31 July 2008

The first time ever I saw your blog......

More "Sitemeter" follies.

Earlier this evening, someone did a search for "roberta gleck."

There's no one in the Gleck family tree with that name ... teacher-turned-R&B-balladeer, or not.

Now for my next trick, here's my song. Now die softly, please.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Tonight I Desecrate My Love For You" Gleck

Ode to a true Diplomat

One look at the above just brings forth uncontrollable gushes of nostalgic sighs. For those unfamiliar with the workings and equipment of your average radio station, this is what is known as a broadcast console. Or, as most of us call 'em, a "board." (as in "mixing board"). It's the heart of any control room, and facilitates the mixing of audio.

The big knobs corresponded with one or more audio sources, allowing one to control the volume of each. We call them "pots", short for potentiometer - the technical name for what most folks recognize as a "volume control." The switch above each pot control where the audio is directed ... middle position = off. right = program (i.e. on-air). left = "audition", allowing one to preview something without it going over the radio.

Pictured above (courtesy of www.oldradio.com) is the Gates/Harris "Diplomat." In the late '60s into the early '70s it was the company's top-end model. And for decades, a specimen was in use at KASU/Jonesboro, where I cut my Public Radio teeth. Millions of hours' worth of crackly and scratchy Mantovani and Jerry Vale records, along with thousands of students' voices, passed through the wiring of that particular Diplomat. The Mantovani alone should prove how hardy and resilient those boards were. "Listen while the music forms a soothing pattern of pleasure ... on KASU's DINNER BY SUNSET..."

It got me thinking of the boards I used over the years I've worked in this crazy business that makes prostitution look downright respectable. I worked with some antiques back in Pine Bluff ... In 1988, KCLA had in regular on-air use its original 1946 Gates board! And KOTN was using another Gates model, the Dualux. Both were incredibly well-built and solid as a rock. (It was really cool seeing a couple of old pictures of KOTN, one as early as 1968, with that very board in clear view -- the same one I would use 21 years later).

Most boards today aren't worth the plastic in one of the slide pots. They don't last too long, compared with the old workhorses of yesterday. WTBF bought a new console (I forget the name and model) when they moved into their current digs on Court Square in May 1997, retiring a battered Harris Medalist. Brand new in 1997, and when I was doing Thursday on the Rocks, that thing was already beginning to fall apart.

I recall one night early in 2000, when the turntable kept cutting in and out. I opened the lid and tried tightening the connection, and - so help me - the circuit board governing that pot literally crumbled. Whoops! I had to do some quick vigilante engineering ... I moved that connector to the extra bus on one of the adjacent pots and continued with the show (although the only pot I could use was one of the CD players ... making for some clumsy transitions).

By the time I left there in July 2000, that board - barely three years old (!!!) - was already down at least two of its pots. Meanwhile, the old circa 1968 Gatesway 80 console - now in the auxiliary studio - was still plugging along.

Here at our station, we have a hand-me-down Studer OnAir 2000, with a three sided look which resembles something one might've found aboard the Enterprise. It replaced an Arrakis that to call it a "piece of feces" is to pay it a high compliment. The Studer has been less temperamental, but the touch screen displays are already starting to go out. It's due to be replaced any day now by a pair of digital boards. And I'm sure those will be doing well to last five years!

Sure, I love slide-type fader controls over the old-school rotarys ... many of us do ... but if faced with the choice of ditching a modern-day Arrakis or BEI in favor of a 40-year-old Gates "Quincy Tin Works" Yard console - weighing more than a refrigerator .... well, you know which one I'd choose.

But I still love that Diplomat. What I wouldn't give to find one for our station.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Board certified" Gleck

30 July 2008

Then again.....

Ref. Mystical Adventures by Jean-Luc Ponty:


This is NOT a Roger Dean album cover. The credit goes to one Daved Levitan., who comes awfully close to the Dean style. Very, very close. Too close.

Damned impostor.

Right now, I'm listening to a very good rendition of "As", written by Stevie Wonder (appeared on his 1976 LP Songs in the Key of Life).

I really like this album.


Reversing roles

Just a funny drive-by post/observation:

Right now I'm bumping to CD a copy of an album (cassette) I picked up this afternoon at a local thrift store: Mystical Adventures (1982) by jazz keyboardist-violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. That name I've long been familiar with, but not a whole lot of his music. The Roger Dean album cover got my attention (he was best known for vintage Yes album cover art), so for the sum of 75 cents, I bit. My thinking here was, "Anything with Roger Dean artwork on the front can't be terrible in the grooves" -- or, in this case, on the tape.

I like what's on here ... it has a good latter-day "fusion" sound to it.

It just occurred to me that I'm making a CD/R from a cassette master. 10+ years ago, I was doing the exact opposite: dubbing from a CD to a blank cassette (usually a Maxell XL-II, my brand of choice during days of whine and analog).

That's all. Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "You can't type the word 'Analog' without typing 'Anal'" Gleck

28 July 2008

No gripes.

Another weigh-in, another removal: -0.8 pounds. Honestly, I was happy to see that minus sign. I'll explain shortly. The good news is, I crested 25 pounds and now have a cume drop of -25.4 as I begin week #13 on the program.

This was one I didn't feel too good about beforehand. We had several meals out (Sera's birthday was last week) and I was faced with having to do a lot of guessing because, unlike fast food, a lot of "casual dining" restaurants DO NOT HAVE THEIR NUTRITIONAL FACTS AVAILABLE, either in restaurant or online. This makes it more than a little difficult to track the points, so I can stay within the parameters of The Format. Go figure - most all the fast food places have their entire dietary boilerplates available, but not most of the dishes at your your more upscale or midscale sit-down outfits.

Friday night, we ate at Bennigan's, where I had the Guinness fish & fries. What I did was tally each piece of fish as if it were Captain D's. They looked similiar (read: greasy with lots of breading), so I figure I was in par. They didn't have baked potatoes at Bennigan's, so I had to go with the fries. Ruby Tuesday's fries are 7 points, so I ass/u/me'd that french fries are french fries are french fries.

Then Saturday we had our big blowout. Logan's Roadhouse, baby. First time here since pre-WW. Seraphim's choice. The only data available on Logan's? The *sighhhhhh!* yeast rolls. Their wonderfully awesomely heavenly to-murder-for yeast rolls. Those puffy 'n' buttery puppies clock in at 6 points each. I had two.

