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


THE SUNDAY 9 will not be presented at this time in order that we may bring you the following special program. THE SUNDAY 9 will be back at its regular scheduled time next week, followed by an all-new "Maude" and "Good Times."

[cue old "CBS Special Presentation" logo]

Today, in honor of All Hallow's Eve, I bring you The Three Divas of The Apocalypse, starring the Wiggin Sisters: Dorothy, Helen and Betty -- those Divas With Voices of Angels.

The Shaggs.

Brought to you, of course, by Dolly Madison "Zingers", your local Coca-Cola Bottler, and McDonald's. You deserve a break today, but you ain't gettin' one -- we're bringing you these cat-killin' girls, you're gonna sit down, shut up, and LISTEN!!!

It's Halloween, it's Halloween,
It's time for scares
It's time for screams
The ghosts will spook
The spooks will scare
Why, even Dracula will be there

It's the ultimate Halloween carol. Forget "The Monster Mash" or those other hackneyed, beat-to-death hits -- we're talkin' great listening, baby.

The Shaggs make for perfect music to listen to while you're lying down in the pumpkin patch, waiting for The Great Pumpkin.


Yes, Virginia, there is a Great Pumpkin. He exists as certainly as jack-o-lanterns exist, trick or treaters knock on doors, eggs thrown at cars, or two-ply Charmin strewn about trees and houses ... there will always be a Great Pumpkin.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Great Pumpkin! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. Or North Carolinas. Heck, even South Carolinas (unless, of course, the "christian exodus" were to whiz on their palmetto trees, thus marking their territory ... eh, but that's another issue).

Not believe in The Great Pumpkin! You might as well not believe in World War I Flying Aces! You might get Mr. Van Pelt to get his youngest, blanket in tow, to watch in all the pumpkin patches on Halloween Eve to catch The Great Pumpkin, but even if you did not see The Great Pumpkin, what would that prove? Nobody sees The Great Pumpkin, but that is no sign that there is no Great Pumpkin.

You tear apart a Magic 8 Ball and see the blue liquid and that big thing with many triangular sides, but what does that prove? Just that the person who owns that Magic 8 Ball is gonna be mighty pissed off. Just HOW is (s)he gonna make a decision now?

You see, if you have faith in Great Pumpkins, there's no need for stupid plastic spherical objects with deep philosophibabble like "MY SOURCES SAY NO."

Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real, abiding, or delictable when served as pie.

No Great Pumpkin! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. That, or at least a gullible animated blanket-carrying boy.

Heck, if anything, maybe Linus'll finally yield to Sally Brown's seduction whilst in their pumpkin patch vigil.

Yes, there's a Great Pumpkin. Remember that before you bite into one of those Brach's Mellocreme Pumpkins, pal.

And that's it for The Five Flavors of Reflections Halloween Special. Stay tuned for Chico & The INS Man, next over most of these same blogs.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The candy corn is MINE, dammit!" Gleck

29 October 2005

Bad news, good news

[sighhhhhh] "Dammit, Seraphim!"
"I'll go get dressed."

Translated from Talmadge & Seraphim-ese into proper English: "Say, honey, how do you feel about going into town and eating at IHOP?" "Why Talmadge dear, I would love to."

After uploading my last post, I got myself deodorized, pasteurized, homogenized and Simonized. Then Seraphim and I transported ourselves into Savannah, as we listened to the last half of Car Talk and the beginning of Whad'ya Know! (Not much. You??)

My brain cells were dripping saliva at the very sight of the IHOP roof (Savannah's is a refurbished building from the old days, when they had those steep-pitched roofs).

All is good. IHOP is in sight. Today's gonna be a greaaaaaat daaaaaay!

Then we learned the meaning of the oft-used phrase "the best-laid plans of mice and men..." For we didn't count on: 1) today being Savannah State University's homecoming. and 2) the homecoming parade was at 9 AM, and was over by 1030. That's right, boys and girls, IHOP had a full parking lot and a line out the door.

[insert "Price is Right" loser music here]

Whoooookay, although we're still hungry, we moved on to the other thing on our list of things to do: visit this one cake shop. Since they closed at noon, we high-tailed it there. Woo-hoo! It's in the same little strip as a little hole-in-the-wall used CD store I occasionally frequent. (that sounds awfully contradictory, don't you think?) While Seraphim talks to the owner, further refining her plans and dreams of eventually opening a cake shop of her own, I hike my hungry arse down to Silly Mad CDs (yes, that's the name of the store).

The owner has added a small vinyl section, stocked with some things from his own collection he's trying to get rid of. Not much to be found there, but he had a small box stuffed with 45s, $1.00 a pop. I found about half a dozen I liked, along with a used CD (POCO / Crazy Loving: The Best of Poco 1975-1982, in case you're curious; until now, all the Poco in my collection was on glorious vinyl).

From there, we tried IHOP again. @#$%, still standing room only. Heck, the place resembled Logan's or Olive Garden on your average given night. "Here, take this drink coaster with all the cool flashing lights inside. When your table's ready, we'll activate it and scare the crap out of you with the sudden burst of flashing LED activity, vibration, and roaring sound. Meantime, may I suggest a (pricey) drink at our bar?"

With breakfast still on our mind (it was now pushing 12 noon), we tried Denny's just up the way on Abercorn. Same situation as IHOP. Then there was a place next to Kroger on Mall Blvd. called "The Original Pancake House." Never having been there, we decided to try it. Hmph, it seemed like all of Savannah State's alumni had cravings for breakfast at the noon hour, too.

