31 January 2008

No, sir, I don't like it.

From the "Political correctness gone berserk" department, this breaking news item from the flatlands of Jonesboro, Arkansas:

http://asunews.astate.edu/MascotRecom.htm

ARKANSAS STATE!!!

INDI---oops, er, um, I mean, uhhhh, Wolves?

Wolves?

What the bloody, STD-infected fornication are they thinking up there in northeast Arkansas??!! And they need to stop drinking the "Apple Beer" and/or "Sparkling Grape Juice" and take a drive down to Trumann for some real brewskis.

Yes, I know the NCAA has decreed that naming a team "Indians" is offensive.

Never mind the reason for ASU adopting the name Indians to begin with: as a paean to the rich Native American heritage of the Mid-South region.

That doesn't matter. It's offensive. A bunch of self-righteous goose-stepping white @#$%s have appointed themselves Guardian Of The Feelings Of Native Americans.

The only thing anyone could've found fault with in the way of stereotypes would've been the longtime cartoon mascot, lovingly named Indian Joe -- he was often found in two different poses: Running Joe and Jumping Joe. A-State, for right or wrong, put the kibosh on Joe, and he was shown the door. It was a piece of history, however I could see the spirit of compromise at work.

My first contention is, if Florida State University can be granted a waiver, why can't my beloved-warts-and-all ASU Tribe? We all know the answer ... Tallahassee has a little more pull with certain NCAA figures than a bunch of unwashed hicks in Craighead County, Arkansas.

Deep inside, though, I knew this day was bound to happen sooner than later. Call it denial, but I didn't want to think about what name would be recommended as A-State's new mascot. I knew I wouldn't like it, whatever it would be.

But ... Wolves?

I'm sorry, but the image that conjures up is a bunch of Cub Scouts all jonesin' for their Webelos insignia!

You know this is going to lead to a lot of bedlam. Some of the streets on campus are named after the various tribes. Think of all the name changing that'll have to occur. They'll have to reflag the decaying Indian Mall as Wolf Mall. Indian Stadium? Call it Wolf Stadium. Or, hell, long as you're selling out, why not follow Troy Not-State's lead and get a corporate name for it.

Anyone for spending a fine Autumn Saturday watching "The Pack" at Hay's Supermarket Wolf Stadium? I'm sure they could pry Simon Le Bon away from the Howard Johnson's VIP Lounge in Perry, Georgia to sing "Hungry Like the Wolf" at halftime before a lukewarm audience.

Chickasaw Hall? Call it, ohhh, I don't know, Carnivora Hall. And what about the eatery in the Carl Reng Center ... ohhhh heavens no, we can't call it The Wigwam any longer. We'll call it .... The Den. How nice and homey. The Den.

Nice.

Unfortunately, "The Woodlands" -- the regular cafeteria -- has no Native American connotation, so it'll have to stay.

Seminole Twin Towers, my ASU dorm home for most of those salad days? *BUZZT!* We will call it ..... Timberwolf Twin Toilets. The sign over the second commode in the left-hand bathroom on the 8th floor will remain: "Flush twice. It's a long way to The Woodlands."

They can remove anything remotely Indian off of everything in and around Jonesboro. But they'll never take the INDIAN away from my memories, my heart, or my ASU memorabilia -- now to become even bigger collectors' items. My aging circa-1992 ASU drink tumbler, for one:

You know what else? I have a T-shirt emblazoned with the current-day logo of the ASU Indians....
Now that's a classy looking logo, I have to say. Alas, its days appear to be numbered. Guess I'd better stop wearing it.

The WOLVES?

I think I'm gonna be sick. Honest.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Not Happy" Gleck

26 January 2008

TOTR jumps the shark

November 18, 1999. I was hosting a weekly classic rock show called Thursday on the Rocks on a small radio station in the lead-poisoned environs of Troy, Alabama. It was heard on the local AM station with a night power of 500 whopping watts, using a directional pattern which resembled a fish one might find in Pike County Lake.

Ignore the purple and blue "distant" and "fringe" lines here; at night, the signal was doing good to fill in just the red area -- 500 watts didn't pierce the AM hash on 970 very well. Today, the station replaced three towers with one, and now run nights at some 44 watts. Viva la blowtorch!

But late in September of 1999, the program moved to the FM station, giving it an immense boost in power and reach. 'TBF-FM could be heard very nicely 60 miles to the southwest in Dothan (population roughly 55,000). When this happened, I started getting something called "telephone calls" full of what we in radio have always called "requests."

