When it’s time to change…

Our youngest child is 13 and a half… and his voice is starting to crack. Of course, the first thought that springs to mind for someone my age is the Brady Bunch episode where Peter’s voice was changing.

But then when I clear the TV Land cobwebs from my puny brain (it takes roughly three hours to lose that stupid little Sha-na-na-n-na-na-n-na-na… sha-na-na-na-na! riff), I realize that our youngest child… our baby boy!… is leaving childhood behind.

That makes me sad, because if he’s moving to another phase, that means I am too. The phase where parents aren’t needed as much. We’re becoming accessories rather than necessities. Heck, we already have a kid in college (and another who will be there by August), two teenage drivers and another with her temps… They can fend for themselves. They’ve been off school for the past three days thanks to frigid temperatures and snow — and they probably didn’t even notice their old man was gone.

I’m not ready to be an empty nester just yet. In fact, the “failure to launch” concept is starting to sound appealing.

I know change is inevitable.

But that doesn’t make it enjoyable. At least not for parents.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste… on musical minutia

An email from my friend Steve:

Our office men’s room has a paper towel dispenser…

….that makes me think of Peter Tork of The Monkees at least daily.

You are one of the few people who can understand my daily frustration of picturing that goofy chap in my head!

Yes, that’s true, Steve. I do understand your frustration, perhaps better than anyone else, because I grew up just outside of Clarksville, Arkansas.

Thank goodness neither of us live in Pleasant Valley.

Please buy this for me!

Car was parked this way via a sweet, high-speed 180° backturn.

Lot #1352 – This was one of three Firebird Formulas provided by Pontiac Motor Division to the TV show “The Rockford Files,” and was used from 1978 until the series ended in 1980. With a special Sierra Gold exterior and tan interior, the factory Formula 400 model was modified to look like an Esprit for the show. This car was the sound car, used for close-ups while driving, and still has the original mic box, holes drilled to run recording wiring, and a skid plate to protect the engine and transmission from damage during stunts.

Please, please, please buy this for me. I’ll gladly pay you back from my new earnings ($200 a day, plus expenses) as a private investigator.

Related image

If you ever want to drive it, you can, just stop by my trailer near the beach, the address is 29 Cove Road in Malibu, California. But remember, I like to sleep in.

We’ll pick up Angel, my fellow ex-con, maybe print out a fake business card from the machine in the back seat, stop by the L.A.P.D. to see my pal Dennis Becker and get him to run some license plate numbers for me… and hope we don’t run into that jerk Lt. Chapman!

But don’t worry too much about him, my attorney Beth Davenport will put him in his place.

Fair warning though: if you hang around me, you’re probably gonna get beaten up… it happens to me once an episode… er, I mean day.

Call me up to let me know when you’re dropping this Firebird off. If you get my answering machine, at the tone leave your name and message… I’ll get back to you.

Also, the car might have $30,000 in the left front door panel.

Something fresh from The Bakerman

After publishing yesterday’s post, I realized it was an inadvertent rerun – it had the same “inspirational quote” content as a post from mid-December. Clearly, I need to stock up on gingko biloba or some other memory aid (real or imagined).

To make up for yesterday’s stale post, today we have something piping hot and fresh from The Bakerman. Also known as Steve Baker… or just plain “Bake.” He’s a broadcasting legend, and I don’t use that term lightly (just ask Joe Buck).

“The Bakerman”

Steve’s current role is Assistant Athletic Director – Director of Broadcasting for Miami University. But in a prior life, he worked at 97X for 20 years, as a news reporter, midday host, morning show host, station manager, play-by-play man for Miami U. football and basketball (he still does that in his current role), assistant engineer, only person with any technical expertise for live/remote broadcasts, etc. I had the privilege of working with him for a few years back in the late 80s and early 90s. He’s one of the best play-by-play people in the universe, and a great guy to boot.

My friend Dave (with whom Bake and I both worked at 97X) and I have started a podcast about the good old days at 97X, a tiny station in Oxford, Ohio that was one of the first in the country to play “college rock/indie rock/alternative” music and did so for more than 20 years, earning national accolades in the process. The station had a crappy, hard-to-pickup signal, but it also had an oversized influence on its listeners (and employees).

