comes the Oakland County Sheriff.

He had every right to cop the attitude that he did. “Do you realize you are in a construction zone?” “You do see that there are workers present and that there is no concrete barrier, right?” My heart was pounding. I am always careful – especially in construction zones. My wife can tell you, I usually have the cruise control on. She even jokes about how slow I drive. I was given a break (thankfully) because I had no points on my record. I was told to slow down and he wrote me up for 5 over. I am one lucky guy!

My favorite encounter with the police – October 1987

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I have probably blogged about this before, but when I was a senior in high school the big thing to do was toilet paper houses. There were many groups that went out together – the cheerleaders, the football players, the choir members, and of course, us band people. The band was large and there were three or four groups that went out and TP’d. My group was the TP Bandits.

One of my best friends, Steve (the same Steve who was with me when I got my first ticket) had a birthday in October. He was dating a gal at the time and for his birthday, we decided that we were going to TP his house. When did our “drive by,” we could see him upstairs in his room watching TV with the gal. We parked the car just a bit down from his driveway and Margaret, Ronnie, and I went to work. The three of us used a ton of TP on this huge tree in front of his house, wrapped bushes, the mailbox, etc…. it was a beautiful job!

Once everything was finished, we stood in the middle of his lawn and sang “Happy Birthday” at the top of our lungs. He came to his bedroom window and laughed. After the last note was sung, we turned and ran to our car … but we didn’t get far. As we sung Happy Birthday, a cop car had pulled up in front of the house. Ronnie and Margaret ran away first and I was probably making faces at Steve or giving him the finger or something. All I remember hearing is Ronnie yelling, “It’s a cop!” I then felt a very firm grip on my shoulder and was told to get in the back of the Warren Police Cruiser.

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As the officer closed the door of the cruiser, I could see Steve’s mom running outside yelling, “It’s a prank! It’s ok! They’re ok! It’s just a prank!” Margaret, Ronnie and I sat in the back of this cop car and I kept thinking, “We’re never going to get to go to graduation!” “We’re being arrested for TPing!” “What the hell am I gonna tell my folks?!”

The cop in the car went one by one and asked us our names, our addresses, our phone numbers, and probably a bunch of other things. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I laughed when he got to Ronnie, because he totally started rattling off all his info as fast as I have ever heard him talk! The cop told us that we could go to jail because of vandalism or something and I thought, “It’s TP! Are you serious!?” When the other cop returned the vehicle, he played “good cop.” He told us that he had all our information. He wanted us to go out and clean up as much as we possible could. They were going to drive back by the house later and if it wasn’t cleaned up “we know where to find you!”

Steve got quite a laugh out of the whole thing. I think the cops asked if they wanted us to clean it up and he probably told them yes. It was a huge birthday backfire. I also remember coming to school the next day and waiting for people to razz us. A few people had heard what happened, but surprisingly, no one really said anything. I thought we were totally in the clear. During band class, we were in the middle of a song and all of a sudden, our band director, Mr. Shaner, cut us all off and proudly yelled, “Hey! Did everyone hear what happened to our TP Bandits last night?!” The band erupted with laughter and Margaret, Ronnie and I were red with embarrassment!

Yeah … I’ve had a few encounters with the police …. some were more fun than others!

Monday Memory – Pranked

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It’s April Fool’s Day. In honor of this, I thought I would share a funny story in which I was the victim of a funny prank. It’s funny now, but at the time, I didn’t find it funny at all. My memory is a bit fuzzy on some of the details, but I am sure my friends will be more than happy to fill in details or correct me if I mess up details.

The TP Bandits

One of the highlights of my senior year of high school was going out toilet papering. We’d go to the store, buy 12-24 rolls of toilet paper and go out and hit some friend’s house. I don’t know how or why this became the “thing” to do, but we did it. If it was your birthday, you could almost count on your house being hit.

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There were groups that went out together: 1) The Cheerleaders, 2) The Jocks, 3) The Choir Kids, and 4) The Band Kids (and there were sometimes groups within the groups). We belonged to a sub-group of Band kids. We called our group The TP Bandits. There was never a doubt that we were the ones who hit your house. We had printed up (on a crappy dot matrix printer) signs that read “You have just been TP’d by the TP Bandits.” There was a cheesy and terrible graphic of two cowboys on it. We usually left it in the mailbox. I got a megaphone for Christmas one year, and it was not odd for us to yell something like “Love ya, Babes!” to whoever’s house we hit.