On this magical night, November 18, I logged nearly two dozen requests. One of them I remember very well: a guy said the show "reminds (him) of the old 'IRB." I took that as a high compliment, because WIRB-FM 96.9 in Enterprise, which had something of a laid-back AOR (album-oriented rock) format in the early to mid '70s, was exactly what I trying to emulate.

I came out of 67 West Court Square that night feeling on top of the freakin' world. It was that simple.

My show, and the Tuesday night '70s-'80s pop show hosted by my friend Birdman called 8-Track Tuesday, were both beginning to be talked about.

And I'm afraid that was the beginning of the end. I can only speculate here, however I'm not alone in my theories. Much as I love 'TBF -- and much more than I did my day job over there -- WT-ummm, something or other -- there was, and is, a strong franchise called "The Morning Show", hosted by one of the station's owners. And I suspect that was the only "success" certain parties wanted. That night I left a note for the program director listing all the requests, which came from as far away as Campbellton, Fla. and Evergreen, Ala. (!!!).

I remember being asked not to "grovel" so much for requests. They kept coming in ... and pressure began to be felt. We were too "outlandish" with some program elements. I felt the harsh cold wind of micromanaging behind me. I had the program director on my side .... for whatever that was worth (and, in this case, it was becoming worth less and less).

And in January 2000, the format of the FM (oldies) was changed to "soft, relaxing favorites" -- basically your soft "oatmeal" AC. While my classic rock show, and Birdman's "8-track" show were reasonably compatible with the oldies format, the new "mellow" sound of 94.7 was not.

Birdman walked away, but I preempted the change by voluntarily removing my show from the FM, and kept it on AM. TOTR stayed, but I lost the audience. In 2000, nobody in Troy listened to 970 after dark, unless a ball game was on (and only then, provided folks could friggin' hear the station!). Much of the time, the only people listening were the program director and Birdman. It was like my old newspaper column over there -- few read it, except for Doc and Bird. So I pretty much wrote it for them.

Here is the playlist for the night of November 18, 1999. Thursday on the Rocks at its peak.........

6:05 - 7:00 PM::
I'm a Man Spencer Davis Group
American Girl Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
With Your Love Jefferson Starship
Hold On Kansas
Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime The Korgis
Love Is the Drug Roxy Music
Highway Song Blackfoot
Take It on the Run R-E-O Speedwagon
Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot R-E-O Speedwagon
On the Dark Side John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
Invisible Sun The Police
Burning Down the House Talking Heads
I'm a Man The Yardbirds
7:05 - 8:00 PM:
Any Way You Want It Journey
Only the Young Journey
Send Her My Love Journey
Light My Fire The Doors
Little By Little Robert Plant
Darling Be Home Soon Joe Cocker
(I'm a)Road Runner / Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) Peter Frampton
The Grand Illusion Styx
Everything Works If You Let It Cheap Trick
Shakin' Eddie Money
Parker's Band Steely Dan
8:05 - 9:00 PM:
Rock & Roll Never Forgets Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Hollywood Nights Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Coming Home Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
My Head's In Mississippi Z Z Top
Sunshine of Your Love Cream
Jailbreak Thin Lizzy
Poundcake Van Halen
Cry Baby Janis Joplin
Say What! Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Going Up the Country Canned Heat
War Games Crosby, Stills & Nash
9:05 - 10:00 PM::
No More Neil Young
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) Neil Young & Crazy Horse
You and Me Neil Young
English Sunset The Moody Blues
Gypsy The Moody Blues
Don't Say You Love Me Billy Squier
Rubber Bullets 10cc
Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) The Pat Travers Band
Mr. Roberts ("Molest") National Lampoon
When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
Ballad of Easy Rider Roger McGuinn
10:05 - 11:00 PM:
Everything's Coming Our Way Santana
Singing Winds, Crying Beasts Santana
She's Not There Santana
So Fine Electric Light Orchestra
Old Old Woodstock Van Morrison
Tomorrow Never Knows The Beatles
Don't Bogart Me The Fraternity of Man
She Belongs To Me Bob Dylan
Dreams I'll Never See The Allman Brothers Band
Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix
A Salty Dog Procol Harum
Embryonic Journey [closing theme] Jefferson Airplane

I'll post more playlists if there's any interest in seeing 'em again.

In closing, I have to say that I'm blessed to have been able to do this kind of radio at a time when it could be done. I doubt I could do this show in a place like Troy, Alabama post-9/11. I took advantage of the light audience late at night, especially when it was on AM, to get a little, ohhhh, subversive.

And the memories keep on comin'

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The host with a heart of solid rock" Gleck

13 January 2008

33 down, 17 to go!

