31 December 2005

Albums I'd take with me on a three hour tour

Okay, I'm baited. I've got to chime in with my own 'desert island discs' list. And no, I will not fudge and include any box sets. Can't say I won't be tempted, tho'.....

Disclaimer: all this is null and void if my stint on said island is not shared by a Professor. I know a little bit about electronics, but I'm totally lost when faced with the task of keeping a CD player going with coconuts and bamboo after the batteries give out (something tells me I won't be seeing a pink rabbit percussionist; they aren't too good at walking on water).

1) STEELY DAN / The Royal Scam
I could go with Gold, as Nettiemac did. But I couldn't do without "Scam." The title track alone gives it the keys to my 10-disc kingdom. Runner-ups: Aja, Countdown to Ecstasy.

2) THE MOODY BLUES / To Our Children's Children's Children
I'd rather cart the entire 1968-72 output of the Magnificent Moodies with me, but that would be breaking the rules (@#$% stupid rackin-frackin' rules....). So much as I love On the Threshold of a Dream enough to bring it, I cannot do without Children's. From the intensity of "Higher and Higher" to the eternal hope of "Eternity Road" to ..... wow .... the aching, lump-in-the-throat longing of "Watching and Waiting", it's a perfect Moody Blues record. Well, maybe not perfect -- if "Have You Heard (Part I)/The Voyage/Have You Heard (Part II)" could migrate over from Threshold, I wouldn't complain a bit.

Critics might hate them as being too pretentious and full of pseudo-intellectual "recitings", but I care not. The song in my heart is forever accompanied by a mellotron.

3) RUSH / Signals
A different style than the previous Rush albums; they were exploring synthesizers and obsessions with technology -- two of the albums' cuts, after all, are "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man." The 'hit single' from Signals was "New World Man", but I vote "Subdivisions" as my favorite track. This album was a big part of my senior year life's soundtrack.

4) DONALD FAGEN / The Nightfly
Another senior year must-have. When Fagen broke with Walt Becker after Steely Dan's last studio LP, Gaucho, he went on to put together a marvelous concept album about a kid growing up in a northeast suburb in the late '50s. "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was the hit single from Nightfly, and got airplay late in 1982, but my favorite track -- okay, tracks -- is a tossup between "Walk Between the Raindrops" and "New Frontier." "Frontier" should've been the big hit.

5) GEORGE HARRISON / All Things Must Pass
6) NEIL YOUNG / Harvest Moon
Two albums which gave me peace during hard times in my life. Even now, with a life much more content and fulfilling than it was a decade back, I still enjoy kicking back and playing these.

7) STEVE ROACH / Quiet Music
Peaceful ambient music for the starry nights. If the radio can't pick up a station running Music From the Hearts of Space, I'll settle for this CD.

8) VAN MORRISON / His Band and the Street Choir
The voice. Say no more. The touch choice here was which Van the Man record to include. Runner-ups: Astral Weeks, Tupelo Honey, Moondance and St. Dominick's Preview.

9) MARVIN GAYE / Anthology
What's an island without a little soul? Give me his duets with the late Tammi Terrell, as well as the "Inner City Blues", "Trouble Man" and "One More Heartache."

10) HARRY CONNICK, JUNIOR / We Are In Love
As proxy for syrup of ipecac if I eat a bum coconut. Also to remind me that there are worse things than being marooned. Even if my companion, a volleyball, is 'the silent type.'

Better yet, how about a "desert island 30 GB iPod"? Please?

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Now what did I do with that flare?" Gleck

25 December 2005

THE SUNDAY 9: Christmas-esque thoughts

Good morning, and Happy Christmas to one and all. Today, THE SUNDAY 9 has no sponsor, as it would be completely tacky to do so on such a day as this. Instead, I'll drop in a PSA for the American Goofy-Red-Thing-That-Looks-Like-a-Telephone-Pole Association: Use those Christmas Seals, give us lots of money otherwise we won't give you no more of those stickers. Stick 'em on envelopes, cards, packages, your dog, your cat, your significant other's nose, or give 'em to any toddler and (s)he'll take care of 'em in nothing flat. Remember -- it's a matter of life and ... (hack!) ... (wheeze!) ... breath?

Today, here are nine thoughts on holiday decorations:
1) Santa Claus was NEVER to be played by a B-list hack as Yukon Cornelius. Folks, I'd rather Charlie-In-The-Box from the "Island of Misfit Toys" be cast as Santa's understudy. Yukon is, shall we say, a bit over-the-top in his personality. I've noticed a lot of those inflatable backlit snowglobes featuring a Santa who looks more like YC than, well, Santa.
2) THOSE @#$%ING WHITE-LIGHT REINDEERS!!! What are you people??!! SHEEP??!!??!! Seraphim and I took a couple of "holiday light tours" of our own. What we saw, above all else, were more of these cheap Sam's Club and/or Wal-Mart special yard reindeer with animated heads. Dozens upon dozens.
Can't we be bloody original fer a change???????
3) Palm trees. Okay, maybe Bethlehem had 'em, but otherwise, in the festive (read: commercial) observance of the Christmas holiday, exactly how do palm trees figure into the overall "North Pole" motif? Several yards I saw, especially around Albany, Ga. (where Seraphim hails from), had lit palm trees among their (many) decorations.
4) Winnie-The-Pooh. "On, Eeyore! On, Piglet! On, Christopher Robin! On, Hunny! On, Tigger!" Several yards I saw this year resembled a 1973 Sears store through the warped lens of a bad acid trip.
5) Sick depictions of violence ... such as Santa holding up a bloody, decapitated doll. Yeah, with the crass commercialism which for some reason was much worse this year, I sometimes wanted to put a display of that nature in our front yard as a statement. But I would never actually do so. You see, what some people forget is what these things do to kids. A four-year-old seeing Santa portrayed in this fashion might scar 'em for life! Young'uns have yet to develop a sense of satire and parody. And Christmas, ya know, is mostly for the kids.
6) Blue lights. Unless you work for Kmart and are making a show of support for your ailing company, kindly remember that the prime colors of Christmas are RED and GREEN. Exception to foregoing: if paired with the colours red and white, thus making a patriotic theme for your Christmas display. Or if paired with silver, and you're Jewish.
7) Chase-sequence light patterns are to be used sparingly. Put them on all house trim and all fence-tops, and I'll be writing you to request tickets to be in the audience of the game show you obviously run from your front yard.
8) A little color again. Please? White seemed to be the 'in' thing to use for holiday decorations. The icicle lights were all the rage. However, as with all 'crazes', they eventually get old. It's time to bring back the colored lights. My favorites are single-color light strands mixed together, such as alternating stretches of red and green. But even the multi-colored lights are beginning to look better than the same ol' white stuff.
9) Nativity scenes. I'll end this on a positive note. Most all of the nativities I've seen this year have been very tastefully done. Some backlit figures, but also some illuminated with flood lights. I'm glad to see those; they illustrate what Christmas really means. I have the highest respect for those displays which feature little more than a nicely-done nativity.

So there you have it. It's past 11:00 p.m. on Christmas night, and I had to get all that off my chest. Maybe next year things will be more reasonable -- less of that stupid "attack on Christmas" nonsense and the excessive, crass and grotesque commercialism and cheapening of Christmas which we've seen in 2005.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Gleck family.

Ciao for niao.

22 December 2005

It's not whether we won or lost....

...it's that we got to play the game in the first place!

Arkansas State University played Southern Miss last night in the NEW ORLEANS BOWL (played, weirdly enough, in LaFayette, La.), but came up short ... the final score was Southern Miss 31, ASU 19.

This marked the first time the ASU Indians made it to a bowl game since Bolivar was living in a battered trailer behind the Jami-Bee Motel, and I was living on-campus in a building which we affectionately called Twin Toilets. Dunno if that referred to the smell, or the fact that at any one time only two commodes functioned properly....

Anyhoo, yes it's been that long. The Tribe made it this year, with its second winning season since I graduated 18 years ago this month.

Yeah, I hate that we lost, but I'm not too upset about it. We made it. We freakin' made it. And that counts for a lot.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Indian Joe decal still pasted on his heart" Gleck

21 December 2005

Oh, Gosh - I'm gonna burn in heck!

Which, of course, evokes images of the Dilbert "heck satan" character, who carries a large spoon instead of a trident.

This past weekend, the Gleck clan again visited the lovely and depressing environs of Troy, Alabama. Christmas proper this year will be spent with Seraphim's family, but the Gleck family [snap! snap!] celebrated the other day.

Saturday we had "Christmas Dinner." We were all seated around the table -- Papa Gleck, Mama Gleck, Talmadge, Seraphim and Tiger Gleck ... and brother, his wife and two little girls. Our oldest niece (age 4) said something to the effect of "Oh my gosh!" .... only to be scolded by her mother.

Seems the word GOSH is considered offensive and blasphemy in The Other Gleck Household. To each their own, but I'd never heard such a thing. My son Tiger chimed in with something he claimed to have read about in literature class -- that the word "G(BLEEP)h" is not the 'safe substitute' many think; that "G(BLEEP)h" is a euphemism for "the holy ghost" (and no, Tiger doesn't buy it) My gos--er, ah, I mean, my WORD. No, wait, "Word" is short for "Word of God", a/k/a The Holy Bible. That's probably blasphemous too.

But what about "gawrsh"? That's what Goofy says. It's a variation of the word "g(BLEEP)h" .... so I guess we should be organizing a full-tilt boycott of Goofy. Burn him in effigy. Pluto, too. Heck (I'm sure that's probably a bad word somehow, too), let's burn all dogs. "Dog" spelled backwards is "God." And that's a subliminal blasphemy. Kill them all. And their little ... um, bones.

[Puddy, you don't have to cower. Don't you know sarcasm when you read it? :-)]

The word G(BLEEP)H, of course, caused my mind to visit what will become (if it isn't already) one of the all-time classics of cinema: Napoleon Dynamite. And, given the LDS overtones in that movie (filmed in and takes place in lower Idaho) and the Mormons' conscientious avoidance of cussing in general, if he says "G(BLEEP)h!" as often as he does in that flick, certainly it isn't THAT bad.