Steak is steak is steak, is it not? Roughly a point per ounce on lean beef, right? 11-ounce Logan plate ... 11 points. Had both a baked potato and (had to have 'em) fries. Again, I totaled based on an average baked 'tater (plain, with butter; no bells & whistles), and "causal dining fries." As is now the case in restaurants, I had unsweet tea to drink with "Splenda."

"Okay, Tal, Logan's has those big-ass buckets of salted-in-shell peanuts on each table. Exactly how many of those goobers did you inhale??!!" Good question. I guesstimated five (5) points for the peanuts. Honestly, I didn't have that many; maybe a cup and a half at most. I think I was good with the peanuts.

Good thing: I had not a single sugared soda over this last week. Not a single "BAMD" from the Gate station.
Not so good thing: I think, again, I might've had more Diet Mountain Dew than water earlier on in the week. I tried making up for the water intake over the weekend, for whatever that might've been worth.

Saturday I used all but 10 of my weekly points. As per normal, I save the 35 weekly column for the weekend. Sunday I was within format, but the scale was not looking too good.

This morning, I got up and it appeared as if my "naked-before-the-shower" weight was 5 pounds over what it was Thursday. When I got dressed, I stepped on that scale again before leaving, and it showed a weight - a morning, nothing-eaten-yet, weight - of 271.3, more than my anemic loss last week! WTF??!!

It takes 3,500 calories to make a pound of fat. That's roughly 70 points in WW-ese. I'm sure I wasn't accurate with my guesstimated points over the weekend, but there ain't no @#$%ing way I ate that many underestimated points. Take the Logan's peanuts, for instance. I doubt very soberly that I ate enough peanuts over and above my logged 5-point tally to cause a net gain over the week. Uh uh, no sir.

Water gain? Bloat? Yeah, sure. I might be in Weight Watchers, but that doesn't mean I've turned in my Y chromosome and phallic third limb.

It's like this: I have yet to log a gain, and I don't want to do so unless I can produce a damn good reason for it, i.e. going off the board and not counting points. For me, it's about an explaining factor. If I'm following The Format, I want to see some golldurned ratings.

Monday, as usual, was a regular "arch-conservative" eating day, prior to weigh-in. Sera and I did a few laps around the walking track at Armstrong after work before heading for the WW meeting. Dunno what effect that might've had, but The Official Scale said I dropped 8/10ths of a pound.

Okay, I can live with that. At least I crossed the 25 threshold. Only 4.1 pounds left to go before I hit 10%. My original goal was August 18, but after that back-to-back 2.8 drop a month ago, I moved it back to August 11. Well, now it's returning to the 18th. Three weeks.

This week I'm going to be hyper-religious about the water, and will not eat a single bite of food for which I do not know the points. There'll be no guessing this week. I want another 2.0 week, or at least a 1.5 -- that ain't asking too much, is it?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "269.8" Gleck

27 July 2008

Rest your eyes ... exercise your imagination ...

Talk about a tangent! I originally intended to write something about a 1970's OTR (Old Time Radio) revival show, but it started out with how I first discovered these old radio shows. From there I found myself derailed onto a lot of personal memories of OTR. And this called for a post of its own.

The song title "Video Killed the Radio Star" pretty much sums up the cause of death for OTR. Throughout the 1950s, radio comedy and drama began a slow death as more cities got TV stations of their own and more families bought TVs. By 1955, many suggested out loud that radio was dead and should be put out of its misery.

Fortunately, something called "rock & roll" came into being, and radio stations realized they could print money by playing this new music, with upbeat DJs and on-the-spot news coverage (NEWS is, and always will be, radio's ace-in-the-hole ... you can't get more immediate than radio!).

Radio adapted nicely. All this coincided with the development of the transistor, enabling radios to be smaller and portable. In 1955, NBC experimented by creating a weekend show called Monitor, capitalizing on radio's new trends. It was a runaway hit, and continued until 1975.

So when did "radio's golden age" come to an end? Jack Benny's TV show was already up and running by the time the parallel radio program ceased production in 1955. By 1958, most of the "radio sitcoms" were gone. NBC was already into the next chapter, having developed Monitor and pioneering the "news on the hour" that's commonplace today. ABC and Mutual dumped their OTR load and looked to the future. Only CBS kept a candle burning, at least for now.

1960: Ma Perkins had the dubious honor of being the radio's last "soap opera" -- CBS canceled their remaining stable of daytime dramas on the same day.

All that was left of OTR were a handful of personalities (Arthur Godfrey is a good example) ... and a single two-hour Sunday night block of radio shows on CBS: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; Gunsmoke (the radio show predated TV); Have Gun, Will Travel (oddly, the TV show came first!); and the perennial classic Suspense.

Radio primetime ended September 30, 1962, when CBS canceled all four remaining dramas. Suspense was the last in the group. When Christopher Carey and Neil Fitzgerald finished their performance of "Devilstone" and announcer George Metz gave the credits and the network ID ("This is the CBS Radio Network"), classic long-form network radio came to an end and radio's golden age was officially over.

There was no room for radio drama anymore. Why expend brain cells when TV puts it all out there and lets you sit in your brown naugahyde La-Z-Boy, all slack-jawed and taking in - without question - what's thrown at you?

If such a thing as Weight Watchers "brain activity points" existed, listening to OTR versus watching primetime TV today would be like comparing a marathon race to sitting on your ass all day without a job and downloading illegal pirated movies (Heh, sorry. Gratuitous poke at my BIL).

("Brain activity points"? Holy crap on a microphone boom, with my love of OTR I'd already be back to 190 pounds!)

Radio drama was dead.

So why the h-e-double radio towers wouldn't people freakin' BURY IT already??!!

Blame Rod Serling.

Requiem for Rebirth of a Heavyweight

Those of us who haven't lived under a rock for 50 years knows the name Rod Serling. After Twilight Zone put him on the map, he was tapped to be part of a TV show called Night Gallery. That wasn't a good experience for him (long story - hit Google and have at it), and by 1973 his passion for storytelling -- and, no doubt, a disgust with television! -- led him to an idea of trying to revive radio drama. The Mutual Broadcasting System was a receptive audience, and The Zero Hour made its debut in October 1973. Serling hosted the show, and even wrote some of the scripts.

Alas, it wasn't successful. The problem was, the series originally told stories in five-part, weeklong installments. Miss a show, and you're pretty much screwed. TZH was retooled early in '74 to a more logical single story per night. Too late. The program was gone by Summer.

