22 December 2006

I wish you a Merry Happy and a Happy Merry!

There's a commercial for one of those drug store chains (CVWalgrAid?) for a perfume of some sort which features a very sickening image of Celine Dion greeting an unsuspecting family with a pose underneath a tree, a pose which calls to mind Brooke Shields circa 1982 ("Nothing comes between me and my Calvins").

"Unfortunately, Celine Dion can't be under every Christmas tree," the commercial goes.

Seraphim summed up my opinion beautifully with her one word reply: "UNFORTUNATELY?"

Merry Christmas, and have a Def Kwanzaa. We're headed west tomorrow toward Albany and Troy. But not Schenectady. That is, unless there's some town inbetween both places I've overlooked.

We didn't do cards this year for reasons completely related to it getting away from us and just not making the trip to get any bloody cards. So to all my friends, I wish nothing but peace in your worlds, joy in your hearts and save a bit of space for the snark and sarcasm -- you never know when you'll need it.

I love, revere, admire and look up to you all. Thanks for putting up with Talmadge Gleck for yet another year without running in the opposite direction.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Did you ever notice that CELINE and SUCKS begin with the same phonetic sound?" Gleck

"TIME Fliiiiiiiiies.....

....and you are therrrrrrrre / TIME criiiiiiiies, and lets you carrrrrre"

Remember that uber-lamo commercial for Time Magazine back in the '80s? Unfortunately, I do.

I've never been that big a fan of Time. I'm more of a Newsweek guy myself, with occasional diversions to U.S. News and World Report when the mood hits (although Michael Barone's column usually raises my diastolic and systolic a few notches). I don't know why, but I've just never gotten into Time. Now if it's an Alan Parsons or Pink Floyd song ... or an ELO album, I'll take it. But I'd sooner opt for Boy George's coronary chronograph than pick up an issue of Time.

However, this month I just might have a change of heart. Because, you see, Time Magazine has named Talmadge Q. Gleck as Person of the Year.

What have I done to deserve such an honor? Well, lessee .... I maintain a blog. I love my wife. My dog. My son. (Not necessarily in that order. DOWN, Puddy! I didn't mean it!) By driving a hybrid vehicle, I'm doing my part to help the environment. I pay all of our bills on time. I don't steal any hubcaps or road signs ('tho if I find an old color-coded Florida route shield next time I'm down there, you can strike that last one). I've never seen the inside of a jail. I've never smoked a cigarette, never bogarted a joint, and I've never willingly had a Pepsi as an adult.

Either Time has finally woken up and smelled the Yuban and realized just what a remarkable contribution to society Talmadge Gleck has made ...... or has been bought out by The National Enquirer.

But wait a minute. Seraphim Gleck is Person of the Year, too. So is Nettiemac. Bolivar. Kate/Susan. Okay, that's fine. I'm not so egotistical that I must hog the limelight (or would that be Time-light?) all to myself. I can share a stage. Phew, that's a lot of people to cram onto a magazine cover.

Wait ... there's more! Tiger Gleck, my erstwhile going-on-15 son, is also POTY. How about our four-legged daughter? We think Puddy is a person, too. I wonder if Time would agree.

Seems that we ALL are People of the Year. Yes, even Michael Jackson.

Gawd, what a crock. I'm stickin' to Newsweek and their arrows up/down Conventional Wisdom watch.

=========
TALMADGE GLECK. Old CW: Blogger.com must have a lot of space to waste. God help the Blogosphere. New CW: At least he didn't blow a fellow hunter's face off.
=========

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Does anybody still have one of those stooopid football phones?" Gleck

13 December 2006

Rant-In-A-Hurry® #2 ... collect 'em all!

Watching David Letterman tonight, I saw a bit which involved a guy out in the audience. As he left by the door behind them, all those who appeared on camera (and watching on the monitors which hang overhead in the studio) began waving -- "Wow! Hey! I'm on TV! I'm gonna wave at myself like a complete idiot!"

Of course, it's not just Letterman -- it's any other program whenever a camera pans the audience.

Do these people realize just how stupid this makes them look ... on national television, no less??

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "A Letterman attitude in a Leno world" Gleck

12 December 2006

Radio to get me into the holiday spirit

I found these stations thriving in the musty crawl space of my radio's dial:

109.2 THE FRUITCAKE:
No longer will America take bets as to when Adult Contemporary stations begin playing holiday music. Every day is Christmas at 109.2, so the little soccer moms will be positive orgasmic year-round! Now run along and spend lots of money, Tiffany. (Rod Stewart says, "It's one of my favorite things.")

KNNY-FM "KINNEY 100.0": All "Christmas Shoes", All The Time. (Cannot be picked up in parts of south Alabama, much of Mississippi, or certain mountainous pockets of Arkansas)

WPIC-AM 1750, "In-Your-Face Radio": Our name says it all: (P)olitically (I)n(C)orrect. Hear all your favorite holiday selections from times past, such as Mel Blanc's "The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Beeg", "The Dreidl Song" by Cartman, and Shirley Q. Liquor's immortal "12 Days of Kwanzaa."

98.4 KAREN FM: We don't play too much of what we want, or else we'll get too big. When we start playing more than 100 minutes of music between commercials, we'll go purge until we're back to a more managable 90-95 minutes. Our tower is on top of the world, and our signal is close to you. (Wonder why our cume spikes upward in January?)

RALPHIE RADIO: Cleveland's newest radio sensation! Flick & Tongue In The Morning is giving away "leg lamps" by the hundreds -- hear the sound of the Red Rider BB gun shooting an eye out, and be the 9th caller to win! And listen for the Pink Bunny Jackpot Phone Game -- if we call your home, be sure to answer "F-dash-dash-dash", and you win Christmas dinner for your entire family at the Chinese restaurant over there by the Food Lion.

KETL - "KETTLE 86.4": The Salvation Army now owns a chain of low-power FMs like this one, with the sound of a ringing bell 24/7, and an occasional tuba blast. Dong Boy & Belly in the morning, and extra long tolls of your favorite clappers all day.

SUICIDE 1640.5: Our name says it all. Nothing says "Christmas" like people who have nobody or nothing in their lives, and - tragically - decide to off themselves during this joyous time of year (or maybe they've had it up to here with all-holiday formats!). There isn't too much to be heard except for gunshots here and there. But listen real close, because all the dead air drives the audio compressor so high, you can hear the sound of people slitting their wrists. As is typical with the sheep mentality, most of us let the "scan" function on the radio skip past this one as if it doesn't exist. Must these malcontents be so ... negative??? Must they ruin the holidays for the rest of us?

Happy listening ... and ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Portions of this blog post have been mechanically reproduced" Gleck

24 November 2006

Darwin's theory in reverse

ALBANY, Ga. (TG) -- Greetings from "The Good Life City", the garden spot of southwest Georgia, and the Pine Bluff, Arkansas of the East. We're over here for Thanksgiving, and I've had the pleasure of breaking turkey with my wife's family (yes, even my druggie loser of a BIL; he was there gumming his gobble - since his teeth have long since rotted out ...... I kid you not, but I digress).

My son was also able to make it here, so it was a very pleasant time. I hate that he had to go back to Alabama this afternoon (his high school football's team is in playoffs, ergo the "Maroon Machine" marching band are needed to do their thing), but among the many things I'm thankful about, it's that my son was here, and that he is in MUCH better spirits than a year ago.

Something else, too. I have been introduced to the unsung musical genius, Jan Terri. My wife played for me the video to her soon-to-be-classic 1993 song "Losing You."

And my world has never been the same since. I have had this song going through my head for, what, TWO days now??!! Go have a look.

A little background, as I understand it: Jan Terri was a limo driver in the Chicago area, and supposedly drove some famous celebs around. She gave them copies of her videos, hoping for Her Big Break®. Evidently, years later, she got it. God bless YouTube. (And be careful what you wish for)

One poster suggested that Miz Jan is the love child of Roseanne Barr and Napoleon Dynamite. I can't argue.

Oh, and there are several other of Jan Terri's videos on YouTube. One - "Baby Blues" - features a man, presumably the subject of the song, who has .... brown eyes.

Lessee, we have The Shaggs ... then Jack Murdurian ... William Hung ... and now Jan Terri.

Wasn't Darwin's Theory of Evolution supposd to go in the other direction???

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Blast you, Seraphim, this song is STILL in my head!!!!!!!" Gleck

20 November 2006

Rant-In-A-Hurry® (pat. pend.)

Among several pastimes, I collect and trade copies of vintage TV broadcasts. This collection is built up through trades with other fellow collectors.

I'll get e-mails from others asking to do a trade. Some have things I don't really want, or have a lukewarm interest in getting. Others cause me to short out a keyboard from drooling.

Why the @#$% do the people who have the drool-worthy videos surface to tell me they have 'em, and then disappear! No response from subsequent e-mails sent by me.

But the ones with the stuff I don't really want too much, such as yet another @#$damned episode of The Price is Right from the '80s .... hoo boy, they pester me left and right and won't leave me the bloody crap alone!!!

It makes me question just why the hell I even bother.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "This has been a Screen Blogs Production" Gleck

05 November 2006

Musings from the Warrior River Motel

LYNN'S PARK, Alabama — For starters, it’s kinda ironic that I’m writing this blog entry on a laptop while immersed in nostalgia ... ranging from the kind of music I’ve been listening to (mainly pop standards / middle-of-the-road), to all I’ve been doing today - visiting some amazing people and seeing some old sights, right down to the classic motel where I’m staying. The Warrior River Motel is a 1955-vintage property on US 78 nearby Jasper in east Walker County, Alabama.