So ... what do you think? Will usage of the word "GOSH" cause one to enter The Alternate Kingdom?

As you can see, I'm really worried. [rolls eyes]

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wonder what would happen if I bought my niece a pair of Osh Kosh B'g(BLEEP)h overalls?" Gleck

18 December 2005

THE SUNDAY 9: Chains that couldn't

You're watching GLECKNET, viewed by over 2 households in the greater Flyspeck area. Stay tuned for THE SUNDAY 9, next over most of this same blog.

Hi, I'm Talmadge, and TS9 is being brought to you this week by American Motors, makers of such babe-magnet vehicles as the Gremlin and -- for those who are exhibitionist in practice -- the Pacer: 1 part steel chassis, 9 parts glass. AMC, for those who like being made fun of.

I've been in a very reflective, nostalgic mood today, after a dream I had this morning involving my late grandfather -- he and I were making a trip somewhere, and we stopped at a Holiday Inn for the night ... a Holiday Inn as it looked circa 1971, with the neon masterpiece pulsating outside (the old Holiday Inn sign - which can be seen at the beginning of the "Murph & The Magic Tones" scene in The Blues Brothers - had a name: The Great Sign). I woke up as I was saying good night to "Big John." Talk about a melancholy way to wake up!

Tonight, inspired by that dream, as well as some recent thoughts and ponderings, I'd like to devote a little attention to nine (9) now-defunct chains. These are franchised and/or company-owned bidnesses who made honorable, and sometimes not-so-honorable, attempts at competing in various retail sectors: motels, restaurants, fast-food, etc.

There are many reasons for a business' demise, and not all are Darwinist. Sometimes a business can fall under the umbrella of a conglomerate that mismanages or neglects their newly-bought concern. Or another, more dominant, chain moves in next door with the express intent of running the good, established chain out of business ... less "may the better player win" and more "shoot out the legs of the runner in front of you."

Here goes:

1) BURGER CHEF
If you're over 35, this name should ring a bell; for much of the '60s and even into the '70s, Burger Chef was the second largest hamburger chain in America. But in 1968, the founder's company sold the corporation to General Foods. That company did very well for themselves selling packaged foods like Tang, Maxwell House, Post cereals, and many others. Unfortuately, that expertise did not extend to restaurant management. Burger Chef began wilting under GF mismanagement, giving Burger King and Wendy's an open road. Eventually the chain was sold to Hardee's, which gradually killed the name as it converted BC locations into Hardee's.

Burger Chef, I must add, was the first hamburger chain to begin offering kids' meals with the toy surprise. Theirs was called "The Funmeal", and it began around 1974, a good half-decade before Mickey D's launched the "Happy Meal."

2) BIFF-BURGER
Yes, that was the name of a hamburger chain, founded in the late '50s in Florida. There were eventually close to 1,000 (!) outlets by the early '60s. BIFF stood for (B)est (I)n (F)ast (F)ood, and their stock-in-trade was "Roto-Broiled Burgers." I stumbled on a fantastic tribute site a week or so ago. When I first saw it, it was quite the "OH WOW!" moment -- it answered a BIG question I'd had for years. There's an old, painted-over sign and building in Montgomery, Ala. I'd always wondered about. The architecture screamed "1960s hamburger joint!" Well, now I know.

3) HEAP BIG BEEF
What a name! And what a building! Another question answered; there's a building on the north side of Columbus, Ga. which bears a strong resemblence to the style of building featured in the 1967 advert (1960s chain architecture is a big fascination of mine). HBB tried to compete with Arby's and Roy Rogers in the roast beef sandwich category.

4) DANVER'S
Another Little-Roast-Beef-Chain-That-Couldn't. Used to boast hundreds of stores in the Mid-South region, but is now down to a handful, mostly in its former base of Memphis. There's still one going strong in Tupelo, Miss., and it's truly the best roast beef sandwich on this Earth. Makes Arby's look and taste like processed Oscar Mayer. So help me Danver's roast beef damn near melts in your mouth. Mmmmmmm..........................

5) LUM'S
More or less a "Ruby Tuesday's" of its day, it was a casual sit-down restaurant famous for its so-called "hot dogs steamed in beer." In its heyday, Lum's had hundreds of locations around the country. All but disappeared by the late '70s, but one remains on the Virginia side of suburban Washington D.C. Talk about a double-take when we passed that while on a trip up there in '03.

6) OLD COUNTRY BUFFET
I'm a sucker for all-you-can-eat restaurants. Especially AYCE outfits which have their own recipe of fried chicken, among the best I've had anywhere. OCB is based in Minnesota, and used to be all over the Southeast before bailing out in the late '90s. Today, there are a few in suburban Washington, and yes we ate there when Seraphim and I were visiting. Golden Corral can come close, ditto for Ryan's. None of 'em could beat OCB.

There used to be one in Charleston, S.C. as recently as 2003. A couple of times we made the trip just to eat there. It was gone as of early '05. I miss OCB.

7) CONGRESS INN
This was a somewhat sizeable motel chain in the 1960s and early 1970s. There was one on the main drag in Huntsville, Ala., where I lived early in life, as well as down the street from the motel we used to frequent on Summer trips to Sarasota, Fla. once upon a time. As a young'un, their sign intrigued me - a very patriotic and all-American motif, with the U.S. Capitol dome top center. The sign in Huntsville was H-U-G-E, too.

Today, the name lives on through several individually-owned properties. A specimen of the classic sign is here -- and prepare yourself for a sleepless night and/or an idle day if roadside Americana makes your heart skip beats as it does mine.

8) WAYFARA
I have no earthly idea what exactly this was (a motel and/or restaurant? A Stuckey's-like outfit?), but it was in Florida in the '60s and '70s, and at least every other exit on I-75 north of Tampa had one. What I remember are the huge, tall, orange bow-tie shaped signs they had. When I saw Wayfaras, I knew Sarasota wasn't much further!!

9) J. J. NEWBERRY COMPANY
Know what I miss more than anything else? The VARIETY STORE! Birmingham used to have a humongous Newberry's store downtown, and another good-sized operation in the near-abandoned Eastwood Mall. Both had lunch counters that could hold their own in the quick-service food category (ditto for the 'luncheonettes' found in most Woolworth and Kress stores -- now there are two more 'dead chain' names fer ya!). And you could find just about anything in these stores. Oh, and their toy departments outclassed that big-box conglomerate with the stupid-looking giraffe and backward "R."

Other so-called "dime stores" were Ben Franklin, McCrory's, TG&Y (Toys, Guns and Yo-Yos), W. T. Grant, V. J. Elmore, and many, many others. Heck, I'll bet the old Arkansas dime store chain Walton's 5-10 (the forerunner of Wal-Mart) was a fun place to go once upon a time.

Wal-Mart has taken the fun out of shopping. And the only remaining players in the 'variety' genre are Fred's and Dollar General, both as exciting as paying your water bill.

*********

And, on that note, I'm off to bed. It's been a long day!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "A DeLorean and a flux capacitor, please" Gleck

16 December 2005

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15 December 2005

Summer Memories '81

Tonight, come with me back in time, to the week of July 5-11, 1981. It was my first summer with a driver’s license, and I had the immense thrill of being in a car, often by myself, with complete control of the most important component in that automobile: the radio.

1981 was a mixed bag of music. The post-disco hangover was still looming, country acts were all over the place like roaches on a filthy kitchen countertop (Urban Cowboy, after all, was the movie hit of the previous year), but there were a few roses amidst the thorns. Let’s take a look at some of what Casey Kasem played on American Top 40 this nice Summer week in ‘81:

40) TWO HEARTS / Stephanie Mills & Teddy Pendergrass
A marvelous, underrated R&B single. But I never got to hear it much. At the time, I was living in Cape Girardeau, Mo., probably the whitest radio market in America – the top-40 stations were (and I can only trust still are) very skittish about adding black records. To a small extent, I didn’t mind; my tastes largely leaned toward the Midwest “arena rock” very popular in the area at that time, and my years in southeast Missouri (1978-82) turned me into a lifelong classic rock ‘n’ roller.

But I still had my love of ‘70s soul honed and developed thanks to Johnny Weber, overnight soul jock at dysfunctional Tupelo top-40 station WTUP — “The Top Dawg.” That love remained within my Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Blue Oyster Cult-centric music diet ... so hearing “Two Hearts” was a refreshing change of pace.

And it took an early August weekend in Tupelo before I heard "Two Hearts" for the first time — on WTUP, no less.

38) DOUBLE DUTCH BUS / Frankie Smith
Oh shizzit, Cape radio didn’t let this 45 past the lobby, either. For some twisted reason, I like it. I avehay onay deaiay hyway.

37) URGENT / Foreigner
The first single release from their album entitled 4, one of my top “high school memories” LPs. “Juke Box Hero” alone takes me back, although I could do without “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”

Remember the cover? That thing is known as an "academy leader countdown."

36) I LOVE YOU / Climax Blues Band
Sweet, with occasional gusts to saccharine. In other words, it's going for the Sweet 'n' Low packets. Word to Seraphim: If ever a man had it all / It would have to be me / And ooooooooooh, I love youuuuuuuuu!

34) A LIFE OF ILLUSION / Joe Walsh
One of Walsh's coolest songs. Truly an unappreciated masterpiece, probably even better than his 1978 classic “Life’s Been Good.”

33) IN THE AIR TONIGHT / Phil Collins
I can no longer hear this song without picturing the ‘bumper’ on VH-1 Classic, with the teenager in his bedroom listening to it on a small tape recorder, sitting on his bed, drumsticks in hand, with throw pillows in front of him ... just waiting for that orgasmic drum crescendo!

32) THERE'S NO GETTING OVER ME / Ronnie Milsap
31) IT'S NOW OR NEVER / John Schneider
1981 meant one thing: buttloads of COUNTRY CROSSOVERS! [cue “horror screams”]. There were a total of SEVEN on this list, alone. 1981 also meant a trashing of the 1960 Elvis workhorse by none other than Bo Duke. Why didn’t Luke roll up Bo’s window on the General Lee ... oh never mind, I’ve been watching too much Family Guy.

