Being Thankful Is Tricky

Thanksgiving Blog

Thanksgiving Blog

Once again, we’ve reached Thanksgiving Day.

As a kid, Christmas was by far the biggest holiday of the year. Easter would have been second, but it lost out to Halloween because even though both involve lots of candy, you had to get dressed up and go to church on Easter.  Oh, the Easter Bunny tried to compensate for that by bribing us with chocolate replicas of himself.  But with Halloween, you dressed up in a fun costume and then just went out to strangers’ houses and collected candy.  Is this a great country or what?

But, the years roll by and the next thing you know, holidays start coming around faster and faster.  That’s why, in my book, Thanksgiving has risen to the number one spot.  As hard as Christmas tries to overshadow it, Turkey Day remains a no-gift holiday, where you simply gather with friends or family or both and eat way too much. And there’s football on TV, from 9am to 9pm.  It’s like I won the lotto!

And even if my wife manages to sweet-talk our crowd into turning off football and watching the first Christmas movie of the season that day, I’m in!  I have a collection of 15 or so movies that I must see every year, or it’s not Christmas.  Thanksgiving weekend can start with “Miracle on 34th Street” (since it begins with the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day parade), I never get tired of “Plains, Trains and Automobiles”, and then maybe a “Home Alone” or two.

Then I’ve got three weeks to wedge in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Alastair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol”, “One Magic Christmas” and all the other holiday standards. It’s just a great time of year.

The Christmas season officially kicks off big-time the first weekend of December, but I’ll get into that with you next week.  For now and the next 36 hours or so, it’s Thanksgiving.

Being thankful is trickier than it should be.  When you go online and start rambling about all the things you’re thankful for, there’s a chance someone is reading it that isn’t having a great year.  Maybe they lost someone close to them.  And here you are, talking about how much you have to be grateful for–how dare you!

Then, if you don’t say anything, there are those who consider you ungrateful.  “What’s wrong with him?  Had a bad year?” You can’t win.

Thanksgiving began unofficially when people escaping religious persecution risked their lives to travel to a new land. When you go through something traumatic like that, not knowing if you’re going to live or die or what’s on the other side, you tend to get grounded and be appreciative of the basics.

President Lincoln had to deal with a country torn apart. No doubt it was a big part of his push for a national day of Thanksgiving.

Now, here we are in 2015, getting ready to show our thanks in a world gone mad (while the truth is, it’s always been mad. It just comes and goes.)  We have real problems, like what’s going on in Turkey with Russia, ISIS and such.  And then, there are the manufactured problems. As I watch hyper-sensitive revisionists declaring war on things because of their victim mentality, I just shake my head and wonder just how far this PC insanity will go.  In case you didn’t hear, students up at Western Washington University want to get rid of the Viking as their school mascot because he “represents violence”, while students back at Princeton have decided that President Wilson was a racist and so his name should be completely removed from the school.

I grow weary.

I maintain a pretty crazy, on-the-go schedule, but I do keep reminding myself to just take a look around and appreciate all that I have. Not things, but situations.  My marriage, my kids, I have a roof over my head–yeah, I know, there he goes bragging again–but this year, especially, I’m grateful to be able to do what I want to do for a living.  For most of my career, I’ve been in that situation, but with someone occasionally sticking their nose in and telling me how to do it.   Now, I wake up every day, look at a list of projects, tackle the ones I think are the most pressing, watch some TV, go to bed and start all over the next day.

Just a moment ago, while writing this blog, my ventriloquist buddy Mark Merchant called me from Cabo.  He wanted to make sure I got the notes on three upcoming gigs he has.  After this, I’ll sit down, look at the notes and start writing jokes.  Yeah, I get to do that.

A year ago, I rolled the dice and quit a job, hoping it would all work out. It has. I’m grateful for everyone’s support, for the clients that hired me and for every single person I stay in touch with.  If you hear from me during the year via Facebook, email, a phone call or we manage to actually pull off a coffee or lunch, it happens because you are among those I care about.  I appreciate your friendship and right now, would just like to say thanks for being a part of my personal E-ticket ride on this earth.

