“Dryer” rhymes with “fire”

It was a very relaxing Easter weekend… oh, other than the part where I nearly burned down our house. On Saturday morning, I threw a load of freshly laundered clothes into the dryer, just as I’ve done hundreds of other times. (With four kids, laundry is never “done” – the wash/dry cycle goes on forever.)

Roughly 30 minutes later, I was upstairs and smelled an acrid burning-plastic smell. My son Peter did too, and he was in another room. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until Peter looked out the kitchen window and saw smoke billowing out of the dryer vent pipe. We headed down to the basement laundry room… and smoke was pretty thick at the ceiling level. I opened the dryer and saw clothes on fire in the drum, as well as flames behind the clothes compartment. We unplugged the dryer, and used a wet towel to extinguish the burning clothes, then poured some water in the back to put out the flames we could see yet not reach any other way. All of my fire safety training (i.e. a childhood spent watching every episode of Emergency!) had paid off! We were like a modern day Gage and DeSoto.

“Give them an I.V., D5W, and transport to Rampart immediately.”

At the time, it seemed rather funny – especially the sweatpants/running shirt/boxer shorts that had melted/melded into a charcoal briquette. But after the adrenaline rush subsided, I realized that if no one had been at home while that load was frying instead of drying, our home would be toast. Scary stuff.

Welcome to laundry hell!

It wasn’t lint buildup, either. I clean out the dryer vent line once a year. But our dryer is so old that recently drawstrings have been getting caught in a gap between the drum and the back of the dryer. My best guess is an article of clothing got caught in there, and the spinning of the drum created enough friction to start a fire.

Don’t worry, Fire Marshall Bill… I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t dry clothes when I’m not at home. Unless I’m using this:

 

 

 

Egging you on

[I’m doing a rerun today – this post originally ran back in 2015, when only three people knew of this blog’s existence. Now there are at least 10 – count ’em – 10 folks who check out this blog on occasion, which counts as “going viral” in my book…]

Happy Easter! Here’s hoping your kids feel like these kids today:

Parents, just a few Easter Egg Hunt reminders…

1. Don’t hide hard-boiled eggs unless:

A. you really really would like egg salad for lunch for the next 3 weeks

B. you keep a map with the location of every egg. If not, it’s guaranteed that at least one egg will go undiscovered… and your house will stink to high heaven in a couple of weeks.

2. Be prepared to find that fake plastic Easter basket “grass” around your house until at least the 4th of July.

3. Using leftover Halloween candy in Easter baskets is unacceptable.

4. Coconut may help your cake look more like a bunny, but most kids won’t eat it.

5. Get the hollow chocolate bunnies unless you want to make an emergency visit to the dentist for a cracked tooth.

choco_bunnies

 

It’s your third birthday – have a beer!

Don’t call Children’s Protective Services on me… I’m talking about a brewery. Braxton Brewing to be exact. Today is their third anniversary celebration (it was supposed to be last week but it got snowed out – thanks March!).

Braxton started with four guys and a dream. A father, his two sons, and a Yoda-like brewmaster.

L to R: Jake Rouse, Richard Dubé, Greg Rouse, Evan Rouse

Now they have two taproom locations, their beers are distributed in three states and their staff has grown exponentially. It’s a true American small business success story, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

My friend Keith Neltner created the killer logo

I worked with Greg Rouse, one of the founders, for 12 years. He left his full-time gig as a print production manager at our company a couple of months ago to take over as COO at Braxton. That was always the plan, but he was such a superstar at our company that our leadership had to hire two folks with 20+ years experience in print production to attempt to replace him. He was a great guy and a genius at what he did – we miss him dearly. But I’m thrilled that he’s able to work with his sons and wife every day now.

Nice job title!

I plan to drop by the celebration this afternoon, and if I do, I raise a glass to Greg, Tina, Jake and Evan, and to dreams coming true. #LiftOneToLife

 

Radio Daze: an interview with Lou Reed

At the Cincinnati airport recently, I saw this sign:

I first spied the sign from afar, and my 53-year-old eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so I originally thought it read “Toni Basil.” Probably just wishful thinking on my part… after all, who wouldn’t want to see an airport food court restaurant named after the famed one-hit wonder singer of the global 1982 sensation “Mickey”?

Actually, before she found fame as a faux cheerleader, Toni was a founding member of the groundbreaking “pop and lock” dance crew known as The Lockers (along with Fred ‘Rerun’ Berry).