30) STRONGER THAN BEFORE / Carol Bayer Sager
A forgotten song. Very sweet uptempo ballad about a desperate woman trying to win back her man. Please take me back, I’ll do anything for you. You’re the light inside of me, I’ll take you anywhere you ever want to be.

Until you DO take me back, then I'll start treating you like whale vomit again. C'mon, Charlie Brown, I'm holding the football........

29) DON'T LET HIM GO / REO Speedwagon
Hi-Infidelity was another staple of the high school album shelf. Whenever I hear R-E-O’s last single, “Take it on the Run”, I still think back to cruising Broadway with girlfriend Paula, her head on my shoulder and legs hanging out the passenger window. “Don’t Let Him Go”, however, takes me back to one of the high school hubs: the skating rink!

Never mind that I couldn’t skate worth a couple dozen craps.

28) THE STROKE / Billy Squier
Two words: yeah, baby!! Of this list, it’s far and away my favorite. First time I heard it was in June, weeks before its debut on the top 40. I was on the way to picking up my younger brother from baseball practice (I don’t know who was happier to see me get a driver’s license – myself or Mom!).

The radio was on KYMO in nearby East Prairie, Mo. That little 500-watt AM coffeepot was a kick-ass rocker back in the day. And on the way to Capaha Park early that Summer evening, KYMO dropped the needle on “The Stroke.” And hearing it through the station's well-engineered highly compressed audio, it sounded beautiful. I damn hear had a Stroke. :-)

27) TOUCH ME WHEN WE'RE DANCING / The Carpenters
Casey went straight from Squier into The Carpenters. No commercial, no buffer, no nothing. Pugsley Addams couldn’t have fashioned a more spectacular train wreck.

Never mind that Karen’s request here is more than ludicrous; how could you touch her when you couldn’t bloody see her. “Now, Karen, don’t be shy. Come out from behind that fencepost.”

25) FOOL IN LOVE WITH YOU / Jim Photoglo
With a last name like that, I’d have considered marrying a woman named Jones or Smith and taking hers. I don’t think “Fool” got much higher than this. Which, no doubt, is why Delilah doesn’t go near it. From the record label to the milk carton — I think Mr. Photoglo is still playing this song in the lounge of that Congress Inn which closed about 20 years ago.

23) WHAT ARE WE DOING IN LOVE? / Kenny Rogers & Dottie West
Kenny, the roaster’s beeping — your chicken’s done and the customers are waiting. What are you doing still recording songs. I’ll just drop into your restaurant and see what condition your chicken’s conditions are in. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah.

22) IS IT YOU / Lee Ritenour
A couple steps’ removed from Easy Listening Hell. It would be a jerky segue going into something more hard-rocking, like The Carpenters.

21) QUEEN OF HEARTS / Juice Newton
Wiz, my friend and partner-in-crime back in Cape, did a funny parody of this song with his younger brother, both singing off-key, “Playing With the Five of Diamonds.”

I’ll take the joker instead ... and go off the board for Famous Stupid Country Crossover Hits, Jack.

20) TIME / Alan Parsons Project
First time I heard this record, I was headed back to school from a dermatologist appointment where he sprayed liquid nitrogen on a couple of warts I had on my hand. As I thought, “this is a nice song, quite different from ‘Games People Play’”, I was shaking and flapping my hand all around, because brother that nitrogen hurt like the much-fabled “maternal fornicator.”

19) MODERN GIRL / Sheena Easton
“Na, na, na-na-na, she’s a modern girl.” Guess she was now above taking morning trains, but was still not ready to allow her man to venture into her suga— ummm, anyway, moving right along...

18) WINNING / Santana
I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. Who needs to Google lyrics when you have ol’ Talmadge?

14) AMERICA / Neil Diamond
File under “Lee Greenwood” Now trotted out every Fourth of July, or other occasions when a right-winger wants to say “America stands for freedom, but all people who disagree with me and my president should be beat up, jailed and deported.”

13) HEARTS / Marty Balin
Why, isn’t that Grace Slick over there in the corner just laughing her ass off?

10) SLOW HAND / The Pointer Sisters
Just jam it in, then move around faster than you can say Neutron Dance.

9) I DON'T NEED YOU / Kenny Rogers
...or your stupid chicken.

8) BELIEVE IT OR NOT / Joey Scarbury
I can’t stand this song. The TV show wasn’t much to write home about, either. Guy in superhero costume who loses the manual and f(BLEEP)ks up the landings. It was funny the first couple of episodes. Then it got really old fast.

7) MEDLEY / Stars on 45
The record that started all those (BLEEP)damned medleys. “Hooked on Swing”, “Hooked on The Classics”, “Hooked on Country”, “Hooked on Phonics”, “Hooked on Blogs”, “Hooked on Talmadge Stretching a Joke Too Far”

I used to like bumping the turntable up a notch ... “The stars on 78, gee whiz aren’t they great....” Ahhhhh, youth!

6) ELVIRA / The Oak Ridge Boys
With whatzisname, whose bass voice makes Barry White sound like Frankie Valli.

4) JESSIE'S GIRL / Rick Springfield
I’m not gonna diss on Rick. The couch isn’t too comfy to sleep on.

3) THE ONE THAT YOU LOVE / Air Supply
Delilah probably keeps her “personal massage assistant” handy when she plays it. Yeah, both this record AND your little steely dan.

2) ALL THOSE YEARS AGO / George Harrison
Rumor had it that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, both uncredited, helped out. I’m sure it didn’t exactly hinder it being a smash. A nice record which brings back a sweet pocket of time on my life's travels.

And, for the eighth straight week, the #1 hit was:

BETTE DAVIS EYES / Kim Carnes

Way overplayed in its day, but let’s be serious – one could do MUCH worse in 1981.

Coming soon, a look back at November 1974. This ought to be fun .... maybe?

Ciao for niao.

— Talmadge “Keep your stars on the ground and keep reaching for your feet” Gleck

12 December 2005

Tis the season!

Last Tuesday, bad news came in twos. First, my co-worker had her purse stolen from the front seat of her car ... in her driveway (!!) ... while she made the first of two trips into her house with grocery sacks. This teenage punk, no doubt, had 'cased' her house for some time, waiting for the right moment to strike.

It makes me thankful that Seraphim and I fled Savannah proper in favor of a more sedate (and less crime-ridden) life out in Effingham County. At least here in Rincon, when cops pull over speeders on highway 21, there isn't a whole helluva lot of crime going on. Meanwhile, in Savannah the cops are too busy trying to meet seat belt ticket quotas to worry about people getting purses filched and even, recently on the southside, mugged in their own homes.

"Click it or ticket" is of little comfort to those who don't feel safe in their own homes. Oh well, at least the cops get to have those little stickers on their cars so they can be above the laws they ticket us for breaking.

AND SECONDLY, I saw on Nettiemac's blog that on the same day as the above, her brother's workplace was knocked over by an armed thug who apparently had a bomb with him. Yikes!!

I can only hope the police in the Upstate of S.C. give more of a damn about real crime than those down here. My thoughts and prayers are with you, R.M.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Disgusted Citizen" Gleck

11 December 2005

The Sunday 9: It's beginning to look a lot like Satanmas

It's time for another edition of THE SUNDAY 9, brought to you this week by Teetotalers® Eggnog, just in case Carrie Nation is one of your Christmas party guests this year. Axe sold separately.

Allrighty. With it being just two weeks away from Christmas Day, and two radio stations in Savannah aglow with the same 100 @#$%ing burnt-to-a-crisp holiday songs, I would like to cough up a hairball known as TALMADGE GLECK'S CHRISTMAS JUKEBOX FROM HADES.

These are some songs for the Christmas season which deserve to be put in a box and allowed to sit, open, in a back seat at 12:15 p.m. on a clear, sunny day. Wait 'till the vinyl is more shriveled up than over-cooked Cracker Barrel bacon, then take and decorate your Christmas tree with 'em*

* = when it's in the gutter on January 2nd.

Okay. Here we go, in reverse order:

9) DECK THE HALLS / Manheim Steamroller
The first time I heard this, 1986 I believe, it seemed like a creative reworking of a standard we all know and love. Today, after 3,942,819,531 force-feedings while a captive audience at this store or that, it truly grates on my nerves.

Everything Manheim Steamroller does sounds like a friggin' local TV news theme package. AND NOW, NORTH POLE NEWS 9 NIGHTSIDE. WITH ANCHORPERSON SANTA. YUKON CORNELIUS ON SPORTS. AND DOPPLER MAX 9 METEOROLOGIST WEATHER GIRL MRS. CLAUS. I understand Manheim's next album is a collection of holiday favorites entitled Coverage You Can Count On.

8) IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR / Johnny Mathis
Chances are, you've heard it way too many times on your friendly local "adult contemporary" station now playing all holiday music. It's too much and too late ... alas, not "too little." Oh well, two out of three ain't bad (hmmmm, wonder why Meat Loaf hasn't recorded a Christmas song; surely we could throw together enough dregs to make A Very Special Christmas 34)

7) ANY CHRISTMAS SONG COVERED BY HARRY CONNICK, JUNIOR
I completely and unequivocally revile him.

6) A SQUIRRELY CHRISTMAS / Shirley and Squirrely
David Seville meets Mel Blanc. This is why God invented above-ground power lines.

5) SLEIGH RIDE / Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops
Used and abused as a music bed on way too many local radio commercials. I'm surprised RCA didn't have Fiedler dressed up in a Santa outfit on the album cover, flanked by so many adoring cheesecake models that Robert Palmer commented, "What them wimmen need is more makeup."

4) DREIDL, DREIDL, DREIDL / Mel Gibson
Just checking to see if you're paying attention. As you can see, I'm an equal opportunity offender. A "dreidl", I understand, is a Jewish holy instrument trotted out during their Festival of Lights for the kids to enjoy. It functions similar to what us Gentile folk know as a "top." You spin it around and around and around. (And if it doesn't go all the way around at least once, Bob Barker comes out and leads the audience in booing you). What this has to do with Hanukkah is a mystery to me; then again, I'm not of the Jewish persuasion.