My  Thanksgiving wish: that everyone reading this blog sits down to a bountiful feast tomorrow, bows their head and quietly sends out a group text to everyone at the table, saying “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Tim Hunter


Yeah, the hat just doesn't look good on me

Yeah, the hat just doesn’t look good on me

My wife, Victoria, and I have our weekly TV shows.  It’s a nice collection, most of which there are mysteries to be solved, or we’re watching for clues to see if the good guys are really bad guys.

All this to say, while watching “Gotham” or “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Blindspot” or “The Blacklist”, we often start talking out loud about our suspects and theories, vying for the honor of Top Living Room Detective.

The other night, we were watching “Elementary.”  It fulfills the need until Benedict Cumberbatch gets his butt in gear and cranks out a new season.  In this episode, someone was killing people.  (Yes, that’s true in most of the episodes)  Anyway, a policeman was murdered and it was plain as day to me.  It had to be his partner, I explained, because she was acting too relaxed when they interrogated her.  You know, it could have been….

And before I could even get out my entire theory, she was the next victim.  I’m serious, I was mid-sentence in my wrap-up and there she was, on the floor, dead.

Moments later, Victoria pointed out who the killer probably was and half-an-hour later, she was proven right.

Then again, so was I. There was a really good  reason why I didn’t become a detective.  Good call on my part.

Tim Hunter


The issue of homelessness has risen to an insane level in the Seattle area.  Seriously, since the time I arrived here back in the 1970s, it’s gone from those small groups gathered down at Pioneer Square, to countless numbers squatting on any piece of land they can find to call home.  We’re number 4 nationally, with only Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas having more people living in the streets than we do.

The homeless have always existed. Whether it’s from a streak of bad decisions, an unfortunate series of events, a downward spiral in the economy, alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness, you can go back over time and they’ve always been there.  They were bums, freeloaders or hoboes and they were an accepted part of our society, those not very visible.  They were a footnote, not a force. I even came across this picture of my cousin wearing her Halloween costume years ago, dressed up like “a hobo.”

Back in 1963, it was OK to be a hobo for Halloween

Back in 1963, it was OK to be a hobo for Halloween

So, what’s the deal with the increasing numbers of homeless people?  There are no blanket answers, or quick fixes. In my on-going pursuit of finding out what’s working and what isn’t, I discovered Hopelink. Yes, it provides food and essentials to those in need, but does it in a nurturing environment, helping thousands of homeless people and families get back on their feet.  They aren’t a spigot that turns on to give out the goods and then says, “See you next time!”  They help, train, feed and inspire those down on their luck to get back up and rejoin society.

But again, how did we get here?  Where driving down I-5 looks like a Boy Scout jamboree, with tents pitched everywhere.  Where so many people just give up or assume that it’s their lot in life to spend their days outdoors, begging for money. I have this theory.

I’m old enough to remember a time when there was authority. Where there were rules.  Not all of them fair, not all of them in our greater interest, but they maintained order.  As students of the 1960s know, the rules began to break down.  We stopped taking government’s word for it.  We questioned wars.  We saw society rules and started asking “Why?”  All good.

But then, it became a passion.  Nothing was right, rules were meant to be broken.  It was the evolution of society, but also a beginning of a break down.  Because one of the underlying themes became fairness.  Yes, that’s a law, but that’s not fair.  Everyone needs to be treated fairly. Harshness is bad, generic all-acceptance is good.  A lofty goal, in principal. but not always practical.

All that being said, here’s my theory–the current abundance of homelessness is our own fault.  We’ve bent over backwards to coddle and protect and keep everything fair so much, that in the end, these people head out into the adult world (which isn’t always fair) and get knocked down the first time mom and dad aren’t there to take care of a problem for them.

There are as many styles of parenting as there are parents, but my way was to be as close to my kids as possible during those formative years, and then, when it’s time to let go, let ’em fly away from the nest.  I’m very proud and at peace knowing that, if I dropped dead tomorrow, both my kids (hopefully after some extended periods of grieving) would easily be able to carry on with their lives.  They’re both independent adults that can stand up for themselves.  It’s exciting to watch their lives evolve, as they carve their own path through this life.

There was no single defining moment where homelessness became OK, but there’s a belief that we need to accept it.  I refuse. To me, it’s not an acceptable lifestyle. At one point, they all had dreams and aspirations and goals.  They’re fellow human beings that deserve our compassion, help and guidance on how to become citizens again.  Pity doesn’t solve anything and standing next to a freeway exit with a cardboard sign is not a career.

