New year, old friends

This past weekend, Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I joined 23 other old-timers for a weekend stay at Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky.

“The Daniel Boone National Forest embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains. Steep forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and narrow ravines characterize the land.”

It’s only a couple of hours from Cincinnati, but it’s light years away from the rat race. A great place to unplug, unwind, and reconnect with nature. A New Year’s Restitution, if you will.

The older brother and sister-in-law of our neighbor are the instigators, they’ve been gathering the ol’ gang down there every January for years. Last year, thanks to our neighbors, we were added to the crew.

Happy hour and a leisurely and lovely potluck dinner Friday evening. Long hike (with an on-trail lunch break) on Saturday, followed by another happy hour and potluck meal, then carousing until the wee hours (which for our age bracket means 10:30). A shorter hike Sunday morning, then back to the reality of jobs and kids (or grandkids in some cases) and bill payments and oil changes and the other quotidian duties that can fill your calendar but not fill your heart.

Saturday crew (photo credit: dubbatrubba)

Saturday’s hike was challenging… quite a few narrow ledges and snow-covered 2×4 board bridges, with a few icy spots throw in for good measure. But the sexagenarians (and one septuagenarian) were up to the task. And the scenery payoff was worth it.

Eat your heart out, Chihuly!

You can keep your Ritz Carlton and your high-society parties, I’ll take a rustic cabin in the woods and some down-to-earth friends any day.

Sunday morning hikers.

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.)

Here’s to the misfits

We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.

James Hollis, author and Jungian analyst

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.

American Flop 40

I’m your host, Spacy Kasem, and we’re counting down the top albums of 2018, as voted on by dubbatrubba.

Checking in at #11 on our show is Lush, the debut album from teenager Lindsay Jordan, who records under the name Snail Mail.

Next up is a brilliant album from Alejandro Escovedo, The Crossing, which deals with the topic of immigration in a very human way.

At Number 9, it’s an EP from three talented young singer-songwriters: Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. They’re great on their own, too, but the “songbird supergroup” combination is unbeatable. Here’s boygenius performing “Me & My Dog”

Now, we’re up to #8, and it’s a return after a long absence for the Boston band called Belly. Leader Tanya Donnelly was also a founding member of Throwing Muses and The Breeders, so she’s got a mountain of 80s/90s indie cred. Their first album in 23 years, Dove, shows they haven’t missed a beat.

The lucky 7 slot belongs to an old and dear friend, a living legend who still remains relevant, Mr. John Prine, with his album The Tree of Forgiveness.

Checking in at #6, it’s the amazingly talented Brandi Carlile and the equally talented Hanseroth twins, Phil and Tim. They record under Brandi’s name, but they are a team in every sense of the word. Their 2018 release By The Way, I Forgive You continues their streak of fantastic albums.

The #5 album of last year was the 9th release from the Arizona-based band Calexico. Leaders Joey Burns and John Convertino offer up a diverse array of tunes, all tied together by their expert musicianship.

The Philly indie rock band at #4 features the sister/brother combo of Frances and Mark Quinlan. They’re a band that I’d never heard of at the beginning of 2018, but after listening to their album Bark Your Head Off, Dog and seeing them live in concert, I’m a big fan.

The top 3 features a trip to the Land Down Under. Aussie band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever gave us a debut album, Hope Downs, that’s filled with gems.

#2 comes from power punk elder statespeople Superchunk. They’ve been crushing it since 1989. Their release What A Time To Be Alive shows they can still channel righteous indignation about the current state of American culture into superb songs.

And now we’re up to the top album of 2018, and the pick should comes as no surprise to the three people who actually read this blog. It’s another band that’s been around for more than 30 years. Their first album in 7 years, Quiet and Peace, deals with grown-up topics like the passage of time. The lyrics are often bittersweet; the songs are as fantastic as the tunes from their halcyon days in the early 90s. Seeing them live in L.A. and Chicago last year was a rare treat. Here’s Buffalo Tom:

A 10-second seminar on wealth management


True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.

— César Chávez

Small Room, Big Love

Last night I went a house concert. Not just any house concert, but the debut house concert at the home of my friends Jacqui and Dave.

Photo credit: Jameson Killen

They’re music heads, just like me… although they actually have musical talent. We’re talking “graduated from Berklee College of Music” level talent. Chops aside, we’re similar in our passion for live music. Here’s a snippet from the About Us page of the website they set up for their house concert series, which they’ve dubbed Parlor & Patio:

Years ago, we were just two crazy college kids who haphazardly met in a living room while listening to music. You could say that was a life-changing moment.

For us, music has always been more than background ambiance. It’s an experience we crave and cherish. We also believe it connects people in ways that are meaningful and universal. Through Parlor & Patio, we hope to foster some new experiences and connections by bringing friends, community and traveling artists together in a listening room environment.

Amen to that! And Dave & Jacqui aren’t just dabbling in this new venture, they are going full throttle. They’ve already booked a show a month for the next several months!

They kicked things off last night with a solo gig from Rob Fetters, a local legend who should be a national legend. He’s been playing in Cincinnati bands for decades, first with The Raisins, then The Bears and finally the psychodots. All stellar, all woefully underappreciated. As his website bio says:
Rob Fetters has spent decades making records and performing music on the edgy fringe of American power pop. 

Photo source: Robfetters.net

Rob’s a great singer, songwriter and storyteller. And he can pick and/or shred with the best of them on guitar. He also happens to be a wonderful human being.

Two amazing hosts + one phenomenal artist = One-of-a-kind concert. Rob played two sets, 20+ songs, told some hilarious stories (and some sad ones too). And the 40 folks in attendance were there to listen, not to chit-chat or Snapchat.

I can’t wait for the next gig in the Parlor & Patio series. It’s music from the heart that nourishes your soul. And we all need big love now…