First time I heard this song, I thought they were singing "Drano, Drano, Drano." Begging the question of whether Kosher food takes longer to clog a kitchen sink.

3) OVERSTOCK.COM COMMERCIAL SUNG TO THE TUNE OF "JINGLE BELLS"
Oh, oh, oh .... next time that comes on the telly, Seraphim's gonna get mighty pissed off that there's a bullet hole in the middle of our living room Hitachi.

2) I SAW DADDY KISSING SANTA CLAUS / Kip Adotta
Sorta gives a whole new meaning to "Don we now our gay apparel", eh?

1) GRANDMA GOT RUN--
Exactly. Does anyone admit to liking this record?

Didn't think so.

Anyone for Grandma Got Run Over By a Dreidl for Hanukkah?

Oy!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Father Christmas, gimme some money or I'll beat you up!" Gleck

04 December 2005

The Sunday 9: Games People (No Longer) Play

It's THE SUNDAY 9 time once again. This week it's being brought to you by Carnation® brand evaporated cola. It's The Powdered Thing ... just add water, and *presto!* you have instant Coca-Cola®-esque CO2-based refreshment drink. Available also in cherry, diet or milk.

Recently I was ranting (ME? Naaaaaaawwwww ... perish the thought!) about the state of game shows in this country. Today I wish to proffer forth a list of nine old, time-tested and proven game show ideas which I believe, if put on the air today -- as is, without tinkering, except for prizes -- with the right host, supporting people, celebs and timeslot, could become hits. A couple, if presented faithful to the original rules, have the potential to deliver a death blow to Wheel of Fortune, something that should've been done long before I got seriously drunk one night in 1991 and found myself married.

In the words of Jim Lange, "And HEEEEEEEEERE they arrrrrrre!!!!!!"

1) THE $64,000 QUESTION
Who Wants to Worship Regis came close to this concept, but no cigar. Unlike "Millionaire", a contestant chose a single category and answered questions, moving up the scale to the jackpot plateau.

"Question" was among the most popular quiz shows of the '50s, and could do well today with a slight tweaking on the money. In 1955, $64,000 was a buttload of money; today, it would barely pay half the mortgage of most houses!

Bring it back as The $64 MILLION Dollar Question ... or even higher. Heck, shoot for Powerball-style jackpots on a TV game show. Nothing would jumpstart the game show genre like some $300,000,000 winners during prime time.

2) NAME THAT TUNE
A shoo-in, right? Possibly. I can think of only two obstacles: The show requires a live ensemble to play the music. An ensemble who will want to get paid. And we have the music rights. The music barons are, to put it in family-friendly language, a bunch of greedy twats.

Hey, maybe a variation could be tried out: "Name That Download" -- people could buck the music baron twats and try to name songs taken from various 'file-sharing' programs. And sit back to watch the fun as said music baron twats send their lawyer goons to sue every single participant on the show, even kids in the audience.

3) BEAT THE CLOCK
Why this one hasn't been considered for revival is both a mystery and, perhaps, obviously clear. It was perhaps the most 'reality'-style game show on the schedule once upon a time ... and one would think the networks, eager to fill their entire prime time lineups with reality shows and yet another CSI knockoff (watch for CSI: Tiger Ridge, in which cops investigate sex crimes -- it's illegal up there to fornicate someone who isn't related to you), might want to jump on this idea.

Object: People try to complete outlandish stunts within a certain time, as it ticks away on an oversized clock onstage.

Ahhhhh, but there's the problem, I suppose. The original version - nicely hosted by Bud Collier - had fun with contestants, who were making fools of themselves on that stage. Ay, there's the rub: Collier never humiliated 'em. It was always in good, clean fun. You know, the difference between good-natured teasing and outright ridicule. We're now in an age where it's acceptable to belittle ordinary people on national television; worse yet, people actually fall over themselves to get on these shows to be belittled. [sighhhhhh] See earlier comments re "dumbed down America."

Still, I'd love to see a good revival of BTC. Let entire families, kids included, do stunts. And there were literally THOUSANDS of those to be done -- the original show, I kid you not, employed two folks whose sole job duty was to create and test all the stunts we saw.

4) EYE GUESS
Game show aired from 1966-1969 on NBC (they had the coolest game show lineup in the '60s and '70s). Premise was simple: two contestants faced a board of nine numbered squares. At the beginning of each round, the squares would reveal nine different answers. They had 10 seconds to quickly study them before they were again covered. Host Bill Cullen would ask questions and the contestants would try and ring in to answer -- but they couldn't just say it; nooooo, they had to respond with a number they thought contained the correct answer.

Giving the wrong number often made for some humorous possibilities. To wit:
HOST: "Who is the publisher of PLAYBOY magazine?"
CONTESTANT 1: "Number 3"
[Square number 3 opens to reveal "GLORIA STINEM"]


5) THE DATING GAME / THE NEWLYWED GAME
But not in separate form. Combine 'em -- call it The Dating-Wed Game. At first, it follows the basic TDG format: a woman, seated behind a partition, questions three bachelors and has to choose one. But instead of just going off on a trip to Cancun and all the participants smugly blowing that full-body 'kiss' at the end of the show, the two people have to get married instead. Jim Lange's still around; so is Bob Eubanks. Send 'em both to seminary, so they could both perform wedding ceremonies. Right on camera, too.

Why not? If people will willingly eat cockroaches on live TV, certainly a few suckers would love the chance to get married right on the spot. And a year later, do a reunion show to see how many are still married.

There could even be a Tiger Ridge version, involving Family Feud.

6) YOU DON'T SAY!
Very popular game show in the '60s, similar in feel to Password. Two teams - one celebrity and one 'civilian.' The "password" (so to speak - usually a name or place) had to be conveyed through clues pointing not toward the answer, but instead to words which SOUNDED like the answer. Hence, the answer was what "you don't say."

This webpage explains it much better than I can.

Remember Tom Kennedy? YDS was that game which put him on the map. "It's not what you say that counts, it's what YOU DON'T SAY." I loved this show when I was little, and would love to see it return.

7) WHAT'S MY LINE?
Although it would do better to have a different name, as many today would probably sooner think of the Drew Carey-hosted improv show by a similiar name.

The idea was simple: A panel of four tries to guess the unusual occupation of a guest. Toward the end of the show, a big-name person would take part as a "mystery guest", and the panelists all had to don blindfolds. It was easy, elegant ... and could work very well today with the right people.

8) TO TELL THE TRUTH
Another panel game from the same creators as "Line", above. Panel of four attempts to question three people - one real and two imposters, all claiming to be this one person. Monetary awards depended on if the panel were stumped, i.e. none of them cast a vote for the 'real' person.

As with "Line", with the right people it could be a hit. The latest attempt in the late '90s bombed; it's a PANEL game show, not a PAULA game show.

9) CONCENTRATION
Of all these shows, I'm fondest of Concentration. I watched it religiously every morning when I was little, and I was heartbroken when NBC canceled it in 1973 as part of a misguided VP's attempt to bring more "lively" game shows to the schedule. Simply put, Concentration in its original form could still be on the air today, ala The Price is Right.

Forget the poorly-done revival Classic Concentration in the late '80s. It was dumbed down. The original version, as is mostly the case, was better. The concept: Two contestants sit before a 30-square board. You try to match prizes, which then reveal parts of a rebus (picture) puzzle. The one who solved the puzzle won the round.

There are incredibly creative possibilities with rebus puzzles, and after 30+ years of glorified hangman on Wheel of Fortune, I'm sure we could get as much mileage out of a puzzle that actually requires a few MB worth of brain space to solve.

There could be big-money prizes on the board ... after all, only the one who solves the puzzle keeps the prizes. There are pitfalls, too -- the "Take a prize" and "Forfeit a prize" squares could be headaches! (there were a couple of 'gag' prizes on the board as well, and if you matched one you had 'insurance' in case you matched a forfeit).

If Concentration came back, with the original rules (!), it'd be the next big success story. I'd bet money on it, too.

# # #

So there you have it. If you made it this far, go buy yourself a few consolation prizes -- get a home game, several boxes of RICE-A-RONI, and a gift certificate for the SPIEGEL catalog.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Furnished for promotional consideration" Gleck

03 December 2005

An old friend has come back to visit.

I am sitting here on a Saturday night. It's 918 PM, and I'm listening not to a CD, not to vinyl, and certainly not to FM on the audio stack in this room.

Nope. I'm listening to this old circa-early '60s Zenith AM portable I picked up at an estate sale. It's the only radio that has an AM section good enough to pull in a good distant signal despite all the electronics and computeria in this room.

Forget all the good stereo. I don't want it. I'm listening right now to WABC 770 in New York. Some of you may know that WABC was the major top-40 station in the '60s and '70s. It had some memorable DJs - Dan Ingram, "Cousin" Bruce Morrow, Ron Lundy, and others. Memorable music. And, most of all, memorable jingles!

For four hours tonight, WABC Musicradio is back.

AM faded in the face of FM's rise in the late '70s, and WABC changed formats to talk in May of '82. However, beginning tonight WABC is paying homage to its Musicradio past each Saturday night from 6-10. I was eager to check it out, and am I glad I did. They're doing it right. So very very right.

Okay, now they're playing "My Baby Loves Lovin'" by White Plains - featuring generic "rent-a-lead-singer" Tony Burrows. These songs were meant for AM radio, not FM.

When I was a kid, this pathological radio geek lived for the AM band at night -- WLS 890/Chicago, KAAY 1090/Little Rock, WLAC 1510/Nashville, and .... Musicradio 77 WABC.
The music would fade in and out as the AM skywaves sometimes broke up, but they'd always come back and sound as if the transmitter were next door.