Mr. Serling and his program might not have been directly responsible for rekindling OTR's flame. Indirectly, though, he did just that. The Zero Hour sparked a renaissance of radio drama elsewhere. It flushed OTR-era producer Himan Brown out of the woodwork and out of retirement. Brown's credentials were solid; he created Inner Sanctum, and its iconic "creaking door", during the height of radio's golden age.

And Himan Brown went to work for CBS, giving birth to CBS Radio Mystery Theater in January 1974 (yes, with a creaking door). With its 50-minute format and superior distribution system to Mutual, CBSRMT had a successful run of it, staying in production until 1982.

Mutual even gave it another stab in 1979-80 with Mutual Radio Theater.

Stan Freberg - one of the best satirists ever - hosted a long-running syndicated program called When Radio Was, featuring rebroadcasts of classic OTR.

Late in the '90s, yet another dramatic series called Imagination Theater was produced and syndicated to radio stations. And in the early 2000s, radio adaptations of classic Twilight Zone scripts were made, and a radio show by that name went into syndication. It can be heard today each night on Sirius 118 "Radio Classics", with a 24/7 schedule of classic OTR programming.

I don't know if my son will ever find it appealing. I've let him listen to a couple of the old dramas, but as of now he doesn't share my enthusiasm. That's fine. No hard feelings. OTR will still be around, and possibly HIS children will discover it. Then Tiger will sit off to the side, eyes rolled to the back of his head, as "Grandpa Tal" shares his OTR bounty with its newest fan.

Back to The Zero Hour for a minute. I only recently discovered this program. For years I thought Himan Brown's CBSRMT revived the genre. Of course, once I read of TZH's existence, I went straight to archive.org .... and most all of the series' short run can be found here.

It was only the unwieldy 'serial' format and lackluster enthusiasm on the part of Mutual's sales department that killed it. TZH was - IS - an excellent production. I've listened to just a handful at this point and it has the magic of classic OTR, just like CBSRMT.

There was, however, one small problem with a couple of episodes. On the May 30, 1974 installment of TZH, entitled "Skylab, Are You There?", starring William Shatner, there's a bit role played by one Casey Kasem. Now in 1974, Kasem wasn't well-known to adults, except for some bit voiceover parts on some commercials. It was the kids who mostly knew the voice ... from American Top 40, or as the iconic cartoon voices of - zoiks!!! - Shaggy from "Scooby-Doo" or for the animated Robin from Super Friends. And the kids typically didn't listen to the radio dramas.

Well, I was a kid in 1974. And the other night, listening to the episode with Casey Kasem in the cast was pretty much a wet blanket on the whole "theater of the mind" idea.

ROBIN: "Holy creaking door, Batman, here's Jack Benny's violin!"
BATMAN: "For the love of God, Robin, don't give it back to him!"

Another character actor, Alan Reed, played a small role in an installment of "But I Wouldn't Want to Die There" from January 3, 1974. If you want to listen for yourself, go here:


Once you download it, fast forward to right at 17:00 into the program. Alan Reed's voice you'll quickly remember; he was Fred Flintstone! Suddenly my OTR mellow was harshed because my mind transformed that person's character into Fred. I half expected Wilma, Betty, or even Mr. Slate to enter the room.

"Barney will get my Fruity Pebbles out of my cold, dead hands."

Ahhhh, small collateral damage in an otherwise flawless OTR experience. In the end, it was fun.

Moral: no matter how dumbed down and simple life gets, you can never destroy theater of the mind.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The preceding blog post was transcribed" Gleck

Thank God for transcriptions!

"Return to yesterday ... and bring your imagination along!"
-intro from Beaker Theater, an "old-time radio" program on KAAY/Little Rock in the '70s.

It started one hot August afternoon in 1980 at the Cape Girardeau Public Library. As I was leaving, I noticed a stack of cassettes in the corner opposite the circulation desk. if memory serves, I'd say there were about two dozen tapes, if that many.

Ever so curious, I went over to look. And I saw some interesting titles on their spines: The Jack Benny Program, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Lux Radio Theater, Sam Spade and The Fred Allen Show. Old radio shows! Now I was really piqued. A few ads scattered in TV GUIDE popped into my mind. Ads selling cassettes of these classic shows from radio's golden age. And now I could check out some tapes and listen for myself!

Thanks to the technology of the age - big ol' honkin' "transcription discs" (tape wasn't invented yet) - thousands upon thousands of hours of old-time radio broadcasts, most done live, are preserved for future generations to enjoy. That's how we're able to hear them today. God bless each and all of those who thought enough of these performances to archive them.

We were limited to something like three tapes at one time, otherwise I would've made off with all of 'em. With a mindset of "cool listening in the hot Summer", one was a Christmas-themed cassette containing one episode each of Jack Benny and Ozzie & Harriet. With my selections in a small plastic bag draped over my handlebars, I steered onto north Clark Street and toward home as fast as my scrawny, award-winning legs could pedal. Once home, I hurried down to my basement bedroom and had a decision to make: which tape should I listen to first??

Jack Benny's Christmas episode from 12/05/1954 had the honors. Holy cow, this is intriguing. And a bit confusing at first. But I liked it, mainly the frazzled store clerk (played by Mel Blanc) who goes over the edge after Jack keeps bringing back an item - a gift for his announcer, Don Wilson. I would later find out the "Christmas shopping" episodes were a tradition each year.

Ever so curious about Jack Benny, I vowed on my next trip to the library to find any kind of book pertaining to radio's golden age. But not before listening to the other shows within reach in this retro-booty.

What developed less than two hours after getting home and first touching the PLAY button continues to afflict me today. This 15-year-old, on the verge of entering the 10th grade, found himself hooked on OTR -- the common abbreviation us geeks use for (O)ld (T)ime (R)adio.

Ozzie & Harriet was easier for this neophyte to follow. Ditto for You Bet Your Life (Groucho Marx) and Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

And local AM station KGIR, which recently had affiliated with CBS, began carrying CBS Radio Mystery Theater late at night. I liked it okay, but my adolescent self much preferred the comedies.

Well, I got to the library, returning the first batch of three and checking out another OTR troika. What's more, the CGPL had an encyclopedia of sorts with capsule descriptions of the golden-age radio programs. Plus, there was a book on Jack Benny. Those two books went home with Talmadge, where he proceeded to devour every printed word.

The entry on The Jack Benny Program had a well-written capsule of the show's history, including -- best of all!! -- a bullet-pointed rundown of all the major "running gags." Now it was easy to follow. Jack Benny's radio (and later TV) show was full of these inside jokes. Benny was able to get a raging crescendo of laughter with as little as a pregnant pause.

