First we take Manhattan

I love my 11-year-old daughter Leah, and she loves… a good arts and crafts project. She’s quite Pinterest-y. A few days ago, she found a can of chalkboard paint (“create a chalkboard on almost any surface”) in our basement and decided to make a small memo board for her room. Friday she found a piece of cardboard and painted it with the chalkboard paint. Yesterday she cut the cardboard and put it in an old 8.5″ x 11″ picture frame. Today she has a soccer game at 1:30, so she wrote that on her memo board. So far, so good, right?

Well, I also have a 15-year-old son who loves teasing his little sister (what older brother doesn’t?). So when he walked past the memo board after Leah had gone to sleep last night, he decided to add another item to her to-do list.

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Sorry Putin, but my money’s on Leah. If she gets half as mad at you as she does at her older brother, you’re toast.

 

Sit on it, Potsie!

You know you’re getting old when Alan Thicke is hawking tax relief services and “Fonzie” is trying to sell you a reverse mortgage.

 

Where did the time go? One day Dr. Seaver is giving Kirk Cameron a heart to heart talk about the dangers of religious cults (it didn’t work) and Fonzie is making out with the Hooper triplets. Turn around and they’re both geezers hawking questionable products and services on the boob tube.

 

Fonzie even traded in his leather jacket and t-shirt for some relaxed fit khakis. He’s a bigger nerd than Potsie!

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By now, most folks know that Alan Thicke is the father of Robin “Blurred Lines” Thicke. But wait, there’s more. My exhaustive research for this blog post (aka 5 minutes of Googlin’) unearthed these fun facts about Alan Thicke:

  • He wrote the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life and the Chuck Woolery-era Wheel of Fortune
  • He was a producer and writer for Fernwood 2 Night, one of the greatest shows of all time (sez me).
  • He was part of a 1988 TV special called “Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend” where sports stars, musicians and actors were grouped together in teams to play sports like golf, tennis and basketball. That show features Kenny Rogers faking out Michael Jordan on the hardwood and draining a jumper. “The Gambler” roasted MJ like he was a chicken.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with my mortgage expert, Mr. A. Fonzarelli.

 

You spin me right round, baby

NPR had a nice story this week about how flexi-discs are making a comeback of sorts. To the uninitiated (i.e. pretty much anyone under the age of 40), flexi-discs were the cheapest, flimsiest 45rpm singles you could ever find. (Don’t know what a 45rpm single is? Get off my lawn!) Back in the 60s and 70s, they were usually freebies with the purchase of a magazine or a box of cereal or detergent. You often had to cut them out because they were printed right onto the product package.

To me, flexi-discs have never fallen out of favor, ever since I got one on the back of a box of Super Sugar Crisp cereal back in the 70s.

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That’s right, I said Super Sugar Crisp… not the watered down name they changed it to when sugar became Public Enemy #1 to health experts. I have to admit it was a genius marketing move. Sugar was a no-no, so they changed the cereal’s name to Super Golden Crisp… and kept all the sugar in it. Brilliant!

I got the “Sugar Bears” flexi-disc; better taste in cereals might’ve resulted in better taste in music. The Monkees were on a cereal box flexi.

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The Jackson 5 was on one!

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Then again, so was my older sister’s teen idol crush, Bobby Sherman.

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So maybe I was better off with Sugar Bear and his band after all.

2 turntables and a microphone… and a bouquet, and a garter…

Every week, LinkedIn sends me an email with “jobs you may be interested in.” Check out the sweet gig that was at the top of my list this week – a wedding DJ/MC in Davenport, Iowa.

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Now granted, I did work at radio stations as a DJ for several years, but radio DJ and wedding DJ are miles apart. Radio DJs are totally cool, and wedding DJs are totally cheesy. Suggesting I might be interested in a wedding DJ gig is like suggesting that Michelangelo might be interested in a job as a house painter. (I’m really not that vain, just engaging in a bit of hyperbole.)

But maybe I should apply. I’ll send them an audition tape with me saying “OK, Quad Cities, please welcome for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Radar O’Reilly” and “Who’s ready to do the Cha-Cha Slide?” I have no idea how much it pays but I’m pretty sure I’d be eating cake every weekend.

Guess I should’ve stayed in radio, then I could’ve turned out like these super suave disc jockeys from WIXY-1260:

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Pretty sure that’s Rob “Meathead” Reiner holding the basketball.

Rock on!

 

Wake and fake

Yesterday was 4/20, bro, the unofficial stoner’s holiday. A group in Ohio wants to turn every day into a green day by legalizing recreational and medical use of marijuana. But the green that’s their real motivation isn’t a stash, it’s cold cash.

The group, called Responsible Ohio, is currently gathering petition signatures in an effort to have voters weigh in on a November ballot proposal that will designate 10 farms in the state as official marijuana growing sites. And guess who owns those sites? That’s right, it’s the rich investors that formed Responsible Ohio! They’re looking to create a government-protected corporate cartel. The only way that this could be more of a monopoly is if the Responsible Ohio folks all wore top hats.

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The latest high-profile (see what I did there?) backer of (Ir)Responsible Ohio is former B-list boy band member and reality TV actor Nick Lachey. Mr. 98 Degrees is not exactly in the Hot 100 on the Snoop Dogg “Smoke It if You Got It” charts. But he’s been on a reality show or three, so he knows all about false pretenses.

Personally, I’ve never partaken in weed. I’m stupid enough without it. Whether you are for or against recreational use, this petition is a wolf in tie-dyed sheep’s clothing. It may reek of patchouli, but it’d really stink for Ohio.

You can read more here:

http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-32080-going_for_the_green.html

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2015/03/20/legal-marijuana-cartel-forms-in-ohio/

No rock for you!