It’s a spartan room which definitely shows its age. The bathroom fixtures are the original 1955 beauties, right down to the faucet handles. There’s still a hole where the original “third tap” used to be ... from which you could draw “circulating ice water”, an amenity advertised on the WRM’s original neon sign. The sign was discarded some time in the ‘80s in favor of a more sedate, backlit roadside herald. But the ice water, I’m certain, stopped circulating long before that.

The shower is the size of a phone booth. There’s no wireless internet here. (I’m typing this in WordPerfect to paste into the blog tomorrow when I’m at a wi-fi spot and can access the ‘net). And the TV gets fewer than 20 channels ... heck, it doesn’t even have what my son used to call “color codes” — the A/V inputs one sees nowadays on most sets.

Am I complaining? Hell, no!! First of all, the rooms are a nicely economical $29.00 a night. Second, I’m enjoying this “technology holiday” (he says as he types on a freakin’ LAPTOP!!) The bathroom is decked out in beautiful shiny 1955-vintage black and white tile. And, like a wistful cherry atop a nostalgic sundae, the floor pattern is identical to the upstairs bathroom at my late grandparents’ house in Homewood. Identical, at least, in tile pattern; theirs was a purplish blue and white while it’s black and white here at the WRM. Who cares ... my eyes just “discarded color information” (lordy, I’ve been using waaaay too much “PhotoShop”!) and enjoyed looking downward as if it were an unassuming mouvement d'bowel taken anywhere between potty-training age (ca. 1967-68) and 2002.

Last night I saw a sight that pretty much set the tone for this entire trip: the Homewood star. It hangs over a hill overlooking “the curve” in downtown Homewood. It’s right next to Sike’s Shoes, where all my early childhood Buster Browns came from. It’s another great memory of my growing up years, memories of Christmastime visits to Birmingham. And I was looking at it again, as beautiful in 2006 as it was in 1971. In a world where everything is changing, and not always for the better, seeing things like lit stars unchanged from 35+ years ago is to my nostalgic heart as beautiful a sight as my wife.

I got to the motel, and checked into Room 11 – the same place I’ve laid my head on two of my three previous visits here. Then I went into Jasper to find some supper ... ah, more retro for Mr. Gleck: I went back-back-back to Jack-Jack-Jack’s for more-more-more. Never mind that “big bacon” was NOT on the 1968 Jack’s menu, I had one. Although were it 1968, I would’ve gone for a Fish-On-Bun and a thick vanilla shake. Then hurried back to the motel along two-lane 78, where I could catch the 10:00 news on channel 6 on the Admiral B/W telly. Joe Langston, Harry Mabry and Pat Gray giving me more info in 15 minutes than most so-called anchors today could give me in 60 with color.

I sit here listening to music on an MP3 player and typing on a laptop computer ... while at the same time imagining if these Warrior River Motel walls could talk. Wondering about all the conversations taking place in this room 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago. The travelers my grandparents’ age. Wondering where their travels were taking them. Wondering if they had a good meal next door to the motel, where Saxon’s (an Alabama-based candy store/restaurant chain similar in feel to Stuckey’s) had a store. At 41, I’m barely old enough to be riding over the old iron bridge across the Mulberry branch of the Black Warrior River to be greeted by that tall candy cane sign Saxon’s used for most of its locations. And looking over to see the dignified, sprawling one-story Warrior River Motel.

Yes, Virginia, there’s a reason I love staying here. The bridge was replaced about five years ago. Saxon’s, long gone, is an empty junk-filled building. But the WRM — God bless all 25 of her $29.00 rooms — is still hanging in, offering an inexpensive room to anyone open-minded enough to dispense with the crazy notions of wireless internet, in-room coffee, 57 channels (nothin’ on), and a “Hampton Bed.”

A clean and decently comfortable bed, although too big without my Seraphim next to me, clean towels and a clean - if old - room. Clean is the operative word here, friends. I like it. Very much.

*********

Yesterday I also made a side trip to Cordova, located about 7 miles off highway 78. It’s a town of amazing size (roughly 2,500) considering not a single U.S. or state route goes through it. Just three county roads visit Cordova, period. I also find it surprising that a lot of folks still live here because downtown Cordova is the most depressing sight I think I’ve ever seen. Six blocks of near-total emptiness. There’s a high school (Blue Devils) and a couple of convenience stores on her outskirts. Downtown there’s a meat-and-three café hugging the hill where the old Frisco railroad still passes through, and a small Piggly Wiggly operates on Cordova’s commercial perimeter. That’s it, folks.

The most heartbreaking thing I see is an empty storefront for the old Western Auto store, for many years a staple in every small town (there’s still one in my domicile of Rincon, Ga.). The backlit white sign with faded red letters remains. My mind wonders how many toy displays once graced its two front windows, Cordova kids entranced by all their potential booty and counting the days until Christmas.

There was probably even a Ford and a Chevy dealership once upon a time, too. Every small town had ‘em.

Were I five years younger ... or, like my younger brother, not really observant of roadside ephemera, Cordova today wouldn’t faze me. Alas, I’m older. And observant. Very, very observant. I remember the 1970s, when Cordova was still a thriving little Mayberry-like hamlet. Several traffic lights, too — the OOOLD style, without yellow! Just red and green. That’s what I remember the most about old Cordova.

While pondering this civic void, I cannot let go of a profound thought: that of Cordova being a metaphor for all that is dying around me. The aunts and uncles who used to be big presences in my life are, one by one, all dying off. I have no grandparents left. I have one aunt on my Mom’s side who still lives in Birmingham, and – like the café – hangs in stubbornly. But all that’s left ... a meaningless Dollar General located several miles outside the heart of Cordova, and two convenience stores ... I compare with what’s left of my family: a lot of cousins, most of who - I have to say - I have little contact with, and have never been terribly close to.

My Mom and Dad and brother? That’s easy. They’re the four-lane US 78, speeding through seven miles to the north, completely oblivious to any nostalgic value of a small town. "65 MPH, and y’better have a bladder as big as mine because we ain’t stoppin’ till Memphis!"

Where the hell am I going with this?? I don’t know. It’s now 10:00 Central time, and this is when my various mental states come at one another in a high-stakes game of ‘chicken.’ I enjoy the mental defragging these solo visits provide. The day I spent today with a friend of mine from nearby Dora, yet another ghost town in Walker County. However, as I sit here, the nostalgic locusts are swarming amidst this 1955 motel room. The free-range my mind is given comes back with all sorts of memories and remembrances. I miss so many things. I miss all the sights and sounds and smells and stores and roadsides of my childhood so much now. Can I go back to Cordova and look at a two-color traffic light again, after walking the aisles of Western Auto with Big John? Just for an hour? Please?

I also miss the arms of Seraphim. She doesn’t accompany me on these trips partly because, honestly, she’d be bored. She knows it and I know it. Plus, I sometimes enjoy flying solo. Sometimes. Even the best marriages need that ‘alone time.’ The difference, of course, is 10 years ago I would dread the end of the solo time because that would mean returning to the cold and distant arms of Josiebelle. Tuesday I’ll be returning to Rincon, and fully ready to share my space again. And Seraphim’s arms will be as warm as Main Street in Cordova, circa 1973.

Oh well, it’s time for bed, and dreams. Maybe I can go back to these places tonight. The sandman, Big John and Western Auto await.........

Ciao for niao.

–Talmadge “County Road 22” Gleck

03 November 2006

They're just heartfelt prayers ... toss 'em.

News item:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/unanswered_prayers

I don't know whether to feel profoundly sad ... or really, really angry.

The background is a bit fuzzy, but a minister appears to have not read a lot of his flock's mail.

And that really bothers me, for it all goes back to my longtime belief that a MINISTER is a higher form of humanity, ergo they have a higher standard to which they must live. It reminds me of one of those televangelists in the '80s whose staff opened envelopes to extract the donation and round-filed the enclosed prayer requests, unread. (Pass the Ammo, anyone?)

Ohhhhh, but I'm sure this preacher was full of gossip, rumor, innuendo and judgement for those who might've missed a few Sundays. Or, worse, might've been too busy indulging his NAMBLA fantasies to worry about such tedium as opening the mailbag.

Oh, and what's this insurance guy - the one who found these letters in the ocean - gonna do with 'em? Put 'em up for bids on e-Bay, that's what. Shaaaaaaaaayet, I hope he barely gets enough for 'em to pay for shipping. Heck, I'd risk a negative feedback point to bid, then stiff him were I to win. Buddy, isn't "greed" one of the Seven Deadly Sins???

The only comfort I take from all this is God stood behind the shoulder of every one as they were writing those letters, so the request was read by the REAL intended recepient.

Although I suspect He blew off the guy asking to win the lottery.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Hmph!" Gleck

24 October 2006

Customer service: a study in contrasts

Today has been a busy day for Geezer Gleck.

I worked early this morning, ergo my workday ended earlier than usual. I left about noon to meet the A/C guy back at the house (evaporator coils don't always crap out after three years ... do they? Eh, at least it's under warranty, although the labor and Freon recharging set us back $300!). But that wasn't the only household snafu ... more on that in a second.

On the way home I made a side trip to our Best Buy. I'd redeemed about $100 worth of their "reward zone" points I'd accrued when we bought our laptop back in August (viva la "triple points on a single item" coupons) ... the plans were to procure an MP3 player for Seraphim with that scrip. The player I thought would be ideal was another of the Creative players - a 1GB flash-based job, which also had a color screen to display .JPG files, a necessity because Seraphim wouldn't mind having her entire cake portfolio in that little device. And if it played music, that was a bonus.