The 1977 "Out West" trip was the genesis of a lifelong goal of mine: to set foot in all 50 states.

31 years later, here's how I'm doing:

(source = http://www.world66.com/myworld66/visitedStates)

Most recent 'new states' came during our Pittsburgh junket in September of '06 (Ohio, Pennsylvania).

This list would number 35 were it not for certain parental units who refused to make a one-mile (!) detour so I could've logged Minnesota. And twice (!) we came within spitting distance of Montana, but Dad wouldn't make the diversion.

If I could go back in time, I'd whisper into my 1979 ear, "Tell Dad that a JOHN WAYNE statue is two miles away in Minnesota."

And that a Civil War battlefield site was in Montana. Yeah. THEN he'd make the side trip. Hmph.

I lack 17 states. I don't think I'm going to make Hawaii, though. Truth be told, I'd just as soon never set foot in an airplane ever again. Especially after 9/11.

So what states have you visited?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Road Scholar" Gleck

11 January 2008

More from Out West, circa 1977 (XXXI-YAT)

"And away we go, like a herd of turtles!" -Dad Gleck

"The Deviled Ham Chronicles", part two

Continuing with our trip diary from July 1977, we left our no-phone, no-pool, no-pet, but otherwise dandy ol' Kayenta, Arizona Holiday Inn room, and resumed our journey. Our next stop: Four Corners National Monument. It was neat seeing four states coming together in a single spot. The monument itself is an elevated slab of concrete, with a survey marker embedded which marks the exact spot. It's not on the main drag; one has to turn off the highway northward onto a county road. It's about a mile or so away.

And yes, there's a picture of me, on all fours, so I could have one appendage in each of the states. Hardly original, but at age 12 I felt like I was so witty.

Or something which rhymes with that word.

Back on the main slab, we crossed into Colorado, and wound our way back into Utah. We found ourselves on U.S. Highway 666 (why this number was allowed by the National Highway Administration is beyond me!). A stop at Arches National Park was pretty cool, if not the deviled ham sammich consumed therein. We picked up I-15 at Provo, and drove through Salt Lake City at rush hour. Joy.

Night #5:
Ogden, Utah. I think it was another Holiday Inn, but I'm not certain. Now that I think about it, perhaps it was a Best Western. Whichever it was, or wasn't, it had a helluva pool. I guess I shouldn't say "hell" -- we're in Utah now. Let me rephrase it:
Gosh! That was one flippin' great swimming pool. But what the fruit was up with the all the klieg lights? Oh, silly me, that's the reflection from the Osmonds' toothy smiles.

Night #6: Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Wagon Wheel Village Motel. Did I mention it too had a black & white television? Rustic, log cabin style living. Yeah, boy.

Eh, at least the telly didn't have a coin box attached to it.

One very notable event occurred this evening: it was the big NYC blackout of July 13, 1977. I remember this because it caused all the network affiliates to lose their feeds. The TV stations all had to think fast and rack up a fill program. Back in those (good ol') days, when infomercials were verboten, said "fill program" would likely be something watchable. The station we had on plugged in an episode of the game show Break the Bank. Too bad we weren't close enough to Flyspeck .... *sigh* Those people didn't lose network television, y'know.

The next day we spent touring Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks. And, at a picnic table somewhere, it was yet another can's worth of Diablus Spamibus between slices of Home Pride Butter-Top Bread. ("we add the butter, and let it bake riiiight in")

It was very, very late in the afternoon when we left the Yellowstone area. We stopped in Cody for supper on the run: Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was another 80 mile drive to our next destination ... I ate my three-piece finger-lickin' good box meal as we continued through the Wyoming darkness. Which looks little different from Wyoming daytime. To say, there's not a flippin' thing to look at. (gotta say "flippin" -- Utah isn't that far away)

Night #7: We arrived at Thermopolis, Wyoming about 9:00. Don't remember the name of the motel, but - like back in Gallup - it was old and beginning to show its age.

I was so ready to get the hell out of Wyoming ... it makes I-16 look fun and exciting. Our next state was "colorful Colorado."

Night #8: Estes Park, Colorado. Hobby Horse Motel. Had a really big area in the back, complete with a playground and pond. And geese. One of them decided he didn't like this Talmadge person, and began chasing me all over creation.

I hate geese.

Mom left her nightgown in the room. That much I remember, too.

After a wonderful drive through Rocky Mountain National Park (even thinking about it today, it feels strange to see patches of ice in the middle of July!), we meandered our way back to I-70 to go eastbound. Through Denver and toward Kansas. We turned off of 70 at Oakley to go southbound on US-83 toward Garden City. Our destination was Dodge City -- Festus, Miz Kitty and Matt D. himself, I'm sure.

