Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 4, 2014

The Long Weekend in Long Beach

Occasionally, I slip into travel-writer mode. It’s because I’ve had a great experience and I’d just like to share, in the event you ever feel like trying something new.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered Long Beach.  For the Labor Day weekend, we made our second trip there and had an amazing time.  Part of the amazement came at the way the weather timed out–while it was pouring in Seattle, our rain was confined to overnight.  We’d wake up to fog and low clouds, it would clear and the sun would take over.

What to do in Long Beach?  Lots of things that you never seem to find the time to do at home. Fly a kite. Go for a bike ride along the board walk.  Walk the miles and miles of available beach (thus the name).  Or zip across the border and visit the beach towns of Astoria or Seaside, Oregon.  I managed to sneak in a round of golf at a fun course down there over looking the water.  $16.  Less than a dollar for every ball I lost!

In town, there’s a decent number of shops to peruse, including the museum/store that is home to “Jake the Alligator Man.”  There are quite a few collectibles worth seeing, it’s free and you can cross “seeing an alligatorman” off your bucket list.

 IMG_4387

The hotel we stayed at, the Adrift Inn, was OK.  Really thin walls resulted in Victoria asking if that was me that sneezed when I was in the bathroom…and in fact, it was the guy next door.  And every morning, we were awaked by the pitter patter of little feet from a three-year-old running back and forth across the floor above, obviously hoping someday to run a marathon.

I do have to say the restaurant at the hotel was incredible.  We ate breakfast there twice because was so good.  Fresh, organic, but not over-priced.  I recommend the Oyster omelet and the fresh-squeeze mimosas.

Adventures included almost running into a herd of elk as we approached town. It was not even 3pm and 7 of them decided to run over the highway just ahead of us.  There was the time I was in the men’s room, using the urinal when a blur to the side of my eye came in,  quickly turned around and then yelled “Sorry, sir!” as she darted out.  It was a cleaning person who forgot to knock.

Our main purpose for the trip there was to say goodbye to Mack Barnette, best described as my brother-in-law’s father-in-law, who passed away last year.  We were there to spread his ashes on the beach and have the tide carry him away.  His daughter, my sister-in-law Bev, did a great job of corralling family, assigning duties and making a very memorable event happen.  It was a nice sendoff.

The gang gathers to say goodbye to Mack

The gang gathers to say goodbye to Mack

It’s a long drive, but what else would you expect to get to Long Beach?  If you want a shorter trip, head for Short Pier, Washington, and remember to brake.  Everyone should have a little Long Beach in their life.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 28, 2014

Huh….

So, I did it.  I went to a local talent agency, prepared to wow them with my ability to ad lib, tell stories, hear my voice…..

And I bombed.

Well, I’ll admit, I was nervous.  You go into a room, sit in front of two people and perform.  The instructions were to do a monologue.  To me, Jay Leno, David Letterman, etc, those people open their shows with monologues.  It’s a comedy staple.  Well, strike one–when they said monologue, they meant an acting piece, around 3 minutes.

My bad.

I delivered a monologue about myself, including a couple of true stories that I always felt would belong in a standup bit.

But I could tell the second I was done, something was wrong. “Well, that was nice..but…”

The good news–I haven’t been banned from the place yet.  In fact, I was invited back to come in and do an actual theatrical monologue, which of course, now I have to figure that one out.  I looked at this as going outside of my comfort zone.  Not just doing what I have done throughout my life, but going out on the edge and taking a swing.

So, as a follow-up to my last blog, Spielberg hasn’t called yet.  I have no representation.  But I’m going to get back on that saddle and try it again.  Or, maybe I’ll just leave the saddle at home and stand there.

Wish me luck.  Oh and yes, I’ll let you know the end result.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 21, 2014

Well, Here Goes Something

I’m going in for an audition today.

Those who know me realize that I’m not exactly a wallflower. Combine a 30-year radio career with emceeing dozens of parades, events, Santa arrivals, concert intros, Julebords, even lutefisk eating contests, and the plain truth is, I get around. I don’t have to go up front and be a goofball, but when I do, I really enjoy it.

So, as I prepare to evolve to the next stage of my career, the one I want to ride out into the sunset upon, I plan to expand my exposure. Go in for a few auditions, record some audio, maybe do some TV and perhaps pick up some extra gluten-free beer money. (I’m not gluten intolerant, but just saying ‘beer money’ seemed boring)

All of those factors resulted in me booking an audition with the Topo Swope Talent Agency today in Seattle.

As the Creative Director of an ad agency, we’ve used them to find talent before. Now, I’d like to move to the other side. To go to a building for the first time, in front of strangers and put it all out there for rejection. Or acceptance.

My current scheme for the years ahead is to be even more diverse than I am now, but with a higher priority on my personal projects, as well as working closely with a small group of clients on their marketing, advertising, whatever. With four decades plus of marketing, broadcast and media experience, I’d like to put it to work, my way.

I don’t have a firm picture of what it will be like, but I know what some of the pieces will be.  So, today, I’m making a run at one of those pieces.

More to come. Details on the way. I’ll let you know how it goes. But in the meantime: do I have any broccoli in my teeth?

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 13, 2014

You’re The Reason, Gary

Hangin' With The Norwegians

Hangin’ With The Norwegians

My broadcast friend Gary Engard passed away this week.