[play "Price is Right" loser music again]

We were starving ... and ready to wish a pox on Savannah State's football team for ruining our dreams of a heavenly IHOP breakfast! (for what it's worth, the SSU Tigers lost to Central State of Ohio, 28-27). I was kidding about the pox; who would wish a homecoming loss on any university? Well, except Troy (Not-)State, heh heh heh ... [smirk]

But I digress. As Team Gleck circled the bottlenecked area surrounding Oglethorpe Mall, we decided on a place to eat: Golden Corral. Dreams of breakfast samplers and omelets die hard. But a pipin' hot buffet with fried chicken, baked ham, and other succulent soul food, was a nice consolation prize.

There was a small line, but it wasn't as crowded as the other restaurants north of the mall. In the foyer there was a GC employee who was raising money for the Disabled American Veterans. On the table beside her was a wheel with red stripes, white stripes, one space marked "free spin" and one blue with lots of white stars (but no "bankrupt" space, drat it!). $1.00 got you a spin. Land on red, get a free drink. Land on white, ya get nothing. Land on the stars, you get a free buffet meal.

I gave the dollar to the lady. Seraphim gave the wheel a spin (yes, it went all the way around at least once -- otherwise I would've boo'ed her).

File under: SILVER LINING!! It landed on the stars!! Sweet ... Seraphim ate free. Total price for lunch: $12.69 It was good, except for having to be at the mercy of a server for your drink. When my Coke glass is empty, I'd just as soon get up and procure some more myself, thank you (the way Old Country Buffet does it .... gawd, I miss that chain)

All in all, it was a nice day. But we were eager to get back home to Puddy, who seems to have come down with a bug. She's been achy since yesterday, shaking and acting all gloomy. In fact, the poor dog slept on her little pillow in the living room -- not on our bed with us, per usual. If Puddy's still feeling this way Monday, I'll REALLY give her a reason to shake: a trip to the vet!

Thus sums up Talmadge & Seraphim's Excellent Saturday Adventure. If you actually read this far, you deserve a gold medal. Go to the store and buy some and bake a batch of cookies or something.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "No, Bolivar, I did NOT buy The Guess Who's soundtrack from the film Janet Must Die, And Die Two Hours Ago" Gleck

International House of Weird Marriages

Not that I'm complaining or anything. It's just that something just happened a few minutes ago which drove home the point that Seraphim and I truly are cosmically connected.

First of all, look at the time of this blog. It's Saturday morning, and it's still before 10:00, something unusual when it's a weekend at home, just us. Last night I went into the bedroom to lay down and take a nap ... it was about 1130, and I was a bit tired. I had some things I wanted to do, but I figured I could wake up, ohhh, about 1 or 2 AM, and get back into the 'music room' to do some webpage work.

As Seraphim can quickly attest, there is no such thing as "Talmadge going into the bedroom late in the evening, with the purpose of taking a short nap and getting back up." Nope. Every bloody time it turns into going to sleep for the night! You'd think I would learn my lesson, right?

Well, this morning was no exception. Woke up, and looked at the clock. 655 AM. @#$%!!! And now I'm friggin' AWAKE! I get out of bed, and go into the music room to do some webpage work, and do some video dubbing for a trade I'm working on. Seraphim wakes up about 830, then goes into the living room to catch up on watching some programs she recorded.

About 15 minutes ago I go in there, sit on the couch, and look at Seraphim. I sigh, and say, "Dammit, Seraphim...." She looks back at me, and a few moments later says, "I'll go get dressed."

That's it. No other words exchanged. Saturday morning at 10:00, fully awake, just us, and I'm hungry. And only one thing will fit my craving right now: Breakfast Sampler at IHOP.


I don't want anything else edible but pancakes, eggs, bacon, ham and hash browns. Not a thing else. And this means a trip BACK "into town" -- that is, going to Mall Boulevard in Savannah, where our only IHOP is located. Hence, the sigh and the "dammit" remark. When I'm here for the weekend, and it's just us, the last damn thing I want to do is go back into Chatham County for any reason!

But I can taste the Breakfast Sampler. I must have one.

What a marriage I have. We can look at one another a certain way, and know what it means. IHOP is now our plan, and we never even uttered those letters.

And Seraphim now craves her omelet. And since she's now out of the shower, it's my turn.

On that note, Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Rooty, Tooty, Fresh 'n' Snarky" Gleck

27 October 2005

Started hummin' a song from 1979

Tonight, we take you back to November of '79.

12.9% APR, with approved credit, was a damned cheap car note. A Chrysler Cordoba, driven brand new off the dealer's lot, would get you about a block from your home before the engine stalled and/or a fender fell off. Ford enlisted a middle school Special Ed class to design its forthcoming compact car, the Tempo.

A new home would set you back about 40 grand. The mortgage interest was more than the principal. Single-digit interest rates had gone the way of the 70 MPH speed limit.

Ahhhhh yes, 1979. A new show called Dukes of Hazzard debuted on CBS. The tube was filled with top-flight viewing like Supertrain, James at 16, and a Summer replacement series known as Pink Lady. Disco, although close to slumping, was still king. People still bought 8-tracks.

You could still wear a leisure suit without anyone batting an eye. Even one in chartreuse.

1979. Your Blogwriter was in 9th grade, entertaining friend and foes alike with his athletic un-prowess - brilliantly displayed each and every morning in P.E. How bad was it? During the volleyball segment, when it came my time to serve, I got that volleyball over the net one time. And the whole class stopped cold and applauded!!

Somebody that year signed my yearbook: "You're pretty funny to watch while playing softball."