We'd turned back eastward at Garden City, and were no more than 10 miles out of town when, suddenly, BANG!!-thumpthumpthumpthump.... The left rear tire shed half of its rubber along the hot asphalt of U.S. Highway 50. Nice. Dad got out and put the spare on the car.

Then we backtracked into Garden City, where - lucky for us - there was a Sears store, with auto service building out front. And it was still open.

After a new tar was procured for our Grand Safari Truckster, we resumed our trek toward the wilds of Dodge City.

Once we got the hell into Dodge, we ran smack into a major problem. There was a convention of some sort going on, and most of the motels were booked solid. Was this Karma from Dad's leadfooted passing of that poor family back outside of Kayenta?

Night #9...#9...#9...: One motel had a room available, and it was called The Bel-Air. A simple Google shows it still in business. I remember it being small, and brother is it small -- nine (9) rooms.

It still puzzles me how Dad badmouths Motel 6 after experiencing The Bel-Air Motel. It wouldn't be as bad as Bob's Motel. Yeah, Bob's Motel. It's in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and we stayed there one night during our Trip Up North in 1979. Anyhoo, the Bel-Air was nasty. Very, very nasty. As in, the carpet was more animated than a "Tom & Jerry" cartoon. It was the first time I'd ever seen so many cockroaches in my life. Yes, it was that bad.

Y'know, I've never seen vermin in any Motel 6 where I've stayed.

After that experience, we shook the roach eggs out of our hair and embarked on a tour of Dodge City. I found it lukewarm; this was mostly Dad's thing, him being a big fan of westerns, and all. (If Marshal Dillon were real, HE would've done something about the bugs in that motel)

After a lunch of Underwood deviled ham, Wonder bread and Lay's Potato Chips, with Shasta Cola (*cringe*) to wash it all down, we were back on the road.

Night #10: Fort Smith, Arkansas. In a fit of hysteria and lapsed reason, Dad -- get this -- made a reservation. We had a room waiting for us at the Holiday Inn. Strangely enough, it was located on I-540 .... very out of character for my Dad, I have to say. He hated and hates going one mile out of the way for anything while on a trip. He has no appreciation for anything historical, offbeat or anything ... unless it has something to do with John Wayne, the Old West, or "The War Of Northern Aggression." So why he left I-40 (which skirts Fort Smith to the north) is a mystery to me. Certainly there were motels along I-40 ... I mean, it's not exactly an abandoned two-lane!

Well, we checked into the Holiday Inn. It was a second-floor room, and not a "down-and-out'er." We opened the door, and the smell just about knocked Mom clear over the walkway in a backward flip toward the parking lot below.

It was m-o-l-d-y ... and the water stains on the ceiling told the story. Swiss cheese roof. Aye-yi-yi.

Fortunately, we got another (and better) room in that motel, but that experience was a brutal wake-up call: Kemmons Wilson's great creation was beginning to show the ravages of age. Many of the first-generation Holiday Inns had clearly jumped the shark, and with increased corporate control of the chain, and less hands-on by Kemmons, quality control was going into the toilet. The late '70s marked the decline of Holiday Inn as an institution. Too many properties were allowed to deteriorate without any real accountability.

(That's why I love Drury Inn so much -- no franchising, and that family wisely knows what happens when you sell your good name for untold fortunes and explosive growth)

After we ate supper, Mom picked up one of Holiday Inn's 'comment cards.' In 1977, they used the (ironic) slogan "The best surprise is no surprise." Mom began writing, "Well, you sure surprised us!" She mailed the postcard after we got back home.

Unbelievably, we actually ate a real lunch on our last day of traveling. No deviled ham. We stopped outside of Little Rock at a Minute Man - a now-defunct hamburger chain ("When you're hungry, it only takes a Minute Man"). And............

Night #11 -- back home to the salt mine of Tupelo, People's Aryan Republic of Mississippi. Vacation time's over, back on your heads.

*********
One important lesson I learned, both from this trip, and the Canada vacation two years later, was the wisdom of making reservations. While you give up a bit of spontaneity, there's the peace of mind that comes with knowing 1) where you'll be staying that evening, and 2) that you'll have a room waiting.

4,000 Bel-Air cockroaches can't argue with that logic.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Backseat Turtle" Gleck

Irrational lampooned vacation

Two posts down, I referred to our stay at Motel 6 in El Paso, Texas. It was part of a big family trip in the Summer of 1977. In family lore, it's come to be known as "The Trip Out West." I was 12, and my brother was 8.