No better example exists than the time Jack, walking home one night, was accosted by a mugger:

MUGGER: "Your money or your life!!"
(long, LONG pause ..... trickles of guffaws from the audience escalate into full laughter)
JACK (very quickly): "I'M THINKING IT OVER!!!!!!
(bringing down the house)

That might be a bit confusing at first blush. "What's so damned funny?", a casual fan might've thought. Ahhhhh, but the savvy Benny fan knows that CANON #1 of the Jack Benny character was his incredible cheapness. He still drove a Maxwell automobile (its fits, lurches and sputters all beautifully voiced by Mel Blanc). He was an excellent violinist ...... in his own mind. The violin was one of the props Benny used to comedic perfection. (truthfully, Jack Benny wasn't as bad a player as he portrayed on his program)

Violinist Isaac Stern quipped, "When Jack Benny walks on the stage in his tux and carrying his instrument, he looks like one of the world's greatest violinists. It's too bad he has to play it."

There was his "feud" with Fred Allen (in reality, both he and Jack were close pals). A sample of Allen's show was in my second batch of tapes. It was the one where Jack Benny tries to get onto a game show ("King For a Day"), to get all the prizes (cheapskate, remember). Jack "wins", and Fred - as "host" - announces that one of his prizes is a free pressing of his suit. He's being stripped down to his undershorts as the audience goes into convulsions.

JACK: "Allen, you haven't seen the end of me!!"
FRED: "It won't be long now!!"

Jack Benny's cheapness was deeply ingrained into American pop culture of the day. A fact which made for a magnificent "classic TV moment" in the mid '60s, when Benny appeared as a celebrity on Password. Allen Ludden cued the next round ... and the word was: MISER.

No sooner had that word appeared on screen did the audience lose it. Even announcer Jack Clark, who "whispered" the password, lost his composure.

Benny gave his look (you know it when you see it), and then gave his first clue to the poor contestant - whom, of course, didn't know what the laughter was all about. The clue? "ME!!!"

(several years later, when the first Back to the Future was released, I think I might've been the only one in the theater to laugh during the scene when Doc Brown first met Marty McFly and was skeptical about his really being from 1985. Responding to McFly's telling him that Ronald Reagan was president, Brown said, "Yeah, sure, and who's Secretary of the Treasury? Jack Benny??")

Virtually overnight I became a devout fan of Jack Benny. I was perhaps the only 10th grader in 1980 who knew all of the running gags backwards and forwards. Yeah, boy, that really made me such a ladykiller, eh? In any case, I kept this new hobby largely hidden from view.

Meanwhile, I went through all dozen-plus of those cassettes at the CGPL in the course of a month. And I wanted more.

Enter my good friend Wiz.

Now Wiz appreciated the classic comedians, but didn't really share my raw enthusiasm for early radio. His father, however, was key in helping me discover a real motherlode of OTR. He was a professor at the local university, and he let me in on what existed in a basement room at the college library. He went on to give me his business card and told me to give it to the circulation desk and they would fix me up with a SEMO Library Card.

I did just that. And, card in hand, I ventured into the room he was talking about. And there they were. Thousands. Literally thousands of cassette tapes. Not all of them were OTR, mind you, but at least half of them WERE. Holy. Shitzu.

But wait, there's more.

Wiz's dad, who had a side business out of his home centered on motivational speakers, had in his home office .... a professional high-speed tape duplicator.

Now folks, this was 1980. "Dubbing decks" did not exist. At all. This puppy was as big as your average microwave oven today, and would copy both sides of a C-60 tape in less than five minutes.

Mr. Wiz Dad allowed me to use it to make copies of these OTR programs.

As Jack Benny himself would've said, "Well."

The good news? By the Summer of 1981, I had more than 100 cassettes of OTR in my own personal collection.

The bad news? Due to a combination of Talmadge not having something called "a job" and blank cassettes not being something called "inexpensive", I could only afford the dreaded 3-for-$1.00 "Concertape" packs from Radio Shack. In 1980-81, a good basic "type-I" cassette (the kind you commonly see in the brick-packs at Walgreen's today) went for $3, or as high as $4. Each.

And those "Concertapes" did not stand up to repeated listening. Most of them disintegrated over time. Only one survived to the present day.

My love for OTR remained over the years and I'd sometimes stumble upon a tape here and there. After Cracker Barrel became a big chain, I started buying the OTR shows in their gift section. I'd buy one after each meal there. Eventually I bought 'em all.

As I'm sure you are surprised to know, my ex-wife didn't have much of a love for this kind of thing. She told me it was hard to focus on them while driving.

And books-on-tape (which she listens to) don't? :-p

Flash forward to January 1, 1999. Having gotten over my "Christmas cold", Seraphim and I made a day trip over to Bainbridge, Ga. to visit some of her family. On the way back to Troy, we stopped at the newly-opened Cracker Barrel in Dothan -- said to have been the first in the chain not located adjacent to an interstate highway! And to my surprise, I saw "Jack Benny - Volume 3"! I'd long since had #1 and #2 in that series, but not #3.

We walked out of the restaurant and I showed my then-girlfriend what I'd bought. As usual, I was ready to start giving a basic framework of the Jack Benny character.

But Seraphim responded with an imitation of Benny summoning Rochester, his valet. "Oh RAH-chest-errrrr...." "Yeah, boss?"

Holy double shitzu. You mean this woman at my side KNEW who Jack Benny was?

Then she made a reference to the infamous hallway closet in Fibber McGee & Molly.

Any doubts as to this woman's mythical qualities, at that moment, were permanently erased. I'd found my future wife.

Like I said, OTR was always there in my mind's backburner. Then came one night in 1999, while browsing the Wal-Mart in Eufaula, Ala. Sera and I always met in Eufaula on Wednesday nights to have our mid-week quality time. Well, on the bargain table in the electronics department was a two-episode cassette of The Shadow. At one flat buck, it most certainly went home with Talmadge.

It was 50 miles from Eufaula to Troy via two-lane roads. Exactly one hour from the Winn-Dixie parking lot (where we always met) to my driveway on Flavia Circle. Just enough time to listen to that entire tape.

And as I drove the steamy Summer asphalt of Alabama 30, then 51, 130, and finally US-29 into Troy, my passion for OTR reawakened on a grand scale. People, you cannot beat a good piece of old-time radio mystery while driving a dark highway late at night.

