Hey gang, enjoy this stroll through my KOMO radio days with some promos and interviews that really capture that time in the early 1980s.
….where the dog has been going out for several weeks and you never got around to picking up after him. I’m going to step into it, but I’ll probably regret it.
This is not an attempt to try and sway you one way or the other about the whole “not standing for the National Anthem” issue. But if I can help you understand the other side better, regardless of which side you’re on, maybe it will edge us closer to a resolution, or even a polite agreement. After all, we’re all Americans, we have inalienable rights and assorted other ‘givens’.
Let’s start with the fact that people are raised differently. Some put ketchup on their eggs. Others open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas morning. There’s no right or wrong, it just is.
Boomers, for the most part, were raised at a time when we were taught certain things. We did the Pledge of Allegiance in school. We ducked and covered in the event of a nuclear attack (like that really would do a lot of good). We were taught things in Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts that the flag represented our country. If it touched the ground, you were supposed to burn it. You could fly it during the day, but it had to be taken down at sunset. And so on.
That brings us to the National Anthem. Boomers had parents that fought for our freedom. They faced a World War, with a crazy German one way and suicidal Japanese warriors the other. To them, the threat of losing a war and singing someone else’s national anthem was unthinkable. It made our clunky, barely rhyming Star Spangled Banner something very special. Almost sacred. So, a generation of kids were raised that, when the song was played, you removed your hats, placed your hand over your heart and stood at attention, facing the nearest flag.
OK, that’s how we were raised. So, to do anything to the contrary is wrong. Not legally, technically, morally, whatever. It’s just wrong.
So, when Colin Kaepernick or Michael Bennett or whoever decided to start sitting during the playing of our National Anthem, it bothered me. I understand why they’re doing it. They want to use the occasion to point out social injustice. I got it. They have the right to do that. Speaking of rights, judges ruled a while back that burning a flag, while formerly an unthinkable thing to do, was a protected right. Taking that and running with it, I suppose sitting down while the National Anthem plays is a lesser evil than burning an American flag before every Seahawks game. But then again, if that’s a protect right, why not? I mean, let’s keep pushing. If you’re angry at how our country is doing right now (and there are a lot of legitimate reasons to be concerned), let’s see it. Sit down during the National Anthem. Burn a U.S. flag. Or, how about this?—urinating on an American flag while the National Anthem is playing while you’re sitting down. If you want to light it on fire first, then put it out while you’re peeing, that would be extra points. That way, it’s impossible to miss that you’re really upset about how things are going in America right now. Point made.
Now, how’s that going to change things? It won’t. How could someone lucky enough to reach that level of skill, ability and matching paychecks do something to change the way things are? Frankly, sitting down seems lazy. Pissing people off, counter-productive. What about taking some of that money and donating it to groups or organizations actively working to change things for the better. The ALCU, Black Lives Matter, ANYONE! That would probably have a bigger payoff, be less inflammatory and get us closer to moving on.
If sitting down during the National Anthem is such a great way to make your point, why don’t you see that happening in all the other sports? The NFL has the blessing and the curse of being THE sport right now and so some are seizing the spotlight. There was a time that baseball was America’s national pastime. Hey, for a while, professional wrestling actually made a ripple and packed stadiums. Popularity comes and goes. What one generation worships, the next ignores. It’s true of toys, it’s true of clothing styles, music, lifestyles, you name it.
And don’t look now, NFL, but your TV ratings are in a free-fall.
This is an 967-word way of saying I don’t know what the solution is to the whole “sitting down during the national anthem” thing. All I know is that it bothers me, but I tolerate it because I defend their right to do it. At a time when I’m happy and positive and excited about what’s to come out on the football field, I get this bad taste in my mouth. It makes me care less about the player involved and naturally following, less about his cause, whatever it is.
Logically, does it make sense to do something that offends people to try and sway their point-of-view? Let’s say you’re disgusted by the word, “Poop.” I want you to realize that we need more free parking spots, so I’m going to say “Poop” over and over again until you agree with me. See much of a chance of that working?
Just know this–for every single one of these attention-getting athletes thinking they’re making a social difference by sitting down, kneeling , raising their fists in the air or turning their backs while the National Anthem is being played, there are tens of thousands of people who would love to stand for it if they could. But they can’t, because they died defending the right for people to sit on their ass.
There. I said it.
P.S. I truly meant the above piece to help the die-hards among the “everyone should kneel” crowd to try and understand that being disrespectful to our flag, our national anthem and our country doesn’t help your cause. This guy takes it much further and I think it’s worth posting here.
I am extremely happy.
No, seriously, lately life has been one big huge reminder of how great it is to be alive. My son’s wedding in Montana not only took me to a monumental family event, but also to the natural monuments of Yellowstone and all the beauty that life has to offer.
I’ve never been able to accept compliments very well. And so, when life goes well, I feel surprised. When life goes extremely well, I actually have a tough time handling it. Whether it’s an underlying feeling that I don’t deserve it, or a suspicion that I know it won’t last long, that doesn’t matter. I’m awkward at best when it comes to good times. I was even telling my step-daughter (and I hate that term) Kjersti at my acupuncture appointment the other day, when she asked, “How’s it going?”, I told her, “I’m really, really happy right now.”
So, while Monday didn’t ‘harsh my buzz’, it did provide a moment of concern. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer about things happening for the reason they do, all things are meant to be, etc. but this past Monday, the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attack on the U.S., I heard comments that bothered me.
That fateful morning, my radio co-hosts–Bruce Murdock and Alice Porter—and I were heading into just another day, with a pre-recorded interview to play in that 5:30-6am time slot. After all, most people weren’t up by then, so if we had an interview and played it during that early morning stretch, we could replay it later in the morning–say, in the 8am hour–and most of our audience wouldn’t have heard it. This particular interview was with the author of a book about 9-1-1- calls. Thus, the 9-11 theme. We were within minutes of playing it when we noticed on the TV monitor in our studio that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York. We assumed it was some small aircraft that had screwed up badly…but next thing you know, we were getting notices about a special ABC report. That canned interview never aired. Life would never be the same.
Thousands of lives were lost. Our lives were changed forever. Remember going out to the airport and actually walking out to the gate to greet a passenger with a funny sign or flowers? Gone.
So, this past Monday, when I heard the things people were saying about 9-11, it bothered me. “C’mon, that was a long time ago!”, “Oh, just move on!” or “We don’t need another holiday!”, I just shook my head.
First off, those of use who remember that day will never be the same. It was our Pearl Harbor, our Alamo, our reminder that our perfect little land of America is just as susceptible as any place on the globe. This isn’t political rhetoric, this was people’s lives. People who weren’t planning to have it all end that day. In their honor, I cherish every day since then. What they wouldn’t give to be able to complain about politics or global warming or any of the other complaints we have about today.
I truthfully don’t know what to do about that date. Make a National Day of Remembrance….or, does that make it a target for terrorists to use for an attack? Let it fade into history? (I’d have a hard time with that)
The bottom line is that it’s a decision that should be left to those who will be here 40 years from now. I doubt that includes me, but then again, I’m a stubborn bastard. I won’t go easily.
So, it is for that reason that I can’t get too caught up in the lack of enthusiasm about an event that seriously shaped my life 16 years ago. So, I’ll express concern and then go back to being extremely happy.
However: never forget!
So, I’m tapping away on my keyboard in the bowels of my house known as ‘my office’, writing away, when I hear the sound of a text or something coming in on my phone. I check–nothing.
It happens again. Not from the phone. I listen carefully and it seems to be coming somewhere down below me. I’m thinking, “Oh, great! My computer is starting to go out and I’ll have to pony up a bunch of money and buy a new one.” I go back to writing and some motion caught my eye. I looked down and crawling on the front of my shirt, a yellow jacket that I’m pretty sure was 30-feet long. I remained calm, reached over and grabbed my phone, lifted it off my shirt, shook it down to the ground (a Michael Jackson song is about to break out) and…..well, for you insect lovers, let’s just say “he stopped buzzing.”
How he got there, where he came from, God only knows. All I know is the next time I hear that familiar buzzing sound again, my phone will be the second place I check.
I’m a writer. Well, technically speaking, anyone who can pick up a pen or keyboard and start tossing words down on a canvas is a writer. But even though I stumbled through a 30+ radio career, having the time to write and refine my thoughts is when I am most comfortable. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I love the idea of being able to carefully hone a line or a blog before casting it out into cyberspace for judgement. When you’re on the radio, sometimes you stumble on a word or the music’s too loud or someone is talking at the same time. So yes, I’m a part-time control freak.
On paper, I should be able to convey how much this past week has meant to me. However, I’m struggling with the words. I could go with the standard collection of adjectives and adverbs, but they feel inadequate. Rather than being concerned about their deficiencies, I’ll simply tell you what happened and I’ll cheat a bit with photos.
There was a gathering this past week at a place near Bozeman, Montana, called Rainbow Ranch. That was the place chosen over a year ago to be the site of my son’s wedding to an absolutely incredible lady named Lacey. Technically, it was a destination wedding, but it didn’t feel like one. Those are usually small groups, on a beach somewhere. This was more like a family/college reunion, with a crowd of around 80 people setting up for an extended Labor Day weekend at one of nature’s greatest playgrounds.
It was everything I expected about Montana, but also so much more. Outside of driving through the state on my way to South Dakota, this was my first time exploring it. We arrived at the airport filled with bronze artwork of bears, bison and dinosaurs. We grabbed a van and hit the road and were instantly engulfed in mountains, fields and rolling plains. Over the next several days, we saw herds of elk and buffalo. We went to a rescue animal park for close-up looks of bear and wolves. We hooked up with the bride and groom to be Thursday night at a barbecue place across the street from our Air BnB rental that had outstanding barbecue, micro-brews and people wearing cowboy hats & boots.
Friday was Yellowstone day. Heck, we were that close, so we drove for an hour, leaving Montana and sneaking into Wyoming. We decided to get an early jump because of the crowds and it was a good hunch. Our first stop was Old Faithful. These days, an app can tell you approximately when it’s going to erupt. That’s nature at it’s finest. From there, we went to Grand Prismatic Spring. I had never heard of it before, I will never forget it.
Saturday morning’s events included a hike up into the mountains followed by a river float. The float was relaxing and fun, with a lot of the river being no more than a foot or two deep. We rounded up a crowd of around 40 and had a blast.
Saturday night was the ‘rehearsal dinner’ which was more like a happy hour with a bridal party. That was at another micro-brewery in town. And then came Sunday, the big day. The weather, originally thought to be near 90, was more in the 70s. Smoke from the state fires was evident, but not obnoxious. The scene was a spot near the river and the day was just magical.
I’m sitting here, thinking about that day, and I have to pause and sigh.
To the 20 and 30-somethings starting out a family and beginning the kid thing, it seriously becomes a blur from the time you’re holding that little hand as you cross the street to the time you’re hugging your kid on their big day. Don’t be in a hurry. It was a fun, incredible stretch of my life, having that little person be so dependent on you, watching to learn how to act, what to do, the family way to handle problems. etc. The child’s perspective eventually evolves from wanting information to knowledge of their own and then, they become experts on their parents. They decide what they liked about the family way, and how they’ll do things differently when they get in charge. It’s a natural process, we all go through it.
What’s surprising is that, as the years go by, the ways mom and dad did things becomes comforting and eventually, the day rolls around when you find yourself doing something you never thought you would. Because they did it that way.
I cannot be any prouder or happier for Tyson and Lacey and I’m so excited for what lies ahead. They planned and executed one of the greatest gatherings of family & friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. To meet their circle of friends, to see some of Tyson’s buddies from the high school and college days, to get to know Lacey’s closest friends, to go on adventures with my wife and family, including my sister Debbie and mom Fran, I could not possibly ask for a greater experience.
So thanks to the newlyweds, the Lowber family and all that made this event possible. I find myself replaying so many moments in my mind and I have a feeling I’m going to be doing that the rest of my life. Here are just a few of the images making their way through my head right now.
God bless you all!
This is the weekend that we’ve known was coming for over a year that, at one time, seemed so far off in the future. Tomorrow, we hop on a jet and fly to Bozeman, Montana, for the wedding of my son and his awesome fiancé’ Lacey. These two kids just seem to be doing it right and it’s so great to see.
Both figured out their careers, then decided to up their game by going for a masters degree. As fate and timing would have it, the two both enrolled in the evening program at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Over time, they got to know each other, there were sparks and then you could just tell this was becoming a very special thing.
I remember once talking with Tyson about the whole marriage thing. Can’t tell you when that was, but what stuck in my mind was his vision of the kind of person he wanted to marry. Attractive would be nice, but he really wanted someone he could intellectually talk with. Someone to discuss things with. Being an active person, I knew that was an unspoken consideration. With Lacey, he hit the trifecta. Both are, at the core, really nice people and that will serve you well for a lifetime.
We’re heading over to Montana, their Destination Wedding site (with absolutely no affiliation to Destination Marketing) for what should be a spectacular weekend. There’s going to be a hike, a river float, a rehearsal dinner resembling a happy hour and an outdoor wedding in a beautiful setting, Last I heard, Sunday was supposed to be around 88-degrees.
I’m going to milk this weekend. I’m talking serious efforts to living in the present and enjoying every second of this adventure. We’re going to catch Friday’s first Husky game of the season at a bar somewhere. Yellowstone is said to be a 45-minute drive from where we’ll be staying. And while I’ve driven through Montana on my way to South Dakota, I’ve never really spent any time there, so I’m looking very forward to that.
But most of all, I’m very excited for two great people who are taking another big step in their future together. One of them just happens to be my son.
And I don’t want to come off as anxious, but I’ve already added Lacey to my Facebook status as my daughter-in-law.
Let the party of the year begin. And congrats you two!!
Love you guys,
Here we are again. We’re back to that time of year where “Back to School” is old news and people start saying “Where did summer go?”. Just a week remaining in August and football season is upon us.
But as you know, summer trickles away. You start to notice the cooler mornings and the dampness that sneaks into the evenings that wasn’t there just a couple of weeks ago. We still score 80-degree temps during the day, but the nights start flirting with the 40s. A few weeks ago, I started making up a summer bucket list—a collection of things I’d like to do before we slide into fall.
One of those things was visiting the grave of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and his son, in an old cemetery in Seattle. Did it.
Earlier this summer, we actually did the Tillicum Village thing again. For outsiders, it’s where you hope on a ship, that takes you and 100+ tourists out to Blake Island where you enjoy a taste of the Native America lifestyle. Some dancing, smoked salmon and such. I had not done that in at least three decades. Another checkmark.