I am sure that Toilet Paper stocks went up that year. It was completely out of control! My dad would always wake up the next morning and come in to wake me up by saying something like, “So, your friends were here again last night. Looks like you’ve got some cleaning up to do!” Because we went out a lot, I got TP’d a lot. It was like that scene in The Godfather where Sonny is explaining how “they killed Luca, so we hit them back and killed ….” If you went out and TP’d – you could expect to get it back.

It wasn’t just houses, either. There were plenty of times where we TP’d cars. Many times, we’d do it when the friend was at work. My friend Diana always reminds me of the time we got her car while she was working at Frank’s Nursery. She’ll have to remind me, but I think she had left her car unlocked and I think we TP’d INSIDE it! I am almost positive I remember TPing around her rearview mirror.

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The Prank

As best as I can remember, we went to one of the colleges (I think it was CMU) to watch a football game. It was an optional trip and the whole reason we went was so we could watch the band’s half-time show. I don’t remember if it was something that you had to pay to go to, but that was probably the case. Because of that, I remember that not all of my friends were going on the trip. I would soon learn why.

I remember the buses turning into the parking lot at the high school (and here is where my friends may need to refresh my memory) and noticing something on my car. My memory is not clear here, but as I remember it, there were empty toilet paper rolls on my radio antenna (I do not think they had TP’d the car). It was at that moment that I knew that I was in for it when I got home.

I am not 100% positive on this, but I think my friend Joe was the mastermind of the whole thing. I remember getting in the car and heading home. As I turned onto my street, I could see the streams of TP waving from the tree in front of my house. The closer I got, the more I realized that it was MUCH more than that! The lawn was white – like it had been covered with a layer of snow. Branches were wrapped completely and so was the tree trunk. The front yard and back yard had been covered in toilet paper.

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As I drove by, there were friends sitting up on the roof awaiting my arrival. They were waving and smiling and I was furious! I called my mom from an ancient Nokia cell phone and she answered with a smile, “Hi, baby. Where are you?! You have guests here!” I remember asking if they had gone into my bedroom and she told me I’d have to come home to find out. I had lots of memorabilia in there and I was worried that something might get broke. I couldn’t believe that she had let them in my room.

Joe had asked my mother if they could come over while I was away to “decorate”. My mom must have thought this was a hilarious idea, because she let it happen. I am guessing if he had asked my dad, he would have told him to get lost along with some words of profanity. I am sure my mom probably helped string some toilet paper around, too that day!

When I finally got up the courage to return home, my friends were still up on the roof. There was one of those contruction barriers with the flashing light on it. They had painted it all white and in big black letters painted “Love Ya, Babes!” I am sure that Derek was solely responsible for that!

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I got out of my car and looked around as I walked into the house. I gotta tell you, it was a masterpiece! I was impressed at their work. It was beautiful. It was the kind of TP job you wish you had time to do! Word is that the police stopped at the house more than one time and my mom was right out there to tell them it was totally fine with her! I can only imagine the talk back at the police station that day.

The “piece de resistance” of the job was what they did to my bedroom. As I turned the corner to go into my room, I looked into my doorway and saw nothing but newpapers! There was literally a pile of newspaper coming out the door! They had blown up hundreds of balloons, laid those down first, and then crumbled up newspapers and put them in the room to make it look like they had filled the room floor to ceiling with newspapers!

As angry as I was at my mom for letting it happen, I smile about it now. That was the way she was. She knew that I had done more than my fair share of TPing around the city, and this was the ultimate payback! I am sure she was filled with excitement at the thought of having a bunch of the gang over to do it and probably laughed the entire time. That’s one of the reasons so many people loved her – she loved a good joke and this certainly was one!

I came to find out that more people were in on the joke than I thought. Even kids who were on the trip were aware that it was happening while we were there! I was the brunt of many jokes that following school day! I was red-faced, but not because of sunburn. I carried the embarrassment with me throughout the day. It seemed like every one, even those who weren’t in band, knew of the prank and were talking about how cool my mom was for letting it happen!