I started ordering some sets from Radio Spirits, and soon MP3 discs containing as many as 300-400 episodes of OTR shows were sprouting like mushrooms all over e-Bay. I bid on quite a few.

Today, finding old-time radio shows is as easy as going to this website: www.archive.org. Tons upon tons of OTR, all free for downloading. And Sirius has Channel 118 - Radio Classics - OTR 24/7.

It's a long way from a stack of tapes in a building on Clark Street in Cape. From 16-inch "electrical transcription discs" to reel-to-reel tape to cassette tape to CD/R to MP3 .... old-time radio stands ready to capture the mind, ear and heart of those willing to let it. It's called "theater of the mind" for a reason. It requires someone to actually use their brain. To let said brain conjure up the visuals. I read once, "No costume or set designer in all of Hollywood can match what the radio listeners create in their own minds."

And that's a big reason so many old-time radio shows flopped miserably when they moved to TV. Fibber McGee & Molly ran for decades on radio, but just one season on the tube. The avalanche machine that was their hall closet didn't fly ... millions of radio fans = millions of totally different conceptions of that closet door. The one viewers saw on TV couldn't measure up.

Theater of the mind. Just listen to the most popular episode in the history of the long-running mystery show Suspense, entitled "Sorry, Wrong Number." Radio drama doesn't come better.

It's one of God's great bounties. And I have a wife who enjoys it almost as much as I do.

Ciao for niao. Or, as Jack Benny used to close his radio show: "Goodnight, folks."

Talmadge Gleck speaking. This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company.


25 July 2008

Slam blog?

Okay, this is from my wife's blog who took it from Kate/Susan's blog who took it from (fellow Alabama native) Manda's blog who probably took it from some other blog elsewhere, etc., etc.

If you have any bones to pick with Talmadge Q Gleck, now's your golden chance. The deal:

1) As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn’t matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2) Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It’s actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don’t want to play on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, I’ll leave my memory of you in my comments.

So there you go. What do you remember about me? Best memory. Spare nothing. I can take it.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Uh oh...." Gleck

21 July 2008

Sitemeter, Sucking and 'The Spirit'

One thing I enjoy about having a Sitemeter account linked to this page is browsing all the visitors to my blog, and - most curious of all - how they got here. If via Google or whatever search engine, I can see what exactly you searched for. I don't know personally identifying info (thank goodness; I'm quite the privacy hawk), but ISP and general location are all fair game.

Take a visit to My Bloggage this evening, for instance. A surfer from the wilds of Dutchtown, Missouri plugged the following phrase into Google: kgmo sucks. Dutchtown is a small settlement southwest of Cape Girardeau. Mr. Dutchtown found my post about AT40 from February 1981, which included some recollections about Cape radio from that period of time, when my address was 2048 Anthony Drive in the north part of town.

It's funny that the phrase "KGMO sucks" was used, because for a goodly portion of my time in Cape, I said those very words more than a few times.

KGMO is a station with quite a storied history. It first made its name as an "adult middle-of-the-road" station at 1550 on the dial - 5,000 watts daytime only, but by 1967 they started a late-afternoon top-40 show. The jock's name was Rusty Sharpe, who had the convenience of having his Dad be one of KGMO's then-owners.

Rusty Sharpe went on to become a big rock jock later in the '70s, and emerged as your favorite talk show host and mine, Rush Limbaugh. I have a short clip from May 1969 when Rush, age 17, was playin' the hits for Cape. He sounded quite good for his age. Rush could hold his own as a top-40 jock in the day. "Light and livelyyyy ... K - G - M - Ohhhhhh!!"

March 17, 1969: KGMO-FM signs on with 28,000 watts at 100.7; after a year as an easy listening station ("The Million-Dollar Sound"), the station began a long period of simulcasting its AM sister, by then fulltime top-40 and calling itself "The Big 1550."

Around this time, KGMO-AM/FM, if one judges by surviving airchecks I have, was a very dysfunctional little combo. 901 South Kingshighway was home to some interesting radio, that's for sure. One particular run of tape has some jingles spliced out of various demo tapes, a common practice in smaller markets where there wasn't even the budget for the low-rent Pepper jingles (This is like saying you don't have enough money to shop at Goodwill!).

One acapella jingle cut from the late '60s, with trademark off-key Pepper vocals and clearly intended for an easy-listening music show, was played going into a Steppenwolf record. As I've said before, Gomez Addams couldn't have staged a better train wreck.

Until 1972, KGMO was pretty much the only game in town when it came to top-40. That's when another one-lung coffeepot fired up from nearby Jackson, Mo. It was KJAS, and the 1170 spot on the dial suddenly came alive with a well-engineered sound and a well-programmed hit music format. One early promo said it all: "KJAS: #1 ... and there's a reason why."

"Mr. Natural" looks as if his 250-watt sole is fixin' to flatten its 5,000-watt competitor.

Around the same time, KGMO was sold to the Withers family (the same folks who own it today), and initially they fought back with a new set of jingles, actually from PAMS (the Cadillac of jingles back in those days). "Solid Rock" it was called. "The rock of Cape Girardeau ... KGMO!"

KGMO dug in its heels, like GM trying to compete with a more superior Toyota product. By 1975, they bought a jingle package from TM Productions which forms part of the soundtrack of my adolescence. It included "The City Song" ... "Cape Girardeau, It's a wonderful place to be / Cape Girardeau, it's home town to me....."

And jingles like.....

"Southeast Missouri's listenin' to us / Southern Illinois' listenin' to us / Everybody's listenin' to us because we care! / 24 hours a day ... we play .... THE HITS! / K-G-M-Ohhhhhhh"

"The spirit of America ... The Spirit of Cape Girardeau ... KGMO!"

....even now can take me back to some interesting times of my junior high school days.

KGMO was still running those same cuts when we moved to Cape in June 1978. KGMO struck this 8th-grader as a little too heavy on the disco, and a bit stodgy-sounding. KGMO-AM 1550 and KGMO-FM 101 simulcast during daytime ... right down to the AM's sign-on and sign-off actually airing on the FM! And 100.7 kept going all evening and all night.

Did I mention KJAS - with a 250-watt, daytime only signal, mopped the floor with its AM/FM competition? To this 13-year-old radio geek, it was a thing of beauty to witness: two radio stations going at it for their city's rock listeners.