Seattle, which just asked the federal government for additional help in dealing with the homeless, already spends $25-million a year on them. As of last January, we had 3,772 people living on the streets in Seattle.  Divide that money up and that’s almost $7,000 per person in spending.  Are you saying that we can’t help someone improve their lives with $7,000?

King County actually began a program to help the homeless and reduce the numbers 10 years ago…and instead, the numbers have increased.

There is a solution, somewhere out there.  Perhaps it’s all of the private entities working on the problem partnering with government to combine resources and efforts.  Maybe it’s a commission led by a Homeless Czar that oversees it, constantly checking to see that whatever direction we go, it’s working.

These people need our help and this is a serious problem that’s worsening and just won’t go away.  Not even if you give each of them a trophy.

Tim Hunter


I’m pretty sure Red Skelton would be labeled

“insensitive” for this today


Warning: contents inside may have shifted

Warning: contents inside may have shifted

You know I was only kidding.

Seriously, when September 20th of this year rolled around and I hit the big 6-0, I brushed off the landmark birthday by saying, “OK, this is where I start falling apart.”

And I did.  In spite of the fact Christina & her family, as well as Tyson and his sig-other joined us at the house that day, I got sick. I mean, the worst kind of sick I’ve been in years.  I had to cancel everything the following week and didn’t even feel remotely human again until Friday night, 5-1/2 days after being ill.  Fortunately, no one else caught it.

There was a lot of wrong about this.  I never (or use to rarely) get sick.  First, I had an almost week-long flu bug.   Then, for several weeks, the intestines were in rebellion.  I was bloated.  It was just the weirdest thing.

But I carried on.  Got lots to do, so I did it…until a week ago when one of my daily bouts with nausea turned into lay-down-on-the-couch dizziness.  So, I called the doctor, went in for an appointment, but left supposing it was a really bad flu. They did some blood work and then I went home and played “Collect the stool sample.”

I share all this because it’s entirely possible that the resulting explanation could also happen to you.

It was a two-parter.  The “flu” turned out to be something I picked up called Giardia. I thought it was the name of an airport in New York, but no–it’s a parasite.  A what?  Yep, a very common parasite that I had never heard of before.  Among the things I learned about Giardia is that it is ugly.

What Giardia looks like (from it's recent session at he JC Penney photo studio)

                         What Giardia looks like                        (from a recent session at the  JC Penney Photo Studio)

How does one get Giardia?  It’s the reason you don’t drink water out in the woods without boiling it.  I’m thinking, “Oh, yeah, that’s me! Mr. Outdoors.”  I eventually figured out the source.  During a recent rainstorm, our backyard rain barrel was clogged and overflowing, so I had to get out there and bail, stagnant water splashed everywhere and the rest is history.  Nothing that five day’s worth of an antibiotic once tested in the Atoll Islands couldn’t fix.  Seriously, when I picked it up from the pharmacist, she said: “Whatever you do, don’t take this within 24 hours of drinking alcohol and then, once you’ve finished the pills, wait 72 hours before having a drink….or…….”  Right after that, she closed the doors and went home out a secret back entrance.

OK, that takes care of the intestinal issues, but what about my dizziness.  Even after the antibiotics did their job, I was still not feeling great.  You know the feeling you get after your big brother spins you around on that thing at the playground, you yell “Stop” and he keeps spinning.  Dizzy, nauseated, yep—that.  On my initial visit to the doctor, he asked if I had hit my head recently. “Nope, not me.”  Then later, I realized something.

On October 16th, I filmed a video for the city of Bothell, with the punchline being a bunch of football players tackling me.  With one on each side, they would grab me and slam me to a foam mat that was stationed right behind me.  Sure, no problem.  Never show any signs of weakness. I’m not too old.  So, we did it once…and then again….and then again…..

By the time I was done filming, I was a bit woozy, but didn’t give it a second thought.  The long and short of it—I didn’t hit my head on anything, but my head did get pretty seriously jostled. Three times!  You got it–I had a mild concussion. concussion-word-art4

I’m still not back yet, but the wooziness is lessening each day.  The doc says within a couple of weeks, I should be back to normal. Well, OK, normal-esque. You know what I mean.

