Posted by: Tim Hunter | June 10, 2014

Watch Me Scatter the Crowd

Jeff Koterba cartoon for January 10, 2013 "Guns"

It’s easy. All I have to do is say, “So, how do you feel about guns?”

Immediately, everyone will scurry over to their corner of the argument. The anti-gun crowd will say we need more restrictions or to outright ban them.

The pro gun crowd will remind you that Nazi Germany did their best to take guns away from private citizens.

The anti-gun folks will say that our current gun laws don’t work.

The pro gun folks respond by saying that the laws on the books just aren’t being enforced.

The anti-gun people say that there’s a mental illness factor and that people with such conditions shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns.

The pro gun people say if you prevent them from getting weapons, you’re infringing on their God-given right to have a firearm. And that just possibly might cut into their rights.

There’s talk of doing something. Chests are thumped. Fingers are pointed. Accusations are made. Holier than thou’s are anointed.

And then, it goes quiet. We mourn. We try to move on. We’re thankful that it wasn’t one of our loved ones wasn’t killed or injured. For a good day or two.

Then, a few days later, it happens again.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein gets the credit for that one, even though there’s no proof he ever said it. But, no matter.

I have friends that are on both sides of the argument. Here’s my stand.

I was raised a Ronald Reagan Republican, campaigned for Richard Nixon and remember going back to visit cousins in South Dakota where kids could earn some money in the summer by shooting gophers. You’d see them poke their heads up, fire and miss, and they’d continue looking until you got a second shot. For every tail, you’d get a nickel.

Kids on the farm grew up with guns. For generations, guns were a part of the world that you really didn’t give much thought to. When we were kids, we played “war.” I remember a note going home from the schools, suggesting to parents that kids probably shouldn’t be watching that “Combat” show on TV. All that violence.

Then, the next day, we’d be out with our pop rifles that you cocked and made a shooting sound as you played war. It was the next step after the GI Joe doll thing, which I never really got into.

Even in my younger years, I remember having one of those Roy Rogers trick hats, that you took off, squeeze the brim and a Derringer pistol would spring up and fire a cap.

Guns were there, a part of life, but I never, ever imagined gunning people down in real life. Wasn’t even on the radar.

Over the years, I’ve seen guns do their damage. JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, and so many others. A lot of neighborhood kids that played War got a chance to live it during Viet Nam. Fortunately, the one year I was eligible for the draft, my number was up in the 200’s and things were winding down.

Yes, it’s a different world and I don’t know how many of these blogs before I’ve used to tell the story of when my position on guns changed. But it happened when a classmate of my son came home from school one day. The 7th grader got off the same bus Ty was on, he walked home, took a rifle out of his parents’ unlocked gun cabinet and did the unthinkable.

That was when I cleared things out. I owned two rifles and I took them both down to the Bothell police station for meltdown or whatever they wanted to do with them. Just didn’t want them around.

For those who feel they need to have their guns, prove you deserve the opportunity and lock them up, or be completely responsible for anything done with them. We’ve just experienced our second school shooting in a week by people who wanted to punish innocent people and enjoy a little bit of instant fame. The nut job that did last week’s shooting in Seattle had visited Columbine, like it was a shrine of how to do that kind of thing.

It’s time to risk infringing on the gun-owning rights of the mentally disturbed people who stand behind the second amendment to say they have the right to shoot a bunch of innocent people and then kill themselves.

I’m pretty tired of it.

There, I’ve said my piece. Others will chime in. Chests will be thumped, fingers will be pointed, and accusations will be made.

Then it will go quiet again. Until the next time.

At the current rate, sometime before the weekend.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 30, 2014


Ken Schram

I don’t even know where to begin in talking about Ken Schram.

Of course, everyone’s supposed to pile on when someone passes and say wonderful things about them. I’ve got a few of those things, but I also want to share the view I had of Ken and our short time together in the KOMO building. I was lucky enough to be around when he first started at KOMO when I was Larry Nelson’s producer on the radio side. That brief connection was enough to last for years. Whenever our paths would cross, the first thing he would do is yell out, “Timmy!” For all the commentaries and Town Meetings I watched him do over the years, Ken saying that word is how I can hear his voice.

Of course, with it came a big Schram smile and a great example of his complexity. There was Ken Schram, the serious commentator. Ken Schram the Town Hall host. Ken, the radio personality. He loved to make a point and do whatever he could to persuade you to his side of the issue.

Then there was Ken, the 7th grade boy. He was a prankster. He was known for things like turning off the lights while you were reading a newscast or disrupting a live report. He behaved as a professional on the air, but people who worked with him and knew him were not surprised when “son of a bitch” or “bastard” would just pop out of his mouth.

When I first heard last week that Ken was in hospice, I reached out to a few KOMO friends who got me in the loop and kept me updated. At first, I hoped he was just suffering a setback because, knowing Ken, he would out-stubborn it. But it was not to be.

I sent a Facebook note to his wife Sandi, who I may have met at a KOMO picnic 40 years ago at Vasa Park. I told her the “Timmy” story and she wrote back this awesome note:

The stories mean everything right now. As Ken lies here beside me, I talk to him throughout the night and feel certain he hears. He will smile inside about the 7th grade boy. Much love and gratitude to you.

I haven’t dug through my photo album yet for any pictures with Ken, but the second I heard he was ill, I immediately recalled a recording of him being that 7th grade boy that I thought I would share with you. It’s a little raunchy, but when you’re among friends, that kind of stuff happens.