Something I have done that I’d highly recommend is to head up to either Bothell or Kenmore and go for a kayak ride. A guy I met through the Bothell Chamber started What’s Up Board rentals and he launched a booming business. What a wonderfully calming getaway. $15 + tax gets you a one-hour rental to go up and down the slough or explore the shore of Lake Washington and really, that’s all you need. I know there are die-hards that make a career out of kayaking, but it’s one of those things I enjoy, but it will have to settle for when I have time.
When I did finally make the effort to head north, I pulled up into the Bothell Landing, walked over to the stand and explained I had no idea what I’m doing. The kids working there were great and apparently, not knowing what you’re doing is a pretty big club. So, it’s OK. You don’t have to be a pro, they set you up, help you get in to your kayak and off you go.
One employee told me that if I was to fall in, it would probably be when I was getting out. Eventually, I saw what she meant, but the darn things are actually fairly stable. I had brought along my swimsuit, so I ran over to the restroom, changed, then put my phone and car keys in a reseal-able plastic bag and I was off.
I had a relaxing blast. The quiet. The birds like ducks, geese and blue heron. I saw one kayaker pull up her craft next to the blackberries hanging over the water. But for that entire 60-minute stretch, there were no emails, no disturbing Facebook posts–it was flat out relaxing. My goal now is to work in one more adventure before the summer is through and drag along my wife, Victoria.
As I got back on shore, my wheels immediately began spinning, imagining that I had discovered my new sport. Something I could do a lot and on a regular basis. Hmmmmm, I wonder what a kayak costs?
Well, I did the research.
You can go inflatable (cheap) or make it a plastic one, then add on a roof rack to help you get it there and I’m rounding it out to around a $1,000 investment. If I were to just stick with renting one for under $20, that would give me 50 rentals. Get out twice a year and I’d be able to just rent a kayak for the next 25 years. I look at the golf clubs sitting in the corner to remind me that best intentions don’t always turn into actions. Tell that to the smart-alec who wrote “1883” in the dust of the elliptical machine behind me.
If you just can’t make it out this summer, put it on your Summer 2018 Bucket List. But if you do manage to work it in and give it a try, you’ll thank me for the recommendation. Maybe when we’re out on the water together.
What the hell is going on right now?
I feel like I’m watching a replay of a PBS series on civil rights. When did I go asleep and wake up in 1957?
I’m probably a couple of days of outrage behind you. This weekend, we did a day-trip on Saturday and had a pre-func wedding beach party on Sunday. I’ve gotten to the stage where I may glance at my phone, but if I don’t, I know the world will keep spinning and I can check on things when I settle down.
While driving, my very plugged-in wife Victoria was reading her Facebook posts and commented that something was happening back in Charlottesville. Then, she followed that by saying there was a protest march in downtown Seattle.
I’ve already hit my limit on protest marches. I mean, seriously, people taking to the streets to emphasize how much they’re against what everyone is already against. Yes, it’s a right. March your brains out. But what happens is that something goes wrong–an injury, an arrest, thugs infiltrate and cause problems, store windows break, or police are pushed and a riot breaks out.
Protest marches are just a live version of your Facebook page. The people marching are the ones who spend their social media time trying to convince you to think the way they do, even though there’s never any actual convincing done. If you agree with what’s said, you pass it along or give it a ‘Like’. If you disagree, but want to preserve the friendship, you hide it, and long for the days of cat videos.
HBO did a phenomenal job of capturing the hate of Charlottesville in this video, which I’ll warn you, is hard to watch. But it gives you a real picture of what’s going on in the disturbed minds of the White Nationalists.
This is where I’m torn. I don’t want to give them a minute of news time or any coverage, whatsoever. All it becomes is a platform by which they can flush out all of the other hate-mongers that lurk in this country. When I finally got the details about all that went on during the weekend, I was outraged like you. But at least I was able to enjoy a couple of nice days.
We need to deal with bigotry and hate. We can’t ignore the threat of Nazi-ism. That we even have to be talking about this 80 years after it’s blight on humanity is dumbfounding. The moron who drove through people and killed one of the protestors was a 20-year-old brain-washed hick. Sadly, there are still people teaching hate and raising their kids with that kind of fear. This photo struck me particularly hard when I came across it yesterday.
My first reaction was, “Well, there you go. Kids are being raised to hate.” Then I read about the picture. It wasn’t from this past weekend–it was from an event 20 years ago. For all we know, that little girl could have been among this weekend’s Nazi-marchers.
We absolutely need to take this threat seriously, but those White Nationalists are but a small, tiny portion of the U.S. population. There’s a lot more of us than the haters. And as much as we’re disgusted by what they say and believe, they’re guaranteed the right of free speech, just like us. However, they’ll only be talking to themselves if we ignore them. Like so many things, from O.J. to the Kardashians, this is being turned into a media event and a hot topic, so that every newscast every 15 minutes feels the need to be talking about it.
I think every one of those pro-Nazi demonstrators should have their eyeballs taped open and be forced to watch, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas“, which we happened to watch over the weekend. After that, “American History X“. Although, I’m sure in both cases, they would dismiss them as purely propaganda films.
I had higher hopes for this president, in trying to make the most out of a dismal situation. I basically considered it survival mode. I wanted to just ride out these four years and hope that someone credible would step forward in the meantime. Then we’d all say, “Well, that’s a no-brainer.” I’m still waiting for a leader to make themselves known.
With President Trump, we have no idea what’s going to happen in six months, let alone the next six minutes. However, I am convinced that, years from now, there will come a time we’ll all be able to look back and say to each other, “Can you believe that actually happened?”
Keep believing. Good will prevail.
Gee, that could mean a tip that is hot during the summer. Or a hot tip that you’re being given during the summer. Or, a tip about summer while it’s hot.
Actually, all three could apply.
I like this little corner of the Internet to be amusing, to leave you with something to think about or to make your world somehow better. This week, as the smoke-filled skies of a sizzling Seattle summer begin making us yearn for the rain-filled months of fall right around the corner, I’d like to talk with you about your furnace or gas fireplace.
Congrats to those who opted to keep reading because you’ll thank me at the end of this.
Our house has a gas furnace and, in my little downstairs man-cave, a gas fireplace insert. The other day, my always-cold wife Victoria flipped on the fireplace to take off the morning chill (I’ll bet it was down to 74 in the house) when it made a sputtering noise. That prompted a discussion that ended in the realization we have lived in this home for 10 years now and have never bothered to have the gas fireplace serviced.
Now, when it comes to something like that, there are two trains of thought: 1) Yep, I’m going to hire a professional to do it or 2) I’m not going to pay $100 for a guy to come out, vacuum the fireplace and tell me everything’s fine. When it comes to anything natural gas, I always choose #1. Because possible mistakes could easily top the $100 you think you’re saving.
Why have your furnace or gas fireplace professionally cleaned and checked? Lots of reasons.
I called up one of the members of the Bothell Chamber, Sundance Energy, and they sent out a guy named Brian last year who cleaned our furnace, gave me some thoughts about the filters, made sure the pilot light and everything involved was running smooth and efficiently and then he was gone. We were left with an efficient furnace and the peace of mind that comes with knowing it was checked out. $100 well spent.
OK, this is the one that inspired writing this piece for you.
So, there are lots of reasons to reach out to Sundance or your regular furnace company right now. It seems an out-of-season subject, but doing it now will definitely pay off for you in the months ahead.
By the way, my friends at Sundance are having a Grand Re-Opening next Thursday, August 17th, at their Bothell store, which was severely damaged in the great Bothell fire that almost wiped out downtown last year. The party starts at 5 and should be a lot of fun. If you go, I’ll see you there. And remember the rule–you need to have a swig of wine every time J.D. says the phrase, “ductless heat pump.”
Hopefully, they have air conditioning.
Our Shiny Clean Fireplace
If you lived in Seattle back in the 1960s, your routine after work probably included coming home and turning on your black-and-white television to catch the evening news. After a few local headlines, the KING-5 news anchor would toss it to the weather guy, Bob Cram. Bob was a plain-looking sort of fellow with glasses who had a niche in the weather business–he included his cartooning skills in the forecast.
By the time I arrived in the Pacific Northwest, Bob was in his post-weatherman days, but remained a local personality. During the early 1980s, I returned from my 3-year Yakima exile to Seattle and became Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO Radio. Part of those duties included being back-up production guy, which meant I would often find myself in a recording booth, engineering for the people who had come in to record their commercials. It was thanks to that Fisher Broadcasting side-job that I got to meet Bob, along with his daughter Sara, Husky Football Coach Don James and his wife Carol, Rainer Rey, and even the voice the Mariners, Dave Niehaus. Dave would sit down to record the latest Brooks-McKnight Chevrolet commercial and let out a “My, oh, my” but not without taking the time to talk with me about baseball, last night’s game or what he had been up to in the off-season.
When I first got back to Seattle, Bob Cram was the voice of QFC. In time, Bob and his daughter Sara, did a tag-team version of the spots. Then, they were replaced by Carol James and Rainer Rey and that was the last I saw of Bob.
But while he was the grocery chain’s spokesman, I remember him coming in, being revered as “THE Bob Cram.” A story he told that stuck in my mind was the time in 1965, when Bob was with Frosty Fowler and his morning radio show at the top of the Space Needle. How Seattle can you get? Well, that particular morning, Seattle had an earthquake that registered 6.7 on the Richter, killing seven people and causing $12.5-million in damages. Bob and Frosty found themselves being waved back and forth atop the Needle, with seconds feeling like hours until things finally calmed down.
Bob Cram was soft-spoken, talented and had a great run. He continued drawing all the way up to his final days and it wouldn’t surprise me if a bulk of his work doesn’t end up at the Museum of History & Industry. I feel very fortunate to have briefly met and worked with one of the good ones in the biz. Here’s a nice look back from KING 5.
Bob passed away last week at the age of 91. Comfort and peace to his family as we all say goodbye to another face from old Seattle.
Tell him what you have planned for your life. My late radio brother Larry Nelson used to say that to me.
It’s true. Take a look at where you are in life right now. Very few of us can say we predicted it with Nostradamus accuracy.
For 30 years, I was able to enjoy a career in radio that I could have never imagined having. My goal, once I arrived at the University of Washington back in 1973, was to take 18-credits a quarter, so I could graduate two quarters early from the full four years and then head back to southern California, marry the girl across the street and grab just any kind of job, like a ticket rep at United Airlines and live happily ever after. That was the plan.
What wasn’t in the plan was to have said girl across the street have a ‘sign from God’ to break up with me one Thursday morning near the end of my sophomore year and then marry the minister that helped her with the translation of that sign a couple of months later.
Never saw it coming. But it happened. I can look back and realize the consequences more with all the power that hindsight offers, but it really was for the best. That’s OK. Because of the change in my future plans, I looked around, saw that Radio & TV was an option for a career path and never looked back.
You do something for 30 years and it will stick in some people’s minds. It does my heart good when I hear people say, “You’re the Hunter? Oh, I remember you. ” For 17 years, I spent mornings at 92.5-KLSY, the invisible carpool member giving people something fun or interesting to listen to. Just the other day, one of our faithful listeners that won one of our contests posted this on Facebook.
These days, I am blessed in so many ways–being able to do what I want to do, work on fun side projects, help clients get noticed, and all with the flexibility that you would think only comes when you retire. This October, it’ll be three years since I broke away from a secure 9-5 routine and never looked back. If all goes according to plans, I’ll ride this out until I’m 70 and then I’ll most-likely continue what I’m doing, but thin out some of the stuff I’d rather not. At that point, I’ll be going pure fun only.
Then again, I said the p-word: plans. It could happen. It might not. That little rumble you just heard could have been God busting a gut.
What I do know is that I’m going to keep enjoying this dream as long as it lasts. If changes need to occur, so be it. With age comes the wisdom that each day matters, each moment should be enjoyed and cherished. Slow down, stop rushing to get to the next thing so you can rush to the next thing. And for God’s sake, don’t talk on your phone while driving.
At the risk of this turning into a travel blog, I’m going to take you on a second adventure in a row. This time, to north of the border and the picturesque city of Victoria, B.C..
Yes, it was a tad redundant going there with my wife, Victoria, but the trip delivered on the promise of being one of the best day-trip adventures available to those of us here in the northwest.
We went last Thursday after a busy week of playing tourists in town with some out-of-town guests. Probably not the best planning, but outside of the time commitment, it’s a pretty easy undertaking.
OK, you could drive, heading towards Vancouver and veering off to the left to catch the Tsawwwassen ferry, which drops your car off on Vancouver Island. (yes, Victoria is on Vancouver Island, but Vancouver is on the mainland. Those wacky Canadians!) That will take you 3 hours to get to the ferry terminal (if the border is kind), then there’s the boat ride and 40-minutes to Victoria.
OR you head downtown, catch the Victoria Clipper and less than 3 hours later, you’re getting off in the harbor, across from the Empress Hotel. We chose plan B.
WHAT TO DO
That’s pretty wide open. Shopping is a good idea, since the exchange rate has returned to the 1970s and you basically save 31% on everything you buy. In town, there’s high tea at the Empress (which is now missing its ivy covering after a $30-million makeover). Butchart Gardens is one of their most famous attractions and while they keept it attractive during the fall and winter, spring and summer is when you want to catch it.
That’s a perfect place for an added stop because right next door to the butterflies is a winery we absolutely love called Church & State. They’ve got the grounds, the growing grapes and a place to grab lunch. Oh, and of course, wine tasting. We even tasted a Merlot that had received 98 points. It was $40 a bottle, but the exchange rate lowered it to under $28. You’re supposed to only bring back one bottle per person, we pushed it to two and all arrived home. All are under heavy guard.
I’ll bet it’s been five years since my last time in Victoria. Back when the Clipper first started making runs up north, I would host KLSY Listener trips to Victoria and I developed a fondness for that place. What a wonderfully clean, quaint city. And with this year’s stellar summer weather, it just doesn’t get much better. I’m going to have to make a point of not forgetting about this excellent one-day escape.
When was your last time in Victoria, B.C.?
We dropped off our houseguests at the airport this afternoon, after five days of playing tourists in our home town. It was a blast.
We hit some of the restaurants we knew would deliver a unique Seattle experience–Elliott’s, Wild Ginger, Bitter Root Barbecue. We even dragged them along to Ballard Seafoodfest, where I emceed my 14th Lutefisk Eating Championship. If you want to hear what that sounded like, click here.