Well, the ideal player was on the website. Ah, but there was a catch: it's available online only. Okay, no problem, one of the folks at Best Buy last week said one could redeem "reward zone" vouchers online. Well, problem. Said "one of the folks" was either A) stooooopid, or B) a lying sack of horse phlegm from Orion, Alabama.

No problem, right? I could buy another of the MP3 players, and then return it ... most stores treat non-cash returns by issuing a gift card (which ARE redeemable online). That's how Wal-Mart, golden beacon of everything that's right and proper with retail, does it ... how would Best Buy be any different?

Guess again. Best Buy treats such returns by "reissuing" the certificates. So ... I could either return it and then wait the usual 6-8 weeks for another set of funny money ... or be stuck with an MP3 player Seraphim won't have much use for. I asked for a manager, to whom I pleaded my case ... their selection of players lacked. And they had nothing else in the same price range which had the same features as the Creative player. It was as if he'd had wet dreams the night before about pointing out the small print on the "reward zone" certificates ... "not good on bestbuy.com" .... "cannot be used to purchase gift cards"

I didn't know David Spade and his "NO!" posters crossed the street from Capital One and went to work at Best Buy. Oh, and did I mention the "reward zone" rules changed last month? Used to be $150 in purchases would earn you a $5.00 bonus certificate. Oooooh, but they've changed that ... now it's $250. Some "loyalty program."

But what's my other option? Circuit City??!! Jeezuz Cripes, they're even worse!

Best Buy is making me pine for the good old days of Service Merchandise. Phew. Hell, I'm this close to taking back every bad thing I've ever said about Wal-Mart; while I've had some adventures at their (dis)service counter, I've never once had any grief about returning an item.

Well, after giving a roundhouse kick to the first smarmy jackass I saw in a blue polo shirt on my way out of the store (just kidding ... or am I?), I headed for Rincon, and my destiny with the Gods of HVAC.

The new coils freshly-charged, I turned my attention to our next issue: the faint "thump-thump-thump" we'd been hearing lately whenever the dryer was running. After thinking it was our fine Whirlpool workhorse tapping itself against the wall, I found out what it really was last night while bringing Seraphim's plants inside.

In the house, it sounded like "thump-thump-thump", but outside at the dryer vent it was more like "SLOSH! SLOSH! SLOSH!" Holy crap, there was a buttload of WATER in the dryer vent line. That might explain the sluggishness of our dryer's performance of late ... I cleaned the lint out of it early last week, but that didn't seem to work.

Whooooooookay .... I make a journey to the local Sears store in Rincon, one of those small-town franchise stores (we bought a TV from them earlier this year, and they gave us a good deal). I invested in a small wet/dry shop-vac, something we didn't have, and figured we might want to have on hand just in case we had SLOSH-SLOSH-SLOSH somewhere indoors! But one feature I wanted in such a vac was the blower function, where it would function either as a vacuum cleaner OR as a quasi leaf blower. What I wanted to do is stick the nozzle into the dryer vent (from the INSIDE, of course) and let'er rip.

I was assured by the gentleman who waited on me that all of their shop vacs had the blower feature. I bought one, and took it home to hug and squeeze and cuddle and play with and name. Then I found out that it does NOT have a blower. DAMN! And by now it was 5:50 in the afternoon ... Sears closes up at 6. I hurriedly repack the box and get my pimpled white butt back over to Sears, where I'd hoped to do a return .... the dryer was already disconnected and moved out of the closet.

The guy who waited on me was truly apologetic, and graciously proffered a mea culpa. He was led to believe that fact by those who'd trained him. I told him no hard feelings, and did he have any other models in the same price range that did have the features I needed? By that time the store manager came out and he too apologized ... and offered me the display model of another, more expensive, shop vac for damn close to what I'd paid for the first one. "Deal!", I told him.

I got home with our new shop vac, where I hugged it and squeezed it and cuddled it and played with it and didn't quite name it yet ... I'm thinking about "The Lint Slayer" right about now ... and stuck one end of the hose into the blower port, the other end into the dryer vent, and -- with Seraphim outside to watch -- engaged our new toy. With a roar, her 6.0 horses came to life. And not only did gales of water start gushing out the other end, but everything else that'd been in there for 2.5 years came blasting out, too. It kinda reminded me of the old Phil Hartman "Colon Blow" commercial years ago on SNL.

So, what I experienced today were two polar opposites -- an impersonal monolithic big-box with an arrogant disregard for the customer, and a small representative for a once-monolithic retail giant, in a small homey bedroom town that wanted a satisfied customer walking outside their door. Would that all businesses remembered the core reason for their success. It's not the shareholders, it's the customer. Without the latter, the former don't get diddly.

I really like it out here in Rincon ... the attitudes, while not perfect by any measure, are so much more personal. Rincon, Georgia -- fast food capital of south Effingham County -- is also home to one of the few remaining Western Auto stores. They were very nice and helpful when I was trying to find some replacement line for our weed-whacker, and was afraid I'd have to trapise back into Chatham County to find it. Thanks to the nice lady at Western Auto, I didn't have to.

And now, we have a dryer that again functions as new, an air conditioner that - we hope! - functions as new (note to self: when it comes time to get a new central A/C, do not buy a Goodman), a Lint Slayer that looks all macho and mighty, and a satisfied Talmadge.

Slacker punks in blue polo shirts aside, it was a good day.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Gotta Get Up Early Again Tomorrow" Gleck

20 October 2006

How to have a deep conversation in 1.2 miles

That's the distance from Movie Gallery to our house. After emerging with two videos (Mothman Prophecies -- which we've been wanting to see since our pit stop in Point Pleasant W.Va. recently -- and Click), and getting into the car, Seraphim asked me a question about the lyrics to KISS' hit song "Rock and Roll All Nite": Is it "I wanna rock and roll all nite / and part of every day", or is it "...party every day."

After assuring my dearest love of my life that it indeed is "PARTY every day", she then wondered why it isn't "part of every day", since a human being does need sleep -- and if you're rock and rolling all night, it can be ass/u/me'd that you slice off some Zs during daylight.

I then rebutted something to the effect of, what if they're rock and rolling all night WHILE sleeping part of the time (e.g. the radio playing a classic rock station while asleep) and, perhaps, get tired of listening to just one thing ... and for the remaining "part of every day" they listen to, say, easy listening ... country ... hip hop ... or, maybe, classical. How about polka?

Or, maybe, "rock and roll" doesn't necessarily refer to the genre of music bearing that name, and instead implies its original meaning, drawing from early 20th century black slang: to passionately make love like two crazed weasels in a Cuisinart. And you don't have to listen to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or - gawd forbid - KISS in order to make the bed squeak. People HAVE been known to consummate affairs while listening to The Carpenters. Maybe half-awake, but still trying.

Whoops, kill that. After a nice spin in the Cuisinart, you'll probably be all nice and worn out, so you'll sleep at least "part of every day."

So, we're back to square one. Rock and roll all night, fine. But partying every day on top of that would suggest a person either A) has an incredible superhuman ability to need zero sleep, or B) is so doped up on "No-Doz" that he/she/it would present a danger to other drivers if behind the wheel.

But maybe a person rocks and rolls while sleeping. Okay. What about the part of every day? Is that roughly 12 hours spent listening to stupid and pointless right-wing talk radio?

And by that time Seraphim and I were already in our driveway.

Y'know, maybe "Beth" was better off with the boys playing all night.

Eh, screw this. I'm gonna go watch a movie.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "4-F deferment from KISS Army" Gleck



Allowance ... what is that?

Got a phone call last night from my son Tiger. Another way his new location and school has made an incredible difference is in his grades. The kid went from Ds and Fs back in Montgomery to:
MARCHING BAND = 100 (big surprise there....)
WORLD HISTORY = 106 (extra credit is good, yes?)
ALGEBRA = 91 (damn......)
ENGLISH = 76 (wwwwwWHAT??!!)

Three solid As and a C. (The school splits its schedule to where the students get a full year's worth of class in a semester, with double periods - he'll have an entirely different class load come January)

He said the English grade was due to his 'concentrating so much on the other classes' ..... in any case, I find it hard to find fault with that single C. I'm still in something of a shock over that report card, if you wanna know the truth. The last time my kid had that many As, I think we were still back in Troy.

Now before I go any further, please pardon me while I look something up in the dictionary......

al-low-ance (uh-LOW-uns) n. 1. The act of allowing. 2. Something that is allowed. 3. Something given, as money, at regular intervals or for a specific purpose. .... (American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Ed.)

Oh, okay. I'd completely forgotten. Allowance -- that's a weekly stipend a parent gives a kid for whatever entertainment and edification as he sees fit (within reason).

Now, I did tell the kid that I'd restore his allowance (something he hasn't had since the end of 2004!) upon a report card with all As and Bs. Well, there's the small matter of that C. However, given his exemplary progress in the other classes -- those As, holy crap! -- I chose to bend my own condition and give it to him based on his GPA: 3.67. That's a high B. And I told him he'd BETTER pull up that C for the second nine weeks. If not, I threatened him with a non-stop orgy of Coldplay songs for an entire weekend. The kid detests Coldplay.

Frankly, I'm still in numb surprise. I knew Tiger would do better in this improved setting, but this much better??? Wow.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Never so glad to open his wallet as he is now" Gleck

10 October 2006

One is the loneliest number...

...unless you're at a band competition.

My son Tiger's marching band received an overall score of "1" at last weekend's Lake Martin Invitational Band Tournament. That, of course, is top score ... 2 is middling ... and I don't even want to think about 3. Fortunately for all the bands present (damn near half the high school marching bands in Alabama), there were no 3s doled out. Out of three judges, two of 'em gave the Elmore County High School "Maroon Machine" band a "1" -- the other one, alas, copped 'em a 2.