And the music? Little better. A recent acquisition of an American Top 40 countdown from November reminded me that my worst year ever in school had a soundtrack to match:

#39) THIS IS IT / Kenny Loggins
After a great career as one-half of Loggins & Messina, a great '70s laid-back/mellow rock duo, Kenny Boy struck out on his own. One of his first hits was 1978's "Whenever I Call You Fiend." -- ummm, I mean "Friend." This follow-up hit - debuting this week at #39 - was further proof that KL was suffering from Peter Cetera's Disease, named after the Chicago lead singer whom, upon discovery of ballads like "If You Leave Me Now", moved a great band away from a brassy rock sound and into a wimpy/schlocky/sappy direction instead.

#37) CONFUSION / Electric Light Orchestra
This was one I'd completely forgotten about. The late '70s were kind to E.L.O.; "Mister Blue Sky", "Don't Bring Me Down" and "Shine a Little Love" were big hits during this period. "Confusion", otoh, pretty much stagnated around the mid 30s. "Confusion" brings back a less-than-perfect time I had at this one Latin Club party.

Yeah, that's what I said. Latin.

#36) DAMNED IF I DO / Alan Parsons Project
Here's one you don't hear much these days. Too bad. It was one of the few truly great songs on the radio in 1979.

Another hot-ta-trot debut that week in November was this'un:
#35) ROCK WITH YOU / Michael Jackson
Not to be confused with the current-day Michael Jackson. This singer was black, male, and actually had a voice suggesting the presence of some testosterone. Oh yeah, and something else, too: A NOSE. The song was on its way to the top, and despite it being a pretty good record (if one forgets what happened later in the singer's life), it reminds me of a hellish unit of P.E.: DISCO DANCING. We learned disco dancing while listening to two songs, over and over, day in and day out, for three whole weeks. This was one of them.

Yeah, that's what I said. Disco dancing.

#34) JANE / Jefferson Starship
My favorite song on this entire top 40. Marked the first big hit of the group after Grace Slick left the band (she'd eventually return). Lead singer here is Mickey Thomas - same guy who lent his vocals to Elvin Bishop's 1977 hit "Fooled Around and Fell In Love."

"Jane" is a reminder that not ALL was bad in 1979. Just that records like this were far outnumbered.

#31) CRUISIN’ / Smokey Robinson
Didn't like this song one bit in 1979. Today, I've grown to appreciate it. Like a good wine, it's gotten better with each passing year. Smooth doesn't even begin to cover it.

#30) HEAD GAMES / Foreigner
Dedicated to The Ice Machine Princess, with heartfelt affection.

#29) I WANT YOU TONIGHT / Pablo Cruise
Liked it okay in 1979. Truly love it in 2005. Pablo Cruise was an unsung presence on the charts in the late '70s. One of their last hits, 1981's "Cool Love", brings a warmth to my heart, recalling the salad days of my first Summer with a driver's license.

#28) DREAMING / Blondie
It had been about a year since Blondie's debut on the charts with "Heart of Glass." "Dreaming" was an underrated piece of pop - a bit ahead of its time, actually; this might've been more at home on a 1983 list.

"Sharing the Night Together" from earlier this year is singly responsible for a rash of moral turpitude among young people. Just remember, Czech Brothers, if that girl you 'shared the night together' with looked much better the night before when your BAC was .15 ... pay attention to this song's message!

#26) DREAM POLICE / Cheap Trick
Eating their Dream Doughnuts at the Krispy-Dreme ... ahem .... if you think that joke was bad .... just wait 'till you see what was at #25 this nice Autumny November week in 1979:

This is it. The nucleus within the paramecium of poop that was 1979 top-40. Radio stations PLAYED this. People BOUGHT this record. Just remember, if you're the least bit inclined to reminisce about 1979: This was the year a freakin' marionette FROG climbed this high on the BILLBOARD pop chart. Again: PEOPLE BOUGHT THIS RECORD ! ! !

Miss Piggy, I understand, played banjo. Dr. Teeth produced this while he was on the outs with The Electric Mayhem.

Nothing against Jim Henson (RIP), honest.

#21) GOOD GIRLS DON’T / The Knack
His Sharona, it seems, wasn't.

#20) COOL CHANGE / The Little River Band
Time for a record change.

#19) DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME / The Captain & Tennille
See #20.

#17) LADIES’ NIGHT / Kool & The Gang
...and this was the other disco record we heard over and over, along with Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" every golldurn day during our DISCO DANCING segment.

Yeah, that's what I said. Disco dancing.

#16) RISE / Herb Alpert
Another diamond-in-the-rough for '79: This was the year of Alpert's triumphant return to the chart after a long dry spell. It wasn't exactly whipped cream -- of course, this year of my life was either REDDI-WIP, or KRAMP'S "DAIRY FOAM" WHIPPED CREAM SUBSTITUTE (as featured in The Groove Tube). But give me Alpert and his trumpet over certain amphibians on the list this week.

#15) TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME / Supertramp
And one more diamond: Breakfast In America. Dock 70% of the grade if played without the intro.

#12) ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG) / Rupert Holmes
I don't like pina coladas. Getting caught in the rain rather underwhelms me. I'm not into yoga. I have half of half a brain. I don't like health food. May I escape, please?

#11) SHIPS / Barry Manilow
Air sickness bags are on the chairbacks in front of you. This was 1979, which meant Barely Manenough was a big name.

#10) POP MUZIK / M
Of course you reMeMber one of the More MeMorable Musical MoMents of 1979. It sounded interesting aMidst all the schitt and few diaMonds in the top 40, but I didn't like it too Much.