But it was the trite, often overlooked, “Oh, brother” suggestion that was the hit of the extended weekend. You know, that feeling you get when out-of-towners say, “We want to go to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the Underground Tour, etc.” For me, growing up in southern California, when family came to town, it was off to Disneyland. But our Florida guests wanted to do something that I haven’t experienced for 25+ years. They had read in USA TODAY about this place called, “Tillicum Village.” Oh yeah, one of those tourist experiences you COULD do, but then you start listing the excuses–it’s expensive, it eats up a good part of a day and you don’t have that much time here, it’s “only for tourists”, etc.
For all the times I thought those things or said them out-loud, I’d like to apologize and withdraw my statements.
First off, true: it’s not cheap. However, the value you get for your money rivals any of the other touristy things you could do in town. It’s a four-hour experience that includes a boat ride, an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Native American longhouse and show and, on a sunny day, one of the best views of Seattle you can get anywhere. Basically, that’s $20 an hour. On that front, I’d like to pass along just a few of the photos I grabbed along our adventure.
Of course, you can’t expect Seattle to be in day 24 of a dry spell, for Mount Rainier to make itself known on the ride home, to see wildlife like raccoons, deer, seals and bald eagles put on a show for you as they did, so maybe we were just lucky. But Blake Island and Tilicum Village are not just for tourists. It was a nice reminder to see families in awe of the place we live, to hear people say they were from Federal Way to Israel and all points in-between. This day impressed me—and I live here.
I’ve seen that, in the off-season, you can get a pretty nice discount on Groupon, if price is a concern. But if you need a one-day vacation and want to stay close at home, I’d highly recommend grabbing a lunch cruise over to Tillicum Village. AAA gets you 20% off your tickets.
And I can promise you, it won’t be another 25 years until my next visit.
If you could go back to any decade in your life, which one would you choose? Last Saturday night, the choice was made for me when we attended the Queen with Adam Lambert concert at KeyArena in Seattle.
On the surface, it would be easy to say, “Oh, yeah, another rock band from the 70s with a couple of the surviving members and some other lead singer.” While that’s a fair description of a lot of vintage bands out there, this is not just an exception, but an example for all the others.
Let’s start with Queen. If you’re old enough to remember them when they first came on the music scene, the next words you should be saying to yourself is Freddie Mercury. His four-octave range and flamboyant lifestyle took us all to places we had never been before. At a time when the world was dancing to a disco beat, he lead his group through a pop music revolution. Oh, it was rock, but a produced, sometimes classical or operatic sound. When a new Queen album came out, you never knew what you were going to encounter.
Queen started becoming incredibly relevant as my twenties arrived–that decade of metamorphosis where you begin post-college adulthood, take that first job in the field you plan to spend your entire working career and find out if that’s true. Back in those days, it was when marriage broke out and people started having kids. I turned 20 in 1975. Two months and a day later, Queen released their epic album, “A Night at the Opera.” The title appealed to me because it matched the name of a Marx Brothers movie. The music world embraced it because of songs like “You’re my Best Friend” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The decade of my twenties went from 1975-85. So much happened in my life during that stretch of time from getting married and moving from Yakima to Seattle, to having two kids and starting to climb the ladder of my radio career. As fans gathered at KeyArena last Saturday night, Queen took the stage and played the soundtrack of that decade for me, as well as offering flashbacks to my college rock concert days.
Queen with Adam Lambert to the casual music ear might seem like a stretch. A classic rock band and with the runner-up of American Idol’s 8th season? It couldn’t be a better match.
Queen guitarist Brian May hasn’t missed a beat. Plug in that guitar and you’ll soon be enjoying that classic Queen sound.
Roger Taylor drummed his way through the evening like he was still in his twenties, even offering up the classic rock concert drum solo.
Then there’s Adam Lambert. Sorry if you haven’t been following his career, but the dude is real. Songwriter, singer, performer and this just in–he’s been touring with Queen for five years now, as well as developing his solo career. My wife Victoria and I caught him a couple of years ago at the Puyallup fair and became even bigger fans. And for the Queen purists, he makes very clear up front that he’s not in any way trying to replace Freddie. In fact, Mr. Mercury even makes a couple of appearances on the big screen in two of their songs. It was good to see him again.
Lambert performs proudly and is honored to be in that position, all the while knowing that he’s filling a void, but this is still Freddy’s world. Adam even performed his new single, “Two Fux” the day after it’s release with the Queen band members.
Add in the showmanship and special effects that would make Freddie proud and this traveling entourage should definitely be on your must-see concert list. Not sure when they’ll pass through town again, but I have an idea I just might be there. And for a solid two hours plus a 15-minute encore, make another return visit to my twenties.
My mom had a surgical procedure a few weeks ago and is recovering nicely. Each of the kids took some time off to help around the house and try to slow her down. Yeah, that’s pretty much where I got it.
Going back this time was a little different. I decided to try grabbing a Lyft from the airport, instead of renting a car and having it sit around for a few days. That was smart and easily saved me over $100. I think I’ve got a new routine.
I arrived at the old neighborhood and, this time not driving, I noticed more things as we cruised down the street. We went past Irene Laskow’s house, a girl we cruelly gave the nickname, “Bozo” because of her big toes. We went past “The Bachelor’s” home, a name the neighbors bestowed to a guy named Irv who, when the neighborhood was new, was a single guy. He was married by the time I reach a coherent age.
I briefly saw Sharon, mom’s next-door neighbor, whom I’ve known for decades. But her home was previously the residence of one Raylene Crocker, the girl who gave me my first kiss. I was 5, she was 6 and it was a quick smooch under a folded-over wading pool.
Of course, across the street was the girl that got away, who eventually will get an entire blog or two in her honor. Just too many stories and directions to go for now.
This little street in Torrance, California, was where we played hide ‘n seek and touch football. We spent hour after hour competing in tennis ball baseball and I’m talking about you Kenny Vaughn, Mike Cobb, Mike McClaren, Glen Rico, Kelly Toman, Karen and Dennis Belcher. When we weren’t playing, we were wheeling and dealing baseball cards that we had bought for 5-cents a pack (including a rock hard piece of gum) from the Helms Bakery truck that routinely visited our neighborhood.
One of my regular hangouts around home was the driveway, where dad had put up a basketball hoop for me to practice on. We played endless games of H-O-R-S-E, as well as driveway-sized games with dad pumping up his famous West Virginia set shot. In time, I started playing a little bit more in order to be outside when that girl across the street might come outside.
The neighborhood is now the place where ________ used to live. Look at a home, and if I say, “Oh, that’s where Fred & Carol used to live”, my mom and sisters know right where I mean. It has now evolved from a mostly Caucasian blue-collar hood to a nicely diverse collection of ethnicities. It’s strange–sure, they’re the same homes. But while the years and coats of paint try to disguise the memories, but they’re all still there.
There was Mr. Lawrence, the poster adult for the phrase, “you kids get off my lawn.” Or the Hein family down the street and yes, her name really was Bea. I think the Vaughn family had six kids–Kenny was my age and he was surrounded by cute sisters. Sandy and Lori were the main attractions. There was that time Mike Cobb shot himself in the stomach. He lived. Oh, and Mr. and Mrs. Kidd, right across the street who invited our family to their house on New Year’s morning so that we could all see the Rose Parade on their brand-new COLOR TV!!!!!
I was very fortunate and remain so thankful for growing up where I did, when I did and with that old Wonder Years bunch of mine. Most of my time these days is spent going 100 mph, multi-tasking and trying to win the Overachiever of the Day Award (I haven’t won one yet) which tend to push aside those memories of 226th Street. But give me a couple of days back in the old neighborhood and those memories come running like kids to a popsicle truck.
And there’s another one. It was fun visiting my ghost town.
I’m sure there will come a time when I don’t know how many Father’s Days its been since my dad left this earth. But with this being only the second one where I wasn’t conspiring with my sisters on what he would like or picking out a goofy card to send to him, (which usually arrived late) I’m still counting them.
Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up to his smiling face by my keyboard as I begin my daily writing duties. And I’ve made it a habit to be a positive reflection, rather than a mournful feeling of loss. I got lucky. Not only because of the man and everything he taught me by example, but also for how long he stuck around. He was the last of his siblings to go when he died just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.
I remember at his wake how a childhood friend reminded me just how lucky I was. His dad had already been gone for 20+ years.
I can easily hop into the memory jalopy and flash back to those camping trips, the Little League games, going to church in our Sunday best, playing basketball with him in the driveway, hearing about the guys “at the field”, which was mechanic-talk for the gang he worked with at United Airlines. It seemed like he would always be there, but eventually, the years took a toll on his body.
I’m one of those people who have fully embraced the Amazon Echo (named Alexa) and it’s partially due to my dad. Towards the end of his life, his hearing was failing and if he didn’t understand you, instead of saying, “What?” he would just say, “OK.” That became his default go-to expression.
Now, when I ask our Alexa to turn the living room light on, the lamp clicks on and she says, “OK.” Time to turn it off, and after the instruction she replies, “OK.”
That’s fine, but just remember Alexa, that was Dad’s word first.
If your dad is still around, I’ll echo the words of Kelly Toman who reminded me just how lucky you are. You know what to do from here.
Happy Father’s Day Weekend!
I’ve become quite an expert when it comes to Facebook. For quite a few years. How many? I can’t figure out how to tell.
OK, almost an expert.
Experience has taught me a lot of things about this social media platform, so I thought I’d just put them all down into a handy collection for people to review occasionally and check to see if they’re doing it right. There are some definite do’s and don’ts:
The key thought here: think before you post. There is a wealth of negative things out there right now. Why bring them to Facebook? Positive feeds on positive. I think you can figure out what negative feeds on.
For all of this country’s faults, for all the problems going on in the world, for everything not going your way if you were the global ruler, we’re all doing pretty well. Appreciate it.
And if you don’t, why drag it out into the social media arena for all to see? Well, that is, until you become my next un-follow.
Being funny has never been easy.
I’m not talking about me, but in general. We all love to laugh, but what cracks us up is as different as our individual lives. That’s why, over the years, I’ve paid attention and taken mental notes about what’s funny and what makes people laugh. Heck, I even put together a pamphlet (hardly a book) about how to write funny jokes that’s available for your Kindle on Amazon.
To save you the free download (and seriously, I can’t even remember when I wrote that) it’s based on the two golden rules of comedy–know your audience and go for the common experiences. I’ve spent my career going for the quick kill. Do a brief setup and while people are nodding their heads in agreement, you zing ’em with the punchline.
If you’re standing up there on the stage and setting up a joke by saying, “You know how you go the leper colony because they’ve got a great cigar bar in the back,” you’ve already lost the people who have never been to a leper colony, or don’t care that they have a cigar bar. If you go for the quicker, “President Trump met with the Pope today,” with those seven words, you’ve created a picture in the audiences’ mind of Trump, the Pontiff and the stereotypes that come with each of them. Where I went with it was “Their conversation began with one saying, “So what’s with that big thing on your head?” and the other replying, “Back at ya!”
Donald’s hair, the Pope’s hat, ha-ha, let’s all go home.
This week, Kathy Griffin (who I’ve always felt was a needy comic) thought it would be hilarious to do a photo shoot that included her holding onto a bloody Donald Trump head. For the science of comedy, I would have loved to have been in that meeting where that concept turned into “a funny idea.”
You thought the leper colony set up didn’t work? If your audience was the U.S., then you’re already heading down the path where 50% of the people who see the photo not only won’t think it’s funny, it would be viewed as offensive. Now, do you really want to instantly piss off half of your audience, some of whom might even have liked you as a comic until now? Next, let’s whittle down the prospective hysterical laughter even further by reducing it to just the part of the audience that thinks ISIS beheadings are funnier than Benny Hill. In a world where innocent kids are blown up at a pop concert, where reporters have their heads cut off live on the Internet, regardless of how you feel about the president (who, is still the president, by the way), holding a bloody Trump head is shocking, disturbing, and a lot of things, but not funny.
Remember that pursuit of shared experiences? OK, so if you think a bloody Trump head is funny, then we should probably do it with a Hillary head, too, right? I mean, that’s a funny gag! And while we’re at it, let’s grab the heads of two more former presidents, bloody them up and have an upside-down Mount Rushmore!
Can you imagine the outrage if someone had done this with an Obama head? We’d be hearing how wrong it was and that it could only have come from the mind of someone who is a right-wing, white supremacist racist scumbag.
So, to summarize:
Kathy has now entered the Gilbert Gottfried zone, where one day, she might get to open for Michael Richards in a comedy club that offers a Groupon for two drinks and some laughs for $17.
I know that comedians who constantly reach for that edge have to keep stretching for the outer limits, but someone with Kathy’s experience should have seen at least a small warning light going off. The same is true for Gilbert and Richards. Jokes about Tsunami victims days after the tragedy or thinking the N-word is funny when spoken by a white guy defies logic. I don’t get it, nor do I want to.
Oh, I’ve had my dark humor moments. I’ve thought of some pretty sick stuff over the years. It’s part of the spectrum. But then you go back to the “know your audience” part of the comedy formula and make sure those jokes never see the light of day.
Even if you share Ms. Griffin’s contempt for the president, do you really want to live in a society where something like the above photo is considered mainstream funny?
Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Knock yourself out. Want to be a comedian? Try being funny.
I’ve been involved in a fund-raiser or two over the years, but I’ve tried my best not to bug people that I know. I mean, seriously, how many friends do you have that would like you to pledge some money towards a very good cause so they can walk, climb, bike, yoga, whatever? I’ve done the “Beat the Bridge”, the Bleeding Disorder Foundation of Washington walk, countless auctions and of course, those “Make a Wish Marathons” when I stayed on the radio for 28 straight hours. I think we did three of them.
But, fair warning, if you keep reading this, I’m going to ask you for a buck. One dollar. It’s to help a situation that is no doubt going on all over the U.S. right now, but the folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation are actually doing something about it.
With a week to go in May, I thought I’d call special attention to the N.S.F.’s annual “Milk Money Campaign.” I remember when I first heard about this, I thought, “Well, yeah, kids need milk. Calcium for their bones, etc.” But M.I.L.K. is actually an acronym for Making an Impact on Learning & Kids. To play on the theme, milk bottles (generously donated by a northwest dairy) have been labeled and placed all over the Northshore School District–meaning Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville. In businesses, in churches, where ever someone might toss in their pocket change to help the cause.
What exactly is the cause? Homeless students. We’re talking kids that, through no fault of their own, cringe when some of the fun things about being a kid come up, because they just don’t have the money. They could be living in a shelter, a relative or friend’s home, because these important years have been far from smooth.
The folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation reached out to me this year and asked if I would produce a video that helps tell their story. So, if you’re up for it and have three minutes, I’d like to invite you to watch it.
If you skipped down to here because you’re too busy, I get it. I’m right there with you. Let me introduce you to this fact–there are 200 homeless kids attending school right now in the Northshore School District. That’s where my kids went and where I’m still quite connected. It’s not a poor community by any means, so it’s hard for me to imagine that homelessness even exists up there.
I figure I know enough people that if I put out the plea and you could spare a dollar, we could really make a big difference in this campaign that wraps up at the end of the month. All the money raised is distributed to principals in the district that have asked teachers to let them know when they discover a kid in need. Maybe its money for a field trip or a book from the book fair, or fees to take a college entrance exam or even some kind of a nice dress so they could attend the prom.
This is a soft ask. I won’t know who kicks in and who doesn’t. If you’re thinking, “Well, those kids are up there. I’d rather help someone in our area.” Do it! Make it happen. We are all so incredibly blessed and lucky for all that we have that this seems like a pretty small way to make a big difference in some young lives.
If you’d like to donate $1 to the M.I.L.K. campaign, just click here.
Yeah, just one dollar.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
P.S. Oh, for Pete’s sake! So, apparently the online donation software can only accept a minimum of $10 donations. So, if you see a jar this week, drop a buck in. Just wanted to pass along some kudos and congratulate all the worker bees behind this cool program.
This past Sunday, we ended up having an incredibly good time as my two step-kids decided to treat their mom to a Mother’s Day adventure. Of course, I tagged along. We first went to the new Revolve restaurant in Bothell, made a quick trip to Country Village and then headed off to Woodinville Wine Country.
As has happened every time I go wine tasting there, I ask myself–why don’t we do this more often???
For readers outside the area, Woodinville is a suburb around a 25-minute drive northeast of Seattle. There’s a city surrounded by neighborhoods, but there’s also acreage where the Washington State Wine industry thankfully decided to invade and set up shop. As of this writing (and it seems like the number changes a lot) there are over 130 wineries with tasting rooms in and around Woodinville.
The way it works—you pay $10 to sample some of their wines, spend $XX on wine and you can use that $10 towards your purchase. Or, should you decide to join their wine club, there’s usually no fee, but you are expected to buy several bottles twice a year or quarterly. Another benefit, as a wine club member, you get to go in and enjoy free tastings whenever you like and you get invited to special member-only events. Plus, when you buy wine as a member, you get a membership discount.
A couple of examples of that membership bennie thing–
I went to one winery on a Tuesday to pick up our club wine. Of course, while there, I did a tasting. One particularly tickled my palate, so I bought a bottle. I got the special Tuesday discount they were offering PLUS my membership discount, so I saved 25%. Score!
During that Mother’s Day tour, we visited one of the more upscale wineries and our tasting including the big finale` of a Cabernet that clocked in at $180 a bottle. With one of us belonging to their wine club, the tasting was free. And, after we had tasted our allotment, the wine server asked if we wanted any repeat tastes. We all went for that expensive Cab again.
I tell ya, it ruins you. But it a wonderful way.
We’ve joined a total of four wine clubs in the area: Efeste, Dusted Valley, Refuge & Prospect and Martedi. Each has it’s own unique style and all are doing amazing things when it comes to wine. Plus, there are some great stories to be heard while tasting. The family operation handed down, the fun names they’ve come up for their varieties, the winemaker who went through a divorce and took every penny left to go for his dream. But there are literally over 100 others that are also produce amazing wines, with stories to match. Washington is now the number 2 wine producing state in our country and we can all be very proud of the quality being produced.
There are wine tours where you climb on a bus, or you could Uber or Lyft your way around. If you’re driving, force yourself to taste and maybe not finish every pour to the bottom of the glass and limit yourself to three wineries at most.
I joked online when I posted a picture of our group on Mother’s Day with the comment, “So glad no one else thought of going wine-tasting with mom.” The truth was, it was packed. We are very lucky to have such a great attraction so close to home. If you even remotely enjoy wine tasting, Woodinville is calling.
First off, those of you who know me understand I like the middle. I don’t have a D or an R by my name and proudly choose the better of the two candidates when there is one.
You also have most likely noticed that our country has taken a drastic turn towards polarization. Us versus Them. If you don’t think like me, then you’re a bigot or a racist or just a downright evil person. And that’s sad. We’re the same people we were before the most recent presidential election, yet we’ve allowed the major parties to shape how we think. Right now, the only game being played is how to villainize the other guy.
For a brief while, I noticed a push to try and talk out our differences. To be civil and to discuss politics. It gave me hope, because it’s through discussion and comparing points of view that we can move towards a compromise and work together as Americans.
If you insist on being caustic, bitter and angry and view that as a solution to our country’s problems, you have the absolute right to do so. However, if you’d like to begin the journey out of this cesspool and start the slow climb back to being civil to one another, may I suggest this little test?
Every time there’s a slam on Donald Trump, would you have laughed as hard if we were to substitute in the name of Hillary Clinton? My guess is, probably not. It’s a simple little filter I put to most of the stories that come out about our current president. For example, if Bill Maher had made an incest joke about Bill Clinton and his daughter, or if Martha Stewart was photographed flipping off a portrait of Hillary, would that have been equally as funny? I can beat the 5-second timer on that response. It comes down to basic decency and respect.
Don’t respect the office or this president? Good for you. Take a craft class at the senior center, create a gold medal out of construction paper and put it on your coat and wear it proudly.
On the reality side of the world, this is the time to come up with better candidates, better ideas, ways to fix things, to make things better. The problem with whining and complaining is that, eventually, people just quit listening.
And now more than ever, we need to listen to each other.
It’s weird how life works out.
In the 1970s, I was roaming the University of Washington at the same time as a girl from Ballard. But we were on different paths. We each headed off into the world to experience all kinds of adventures, in completely different directions.
Upon graduation, I went east of the mountains for that first radio job, ended up getting married, moving back to this side of the state and raising a family.
Victoria graduated from the U and stuck around town, having a family as well. It wasn’t long until she found herself a single mom and life was far from easy.
No need to go into details on either side, but it took an incredible timing pattern for us to be in the spaces we were in when we were introduced ten years ago. Yes, it was on a second attempt for a blind date that this woman came flying into the Mill Creek Boston’s pizza after a hectic drive from Ballard. I can replay that scene in my brain any time I want. I felt a click, but proceeded with caution.
There are so many ways we could have never met. I had an uncle who told me to look him up after I graduated from college and he’d do what he could to get me a radio job back east. Victoria went to school in Norway for a year, fell in love with it, and didn’t really want to come back. It was at her family’s insistence.
I really don’t know how I was lucky enough to find someone as kind, pretty and caring as Victoria Arlene Templin Sangrey Hunter. Any more names and we’d need two t-shirts, but I digress. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at her and feel grateful for how this whole crazy ride of life worked out.
It’s her birthday this week. Victoria-fest, as I call it. The years are passing by too quickly, which is why I continue to be on a mission to make every moment of every day count. It’s so easy to push through life and suddenly look back on a big old blur. We’re here now. I’m here with her and am truly grateful to have found her.
That’s enough gushing for now. Happy birthday, Victoria. I love you as much as humanly possible! Stay exactly the way you are.
Well, good news. The threatened writers strike has been avoided. In the wee hours of this past Tuesday, both sides came to a tentative agreement on a three year deal, which means all the late night shows and the series starting to shoot episodes for this fall can keep going.
However, not all of the writers approve of this deal that still has yet to be voted on. Since this is my little space on the internet, I’d like to share some space and post his thoughts about still going out on strike.
Yeah, I’m not surprised he didn’t sign it, either. Pretty controversial stuff.
Thanks for reading!
This next season of University of Washington Football is going to be a special one.
Coming off last year where they were part of the top 4 teams in the nation, that’s a tall order. But what’s going to make this year incredibly special, regardless of the Dawg’s record, is that it will be the final season for the “Voice of the Huskies”, Bob Rondeau.
I am and will always be so grateful for the path life has taken me. One of the more scenic detours was getting a phone call from a low voice over in Seattle, wanting to know if I had an interest in being his producer. KOMO radio news guy Bob Gillespie was over in Yakima visiting his in-laws one day, heard enough of me one day to suggest to KOMO morning guy Larry Nelson that we should talk, and the rest was history.
As Larry used to always tell me, if you want to make God laugh, just tell him the plans you have for your life.
Two weeks away from being married, I accepted a job that started the Monday after the honeymoon. That meant getting hitched in 10-below weather, going over to Seattle to find a place to live in a 3-hour search, going on the honeymoon, coming back and then moving over through the snow-covered passes in a truck with bald tires.
But it was so worth it.
Among the personalities and friends I got to know during my 4-1/2 year stint at AM-1000 was the KOMO Sports Director, Bob Rondeau. Bob was the morning sports guy, while a fellow named Gary Johnson was the afternoon sports anchor. Years before, in the Midwest, their roles had been reversed. Gary was the main guy, and Bob was his second.
To this day, if I bump into Bob Rondeau, it’s mere seconds before a pair of dueling Nixon impressions breaks out. For a while (until management forced us to stop–they felt it was disrespectful. Yeah, to a guy who resigned in disgrace), I would call up Larry in the morning and chat with him as “Mr. Former”, as if Richard Nixon was a fan of the show. Man, did we have fun. Our GM fought mildly for us, then brought out the white flag and the cease-and-desist went into effect.
While Bob enjoyed the big-time job of calling all the Husky football and eventually, basketball games, KOMO wanted to expand their reputation as “Your Husky Station.” So, to pad our part, we developed the whole “Tailgate Party” show concept, with Lar having fun, playing the Husky Fight song or Tequila over and over, while I produced bits to play in-between all that. One of the recurring features we did was something called, “Special Times”, where Larry and Bob would talk about the game, what it all meant, all the while walking as close as they could to the silliness line.
Bob Rondeau was Bob ‘frickin’ Rondeau. He still is. But Bob always treated me as an equal, a friend and just another member of the KOMO family.
I attended the University of Washington from 1973-77 and have absolutely no clue who did the broadcasts back then. The only “Voice of the Huskies” I’ve ever known has been Bob Rondeau. It’s going to very strange to not have him up in that broadcast booth a year from now. I have a feeling I’m going to be listening to radio broadcasts of the game a little bit more next season.
Go Dawgs! Oh, and Bob, Mr. Former says ‘hi’.
This is my current goal. After 60+ years on this planet, I’ve lived a lot of different ways. The excited, dream-filled teenage years, the crazy days of college, those decades trying to get your career to take off, then maintaining that success while trying to constantly increase my experience and knowledge base. The common theme: very little sleep.
So I enter this decade of my life hoping to spend as many days as possible doing what I love to do. It seems like the smart way to live. However, this mindset was inspired by watching the passing of people I have known and loved over the years.
I’ve had this feeling for a while–making every day count. It’s just SO easy to get caught up in a busy, go-go-go lifestyle. Sure, its lots of fun, good times, etc. but the end result is that it makes time fly by. And when you’ve reached this stage, you really want to milk it for as long as you can.
Probably Alice Porter’s early departure was my wake-up call. Her husband, Shawn, followed her just a few years after that. If you’ve visited these blogs for a while, I’ve introduced you to several of those people who left this planet way too soon.
Recently, another one of my Torrance High School classmates passed away. Yes, it’s going to happen when you come from a class of 600 students. But when you read that name or hear it from another classmate, its easy to flashback to those days where you really did live day-by-day. Everything, every day was such a big deal.
Facebook, for all of its issues, has made it easier to stay in touch with those people from long ago. Some alum took it upon themselves to keep tabs of those we’ve lost. I just discovered this list online the other day and came across a few names that took me back to some pretty exciting times in my life. I don’t know how they died or any of the details, I just saw that they are no longer with us. But the memories remain.
Wayne Ferm–Wayne was a short, stocky guy with squinty eyes and a big smile as we walked around campus. His nickname was ‘Winky’.
Dexter Wolfgang–Dexter was years ahead of his time and my first acquaintance with a gay anyone. Everyone knew who he was and I understand he went on to be quite the hairstylist.
Mike Justice–I had him in a couple of my classes. Nice guy. Probably saw him at a reunion or two, I don’t remember for sure. I do know that he went on to become quite the photographer and died during a helicopter shoot over the Los Angeles Harbor earlier this year.
Merry Laskaris–Was one of those high school cuties you just didn’t forget. All that beauty and she could twirl a baton with the best of them.
Danny Gans–I played Little League with him and our paths didn’t cross much in high school, but he became quite the Las Vegas headliner.
Jon Lemler–Jon became quite the naturopath and healthy-living advocate. He met my wife Victoria at one of my reunions and we are both convinced it was with Jon’s help that Victoria conquered her kidney disease. Ironically, Jon was attending a conference in Las Vegas when he dropped dead from a massive heart attack.
The pictures in my head of each of these former classmates are as they appear in my old dusty yearbook. It’s how I remember them.
I really did have some great high school years. Some people look back and think those were the happiest days of their lives. For me, I’d include them, but I’ve always believed that if high school was the best time of your life, the rest of your life is nothing but a letdown. For me, it was just the start.
These days, my work schedule means launching into a new collection of conquests every Monday. Some routine, some new. But I’m amazed how anxious I still get every seven days, even though I know I’ll accomplish everything (and I do) but there’s this nagging feeling like I shouldn’t be able to do this. That there’s a rule I’m not observing. I should be in a 9-5 job, going to work and wishing I was somewhere else.
Well, I’m lucky enough to be at that “somewhere else” and feel blessed for having this opportunity. It’s becoming more and more obvious that I need to go back to my high school thinking, where every day was so incredibly important and special.
Because they are.
We base our opinions on what we see and experience. I’d have to say that, after this past week, United Airlines is a done deal. The Titanic of Airlines was struggling to stay afloat despite their descending quality of service and withering reputation. That’s the United Airlines we all know today.
But there was a time….
I grew up as a United Airlines kid. My dad proudly worked at the airline in it’s Hey Day, which for you younger whipper-snappers, meant when it was “the sh*t!” There was a time when airlines were like banks. There were zillions of them. And while there were big ones that covered the world like Pan Am and Trans-World Airlines, United was the top dog in the U.S., the #1 domestic airline during the 1960s. My dad was a mechanic who kept the service trucks on the ground working so they could service the aircraft. He had come out to California after World War II from West Virginia and landed a job as a fueler for, I believe, was a whopping $1.47 at the time. Over the years, he climbed the ladder and was quite the mechanic for “the friendly skies” back when they were still friendly.