Then KJAS lobbed another attack on 901 South Kingshighway. On December 18, 1978, KJAQ made its bow at 99.3, and "Q-99" was off and running. It had 3,000 watts, and was in stereo. I didn't understand at first why KJAQ played up the stereo angle so much. It wasn't so much "Q-99" as it was "STEREO Q-99." I mean, the little red light on the FM dial of the stereo system I got for Christmas in 1978 would glow when tuned to KGMO. Right?

Yeah, sure, the FM had a stereo generator. But here's the dirty secret, revealed to me years later: KGMO-FM WAS A MONO STATION!! And was until 1981!

Summer 1979: memories of riding my 10-speed all over Cape, with my AM/FM transistor radio resting in a plastic can-holder, duct-taped to my bike's frame. As my pal Wiz and I hung out, we were treated to the mother of all radio battles. KGMO-AM/FM: so disco-heavy that its tower insulators wore platform shoes. KJAS was still rockin' and rollin' on AM, joined by another competitor: newly-christened KGIR-AM 960. And Q-99 was the hipster in the room, playing a succulent mix of top-40 and album rock.

Then KJAS, seeing the writing on the wall that AM top-40's days were numbered, chose to go out with a bang. The massive success of a couple of "no-disco" weekends crystallized in July 1979 with a change in format. Teaser promos ran, using the hook of Anita Ward's "Ring By Bell", being wow'ed to a stop: "You can ring my beeeeelll---*errrrrrrrrrp!*" "Something's dying on KJAS. Details July 15th."

KJAS ditched all of its disco records and shot a bird at KGMO, becoming "Your No-Disco Station." I remember it very fondly. For a time, KJAS was rocking harder than its FM sister!! It lasted maybe six months, and by 1980's Spring, KJAS settled into an "adult contemporary/oldies" format, where it did well for several more years.

The '80s saw the battle lines form between the two FMs: KGMO and Q-99. KGMO had the better signal, and the (slight) advantage of being live. Q-99 was automated. I enjoyed the live jock, but the Q had the better music mix. Where KGMO played a cue-burnt 45 of a song, Q-99 would program the entire album-length version.

Fall 1980 saw KGMO's button promotion. The KGMO Button became a status symbol among Cape's teen listeners. KGMO 'button spotters' roamed the city, giving (low-budget) prizes to those seen wearing 'em. Some students roamed the hallways of CHS, searching out buttons: "Is that a KGMO BUTTON you have on?" "Why, yes it is." "Well, YOU WIN .... NOTHING. I'm with Q-99, sucker."

I still have my KGMO button somewhere in one of a multitude of boxed-up junk. I hope.

Then came KGMO's new slogan: "We've Captured the Music!" Even today, I think it's one of the most hideously deformed positioning lines I've ever heard on a radio station. (KGMO-AM, now called KEWI and playing country, had the slogan "We've Captured the Country!")

By 1981, things changed. I was in 11th grade, and suddenly KGMO was sounding better. The audio was different, too, although I couldn't put my finger on it (see above - they finally began broadcasting in stereo!).

And one Friday night in September 1981, I was driving around, cruising Broadway by myself (ref: "girls would rather convert to lesbianism than go out with me", Paula being the sole exception). Anyway, I emerged from the Burger King drive-thru and as I turned left onto Broadway, KGMO played "Burnin' For You" by Blue Oyster Cult. Do-WHA???? I look at my radio -- yup, it's on KGMO, not Q-99. And later that same evening, I heard Rush's "Tom Sawyer" at 100.7! "Tom Sawyer" on KGMO?? Wow. Somebody's woken up and realized Q-99 was a serious threat.

KGMO in late 1981 had become a really good station to listen to. Overnight they began playing album cuts from time to time.

And then I was dragged kicking and screaming from all this good radio. We moved to Arkansas, where the radio just wasn't as much fun.

By the time I was in Jonesboro for college, and dating a girl from Sikeston (a half-hour south of Cape Girardeau), I was again exposed to the Cape radio wars, still raging. In 1985, KGMO boosted its power to a full 100,000 watts and started kicking some tail in southeast Missouri. I could hear it in parts of northeast Arkansas, and it sounded great. Daytime it was still a basic top-40 like sound, but at night KGMO was balls-out album rock. Q-99 was calling itself "Hitradio" (its album-leaning days apparently over) and, while it now had live DJs, "The Q" sounded weak. 1984-85 was a period of time when KGMO appeared to have the upper hand.

But something happened. With its full-tilt signal, KGMO started getting complacent again. The station was drifting .... I mean, they couldn't decide whether they wanted to be adult contemporary, top-40, or album rock .... so they decided to be all three at once. KGMO sat back as if to say, "Our 100,000-watt blowtorch trumps Q-99's 3,000 watt blow-dryer."

Then Q-99 got sold. In 1986, new owners poured lots of money into that little station, refocusing the music back toward the original rock-leaning top-40, and dropping the "hitradio" logo. They invested in something called CD players! Many of their songs were now played from CDs, no small feat in 1986-87. One night, I heard something surprising - a skip in the record being played on Q-99. The jock came in and aborted ... saying something like "What's wrong here? That's the last time we play records borrowed from KGMO!!" Yes, mentioning the competition on-air.

What happened in March 1988 is one of those juicy pieces of drama that radio geeks just love. KGMO fell victim to a classic tortoise and hare scenario. KGMO sat back and let its superior wattage and signal coverage carry the station while they had some really middling jocks and terrible music flow ... and Q-99 was tight, well-programmed and sounded nearly too good for the market. Q-99 had some great TM jingles. And KGMO, gawd love 'em, was still airing some badly-dated cuts from the '70s.

KGMO underestimated its Gordonville neighbor one time too many. 100.7 blinked, knee-jerking to a bland "Light adult contemporary" format. A 3,000-watt station successfully ran a 100,000-watt competitor out of its format, a format they first brought to Cape!!

As time marched onward, KGMO evolved into an oldies station and by the late '90s, to its present-day classic rock format.

I've listened to KGMO a couple of times this decade, during trips to Cape (both in 2006). They strike me as a generic classic rock station, nothing special and - sadly - with no hint of its heritage in Cape Girardeau rock & roll lore, dysfunctional as it might've been. The playlist is a little wider than your average CR station, I will give 'em that.

Well. I didn't intend to get that bogged down in Cape radio history. This ought to provide some nice eye-candy for anyone plugging KGMO or Q-99 into Google, eh?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Sitemeter is My Friend" Gleck


Strike up the band and pop the corks.