Said trip was quite the adventure. It was taken in a 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari station wagon, yellow, with - yes - faux wood grain side panels ... our own Wagon Queen Family Truckster! Clamshell style back gate (with power glass), AM/FM radio with the infamous GM in-windshield antenna (read: piss-poor reception), and power windows. Oh, yeah, and - standard equipment on a typical Degenerate Motors vehicle - an oil leak. ("Where's the drip?", I can hear Dad saying)

We picnic'ed at roadside parks for lunch, and every day it was the same golldurned thing: Potato chips and deviled-ham sandwiches. Every golldurned day. And since that trip, I cannot even stand the look, sight or smell of deviled ham. I revile the stuff. I'm feeling queasy just thinking about it, I tell you.

More than three decades later, I can still remember the exact route we took, where we spent each night, and - in most cases - the name of the motel.

We left Tupelo, Mississippi some time in the afternoon, and headed up US-78 toward Memphis, then I-40 into Arkansas. It was already dark as we left Little Rock, and picked up I-30 toward The Big-Ass State That's Like A Whole 'Nuther Country.

Night #1:
The Sands Motel in Dallas, Texas. Outside, I sat on the grassy knoll while my brother Zaprudy ran the Super-8 movie camera. Mom and Dad came along in their Grand Safari Truckster. Mom was wearing a pink dress with pillbox hat, and Dad ....

Never mind, that's getting a little too morbid. And does that look like Jack Ruby's ghost coming over here to pistol-whip me?

I'd better hurry up and grab my textbooks from this "depository" before they run out of the one for my Antisocial Studies class.

ANYway........

Night #2:
After a long haul across Texas (borrrrrrr-innng!), we found ourselves in El Paso, and the tiny confines of our Motel 6 room, coin-op TV and all. The next morning saw us doing a tour of Juarez, Mexico.

Night #3:
Gallup, New Mexico. I do not remember the name of the motel, but what I do recall was that it was an older property, a tad bit run down, there was a Texaco station out front, and it was on the left side of the road. The interstate ended on each side of town; Gallup had yet to be bypassed. What I didn't know at the time was that the Gleck family was staying in a gen-ewe-ine Route 66 Motel. Ever the crazed road geek, even then, I had no idea the magnitude of roadside history we were part of. In 1977, US-66 was still a real highway (it would be decommissioned in 1985).

Night #4:
Kayenta, Arizona. After a fun-filled day exploring Meteor Crater, and experiencing the Grand Canyon, we were heading toward Four Corners -- the only spot in the U.S. where four states meet. It was getting dark, and we were on a two-lane desert road, the kind where you can see the town damn near 20 miles away before you actually reach it.

There weren't many lodging options in the northeast corner of Arizona, and we had no reservations of any kind. Dad was rocketing along the highway, and passed another car that was slow-pokin' along at a leisurely 80 MPH. This becomes important in a minute.

As we got toward Kayenta, we noticed that there wasn't much to this settlement. It was a small junction in the road, with a collection of houses, stores ... and a certain motel. We could see the Holiday Inn "Great Sign" miles away -- THIS, FRIENDS, IS WHY HOLIDAY INN WAS STOOOOPID TO GET RID OF THAT THING!! It was a beacon. Dad began rejoicing! That pulsating Great Sign was functioning as it should: a siren call of the roadside.

Dad pulled in and got out to see if any rooms were available. There was one. And only one. "But the phone doesn't work", the clerk told him. Dad replied just as I would have had such a scenario presented itself to me: "I DON'T CARE!"

As Dad walked out with the key ("she said give it to me, and I'll unlock the door" -er, um, anyway), the car we'd passed earlier pulled into the breezeway right beside us.

Sorry, no room at the inn.

Kayenta was a weird one -- it looked like a tiny place, no bigger than 1,000 people ... but by golly they had their own Holiday Inn!

Had there been no vacancy, we'd have been on the road for at least another two hours -- Durango, Colorado was the next evidence of civilization. And we would've missed the opportunity to see the Four Corners monument the next morning.

The room was good, the TV worked (if memory serves, it could pick up just one channel), the Holiday Inn restaurant didn't disappoint, and then we all slept nicely.

* to be continued *

Flavor #6

"From a Buick 6" -Bob Dylan
"From a Motel 6" -Tom Bodett

A couple of thoughts, as they pertain to Motel 6.

1) Motel 6 really came into its own after Tom Bodett was tapped as its spokesman.

2) His commercials, which ran in the late '80s and into the '90s, were things of beauty. Another "lost composure" moment on the radio involved one such advert.