Great crispy Buddah -- goosebump city! "(If You're Ready) Come Go With Me" by the Staple Singers. It's now blasting on my old Zenith radio. Suddenly I'm 11 years old again, listening to my Sears multiband portable radio, and content as can be.

I can't describe it further. I am giddy, I am sad, I am melancholy, I am content, I am so many things right now. How do I feel? I feel as if my grandmother, a woman whom I was closer to than my own parents, a woman who was a rock in times of turbulence growing up ....

Yeah. I almost feel like my grandmother has stopped by and we're having dinner and good conversation together.

All this over ... a radio station??!!

Damn skippy.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The Most Music, WABC" Gleck

01 December 2005

What this country needs.....

.....is more game shows!

And I don't mean Survivor or the various other reality/games which some have chosen to lump into (read: tarnish) one of the most entertaining TV genres ever: the game show. Not all shows are games, and not all games are game shows.

Okay, you may be saying, "Gleck, there's PRICE IS RIGHT, WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY ... shouldn't that be enough??" My answer, simply enough, is NO, IT'S NOT ENOUGH!! What's more, the three we have now, I feel, might be ruining the game show genre for many years to come!

Wheel of Fortune: I'll go ahead and get it out of the way: CHUCK WOOLERY AND SUSAN STAFFORD WERE BY FAR THE BETTER HOSTS ! ! ! It was a middle-tier game show on NBC from its debut in 1975, and actually flirted with cancellation in the early '80s (after Pat Sajak took over at the end of 1981). Then came the idea of syndicating the show. Paydirt!

I've long since been tired of "Wheel" -- it now exists solely for the entertainment and edification of, quoting from The Late Shift, "women with blue hair who live in trailer parks and go to bed early." It was a very entertaining show for the first, ohhhhhh, 7-10 years. Today they have to come up with these weeeeeird hangman puzzles just to keep it fresh.

And Vanna White, despite being skinnier than Ally McBeal on her fattest day, might've been the looker in 1985, but in 2005 she looks like a botox'ed up poster girl for The Future Carol Channings of America.

Jeopardy!: It's been dumbed down to the point that a lot of the time, I can answer most ever quest--er, I mean, question every answer on the board. Have I gotten that smarter in my advancing age? I don't think so.

I remember how challenging the game was once upon a time ... back when Alex Trebek had a mustache and traces of that old curly-Q hairdo he wore in the '70s, when he read all the answers on the board without the "help" of that so-called "Clue Crew."

And dropping the five-time champion rule was a huge mistake, especially without allowing the second and third place players to keep their winnings (as, it must be noted, was the case with the original 1964-1975 NBC version of Jeopardy, hosted by Art Fleming (RIP), a man who could run rings around Trebek!)

It saddened me when the show decided to throw out the original FINAL JEOPARDY "think" music -- the one single element carried over from the NBC Fleming version (yes, that "think" music dates back to 1964). But noooooo, they had to monkey with history. Couldn't they have learned something from The Price is Right??!!

Jeopardy pretty much lost me during the Ken Jennings reign of terror. I'm sorry, but when I know who's gonna be the champion, and by 10x, 20x or even as many as 30 times what the second-place contestant cops, I'm not that eager to watch the show, ya know? And what was with that cutesy handwriting each day? I didn't root for Ken; I wanted to haul right off and cold-cock that smug face faster than you could say "I wager all $2,399,039 of my winnings for that DAILY DOUBLE on 'Famous Mormon Winners on JEOPARDY', Alex."

Either that, or find one of my old shoes and throw it at the TV faster than you could say "Elvis Presley."

It was obvious, if not clear, to this writer that the producers deliberately 'stacked the deck', directing denser-than-usual contestants away from the Wheel of Fortune queue and over to the Jeopardy auditions. How else, with dumbed-down 'answers', could Ken Jennings scoot that far ahead of those other folks? I simply do not buy into the notion that for 70+ programs, few were able to get their score at least halfway to Ken's going into FINAL JEOPARDY, which meant a guaranteed win, regardless.

I know game shows are highly regulated, a practice dating back to the scandals of the 1950s. Still, there are ways. And as 'dumbed down' as America has gotten, perhaps the producers of J decided the ignorant masses would better respond to one 'big' winner. They couldn't rig the game, but opted for the next best thing.

That's not rain in your area, my friend; those are Art Fleming's tears.

The Price is Right: The show's concept is fresh, and has never gotten stale, despite this version being on the air continously since September 4, 1972. The secret, I sincerely believe, is in all the little "pricing games" played, six per show. Each day completely different games are played within the parameters of the basic show structure. Half the fun in tuning in is wondering which games will show up. Will they do Plinko again? Or will it be that quick (and borrrrinnnnng) "One Right Price"?

TPIR has maintained this longevity with what could be called DATED theme music: the identical recording created by Score Productions for the show's return in 1972 (an original version, hosted by Bill Cullen, aired in the '50s and early '60s). I take great comfort in hearing that theme music; it truly is one of the few - if not only - unchanged elements of television from my childhood.

The house is fine, but the problem with PRICE lays in the host: Bob "Wear a Fur Coat Just To Spite Him" Barker. His years with the show has caused it to become less important than the person hosting it. It's like M*A*S*H in its last years, basically a platform for the leading star's political views.

Things are good for TPIR now. Key word: NOW. Barker is getting on up there in years. He's beginning to look a bit frail, to tell you the truth (wasn't that another game show?) Barker's ego evidently has precluded any grooming of an heir apparent for the show. Instead of valuing the franchise, he wants that show to go down with him.

When Barker kicks the plinko chip, what's gonna happen to PRICE? I get the feeling that said dumbed-down America won't accept another host, and the whole shooting match will spiral downward and be delivered a pink slip by CBS. Resulting in a thought I don't like to ponder: for the first time in daytime TV history, a schedule without a single game show on it.

* * * * * * * *

There are plenty of other game show ideas - OLD concepts - whiich, if executed right, could take this country by storm. And perhaps even knock a body blow to Sajak and Trebek. I'll address those on Sunday.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "You Putz! You passed on the car showcase and now you're stuck with bidding on Showcase #2, with nothing but furniture!" Gleck

22 November 2005

THE "SUNDAY" 9: Docked a couple of points

.....for the two days this thing is late.

And here we are with another edition of THE SUNDAY 9. Brought to you by Gallmark "Gold Tiara" Stores, now with a newly-expanded line of belated cards. Look for the 'Shoehorn' cards, complete with that bitchy-looking lady saying something clever, like "Sorry I'm so late with this birthday card. Deal with it. I can't stand you anyway, so I don't know why I'm even bothering to send you a card to begin with!"

There is a valid reason for my tardiness, and Bolivar will be receiving it in the next week or so. Heh heh.

Today, in honor of The Turkey's Day of Doom, a simple list of seven (7) things for which I'm thankful (remember, I'm taking two points off for the lateness):

1) Tiger, my son. Even though lately he's been trying my outermost limits of patience with his attitude and teenage angst.

2) Seraphim, my wife. January 6th will mark five years we will have been joined at the parchment. A finer woman, a higher-quality woman, a more loving woman has never been, nor will ever be, created. I love you, my Grand Poo Bah!

3) Co-workers I dare say I love like family. Yes, even the one who sometimes tries the outermost limits of my patience. I count myself beyond fortunate that I've been among this motley group for more than five years.

4) Real friends. One I've had for almost 20 years. Another I 'met' online when I bumped into her website, found it highly entertaining, and e-mailed her about it. One, who several years ago died before his time of a brain tumor, I miss terribly. With me, it's always been about quality, not quantity. It costs me in numbers, but those friends I have -- real friends, not those who place greater loyalties on 'academic brethren', churches or places -- are worth more than the the Beatles "Butcher" cover.

5) My best friend. Yeah, yeah, call it padding. This is a repeat of item #2.

6) Puddy. 10 years old and still feisty as ever. Our Cocker/Brittany Spaniel mix is the one who really 'rules the roost' around here. Seraphim raised her from a puppy, but Puddy and I both accepted the other into our hearts.

7) Family. Nobody's perfect, we've had problems over the years, but I do know it can be much, much worse. And Thursday, all of us will be at the table sharing fellowship over Mom's classic turkey.

Think of what all you're thankful for, and treasure them all.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, from all of us quirky folk at the Gleck household.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Turkey, Beware" Gleck

18 November 2005

You are what you throw.

Once upon a time, smokers always used a receptacle to dispose of their cigarette butts. It was called an ashtray.

But smokers seem to have forgotten its basic function. These days, our roadsides, the grass and sidewalks around our buildings are increasingly becoming wastelands of spent coffin nails. People throw cigarettes out of their car in a careless disregard for those around them.

Worse, many throw them STILL LIT. And on the way home Friday afternoon, a lit butt exploded on the road in front of us, thrown out by a minivan-driving soccer mom who had the ciggy in one hand and a cellphone in another (she'd passed us, so I knew this to be true). She must've been one of those Tiger Ridge inbreds I keep hearing about, who live, work, and copulate among theirselves in upper Effingham County. I mean, only a child of incest would have a third arm, with which to keep on the wheel ... right?

This isn't the first time it's happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I know cars no longer have ashtrays by default, even though most automakers offer 'em as options. Even if not, you can buy ashtrays with weighted bottoms, designed for car use. My grandmother, who smoked for years before wisely giving it up, had one. My Mom, who has singly kept Salem Menthols swimming in dinero since the early '60s, makes provisions when driving. Mom uses .... what's it called agai-- oh yes, an ASHTRAY.

But most smokers aren't my mother. Why do increasing numbers of nicotine-junkies act as if our (!) great outdoors is their own giant personal dispos-all?

I have a couple of theories:

1) They're acting out, in childish rebellion, against what they perceive as those who have "marginalized" them, forcing them out of their offices, and making them sit in special sections of restaurants. They feel as if their right to smoke trumps the rights of those who wish to breathe (reasonably) clean air. "They don't let me blow smoke in their face anymore, so I'll show them. I'll litter their little paradise with my butts."

2) Smokers in general have become like most teenagers and 20-somethings: egocentric, lacking in manners, and hostile toward anything and anyone who tells them "no." They care not one bit about the people around them.