#9) TUSK / Fleetwood Mac
Without the Univ. of Southern California Marching Band, this record might've flopped worse than that damned tadpole down there at #25.

#8) SEND ONE YOUR LOVE / Stevie Wonder
Among the sweeter of Stevie's ballads. I like this one.

It was too good to be true -- two great songs in a row in the top 10. I guess this had to make up for it. Now I want some roasted chicken. Not.

#6) PLEASE DON’T GO / KC & The Sunshine Band
Please do. The door's over there...yeah...that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh...

The first release from their swan song, The Long Run - perhaps my favorite of all their albums.

#4) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS / Donna Summer
Complete with 20+ second note. At the risk of bringing Mr. Shagnasty's wrath upon my person, I gotta admit to ... liking this. It was one of Disco Diva Donna's best moments.

#3) STILL / The Commodores

Any questions?

#2) BABE / Styx
See #3. This was ground zero of Dennis DeYoung coming down with the aforementioned Peter Cetera's Disease. This was the beginning of the end of a great Midwest rock 'n' roll band. What is it with rock ballads and their subsequent compromise of testicular matter within the lead singers??!!

And you ready for the #1 hit of the week ending November 24, 1979??

Care to take a guess?

Remember, it IS 1979. That means one thing: DISCO.

I'll pause here while you swig some "Pepto."

Okay ... take a deep breath now. Pinch your nose, and take it like a mature adult.

Number One this week was:
NO MORE TEARS/ENOUGH IS ENOUGH / Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer

There were no tears shed. I go four years into the future (1983) to quote from Martin Briley: "You Ain't Worth the Salt in My Tears."

And Enough Is Enough ... I couldn't have said it better myself.

Back to 2005 wit' us. And ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "So that's what hell looks like" Gleck

26 October 2005

Remembering "Number 5, D.D.S."

Gleck here, with a question raised by an old commercial I just watched.

For many years, TRIDENT gum used to claim in their commericals that "4 out of 5 Dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum."

All and good, but what about that fifth dentist?

Oh yeah, HE was the one making the money hand over foot. THAT dentist encouraged his (or her - let's face it, there's no guarantees this maverick had a Y chromosome!) patients to consume all the sugared gum ... Cokes ... Frosted Flakes ... methamphetam -- er, um, ah, anyway this dentist said "Go forth onto the world, and consume lots of glucose and cane extract. Sugar-coated snacks and soft drinks are good. If you behave yourself, ask the receptionist for a Mountain Dew flavored sucker on your way out"

Which, you see, guaranteed return business. Sure, TRIDENT gave nice kickbacks to those other four dentists ... but good ol' #5 was burning excess $100s in his fireplace, and cashing those fat dividend checks from his stock in WRIGLEY'S GUM.

4 out of 5, eh? That translates to an 80%. That's barely a B at the college level, and is a solid C at my son's school. I'm supposed to be impressed?? I've chewed TRIDENT. It has that saccharine-y taste which brings to mind a day-old bottle of "Tab" ......

Now if only we could do something about these young punks who chew their gum -- sugarless or otherwise -- with their mouths wide open.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I'm From Alabama, But I Still Have Most of My Teeth" Gleck

24 October 2005

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette!

Our recent evening sojourn outside the contiguous U.S. borders got me thinking about all the young people who have taken up the habit of smoking. A/K/A "Draggin' a coffin nail", "Sucking on an adult pacifier", or "Giving in to peer pressure and trying to look 'cool' and 'one of the gang.'"

Words cannot express the thanks I have that states like Georgia have enacted laws against smoking in most public facilities. I do NOT like breathing in nicotine fumes while I'm trying to enjoy a meal out. If you want to smoke, that's your right. Just remember the adage, "your right to extend your arm ends at my face." Smoke if you must -- just go away and do it in your car, your home, or - if in public - away from my nose. I grew up in a home where both parents smoked; I've breathed in enough noxious chemicals for several lifetimes, thankyouverymuch.

Whoookay, now that I got my rant out of the way, on to the purpose of my post.

Over the last decade or so, I've been making unscientific, quiet "surveys" of cigarette smokers. This takes two forms:

1) Whenever I see one, I always try to discreetly look for a pack, in order to see what brand they smoke.

2) If I'm in a convenience store, and someone nearby asks the clerk for a pack or carton, I observe what brand they ask for.

What I've gathered, incredibly enough, is that among people who appear my age (40) and younger, precisely TWO (2) brands dominate: MARLBORO and NEWPORT.

And which of those two you light up depends entirely (!) on ... your race.

Every - EVERY! - youngish white person whose cig pack I've seen has the insignia of either MARLBORO or MARLBORO LIGHT. Broken down further, all the men smoke the regular (red-label) MARLBOROs. Women - and it seems there are far more women than men my age and younger who are nicotine addicts - smoke mostly MARLBORO LIGHTs (gold label), and ohhhhh maybe 1/3 smoke regular MARLBOROs.

And every single African-American smoker drags on NEWPORT coffin nails. I've never seen anybody of the black persuasion "coming to MARLBORO country." And vice versa for NEWPORT. Cigarette brand loyalty has become quite the segregated issue.

Again, this is informal observation in different locations - both here at home and over in Alabama. I've tried my damnest to see if I can spot a 30-something or 20-something smoker totin' a pack of something besides MARLBORO or NEWPORT. I have yet to find one. Honestly.