That's right, friends, at tonight's weigh-in, I have removed the sum of 6.4!


Which sounds a lot better than reality: -0.4

I didn't feel that optimistic about this one, and according to our bathroom scale, I would've had
either a miniscule drop, or else a small gain. I thought about changing into shorts for tonight's meeting, but thought the better of it.

I went in there wondering if the whole "FAMINE!!!" mechanism had tripped, causing my body to put the brakes on any weight removal. Or whether I'd jinxed everything last week by saying "Next week, 25!" And the Nettie pointed out that in 10 weeks of doing WW, I hadn't gained a thing. That could've been a bad omen.

I wanted to clear 25 and get that little magnet thingy and another five-point star. That would've required a mere 8/10s of a pound. So I got half that. Cume total gone is now -24.6

So now I'm now in a mindset of "WTF???" I stayed within points ... did a lot of activity ... ate fairly decently ... no hidden points (high-test popcorn). In retrospect, the only thing I might not have done so well in was the water. I had less water and more Diet Mountain Dew.

I just hope my body hasn't somehow become "immune" to the current habits. Because I will NOT do "salads and Tab."

What I really should do is focus not on the fractional number, but instead the NEGATIVE sign preceding it.

Easier said than done.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "270.6" Gleck

17 July 2008

More WW nuts and bolts from this nut

Here's a (modified) version of the comment I posted to Kate/Susan's weight blog. She outlined her post by items and I responded to each:

1. Accountability:

That scale each Monday night at 6:30 is quite the motivator. I don't fear it like I thought I would, although I didn't like seeing "295.2" written down when I had my first weigh-in. I just told myself "At least it wasn't 300+!"

I'm not accountable to anyone but myself and that scale. This is a challenge and I'm excited about it.

This is something I could NEVER have imagined myself doing just six months ago.

2. Not Going It Alone:

True enough. My wife is my partner in this journey, and you all are also in the car with us. We celebrate all the dwindling numbers of the mile markers we pass each week.

3. Making Smarter Food Choices:

Baby steps here. Sometimes I think I'm abiding the point system in letter, but not much in spirit. I'm making way better choices with fast food, but I haven't really made a whole lot of "healthy" inroads yet.

I still eat french fries, just twice a week - not 1-2x day.

I've found that I am very conservative during the day -- popcorn in the morning, Lean Cuisine or Tuna or baked fish for lunch, and save at least 20-25 points for supper. That way I can still 'indulge' and not feel the agony of 5:00 PM and only 10 points left.

I save the 35 extra points for the weekend, especially Saturday. That's the day I more or less "let loose." A reward for being good throughout the week ... yet still within "the format."

Originally I was going to cut sodas back to 1x/day instead of 1x/hour (or so it seemed). Indeed, it's Melissa's words -- "drinking calories" -- that burrowed into my brain and took root. I still like that 44-oz. Mountain Dew at the Gate station. I still consume. Just two a week (a limit I've since set), and not two per day - as sometimes was the case.

I've learned that Diet Mountain Dew in the bottle is very, very good. So now I have two diet drinks in my repertoire: Fresca and DMD.

4. Exercise/Activity:

I'm doing A LOT more walking. And as soon as I sink below 250 (21 pounds to go), I'd like to find a bicycle.

I miss the days in junior high and early high school when I put lots of miles on my ten-speed. Effingham County is God's Country for bicyclists -- nice and rural in most places and flat as a board. I want to partake!

And when I get toward 210-220 (MAYBE by our next WV trip), I so want to get back into some hiking. I miss that. I think about climbing Pinnacle Mountain west of Little Rock back in 1987. 180 pounds, and the climb was less tiring than it's been just climbing stairs today.

5. Seeing Tangible Results

A couple of my pairs of shorts do seem to be less 'snug', but other than that, I haven't noticed anything "tangible" ... yet ...

6. Focusing on Myself: For far too long I've been taking care of many other people in my life. Now at age 32 11/12, I've realized I need and deserve to take care of myself

Good point, although I'll never stop taking care of Seraphim. (Yeah, I'll TAKE CARE OF HER, heh heh..... ;-))

7. Unintended benefits

The other week, one of my co-workers (part-time) was doing trash duty - it was her week - and she remarked how well I seemed to be doing ..... "All I see in your trash can are water bottles and Fresca, and not overflowing with Coke and Squirt."

I took that as a compliment.

8. Rewards

My first big goal is reaching 10% (29.5#) by August 11. I might hit it by the 4th, who knows? If I can make it by then, I might treat myself to a couple of classic TV episodes from Shokus Video.

The next goal is "40 By The 'Ham" -- to drop 40 pounds by early October when I'll be going to Birmingham for a few days. I'm rewarding myself when I hit 40: $100 shopping spree at Charlemagne Record Exchange in B'ham. I haven't spent that much in a record store since, hell, early '90s????

10% - down to 264.7 by August 11.
40 BY THE 'HAM: October 6.
60 POUNDS GONE by Christmas
70 POUNDS GONE by West Virginia (early February '09)
95.3 POUNDS GONE by May 4, 2009 - one year after joining WW (less than 200 pounds).
100 POUNDS GONE by September 2009 ... 20 years since I last weighed in the 190s.

Can I do this? If the last two months are any indication, it looks bright. (Now what did I do with my Timbuk 3 souvenir sunglasses?)

Final thought: there's a great picture of us (Kate/Susan, The General, Nettiemac, Sera, myself) around the big table at the Pooler Carey Hilliard's back in March. Nettie was the lightest one at the table. Next time we're all together, we'll be able to celebrate our combined "removals" ... and we'll have another pic taken and be able to see the difference!!

'Till then, we all press onward and downward!!

--Discount Tal

Some "nuts and bolts" of my own as they pertain to WW

My comrade, The General's Better Half, recently posted a couple of very thought-provoking posts on her 'weight blog.' I offered a comment which turned out to be worthy of a separate post, so I'm building on that and proudly cough up this blog hairball for your viewing pleasure.

Both Kate/Susan and Nettiemac have separate blogs dealing with their respective WW journeys. I thought about doing one myself, but decided against it ... two blogs are all I can juggle at one time. If you want to see how I've done, simply click on the "pigeonhole" labeled The Weighting is the Hardest Part (apologies to Mr. Thomas Earl Petty) along the column to your left. There you can isolate my posts strictly to those which have to do with my shrinking self.