I wonder about the homes of these cigarette smokers. I'll bet they don't even have an ashtray in their entire house. Their floors are probably littered with butts. It's a damn wonder more homes haven't gone up in flames.

If you're a smoker, you don't need me to say you should really consider kicking that bad (and expensive) habit.

And if you're a smoker who throws your ciggy 'roaches' out the window, I hope you realize that you're only punishing yourself in the long run. One of these days you're gonna throw out a lit butt into the road in front of a car which:

A) has a gasoline leak .... can you say "that car blowed up REAL GOOD!" (apologies to Big Jim McBob)

B) startles the driver, leading to adverse action, possibly causing a bad accident.

C) is an unmarked police car. Maybe the police are 'looking the other way' (it wouldn't surprise me), but throwing out a butt counts as littering. And in Georgia that packs a nice $1000 punch. C'mon, cops, that's more money toward your quota than piddling $25 seat belt tickets.

D) is driven by a politician or other influential gumment official who carries real weight. Can you say "introduces a bill to prohibit driving while smoking"? It's not that far-fetched, ya know ...

Or, even better:

E) is driven by a 450-pound redneck in a really bad mood. Can you say "ROAD RAGE"?

I don't wish for exploding cars or chain-reaction collisions. But I wouldn't mind a good case of road rage; let that redneck follow that driver to their next stop, and make them drop a load in their pants. If not violence, maybe a good scare.

You're not helping your cause, either. And what's more, you might force people like us to reverse our own libertarian attitudes (your right to smoke ends at my nose), and start pushing for a complete ban of all public cigarette smoking.

In closing, it's really simple: you are what you throw.

Ciao for niao

--Talmadge "Proudly smoke-free since 1965" Gleck

17 November 2005

Paleo-Blog

For starters, a happy anniversary to Josiebelle. Our divorce was finalized eight (8) years ago today. Not really important, except that November 17, 1997 made January 6, 2001 possible. Wouldn't want to be a bigamist, ya know....

*********

Okay, while deep in the Gleck archives, I found a whole slew of old entries previously thought to be long gone. Allow me to share:

NOVEMBER 1964:
It's nice and warm in here, I'd better enjoy this gravy train 'cuz it's gonna come to an end very soon. Hmmmm, I understand these funky things in my fingers are called "nails." And that stuff coming through my feeding tube tastes like a combination of potato salad, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Salem Menthol 100s.

I hear these muffled, echoed voices. They sound like Mom and Dad, but also the dulcet tones of Hugh Downs ... c'mon, the WILD CARD is under number 22. Don't pick 14 -- ahhhh, you matched the aquamarine flatware set, you fool! I can solve the rebus puzzle - "Bob Dylan, Stay Away From That Electric Socket!"

I'm looking forward to hearing that other new show Mom likes, I think it's called "Jeopard-----HEY!! WHAT TH'???? I'M BOUNCING ALL OVER THE PLACE HERE - GOOD THING THESE WALLS ARE SOFT!! OW!! OW!!! TAKE IT EASY, MOM, THIS HURTS!!!! OW! OOF!!! OWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!! THERE GOES MY FUTURE LIFE AS BEING A HIGH-TICKET LAWYER. MY BRAIN IS RUINED. NOW I'M DESTINED TO LIFE AS A BROADCASTER!!!

[It's true, when my Mom was about 7-8 months along with me, she tripped down a flight of stairs]

SEPTEMBER 26, 1969, 230 PM (CDT):
Those bastards at NBC have canceled two of the coolest game shows, You Don't Say! and The Match Game. A pox on those twats. F(bleep)k them.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1969, 232 PM (CDT):
Hmmmmmm, "Ivory" has a nice, flowery taste to it. Less gritty than "Lifebuoy."

JANUARY 1979:
"In the Navy"? What kind of song is THAT? Is this what top-40 radio is coming to? What's next, The Village Cats' new hit record, "It's Fun to Stay at the ASPCA"??!!
Lordy, I hope it gets better from here.

AUGUST 1979:
Kermit the Frog has a record on the top 40?? Please, tell me where the exit is. Evidently Mom wasn't the only one who tripped down a flight of stairs .....

SEPTEMBER 1983:
Cool, I'm a first-semester freshman and have a computer class. Something called BASIC. I'm typing this on a computer with monochrome screen and 16K memory. I'd better hurry up and finish this entry, before I max out the hard dr

EARLY OCTOBER 1986:
It was an okay day, classes went fine, and I went over to The Record Exchange to see if Franklin C. had gotten any new vinyl. There was a copy of "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy, and I pulled it out to buy. However, this other guy wanted it too, but I had it first. Guy's name was Bolivar Shag-something or other. The rest is history.

FEBRUARY 26, 1990:
I have a date tonight. Her name is Josiebelle, and she works at the local newspaper. I'm going to ignore this fat and limping bald hologram who looks a bit like me, who's telling me DON'T DO IT. DON'T GO NEAR THAT WOMAN. YOU ... WILL ... LIVE ... TO ... REGRET ... IT .....

FEBRUARY 2, 1991:
Something about a chapel, a bunch of people, and Josiebelle in a white gown. It's all a haze. Why isn't Bolivar Shagnasty here? And why isn't Nettiema--no, wait. I don't know her yet.

DECEMBER 30, 1991, 550 PM (CST):
A son is born. We've named him Tiger. The lady in the nursery has just put this 10 pound and 7 ounce healthy infant into my arms. I'm a Dad.

Unfortunately, even now I don't think his mother and father are gonna make it to the finish line. Just a sad hunch.

JUNE 22, 1996:
I'm in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and wearing this tuxedo. Bolivar is about to marry this woman, a petit-ish redhead. *sigh* Good gawd, here's that fat and limping bald hologram again ... he DOES look a bit like me, I mean my hair is beginning to thin out up there, but will it get THAT bad? I wish he would shut up - he's all hyper, trying to tell Bolivar DON'T DO IT. DON'T GO NEAR.....

NOVEMBER 17, 1997:
Today, the divorce papers were signed, sealed and delivered. I'm officially free from that ugly chapter. I feel like putting my thought onto an online journal. Why hasn't anyone invented a BLOG yet? My 486 computer could handle it. I think.

FEBRUARY 9, 1998:
*snark* Yahoo! Personals. What kind of desperate, sad and lonely people are here? And what kind of desperate people want to find their soulmate on ... *HAH!* ... the internet!! Lemme see .... *snort*, *chuckle*, *pity*, *ridicul--- wait a minute, who is this "Goofelita" person? Her name is Seraphim. She's funny. I like her. Gotta respond to this one.

JANUARY 6, 2001:
I've got a head cold and my nose is dripping like a faucet. I'm tired and have somehow found myself at the Best Western in Lake City, Florida. Seraphim's with me, and I have a gold band on my left finger. Something happened this afternoon, it was in a church .... our parents were there, my brother, Seraphim's sister, Bolivar, Nettiemac, and several other good friends. I remember saying "I do." And Seraphim was in this beautiful white gown. Hmmmmm .....


So, how's that for life worthy of an episode of Behind the Music?

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Blog to the Future" Gleck

15 November 2005

I'm nuts about dead insects















Okay, friends, here is the offending cashew to which I referred earlier today. I showed it to Seraphim, and she too votes "dead bug."

Do you realize I could just as easily have bitten into THIS half??

One part of me never wants to go near another cashew. The other, more rational side (yes, people, I have one, believe it or not!) says "you've been eating cashews for, how long?, not years; we're talking decades here!" True enough, all that good eatin', and it took this long to nearly bite into a dead insect.

Matters not in this case -- this jar's still headed back for Kroger.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "meddle not into the affairs of bugs, for they taste crunchy with cashews" Gleck

Now this really BUGs me.

For many years now, I have been a fan of cashews, particularly the dry-roasted kind in vacuum sealed jars. But if I can't find those, I'll marginally settle for the salted 'greasy' cashews packed in cans.

After this morning, though, my faith in the almighty cashew has been shaken.

A few minutes ago, I opened a new jar of Kroger brand Dry Roasted Cashews, listened for the brief 'whoosh' sound after breaking the seal (ahhhhh, freshness!), and proceeded to help myself to a few of the curly nuts.

I bit into half of one ... I've no idea why I do this ... but something seemed a little weird about the overall texture of this nut. I raised the other half to take a look, and it looked as if a dead insect of some kind was harbored in the groove of the cashew's core.

Ahhhh, freshness??

It looks like a bug. It has the body style, the dark head and what looks like wings. I showed it to my station manager, who also thought it appeared to be a dead bug.

Reminds me of the old joke, "What's worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm?" "Biting into an apple and finding half a worm."

This completely killed my appetite for cashews for the day. Tonight I'm gonna pull out the digital camera and take a picture of this nut. And tomorrow return the cotton-pickin' jar to Kroger for a refund.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "No more bug coffins for me today, thanks" Gleck

13 November 2005

The Sunday 9: Did you know?

Shamelessly plagiari--er, ah, borrowed from Nettiemac's recent blog entry, trimmed down of course to a lucky nine items for this, THE SUNDAY 9 ... brought to you this week by The Kevin Federline School of Hip-Hop, with available distance learning via illegal downloads. Classes forming now. Financial aid available, too; fill out that FAFSA form and collect your disbursement within 24 hours (right, Seraphim?). K-Fed, setting rap music back six months.

Now then, here are nine things you may not know about ol' Talmadge Q. Gleck:

9) I am not allergic to poison ivy. As I approached adulthood, I began to wonder why I never 'came down with poison ivy.' Everyone has at least one accidental brush with the plant, despite the well-known warning 'leaflets three, let it be.' Then came one time during college when I knew I'd come into contact with some. And not a thing happened.

Back when Seraphim and I were dating, we met one weekend at a state park ... I totally blew the woman's mind by pulling some poison ivy off of a tree with my bare hands, and rubbing it against my arm. Again, not a thing happened.

Hmmmm, I wonder if I could make some serious $$ offering my services as a poisonous plant remover.....