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It is the best prank that has ever been pulled on me to date – and it wasn’t even done on April Fool’s Day! For my friends who were there: What details did I leave out? For my friends who weren’t: What was the best prank ever pulled on you?

FYI – these pictures are NOT of the job they did. I’m sure someone has some, but I sadly, do not.

Questions and Answers #1

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I have a blog that is totally ready to post, except that I was unable to figure out how to add audio (some friends have offered suggestions as to how to do that, and I will attempt that in the following day or two).  Since that blog was not ready, I went to my Facebook friends and asked for questions they would like me to answer.  I am pleased with their response, and with the questions they posed, and I have a feeling this is just the first of  many blogs like this.   Today’s blog contains the answers to those some of those questions.

Melody

Melody asked one of the easiest questions:  “What do you miss most about high school?”

I would say without a doubt – Band class.  It is no secret that I was what many refer to as a “band geek”.  When I look back at the people I have stayed in touch with, most of them are from band class.  Some of us spent hours after school practicing our instruments.  I was one of the band librarians, so I had access to the library of songs.  We would often go through the files and pull out music just to play it.  We spent hours after school playing (gee, you would have thought that would have made us better players… )!

As I have said before, I learned more about life from band class than any other class (see blog about thanking teachers). Performing a piece of music with others brings an amazing sense of accomplishment.  It also brings about the opportunity to learn about relationships.  Sure, as with most big groups, there were little “cliques”, but when it was time to play together as one, we did.  It truly was like a big family.

I remains one of those things I miss most.

Jeff

Jeff asked a particularly difficult , yet easy question.  “What sport do you absolutely love to watch, but you believe are terrible at participating?”

My first response was “define terrible” – LOL.  Seriously, though, I am someone who wishes I had been more active in sports growing up.  As much as we played baseball during our summer vacation, you would think I would have tried out for something like that.  Growing up, I thought I might be a good pitcher.  The fact that I always struggled with weight, and didn’t necessarily like the thought of rejection probably led me to not try out for things I may have been good at.

To answer the question, I would probably have to say football.  I love watching football.  Playing, however, I was never that good.  To this day, if a football leaves my hand it wobbles through the air.  I cannot through a spiral to save my life!  Catching a football is always a joke for me too.  I suppose I just never really learned how to reach up and pull it in.

Every Thanksgiving, we used to get family together and play a touch football game.  There is a lot of running involved in football, so you can only imagine what I had to look like trying to run down the field. The following day, after using muscles that I hadn’t used in years, you know exactly how bad the pain felt – and this was when I was much younger than I am today!

Great question!

James

James knows I currently work in the sleep field.  I deal with people who have sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.  His question is “Does MyPillow help with sleep problems?”

The question that comes to mind with your question, James:  What are your sleep problems?

Let me tell you what I have heard from patients regarding this and then give a few quick thoughts.  With the patients who I have seen who spent the money on this, the only real “review” they can give is that they are more comfortable.  The claims that this pillow can help give you more REM sleep, is something that no one can really say, unless a sleep lab is using them with their patients.

We check for REM sleep with all of the electrodes on a patient’s head and face.  Some of the home tests and sleep watches and such can ‘assume’ or “estimate” what REM sleep is based on heart rate, but without being able to see brainwaves, eye movements, and muscle tone, it is hard to determine.

REM sleep IS the important sleep – that is what the body needs to feel refreshed and what we need to function.  A typical human gets about three “REM cycles” cycles a night and this is based on the circadian rhythm.  Sleep apnea is always worse in REM sleep, and people who have apnea usually have this very important sleep stage cut short because of the apnea events.  In all honesty, I personally believe that a person’s pillow has nothing to do with “helping” a person’s sleep – but only helps – possibly – with comfort.

My advice – take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (you can find it online).  Answer it honestly and if your score is 9 or more, see a sleep specialist.

Jodi

My wonderful Aunt Jodi’s question is “Do you use wooden spoons?”  My aunt was often our babysitter.  The threat was that if misbehaved, she would spank us with the wooden spoon.  This is funny, because there are many T-shirts and posters out there about how Italian mothers used to use the wooden spoon to discipline their kids – Jodi isn’t Italian!