It’s sad that United has ended up in this situation. The United Airlines I grew up was first class. In the 1960s, whenever our family would use employee passes to fly on United, we had to dress up. If we rode in first class, the guys had to wear ties. As kids, we were given plastic wings that signified we were honorary pilots. I can remember United Airlines employee summer picnics at the Los Angeles Police Academy (yep, same place as in the movies, just not as funny), and Christmas parties where Santa Claus actually showed up and handed out a present to each of the kids in attendance.
When United Airlines took possession of the first 747, they invited employees to come out to LAX and go on board before the general public got to see it for themselves. I remember waiting in line on the tarmac with other families, climbing those stairs and going into a brand-new, shiny Boeing 747, complete with a spiral staircase up to the first class lounge.
In college, I commuted home every other weekend on United. Back then, round-trip airfare for me (stand-by, yes, but flights weren’t that crowded back then) was a whopping $6. If I wanted to fly first class, it would have been $12. It cost less for me to fly to Los Angeles than it did for some of my dorm friends to drive home to Portland or Spokane. The planes were clean, the employees friendly. I even worked a couple of summers in the United Airlines flight kitchen in Los Angeles. The next time we get together, ask me about it. I’ve got stories.
That now seems like it was a century ago, even though it was only 40-some years.
United stock has plummeted and this dragging-a-customer-off-the-plane incident is far from over. Since the passenger was of Chinese descent, in China, they were watching that video at a rate of 20-million views an hour. If I was a betting man, I don’t think I would put any money on the airline surviving. But we shall see. It’s not like up until now I hadn’t heard many a complaint about United–delayed flights, lost baggage, etc. There was just a part of me that hoped it could right the ship instead of orchestrating a mutiny with its passengers.
For someone of my advanced years, it’s truly unthinkable.
Just a week ago, the parent company of Sears said it was doubtful they would survive. The vultures are circling, a younger generation says, “So what?”
Admittedly, Sears is not anything close to what it used to be. Then again, none of the stores are these days. Macy’s, Penney’s and yes, Sears are all closing stores nationwide. To help the younger folks understand, think of where you’ll be 30 years from now and how you’d feel when you hear Amazon is going away.
There was a time (and it was in my lifetime) that Sears was all that and more. OK, it was Sears & Roebuck, the American retailer that every Christmas put out a catalog of all the things that Santa might bring to the good little girls & boys. I remember ripping out pages and cutting out pictures to include in my letter to Santa, so he could get it right. When other kids got gifts from Santa from Schwinn or Lionel, my Sting Ray bike and model train set had the Sears name on it.
Sears was the anchor store at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, California, just three blocks away from my home. It was in 1966 that I rode my bike over to the Sears parking lot to see a couple of guys running for office. They gave their speeches from the back of a flatbed truck. One was a guy named Valentine running for congress. The other, a former actor running for governor named Ronald Reagan.
Sears is where I got my first job in high school. Those who know me will find this hard to believe, but I was on the Sears Teen Fashion Board, which meant I modeled clothes in a couple of fashion shows at the mall, and I was able to work part-time at the store. As a ‘floater’, I could find myself in the Garden Center or Men’s and Boy’s departments. But my favorite hangout was Division 9: Hardware. I got pretty good at selling circular saws and Craftsmen tools, because after all, they had a lifetime guarantee. I remember a guy bringing in a ratchet he had bought in the 1940s. It was broken, and of course we replaced it because it was a Craftsmen.
I also remember that I was there when they first introduced “computerized” cash registers. I got so good at inputting numbers that I would often be done and would wait two minutes for the register to catch up and print out the receipt.
I have no recent stories about Sears because, heck, who goes there anymore? On the rare occasion I find myself in one of their stores, I see bored employees standing around, talking with each other. It just looks like a dying store.
I mean, think about it: what does Sears have that you couldn’t get for less at Amazon?
And so, we continue to evolve as a society and, sometimes, at a cost of losing some things we’ve had around for a long time.
Remember how records became cassettes and 8-tracks that evolved into CD’s which became digital music files that we downloaded? This past year, for the first time ever, the #1 way that people bought music was through streaming services. 51% of the music sold was purchased through those streaming services you’ve come to enjoy.
All this to say, the next time you’re near a Sears store, wander around and take a good last look. They’re soon to join the ranks of Montgomery Wards, The Bon Marche, White Front, Pay ‘n Pak, Pay ‘n Save and so many others.
The future does not bode well, but I fondly remember that time when Sears was “where America shops.”
I just saw a post on Twitter where someone was dreading tomorrow, Saturday, April 1st….or, as it’s otherwise known, April Fool’s Day.
I’m a yuckster, so I’ve always enjoyed the day. From the harmless childhood pranks, to the more elaborate twists as you get older. Nothing harmful. Being a morning person puts you in great shape to be the first one to catch people off guard and break it to them first.
Might as well keep the streak going.
This year, 2017, won’t be as fun because it’s not a work day. I quit going to an office on a daily basis three years ago, but for the rest of the 9-to-5 world it will mean pranksters deprived for two years in a row as April Fool’s Day falls on the weekend.
I have gone a new direction anyway. Last year, I began a tradition of creating a video piece on National Gullible Day. The origins of this invented holiday will change every year, as will the cast and stars of this brief video therapy session.
This year, special thanks to all those who took part: Mike West, Scott Burns, Mike Rue, Margo Rogers, Kristi Gilbert, Brian MacMillan, Alana Baxter, Rune Kjenstad, Caroline Sleipnes Kjenstad, Mark Merchant, Chris Settle and my very special guest, Pat Cashman.
Of course, you can watch both this year’s video and the 2016 edition at NationalGullibleDay.org
And just so you know, that’s also the world’s first Scratch ‘n Sniff website.
You can’t blame a guy for trying.
Happy NGD to all!
The guy who gave us “The Dating Game”, “The Newlywed Game” and who hosted the madness of “The Gong Show” passed away this week. Chuck Barris died at his home in New York at the age of 87.
Gee, Chuck Berry…then Chuck Barris….I think if I was Chuck Norris, I’d go into hiding. But I digress. And quite well, I might add.
I’m diving into this particular topic this week because the majority of the population roaming the earth these days heard the news that Chuck Barris had died and immediately said, “Who?” or “The Dating what?”
I like to use this little corner of the Internet for my observations and perspective. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about getting older, it happens quickly. Too quickly. One day, my baby sitter is telling people that Tim hides behind the couch when everyone on the Dating Game blows a kiss to the camera at the end of the show. The next thing you know, the only people who even know what you’re talking about all have hints of grey in their hair.
Chuck Barris had a big impact on both the 1960s and my childhood. He was ground-breaking. Those of us around back then watched him put “reality” on TV, although somewhat controlled. We heard what people thought in real-life situations. Both the dating world and the married world. Or, if you were doing both, you had to commit to watching TV two nights a week. “The Gong Show” was basically “America’s Got Talent”, with a gong instead of buzzers. One day, I plan to forgive Chuck for The Unknown Comic. It’s still too soon.
But for all the popularity and all the top-of-mindness that Chuck and his shows enjoyed, let the wheels of time spin away and it’s not long until you’re mostly forgotten. I don’t say this in a morbid, “we’re all going to get old and die someday” way. Over the years, I’ve been quite the student of what had happened in my parents’ generation, my own and my kids. I know songs and trends and news events that came from decades before I was born. I paid attention to what was going on in my kids’ world, as they grew up. As long as the Ginko keeps working, I enjoy being a living World Book encyclopedia of knowledge. Yes, some useless, but it’s OK to know things.
In a current, fast-paced, disposable-knowledge society, people observe, filter the information and then hang on to it until they dispose of that knowledge and move on to what’s next. That’s what allows so much recycling of ideas. The Bachelor and Bachelorette are really just dramatic retreads of the Dating Game. Wait a generation and you can re-do a classic, like Beauty & The Beast. Think about it–how many Spidermen or Batmen have there been, just in your lifetime?
I’ve gone down this road to remind you that, some day, you’re going to be talking to a friend of the same age, where the conversation begins with, “Remember the Kardashians and how they were everywhere and we just couldn’t get away from them?”
And someone standing nearby, 20 years younger, will utter that word that makes you realize you are officially old.
All to say, enjoy each day. Try to constantly remind yourself: the most important thing you have is right now.
There once was a dog named George.
My sisters or mom may remember better than me how we ended up giving George his name. Somehow in my single-digit years, mom and dad decided that three kids didn’t make a family chaotic enough and that it was time to have a family dog. So we adopted a mutt that was a lot of things, but mostly German Shepherd. He was black with a light belly, white paws and some brown thrown in. He looked like a dog made by a committee.
I would guess I was 8 or 9 when George arrived. I don’t remember a lot about him, but I recall he was full of energy. George developed a funny habit of running towards the back gate on the side of our house, which allowed him to jump high and peek over the fence. He would do two or three of those jumps in a row if he heard one of us out front.
His abundant energy was too much for our modest yard, so we would occasionally take him over to some nearby vacant fields to run him. Yeah, it was that long ago. There were vacant fields in Torrance. It’s now a housing development. We would drive the car out on the dirt road towards the middle of the field and George would just go nuts. Toss a tennis ball and he couldn’t wait to go get it and bring it back.
As happens with pets and kids, the newness wears off and soon, it became my duty to bury the piles in the backyard. I remember him turning into more of a chore and the fun of having a dog started to fade away. Plus, I had the kids in the neighborhood to hang out with.
One day, while George roamed the backyard looking for something to do, he started sniffing around the bushes. He found a new smell and decided to see how it tasted. Sadly, it was snail poison. We had always put it out in the yard, the snails were something fierce. But apparently, this time, George decided to chow down.
And George was gone.
I remember hearing the news and running back to that gate he once jumped on so he could see the outside world. He rested on top of the garbage cans, wrapped in a blanket and would remain there until the Humane Society folks came by to take him away. I remember hugging him and bawling my eyes out, regretting every moment that I should have been playing with him, wishing to have back every second I resented him.
In those fifty-plus years since my time with George, two other dogs passed through my life. Neither compared to the childhood friend that I enjoyed for only a couple of years, but who has stayed with me ever since. George was a tough act to follow.
The least I could do is write down his story.
You know, back when Richard Nixon ran for president, his slogan was “Nixon’s the one!” (and when his re-election rolled around, I remember people saying, “And he’ll be an even bigger one in ’72!”)
My God, there was even a song.
But let’s take a leisurely stroll back towards the topic I originally had in mind.
The Big One. As in earthquakes.
Growing up in southern California, you basically go through earthquake training. From the earliest age, they just showed up every now and then. By the time you realize an earthquake is happening, it’s over. When you talk with relatives in the Midwest who aren’t afraid of tornadoes or friends back east who dust off hurricanes, both think you’re crazy for living in a place just poised for “The Big One.”
Earthquakes happen. 46 years ago, they had the so-called San Fernando Valley shaker, which killed 64 people near Los Angeles. At that time, I was a sophomore in high school and when it happened at 6 in the morning, I thought it was my mom trying to wake me up for school. By the time I realized she wasn’t at the end of my bed shaking it, the quake was over.
Yes, there have been sizable earthquakes in the places I’ve resided over the years. All along, we continually hear warnings that we need to be prepared for The Big One. I’m not saying it won’t happen in my lifetime, but I’ve been through a few cycles of the local TV news people deciding during sweeps to spotlight the threat, remind us to be prepared and how awful it will be after it hits.
In Seattle, they’re expecting communications to be down, impassable roads, panic, etc. But I’m reminded of the year when those of us in Earthquake Country really out-did ourselves.
The year was 1969. In June, I was going to graduate from the 8th grade. (stop looking so surprised) The Reverend Donald Abernathy told his Los Angeles area congregation that he had a vision. God had told him that a big earthquake was going to hit LA and so he convinced his entire church to move to Atlanta. In the reverend’s vision, God was going to punish the City of Angels for all their sins by turning them into angels.
The result was Earthquake Fever. It was the buzz on everyone’s lips. Eventually, someone pin-pointed the actual time that the quake would hit and California would slide into the ocean. The most often-played song on the radio was all about the inevitable Big One. I offer this up to you with a warning. Listen to it a time or two and it will get stuck in your head.
Well, the big day that had be predicted for the earthquake to strike finally arrived. It was supposed to hit somewhere around 3pm. I remember riding around on my Sears Schwinn-like bike that day while keeping an eye on my watch. As a 14-year-old kid, your mind is less bridled. I’m wondering what it will be like? Will there be a big splash? Will it be fast or gradual?
I checked my watch again. The 3pm deadline had passed. The world continued. Eventually, I graduated from 8th grade as a proud Sam Levy Elementary School Llama. (if there can be such a thing) 48 years later, as of this writing, California is still there.
This week, there was a story in the news that geologists have determined that two of the major southern California earthquake fault lines were actually connected and, in fact, one big fault. In other words, there’s a potentially huge earthquake out there, just waiting to happen. Again.
If you’re a budding song-writer, here’s your chance to catch this wave.
Now, Seattle is said to be overdue for an earthquake of some sort. So, for now, I’ll maintain our stash of stale granola bars under the house, those outdated bottles of water and continue to guard those 96 bottles of outstanding wine in our wine cellar.
Oh and a storm door to keep everyone else out. At least until the wine is gone.
I finally found it.
For years, I’ve been trying to use a failing reel-to-reel machine to digitize some of the 500+ audio tapes that have collected dust under the house. It would work, then it wouldn’t. It would start fine, then slow down. Every dubbing session turned into a major ordeal.
Why do I want to dig out these audio memories? For several reasons. One, I’ve forgotten about a lot of them and second, I do a weekly podcast that I started up back in ’07. Here’s where you can find all the episodes but, eventually, I’m going to figure out a way to get all these up on iTunes. I’m close, but there are a few technical things that are stumping me.
But when I do, you’ll be among the first to know.
This week, I welcomed two new members of my audio gear family–a brand spankin’ new cassette deck and a beautifully restored reel-to-reel. These have already helped me uncover this nifty little gem from April 26th, 1991. Yes, almost 26 years ago.
It was a Friday morning and the other half of “Murdock & Hunter” as the show was known back then, Bruce Murdock, was sick. That left the patients in charge of the asylum. So, yours truly, Dave Sloan and Alice Porter put on a show. I grabbed a good chunk of it and edited it down to an “aircheck.” But, you’ll find so many lost memories in this one. We were celebrating “Secretary’s Week”, there’s a commercial for 1-800-THE-FACE, we were giving away a “typing machine”…the list goes on and on. You’ll get to hear Dave Sloan as the Moviemeister and Alice Porter acting fairly straight, as was I. We did get in a performance of “Roman Theater”, one of my proud accomplishments of that era of my career. Listen to the type of music we were playing and you could see that we were still a very sleepy Adult Contemporary station.