Eh, he's probably the dentist who voted against Trident. Screw 'im. What's important is, ECHS got an overall 1. And best of all, the percussion section (of which my son is part) got a 1. I was fortunate to be sitting next to him as the results were announced ... and the elation on the kid's face!

Backtracking a few weeks: I had the pleasure of seeing the kid in action at a football game back in mid September, and I had the even higher pleasure of observing a sight I hadn't seen in many, many years: my son, grinning and cutting up among friends. Tiger is so obviously in his element, especially within the band clique.

After the game, I was waiting in the car outside the band room, and when he got into the car he began gushing about some of his bandmates, who were then staging an impromptu drum recital outside the band area. Then he said five words that made a grown man cry:

I'm so happy here, Dad.

He didn't have to tell me; I could see it all over his face. He has nothing but great things to say about his friends in the band, about his band director ("Mister V" they call him), and the school in general. Geographically, it's 28 miles from his old school, Capitol Heights in Montgomery, but in my son's attitude, temperament and overall state of mind, it feels more like 28,000.

He even feels comfortable in his new hometown of Eclectic, Ala. ... even though the closest thing to fast food is Subway, and his three favorite eateries -- Burger King, Chick-Fil-A and Whataburger -- are all more than 30 minutes away. For a 14-year-old, that's saying something.

We had a wonderful time heading southward toward Troy with a (very) late-night supper at Whataburger on the way down. His tastes in music are beginning to tread into classic rock, and has discovered stuff his Dad has known and loved for many years. Lately my son and I have had some great fun together ... his sense of humor has suddenly blossomed into a thing of beauty: fun, dry, acerbic and sarcastic! Yet, there's no disrespect anymore. I ask him to do something, and there's little resistance (there'll always be some; my son's a teenager, after all!).

Simply put, I love being around my kid again. My son can sometimes drive me into fits of laughter just with the way he'll say something.

Compare that with that a year ago. Last year, Tiger was borderline "goth" -- carrying a big chip on his shoulder, full of darkness, bitterness, poor grades, slipshod attendance, and doing everything to alienate himself from just about everything in his life, Dad included.

It's remarkable what a year, a change of location, and my ex-wife waking up and smelling the coffee can do. And even more so when this all occurred largely at the suggestion of Josiebelle's sister, who lives in Eclectic! I have to give the real credit here. It's my ex-SIL Laurie who pulled some strings and helped get him into the band. And that's no small feat, given he practically burned his band bridges in 7th grade at Capitol Heights (blame spread: 45% Tiger's laziness; 20% environment; 35% band director is downright mean and intimidating, and did not return phone calls and e-mails to Dad ... sorry, I don't think much of "teachers" who won't respond to parents).

If the initial plan (getting him over here to Effingham County - ironically, another ECHS!) had happened, there was no way I could've gotten him into band. Band is what is driving my son's passion right now, and I believe I'm witnessing the birth of a real "band geek."

Seraphim and I could've given him a better environment, a great school and a stable life (not to mention a cleaner, more orderly house). But Josiebelle, with Laurie's help, has given him two out of three (sorry, but Josie's new house looks just as trashed and decrepit as the one back in Montgomery) ... not to mention something else: a second chance in band, which has relit my son's passion for making music ... and with it, lots and lots of friends!

And while my neat-freak Mom would disagree - I think that's vastly more important than the look of one's living space.

Thank you, Josiebelle. And double thanks, Laurie.

Please continue to pray that this keeps up. I want nothing but a good, fun and happy high school existence for my son, something I didn't really have.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Proud Dad" Gleck

03 October 2006

Subterranean Freeway Blues

We're home.

Monday at exactly 950 PM, Talmadge and Seraphim arrived back in Rincon, Georgia, completing their fun-filled little junket to Pittsburgh.

Sunday, October 1, my former colleague Deb took me on a "dime tour" of Pittsburgh, truly a one-of-a-kind city. I don't think I've seen that many bridges in a single line of sight in my entire life! Downtown sits at the fork of two rivers - well, actually three; the Alleghany and the Monongahela merge to form the Ohio River. Deb showed me her beloved city in a way no "Gray Line" hack could ever match.

Oh, and she treated me to lunch at a Pittsburgh institution called Primanti Brothers. I don't think I've ever had a sandwich that has the fries IN it, not on the side as is usual. The perfect food if you're in a hurry -- jam it all between two toasted slices of thick bread, and eat. There's a mural along one of the walls where caricatures of notable Pittsburgh natives are shown: Andy Warhol, Andrew Carnegie, Stephen Foster (y'learn something new every day....), and of course, the immortal Fred Rogers.

Can you say "fun"?

From there it was downtown, where I was given the grand tour of where she works. I imagine Deb was stifling many rolled eyes off to the side as this radio geek was damn near starry-eyed. For, you see, I was in the master control room of KDKA, just the oldest radio station in the history of western civilization, that's all.

And then I was taken on one of the 'incline trains' (the city has two). Gotta tell you, folks - the one at Chattanooga doesn't hold a candle.

A nickname I heard used for Pittsburgh was "Iron City" -- talk about a heavy sense of deja vu! Birmingham, Ala. -- which made its name for its steel industry in the early 20th century -- has also been referred to by that nickname. Among its many other affectionate names is "Pittsburgh of the South." After Sunday, I could see why.

Both cities' former industries weren't the only similiarity; driving around parts of the city on Saturday, and riding with Deb on Sunday, a lot of what I saw - from 40% incline residental streets to house architecture to the basic feel of the smaller neighborhoods, to their love of sports, even to such ephemera as the style of road signs and signals, reminded me so much of parts of the 'Ham. In short, Pittsburgh struck me as a bigger version of my native city.

*********

However, Pittsburgh has one huge feature to its infrastructure that Birmingham doesn't: TUNNELS. One in particular is the Fort Pitt. Deb took me through that one; when you emerge from the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the whole skyline of Pittsburgh suddenly jumps out at you. Truly awe-inspiring.

About the closest thing Birmingham has to anything tunnel-esque is that quasi bridge/tunnel like thing on Red Mountain Expressway. Or that man-made "tunnel" at the Palisades shopping center. Of course, Alabanana doesn't have mountains too high or challenging to cut through. The only real tunnels the state has are both in Mobile. The George C. Wallace tunnel and older Bankhead Tunnel burrow underneath the Mobile River, the shipping lane into the city's port facilities.

I love tunnels. I've always been fascinated by 'em, and this trip gave me a "tunnel overload" I won't soon forget. We drove the Chesapeke Bay Bridge/Tunnel back in '03, we did the I-540 tunnel between Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark. earlier this year, but there ain't nothing like the tubes that allow you to pass through some of the more rugged mountains of Appalachia.

*********

After Seraphim finished with her last session on Sunday, we hit the turnpike and headed south into the beautiful state of West Virginia, the fifth time we entered the state on our trip. Our destination was Fairmont, W.Va., where its Red Roof Inn was a beacon atop a hill overlooking the hustle and bustle of I-79.

After three nights of glorious luxury at the Hampton Inn (farm fresh "eggs" notwithstanding), it was hard getting used to the very spartan surroundings of our Red Roof Room. That room was barely large enough to hold the king size bed. There was no Wi-Fi available. But the room was clean, there was a functioning TV (with a good movie on HBO at the time - Walk the Line), and the motel staff was as friendly as could be. Who could pick nits? The room was $42.99 .... compared to the Hampton room setting us back $119.00 a night! The Red Roof had no breakfast, "farm fresh" or otherwise. Just a single coffee machine and some cups in the lobby. And on that particular morning, their Mr. Coffee was all tore-up.

Again, we didn't complain. There was a Hardee's just down the way, so we grabbed some breakfast biscuits and drinks and hit I-79 southbound. Rincon, Georgia wasn't exactly down the street, ya know.

We stopped at the New River Gorge visitor center before crossing the New River Gorge bridge, the world's second longest single-arch bridge. We exercised off our Hardee's vittles as we plodded down the boardwalk to the lower platform, where we viewed the bridge and surrounding beauty in its awesome splendor.

US-19 linked up with I-77 and the West Virginia Turnpike, and the Mountain State gave us an unforgettable farewell token by presenting us with the East River Mountain Tunnel. What's really cool about this one is that it crosses the line between W.Va. and Virginia. You go in one state, and come out another.

One more tunnel (Big Walker Mountain) awaited us, and soon after we crossed into North Carolina, the beautiful Appalachian mountains became mere rolling hills before transitioning into the familiar coastal plains of home as I-77 terminated in Columbia, S.C., about two miles from what is positively the best barbecue in the world: Maurice's. Love him or hate him, the man has a way with pigs. Since having my first experience in 2005, all I had learned about 'cue in Alabama went flying out the window. I am now a devotee of mustard-based BBQ sauce.

I don't think you'll have any trouble guessing just where we ate supper.

The remaining ~150 miles were largely anti-climactic. I-26 to I-95 to Ga. 21 to home.

And on that note, I'm going to bed. Some further comments will have to wait for another time. It's late, and this thing is long enough already.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Tunnel Vision" Gleck

01 October 2006

The wonders of a laptop.......

It's 545 PM, and I'm sitting here in front of the Holiday Inn in Monroeville, Pa., waiting for my darling Seraphim to finish up.

This afternoon with Deb was a fun-filled time ... more on that later.

Meanwhile, I've been checking e-mail ... all courtesy of Holiday Inn's (not password protected) wireless access, which I totally appreciate.