8) I have award-winning legs. In fact, it's the only trophy I've ever won. It was 1988, and I was living in a little rathole called Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Sunshine Foundation, a local 'make-a-wish' charity, had invited radio personalities from the local stations, and some from nearby Little Rock, to take part in a legs contest ... the winner was the one who raised the most money for said charity. Yeah, okay, I was game. Why not? Besides, the lady at Sunshine was really nice.

Along with a couple of local 'competition', the show was stolen by several of the high-profile top-40 jocks from Little Rock (one of them went by the name "Holly-wooooooooood Harrison!!"). Us Pine Bluffers stood on the stage with sheepish grins on our faces, looking at each other with raised eyebrows as if to say, "okay, when is this damned thing gonna be over with?" But those Little Rock jocks milked this for all it was worth, striking poses, you name it.

Most of the audience were made up of teenaged girls, who swooned at their radio heroes ... and they were all crowded around the donation table. There were mason jars, each labeled with our name and station. I figured, "Okay, Hollywood from KKYK is gonna take this one hands down ... or maybe the guy from ZOO-98. How much longer 'till 1:00?"

When it WAS over, I ran up the street to cop a quick lunch with my then-girlfriend. I came back to the legs venue, only to find the entire entourage wondering where I had gone!! I FREAKIN' WON THAT LEGS CONTEST!!! The reason? Sure, all the teenyboppers dropped their change and small currency into the top-40 mason jars; that was the deal -- I had an older lady who listened to my show on the AM country station every morning ... she'd dropped a 20-spot into my jar, which clinched the trophy for moi.

I didn't win 'cuz of my legs; I won 'cuz of my older demographics!

But 17 years later, I still have that trophy (it's somewhere in the garage), and Seraphim likes to remind me from time to time that I am "Mr. Sunshine Legs."

7) Rush Limbaugh's cousin was my 8th grade Civics teacher. And you wonder why I'm so screwed up today!! We were living in Cape Girardeau, Rush's hometown, and she was from the same gaggle of Limbaughs which produced our pill-poppin' egotistical talk show buffoon.

6) I taught myself how to read. Long before Kindergarten I was reading. Exactly WHAT was I reading, mind you? Why, road signs! STOP ... well, that one was easy. Then "MADISON" was next (that was the small town outside of Huntsville where we were living at the time).

From there I graduated to the big green signs along the portion of interstate open between Birmingham and Decatur, Ala. One read HANCEVILLE - ARKADELPHIA; by age 4, I could pronounce "Hanceville", but it took a little longer to decipher that other word. But by first grade I had it down. (No, my Arkansas friends, yours isn't the only Arkadelphia; there's one in Alabama, too)

5) Ditto for telling time. I credit the fine publication known as TV Guide for this honor. I learned the concept of time by studying the TV schedule. By the time I first darkened my kindergarten classroom, I had it all down. Even the channel numbers, too.

4) I cannot 'think fast' when something is thrown toward me. I don't know when or why this came about, but I always flinch when a ball, or anything else of solidity is thrown to me.

This was yet another reason P.E. wasn't exactly my favorite class. But at least I provided ample entertainment for the other kids.

3) I once crossed the Mississippi on my bicycle. Back in those salad days when I rode all over Cape Girardeau on my bergundy-colored ten-speed (complete with modified can holder duct-taped to the frame to hold my little radio!), often with partner-in-crime 'Wiz.' One Spring day in 1980, we found ourselves downtown just riding around on a Sunday afternoon, and we both looked toward the Mississippi river bridge. We looked at one another, and ... it happened. We made our way toward Morgan Oak Street, and did something which I suppose was my most reckless childhood stunt: Wiz and I rode our bikes across the bridge into Illinois!!

That's right, gang, with the radio playing the rockin' sounds of KGIR for a soundtrack, we traversed the narrow 10-foot lanes of that 1928-era bridge. Look Mom, no shoulders!

I have no idea how many cars we bottlenecked as we crossed, and I remain amazed to this day that 1) we didn't get our asses run down, and 2) that either Missouri's, Illinois' or Cape's Finest didn't weld our asses to one of the bridge's plate girders.

Once over there, we grabbed a Coke - or, in Cape parlance, SODA - at a convenience store ... and I dropped a buck on what was my first-ever scratch-off (Illinois had a lottery even back then). And yes, I busted.

There's a piece in my 10th grade yearbook about a group of kids who took part in a 'Cape Bicycle Club' of sorts, and they recall the one day when the group all rode across the bridge. The quote was, "We used a van to escort us, because otherwise the cars would've mowed us over!"

Escort? Wiz and I didn't need no steenkin' escort.

2) My first car was a real embarrassment. Not every kid is lucky to have their own set of wheels when they turn 16 years old. The day I turned the magic age, my grandparents gave me a car as a gift for my birthday. Expecting something along the lines of a late '70s vintage Mustang (which, years later, my Dad said was the original intent and his disregarded suggestion), I opened the front door to find my new set of wheels: a 1976 AMC PACER.

Yes, a Pacer. And this was 1981. A full decade before this cruel joke of a vehicle was 'validated' through the movie Wayne's World. I always knew my grandparents had it in for me. Why couldn't I have had a rustbucket Chevette? Or a hand-me-down '69 Ford LTD battle tank?? At least those things looked like bleedin' CARS!

Lucky for me, the thing fell apart in time for high school graduation. From there it was to an '82 Mercury Capri - the car I drove through much of college (and the car I today feel the most 'nostalgic' about).

1) Chocolate makes me throw up. I am completely, totally and undoubtedly allergic to chocolate. I cannot keep any quantity of chocolate in my stomach for long, because it'll start going into spasms and seismic fits and expel the stuff back from whence it came. What's more, the smell of chocolate is enough to make me gag and, if in the venue long enough, toss my (chocolate-chip) cookies.

Fortunately, the smell is only sickening when it's being prepared -- so Seraphim always gives me ample warning before making a chocolate cake. Either I'll go out running errands or I'll hole up in the 'music room' with the fan pointing toward the door. Long as I have that fan, I'm okay.

My 'practice wife' Josiebelle viewed it, among other quirks, as a major embarrassment (I was the AMC Pacer of her little world). Seraphim, though, sees the silver lining: if anything chocolate ends up in my hands, it goes to her. And if we each get something like that, she gets BOTH.

*********

So there you have it, nine (9) things you might not have known about me.

I think I'll have myself some ice cream. Vanilla, of course.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Schwinn Daredevil" Gleck

12 November 2005

Okay, then, how about some Consolation Criddles?

Auburn 31 - Georgia 30.

Auburn almost got a TD in the last seconds, but was (thankfully!) disallowed due to it being fumbled about 2 yards out. Alas, Eye-burn chose to punt on the 4th down.

I'm to blame. When Georgia was up with about a minute to go, I said to my father-in-law, "I might be presumptuous, but how about some Victory Krystals?" We had a late lunch today, so we're a bit hungry, and nothing satisfies at 1130 at night like a sackful of belly-bombers.

Gleck, ya jinxed it!

But I still want some 'Criddles' (which, according to my wife, is how it's pronounced while in an inebriated state).

Damn.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Now I'M saying WTF??" Gleck

It's 'gout' to be Winter!

If the pain in my toe could talk, it would be screaming "I'm baaaaaaaack!!!"

Last December, my right toe began hurting like the proverbial 'maternal fornicator.' I thought I'd somehow sprained it (as I'd done after a trip to Chattanooga several years back ... all the walking at Ruby Falls did it; one has to do some fancy footwork in those tunnels).

Not this time. The doctor took some x-rays of the offending toebone [apologies to Deputy Dawg], and ruled out a sprain ... instead, there was a lot of inflammation. She said I have gout. Gout is a condition where elevated uric acid levels produce some jagged crystals in the blood, and the toe area is where they like to 'pool up', so to speak, hence the (stabbing) toe pain. It comes and goes, but always seems to rage at its worst during the winter months.

You'd be surprised how much we rely on the muscles in our big toes. It's difficult to avoid big-league pain when doing anything but sitting down (and even then, it's not always comfortable).

Several factors contribute to gout. One of them is heredity, and Mom told me in no uncertain terms where it came from, then apologized. That explains why Mom sometimes gets moments where she has trouble walking. The other is diet - and it's said that red wine and red meat are the biggest aggaravators of gout. Well, I barely drink - and never wine at that - so check that one off the list. Red meat? Yup, guilty. Very, very guilty.

The gout began ebbing as February became March, and the weather warmed up. Throughout the year, my toes would sometimes get slightly sore, but nothing really major - and I'd pay it little attention. And, after cutting way back on red meat, I backslid in a big way - out of pain, out of mind, ya know?

Ah, but now we're pushing mid November ... and a cold front passed through on Thursday. Like clockwork, I woke up with a sore toe which made me want to take one of Seraphim's fancy knives and cut the bastard off. Only, this time it's my LEFT toe. The right one is blissfully ignorant of the turmoil currently bedeviling my left this-little-piggy-went-to-market.

If this is any indication of the Winter of discontent which faces my big podial digits, I might want to think about investing in a good walking cane.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Time to hop into the bed ... literally" Gleck

06 November 2005

THE SUNDAY 9: a mish-mash of mush

This week we're back with TS9, brought to you by The Dry-Roasted Cashew Advisory Board. Remember, dry-roasted cashews are good for what ails ya. So hit the grocery store right now and pick up some ... before that Gleck guy beats you to 'em. Dry-roasted cashews. Like peanuts, only better.