She also choreographed David Bowie’s tours in 1974 and 1987, and a couple of Talking Heads videos, including Once In A Lifetime:

So she’s NOT a one-hit wonder. But I digress. Seeing the Toni Basil sign…er, the Torn Basil sign, reminded me of an afternoon long ago when I was working at 97X, and my friend and fellow DJ Dave and I did an on-air bit where I impersonated Lou Reed.

Dave was kind enough to send a recording of that bit my way:

(In hindsight, my impersonation sounds vaguely like Lou Reed… mixed with Steven Wright…  but good enough for radio’s “theater of the mind.”) True story: one 97X listener, a rabid Lou Reed fan, heard the beginning of that bogus interview while he was driving in Cincinnati and immediately changed course and started speeding up to Oxford, Ohio (where 97X was) in hopes of meeting his idol. As soon as he heard “Lou” mention Toni Basil, he knew that he’d been had. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to an Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” moment.

Speaking of Orson Welles, you simply must watch (and rewatch) this video of a drunken Orson trying to record a wine commercial.

If you’re keeping score at home, we went from an airport food court sign to Citizen Kane. Sorry, that’s just how my feeble brain works. And finally, the real Lou:

 

 

 

 

We humans put the stink in extinction

A week and a half ago, Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, died.

The New York Times article is here. Below are a few quotes to ponder as a fellow resident of Planet Earth:

“This is a creature that didn’t fail in evolution,” said Thomas Hildebrandt, head of reproduction management at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and one of the project’s leaders. “It’s in this situation because of us.”

“Sudan is an extreme symbol of human disregard for nature,” said Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Sudan spent most of his life.

Every rhino species is under threat, said Cathy Dean, chief executive of Save the Rhino, an advocacy group, while the technical advances researchers are discussing may take 15 years to bear fruit.

“It may be too late for the northern white rhinos, but we still have time to save all the other species,” Ms. Dean said.

It’s on us. There’s still time, but the clock is ticking. Guitar god Adrian Belew tried to warn us way back in 1982, when he wrote this beautiful, bittersweet tune about the rhinos’ plight:

The baller and the bawler

Yet another Xavier basketball coach has decide to leave my alma mater (and in this case his alma mater) for greener pastures.

Chris Mack is headed 90 miles south to take over at Louisville. (He’d better bring his Swiffer Wet Jet… there are a lot of messes to clean up.) I used to ask “why?” but having witnessed six coaches leave in my 36 years of rooting for the Muskies, I don’t cry and ask why anymore. I already know the reasons:

  • More cash – $30 million for a seven-year contract, which is waaay more coin than he earned at Xavier. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of college b-ball, where one bad season can get you fired in many places, that’s some darn good peace of mind for a 49-year-old in a young man’s game.
  • Family ties – Mack is born and raised in Cincinnati and his parents still live here. He played for Xavier, and was an assistant coach before taking the helm nine seasons ago. But his wife is from Louisville, and her family still lives there. Anyone who has ever had to play grandbaby tug of war at Thanksgiving or Christmas can appreciate that it’s his wife’s family’s “turn” with their three kids.
  • Prestige – as much as many Xavier fans hate to admit it, Xavier is still a notch or two below the blue blood programs. Louisville plays in the ACC, and has a storied basketball history. Two official titles (they had to vacate a third, in 2013) and eight Final Fours. Meanwhile X has yet to make a Final Four.
  • Bigger – U of L plays in the new Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, which holds 22,090 for b-ball… nearly twice the capacity of Xavier’s Cintas Center and the third largest arena in the country. Also, as a public university with an enrollment of 22,000 each year (more than three times Xavier’s annual enrollment), they have a much larger fan and donor base. (And lower academic standards… which matters greatly when you are recruiting basketball “student-athletes.”)
  • A new challenge – when Chris Mack’s Xavier mentor Skip Prosser left XU for Wake Forest, he quoted Faulkner: Sometimes you have to say goodbye to the things you know and hello to the things you don’t. (Skip was a man of letters… a perfect fit for Xavier. Yet he left too.)
  • Bigger fish in a smaller pond – Cincinnati has the Reds, Bengals and another Top 25 program three miles from Xavier’s campus. In Louisville, the Cardinals reign supreme.
  • Timing – Mack probably felt he had taken Xavier as far as he could take them. This year they won the Big East regular season for the first time, rose as high as #3 in the Top 25, and got a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. With four key players from this year’s team departing and a weaker class of incoming recruits, next season was going to be a letdown with or without him.

Before he cut ties, he cut down a few nets.