Oops, I think that's her coming.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Ain't Wi-Fi Neat?" Gleck

The incredibly inedible "egg"

It's morning on day #3 of our pleasurably pusillanimous Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania powder.

Seraphim is finishing up her Cake Summit next door at the Holiday Inn, and everything (exceptin' for the laptop, duhhhh) is packed and ready to go. Check-out time is 12 noon.

Deb's picking me up at noon and will be taking me on "the grand tour" of Pittsburgh, to while away the afternoon before my wife is finished up at 530.

Meanwhile I'm left pondering a deep subject: Chicken embryos. You know, those things many of us are fond of consuming for the breakfast meal (or on a late weekend night at IHOP. If only we could get one of those @#$%ing things close to Rincon....).

And the thought of the almighty egg gets me thinking about one of the well-known perks of Hampton Inn, and that's their hot breakfast. Now most of your motels tend to offer a bare-bones free breakfast, ranging from the classic "continental breakfast" to something a little more upscale, such as doughnuts or bagels or cereal - usually stale from being in those dispensers.

In any case, playing the lead role in the hot breakfast downstairs at this Hampton is something they call FARM FRESH EGGS. Okay, I wish they had bacon on the menu, but eggs I could live with.

I open the cover of the hot dish, only to find .... well, it looks like a fried egg. I mean, it has the yellow in the middle and it's surrounded by white. But it's perfectly circular, about 1/4 inch high, and there's no convex, bubble-like middle where the yolk is supposed to be. Jeezuz Cripes, this is what I'd expect to find served at McDonald's. This isn't real egg, it's ... it's ... pre-fabricated, processed, fried egg-like product.

If this is "farm fresh", I wanna know which farm these things came from, so I can avoid it. I'll bet the hogs they slaughter yield massive amounts of Spam (the "lunch meat", not that other kind).

Seraphim liked 'em okay. She can do so for both of us. Yeccccccch. I partook of what the menu described as HOT, FLUFFY BISCUITS.

Biscuits? Yup.
Hot? No, lukewarm.
Fluffy? As Calista Flockhart.

But at least the orange juice was good and pulp-free. It beats nothing.

This is why I never consider the free breakfast amenity in a motel. If it's just myself, I don't even think about 'em. I scan the lobby - if there's something good, I eat it. If not, nothing lost.

After all, it's why God invented the International House of Pancakes anyway.

Which leads me to my closing point. I'll bet those "farm-fresh 'eggs'" are virgins.

They don't get laid.




Ahem.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I want some bacon. Real, please." Gleck

30 September 2006

For whom we pay tolls

Day #2 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Talmadge almost gets lost, eats a middling lunch, and scores a handful of vinyl reckids.

But first, let's back up to day #1. After dropping off Seraphim at her Wilton Cake Summit, I was on my own to create all sorts of mirth, mayhem and moral breakdown in Allegheny County. What did I do? I went back to the hotel and took a small nap. Yeah, boy.

After waking up, I called a friend of mine who works in radio here. She used to be my boss, and is the lady who rescued me from a cesspool known as Troy, Alabama. For that noble deed, she will forever have a place in my professional heart. I love Deb. SHE is the reason I was able to create a new life for myself, marry Seraphim, and leave an ugly past behind.

Well, anyhoo, she and I made plans for the three of us to have dinner. Which then left me free and clear 'till 530, when I'd have to be back to fetch the missus.

What to do? Good thing I did my homework. I fired up the Sonata, and took a small roadtrip to a nearby town, Greensburg, which had a specimen of a restaurant chain I truly miss. The fried chicken at this Old Country Buffet was good as it ever was. OCB's fried chicken just might be my favorite ever. And best of all, they were having a lunch special: $5.99 ... and that also includes drink!

I can't bitch.

To get to Greensburg from Monroeville involved taking The Pennsylvania Turnpike. Traversing the portion to get me there would set me back all of $1.25 ..... okay, no big thing. I entered the 'pike (I just love those big green signs they have at the entrance!!), thinking this was just another toll road, such as the Florida Turnpike or "Georgia 400" in Atlanta.

Boy, was I wrong. Where do I start? Narrow medians, narrow shoulders, crazy curves, and, after the middle interchange on my route (which I later found was the west terminus of the original route), a couple of beautiful overpasses. These were o-l-d suckers, a single archway over the road, without a center support. Many of the roadsides had curbs, too. Holy crap, this was like a timewarp.

The "service plaza" I passed, a Mickey D's and Sunoco gas station, was housed in the original stone structure ... originally built to house the restaurant contracted to operate all the service plazas along the turnpike: Howard Johnson's. As I passed it, my mind's eye morphed the building into its original orange roof, small palladium, and ESSO gas pumps out front. Those were the times I wish I were driving a '55 Studebaker and listening to Arthur Godfrey on the radio, as I pull in for a pit stop -- some HoJo's for the tummy and a 29-cent-a-gallon tiger for the tank.

After eating said $5.99 lunch, I returned to the room, where I fired up the laptop and immediately began Google'ing for historical info on the Pa. Turnpike. What I found out just blew my mind: I was driving on a portion of the first ever "superhighway" to be built in the United States. The Greensburg to Harrisburg section of the turnpike opened in ... 1940! Can you believe that? Somehow the idea of listening to Jack Benny, Inner Sanctum, or Edward R. Murrow's news reports from London while speeding on a proto-interstate at 70+ MPH just seems a bit too weird to ponder. But folks did.

And the other portion of the turnpike, that which I can look to my left and see right this very moment? That's the newest section to open. It was completed in 1951.

I still cannot get those overpasses out of my mind, though.

Anyhoo, Deb came over to the hotel that night, and we had supper at the adjoining Outback Steakhouse. The company couldn't be beat. The conversation was wonderful. The food, alas, was a bit middling. Oh well...

*********

Today, I started looking for something a little less 'weird' than old highways: the ever-lovin' used record store! I found two ... one of them in a little suburb called Squirrel Hill, where I got more than a little turned around a couple of times. Not lost, just ... turned around. I found my beaten path, and headed back toward Monroeville. Had lunch today at A&W just down the way from the room. A&W, in case you may not be aware, stands for (A)mburgers (&) (W)oot Beer.

The burger? See "middling" comment above. I've had worse, but I've had much better. Sharing space with this A&W was a Long John Silver's. Ecch. Their fish is much like you'd have imagined Captain Hook's Fish-N-Chips (of Fast Times fame) to taste. Heck, it makes Captain D's look like a fine seafood restaurant.

Annnnnnnnnnnnyway, supper tonight saw Seraphim and me heading back to Greensburg and the Old Country Buffet, where I ate fried chicken, and my wife had a great salad (she's a fan of the OCB salad bar -- so eating there isn't a big burden for her to bear, unlike rolling tape on the Turnpike, capturing some of that great '40s roadside motif, heh heh).

As I sit here thinking about all this history, a big thought occurs to me. Today is September 30 ... my grandfather's birthday. Big John would have been 90 today. Suddenly my fun nostalgic mood becomes dark and melancholy. These are the times I so wish my grandfather were here, so I could ask him if he'd ever traveled any part of the Pa. Turnpike (it wouldn't have surprised me; the man loved roadtrips and took many in his day), and if so what it was like.

I'm so glad I could've traveled such an old, historic road on his birthday.

Right now I'd give anything short of my wife or son to go back to 1955 and enjoy all that glory in its prime. Or at least to have traveled that roadway much later with Big John.

*********

All in all, a nice time so far. Tomorrow is our last day up here, and while Seraphim is wrapping up her seminar, I'll be Deb's guest as she takes me on a tour of Pittsburgh. Promises to be fun.
As soon as possible after 530, we'll be bound back for the wilds of coastal Georgia, stopping for the night in West Virginia (the fifth time we'll have entered the state), before getting home late Monday.

Good night, and Happy Birthday, Big John. You look great up there.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Exact Change" Gleck

28 September 2006

A room with a view!

(Or: "Gee, I wonder if there's a Bob Evans restaurant around here somewhere!")

Hola, and greetings from the plush environs of our sixth floor room at the Hampton Inn of Monroeville, Pennsylania. (it's just east of Pittsburgh, right on the turnpike).

Want proof? Check out this marvelous, scenic view from our window! What an old, decrepit sign ... the shield is faded, and the whole thing is of the old-style with reflector dots embedded in the letters and borders. They even have a name: "button copy." They don't make those anymore, so it's like retro eye-candy to "road geek" freaks like myself.

We left Rincon, Georgia yesterday morning, and spent the night in Ashland, Kentucky. One could not have asked for a more perfect day for driving. Lunch was spent in Greenville, S.C., where we broke bread (and plenty of BBQ pork therein) with Nettiemac. Filled with a fantastic lunch (what is about South Carolina and awesome barbecue??), we started north ... topping off our tank at the Wal-Mart Supercenter just north of Greenville in - I love this name - Travelers Rest. How could we not; we were so mesmerized by what the price sign read: $1.87/9! Maaaaaan.

The Hyundai Sonata we rented for this trip has driven very beautifully. Gas mileage wasn't what I'd hoped (average: 25), but it's better than what we get in our '04 Element.

We ate supper at the Bob Evans restaurant adjacent to our motel in Ashland. Bob Evans has a special significance in our lives, because our first meal as a married couple was at a Bob Evans in Lake City, Fla.

This morning, however, wasn't so good. What was giveth yesterday was taketh away -- it rained buckets this morning. Lucky for us, the worst of it was while putting away breakfast at IHOP. Still, it was very wet, dank and yucky for the first half of our day's driving.

