My Favorite Holiday Tradition

funny-crying-santa

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:

2011  It’s Silent Night         2012  He Rides a Sleigh

2013  I won’t hate you very much tonight (It’s Christmas)

2015  Where are you Christmas?

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” Pentonix

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.

Merry Christmas!

Tim Hunter

A Stupid Idea

stupidideas

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:

  • Isn’t heroin illegal? Let me help–yes.
  • Isn’t possessing it illegal?  That would make sense.

So, it’s being suggested that providing a junkie a safe environment (paid with tax dollars) is the best solution we can offer.

More questions:

  • Where are they getting this illegal drug from?
  • Is the government supposed to buy it for them, to guarantee its safe, too?
  • Where does said junkie get the money to buy that drug? We’ve got an increasing crime problem in Seattle and fueling drug habits is at least partially responsible.

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.

Tim Hunter

 

 

As Thankful As Can Be

thanksgiving

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.

Tim Hunter

WASTED DAYS AND WASTED NIGHTS

tvI 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.

Stop.

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.

Tim Hunter

 

View From The Middle–The Trump Election

kelllllPick an analogy, any analogy.

I believe it was baseball’s Casey Stengel that once said, “You’re going to lose 50 games no matter what you do. You’re going to win 50 games no matter what you do. It’s the other 62 you try not to screw up.”

Donald Trump did what it took to win the other 62 games despite all the cool-kids pulling for Hillary.  Both sides did everything they could to sell their candidate and smear the opponent more than any other American presidential election.

Die-hard Democrats are in shock. As close as the popular vote was, what was the biggest factor in all this? I believe the number one reason was that the Hillary Bone’s Connected to the Bill Bone. I heard more than one person say, “I don’t want him back in the White House.”

This is where some might jump in with “He’s not running!” or “It’s because she’s a woman, isn’t it?”

No.

Remember, just because people think differently than you, they’re not wrong.  We’re a country of different religions, different book clubs, organizations, MeetUp groups, ethnic communities, Mac versus PC—we are all over the friggin’ board.

The west coast—or, as some call it, the Left Coast—tends to be on the liberal side. Go east away from the bigger cities and folks tend to be more conservative.

I’m a Los Angeles kid that moved to Washington state, spending three of those years in the eastern Washington town of Yakima, then back to Seattle for the past 36 years.

Wow, I sound old. But I digress. Old people do that.

What impressed me most about Donald Trump’s election is that he did it despite being the non-hip, “in-crowd” choice.

What we saw constantly in the media and late-night talk shows was making fun of him and portraying Trump as a buffoon each week on Saturday Night Live.  Popular culture mocked his hair, his business dealings, his character. Pop performers like Katy Perry and Beyoncé threw their celebrity behind Hillary.  Madonna went as far as saying she’d give oral favors to anyone voting for Hillary. I’m not kidding.

It was trendy to be “With Her.” That’s who the cool kids wanted for president. To even think and say anything out loud against her or for Trump always resulted in bad feelings. I saw it first-hand. So, anyone who refused to vote for Hillary had to just suffer in silence. Until election day.

Notice I didn’t say “for Trump.” Just not for Hillary.

She was chosen by the party to be their centrist candidate. Whether it was her, her people or the party leaders in control, they undermined Bernie Sanders and made sure Hillary became the anointed one. To help sell her, we were constantly reminded that Hillary Clinton was “the most qualified person ever to run for President.”

Take that Eisenhower!  Eat it, Washington!

If she truly was the most qualified person for the job, why did people have to keep saying that over and over?  That’s like going to an attorney and having the conversation goes like this:

“Hi, I’ve got a legal problem.”

“Great. I’m really honest.”

“Uh, yeah. Well, about my problem….”

“You know, other attorneys say they’re honest, but I’m REALLY honest.”

“Why do you keep saying how honest you are?”

“Honestly?”

Experience should speak for itself.  Just because you say something over and over doesn’t make it true. Agreed, she had more political experience than Trump, but so do I. I was at least Senior Class President and A.S.B. Vice-President back in high school. Go Tartars!

My theory is that the Democrats became too cocky. They believed there was no way to lose to Trump so they focused everything on the 50 games they were going to win, rather than the 62 additional games they needed to add.

I’m making these observations as being one of the proud “62.”  You don’t get my vote just because you have a D or an R next to your name. I’m going candidate by candidate, and may the best person win.

These days, when you’re in one camp or the other, people feel the need to brag about being on that side.  You post things on Facebook, as if your friends can’t wait to be converted to your way of thinking. You act disgusted at everything the opposing side says and does while praising everything about your candidate.  When someone says something negative about your candidate—even if it may be true—you go straight to saying something about the opponent to point out they’re much worse, ignoring any flaws of who you support.

You basically have built your own personal wall.

This wasn’t a true “throw the bums out” election, but it was a statement to our federal government that it’s time to shake things up. It’s happened in France, Britain, Australia, the Philippines and now right here.

The message “Let’s make America great again” resonated with people, as they looked around and saw things really weren’t so great.  Sure, we’re better off than the depths of the recession, but with a tremendous national debt. It’s the problem that just gets pushed off for future generations to deal with.