It was a great nine-year run: Mack became Xavier’s career leader in coaching wins this season (215 overall), won conference championships in the Atlantic 10 and the Big East, and made the NCAA tourney eight times, with three Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight.

So I wish Mack well in his new adventure. And I agree with what Xavier AD Greg Christopher said yesterday:

“At the end of the day, this program is beyond any one player, any one coach, any one president. At the end of the day, this program has been built over four decades with great coaches, great players and great administrators who have helped build it to where it is. I would hope a program transcends any one single person. Now, our all-time winningest coach is really important and was a big part of that. (Mack) deserves a lot of credit, both as a player, an assistant, and head coach, so, again we wish him the best as he moves forward.” 

Odds and ends

Some photo phun (and one deep thought) to start your week:

Only in California can there be such a thing as an “organic” blow dry. It’s just air, right?

 

G is for ground, and S is for… Second Floor? Maybe it’s the Willy Wonka elevator and it stands for Space…

If it’s truly a hand-picked team, why are they looking for folks to apply? They must not be very good at hand-picking. 

 

Love the “diversity” shot, but the kid on the lower left looks like he is being held hostage.

 

Clearly the language has changed since this album was released.

 

I wish another small, Jesuit university had made the Final Four, but this is a nice consolation prize. Ramble on!

But seriously…

[No need for a caption on this one.]

 

Colvin and Lovett? Love it!

Last night I saw Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin in concert at the Taft Theater in downtown Cincinnati. I brought along the missus because it was a perfect date night show: acoustic, sit-down, 8 p.m. start time on a “school night.” Plus, my wife is a big fan of Lyle, and I love Shawn… win-win.

 

Both of them took turns joking around with each other… and playing songs from their rich catalogs, with the other person adding harmony vocals on quite a few tunes.

Just for fun, Shawn threw in bits of a couple of show tunes (“Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music and “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks) because those were the type of albums her parents had (along with albums from folk singers like Pete Seeger and The Kingston Trio). She also played the Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” during the encore – brilliant! [Sidebar: She’s always been great at covering songs from other folks. Steve Earle gives her a lot of credit for helping him turn his life around: “When my [drug] habit had taken me out of everything, she recorded my song, “Someday.” That was a little light in a lot of darkness. Part of me originally starting thinking that maybe I was worth saving.”]

A few observations about the gig:

  1. Both Lyle and Shawn have 30+ years of performing under their belt (Lyle’s debut album came out in ’86, Shawn’s in ’89) and their voices are still amazing. (Videos below are songs from their respective debuts.)
  2. Lyle could easily have been a stand-up comedian, in the Richard Wright mold… he’s got a deadpan delivery that lands subtle punchlines every time, and is a master of the pregnant pause.
  3. They were able to command an audience of 2,000 with just their voices and their acoustic guitars because their songwriting is so strong.

Toward the end of the show, Lyle mentioned “Shawn and I would be doing this anyway if we went over to each other’s houses… thank you for letting us pass this off as a ‘show’.” But he’s being too humble, as usual. Sure, if I were picking the set list, I might’ve chosen a few different tunes than the ones they performed, but there’s a magic in their words and their voices that’s rare indeed.

This is NOT the view from our seats… we were in the nosebleeds.

Lyle also said that being able to do what you love every day is truly a blessing. Here’s hoping they keep sharing their incandescent talents with us for many years to come.

 

Hawk(ing) eyes

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking passed away last week. He left us with several gems worth pondering:

This seems like a fitting song for Professor Hawking…

Basketballs out my eyeballs

I took vacation days this past Thursday and Friday, and have spent the last four days camped out in my basement man-cave, watching college hoops. Three TVs and a laptop… feasting on the Madness of March (I had to put it that way to avoid the trademarked term… aw, what the heck: March Madness. March Madness.)

Yesterday’s action didn’t end well. First the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (a 2-seed), blew a 22-point second-half lead. Then my beloved Xavier Musketeers (a 1-seed) blew a 12-point second-half lead. Worst sports day in the history of the city, easily.

But it’s still the best sports weekend ever invented. A 16-seed knocked out a #1 seed in the first round, for the first time ever.

Loyola-Chicago and their 98-year-old nun chaplain are headed to the Sweet 16.

DALLAS, TX – MARCH 17: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt celebrates after the Loyola Ramblers beat the Tennessee Volunteers 63-62 in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at the American Airlines Center on March 17, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

Buzzer beaters galore.

Tons of favorites getting knocked off. It truly is madness.