A few thoughts before I call it a night:

1) I BRAKE FOR BOILED PEANUTS
"The Nut Hut" is the name of a wagon that sells fresh hot green boiled peanuts. For some inexplicable reason they've been chased from a couple of locations outside of Effingham County. These days, they're set up on Skidaway Road near Bacon Park (east side of Savannah, for those of you not familiar with this weeeeeeird city of ours). From out here, it's a bit of a drive - even for a certified/certifiable boiledpeanutphile like myself. Hmmmm, wonder how boiled cashews would taste..... :-p

2) DOES YOUR BUBBLEGUM LOSE ITS FLAVOR, IN THE TRICK-OR-TREAT BAG OVERNIGHT?
$5.99 at Sam's Club got us 300 pieces of Dubble Bubble to dole out to the ghosts, goblins and (in one case) hippie. In order to keep Puddy from getting all riled up by repeated doorbell rings (see #3, below), we set up shop outside. Seraphim popped us some popcorn, and we sat outside to greet the moochin' kids. The weather (50-ish degrees) was wonderful for Halloween; much better than last year, when it was like an August evening. Or, if you're into Neil Diamond.....

Out of that, we're still stuck with half a tubble of Dubble Bubble. I don't feel like chewing my share of that crap 'tween now and Memorial Day, so if you want a complimentary piece, just say the word and I'll drop you a few pieces in the mail. Just pay $4.95 shipping and handling, and some yummy gummy will be headed toward your mailbox.

3) PUDDY AND HER MEDS
Puddy was sick over last weekend, and I took her to the vet last Monday. Her groin area was very inflamed, but the X-rays showed no developing back trouble (as the vet was afraid might be the case). She's been on a medicine regimen of painkillers and muscle relaxers for the last six days. Puddy's back to jumping on the sofa, but she's not quite brave enough to try the bed again. So I put her 'cushion' from the living room into our bedroom.

In any case, Puddy's doing much better now. Seraphim was in her native southwest Georgia over the weekend, and talked to the woman who gave Puddy to her. Found out that Puddy's mother passed away a couple of years ago, but, more depressingly, that of Puddy's siblings, only two are still alive.

4) CATEGORY 7
Randy Quaid kills where he badly needs it. Otherwise, this is a disaster film that gives a new meaning to "over the top." Category 7 is your typical TV movie 'event', and a sequel to Category 6, about the hurricane that hit Chicago. Makes me wonder if a Category 8: The Planets All Implode is up CBS' sleeve for a future sweeps week?

I generally consider prime time TV as 'beneath' me (the truth hurts, man), but for some inexplicable reason I go for disaster movies, no matter how stupid. Favorite scene: the trailer park, where Shannen Doherty cold-cocks the pothead who tried to steal their truck.

[gritted teeth]Yes, and I'm gonna be watching the conclusion next Sunday night.[/gritted teeth]

5) ARKANSAS STATE HAS SOME WORK TO DO
Their loss to Middle Tennessee State was embarrassing, bringing back the ugliness of the '90s (0-11, anyone?). Next week, the Indians play the Fightin' Prophylactics of Troy Not-State-Anymore University. The Tribe had better win, else-in' Tal here is gonna be a might' bit perticked.

6) TROY IN SAVANNAH
In the "Exchange" bidness tab of today's Savannah Morning News, I was greeted by a 1/4 page ad for Troy University, who have now opened themselves a Savannah branch office. Seeing billboards all over town are bad enough, but why the print adverts; can't a guy read the newspaper over lunch without losing his appetite??

I wish Armstrong Atlantic State University would open an outpost in Troy, Alabama ... it would only be fair.

7) MP3 UPDATE
In case you've been wondering about my MP3 conversion project, I'm now finishing up D. I decided to forego the vinyl conversion until after all the CDs have been done. This is a slow, but sure process.

8) YOUR SOUL DOWN, WITH 10.9% ATR
After seeing yet another Methodist® Church commercial ("Open doors. Open 7-11. Open mouth. Insert foot."), I began wondering - seeing as how they're obviously so desperate for new blood that they've taken to advertising - if they'll employ a new ad agency if they don't get the desired results with this "open" hooey. What if they hired the same guys who do those KIA commercials? How would that sound???
DO YOU HAVE A JOB?? DO YOU HAVE $99 TITHE?? THEN YOU CAN BE APPROVED FOR A NEW '06 METHODIST® MEMBERSHIP!! GOD HAS EXCITING THINGS IN STORE FOR YOU AT #1 METHODIST® COUNTRY, 4456767889 ABERCORN STREET IN SAVANNAH!!! Or, even better, hiring Chip Ellis to do their commercials: "THE UNITED METHODIST® CHURCH. WORHIP WITH US. I AM THE GOD!"

9) NO GLECK CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY BEFORE 11/26!
This one's for you, Seraphim. No amount of all-Christmas music radio stations playing in stores will get me to change my mind. Bah humbug. I'd like to pee in the Christmas stations' eggnog.

And that wraps up another exciting edition of THE SUNDAY 9. Have a cool week, and remember: "Only forest fires prevent bears."

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Tuck Froy" Gleck

31 October 2005

You're on the Monitor Beacon!

If I said the word Monitor, what would be the first thing to come to your mind? Probably, the cathode-ray or LCD video display on which you're reading this very blog.

But iffin' I were to go back in time to, say, 1970, and utter the same three-syllable word to an average adult, chances are a distinctive audio signature would play in their head, a one-of-a-kind collage of beeps and boops. And their mind would think about leisurely weekends -- running errands in the car, on trips out of town, or just puttering around the garage -- with the radio as a companion.

Yes, for those old enough to remember, there was a network radio program known as Monitor. It began in 1955 as an experiment born out of desperation. TV was slicing flesh off radio's bones, layer by layer. Something had to be done, and NBC President Sylvester "Pat" Weaver (father of actress Sigourney Weaver) gambled all of NBC Radio's fortunes on a crazy idea: a mish-mash of features, interviews, sports, music, remote broadcasts, in-depth news and comedy he called Monitor.
It would air for much of the weekend - Saturday morning through Saturday afternoon, and into Saturday night. There was also a Sunday afternoon and evening version, as well.

If it succeeded, NBC Radio - the first radio network in the U.S. - would be reinvigorated. But if it tanked? NBC Radio would likely have folded before 1960. Many called it "Weaver's Folly." BUT - they discounted Mr. Weaver's track record. Are you familiar with a little-known failure of a TV program called Today? Okay, what about the obscure little basement production known as The Tonight Show? Both were created in the mid '50s by Pat Weaver. Maybe Weaver was a bold risk-taker. Or maybe Weaver was rolling the dice, hoping for a 7. Perhaps Weaver exhibited professional hubris.

None of it matters. Monitor was successful. It turned network radio on its ear. It lasted until early in 1975!!

I'm too young to have remembered the program firsthand, but as one who has always been passionate about radio history and enjoys listening to recordings of old broadcasts, I was vaguely familiar with Monitor - but only in a read-it-in-a-textbook way.

Then I discovered Dennis Hart's fantastic tribute to Monitor ... then I bought his book, and devoured it. Then, through trades with fellow radio hobbyists, I managed to get copies of the few Monitor 'airchecks' known to exist.

Man, that was some fantastic stuff. Each segment was hosted by a big name, often from the TV side of the hall. Gene Rayburn, of Match Game notoriety, was one of the best-remembered of the show's hosts. Bill Cullen was another, Joe Garagiola, Art Fleming, Bert Parks, and others. The music mix in the '60s programs were of the easy listening / 'middle of the road' genre, but I didn't care. In fact -- and here's the scary part -- I found it quite to my liking as I listened.

And it got me to thinking. What this country needs is another Monitor.

We have plenty of talk programs, as many music programs as there are notes on the scale, and there's comedy to be found.

Talk programs? All partisan, and obnoxious blowhards speaking to their own choirs. The comedy -- especially of the type found on your average morning drive radio show -- often causes people to blush with its blueness. And music? It's splintered into too many genres and sub-genres.

We're almost to the point where we want nothing except to find our own "niche" station, and not venture out to sample other things. We only want people who tell us what we want to hear. We only want music we like (this is a problem prevalent among the teens today). People of the conservative persuasion only want to be in their little cocoons, being told their views are correct, and receiving their daily affirmation that Liberal = Satan. And those on the liberal side who are able to receive the Air America talk network are also guilty of the same mentality. We are truly a divided nation.

For all the 'nationally syndicated' radio product out there, there is precious little where people can all tune to and enjoy a national radio service ... together ... and as Americans. The closest we have to such a thing are the NPR daily offerings Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But even those programs -- which, in spirit, owe a great deal to Monitor, don't pass the "universal appeal test."

The beauty of Monitor was that people all over the country loved it -- and were all listening and enjoying TOGETHER!

Can this be done today? It's a challenge. But a challenge not unlike that which existed in 1955. What radio needs is another Pat Weaver to stand up and offer to a radio network's group of affiliates a revival of the Monitor formula. Bring in a group of well-known personalities to host. Not big-ego celebrities; people who elicit a 'comfort level' with an audience. Al Roker quickly comes to mind.

News on the hour, sports on the quarter hour, interview features - designed not just to entertain, but to inform. Comedy: radio is one of the best mediums for comedy expressions. There's plenty of room - and, maybe, a hunger - for good clean comedy. By 'clean' I don't mean "bland" or "whitewashed." There's a lot of material out there that doesn't rely on toilet humor, four-letter worlds, or body functions to bring out a good belly laugh.

Politics? In this day and age, we're too divided here. Leave it out. Both left and right.

And music. Naturally, this would never appeal to somebody like my 13-year-old son. But neither did the original Monitor. Aim it at the 30 and over demographic. There are a lot of us listening, a lot of us who remember the glory days of mass-appeal radio. Play music from the 1950s through the 1980s -- pop hits, some country hits, some R&B hits, and even some rock 'n' roll. I might not like every tune, however the next one might catch my ear. Gee, that sounds an awful lot like ... the way top-40 radio used to be!

I know it's just daydreaming. Yet certainly I can't be the only one who, deep inside, misses the feeling of community at the radio set. Check out Dennis Hart's website. Listen to the many audio clips available. Hear the beacon.

If I could have that on the weekend, the way our parents had Monitor, I'd willingly sit through a Culture Club record here or a Crystal Gayle song there.

And so concludes my trapise into the past. (I wonder if I can stick around awhile longer - it's better back here)

Ciao For Niao. [said to the tune of the NBC chimes]

--Talmadge "Weekends are different, so is MONITOR" Gleck