It was the last commercial coming out of a network newscast. The chain had just begun offering a reservation number (curiously, not toll-free), and Bodett was doing a parody of the singing number jingle popularized by Sheraton and Best Western. Bodett began 'singing' the phone number in his classic monotone, and terribly off-key. His close? Instead of the usual "...we'll leave the light on for you", he said "I'm Tom Bodett for Motel 6, and ...... boy, am I embarrassed." I was already having fits of laughter, but that curve-ball at the end sent me over the edge. Thank all that's holy I didn't have anything live to read, that it was straight out of the newscast, into a legal ID (carted jingle) and then the first record. Phew!

3) The 'man' shown in the car from the artwork in that 1977 Motel 6 Directory looks an awful lot like a plumped-out, blond George W. Bush.

I'm Talmadge Gleck for Flavors 5, and .... boy, am I sick.

Ciao for niao.

Mr. Bodett didn't kill the lady ... it was his mother.

Motel 6. Budget lodging chain. Perennial punchline. So named because, upon its founding in the early '60s, all rooms went for $6.00 a night. Logical enough, yes?

The first time I'd ever stayed in a Motel 6 was during our family trip out west in July of 1977. It was in El Paso, Texas, and by then inflation had caught up with the 6'ers: rooms now went for $8.95 a night ($10.95 double). No credit cards or checks of any kind were honored, either. Cash only.

The above scans are from the 1977 Motel 6 directory, a copy of which I procured while here.

The two things I remember the most about the room were the TV and the "Magic Fingers" box on the middle table, next to the phone.

By the '70s, nearly all motels offered color TVs without extra charge. Never mind that the color on those sets boggled the mind -- we're talking purples where reds should be, oranges where you'd expect a nice yellow shade. I remember seeing a magazine advert for Motel 6 in the late '70s, lampooning the off-kilter nature of the lowly, abused motel color TV. Motel 6 had a novel solution to this problem, too: they didn't have color sets. As late as 1980, Motel 6 had BLACK & WHITE televisions in all of their rooms.

But wait, there's more. Mounted to the side of these B/W Admirals was a coin box. And that's why Motel 6 could get away with charging such a low nightly rate. You had to pay to watch the TV (I seem to recall it being 25 cents per half-hour), and unless you wanted to miss the first minutes of The Bob Newhart Show, you had to feed 'er another quarter before the end of Mary Tyler Moore. Dad was not a happy camper.

Dad parted with a 25-cent piece, and the TV sprang to life. It was tuned to a station from across the border, and suddenly another language filled our teeny-tiny Bodett Boudoir. I looked up, and saw a commercial for Kent Cigarettes. Obviously, one could still advertise coffin-nails on TV stations in meh-he-coh.

I had a quarter on my person, but I was more fixated on the Magic Fingers machine. I wanted to make that bed shake, rattle and roll like two people screwing each other silly as if they were hyperactive weasels in a Cuisinart. But I wanted my brother off the bed before I did that. I might be from Alabama, but I ain't that perverted.

I dropped a quarter into the box, anxiously awaiting a fate that would soon befall Clark & Ellen Griswold. The quarter dropped. I heard a hollow *clunk!*, as if it were a piggy bank. That thing had no freakin' innards! So I had to eat my Arby's roast beef sandwich (yes, I remember what we had that night) on a static mattress with more lumps than Wile E. Coyote after an ACME product backfired.

Here's a picture from the next morning, as we were about to make a side trip into Juarez, Mexico (bought a wooden chess set down there, which I still have ... in a box somewhere ...). I'm the one on the right.

Amazingly enough, Motel 6 locations had swimming pools. Although I'm surprised they didn't have coin boxes, either. I think you had to pay 25 cents if you wanted to pee in the pool -- very astute bidness folk these Motel 6 innkeepers, they wanted to cash in on the "pay toilet" craze. How dare you circumvent the regular bathroom rate??

Yes, Motel 6. After that experience, Dad refused to go near another one. 31 years later, you can't drag him within two statute miles of a Motel 6 property! It took me awhile myself, but I eventually gave it another chance. In 1990. By then, the TV was color, and there was actually more than one set of towels in the bathroom. Motel 6, indeed, is spartan -- which is the whole point, anyway. When I'm traveling alone, I'm an incredible cheapskate about lodging. I ask of nothing from a motel except a clean bed, a clean shower and a clean set of towels.

I must say that I haven't had a bad experience at a Motel 6 in my adult life. And it should be noted that most of 'em are company-owned. Meaning, no corner-cutting by a staff seemingly more interested in brewin' another container of curry than making sure their paying guests are comfortable and happy.