Things got gradually better by the afternoon as the cold front passed through, and then the temperature started to drop. By 3:00 it was in the mid 50s outside. Yeah, baby.

Found some more starts-with-a-"1" petrol at a place on I-70 in Ohio, just west of Wheeling, W.Va. Barely, at that ($1.99/9), but who's beeyotchin'.....

We got here at about 9:00, and then started finding a place to eat supper. We ended up dining at a 'retro' themed eatery called the Park Diner. Lots of chrome, '50s-style fonts, and classic '50s & '60s music playing in the background. Our server's name was - I swear on a stack of 45s - Peggy Sue, and she whipped up some awesome homemade milkshakes for Seraphim and me.

We'll be here until Sunday afternoon ... in the meantime, I'll leave you with some random thoughts gleaned thus far from this trip:

  • The states of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania have all perfectly synchronized the placement of Bob Evans restaurants along their interstates. I came up with an average of one every 1.32 exits along I-64, I-77 and I-70 alone.
  • I tried the legendary Kentucky soft drink Ale-8-1. Both Seraphim and I had the same opinion: it tasted like watered down ginger ale. I was especially disappointed, because I was expecting something with some real 'bite' to it, like Buffalo Rock (a dark ginger-ale indigenous to my native Alabama). Oh well.
  • I had two hard-to-find drinks flowing through my patience-of-Job kidneys today: DOUBLE COLA, and my most favoritest drink in the world, SQUIRT.
  • We crossed the Ohio River four (4) times today.
  • I wish West Virginia or Pennsylvania would consider giving us just one of their Bob Evans restaurants. We could use a good breakfast place nearby where we live.
More news as it happens. When news breaks out, Gleck breaks in. News at :55, bulletins at any time.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Keystone Krackpot" Gleck

26 September 2006

Sonata in B-sharp

Or, Talmadge and Seraphim have their hot little rental car all ready for The Great Cake Junket to Pittsburgh, Pa. Your blog host and spouse will be driving a silver* '07 Hyundai Sonata ... with what my wife calls a "Mafia trunk" (read: I don't think we'll have problems fitting all her cake paraphernalia, the laptop, portable DVD player and .... anything else I forg--? Oh yeah, clothes!)
* = It's SILVER, dear. SIL-VER. Not "Lunar Mist" or any of those other weird quasi-colors car makers like to use. It says "SILVER" on the Hertz keytag, so it must be true.

And there appears to be enough room to hold the digital camera and cap a certain weekend visitor left behind. We'll be passing through Nettiemac's neighborhood, and we'll be eating lunch at a BBQ place in Greenville, S.C. -- looking very forward to it. Geez, I haven't seen her in ... how many hours? ;-)

Watch this space for updates. Seraphim has a laptop, so we'll be taking advantage of free wi-fi at the hotels where we'll be staying.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Next stop, northeast Kentucky!" Gleck

9-1/2 for Victorrrrrrr!!!

NOTE: If you have not seen the 1982 film The Last American Virgin, do not read any further because this post is full of spoilers. Of course, if you have no desire to see this movie, then go ahead and read on. Or don't. See if I care. -TG
Over the previous weekend, Seraphim and I were host to two of the coolest people trodding this Earth: Bolivar and Nettiemac. We didn't get to do the music trivia game we had hoped, but that's why God invented a little thing called "future visits."

One thing we DID do is watch movies. Quite a few, in fact. One of 'em was a truly underrated film, The Last American Virgin. Not to be confused with the more recent Steve Carell hit movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin (yes, we watched that one too).

Anyone who graduated high school in the 1980s (myself = 1983; Seraphim = 1987 - ditto for Nettiemac; Bolivar = 1986) can relate to the whole feel of the movie ... this puppy is chock full of memorable early '80s pop hits, like the Quincy Jones song "Just Once" .... not to mention Journey's "Open Arms", U2's first single "I Will Follow", "I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses (a song that just oozes 1980s) ... and much, much more.

Synopsis: Gary is the aforementioned "last American virgin." Not shy in a nerdy sense, mind you; he wasn't the target of ridicule or taunting. Lawrence Monoson played the role of Gary in such a way as to evoke a very disturbing sense of familiarity in a lot of us with a Y chromosome. Gary's two best friends -- David (the fat one) and Rick (the stud) -- form a threesome who, for much of the first half of this movie, are in an endless quest for sex ... from picking up three girls at the fast-food hangout, to patronizing a "lady of the night", to getting it on with a Charo-like nympho.

Complicating matters is a new student, Karen (played by Diane Franklin -- who was best-known for her role as Monique in the movie Better Off Dead). Gary falls for her. And I mean falls. But he's too shy and awkward to make a good impression. Unfortunately, Rick swoops in and takes her. They hit it off, which makes Gary apoplectic. A triangle is formed. Things get interesting.

Meanwhile, Gary tries to get laid. His virginity was erased by a prostitute ... a viciously mean one, at that. After an episode like that, it's a wonder he would ever want to make a bed squeak again.

What sets TLAV apart, though, is the big picture. Toward the middle, the film changes gears in a big way -- it goes from your typical "American Pie"-type teens-getting-laid flick, to a starkly dramatic turn of events which allow the characters to really develop. Gary wants sex, but deep inside you know he's seeking out more. He wants love. He wants Karen. Rick is your typical "male jerk" -- the typical wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy.

In the middle is plump, fun-loving David (who maintains a detailed track of all his expenses -- a funny side-note involves his keeping a running 'tab' on his friends). David is something of the comic relief in this movie. Some of his lines are the funniest -- "Money -- now we're talking! Everybody put in a dollar ... the one with the biggest tool, he's the one who wins the pool!"

Basically, Rick deflowers Karen (in their school's football pressbox, of all places), knocks her up, and Rick dumps her. Gary to the rescue. Gary pawns his stereo (HORRORS!!), borrows money from his boss, raids the petty-cash pot at his late grandmother's house, and cobbles together enough money to cover Karen's abortion (this came out BEFORE Fast Times, mind you).

Karen expresses her sincerest appreciation to Gary. Gary professes his love for Karen. Karen invites Gary to her birthday party. Gary goes to a jewelry store to buy Karen a present: a locket inscribed with a message of love (how he had enough $ to buy this after liquidating much of his worldly possessions is a big mystery).

Gary shows up at Karen's house, where the party is going full-tilt. Gary finds Karen. She's in the kitchen .....

.....and Karen runs toward Gary, embracing him, where they exchange passionate "I love yous." Gary finally gets the brass ring. Both are happy, and settle in for what will be a long, serious relationship.

No, sorry. You were expecting the typical Hollywood ending? You won't find it here, I'm afraid.

What happens is, Gary shows up at Karen's house, where the party is going full-tilt. Gary finds Karen. She's in the kitchen ..... with RICK, and they're smooching. Both turn and look at Gary, who is very shocked, his smile having instantly evaporated. Rick's look says "Ha ha, sucker ... thanks for cleaning up behind me!" And "sweet" Karen? She's clearly embarrassed, but stays embraced with Rick. A tear falls down her cheek. But she says nothing.

Gary bolts out of the house, while "Just Once" plays ... gets into his station wagon (more on that in a second), and drives off. Gary starts crying. The music gets louder. The credits begin rolling. End of movie.

Back when I first saw this movie, I hated this ending. Hated it. I wanted Gary to get the girl. However, as I became an adult, and logged a lot of 40-mile stretches of bad road, I began seeing this ending for what it is: REALITY.

I like this movie more for the nostalgia factor than anything else. But also for the powerful lessons it conveys. To name several:

1) For starters, the obvious ... NICE GUYS FINISH LAST. Guys like Rick usually end up with the girl. Girls seem to like the jerks much more than the nice guys. I know that's a sweeping generalization, but that's what my own experience showed. I got lucky when I found Seraphim, but it took forever for that to happen.

2) Guys who drive their bosses' vehicles around, especially when they're pink station wagons with a his employer's logo on top (The Pink Pizza), should expect to have trouble getting any action. Which begs the question, why come Gary's parking this pizza delivery vehicle, logo plain as day, in front of the fast-food hangout ... which, arguably, represents competition???

3) This movie should've done for prostitutes what you'd think Fatal Attraction would've done for males dabbling with adultery on the side. "Ruby" was played with such ugliness by Nancy Brock. (I loved her response to David's awkward small-talk: "Are you here to interview me, or to f*ck me???")

4) Getting crabs from Ruby really sucked. There's a big moral somewhere in that one, eh? (Another favorite line: when David, Rick and Gary are trying - awkwardly - to convey their little 'problem' to the local druggist, he figures it out, leans toward 'em and asks, softly, "Your BALLS itch??!!")

*********

We also watched another favorite of mine, the 1999 movie Election. Good stuff, although very disturbing with its realistic portrayal of teachers having sex with students, betraying trust students place in them, and the consequences of same.

What else? Oh yeah, Pass The Ammo - a very hard-to-find 1987 flick filmed in the Arkansas city of Eureka Springs ... the infamous Napoleon Dynamite ... and more.

Movies are great things. Even better when shared among friends.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "A Warner Brothers First National Picture" Gleck

22 September 2006

Double Trouble for Talmadge!

Folks, we have major league trouble descending on Rincon, Georgia.

Seraphim and I are now preparing for the arrival of Bolivar Shagnasty at our marital home. And, later this evening, Miz Nettiemac is also going to make an appearance.

That's right, gang -- Bolivar, Nettiemac, Seraphim and Talmadge, together under the same roof. This promises to be interesting.

Our next posts might well come from the Effingham County jail in Springfield.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Full House" Gleck

11 September 2006

And that's the way it became...