Yes.  I use them.  To stir things on the stove.  LOL

Kristine

Kristine and I were in anatomy class together in college.  We dissected a sheep brain together. She’s a CNA now.  Her question truly made me laugh.  “Why did we never meet under the stairs?”

If memory serves me, I believe there was some couple who were kissing each other goodbye before class or something and we both kinda rolled our eyes at this.  This led to us chatting about how in high school, couples always seemed to be making out under the stairs.  At any rate, this became a running gag throughout school “Meet me under the stairs”.

The answer – there was always some other couple there!  ROFL.  Seriously, Kristine is a good friend and she has some pretty talented kids!  I always enjoyed seeing how proud she was of her boys when she talked about their football games or wrestling matches.

Kathy

Kathy’s question was short and to the point, “Do you still TP houses on the side?”

Back in high school, toilet papering houses was the thing to do for some reason. Our band class alone probably helped Charmin stock rise!  I do not claim to be the one who started this trend, but I guess I was involved in more TP jobs than others.  At one point we printed signs (on a dot matrix printer – WOW) that said, “You have been TP’d by The TP Bandits” and left it at houses we hit.  Fair is fair – if we hit them, they could hit us back.  That was how they knew who to come after.   The real question was “who was with you?”  I was usually driving, but the accomplices often changed.  Sometimes, there would be 8-12 people out doing the jobs with me.  My house was a favorite target.

To answer your question, Kathy, no.  I have been retired from “the Bandits” for some time. 🙂

Dave

Dave writes “Why is Bernie Miller so awesome?”

Bernie and I also went to high school together.  Dave, this questions answer will take me many, many paragraphs to write.  I make you a promise now – Bernie Miller’s awesomeness warrants its own blog.  Watch for it in the days or weeks ahead.

At that time, I will also attempt to answer Bernie’s question about swimming in dry ice.  No promises on a correct answer on that.

Diana

Diana asks, “What is your biggest regret from high school; do you wish you had done anything differently?”

I think that as we get older, it becomes easier to look back on things from the past and find things we regret doing or not doing.  I also think that it is easy to look back and see how you could have handled things differently.  That being said, let me say this:  I am who I am today because of the decisions and choices that I have made and the people who were a part of my life.  There is nothing that I can do today, that can change that.  With all that being said, I do have some regrets, and there are things I wish I had done differently.

I really regret not being a better student.  I regret that I did not take school a bit more seriously.  I can think of two HUGE assignments that I waited until the last minute to throw together, that had I just followed directions and spent the time I should have on them, I would have gotten better grades.  I sucked at studying.  If I had spent as much time studying as I did TPing, well, lets just say I would have been a whole lot better off come report card time.

It’s easy to sit back and look at my sons and think “You gotta spend more time on this” or “You didn’t study enough on this” because that was me in high school.  It is different today because they spend their time on video games and electronics, where as I was out TPing and goofing around, but it really is the same thing.  I wish for my sons that they would spend more time focusing on school.  I don’t want them to wait until after 40 years old to go to college.  I want them to experience success and financial stability sooner than I did.

Not sure that  answers the question, and if not, there are plenty of other regrets I can dive into ….

Angie, Joe, Eric. and John

This “asking to answer your questions” blog has shown me that I have some really funny friends.  Their questions are asked in jest – and I love it.  Life needs more laughter, and here are three examples of friends I surround myself with because they are funny – or smart asses – one way or the other.

Angie asks, “Is that your real hair/hair color?”  Yes, what little there is.  Shaving it and polishing it up to a perfect shine is much easier than coloring the grey on the few hairs that are up there!

Joe asks, “When you throw your bowling ball do you inhale or exhale?” and Eric follows with “Do you cup your ball with delicate fingers or hold on tight before release?”  My answer to both of you will be as silly as your questions – It depends on whether or not I am at Pastime Lanes!

John asks, “What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”  Kudos for a Monty Python reference!  I do believe the answer is 24 miles per hour or 11 meters a second.  Now take your coconuts and beat it!

Jason

Jason is a fellow band geek who poses the question “Do and/or can you still play your trumpet?”

If Tom Shaner were still teaching band, and if we were currently challenging for chairs … I would be guaranteed last chair!  The sounds that come out of it are no longer … quality sounds!  LOL

Now that Dante’ is no longer playing in band, my trumpet is back with me.  I still have a folder with copies of some of the music we played in band.  I still have my big ole Arban’s book for trumpet, and yes, occasionally, I pull out the horn and attempt to play.  I have been debating going back for lessons and perhaps joining a small group like the Salvation Army Band or something like that, just so I can still play.  It really is one of those things I miss a lot.