*********
So, what got me thinking about Motel 6? It was an old e-mail which I found this evening. It's called "Top 10 failed slogans for MOTEL 6" .... (my favorite is #5). Here we go:

10) Because you deserve better than the backseat of a car

9) As seen on "COPS"

8) If we'd known you were staying all night, we'd have changed the sheets.

7) We left off the "9" but you know it's there.

6) Sure you could stay at a nicer place, but then you wouldn't have money for the hooker.

5) We'll leave the Lysol for ya.

4) Not just for nooners any more.

3) It's hookerific!!

2) Blurring the line between stains and avant-garde sheet art since 1962

And the number one failed slogan for Motel 6?

1) We put the "HO" in hotel.


Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Light done burned out" Gleck

06 January 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas...

...my True Love gave to me: One golden ring!

Today is Talmadge & Seraphim's 7th anniversary. Last night, over dinner at Logan's, the missus asked me if I was beginning the "seven-year itch"? While scratching all over my arms and sides like a deranged monkey, I calmly answered "No."

How can I express the love I continue to have for this woman? Two years ago, I posted in this very space:

"It's hard to describe it. What we have is an unusually perfect bonding of two souls. Two people who sometimes frustrate and annoy the other, but always love, treasure and cherish what we have.

It's a quirky love. It's a content love. It's a comfortable love. It's a love that still puts a big smile on my face in the morning when I wake up and see her face."

Two years after having written the above words, I only feel them more strongly.

Seven years of marriage is an accomplishment in itself -- but, as I told her yesterday evening, "This anniversary will be trumped by the REAL milestone occurring in March: 10 years since our first date." March 7, 2008 is going to be a red-letter day in the Gleck household.

Happy Anniversary, Seraphim. Thank you for the life we have together.

I love you.
XXXXXXXXX

--Talmadge "Lovestruck" Gleck

[PS to readers: if you're feeling a bit queasy by now, just think how sick we make each other....]

03 January 2008

Postcards from the mind: Flyspeck

Something I've been picking at for the last 27 years has been a parody of TV Guide. It began during the 10th grade (aye yi yi, when I was my son's age!!), and it was called TV Lied.

For the purposes of this dubiously satirical document, I created a virtual television market ... and gave it the name Flyspeck. It's in a hidden corner of Wyoming, tucked away in one of those bare rock mountain-like protrusions. Wyomingites (or whatever the hell all two dozen of her residents call themselves!) like to make fun of it, and disavow its existence. Flyspeck, truly, is the P.D.Q. Bach of cities.

But to know Flyspeck is to love it. Flyspeck people are fine folk. We're talking real fault-of-the-earth humanity. They proudly call themselves "Costume Jewel of Wyoming." Water from its Sewagee River goes into making Squirtz®, The Queen of Grapefruit Beers. ("From the land of doo-doo waters"). The Joseph H. Coorheiseribbon Brewing Company is Flyspeck's second largest employer, after Amalgamated Asbestos.

And Flyspeck boasts a full menu of television channels, aligned with a proprietary array of networks: NBZ, ABZ, ZBS, Pox and ZW (formed by the recent merger of The WasteBasket and Urban Punks Network). Add to that a few cable channels, programming to everything from sorority chicks to gangstas, and Flyspeck is TV heaven. Why, just last week an "As Seen On TV" Outlet store opened on its outskirts. People from Antioch all the way out to Cankersore Gulch (pop. -3) flock to this old building which, in finer days, once housed Wyoming's only Coward Johnson's, pink roof and all.

TV Lied began as several typewritten sheets, where I'd take a given day's TV listings and come up with take-off names and such.

From there it grew into an occasional "bound publication" ... The first came in 1985 (while drowning my post-breakup sorrows in ASU's computer lab at 2 AM on their Apple-II machines), then I did another in 1991, one more in 1995, and then the most recent 'issue', 2003. As the years progressed, so did the 'technology' used to create it. The '91 edition, for instance, was all dot-matrix printer. Man, talk about a long time ago.

Of course today, with the demise of TV Guide as we've known it (the local listings have long disappeared, and, with it, the fun of browsing all the different "editions" while traveling), much of the fun has gone out of this project.

The '03 edition was the most 'advanced.' I distributed copies to several of my good friends. Thanks to the internet, Google, and PhotoShop, I put together some fake advertisements for the "publication."

I never had any serious aspirations with TV Lied, it was just a way of having fun and blowing off some steam.

Here are a couple of the advertisements ... enjoy?