The scene is a taping for an upcoming KOMO Radio Tailgate Party with Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies, and Captain Radio, Larry Nelson. The two would pre-record this featured called “Special Times” and just banter back and forth about the day’s big game, often getting pretty silly. This particular day, it wasn’t happening without a lot of effort. They’d start….derail…..start again…..and then, just as a good take was starting to take off, the inner 7th grader came by and said something you wouldn’t want heard on the radio.  (Just as a warning, he says something a bit on the raunchy side, so use your own judgement)

Listen here

He could look you in the eye and convince you that his opinion should probably be yours. He spent over three decades in the Seattle market, most of those at KOMO. As a broadcaster, he did great things on both radio and TV. As person, he did even greater things as a husband, a dad and a friend.

My theory is that a few days ago, St. Peter got his first-ever Schrammie.

Rest well, Ken, and thanks for being you.

Tim Hunter

St. Peter, this one's for you!

St. Peter, this one’s for you!

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 27, 2014

That’s Not Funny! It’s Sickle!

By the time you’ve reached my age, the list of things you’d be doing for the very first time is extremely short.  There are those things you did once, but you know you probably shouldn’t do again.  There are those you took for a spin and then found it hard to stop.  There are things you tried and now do all the time.

The other day, I did something for the very first time.  I may never do it again, but in a way, was glad to have had the experience.

I used a sickle to cut down weeds.

While staying at the family cabin Memorial Day weekend, I offered to help my father-in-law with any outdoor projects he was taking on.  It seems the weeds were getting a little too close to the deck and so he decided it was time to cut them back.  In my mind, that meant firing up a weed-wacker, mowing ‘em down and calling it a day.

Instead, he handed me a sickle and a file.

Really?  I’ve seen these in museums and on Soviet flags but I was supposed to cut down the weeds with an actual sickle?

I did my best to look like I knew what I was doing and replied with a simple, “OK!”  But this was first-time territory for me.  I used the file to sharpen it, then began slashing grass like I knew what I was doing.  To be honest, I was a natural.

I was amazed at how easy it just cut down the grass.  All the while, I had two thoughts running through my head.  The first: I could hear my grandfather Emil’s voice saying, “Yeah, that’s it.  Keep swinging.  You know, I used to do this for hours at a time!”  Grandpa was a farmer in the Dakotas back in the days when a sickle was standard farm equipment.

The other thought—OK, where’s Ernie?  I’m slashing this thing around like a madman and I don’t want anyone walking up behind me and having this turn into a “Friday the 13th” movie.

It was a first for me.  Wouldn’t mind if it was my last time, but not opposed to giving it another spin in the future.  I found it remarkably efficient.

But it was actually something I did for the first time after 58 years on this earth.  I wonder what the next “first” will be?

Tim Hunter

Oh yeah, that's normal-looking!

Oh yeah, that’s normal-looking!


Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 22, 2014

Curse of the Seattle Supersonics

How do you really feel?

How do you really feel?

That’s a working title, but if we stick with it, I’m good.

Let us go back to the early 1900s, when the Boston Red Sox traded away one of their most promising players to the New York Yankees. A pitcher named Babe Ruth.  Babe was eventually taken off the mound and moved to right field because of his bat and the rest was history.  What was left behind in Boston was the legendary “Curse of the Bambino.”  After trading the Babe, Boston would not win a World Series for 86 years!

In 2008, new owner Clay Bennett packed up the Seattle Supersonics and moved them to Oklahoma City.  Clay, if you’re keeping track, only 80 years to go!

Hmmmm, let’s see.  The previous owner of the Sonics was Starbucks founder Howard Schultz.  Some still place the blame on him for selling the team to Bennett. Maybe it should be “Curse of the Frappuccino?”

By the way:  last night, the former Sonics lost to the San Antonio Spurs 112-77 and trail in that best of seven series 2-0?

Oh, sure, letting it go and moving on with our lives would be the mature thing to do.  What’s your point?

Tim Hunter


Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 21, 2014

Betrayed By A Yellow Shirt

I loved that yellow shirt.

It was bright, comfortable, spring-ee….

It was everything one could hope for when digging through their closet in those half-awaken hours, trying to figure out what you were going to wear.

Everyone’s got their own system.  There are The Planners, who figure it all out the night before and have it separated from the herd.  Then there’s the What’s Clean crowd, which bases their decision solely on what isn’t in the hamper.  I tend to be a Routine Dressers.  I have my stable of favorite shirts that I pair with jeans most days.  “Have I worn that this week?  No?  Good!”  Earning a spot in the starting lineup was a yellow shirt.

Not a soft yellow, mind you, but a vibrant one.  A shirt that produced smiles, that showed I wasn’t neutral.  A shirt that I was very proud to have found on sale at JC Penney for an amazing price.

Until last week.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my wife, Victoria, said those fateful words: “There’s something wrong with your shirt!”

How could that be?  Not THIS shirt?  What….what was wrong?

“It looks like it’s on inside out.”

I made a beeline to the nearest bathroom, turned on the light and approached the mirror.  I looked at the side she had pointed out.  Then at the other side.  They didn’t match.

One had a flap around the seam of the arm, the other didn’t.

It became apparent that the manufacturer had sewn together two halves of a shirt—one the right way and the other inside out. And I had been wearing this for months.  Inspector #71, I hate you!

So, goodbye favorite yellow shirt.  I had trusted you.  For just a moment, I thought about donating you to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, to allow you to take one more person on this adventure.  But instead, you’ll be spending the rest of your days in a landfill.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be reincarnated as a perfectly sewn-together Tommy Bahama.

I’ll look for you at the discount rack.

Tim Hunter

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