I apologize for the “liner radio” sound, but we were big on that back then. Eventually, we got loose and didn’t adhere to such formality but that, ladies & gentlemen, is what you would have heard in Seattle on 92.5-KLSY in the early 90s.
I can remember being there and saying some of those things, but it feels like a million years ago.
I’m a fan of history, especially my own.
And while the human mind can remember a lot of things, anyone who’s been around for a while knows, after a while, the old hard-drive gets full. You can only remember so many things and with today’s information-overload society, I’m afraid a lot of those stories from years gone by are slowly being squeezed out.
Or, they never made it here in the first place.
During this week’s visit to mom and my sister Debbie down in the hometown of Torrance, California, I picked up quite a few lost stories that were either squeezed out or simply forgotten. Some were never even heard, so I’m choosing to write them down so that either you or me can pull these out when we’re sitting around in the old folks home, wondering why we’re there.
I knew I was born in Gardena, a neighboring city to Torrance, but the story I had always heard was because Torrance didn’t have a hospital of its own. It turns out they DID have a hospital, but the night the water broke and delivery became a matter of time, MY PARENTS COULDN’T FIND THE TORRANCE HOSPITAL! So they went to the closest one, which was a hop, skip and a jump over in Gardena. I heard this story as we stopped by the site where the elusive hospital once stood.
I ended up having a 30+-year radio career and of all the paths I could have chosen, radio called me. (and I was caller #9) I found out during this trip down that my mom was also a fan of radio, as she pulled out her official membership certificate she received when she was 11-years-old. A charter member, no less.
During one of the many Happy Hours that break out when we get together, my sister Debbie blurted out some stories one night that I may have heard before, but had forgotten. For example, at her high school graduation from Torrance High School, right after they announced her name, I yelled out at the top of my lungs, “Thank God!”
Then there was the time that my buddy Tank and I picked up Debbie at the airport in Seattle. (back when you could greet people at the gate) The moment we saw her, Tank yelled out, “That’s her, officer! The one with the backpack!”
Call it frugal, call it cheap, but I was reminded of another tradition of growing up Hunter. These days, every kid has their own cell phone. But “back in my day”, they had these things called ‘phone booths.’ Each of us busy kids were given a dime. Say, for example, if my basketball practice ended at 4:30, when I was ready to be picked up, I used a dime to operate a pay phone. I would call the home number, let it ring once, then hang up! My parents recognized the Hunter code to go pick up a kid, because hanging up without the phone being answered gave me the dime back and I would be ready for the next time.
Dig around your family history and you’ll probably uncover some “almost never was” stories. For example, I can’t imagine being raised in any other home than the one in the middle of the street where my mom has continued to live for 64 years. But apparently, the only house that was available in that development was the one down the street on the end of the block, next to a very busy Hawthorne Blvd. However, the sale fell through on the eventual Hunter residence and the rest is history.
Just a few shares about my family story, if nothing else, so that I can look at this blog in the future and remember some of those mini-details that successfully escaped my mind.
I’d like to encourage you to do some digging of your own, to see what nuggets you can uncover.
PS–I also found out that even though Torrance is a fairly large city, with a population of 150,000 people, there are no cemeteries within the city limits.
The Internet is where people vent, decry, express anger, sadness, joy, you name it.
We pride ourselves on being a free society, ready to defend the virtues of unrestricted speech and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I did some noodling the other day (it’s what old people call pondering) about the state of the people I care about and I’d like to make a suggestion. Actually, a couple of them.
To begin: breathe. Relax. Take at least 60-seconds out of every day where you don’t think about what’s going on at work, what the president tweeted or what you think may or may not happen in this country. OK, now, with that clear head, think back over the years you’ve been around and how our nation has constantly battled between right and left. It’s a pendulum. Our country has a history of swinging back and forth.
Starting with Ike:
Eisenhower (R) 8 years
Kennedy/Johnson (D) 8 years
Nixon/Ford (R) 8 years
Carter (R) 4 years
Reagan/Bush (R) 12 years
Clinton (D) 8 years
Bush (R) 8 years
Obama (D) 8 years
Keeping this pattern in mind,
Keeping this pattern in mind, it really shouldn’t be surprising that Trump was elected. OK, so that’s how the election went, he’s doing what he said he would do and there will be battles a plenty. But that’s politics and, in reality, a very small fraction of our life. Unless we choose to make it our entire life.
And that’s what I see people doing. Day in, day out, they’re upset about the latest incident or quote or appointment or alternative fact. Then, you see people expressing their frustration on Facebook. Now, what used to be a collection of food pictures or cats playing pianos, is a collection of mean-spirited, caustic snipes and swipes at anything and everything that happens.
Take a look again at that list above and the way the country has gone for the past half-century–we’re going to swing right, then left, then right. Let’s call that a given. Now let’s introduce the fact that one of the deadly killers we really don’t know a lot about is stress. Are you really going to maintain this current level of discontent for another four or eight years? Let’s say you have 30 years left on this earth. By this formula, you’re going to spend 15 of those in misery. Really? You just want to toss those years away?
How many family gatherings will you find yourself afraid of saying the wrong thing? How many rainbows not even notice because you’re pounding away on your keyboard in response to another Facebook post?
And this just in–science has now confirmed that not a single person’s opinion has ever been reversed because of a clever meme. Hey, if you going to generate fake news, you might as well make it entertaining.
We all have a gift called life. What we do with it is entirely up to us. So, there will be people who march, carry signs, write angry letters, make phone calls, put on bumper stickers, and spend the bulk of their time completely unhappy. It’s their choice.
Or, consider doing things that might actually cause change. Being angry and gathering with a bunch of like-minded angry people only results in feeling good about yourself momentarily. The next day, not a micro-organism of change.
As a comedy writer, I’m always on the lookout for commonality. Those are the things that allow you to cut down on the set-up time of the joke. You can lose your audience saying, “You know, over in Scotland, they had banned the use of round scissors and so what happened was…..” or, you go straight to, “That’s now five rings for Tom Brady and he should go to voicemail.” You didn’t need to explain who Tom Brady was, what the rings referred to and best of all, it was non-political. When you go political in comedy, you stand a good chance of alienating at least half your audience, or at least make them less appreciate your comedic talents. Right now, late-night TV hosts and Saturday Night Live are having a field day with Trump (and he and his staff are providing ample fodder), but I have a feeling that long-term, that’s going to backfire on them. We’ll see….
Again, I’m in the middle, watching all of this happen and absorbing what I can along the way so that the next time I get to vote, that will be reflected. It’s how this democracy works. Please, be informed, stay on top of things, but don’t waste half of the years you have remaining being consumed and feeling that anger, fear and hurt score brownie points.
Someone else won the trophy. OK, fine. Let’s do things that can really help win it back next time. But you won’t be able to help right the ship if you stress yourself out into non-existence between now and then.
It’s funny how closely connected we really are, especially if you’ve been in the Seattle area for a while.
I’m a newbie, having just been here since 1973 with only a few years off in Yakima for bad behavior. Again, once you’ve put in a few years and you start talking with the people you’ve met, you’ll find some link between you and just about anybody.
Last night, I was at the Opus 111 Group client appreciation event held at the Ruth’s Chris in downtown Seattle. Working the welcome desk was Donna Driver, who works part-time and fill-in for Opus. She’s also the sister of Opus’ annuity expert, Bill Driver.
Donna and I originally found out we had a connection a couple of years ago when she brought in her school photo book and showed me a picture of her back in 6th grade along with her teacher, Ernie Templin. Yes, my father-in-law. It turns out that she is also married to a Norwegian and we have often bumped into her at the various Nordic events around town.
But the topic last night was the passing of Stan Boreson. Donna is a Seattle lifer and grew up with TV heroes like Brakeman Bill, Captain Puget, JP & Gertrude and, of course, KING’S Klubhouse with Stan Boreson. But since she doesn’t have a blog or a Facebook account, she emailed a story that she wanted to share with me. It seemed the perfect follow-up to my previous blog about Stan.
Every kid who lived in Seattle in the ’50s has a Stan story. Mine dates to 1958 when I was inspired by him to take accordion lessons. It just so happens that we lived at 75th and Mary NW, and Stan and the Daquila family had an accordion studio at 75th and 15th NW. The deal they had was that if you signed up for lessons, Stan would come to your house and bring your accordion and give you your first lesson. Be still my heart! I could hardly contain myself when he arrived – with the dogs! I became an avid accordionist taking lessons from one of the teachers at the studio (her name was Donna, too).I got ready for a full size model for which my parents paid $250 (that’s 1958 dollars.) Stan brought the new accordion to my house and gave me my first lesson on it – did I mention he brought the dogs? Boy, did I love that accordion. In fact I played it for a good six months after my parents shelled out the cash before I got tired of practicing. That ended my career as a Lawrence Welk hopeful, but I did learn to read music and I like to think Stan launched my career. I still have the accordion and drag it out every once in a while. I should probably buy Book II and see if I can work my way through.
A funny thing happened at Opus yesterday. I went into Bill’s office and said how sad I was the Stan had passed on. I said, “Do you remember when he came to our house?” And Bill piped in, “And he brought the dogs!”
A whole generation delighted in the King’s Clubhouse and the good clean fun we had. We can ALL sing the song! Thanks, Stan!
Thank you, Donna for sharing!
I know that right now, Stan is getting the answer to the age-old question: do they allow accordions in heaven? Since I’m pretty sure God enjoys a good laugh, I’ll be Stan has received a really nice one.
I found out the way most people hear news these days–on Facebook.
Stan Boreson had passed away.
I was a late addition to the Stan Boreson fan club. Kids who great up in Seattle during the 1950’s and 60’s were able to turn on KING 5 in the afternoon and watch a funny Scandinavian with an accordion and a basset hound named Nomo. It was back when televisions stations made the effort to provide live entertainment for kids after school.
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I was unaware of Stan’s existence. However, when I took a job at KOMO Radio as Larry Nelson’s producer in the early 1980s, our paths crossed and I had the good fortune to really get to know Stan. He made frequent visits to the KOMO studios and would banter with Lar about Ballard, Snoose Junction, the Swedes and Norwegians, Ole & Lena, Ole & Sven and those old KING’s Klubhouse Days.
Some of my Stan Boreson stories include:
Stan coming in one holiday season and performing songs and offering memories all morning long. Then, to cap it off, another friend–Leif Eie from Scandinavian Airlines–was flying up in the KOMO Air Patrol with Ted Potter. Leif sang an original song about KOMO Christmas Time in Seattle, while Stan accompanied him on the accordion in the studio.
You can actually here the KOMO broadcast and one of the KLSY visits on this week’s edition of my Wacky Week podcast.
After hanging with him a few times as Larry’s producer, Stan could see I liked to joke around. So, he invited me over to his house several times after KOMO to sit and write more parody Christmas songs. I think we wrote around a dozen of them and I even still have the original hand-written sheets. He used several of them on one of his last Christmas albums, for which I will be forever grateful.
I stayed in touch with Stan over the years, sneaking him on the air over at KLSY a couple of times and even dragging him into a “Murdock & Hunter Deck Your Halls” promotion. I have some video home movies of that adventure.
I bumped into Stan here and there. I was hoping to get him to perform at my wedding, but he said his manager wouldn’t let him do it for free. I understood. When people know what you do, they aren’t afraid to ask, “Oh, just this one time….” and 93 one times later, you’re overbooked because you’re a nice guy.
I saw Stan at Larry Nelson’s funeral (was that really 10 years ago?) and once at Ballard Seafoodfest a few years ago. Sadly, my final conversation with Stan wasn’t the greatest, but when you think about it, it was actually a funny misunderstanding and Stan was a funny guy. You can hear that story at the end of this week’s podcast.
I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed and that I was able to get an up-close look at that special light.
PS–One more special video. I didn’t even know he ever appeared on the Lawrence Welk show.
I found a video.
Putting on my Department of Responsibility hat for a moment, I need to tell you a couple of things about this particular piece of production. First, it could very well be propaganda. I’m sure some folks will discount it that way. But when I watched this a first time and then a second, outside of more F-bombs than a deluxe Rap Music CD collection, the guy says a lot of things I had thought or can agree with.
Where I wanted to go this week was last weekend’s Women’s March. A lot of women I know took part, or wish they had and, never being able to say “I know what you’re feeling”, I defer to you guys. I understand why you marched, but I have this deep fear that you were being used.
Now, before I continue, here are most of my major political stands:
All that being said, I fear that the Women’s March was just the latest desperate act of the Democratic Party to someday get back in power. Sadly, the last election didn’t go their way, there’s fighting within the party, no direction and so they’ve implemented the strategy of “Let’s help Donald Trump vilify himself even more!”
You’ve seen what’s been going on–the country, already divided, is getting worse.
OK, now I’m going into this further than what I planned. When you want to unite people, you identify or create an enemy. There were rumors that FDR allowed the attack at Pearl Harbor so that he could go to war. When the Monica Lewinsky story broke, President Clinton bombed Libya because Moamar Khadaffy was suddenly a major threat. There’s Bush and the 9-11 thing. And now, because the Democrats have lost both houses and the presidency, they need to get people completely bent out of shape and so miserable that they’ll only vote for people with D’s near their name next election.
The ideal is that women around America banded together and gathered organically to show their strength and unity. Well, there was that….but there was also the full support of the Democratic Party. Among the sponsors (whose name appeared on the banner in D.C.)–Planned Parenthood! I even got an email promoting attendance and a follow-up, thanking me for attending, from one of the hopeful candidates in 2020, Martin O’Malley.
When I was walking through the Phoenix airport this past week, it seemed so surreal. A few steps and I would hear one newscaster say, “Blah, blah, blah, President Trump.” A few steps later, “Blah, blah, blah, President Trump.” It’s real and who would have thunk it.
Now, back to that video. I don’t know who the guy is, but I’m assuming a British broadcaster who just let it fly. OK, I Google’d it–He’s Jonathon Pie, a UK reporter. This was originally recorded shortly after the election. Again, F-bombs coming, but he’s so spot on, it hurts.
Let’s talk to each other. Let’s communicate, not exasperate.
I’d like to believe that we can work together and make America civil again.