The other 'heritage' brands, i.e. CAMEL, SALEM (my Mom has about singlehandedly kept the SALEM brand in business at least as long as I've been on this Earth), WINSTON, etc., seem to be the favorites of my parents' generation. Just once would I like to find a 30-year-old smoker buy a pack of, say, PARLIAMENT or - good gravy - RALEIGH! (Do they still have those coupons inside the shrinkwrap?) Or a 'generic' brand!!

Which leads me to conclude one thing: despite any 'doth-they-protest-too-much' denials, cigarette smoking truly IS a product of peer pressure.

Don't waste your time with any indignant comments. My survey will continue. I'll gladly make another post if my observations warrant.

Meanwhile, I don't feel like "coming to Marble Row Country."

Ciao for *hack!* niao.

--Talmadge "Thank You For Holding Your Smoke While I Breathe" Gleck

23 October 2005

The Sunday 9: Good Friends, Fun Times, Karaoke from Hell

Aaaaaand it's time for yet another edition of THE SUNDAY 9, sponsored by Aunt Dora Mae's Patented Seasick Remedy Tonic. It's 180 proof, so you're guaranteed to forget about those crashing waves and the rocking boat. Made with a secret formula known only to Dora Mae, her husband Emil (who helps generate the active ingredient in his still out back), and their Basset Hound/Pomeranian mix Duke ...

"WhaddayaMEAN the formula is on e-Bay??!! And who is this 'PommyHoundDuke' person?"

Aunt Dora Mae's Seasick Remedy. Not responsible for bad karaoke renditions of Neil Diamond hits. Available at Turningreen's, CBS Pharmacy, Blight Aid, and a traveling medicine show near you.


Seraphim and I had a house guest this past weekend -- it was Nettiemac, who came down from her upstate South Carolina home to enjoy fun, food and frolic with the Gleck family (snap, snap). Most of the time was a complete blast, filled with endless conversation about a variety of topics, such as veteran TV anchorpeople, Alabama and Clemson football fans who have trouble grasping basic tenets of reality, and even Dr. Hook's 1979 hit "Sharing the Night Together" ... pondering its alleged contribution to our nation's declining morals.

But there was also the matter of a Saturday evening trip on Savannah's new casino boat. It departs most nights from Wilmington Island toward the so-called 'international waters' three miles offshore. With distant lights from Hilton Head and Tybee Island as a backdrop, we made an honest attempt at making enough winnings to pay off our house. Or at least a Diet Coke for Seraphim out of the machine at work.

After getting on the boat and finding a table on the top deck (where a karaoke machine was located) I was making jokes to the effect of what it would take to get Talmadge Q. Gleck behind one of those microphones. Two words: binge drinking ... three more: not gonna happen! I made a joke about the three of us - Talmadge, Seraphim and Nettiemac - going up there as 'Crusty, Spills & Stash' (never mind that out of we three, two of us could more easily carry a big-screen TV than a tune).

Nettiemac said, "I don't think you'll find anything by CSN on that list."

SECONDS LATER, the next song came up on the karaoke disc: a Crosby, Stills & Nash song!! ("Wasted on the Way")

"You were saying....?"

After we crossed the magic threshold, and we were no longer in the United States (that's kinda spooky if I think about that long enough), the slot machines, poker machines and tables all opened for bidness.

Seraphim and I each allotted ourselves $30. There was little chance of getting a seat at the blackjack table, what with all the crowds, so we stuck to the quarter slots and video poker games.

After just a few minutes in the gaming area, Nettiemac suddenly got a little seasick. She made back for the top deck, where she sat down and took a good nap. The next item, I imagine, could well have contributed to her discomfort.

Georgia has a no-smoking law for public establishments ... with a small handful of loopholes, one of 'em being "facility admits only those 18 and over." Since 1) the casino is 18-and-over only (they checked IDs prior to entry), and 2) more than half the time on the boat is spent in international waters (read: we're not in Georgia anymore, Toto), combustion of nicotine delivery instruments were kosher and common. Several times I wondered if we three were the only non-smokers on the friggin' boat!

If smoking is required to be perceived as 'cool', no thanks - I'm happy being unpopular and uptight.

The house always has a lopsided advantage in your average casino. That much is a given. Casino boats, though, are not "average." Most casinos have exits. You may leave on your own free will if you feel like you've had enough. Or wish to try out the casino next door.

Little hard to do on a boat, yes? You're captive for at least five hours. So there's no incentive to make anything seriously pay off.

Seraphim plowed through her $30 in less than an hour, then went upstairs to be with Nettiemac. I did a tad better - curiously, I had better luck at the SLOTS than the video poker. After getting as high as $5 over my original 30, my fortune dwindled down to a flat 20-spot.

It was then that I decided to give it up and go upstairs with the womenfolk. At least it took about 90 minutes to lose 10 bucks; back in '01 when Seraphim and I drove down to Brunswick to do their casino boat, we lost our gamblin' slush fund in less than 45 minutes.

We had, for musical entertainment, a Tom Green lookalike. He no doubt had a blood-alcohol level of .50 -- and, you guessed it, an adult pacifier (read: cigarette). He was singing only half the lyrics on the screen, and punctuating half the sentences with F-bombs and other such fine, Christian family language.

And what he did to the pop classic "Sweet Caroline" should've been a violation of several dozen state ordinances.

Thank all that is holy for Seraphim, who came prepared. She pulled out ... EARPLUGS! She gave us each a pair, which I promptly jammed into my ear canals, suffering from a fate worse than a William Hung/The Shaggs double concert bill.