So, let us review our lessons:  Don’t drink water out of rain barrels and avoid being tackled by football players.

Class dismissed.

Tim Hunter

6 Decades Worth of Halloween Memories

Puttin' on the Aladdin with Dad

Puttin’ on the Aladdin with Dad

This Saturday is Halloween, the last holiday with enough force to fight off Christmas.  Oh, sure, the stores have already started pulling the Halloween decorations and confining them to an area that will be 50% off territory come Sunday.  But unlike the other pre-Christmas holidays like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, it’s become OK to hang up Christmas lights as soon as you’ve removed the rotting pumpkin from your front porch.

I come from a different time than today’s trick or treaters.  Charlie Brown’s “Great Pumpkin” adventure was brand-new when I was growing up.  Costumes were onesies with a plastic mask you could not see out of or breathe through.  But that was the price you paid for going around the block and asking the neighbors for some candy.

Looking back, I actually had really good timing when it came to this holiday.  “Back in my day” (I try to avoid using that term along with “Get off of my lawn”) there were no Bite Size candy bars.  You got candy bars. Or popcorn balls. Or full-size Sugar Daddy suckers.

It was when I reached that age of “Oh, this probably should be the last year” that the weirdo’s started happening.  People putting broken glass in with boxes of raisins or razor blades in apples.  What kind of freak does that kind of stuff?  It began the rapid decline of the holiday from a more innocent time, to safe trick or treating at the malls or taking your bag to the hospital for a free x-ray.

For a while when I lived in the Highlands neighborhood of Bothell, I was encouraged by how the neighbors and the area really got into Halloween. Seriously, it was a 6 Costco bag event, with kids from all over coming through, looking at our decorated houses and running around laughing and having an old-fashioned good-old time.

This Saturday, we’ll hear the door bell around a dozen times, end up with more candy than we want to have in the house at one time, which will find its way to my wife’s work.  I’ll answer the door with the fake knife sticking out of my head and watch in amazement as the littles ones look up and can’t believe what they see.  Sadly, it looks like most of them should dress up as Navy Seals, with a gully-washer of rain projected for the day, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.  Halloween is a pretty special night if you look in the right places

One of these years, I just might go join Linus in the pumpkin patch and watch for the Great Pumpkin.  But of course, only if he finds a really sincere one.

Last time to enjoy a holiday before Christmas. Make Halloween count!

Tim Haunter


Yeah, don't ask

                   Yeah, don’t ask…..

We’re watching the show “Gotham: Rise of the Villains” each week on FOX and, if you’re into the Marvel Comic book thing, it’s a fun, long-winded explanation of how Gotham got to the point that Batman had to step in and fight crime.  The series started and continues to be set at the time when Bruce Wayne is around the age of 12 or so.  What we’re gradually seeing each week is how Penguin became Penguin, Cat Woman became Cat Woman, etc.

The show is cast perfectly and the writing is crisp.

The other night, one of the weirder characters said something profound that really connected with me. Words to the effect of, “When you don’t have a lot of friends, it makes the ones you have more valuable.”  That got me to thinking about the various levels of friends that we have in this life.  While the word ‘friends’ is used a lot, we each have different types of friends…or, at least, I do.

I’ve always liked getting along with people.  It just seems like an easier way to live and probably is just one of the things I inherited from my dad, the original Mr. Nice Guy.  There are those who bring their problems to work, or take things out on anyone that’s available, only to later apologize or not.  There are jerks, drama queens, all around messes, bullies–you name it. Somehow, my M.O. is to befriend people, resulting in less conflict.  I’m not a conflict guy.  And, besides, like I said, when you get along, life is easier.

So, what are friends?  We throw the word around and say “Facebook Friends” but hey–I have over 1,000 Facebook Friends, that include family members from my wife and kids all the way to a friend of a friend who was told, “Hey, you oughta friend this guy and see what he posts.”

I have work friends. Neighbors who are friendly and we chat, but don’t spend a lot of time together.  I have social friends that I see based on what events we’re doing.