Not that busy. But close
The last of the Christmas decorations have been packed away and even the Seahawks pennants and memorabilia that decorate our family room have been put back into our Hawks Box. That’s my cue that it’s time to head into a New Year. Another 12-month cycle of events that make up my annual routine. All things I enjoy doing and that I plan on doing for as long as people will have me. I know all too soon there will come a time when it will be time to pass along the torch to someone younger so that these traditions can continue.
Oh, new events and adventures always present themselves, but every January as I stare into the face of a New Year, I can count on these events being a part of the months ahead:
JANUARY–A pretty calm month. It’s my mother-in-law’s birthday month, so there are events around that, but in a good year, the first month of the year is spent seeing how dry the Christmas tree can get before we take it down and how far the Seahawks will go.
FEBRUARY–My first auction of the year with the gang at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran in Ballard.
MARCH–More auctions. This month, my biggest one up at the Xfinity Center in Everett for the Everett Rowing Club. The following night, I’m auctioning things off at the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle’s annual Fishcake & Meatball dinner. Yes, Ma, I finally made it. Oh and March Madness.
APRIL–Outside of Easter on the 16th, a pretty calm month.
MAY–Could there possibly be anything more in this month? (apparently making up for April) Opening Day of Boating Season, Six family birthdays (including my wife), Mother’s Day, PLUS Syttende Mai (Norway’s Constitution Day) which means a day-long celebration in Ballard and yours truly back as the voice of the parade for my 5th year.
JUNE–As month’s go, another fairly calm one, although this year will also include the Nordic Heritage Museum auction (I’m sorry–Auktion) and then, the third weekend in June signals the beginning of summer and usually means a cabin weekend up at Lake McMurray to celebrate Midsummer with a giant bonfire.
JULY–The 4th of July means you’ll see me in downtown Bothell doing the play-by-play for their annual Freedom Festival Parades–a kiddie version, followed by the Grand Parade. Then, there’s Seafoodfest in Ballard, which means I’ll take the stage and emcee another Lutefisk Eating contest. I believe I’ve done 9 of them, just in case anyone’s keeping track.
AUGUST–One of the events I love to attend is “Raise the Woof”, when you can hang with the Husky Football team the week before their first game.
SEPTEMBER–The beginning of college and pro football and the Fishermen’s Fall Festival down in Ballard, where I’ll be emceeing another Lutefisk Eating Contest.
OCTOBER–I’m honored to be invited as one of the judges for the annual Bothell Chilifest
NOVEMBER–Really, what more can I saw but Apple Cup. The college season is fun, but this is what it’s all about and this year, it’s in Seattle. Oh, and Thanksgiving. This is also the month I get going on the annual Christmas CD and put together a Christmas music video. I actually filmed and recorded this year’s version back in December of last year. Oh, and I co-auctioneer with buddy Dale Amundsen at the annual Greater Bothell Chamber auction.
DECEMBER–This month begins with a whirlwind 3-event weekend:
The second Thursday of December is “Fishermen’s Night”, a seafood-drenched night of drinking and comradery at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard. A sell-out every year.
The night before Christmas Eve is a Norwegian gathering called Lille Juloften. (Lilly-YOOL-often) Basically a night of partying to warm up for the Christmas marathon. They drink Gløgg. I don’t.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are naturally drowning in family events.
Then, several days later, on the 29th, it’s my wedding anniversary. This year is the big 1-0!
Of course, there are meetings for Norwegian Commercial Club, the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce, the Northshore School District General Advisory Committe and a couple of other groups I’m involved with. Toss in things like a son’s wedding and a couple of trips to California and that pretty much packs out the year.
If I owe you money, now you know where to find me. I hope our paths cross as much as possible in the coming year and for many years to come.
Make it a happy one!
If someone asked you, “What’s the valuable thing you have?”, what would your answer be?
It should be ‘time.’
It’s the secret to being able to do the things you want to do in this life and it all begins with realizing just how precious it is.
Time is a limited resource. When you’re younger, you’ve got all the time the world. As you add decades to your life, you hit that point where you realize the road is a lot shorter ahead than what’s behind you.
This topic came to mind when I was looking through some old photo albums and I started doing the math. It was the 1960s, which were my kindergarten through 8th grade years. Take a moment to wander back to that time for yourself and see what you remember. What were your parents talking about? What was going on in the world?
As any fan of history knows, the 1960s were tumultuous, filled with riots, wars, assassinations, racial strife, free love, and social evolution. There’s a lot I remember about that time (and I have to do it while the thinker is still working properly) but what prints the most in my brain is my parents and their references to World War II. Guys were sent off to war and did not see their families or sweethearts for decades. There was rationing and a genuine fear that the enemy could win and take over our country.
This is where the math part comes in. That was in the 1960s, when they were remembering the 1940s. That’s 20 years. To put that into perspective, it would be like us talking about the 1990s, which to the younger generation seems like forever ago. However, to us seasoned citizens, it seems like yesterday.
All this to say that the events that take place today are the ones we’ll be talking about in a fast couple of decades, which our children and grandchildren will treat like ancient history. It just goes by so quickly.
So, while not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, my biggest personal goal for 2017 is to continue what I’ve been doing the past couple of years and making every moment count. Not in June, when this is over with, or the fall, when I tackle something else and get it out of the way. Now. Today. This moment you’re spending reading the ramblings I’ve slapped down on this cyber page.
I have been blessed with many life lessons and reminders that we only have so long on this planet. We’re here now and some day we’ll be gone. But why worry about the second part of that equation, when you can focus on the here and now.
The world is far from perfect. But I’m convinced that by taking each day as it happens, while taking steps to make the days ahead even better, we can each maximize our time here. Not for others, but for ourselves.
This week, reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to sit down with and get caught up. Grab coffee, send a long-winded email or a Facebook Private Message. Reaching out to those who matter to us has never been easier and, because of that, we can tend to take it for granted.
Years ago, during my brief stint at 100.7-The Wolf in Seattle, I discovered a whole bunch of really great country music songs. I hadn’t paid much attention to them, but when you play them on the radio, you find yourself listening to the words. This Tim McGraw song really resonated with me and I hope you’ll set aside a couple of moments to enjoy it.
I love this concept. Live like you were dying. If you found out you had a year left, you know you’d change the way you live. So, how about doing that now, while you’ve hopefully got many years to go and make each of those years count?
Minute by minute.
Thanks for stopping by friends. Now, get out there and live!
Look, New Year’s Resolutions are fun. You make a run at something, it usually doesn’t work. Our society has conditioned our brains that an annual tradition is to set ourselves up for failure. We’re supposed to create an unrealistic expectation that you know you could never maintain for a long time, commit to it for as long as you can and then, when you give up, it’s OK–that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for!
What I’d like you to choose as your anti-resolution for 2017 is an attitude, not a promise. I guess you could summarize it in two words: value time.
Seriously, look around. There are all kinds of ways to waste time. Video games, mindless TV shows, being stuck in traffic, waiting in line–all very insignificant things, unless you suddenly find that time has a limit.
This just handed me–it does.
The tricky thing about time is that you don’t know how big the serving is that you’ve been dished. Sure, if you’ve got until 90, you can play solitaire until your heart’s content. But imagine if you went in for a physical, the doctor said, “Oh-oh..” and you were given six months.
We’d all value every second we have and make it count. Well, adopt that philosophy now. Why wait until you’re told you don’t have much left? I’d love to think I’ve got decades ahead of me and, genealogy-wise, that could be. Or, some fluke could happen and it would all be gone tomorrow.
The reason I bring this up is that several people I know (most likely, because I live on one of the coasts) are all but dedicating the next four years of their lives to being upset about the recent election results. Now, granted, there are concerns about the potential directions of the country, but step back and think: how much influence do you really have on what happens?
Yes, you should keep an eye on things and raise your hand on every wrong action. Next election, you can vote for change. But, remember–you had a life. A unique experience of friends and memories and excitement and passions. However, I see too many people deciding that being upset is their choice of a lifestyle for the next four years. How tragic.
Start living with ‘the worst case syndrome’ being over your head every minute of every day and that’s really not much of a life. You can look at the good, or dread the bad. Go see the tulips when those fields come alive in a couple of months in Mount Vernon or wake up every day and be obsessed with what’s wrong or could be wrong with America.
I believe our ever-so-connected, uber-updated world is taking a toll on a lot of caring people. If you decided to try a New Year’s resolution this year, may I recommend focusing on the gift you have right now: time?
There is so much to appreciate surrounding you, that could all be taken away in an instant. Savor it. Love it. Treasure it. Then, wake up tomorrow and repeat.
Have a great 2017. It’s out there, if you want it.
Every year, it happens. We think we’ve mastered this routine and something always gets away from you.
You get your gift buying done and the cards don’t make it out.
You get the cards out in time and realize several days before Christmas, you never got around to getting a tree.
We all have our various holiday checklists and I’d like to think I’ve got pretty much everything under control. To be honest, this year, I’m liking how the season is turning out and I will be pretty much able to enjoy the final few days before Christmas without panicking.
However, no matter how well you think you’ve got it under control, there’s always something standing by to stress you out.
It can be a comment from a relative that came out wrong. A misunderstanding at work. Buying an expensive gift for someone who gave you a Jelly of the Month Club Card. (It IS the gift that keeps on giving the whole year)
What I try to do is be on the lookout for those little reminders to stay calm, to realize there’s only so much you can do and that our own holiday happiness is an individual responsibility.
The other day, when trying to blast through the Christmas cards, I hit a bad batch of envelopes. I mean, c’mon–I managed to make the annual Christmas letter a reality, printed it out on Christmas paper, got the photos for the family card through the system, to Costco and printed. So, I was on top of it all and these lousy envelopes were failing me. I’d lick them, close the flap and press hard…and they still wouldn’t stick. I figured, what the heck, I’ll just Scotch tape ’em closed. That’ll teach ’em!
I was about a dozen taped envelopes in when I realized there was a strip of paper on the envelope. I pulled it off and would you look at that–adhesive envelopes. Just pull off the strip and they seal up like Fort Knox.
It was time to take a breath. Ask Alexa to play some Christmas music and get back into the season.
Again, the holiday is what we allow it to be. You want sad, you can have sad. And if you need a boost, go down to the mall and watch the eyes of those kids waiting in line to meet with Santa. We were all there once. We can all be there again.
I have been with Chase Bank for a long time. Well, actually, it started as Washington Mutual and then they were gobbled up by Chase. Bottom line, it’s been a couple of decades of having the same account number and having payments automatically withdrawn or checks directly deposited.
But recently, I paid attention to that little statement you get every month and they were charging me $13 just to have the account there. Apparently, the balance had dropped below the freebie level and my checking account was bleeding at a rate of $156 a year!
That doesn’t work.
This year, the ad agency I work for, Create Impulse, added N.W. Plus Credit Union to our client roster. It’s a local credit union with a half-dozen branches and the biggest thing we promote for them is their Totally Free Checking. And when the latest $13 clip occurred on my checking account, it was time to act.
But I had accumulated 215 Reward Points with Chase. Before I closed that account, I didn’t want to let those getaway. I mean, heck, maybe it would be worth a new toaster, microwave oven or something. But every time I tried to redeem them online, I got the message, “We’re sorry, but this feature isn’t working right now.” After three weeks of trying to get my earned rewards online, I called them up.
I received a sincere apology for the inconvenience, along with an offer to just convert those points into cash. No brainer, “Absolutely,” I said. A couple of clicks of the keyboard and then the voice at the other informed me that the money had been deposited into my account. All $2.15 cents of it.
Gee, should I quit my day job?
NW Plus doesn’t have any branches near where I live, but neither do online banks like Ally. If I need to deposit a check, I can do that with my phone. BECU’s are everywhere, but when was the last time you stopped by there and didn’t have to wait in a long line?
Now, I have Totally Free Checking. My debit card works everywhere. And, the way I look at it, I’m already $156 to the good in 2017 and the New Year hasn’t even started yet.
Changing banks can be clunky. All those auto-payments you have set up, re-entering all the bill-paying information. But it feels good to take the action I’ve been meaning to do for several decades and to support a local, not-for-profit credit union.
They also have a rewards program. Maybe, in no time at all, I could rack up another $2.15!
Just wanted to share. Have a merry one.
Any subject goes when you go in for a haircut, but it’s the time of year when the holiday stories come out.
This past week, I went to see my personal hair designer/stylist whatever you call them, Sherri Bell, and we started talking about kids and keeping their belief in Santa Claus. I think we all do things to sell it–plate of cookies by the fireplace, a glass of milk, maybe a carrot for Rudolph–all looking like they had been tampered with by our jolly visitor when you wake up on Christmas Day.
Sherri admits she probably over-sold the concept to her kids. She did all of the above, but one year, when their faith started to fade, she added muddy boot prints on the hearth and knocked over one of her living room lamps.
As the kids came in, she said in a stern voice, “OK, that’s it. If Santa comes in one more time and wrecks my house, we’re canceling Christmas!” to which the kids replied, “No!!!!!!!”
That’s why you should always believe in Santa. Otherwise, if Sherri finds out, God knows what she’ll do to your house to get you back with the rest of us.
“I didn’t do it! I was framed!”
For as long as I can remember, watching “A Christmas Carol” has become a mandatory experience every December.
Last night, we watched the George C. Scott version. Christmas cannot arrive without experience my favorite version with Alistair Sim. The Jim Carrey animated one was better than I thought it would be. There’s also the original 1938 rendition with Reginald Owen. Patrick Stewart, there’s a Mickey Mouse version, even “Scrooged” with Bill Murray dances around the plotline: a jaded person is changed by being visited by three spirits. (four, if you don’t include the messenger, Jacob Marley)
Spirit #2 was sent to make Scrooge more aware of the world around him in the present day. Spirit #3 had the job of showing him what would happen if he didn’t change his ways. The best job of the trio–Spirit #1. In the days before home movies, he showed Mr. Grumpy Pants those special moments of his life that he had pushed away.
I like to imagine the stories that Spirit #1 would show me, if he ever pays me a visit:
The year of the train set. When my parents decided I was old enough, they went to Sears and bought a scale model train set. I don’t remember if it came on the board, but my dad took a sheet of plywood, mounted the tracks and painted grass and a lake in the middle so that I could watch it go ’round and ’round.
The year of the bike. I was old enough to ride, so the Sears replica of a Schwinn Sting Ray (can you tell, we were a Sears family) showed up one year, compliments of Santa. It’s a stretch, but I can remember using the planter out in the front of our house to gain my balance and launch off down the street.