In our most recently published episode, we spend 20 minutes chatting with Steve. If you listen, you’ll hear some great stories from Steve – including how he started at “that damn punk rock station” and how his stellar voice (“great pipes” as we say in the business) wound up in the Academy Award-winning Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman movie Rainman.

If you’re so inclined, you can visit the podcast home page for three other episodes, and you can even “follow” it to be alerted when there’s a new episode (about every two weeks… provided the co-host/recording engineer/editor known as dubbatrubba doesn’t have too much other stuff going on.)

Announcer is… caught!

This is Joe Buck.

He’s the lead play-by-play announcer for NFL games on Fox. That means he’s considered the best announcer on that network. I beg to differ.

Joe has a very annoying verbal crutch: he says “Pass is… caught!” at least 30 times a game. It’s usually a stall, with the pregnant pause after “is” until he can determine if the pass is complete or incomplete. If you think I’m exaggerating about the 30 times, I can assure you I’m not. That’s probably a lowball figure. Watch the Saints-Rams game tomorrow and count them for yourself. But please don’t make it a drinking game. It you have a drink every time Joe Buck says “pass is… caught!” like folks used to do with the phrase “Hi Bob!” on the old Bob Newhart Show, you’ll be drunker than a monkey’s uncle before halftime.

We all have our own verbal crutches. Like… you know… um… er…. But when you’re getting paid millions of dollars to call a game, it seems like you should un-learn those bad habits. My wife thinks I’m making a mountain out of a molehill – “what else is he supposed to say when a pass is caught?” How about these:

  • Pass is completed.
  • [Quarterback name]’s pass is hauled in at the 40.
  • Pass over the middle… [Receiver] makes the catch.
  • [Quarterback] to [Receiver]… complete for a first down.
  • [Receiver] makes the grab.
  • [Quarterback] throws down the sideline…. great catch by [Receiver].
  • Screen pass to [Receiver]… with blockers in front of him.
  • [Quarterback] connects with [Receiver].
  • [Quarterback] finds [Receiver] who was wide open over the middle.
  • Short throw into the flat… a great diving catch.
  • A laser into coverage… complete for a big third down conversion.

Sorry, Joe. Don’t worry, this post is…. over!

The cost of convenience

Earlier this week, we were running low on bath tissue.

(OK, OK, let’s just call it toilet paper because that’s what it is. “Bath tissue” is just a marketing ploy. Much like “Chilean sea bass” was invented to put a more palatable spin on the real name of that species: Patagonian toothfish.)

We’re always running low on peanut butter, too, thanks to our teenagers and their protein shakes.

So instead of driving the three measly blocks to the grocery store, I ordered a four large packages of both TP and PB online. Sounds great in theory – who really wants to go to the store to hand pick their TP? (Other than bogus 70s housewives and Mr. Whipple, of course.)

But then the packaging showed up on our doorstep. Two different shipments, on two different days, in giant cardboard boxes, and for some reason the packers felt it necessary to “cushion” the TP with a mile of those plastic air bubbles. Seriously, I thought it was a costume for a Chinese New Year parade:

Each giant plastic jar of peanut butter was also hermetically sealed in a plastic bag. I guess to prevent “leakage”… or “oozing” in the case of peanut butter. It seemed completely unnecessary. I’m sure anyone who orders online has also experienced the “giant box for one tiny item” phenomenon. That’s a lot of cardboard wasted. Delivery is usually by diesel trucks, which pollute more than passenger cars. My order came from a warehouse, which is certainly farther away than the three-block distance to my store. And the truck probably wasn’t completely full because of the haste required to meet the arbitrary two-day shipping deadline. Not to mention the fact that my home delivery won’t replace a trip to the store… it’s just in addition to those jaunts. That means more vehicles on the road spewing pollution.

Here’s a nice article that sums up the environmental challenges of home shipping. Here’s a video too:

Then there’s this article about how all this shipping can wreak havoc on the labor market and infrastructure.

So I’m going to choose “no hurry” shipping when I have to order online, and go back to the old-school way as much as possible – it feels more earth-friendly. Especially if I ride my bicycle.