Gary was an engineer during most of my days at KLSY, but in the times since I left that building, we would only occasionally touch base.  Every now and then, Gary and another former radio guy, Dick Cross, would meet me for lunch, we’d start talking …and an hour would just evaporate. I enjoyed those lunches so much—hearing about each of their radio adventures—that one Saturday, I went out and met them in Issaquah at Dick’s house to interview them and capture some of those great stories on tape. I had this hair-brained scheme at one time that it would make for a decent weekend radio show on KIRO or something. However, for now, it’s just been added to that long list I have of things I’d like to do IF I had more time.

But I didn’t want either of them getting away without preserving at least some of those great times. When I get a chance, I’ll dig that out and put together something you’ll love to hear.

After bumping into Gary and his wife Debbie at Bob & Kim Brooks’ Halloween party last year, we did a major reconnect. Especially after we realized they lived ust a couple of blocks away from my in-laws. When my father-in-law Ernie had some health challenges, the two of them volunteered to walk their dog for a couple of months, never asking for anything in return.

I invited Gary to a couple of the Norwegian events I attended and he loved it. It reminded him of his days up in Alaska, where he belonged to every Scandinavian organization up there EXCEPT the Sons of Norway. To make up for that, he joined the Leif Erikson lodge in Ballard. He, like I, really enjoyed the “small town feeling of it.”

We were seeing each other almost more than back in the radio days, when Gary had to fly back east to help take care of his wife’s dad. It wasn’t supposed to take as long as it did, but he ended up staying there almost half of this year. However, when he returned, it was his turn: his health took a turn for the worse. He had cancer. The cancer spread. Last Friday, he lost his battle, with his wife by his side, on their 38th wedding anniversary.

Gary wasn’t done living. His jovial laugh and good nature just made you feel at ease. When you went off the air and ran around screaming with your arms flailing, Gary would calmly say something like, “I’ll see what I can do.”

So, Gary is to blame for the way I feel about Robin Williams. Yes, Robin had demons, yes he had depression. But otherwise, he was healthy and had a good number of years to go. Yet, he threw his life away.  Gary didn’t get to vote.

I explained in a previous blog why I feel Robin Williams was selfish and I stand by that. Look, we don’t have to agree on the subject. For all of our modern medical advances, something can be done. Allowing depression to be a pass for doing the unthinkable—whether it’s drowning your kids, shooting a former Beatle or a president or taking your own life—it’s just simply not OK. When we make it OK or understandable, we plant the seed for other people to consider tossing away their life as an option, since society now views that as ‘understandable.’

Gary, I thank you for all your did over the years and your friendship.  Robin, you were a comedy god and one of the most unique talents I’ve ever witnessed.

But I will never understand suicide and, frankly, never want to.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 12, 2014

Sorry, But I’m More Mad Than Sad

No doubt, this blog will upset some people, anger others and cause yet more people to label me as insensitive.  I don’t care.

Robin Williams took the coward’s way out.

OK, you’re depressed, you think no one cares.  Robin, you were too smart to think  no one cared about you.  You had a wife and little kid, not to mention the grown ones.  You had an adoring public. You spent your lifetime making us care and we couldn’t get enough.  Mork & Mindy, the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, the serious actor in Dead Poet’s Society or the Academy Award winner in “Goodwill Hunting.” One of my favorite roles was his portrayal in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

You were brilliant, or so I thought. You battled depression demons, that was no secret, but take your meds.  Or, go online and ask, “Hey, does anybody out there really like me?”  Within minutes, Robin, people would have reached out to you by the thousands.

Speaking as a fan, I just don’t get it. You went to rehab, had several marriages, your life had some incredible highs and disastrous lows. I would have gladly been your life coach.  I would have helped you realize just how much you meant to people.

I guess you live long enough, you rack up quite a count of people you know who commit suicide.  A former radio colleague, an uncle, one of my son’s classmates in junior high.  In all my years on this rock, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that suicide doesn’t make the pain disappear.  You just spread it around among those who care the most about you.

Are you really that selfish?  You know how dark you feel–do you really want other people to absorb your suffering, your pain?  There is no better word than selfish.

Robin’s life was full of extreme ups and downs.  I was just saying to someone today, as much as I would love to be a famous comedian, it seems as though the bulk of them are such tortured souls.  Perhaps being in the middle of the pack, with more moderate highs and lows, is a great place to be.

I think that almost everyone has, at one point, let their guard down enough to think, “Hmm, what if I were to just end it?”  Back in college, my high school sweetheart decided to break up with me to turn around and marry a junior minister two months later.  I remember driving along the I-5 express lanes one day and giving serious thought to driving into the cement pillars at the exit.  Quick, done, over.

Had I done that and left behind a legacy of pain, I also never would have had the kids and grandkids I enjoy today…have experience an amazing 30-year-old radio career….or met the woman I am lucky enough to call my wife.

Robin Williams was an amazing talent.  He could have stayed anonymous and just been the life of the party at his friends’ house.  But he chose to seek the limelight, to make us care and boy, did we.  He was brilliant, hilarious and sincere, but his last act was that of a complete coward.

Before yesterday, we’d watch any Robin Williams movie and, at the end, marvel at his talent.  Now, at the end of each film, our admiration will quickly turn to sadness as we think to ourselves, “That’s too bad about him.”

There are lots of ways to feel after someone you knows commits suicide. I’ll get to sadness, but right now I’m embracing anger, because I never want suicide to be OK, to be considered just something people do when they’re having a bad stretch of days.  You don’t know what up’s are unless you experience the down’s. Life is just the way.

I don’t mean to take away from Robin’s brilliant body of work, but that’s being pushed aside for a while so we can remind the rest of us that depression kills.  Talk to someone.  No matter how much you think the world doesn’t care, we really do.

Robin, that included you.

Tim Hunter

 

 

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