Vince

Vince asks a political question:  “How come Hilary Clinton blames everyone but herself and the Dems for losing the election?”

Well, Vince, I think that  (The following has been deleted by the US Government because it goes against policies or procedures that even we don’t understand.) …and that would be my best guess.

Chris

Chris wants to know “What was the best vacation you took with your parents and Christopher?”

I have blogged in the past about Caseville.  We went there often on weekends in the summer, but I don’t think that I would put those visits in the category of a vacation.  The only one that really stands out for me is a summer trip to Mackinaw.  I was probably about Dimitri’s age when we went, and I have some great photos to remind me of that trip.

I remember staying at this hotel in a second floor room, and there was a white, metal guard rail along the edge.  There wasn’t a whole lot of room to walk and there were chairs outside the rooms.  I have a picture of my mom and dad sitting outside the room that is one of my favorites.

I remember going to the Grand Hotel, and were were only allowed to stay for a minute or two because we were all dressed in shorts and T-shirts, and maybe there was a dress code or something, I don’t know.  I remember taking the boat to the Island and visiting the Fort.  That was one of my favorite things about the trip!  I remember the cannons and I remember mom taking a picture next to us in the stocks.

We went there when the Dukes of Hazzard was a huge TV hit.  How do I remember this?  Well, we used to ride bikes around the neighborhood and I would always pretend to be Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.  I had a blue cowboy had that I loved and while at a gift shop I found a sheriff’s badge.  That was one of the only things I remember bringing home from that trip.

I am in the process of scanning some pictures – I am sure some Mackinaw pictures will end up here or on Facebook.

Deb

My cousin, Deb, asks a simple, yet difficult question.  “What is your dream job?”

You know, I think I have been lucky enough to have done a couple of them, but at the same time, there are others that are appealing as well.  I love my current job as a sleep tech.  I get to help people.  That’s a very satisfying thing.  In some cases, what I do leads to life saving treatments for people who are on the verge of a heart attack or stroke.

Radio was a dream I had in high school  I was lucky enough to do almost immediately after graduation.  I had never done it before and I got to learn the ropes from some of the best!  I admit my first 5 years in radio were less than stellar, in that I was so new to the business that I really hadn’t learned how to use my creativity.

Radio is addictive.  The more I listened and learned, the better I got.  I got to meet so many great people, celebrities, and non-celebrities.  I got to shake hands with legendary radio people and producers.  I got to be creative and do things that I envisioned and put those things on the air.  I got to raise money for children with cancer, raise money for local neighbors who lost homes to fires, raise awareness for autism, breast cancer, heart disease and more.  Radio was a dream job come true! (more on this in a future blog).

I think if there were a dream job that I have yet to do – there would be two of them:  teaching and acting.  In a couple previous blogs, I mentioned the want to teach.  I wish I had gone to school for that.  There are so many things about teaching that would validate this as a dream job.

Acting.  I don’t know that anyone would ever want to see my ugly mug on a screen, but I would love to do it.  I worked with a guy, Jeff Kelly, who does it.  I’ve seen trailers for his films and am always amazed at his abilities.  He’s such a jovial and nice guy, yet I saw him in a trailer where he was a mean killer – he was totally convincing!  I think I could do it, but who knows.  I think it would be fun.  I already do some “acting” in regards to voice work, and I would love to try it once, just to say I did it.  I always laughed when people told me I remind them of Dom Deluise…I always liked him as an actor.  I think it would be pretty damn cool to act in a film or on TV.

Phyllis and Shelley

As I read the questions from these two friends, I felt that the answers to their questions would be enough to write separate blogs responses.  Phyllis wanted to know about famous people I have met and more specifically my “OMG moment”.  There are a few of them – and I will tell you all about them.

Shelley wanted to know about radio listeners who have become friends and how that evolves.  I have been lucky enough to have made life long friends through the radio.  Some of them have been friends with me since my first radio job 30 years ago.  Great stories to share…and I will.

Thanks for your questions!  We’ll do this again soon!