But if I were to drill down to the handful of people that, to me, epitomize the idea of friends, a couple of folks come to mind.  Sure, this is dangerous because, if you’re not on the list, then you might be tempted to think, “Wow, I thought we were friends!”  See, real friends never think that way.  They don’t constantly keep score about who called who or even think something negative about the other person.  Some people I know have very dysfunctional friendships that they cherish very much, but those kind of relationships don’t fit my definition and simply are more work than they’re worth.

One friend that comes to mind–Steve Diklich. A former college roommate, we share some great adventures in the Terry Hall days at the University of Washington and have stayed friends ever since.  We may see each other only two or three times a year, if that.  Steve and I actually went to the Oregon game together last weekend and got all caught up on our personal lives. I can’t tell you when the last time was that we saw each other.  That might have been it for the year, I’m not sure.  But see, it just doesn’t matter when you’re friends.  You cherish your time together, act like it was just five minutes ago that you last saw each other and then leave, looking forward to the next time.

Bryon Mengle was our producer during the final two years of the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show. He came to us with a rolodex full of contacts and a willingness to do whatever it took for good radio.  I’ve watched him grow professionally over the years, seen him get married (I was his best man) and enjoyed staying in touch with him as Bryon, Shawna and their two kids go through their adventures together. These days, most of our connection is through Facebook, instant messages or email. He still asks for my opinion on things or if I might have any crazy ideas for a radio promotion, but again, we just pick up where ever we last left off.  With doing mornings back in Iowa these days, I think it’s been a couple of years since we caught the Mengles passing through town.

Heading down this road, I’m thinking of more people I would consider really good friends.  Some I’ve seen recently, others not for years, maybe even decades.  It doesn’t make them any less friends.

Good friends don’t judge, they care about what happens to you and can’t wait to tell you what happened to them.

The quote that always pops in my mind when the subject comes up: “Friends help you move. A real friend helps you move bodies.”

Yeah, well, I made it that far before going funny on you.

Are you considered one of my friends?  You know the answer to that one and that makes me look forward to the next time we get together, whenever that may be.

Tim Hunter

A Haunter We Will Go

Oh, sure, blame the ants.  What about the uncles?

Oh, sure, blame the ants.
What about the uncles?

I’ve shared with you before that fall is my favorite season of the year—playoff baseball, college & pro football, the leaves changing colors, storms rolling in and you have such great holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Think about it–you don’t have to buy presents for either one of those.  One is dedicated to reliving your youth and dressing up, while the other is all about eating (and football).

When I have nothing else to do, I grab those moments to reflect on how the heck I got here.  So, how did I become such a Halloween fan? Why do I love The Walking Dead so much and watch practically every scary movie that comes along?  The answer lies in my youth.  As the years roll by, those early years of my life get a little hazier and hazier.  But one of the fun things I remember doing every Friday night (when I was 10 or so and could stay up a little later) was watching channel 9, KHJ-TV, which offered “Strange Tales of Science Fiction.”  It’s where the old B-movies went to die.  Each week, it would begin with this theme song and then I would brace myself to get scared out of my wits.

Many of the movies you’ve probably never heard of, but that didn’t stop me from buying them here and there over the years if I ever found them.  Movies like, “The Crawling Eye.”  Yes, a movie about a giant eyeball that crawled around and killed people. Thankfully, Forrest Tucker was there to save the day.  There was “Man from Planet-X”, where a real spaceman landed on earth. I must have liked it because the alien decided to land on an island in Scotland.  Oh, and I can’t forget “Them!”, the movie about the giant ants and starring Edmund Gwenn, the same guy you knew as Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street.”

The list goes on and on: “Frankenstein’s Daughter“, “Forbidden Planet”, etc.

As I grew older, I continued to be drawn towards scary movies.  But they tended to lose me a little when they went into the slash and gore phase.  Even if you watch “Psycho”, there’s really not that much slashing and goring, but it’s probably amongst the greatest scary movies of all time.

Hats off to films like “The Shining”, “Poltergeist” and even “The Blair Witch Project” for being more about the scare than gallons of fake blood.  It is an art.

I’m a fan of the classics–Dracula, Wolfman, The Mummy, Frankenstein–but I’d love to a new genre launch that is simply about scaring the heck out of you.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit back, savor the season and do my best to have some of that Halloween candy left for the Trick or Treaters.

Have a happy one.

Tim Haunter