The year of the no hockey set. I remember clearly asking Santa in my letter for a hockey set. You know, those table-top things that you played by sliding rods and twisting them. It looked so fun on TV. The kids were smiling and laughing. But Christmas morning, no hockey set. Thinking about it, that could have been one of my uber-naughty years. Never mind.
Going to church. Yeah, we spent a lot of time there. Every Sunday. Every Advent service. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. I have to say, there’s nothing more torturous than waking up to see what Santa brought you, seeing a pile of presents under a tree and then having to wait until after church to open them. It did make the gift-giving last longer, I suppose.
The Snow Man Family. We lived in southern California. I’d bet that we spent most of our Christmas Days in 70-degree weather. But one year, my dad bought some designs (kind of like McCall’s for men) that you glued on to plywood and then mounted in your front yard. He made a snowman, snow woman, two snow kids and a snow dog. And to make it even cooler, he bought fiberglass snow. You’d roll it out on your lawn and it would look like snow. Well, it did the first year. You couldn’t walk on it, or it would get the snow dirty. And even then, after a couple of seasons, it looked more like old snow and we eventually tossed it out and just planted the family in our grass.
I’m excited because a couple of decades ago, I bought the same pattern, but never got around to making my own Mr. & Mrs. Snowman. In between all the madness this year, I’m attempting to bring them to life by this weekend. I’ll let you know if I succeed next week with pictures.
The Holiday Food. OK, we ate well as kids, especially in the Christmas cookie department. My mom made some incredible treats, and I’ll try to remember as many as I can:
- Chow Mein Noodles. Sounds weird, but imagine chocolate or butterscotch-covered chow mein noodles with Spanish peanuts thrown in. Pretty tasty.
- Coconut Balls. Chocolate-covered shredded coconut and I seem to remember an edible wax being put in the chocolate to help it firm up. No wonder I can put a wick in my mouth and it’ll burn for a week.
- Peanut Butter Rolls. Taking a break for a moment from covering everything in chocolate, these were made with powdered sugar and mashed potatoes. Then, once you have that rolled out, you spread peanut butter on it, roll it and then slice it. The peanuts gave it protein, so it was a healthy snack.
- Pfeffernusse. I think that’s the name. Kind of a ginger-bread cookie, apparently German-style, covered in powdered sugar. They weren’t my favorite, but I believe it was my grandmother’s recipe, so I had to honor the tradition. I should be thankful I wasn’t Norwegian. It could have been chocolate-covered lutefisk.
As for the main course in Christmas dinners, it was either a turkey or some kind of special Yugoslavian ham that dad was able to get through his work connections at United Airlines.
After growing up and having a family of my own, I did experiment one year when I was going through a serious Dickens phase, and actually prepared a Christmas goose along with oyster stuffing. It became known as the year nobody ate except me.
The Doll House. Now, I’m one of the parents. The Great Idea Department thought it would be a wonderful surprise for our daughter, Christina, to wake up to a spectacular new doll house. I mean, on the box, it was beautiful. But to aid in the surprise, we waited until the kids went to bed before opening the box to assemble it. That’s when we realized it was more of a model, than a toy. I’m talking individual shingles that each needed to be glued to the roof. I believe we went to bed that year around 3am.
OK, the ghosts of Christmas Present and Future got tired of waiting and left. But actually, who needs ’em? If you live in the present, that puts Ghost #2 out of work and really, Ghost #3 is just trying to scare you from a worst-case syndrome. If you’re living in the present, as you should, you’re in control of your life and the future will happen as it should.
Thanks for letting me drag you along through these holiday home movies and may I encourage you to set up a meeting with Ghost #1. I’ve already nabbed him for another appointment next week. Grab him before he gets too busy.
Truth be told, I have so many great holiday traditions that it could become a reality show. Each week, we could have the audience vote on which one they like best and determine the ultimate Tim Hunter Holiday Tradition.
Or not. I’m flexible.
Six decades of celebrating Christmas has resulted in quite a few favorite things, if I can say that without being sued by Oprah.
JULEBORD–One of the Norwegian touches to my holiday season. It’s a big formal Christmas dinner, mid-day, held the first Friday in December at the Seattle Golf Club. For the past five years, the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce has invited me to be the emcee and do a little schtick to kick off the event. I featured the 2016 party in this week’s edition of my Wacky Week Podcast, if you’d like to experience it for yourself. Food, beer, wine and aquavit not included.
SANTA CLAUS’ ARRIVAL AT COUNTRY VILLAGE–I believe this was my 13th year as their Official Town Crier. My duties are fairly simple, but I like to think that I add some fun to an exciting night for the kids. On the first Saturday of December, I show up at the office and put on the Dickens’ style hat, cape and scarf, grab the official scroll (a rolling pin with shipping paper turned into a document) and my own personal bell. Then, I wander this quaint little shopping village up in Bothell, hyping up the arrival of the great one himself. The crowds get bigger every year and this year, Santa arrived in a fancy, schmancy sleigh put together by the folks who do Snowflake Lane in Bellevue. The weather was perfect, the kids were pumped and a great time was had by all. Some good friends have even turned it into a yearly event with a pre- and post-function.
FISHERMEN’S NIGHT–On the second Thursday of December, the Norwegian Commercial Club holds a fund-raiser at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard. It’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink bash, with some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat. Upwards of 500 people pack the hall, dining on salmon, scallops, crab and more, they salute someone in the fishing industry and then everyone scatters to the area bars of Ballard.
PRODUCING A CHRISTMAS VIDEO–This started with an idea and a Flip camera years ago. I had decent success putting together a music video for the song I produced in my KLSY days, Bimbo #5. That was filmed with a Flip. Then I got a better camera and bigger ideas. I met a young singer named Alana Baxter and wrote some songs with her in mind. Her wandering spirit has taken her to school in Arizona and now work in Hawaii, so that made it a bit challenging to crank out a song this year. However, we’re not through. I’ve just gotta figure out a way to get to this tradition earlier in the year and then release the song around Christmas.
In case you missed any along the way, here’s the complete collection:
Those are all great traditions and there are more. But there is one that I guess I have to put at the top of the list, if nothing else because of the great response I’ve received over the years and how great it feels to put that much Christmas cheer into someone’s hand:
HO HO BROTHER–That’s the name I gave to a Christmas CD I put together every holiday season. I was inspired by a guy named Rick Taylor, the IT guy at KLSY in my waning radio days. He created his own CD and gave it to me for a couple of years and I thought, “Why don’t I do something like that?” He helped me with the technology and next thing you know, I was creating a collection of songs, radio bits, new comedy bits and blending them all together into a festive chunk of plastic. Back in the day, the idea of doing CD’s was cutting edge. Now they’re on their way out! I still pass out CD’s to family and close friends but should you be interested in hearing this year’s HO HO BROTHER 16, just left click on this link and listen to it, or right click on the link and download it to your computer. Either way, enjoy!
Here’s this year’s playlist:
1) “The New Santa” Fred Bugg as DT
2) “It’s Christmastime/Sleep Well, Little Children” Spike Jones
3) “The Christmas Song” Catherine Feeny
4) “Last Christmas” Jimmy Eat World
5) “Call to Liam”
6) “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Gaby Moreno
7) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” The Temptations
8) “White Christmas” Manhattan Transfer
9) “Fruity Pebbles Christmas Commercial”
10) “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide” The Brian Setzer Orchestra
11) “I Saw Three Ships” Barenaked Ladies
12) “It’s Christmastime Again” Peggy Lee
13) “A Keith Jackson Christmas” Matt Riedy
14) “Christmas Blues” Ramsey Lewis Trio
15) “Christmas Memories” Frank Sinatra
16) “Here Comes Santa Claus/Up on the Housetop Celebration” Mariah Carey
17) “Barkley & Shaq Stop By”
18) “I’m Gonna Tell Santa Claus on You” Faron Young
19) “Marshmallow World” Brenda Lee
20) “Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)” J.D. McPherson
21) “Burger King Christmas Commercial”
22) “Angels We Have Heard on High” David Lanz
23) “Christmas Day” The Beach Boys
24) “Merry Christmas, Baby” Rod Stewart, CeeLo, Trombone Shorty
25) “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” Straight No Chaser
26) “93 KQOT Happy Holidays Jingle”
27) “Gotta Be Good” Chris Isaak
28) “O Holy Night” The Carpenters
29) “Obama Holiday Greeting”
30) “Deck the Halls” Elizabeth Chan
31) “Hallelujah” Pentatonix
It’s no secret that I’m pretty much a Christmas nut. Sure, there are lots of imperfections in this world, but they’ll always be there. This is a time of year dedicated to the idea of hope and peace, and man, could we all use a healthy dose of that this year.
And I’ve got my collection of holiday traditions to help remind me of that.
At times, I listen to the local news on the radio and have to wonder which rabbit hole I fell down.
Seattle has a major heroin epidemic that has gotten continually worse after our beloved mayor officially declared that we have an epidemic. I’m expecting an official proclamation that it’s rainy in the days ahead.
I heard a local radio host talking about a pilot program up in Vancouver, B.C. that they claim is working well in the battle against heroin addiction. What you do is a create a safe environment, so that people who are addicted to heroin can come in and shoot up in a safe, sterile setting. Basically, government-run shoot-up houses.They claim it’s helping the situation.
Now, because of it’s “success”, there’s talk of trying that program out down here in Seattle.
OK, but I’ve got questions:
So, it’s being suggested that providing a junkie a safe environment (paid with tax dollars) is the best solution we can offer.
My head wants to explode. You want to coddle criminal behavioral with the idea that, if we do, it’ll solve the problem?
Well, then why stop there?
BANK ROBBERS: If you have decided to rob banks for a living, the city can establish a safe bank that allows people to bring in their money to give to someone dressed like a teller. Then, they can walk in, point a gun and get their money from the teller. That solves the problem, right? Except the robber would probably have to rob a real bank in order to get the money for the pretend bank.
CHECK FORGERS: Hey, these people are going through a tougher time than radio DJs. I mean, no one–OK, a few people–are still writing checks. If we give the bank robbers Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then the Check Forgers can have Tuesdays and Thursdays to bring in check with fake signatures for them to cash.
I could have gone with more horrific crimes, but you get the idea. Taking an illegal activity and condoning it DOES NOT HELP. Are those nut jobs at city hall thinking that becoming a drug addict is a career path? I can hear the high school guidance counselor now. “Oh, sure, there are drawbacks, but you’ll be OK. The city will take care of you. Think of it like continuing education.”
Life is a balance. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Drug addicts need help, not enabling. They need intervention. If their mind is so far gone, then the government needs to take over for the protection of the non-injecting population. Is that really so hard to understand?
I owe you a light topic in the near future.
But in the meantime, I’d just like to say it again–that’s a stupid idea.
Seriously, this is an amazing time in which we live.
For even just a couple of minutes, push aside the bile & poison that was our most recent presidential election, and look around you.
I do that and I see a week that includes a Sounders playoff game, a night where we’re going to catch “Fantastic Beasts…”, the annual Apple Cup game that means more than any in recent memory and of course, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Then, we’re into full-blown Holiday Season mode.
I write this with complete sincerity, but there is always a part of me that wonders if listing all the reasons you have to be grateful isn’t boastful. That is not my intent. It’s my hope that you’ll look around and cherish all that surrounds you. No, life isn’t perfect. You don’t have to look far to find something to be upset about.
But life is about balance. If you allow too much of the dark in, it will consume you. If you focus only on the good, then you could miss a wrong that needs to be fixed.
To the wonderful blend of friends and family that I have compiled over the years, I am blessed to have met you and known you. I give thanks to the Department of Life upstairs for all that I have and the acquaintances I have made, including you.
I hope your Thanksgiving Day is filled with bounty and love and that you appreciate the many gifts around you.
I have officially written-off watching local TV news. Done. Over.
Apparently, kids walking out of a high school to protest the presidential election is enough to get the “Breaking News” banner. Let’s show that stock footage again of the violence during the Portland protests. People are upset about the election results, I get it. In most elections, there are winners and losers, we learn, we move on.
[On a quick side-note–Of the 112 arrested on night in Portland, almost 70% weren’t registered to vote or failed to vote)
Sadly, political campaigning these days is all about instilling fear. Lots of fear. Enough that the Apocalypse would seem like a vacation. The drawback on that plan—if you don’t win, all you leave behind is massive fear and the losing side did a tremendous job this time around.
OK, just one “back in the old days”, I would watch what’s happening, make up my own mind if it was a good thing or a bad thing and then have an opinion. Now, there’s a correct way to view actions, with different rules for different situations. For example, kids walking out of school because they’re against the election results gets you into consideration for sainthood. I came from a time of protest—I mean serious protest—when there were laws on the books against people and a war where tens of thousands of fresh-faced kids barely out of high school were dying in a not-a-war police action. I get that.
I saw Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem and felt that it was shameful and very disrespectful. I was told I wasn’t thinking the right way, that he was calling attention to a social crisis that required change. Yes, Colin was a hero. A political activist.
It seems to me that if you’re going to try to cause change in politics, you need to vote. He said he didn’t feel he had to. Another part of his protest. Yep, a real hero.
To all those who feel wronged or hurt or distraught, take a look around you. We live in an amazing country, with opportunity that others would die for. Why do you think all those immigrants want to come here? You live here. You get to enjoy all the benefits. You are blessed with a political system that works and isn’t toppled every couple of years.
Donald Trump was not “my guy”, but he is my president. If you want to undermine the system, then you want to undermine America. Fix things, donate to causes, get involved. Every time I see a group of marchers, I’d love to do a quick poll among them and ask, “So how many of you actually voted in the last election? Or any election, for that matter?”
I was sad to see my wife upset the other morning as she headed out the door to work, because someone had spit on a professor at a Starbucks on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and called them racist names. She was under the impression that, “Here we go. Donald Trump’s people are acting out.”
I decided to get online and look up the incident. It happened in May, before Trump was even the nominee. But, in the spirit of spreading fear, someone posted it on Facebook and all hell broke loose.
As the rains pour down, please, continue marching outside and protesting. I’m going to focus on all the positive things that surround us and enjoy the bounty that comes with this season: football (and some winning teams), Thanksgiving, all the Christmas and holiday events, the office parties, the family gatherings. As a people, as a country, we are so blessed.
We definitely need to keep an eye on what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but more importantly, we need to stay focused on ourselves and living and enjoying what precious time you’ve been given. To spend the bulk of your existence being upset about something completely out of your control is a formula for a long, depressing life.
By the way, I had a refreshing chat with a Canadian friend of mine to get her take on what Canada thinks of our situation. You can hear that conversation on my weekly podcast.