Tonight I was supposed to go see Jesse Malin in concert. He’s one of my faves and I love his new album New York Before The War. I even sent out a mass email a few weeks ago urging my friends to go see him. But he cancelled the show about a week and a half ago. (So much for my skills as a concert promoter. I’m no Don Kirshner.) He played Chicago last night, and he’s playing Pittsburgh tomorrow night, so it’s not like Cincinnati would’ve been out of the way. Looks like he booked an in-studio performance at a Pittsburgh radio station for tomorrow afternoon instead of coming here tonight. Can’t say as I blame him, as he usually doesn’t draw well here. Still, I’m crushed. Maybe next tour. Until then…

 

Stan the Underappreciated Man

As someone who worked in both radio (including a stint on the Gary Burbank Show, a “theater of the mind” comedy show featuring dozen of wacky characters) and advertising, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the late, great Stan Freberg, who passed away earlier this month. IMDb lists him as “Composer, singer, actor, author, comedian and advertising executive.” That doesn’t really do justice to his talents. He was a voice in Looney Tunes… he created great satirical sketch comedy for radio… he was Weird Al before there was a Weird Al… he was the godfather of the funny commercial for both radio and TV, including this radio ad that shows how powerful the medium can be:

Here’s one of his more popular radio sketches:

A couple of nice tributes are here and here.

And you can listen to more of Stan’s work here.

They don’t make ’em like Stan anymore, but they should, because the world would be a funnier place.

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Stan Freberg 1926-2015

The Phrase that Pays

One of my goals for this year is to learn how to speak Spanish. (Another of my goals is to get Max Baer Jr. a Lifetime Achievement Emmy for his tour de force performance as Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies. Long overdue.) 1390005760_8

I picked up several Spanish phrasebooks from the local library to practice my Espanol (hey it’s working already!). Most of the books have the same standard words and phrases that a traveler might find useful – where are the restrooms, how much does it cost, which bus do we take, etc. But one of the books had this phrase in it, and I’m pretty sure this sentence has to rank in the Top 10 of “Least Used Spanish Phrases”:

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Does anyone, in any country, Latin American or otherwise, offer waterskiing lessons? Do you need to go to a foreign country to take those lessons – can’t you just find a local lake and someone with a motorboat? I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone say “Yeah, I’m sure the Mayan ruins are cool, but I really want to go to Mexico to learn how to waterski.” Oh well, at least I know that if I ever do go to a Spanish-speaking country, I can satisfy all my waterski-lesson cravings. I might need to be in the water anyhow if I can’t figure out how to ask where the bathrooms are. Muy bien! 

Fit to be tied

I’m 50 years old and I just learned how to tie my shoes. Wait, let me add a word to that last sentence so I don’t sound quite so moronic: I’m 50 years old and I just learned how to tie my shoes correctly.

Turns out I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, ever since I had to march up to the front of the kindergarten class at St. Anne’s in Jersey City, NJ and show my teacher, Miss Williams, that I knew how to tie a shoelace by demonstrating my proficiency on a Fisher-Price “Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe” toy.

shoe toy

I remember only a few things about my kindergarten experience, but being called up to show my shoe-tying skills is one of them, along with these other nuggets:

  1. Miss Williams mispronounced my name as “Da-MAIN” the entire year.
  2. The twins who sat at my table (a boy and a girl) kept telling me to correct her, but I was so shy I never said a word.
  3. Miss Williams’ perfume was rather pungent.
  4. The entire class was only allowed to take pre-scheduled group bathroom breaks… and by the time the final bell rang each day I really, really, really had to pee, so I would race to our family’s apartment 3 blocks away and pound on the door buzzer with one hand while pinching my… well, you know… with the other, waking my father, who worked the graveyard shift at the post office.

(While doing my typical exhaustive “research” for this post, I just found out that St. Anne’s School closed in 2012. Sad.)

Hmm, where was I before that detour down Memory Lane? Oh yeah, shoe tying. For years I’ve been frustrated by my shoes coming untied all the time, blaming the newfangled round shoelaces for the problem. (I miss my Pro-Keds with the flat laces… those laces would break all the time, but they stayed tied.) However, the real problem was my tying method. Here’s a three-minute TEDTalk that will change your world.

While we’re at it, let’s cut down the number of paper towels we use when drying our hands in public bathrooms:

 

The Prophet Chuck

I saw a fantastic concert last night by Chuck Prophet and his band, the Mission Express. I’ve enjoyed his albums for quite some time, but this was my first time seeing him live and he crushed it out of the park. He looked a bit like Andy Kaufman, tall and skinny and resplendent in a suit that was some sort of pinkish-red.  (I’m sure Sherwin-Williams has a name for the color, but I don’t.)

Chuck and his killer band (which includes his wife Stephanie Finch on keyboards, James DePrato on lead guitar, Kevin T. White on bass and Vicente Rodriguez on drums) rocked the Southgate House Revival (which is an old church) with a religious fervor. They played several tunes from his stellar new album, Night Stalker. Here’s a recent live in-studio performance they did at KEXP in Seattle, featuring 3 songs from the new release, as well as a tune he co-wrote with Alejandro Escovedo.

 

Chuck is a true road warrior – just a man and his band in a van. He even sings an ode to their mode of transportation on the new album with his song “Ford Econoline.” It would be easy to become jaded playing night after night in small clubs, but Chuck appeared to be enjoying himself immensely, even coming into the crowd to play guitar during his song “Willie Mays Is Up at Bat.” If Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express come to your town… and trust me, they will… please go check them out. You’ll love them. And “Love Is The Only Thing.”

 

I didn’t even know MySpace still existed, but apparently it does, and you can check out more Chuck there.