Be who you want to be

My 17-year-old son is a workout fanatic. He’s also a funny kid in his own unique — and typically stealthy — way. Recently, when he ordered a new dip belt online, he had some fun with the mailing label name. (BTW, don’t ask me what a “dip belt” is… I thought it meant loosening your pants by a couple of notches after you’ve had too much guacamole.)

Peter has already figured out what his pro wrestling name would be, and he often refers to himself in the third person of that imaginary person. It’s especially funny because in many ways he’s quite shy.

Yep, Jackson Steelflex. Sounds like he could be a future WWE Heavyweight Champ, brother!

The name has a lot of flair.

Peter will be going off to college in a few months. I remember a faculty member who spoke at my freshman orientation (back in the Jurassic Period) and told us that in college, we could be free of the the boxes that high school put us into, and become who we want to be. Here’s hoping that Peter leaves Shy Guy behind, and becomes a bit more Steelflex.

Second verse, same as the first. 4th verse, same as the first three.

Thank goodness the powers that be in college football have created a playoff system. Now, instead of the same ol’ same ol’, we get to enjoy a wide variety of teams vying for the national championship. Let’s see, there’s Alabama, and Clemson, and… welp, that pretty much sums it up.

Since the College Football Playoff started in 2014, the “Final 4” has consisted of: Alabama (every stinkin’ year), Clemson (every year but one), Oklahoma (3 years), Ohio State (twice), and a cameo by five other randos. The past three championship games have been ‘Bama vs. Clemson. This year, in a shocking turn of events, the final game tomorrow night is… wait for it… ‘Bama vs. Clemson.

ESPN tries their best to hype the living daylights out of it, but fatigue has set in. Someone wake me when it’s over. Actually, strike that… don’t wake me when it’s over, because I’ll be fast asleep long before the game ends, and I don’t really care who wins.

Radio is a sound salvation… and podcasting is the new radio.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I worked at 97X, a small-but-mighty radio station in Oxford, Ohio.

My friend Dave worked there as well (that’s how we met and became friends). Now that Dave’s two sons and my four kids are a bit older, we have some spare time on our hands. So we decided to create a podcast about our adventures (and misadventures) at 97X.

I don’t think Marc Maron and the folks at My Favorite Murder or This American Life have to watch their backs, but if you listened to 97X before it went off the air, you’ll probably find the podcast semi-entertaining. Even if you never heard (or even heard of) the station, you might get a kick or three out of the podcast. Or not. But hey, it’s only 18 minutes of your day. You’ve probably got some time off for the holidays, right? It’s the perfect aural accompaniment to taking down the Christmas lights, trying to assemble kids toys and/or scrubbing congealed ham/turkey/goose fat out of the roasting pan.

Three episodes are posted here: https://woxy.podbean.com/

You can subscribe via that same link, so you’ll never have to miss a single scintillating episode. (And you won’t miss the boring ones either.)

You can also listen/download below.

Please don’t feel obligated to listen. Dave and I just have to call it “podcasting” because that sounds fancier (and more productive) than “hanging out in the basement and reminiscing about the good old days.”

Christmas time is here… and I didn’t get the memo.

I stink at “Christmas-ing”… I’m the world’s worst at getting gifts, or even remembering to shop for them. And those facts are made painfully clear when I come into the office and see stuff like this:

A holiday treat and a ribbon, hot-glued to a greeting card. And not one of those cheap cards either, it’s a 3-D one…

This person gave similar cards to a dozen colleagues. While I was opening the card, another co-worker came by and was dropping off gifts for ten of his peers: candy and gourmet nuts from two companies in his hometown, which is 3 hours away. My boss got me a bottle of wine — called “Storyteller” — and a fancy winestopper.

Such great planning, such thoughtfulness on their parts. How do I reciprocate? With a big fat box o’ nothin’! I had to scramble to get a gift card for the one and only person who reports to me. (Gift cards – the last refuge of the lazy.) And by the time I got it, she was already out of the office until 2019.

I consider myself a fairly generous guy… I probably treat for lunch or happy hour drinks more often than most folks. But X(mas) does not mark the spot for me… unless we’re talking about a blind spot.

“What’s the date for Christmas this year?”

Maybe in 2019 I’ll get it together.

Then again, maybe not.