Okay, I've watched this television train-wreck known as The CBS Evening News With Katie Cupcake for five days now.

I tried to give the woman a chance, despite my misgivings.

Upfront I'll say it. I've never cared much for Katie Cupcak--er, Couric. She has always struck me as a lightweight. No different from feature reporters at a newspaper falling flat on their face when they try their hand at doing real news.

I will give credit where it's due: Katie brought stability to a troubled Today, rocked by the whole Deborah Norville mess back in the early '90s. That I'll grant her.

But Katie Couric has never struck me as a "real" journalist. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. This is not a gender issue, nor is it a bias against morning show hosts. There are plenty of women who could pull off the CBS Evening News. Two of them, it must be noted, have morning shows on their professional vitae: Jane Pauley (Today, 1976-1990) and Diane Sawyer (Good Morning America, 1999-present; CBS Morning News, 1981-84). Both women would've made excellent anchors for an evening newscast. Even a case could be made for Joan Lunden (GMA, 1980-97). Despite the fact that I cannot stand her, she could pull it off with little difficulty.

And men? Charles Gibson jumped from GMA to ABC's evening newscast without anyone uttering a peep. So did Tom Brokaw, who hosted Today in the late '70s. They have what it takes. But could you have imagined The CBS Evening News With Bryant Gumbel? Or David Hartman?

Exactly.

The sad truth is, television is a visual medium. And how someone looks is just as important -- not only do you have to have it in you, but you have to LOOK it, too. Male or female, some people have 'that' look - the look of authority. And there has to be a touch of charisma thrown in, too.

Unfortunately, it means good journalists get thrown into the dumpster because they lack the look and/or the charisma .... while the most moronic empty-headed bimbos and airhead doofuses (doofi?) who have both the look of authority and that visual spark can make it to the top faster than you can say "Ted Baxter" or "Jessica Savitch", despite that they couldn't name all nine Supreme Court justices (heck, many wouldn't know there were nine!). Have you seen the movie Broadcast News? The Tom Grunick character (played by William Hurt) perfectly illustrates what I mean. (Gawd, I love that movie -- gotta find that on DVD)

But back to Baba Wawa #2, a/k/a Katie Cupcake. I watched her, hoping that some amazing, incredible transformation had taken place. That the CBS makeup department transformed Miss Today Show Girl into ... Miss Murrow. Tonight (Monday, 11 September 2006) any remaining hope and illusion forever disappeared.

It was the final feature piece of the newscast, about the young boy (Hasani Houston) who'd lost his Dad, a NYC Port Authority policeman, in the WTC attack five years ago. A program called "Tuesday's Children" produced a young 30-year-old banker named David Herzog, who - in effect - has become a regular "male role model" in Hasani's life.

It was a very sober, sweet and inspiring turn of events. There's a special place in heaven for men like Mr. Herzog. Seeing these relationships being built renews my hope in America.

It wasn't the piece itself. It was three words Katie Cupcake uttered immediately following the story:

She looks toward her monitor, and says "He's SO cute."

"He's SO Cute."

I sat there, jaw completely slack. She didn't. She couldn't have said that.

I hit 'rewind' on the DVR. Yup, she did.

I'm sorry, but that's not the way a news anchor is supposed to act. I said to Seraphim, "Could you have imagined Walter Cronkite coming out of a feature story saying, "That's SO cute. And THAT'S ... the way it is ...."

When I think of authoritative on-air personalities with substance, a lot of great local names come to mind. Jody Chapin here in Savannah. Mike Shain in my old stomping grounds of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Bill Bolen and Bob Howell in Alabama. And, who, in my opinion, was the best local TV journalist ever, the unflappable Joe Langston. He was a Birmingham icon for more than 25 years before his retirement in 1987. Despite a short-lived stint as a kiddie-show host (where he interacted with a knock off of 'Thing' from The Addams Family), Joe Langston's credentials as a newsman were unimpeachable.

I'm not saying Mr. Langston, et al, never should've been 100% stoic. They're human, after all. After a moving story like the Herzog/Houston piece, perhaps a nice smile, as if to say "what an inspiring story!", would've done the trick. Ya know???

Katie Couric doesn't have what it takes. Period.

*********
One moment of hilarity ensued following the broadcast. Seraphim said, "I wonder just who she thought was cute -- the young boy, or the man ... after all, she is single." My response: "Who would want her? Katie Couric is a bitch with a big ego!"

No sooner had those last words left my mouth, Puddy popped her head out from under the end table beside my chair, as if to say "You rang?"

No, Puddy, the other bitch with a big ego.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I say it here, it comes out there!" Gleck

01 September 2006

I bet this blog has got SCMODS......

Have you ever had one of those moments where, suddenly, a line or a piece of dialogue from one of your favorite movies just hits you at the most random time?

I just had one, and it just cracks me up ... it's from The Blues Brothers (1980) - my favorite movie of all time. Jake and Elwood are driving along, listening to Sam & Dave, and they run a red light. A cop pulls out behind them and hits his lights. Elwood looks in his rear-view mirror, and the conversation which follows is just beautiful:

E: "Shit."
J: "What?"
E: "Rollers..."
J: "No!"
E: "Yeah."
J: "Shit."

One word each ... gawd I'm laughing. I guess this means I pull out the DVD and watch this puppy for - what? - the 23,898,923th time?

I'm hopeless.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Orange whip?" Gleck

27 August 2006

Radio "Kazoo", part 2: Ancient Talmadge

Previously on Five Flavors: We analyzed the schedule of KASU radio in Jonesboro, Ark., circa 1986. The format resembled the sex child of the radio station in Good Morning Vietnam before Adrian Cronauer's arrival and WKRP in Cincinnati before Andy Travis darkened its door.

Come with me to Saturday, March 22, 1986. Chernobyl was on the verge of blowing its stack, Ronald Reagan still had two functioning brain cells (I'm feeling generous today.....), Arkansas State University's football team was experiencing a golden age at the helm of one Larry Lacewell, and a young, foolish, very green, talking-from-the-diaphragm, stodgy-sounding, hyper-stilted Talmadge Gleck was spending Saturday night inside the control room of KASU 91.9: "The Broadcasting Service of Arkansas State University."

All this came about because I found a single cassette tape. On a yellowed label was written: "3/22/86 KASU" That's right, it's a portion of an old aircheck of that evening's Moods in Music program. Inhaling deeply, gritting my teeth, and exhaling with a deep sigh, I press PLAY.

Holy crap, you mean I survived this musical molestation, night after night?????

Here are the super hits Talmadge Gleck, Hot-ta-trot KASU Good Guy, spun on a super Saturday night whilst the teens cruised Nettleton Avenue, 91.9 blasting on their Craig stereos:

ONCE UPON A SUMMERTIME / Frances Lai
Definitely not an easy one.
IF YOU GO AWAY / Jeanette Reno
Please.
AT EVERY END THERE’S A BEGINNING / Tom Jones
That's how I felt when I had to work the next evening's show.
I’M COMING HOME / The Living Brass
12:00 couldn't come soon enough. Either I'd go home (Twin Towers room #810), or I'd go walk the practice track behind the building, or sometimes meet up with Bolivar S. at Larry's Restaurant for a late-night meal.
ANNIE’S SONG / Placido Domingo
And now the sound of Moods in Music being strangled ... thank you.
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU / Art Garfunkel
There were a couple of contemporary-esque albums. For some crazy, mysterious reason, The Weaker Half of Simon & Garfunkel's cover of the 1958 belly-rubbin' standard "I Only Have Eyes For You" was kosher on the KASU format. The scary thing is, I lived for the chance to play at least one thing bearing a faint resemblence to .... music .....
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER / Kay Hart
Bridge, nothing. I was swimming in it.
ONLY ONCE / Robin Wilson
If only it were.
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF / Frank Purcell Orchestra
Impossible. The night was still young. 11:45 was hours away.
THE HILLS OF YESTERDAY / Henry Mancini
RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD / Boots Randolph
For KASU is like a cloud, and it has rained on me. (apologies to D. Killion)
MY REVERIE / Jim Nabors
Where was Sgt. Carter when I needed him? PYYYYYYYLE!!!!!!
TRACES / Jane Morgan
STELLA BY STARLIGHT / Bob Crewe Generation
The BCG was most well-known for the hit instrumental (and Diet Pepsi commercial) "Music to Watch Girls By." This girl was Stella. And she was no looker. Neither was the record.
THE HANDS OF TIME (BRIAN’S SONG) / Perry Como
Drop-kick me, Perry, I want to swing on a star.
??? / Englebert Humberdinck
(I'd intro'ed this song just by artist, and then segued into the selection below)
SUNSHINE / Francois Hardy
And now the sound of John Denver getting his throat back. Please. And thank you.
(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU / The Living Strings (Plus Two Pianos)
I kid you not. This made me feel rather bulimic............
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / Julie Byrd
I think somewhere in the KASU library was the Jerry Vale LP containing his cover of "Revolution 9."
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT / The Party-Timers
That was the name of the group. They recorded an album or two for the KAPP record label. If this was a party, why come I wasn't invited? I have a keg of some kickin' White House Apple Juice waiting for a rip-roarin' party.
PLEASE COME TO BOSTON / Roger Whittaker
Too bad this came before his last farewell.
LOVE WITHOUT WORDS / Johnny Mathis
Too much "music." Too little freedom. Too late, I'm stuck in here 'till 11:45.
CARA MIA / Mantovani Orchestra
Mi Cara fell asleep, too.

This was actually the 8:00 to 9:30 portion. There was nothing on the tape after this. Oh well.