The only - and I do mean ONLY - respite from the karaoke hell was Our Esteemed Guest (who by then was feeling much better) answering a call by one of the singers; this guy had selected "Summer Nights" from Grease for his next song, and he needed a female duet partner. The request got more and more desperate, so Nettiemac got up and volunteered - "just to shut him up", she said.

"Sandra Dee"'s stunning alto (which was also lent to the Gleck wedding back in 2001) killed, as always. Even got her compliments as we were leaving the boat.

So much for "7-12" ... the boat returned to Wilmington after 1 AM!! Midnight rolled around, and we hadn't yet passed the Tybee Island lighthouse going back in -- @#$%!!!!!!

After getting into the car and checking my cellphone, I see where I've missed a total of seven calls. All from "Tiger & Josiebelle", as I have them listed on my speed dial. Thinking something actually might be wrong, I called 'em even though it was already after midnight over there. Josiebelle answered (she was still awake), but said she hadn't called. She gave the phone to Tiger.

The 'emergency'? He wanted me to change his character account on his 'Runescape' RPG game. I wanted to reach my hands through my little Audiovox flip phone and strangle Tiger's scrawny little neck.

And no, I was not about to honor his request.

What have we learned, Olson? When the itch to hit the casino happens again, make time for a trip to Mississippi instead. While smoking is SOP in most all casinos, at least one can step out for fresh air if needed!

I don't think I'll be too eager to board that boat again.

Ciao For Niao.

--Talmadge "Landlubber" Gleck

19 October 2005

Two on a match: Found Money!

[with apologies to a wonderful game show from the '70s, Three on a Match]

On the way home, we stopped by the "curb store" (as my wife and her Dad call it) and procured ourselves drinks for supper - their 44-oz. fountain drinks are 99 cents.

With a dollar left over, I bought a scratch-off. Gave it to Seraphim for her to do.
Funny, she almost threw it away, thinking she 'busted' on it. Then she realized it was match TWO and win, not the more-common match three. (The match-twos have six amounts, versus the nine found on the match-threes)

Amount we won: $30.00 Not too bad for a dollar's investment. I almost feel like Hillary Clinton playing futures!

Today, Seraphim won again -- a free drink prize under the cap of her Diet Coke.

If good news comes in threes, as it's said, then maybe our forthcoming planned evening on the Diamond Casino boat this Saturday night promises to bring forth a bounty of jackpot fortune.

Oy vey! I just mucked that one up. Nice going, Gleck! You just jinxed it all!

No, the boat will probably eat up both the scratch-off winnings and the miniscule amount Seraphim and I add to it to gamble with. And do it in 30 minutes, just as we had happen several years ago on the casino boat down in Brunswick, Ga.

Ah, but this time we'll be carrying a good luck charm. She's held her own in a recent poker tourney, so maybe we'll get lucky this time. :-)

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "7-7-7" Gleck

15 October 2005

In memory of the real Nick @ Nite

[note to self: return gauchos bought as early Christmas gift for Seraphim......]

This blog entry comes to you from palatial remote studios in beautiful, lovely and picturesque Troy, Alabama.


Anyhoo, I'm sitting here while my son Tiger is lying down on the bed watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Nick At Nite.

And it reminded me of a very depressing reality: the Nick At Nite my kid enjoys is a far cry from the Nick At Nite I used to live for watching during college and early adulthood. Back then N@N was full of great, classic comedy: Mr. Ed, Car 54, Where Are You, My Three Sons, Donna Reed Show, and more no-longer-acknowledged classics of early television.

My kingdom for Nick At Nite, circa 1991. All those timeless shows above, plus Dragnet and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; N@N even ran Hitchcock eps uncut.

Sure, you can find I Love Lucy or M*A*S*H reruns damn near anywhere you turn (especially the latter, which seems to run in continuous 3+ hour blocks on The Hallmark Channel). But WHERE HAS THE REST OF TELEVISION'S HISTORY GONE??!!

Turn on N@N and you'll see nothing older than Cosby Show. I think such "classic", "old" television as Friends is bound for N@N very soon.

And it's not just Nick, either. GSN, a/k/a The Channel Formerly Known As Game Show Network, has decided people like me are too old, and are now running endless reality guano and "celebrity poker" ..... phooey!

Where's Lawrence Welk when you need him? When ABC canceled his weekly program in 1970 due to the high age of its viewing audience, Welk didn't hang up his baton -- instead he took his bottle of champagne and hauled his "musical family" into the realm of syndication, where he found even greater success.

I'm 40 years old, but these days I feel as geriatric as television execs wish to assume I am. Sorry, but reality shows do nothing for me.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I wanna swig of Geritol" Gleck

11 October 2005

2 MP3 or not 2 MP3.........

On the turntable: "It's Only Money, Part 1" by Argent (album: "In Deep")

I am faced with a gargantuan challenge, folks.

The iPod bug has bitten. A perfect storm has arrived:

1) Our '04 Honda Element - whom we lovingly call "Psychedelic Milk Truck", or "The PMT" for short - has an 1/8" AUX input into which one may plug an external audio device, e.g. a cassette player (the in-dash radio has just CD), or ... an iPod. What a brilliant idea. Wish the other automakers - Toyota included - would consider this!

2) Our new '05 Honda Civic Hybrid - upon whom we have yet to bestow a nickname - doesn't have an AUX input (the '06 models, however, do). Remedy? A $55 device which plugs into the head unit's CD changer port, and contains female RCA jacks. This device tricks the in-dash receiver into thinking it's a CD changer. Through this small box one may feed sound from an external player through the car's speakers.