This election became the ultimate example of how it’s not the messenger, it’s the message.

Remember “Hope and change?”  Comparing how you felt in 2008 to now, are you still full of hope?  Did you see all the change you wanted to see?  “Hope and change” is not much different than Trump’s slogan. Change means doing things differently. How many times have you looked at what’s been going on in our country the past 8 years and said, “What the hell is going on?”  My guess is, you’ve been saying it longer than that.

Then there’s “Stronger together.” OK, Hillary-ites, to honor your candidate, don’t move to another country—stick around and help take this one in a more positive direction.  Get involved, donate to a cause, and most importantly, listen—don’t shout!

On Election Day, when all the pollsters seemed to be declaring Hillary the inevitable winner, I saw several feel-good posts on Facebook that declared, “No matter how the election turns out (nudge, nudge….wink, wink) we should all just come together and be happy and la-la-la-la…”  Part of that cocky attitude, “Yeah, we’re going to win so when your guy loses, don’t be bitter.”

Then, today, I woke up to this article talking about riots, fires and death threats from Hillary supporters.

Please keep that in mind whenever you read in the media that all Trump supporters were toothless red-necked hillbillies filling out their ballots while cleaning their guns. 

Ever watch Mad Men or read how advertisers manipulate you with their messages?  I know, that’s part of what I do for a living. You’ve just had a two-year-long brain washing with a pressure-washer.

What saddens me is how people allow themselves to be filled with poison and hate about the opposing candidate.  The Democrats did a masterful job of smearing Trump at every corner, using his own words at times, to paint him as a depraved, letch of a man. And he may be one. That kind of conduct is wrong, inexcusable and should not be tolerated. But why is it so wrong if he’s a Republican but OK if he’s a Democrat?  Bill Clinton is known for being a philanderer.  JFK put his back to the test frequently with women other than Jackie. It was practically a sport. But that’s when we hear, “Oh, well, that’s his personal life. That’s none of our business.”  And, you want crass?  Let’s talk about Lyndon Johnson and his flashing habit in the White House.

If anything Donald Trump did was wrong and punishable by law, then it should be a short presidency.

America has reached a saturation point on several fronts. I posted on Facebook the other day that last week’s Monday Night Football game had the lowest ratings for a MNF game in 9 years. A friend over in Spokane commented that they gave up the NFL when their players started disrespecting the national anthem and taking a knee. Once again, the cool kids were telling the rest of us that it was OK, don’t worry, they’re just expressing their 1st Amendment right over the contemporary issue of….STOP!  The short headline—They’re Disrespecting the National Anthem. That’s all some people needed to know. They voted with their TV and stopped watching.

Yes, you have the right to piss on the country where you make millions of dollars.  But Americans also have the right to stop feeding the cash cow that provides your paychecks.

Notice that trend hasn’t spread to other sports and now, has begun to fade in the NFL.  Life-learning observation: Doing something offensive on TV to rally your cause doesn’t really help.

The biggest point I’d like to make in this Election-Special edition ramble is that we are a country that covers a lot of territory with all kinds of different thoughts and opinions. That’ll happen when you have a free nation. We have some 360-million people that call the U.S. of A. home. Some very good, church-going, family-first people bit the bullet and voted for Trump because they just couldn’t vote for Hillary.

I voted for Hillary for the same reason.  I had to ignore the obvious corruption, cronyism and pay for play politics and vote for who I thought would support the issues I felt were most important.

Over the years, political parties like to put out scare tactics to get votes. One of the classics: The Daisy ad depicting Barry Goldwater as a guy who would drop the bomb back in 1964. That helped LBJ win by a landslide. During this year’s campaign, the cool kids kept repeating a collection of words about Trump: Hitler (always a classic—used for Reagan and a little bit for Romney).  There was also Misogynist, Narcissist, Egomaniac, Reckless, etc.

I remember as a kid hearing one of my parents’ friends say that if John F. Kennedy was elected, “he’ll have us all praying to Mary.” (he was a Roman Catholic)

On CNN, one over-reacting analyst had the nerve to say, “It’s hard to be a parent tonight.”  Really?  Presidential Election results is how you teach your child about the world?  Can I sit in on your Electoral College discussion?  Please?  Or, you could do what I did, using the Black Friday ads in the newspaper as a teachable moment.

Of course, Wall Street is wigging out. Why? Because Trump is more of an unknown than Hillary would have been. Plus, after paying for all those behind-closed-door speeches, they get nada.

And for those who want to believe that Trump bought this election:

campaignNo one candidate is as great as their side says or as big a monster as the opponent’s side claims. That, unfortunately, has become today’s style of politics.

Since originally writing this, I also heard some of the radio folks talking about how their Obamacare insurance was going to go up 30%+. So, the election came down between someone who planned to trash that insurance plan and come up with a better one, or someone who wanted to keep the current coverage.

I also offer up this piece of fine writing that may also help you understand what the heck just happened.

The Donald Trump presidency will either be a disaster, a non-event or a better-than-expected surprise. The entire school has voted and picked him to lead, so here we go. Our job now is to keep our eyes on him and the rest of our government.  Then, four years from now, we’ll review the situation and go from there. By then, maybe we’ll all be a little bit wiser.

Tim Hunter