In case you're wondering, there wasn't a dictated rotation; we had free reign to pick the music we played, so long as we didn't repeat any conspicuously, i.e. the 10-minute Carmen Cavallaro piano medley. "Free reign", of course, meaning "within the strict parameters of what's proper for the program."

Please do not misunderstand my feelings ... in my recent years, I've developed a closet fascination for classic "adult standards" (read: MOR) and some easy listening. Not all, just ....... some........ As you saw above, this was not even good MOR. Where's the bleedin' Sinatra??? Or Rosemary Clooney?? Ohhhh, but there was plenty of Jerry Vale, and a complete study in the recorded works of one Jim Nabors.

That's right. Back in my day, RTV majors at Arkansas State University learned radio by playing decrepit Jim Nabors albums.

I think the best comparison I could make here is that the KASU flavor of MOR was akin to a top-40 station playing nothing but the bottom third of Billboard's "Hot 100." All the stiffs and very little geniune hit product.

*********

When the chairman of the RTV department retired at the end of 1987 (coincidentally enough, the same time I finished my studies), that spelled the end of much of this insanity. Gradually, KASU began changing with the times. Dinner by Sunset was the first to go. And just one year later, while visiting Jonesboro, I heard something by Bobby McFerrin on Moods in Music -- something that would've gotten my balls cut off had I played him. By the early '90s, Moods had evolved even more ... becoming an awesome locally-produced version of Echoes. By the mid '90s, KASU completed its amazing transformation. Gomer Pyle has left the building.

And there you have it. Talmadge's musical hell. And you folks wonder why I'm so insane today.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Must ... have ... Led Zeppelin ...." Gleck

Radio "Kazoo", part 1

Today, a two-edged tribute to a great radio station.

Her call letters are KASU. It's the station licensed to Arkansas State University, located in the northeast Arkansas city of Jonesboro. She operates at the frequency of 91.9, with a full 100,000 watts of power. KASU is an NPR member station -- a charter member, in fact, as the station has been an affiliate since day one, 1970.

I feel a great reverence toward KASU, the first non-commercial station in Arkansas. There's also a really funny piece of trivia about KASU: When the station first signed on in 1957, the parent institution was known as Arkansas State College. The call letters they tried to secure for the new station were, as you might expect, KASC. Trouble is, they were already taken - by Arizona State College. So, after a little brainstorming, they tried KASU. Those calls were available, so they went with 'em ... the ulterior thought being "Arkansas State's on the grow ... one of these days we'll be a university, and then we'll be ready."

That's right: the radio station attained university status years before the college! Meanwhile, Arizona State became a university in the early '60s, and was said to have approached Arkansas State about trading call letters. Ark. State politely declined, and when ASC was bestowed university status by Arkansas' legislature in 1967, the call letters finally matched the licensee.

Today, KASU is a proud beacon of arts and information in northeast Arkansas, the Missouri "bootheel" and portions of three other states (Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky). It is a highly-valued outreach of Arkansas State, and its programming and credibility are unimpeachable.

Even when I was a paid student announcer (1984-1987), KASU's reputation for weather, news coverage and agricultural news were unmatched.

Today, KASU's musical offerings are diverse: everything from classical to jazz to "ambient" to blues. But 20 years ago, KASU's music was ..... well, if you could call it music. Students at A-State in the '70s and '80s, especially RTV majors, probably don't think back on KASU with a great deal of fondness. And there was a reason why.

There was a dirty little secret known only to those within listening range of 91.9 .... while there were some programs offered along the lines of "normal" Public Radio fare, including a limited amount of classical music, the dominant format of KASU once upon a time was:

EASY LISTENING.

And not the "Muzak"/"elevator" variety, either. This was horrible, second-tier middle-of-the-road (MOR).

Now why would a university radio station program such a horrid excuse of a format? Simple: the director of Radio/TV dictated it. And he liked that kind of music, so that's how it was.

The KASU music library was a marvel to behold when I was there. The seams of most album jackets had long since disintegrated, so they were being held together with massive amounts of duct tape. Records carried codes: "T" for male vocals, "V" for female vocals (I kid you not, and get your mind out of the gutter, Quagmire!), "G" denoted group vocals, "X" marked the spot for instrumental LPs, "S" was for soundtrack/cast recordings, and "R" was for classical (since there wasn't much classical music being played on KASU at the time -- the RTV director was said to have hated it -- those LPs were by and large pristine).

You'd think "C" would've stood for classical, but that was already taken: by Comedy. That was a mystery, because had any of us so much as dropped the needle on a comedy record, we'd have been strapped to the railroad tracks adjoining the ASU campus! I sure wish I could've liberated some of those comedy records, though; KASU had some original, promo (some with white labels) copies of vintage Stan Freberg, Smothers Brothers and Bob Newhart LPs. I want to shed tears just thinking about that missed opportunity........

We were by and large confined to the T, V, X and G albums for our shows. The records were full of surface noise, subjected to the flagrant abuse by many students who detested the crap they had to play. Looking back, KASU's audio processing deemphasized a lot of treble ... probably necessary, given the condition of those records.

There were a variety of programs, all calling for varying shades of the MOR genre. I shall now offer you a fer-instance in the form of the weekday schedule for KASU radio in 1986:

6:00 a.m. TOWN & COUNTRY RADIO HOUR
KASU began its broadcast day with an hour of programming aimed at the vast agricultural audience. It consisted of farm news, markets, hog and heifer futures, that sort of thing .... and a heapin' dose of easy listening music, preferably with hints of country -- a few steel guitars were okay(i.e. Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass), but not enough as to require trips to the dentist to reattached loosened teeth, or sudden carnal attractions to ones' cousin.

7:00 a.m. TODAY IN ARKANSAS
KASU didn't yet air NPR's Morning Edition. This was a locally-hosted version of the show, featuring NPR and regional news, weather, some interviews with local figures, and easy listening music -- usually midtempo to upbeat.

9:00 a.m. MORNING CLASSICS
One of two daytime programs devoted to classical music. Two hours' worth, hosted by students who often butchered pronunciations so badly they could've been served as hamburger.

11:00 a.m. SHOWTIME!
Strike up the band, fire up the footlights, and pull the "S" albums .... this was 30 minutes' worth of music from Hollywood and Broadway. One (1) album was featured per day, and what the poor student was supposed to do is read the liner notes between songs, to provide a synopsis of sorts. More often than not, the album was tracked ... at least to the extent 29 minutes allowed. Adding to the fun was the fact that the most recent soundtrack LP was, ohhhh, circa 1972.

11:30 a.m. THE WOMAN'S VIEW
"Featuring items of special interest to ladies." Y chromosomes, beware. Between appropriate easy listening/MOR selections, said "items of special interest" consisted of preproduced syndicated modular programs and feature stories pulled off the AP and/or UPI wires. All in all, a relatively harmless program.

12:00 noon MIDDAY
The most house-rockin' hour KASU had! You could play those uptempo, nearly big-band selections during this hour. You read the 'almanac' section off the AP wire at 12:30, and plugged in a module here and there, but the rest of the time it was good ol' Si Zentner, Ray Anthony or other head-banging MOR. The testosterone counterpart to Woman's View.

1:00 p.m. MUSIC OF THE MASTERS
One hour of afternoon classical music. Its theme was The Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi, and even today when I hear it, my mind always catapults back to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

2:00 p.m. ACCENT ON MUSIC
Ahhhh, KASU's signature afternoon easy listening music program. Its theme was Rogers & Hart's "I'll Take Manhattan," and opened with the dulcet tones of KASU's then station manager, declaring "The accent is onnnnn MUSIC!!"

"Listen for a lively show tune ... music of your favorite vocal artist ... or a lush, dreeeeeamy instrumental. Whatever your musical taste, you'll find a pleasing tune on KASU's ACCENT ON MUSIC."

Some of us had another name for the program: Accident On Music.

3:45 p.m. LOCAL/REGIONAL NEWS
Self-explanatory. If I have to elaborate here, you're probably an Armstrong Atlantic student.

4:00 p.m. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
In 1986, here's where KASU finally resembles a normal Public Radio station.

At the time, ATC was a 90-minute program, not the two hours of today. At 5:30, KASU offered up a potpourri of news and information programs, including the module Star Date, some agri news, a sportscast, and a preproduced news package known as KASU Journal. And then.....

6:00 p.m. DINNER BY SUNSET
"Listen as the music forms a soothing pattern of pleasure......"

59 minutes of broadcasting which simply had to have been experienced in order to understand it. This was in no way to be confused with so-called "candlelight classics" programs often offered on Public Radio stations once upon a time, featuring classical music appropriate for the dinner hour.

This was no "classical" program. Dinner By Sunset was one thing, and one thing only: 59 minutes' worth of continuously-segued lush music. Mantovani, Living Strings, 101 Strings, Hollyridge Strings .... one right after another, without any breaks. Intro at the top, a brief station ID at 6:30, and a closing at 6:58:30. This, being played by college students at a radio station operated by a university.

7:00-9:00 usually marked a rotating series of various and sundry syndicated Public Radio programs, often symphony concerts.

The rest of the evening was devoted to the illustrious Moods in Music. It was a program of -- yup, you guessed it -- easy listening/MOR music, taking the poor listener (and poor announcer) through 11:45 p.m. The prescribed format called for something along the lines of Accide--er, Accent on Music at the beginning, and gradually get lusher and lusher as the evening progressed. By 11 p.m., you were to be just one notch above Dinner By Sunset.

A 15-minute newscast -- News Final -- wrapped up KASU's broadcast day.

To get a taste of just what the average "Ludes" in Music show contained, stand by for part 2....

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Good Nabors You Can Turn To" Gleck