This was Emeril before Food Network discovered him; back in those days, he was whippin' up Swanson and Banquet TV dinners for his audience at the First Tabernacle Revolving Pulpit Studio where the BLT Gluttony Channel used to originate. His catch-phrase "BAM!" came about by accident; he was trying to cook up some ramen noodles one night, and a cockroach came scurrying across the kitchen island. He picked up his rusted spatula, and .... the rest is history.

And that's the latest news from Flyspeck. Where the men are crossdressers ... the women are their cousins ... and all of the children have a D average.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Flyspeckites Call Him 'God'" Gleck

02 January 2008

Long as we're on the topic of gambling.....

So I went down to the Gate station a little while ago to get a paper and a 44-oz "Fountain" Dew. And, as I'll do from time to time, I bought a scratch-off. Or, as my brother's ex-wife used to call 'em, "scratch-n-sniffs."

It was one of those "win up to five times" games, and I won five times, all right. This is damn near insulting:

I mean, why not just have one moneybag with a "$5" space underneath?

Or should I just shut up, take the $4.00 windfall and run?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Running" Gleck

Funeral for a few brain cells

Lord help me. Please.

I got home, and found today's mail on the chair in the Music Room™. Among today's booty, aside from the usual "YOU'RE PRE-APPROVED FOR A MASTERCARD WITH (up to) A $10,000 CREDIT LIMIT, AND A LOW (introductory) INTEREST RATE OF 2.9% (15.9% after 12 months). ...and the usual, daily, Lane Bryant "Woman Within" catalog, and water bill, there was a mailing from your favorite sweepstakes hustlers and mine, PUBLISHERS' CLEARING HOUSE.

Normally those things go straight to the bin labeled "TO SHRED." But occasionally I'll open it up just to see how much the fool these hucksters take us for.

"We've alerted the local media that a winner might be right here in Rincon, Georgia!" And they even list the network affiliate call letters, too .... if I'm picked as the winner, the fabled Prize Patrol van will pull up in front of our dilapidated lean-to, along with remote broadcast vans for WTOC (CBS), WSAV (NBC) and, gawd help us, WJCL (ABC).

I can see it now. The PCH folks get out, with their champagne, balloons and oversized check, while the news crews for 'TOC, 'SAV and 'JCL fight over who gets to interview us first. Right on our front lawn they'll start a brawl, a la Ron Bergundy ...

What's more, Publisher's Clearing Throat even listed a motel as having been placed "on alert" that rooms might be needed for the road-trippin' Prize Patrol crew. Seeing as how our lodging options out here are somewhat limited, they picked Days Inn. Well, it was either that, or MicroTel. Then again, I don't think that one is open yet.

It's astonishing just how dumb the American people, in general, really are. I mean, PCH wouldn't word these sweepstakes flyers they way they do if it didn't produce a return.

Funny thing, this time there weren't any magazine subscriptions in there. Instead, it was chock full of AS SEEN ON TV's bottom-of-the-barrel. Billy Mays' mug appeared at least twice in there. There went the appetite for the rest of the week.

In any case, I was "in a mood" (as my wife likes to say). I went further than look 'n' snark. I sought out the little lick-n-stick things -- the glue tastes absolutely horrid, I gotta tell ya -- then stuck 'em on my "Official Entry Form."

They even say that somebody with the initials "TG" is guaranteed to win a prize.

Wow.

And after doing all this sticking, and feeling like a case of arrested-childhood (oooooh, stickers! *squeal!*), I .... I .....

Yes. I did.

I put the whole enchildada in an envelope, and I'm .... I'm .....

Yes. I am.

I'm gonna mail the sucker.

Even though the "Sweepstakes Facts" disclaimer spells it all out, plain as day:

Odds of winning the "Super Prize" of $5,000 a week for life? 1 in 505,000,000.

Compare that with the "Mega-Millions" jackpot (Georgia Lottery, and other states): 1 in 175,711,536.

Or, the slightly-better-chance-of-winning Powerball jackpot (South Carolina, et al): 1 in 147,107,962.

Basically: you have roughly a three-times better chance of winning one of the two multistate lotto jackpots (match all five balls plus the yellow ball).

As for the smaller PCH prizes, the lowest prize - $100 - carries a winning odd of 1:37,000.

Well, I'm entering. But no, I'm not buying a thing. I might be foolish, but I ain't stoopid.

And we'll see if we get to have our front lawn fertilized with body parts from our local TV stations' reporters. Especially that really obnoxious woman from WTOC.

Since when was dreaming a bad thing?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "That's what I used to think" Gleck