3) Seraphim and I drive 80 miles round trip each day to and from work. I drive ~750 miles round trip each month to Alabama for visits with my 13-year-old kid. Having an iPod (or reasonably equivalent instrument with a similar function) for the journey would be pretty damn cool.

4) The prices have come way down on the larger players, i.e. those which can hold as many as 5,000 songs.

5) Some of the models also contain color screens and are able to display JPEG photos. Seraphim has longed for something like that to easily show off her cake pictures (my Luffly Wifely One® is a "sugar artist" on the side).

So, I think it's a done deal that after Christmas - or perhaps my birthday (February) - that we'll take the plunge and join the iPod revolution.

Which brings me full circle to "gargantuan challenge."

An iPod (heretoforth used to describe any MP3 player, regardless of nameplate) needs one thing in order to play music: MP3 files!!

Where will those come from? Easy: my music collection. That's the only easy part.

The hard part? Said music collection, built piece by piece over decades, amounts to approximately 1,200 compact discs (I bought my first CD player on August 6, 1986 - take that useless trivia and shove it down your optic nerves).

But wait, there's more. I also possess close to 1,100 LPs. You know, those big 12-inch black discs with grooves. And if I have to explain that one to you, you'll be certainly befuddled by the number 45. Got a few of those, too. A bit over a thousand single reckids, to be exact.

[Large, you say? It's all relative. Funny, I love seeing the gasps and "GAWWWWWWWW!!!"s and overall shock and awe of people when they see my music collection for the first time. Knowing full well that MY collection ain't nothin' compared with some others I've seen. In other words, I've done my own share of gasping and "GAWWWWWWWW!!!"ing.]

Mind you, not every cut of every album would merit a spot in Talmadge's MP3 Emporium. Apart from a small amount of overlap, there's also the reality of some discs - while containing songs I like - also featuring those I detest.

To give you a fer-instance, I like "Ro Ro Rosie" or "T.B. Sheets" on an early Van Morrison anthology. But if there was some way I could make that disc forget it also contains "Brown-Eyed Girl", I would. If I ever hear that song again, it'll be too soon for me (yes, a song with baggage ... long story, just ask and I might be tempted to answer. Maybe.).

What I'm faced with, dearfolk, is converting what'll amount to THOUSANDS of songs - from multiple genres - into MP3, if I'm gonna put an iPod to great use. If I own one, I don't want to be shuttling songs in and out. I want the whole enchilada, baby! The trouble with my present system of anticipating my musical moods - and pulling CDs for trips to fit - is I sometimes get a hankering to hear something while driving on the Eastern Bypass in Montgomery, Ala., roughly 340 statute miles from my record collection. To use a well-worn phrase, that sucks.

I have finished converting all the A songs - CD, LP and 45. One letter down, and 25 to go. Okay, the letters E, I, N, O, Q, U, V, and X could be knocked out in an evening. But B, M, S .... hooooo boy, those'll take weeks.

Can I do this? Seraphim and I plan a trip to Arkansas late in February, and if possible I'd like to have this project finished and be able to give a new iPod a road test to remember. All my favorite songs, in shuffle mode. Yeeeeeeeah.

Oh, and lest you're disturbed by the singular pronouns, Seraphim is considered in this project. I know what she likes ... her tastes in music are amazingly eclectic as well (probably more so than mine; while she hardly bats an eye when I'm deep into a late '60s Moody Blues/Pink Floyd/psychedelic/acid/underground mood ... she enjoys listening to current-day hit music, a genre for which I hold about as much fondness as my parents did for what I listened to growing up).

In other words, as long as I don't let Glass Tiger's 1986 hit single "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" anywhere near that iPod, I'll be fine. Right, Seraphim? ;-)

I have that on a 45. I'm surprised it hasn't come up missing........

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "1 down, 25 to go" Gleck

10 October 2005


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Okay, here's the deal. Seraphim, as usual, went to bed along about 11:00. I normally stay up a little later, going to bed around 1 AM. I was finishing up some website updates, and was just about to pull up Blogger and do a little posting.

Said plans were derailed by Puddy, our 10-year-old Brittany/Cocker Spaniel mix. These days, Puddy doesn't like to go to bed immediately, and instead hangs out with me for a little while before going into the bedroom to curl up next to Seraphim.

It was just after midnight when I saw Puddy sitting in the doorway, delivering me this look. If you have a dog, you know what I'm talking about. Canines, of course, cannot speak their wants or desires in the Queen's English, however all one has to do is look at a dog's face ... you know they're telling you something just by the way they're staring you down.

I look at Puddy, and she barks. Phew, she must really want something! I figure she's ready to retire into the bedroom, so I get up and open the door so she can go in. She does, but then darts back out no sooner than I begin to close the door behind her.

The message is blunt and simple, even if not delivered in the British tongue: "Talmadge, it's BEDTIME, young man. I'm ready for bed, and I'm not about to wait for you to come to bed. I want to sleep next to you right now."

And so I go back into the room and shut off the computer. The blog can wait 'till morning. And as I got into the bed, and Puddy assumed her usual position -- her back against my leg and, these days, under the covers -- a thought hit me.

Boy, did it hit me.

I'm puddy-whipped!

A tan four-legged furry creature barely one-tenth my size is ordering me around! Best of all, it gave me a great idea for this week's TS9, as I counted not sheep, but the reasons I love Puddy damn near close to the level of which love Seraphim.

How do I love thee, Puddy? Let me count the ways:

Puddy was adopted by Seraphim; it was a mutual "love connection", as Seraphim found herself drawn to the proverbial "runt of the litter" ... and said 'runt' found herself drawn to Seraphim. Both picked each other out, and so Seraphim adopted the weeks-old puppy on Memorial Day weekend 1995. She named her Puddy (after Tweetie Bird's mutation of the word "puppy"). Seraphim raised her, housebroke her, and lavished her special brand of love upon her.

And, on my first date with Seraphim (March 7, 1998 - in case anyone's curious), a three-year-old Puddy sat on the floor staring me down as Seraphim and I sat on the couch watching a movie. She barked at me repeatedly. Who was this Talmadge person, and what was he doing sitting next to my 'Mommy'??!!

Lucky for me, it didn't take long for her to warm up to me. I truly love dogs like Puddy, and she soon began giving me just as much attention as she did Seraphim.

And today? A seamless and unconditional bond has forged. And I love that little dog as if I myself had raised her, just as she loves her 'Daddy.'

To most people, it refers to a brand name of disposable diaper. In our home, though, it means the one-of-a-kind show of affection Puddy gives both of us. You have to see it to appreciate it; we get home in the afternoon and Puddy will dart toward the couch or chair where I'm sitting, jump up and just throw herself against my chest. It's something I believe Seraphim taught her to do, and she's the one who coined the term "huggie."

Most dogs have a jealous streak. They're egocentric creatures who want attention, want it now, and only want THEY to be the sole recepient. Puddy turns into a green monster whenever Seraphim and I express affection. She does not like it one bit. And yes, we play games with it .... "c'mon, Puddy, we're about to kiss, mmmmmmm!!!" (that "mmmmmmmm!" turns that fur green quicker than she jolts to attention for a strip of bacon.

Puddy, unlike many other dogs, doesn't have a habit of licking a person's face. It rarely happens, but when it does, it's always one lick, short and brief. Kissies! The scarcity of her kissies makes them all the more special.

When that doorbell rings, Puddy immediately gets into "watchdog"/"attack" mode, with this bark which sounds quite frightening -- especially along with how she bares her teeth.

It's all an act. She's scared of the intruders. Sometimes she'll then turn and run behind us, as if to say, "Okay, Mommy and Daddy, I did my job warning you about the intruder ... now do YOUR job and protect me!!"

Watching Puddy in the backyard as she spars with this black cat (I think it's feral) which always hangs out in the wetlands area next door is as good as any classic sitcom. She'll get into ferocious bark mode and charge the cat. The cat will start to run, but the double back and charges toward the chain-link fence between the two opponents. And Puddy, God love her, starts running back toward the house.

Gawd, I love our dog.

Lately we've woken up to find Puddy in a very interesting position: right between Seraphim and me, and under the covers. While we sleep, Puddy's managed to nudge herself right between us to find her sleep spot.

I wonder if this is related somehow to item #3...

When I go to Alabama for the weekend to visit my son Tiger, I have to get ready in a very discreet way -- when I'm ready to pack my suitcase, Seraphim runs interference, distracting Puddy. She knows what a suitcase means. And when she sees it being carried out by me, it means another weekend without her 'Daddy.' And she gets all mopey and depressed for the weekend. (and, when Seraphim goes to visit her parents for a weekend and I stay home, Puddy gets the same way).

There are few things more joyous than seeing the 180 in that dog's emotions when either of us comes back home after a weekend.

Puddy turned 10 years old back in April. With apologies to Lorne Greene, "That's 70 for you and me." She's energetic, feisty and full of life for a so-called 'senior dog.' Dogs of that size and breed tend to have a life expectancy of around 15 years. And I pray every minute that Puddy fulfills every second of those 15, and then some.

There's going to be a day when her life's work is done and she'll no longer be the beautiful Sweetie Girl I fell in love with in 1998. Tears can come to my eyes at the very thought that one day - hopefully VERY later than sooner - Seraphim and I will come home to a completely empty house after work. No huggies, no jealousy, and no begging-on-steroids at supper. I don't like to think about it, but lately the pained realization does surface: the time with Puddy in the past is now more than that which will be in the future.

People who don't have dogs or cats can never understand.


I could never limit my expressions of love for Puddy to just nine things - there are plenty more where that came from - but chew on those things for now.

Meanwhile, I'm Puddy-whipped. And proud of it.

I love you, Sweetie Girl!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Pet Parent" Gleck

05 October 2005

10 Years Ago Today

I was settling in for a good night's sleep.

Not at my home. Not in my bed. And not on my pillow.

It was early on the morning of October 5, 1995 that I learned several things:
1) It's not comfortable sleeping on my office desk.
2) A burlap mailbag does not make for a comfortable pillow.
3) It was damned hot in that building without A/C, even in early October.

Hurricane Opal tore through the Florida panhandle and into much of south Alabama a decade ago. It was still about a category-2 hurricane as the eyewall passed about 15 miles west of Troy, Alabama, where I was living at the time.

I was on the air during all the bedlam ... and then, thinking it wasn't THAT bad, set out to get back home. I discovered, with all the trees and power lines down everywhere, that getting home was not an option! Fallen oaks - HUGE oaks - blocked both sides of the street leading toward my neighborhood! So I had to double back to the station and spend the night in a dark and windowless void, with only a single flashlight to guide the way.

I managed to get home late that next afternoon. And we had no power for about a week. Our engineer was powering our generator on aviation fuel (he said it burned longer) ... and its sweet smell filled our hallways that entire night. Even today, when I get the slightest whiff of aviation petrol, it brings the whole experience back.

It's now a decade in my past, but it still seems like yesterday.

Ciao for Niao.