I feel special elaboration must be made on Nettie's "Weighty Matters." It has proved a massive inspiration for all of us. Over two years ago, she attended a Weight Watchers meeting and joined up. That was - at this writing - 192.6 pounds ago. One Hundred Ninety Freakin' Two and ounces on the side. She is closing in on 200 and my own "challenge" is to hit 10% before her weight-removal odometer rolls another first-digit.

The fact is, Nettie needs to be on every Weight Watchers TV commercial in the land. It's astonishing. Like most of us in this circle, we've perused Weighty Matters from beginning to current post. I did it soon after joining WW back in May. (Confession: while I was cheering her on, I didn't look at that blog a whole lot pre-WW ..... probably because it reminded me of what had to start -- and end -- in my own life.) It's a go-to for anyone who is entertaining the idea of shedding some volume.

As for weight-loss (or, REMOVAL; "loss" implies you'll eventually find it!), one should only do that for themselves. Parental (or grandparental, auntal, uncleal, cousinal, friendal, etc., etc.) nagging should be discarded.

Me, I stood by for nearly 20 years while my maternal grandmother did everything she could to shame me into dropping weight. Again, I was too much the fat bastard for her when I weighed - horrors! - 185 pounds. The problem? You could not get a perfect bubble in a level were it placed against my stomach. I was fit, yet that stomach was a Big Issue.

If it wasn't the little crude comments like "you don't need that", followed by patting her stomach, were I to have had a Burger King cup in my hand (I eventually learned to make sure all meals were completely gone, with no traces of fast-food paraphernalia) .... to more subtle mind games of "Oops, I meant to get the regular [name of item] ... I bought the Diet kind by mistake." Yeah, sure. I get lost easily on the interstate. I pine for my ex-wife. And wasn't that just a wild hog doing a flyby in front of our house??

Later it was more dramatic warfare. In 2002, maybe six months before she died, I was - yet again - treated to more lecturing about how I needed to lose weight. Then she made the tactical error of dragging Tiger into this: "Do it for YOUR SON."

Big mistake. Throwing all risk of family World War III into the wind, I excavated for my grandmother several new ones. And, you guessed it, the tears came. "I just care about you and am concerned for your health." I set a ground-rule that the W-word (weight) was to be stricken from the vocabulary. "I'm not going to drive 6-1/2 hours to be told I'm fat," I clearly recall telling her.

Likewise, my parents are on notice that my excess weight is off limits for discussion. That ground-rule was set years ago, back in 1997 when we teetered on the brink of full estrangement. To their credit, they've pretty much complied.

I'm sure when they notice my gradual removal of weight, one or both will bring it up. I won't mind then. Heck, if they honor the conversational embargo to the extent of not saying anything positive, that'll be fine as well (although I know my brother WILL say something this Christmas, putting it out into the open).

Ohhhh I'm sure my grandmother is up there shedding tears. I know she is. It's raining right now as I'm writing. Will I give her credit? Hell, no!

And does Seraphim get credit? No. Tiger? No. What about Nettie, The Queen of Lean? No. Well, okay, she's an inspiration. (You're thinking of that stupid Chicago song now, aren't you? Aren't you?)

Them's is MY doings. The time felt right. The "cosmic tumblers" (as Nettie called them) hit the right combination. Weight-removal is is something only YOU can do, and when only YOU are ready to do it. Not a minute sooner, or later. One more time, with feeling: never let anyone bully you into changing how you look. If you weigh 400 pounds and feel happy where you are, more power to you. If a loved one rejects you because of that weight, then they're not worth having in your life.

When I started Weight Watchers more than two months ago, I did so with limited optimism. I mean very limited. Everything I'd tried to date didn't work, mainly because there were limitations. I have some very distinct and rigid eating habits. Changing those would amount to trying to alter the course of a giant cruise ship in five minutes. The "salads-and-Tab" approach to eating wasn't gonna play in Peoria, Georgia.

But suddenly it became a challenge. Something I wanted to do. When I realized how fulfilled I could be with amazingly doable modification of my routines, I jumped in with both feet.

Another ingredient was the look on our WW leader's face, and when I joined up, she thought Sera had dragged me there kicking and screaming. That I would not be able to change my habits. She probably gave me three months (like certain marriages *ahem*), and I'd never be seen again.

She's wrong. And I'll continue to prove her wrong, too. :-) Not a meeting goes by without Fearless Leader Miz Tina making a gratuitous remark about my now-dead addiction to cashews. Honest, she seems to find a way to fit it in every time. Bring it on, Tina dearest. Bring. It. On.

One more mental prodding came in the form of a song I heard at Kroger after that first meeting: the Chris Rea hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" I took that as the Devil of Old Habits mocking this decision. Guess again, Chris, this was a new day. I'm not driving down "The Road to Hell" anymore. My weight? I'm "Working On It." With a little luck, by next Summer I'll be able to go shirtless "On the Beach" without embarrassing myself and my gender. I'll be 60 pounds lighter while "Driving Home For Christmas."

I'd better stop before my readers say, "You Must Be Evil."

But anyway.....

Then there was realizing how much I missed such activities as bicycling and hiking. My back was beginning to give protest. I felt tired. This could not go on.

The change was not immediate, was not all-encompassing, and is taken one thing at a time. Because if I deprived myself at the onset, I'd have backslid and today I'd have long since returned to my old habits.

For one, I worried about missing my precious soft drinks. Know what? I don't miss Coca-Cola like I thought I would. I'd just as soon never have another Coke again.

Yes, Talmadge Gleck just typed the above sentence. Hmph, next thing you know, I'll be a complete devotee and raving fan of milk! I do love my 44-ounce Mountain Dew fixes from the convenience store. I'd miss that were it to be completely gone from my life. Solution: I've set a limit of two per week, plus two sugared soft drinks for a total of 4x/week. Thing is, I haven't had any regular canned or bottled sodas in perhaps a month. A month. A month!

Two big-ass Mountain Dews a week pretty much suits the need. And when you remember how I'd put away 1-2 of those most days, that's quite the feat.

Much of the carbonated intake has been replaced by Fresca and Diet Mountain Dew. Now if only I can find DMD in fountain locations. I haven't seen it anywhere outside the Quizno's chain.

So, is it hard? Sometimes. On occasion I'll get a big urge to do a lot of snacking. Exit cashews, enter popcorn and the good ol' Premium saltine by Nabisco (*ding!*). 5 crackers = 1 point.

So, is it working? Judge for yourself:

05/05: 295.2 -- starting weight
05/12: 289.2 (-6.0)
05/19: 287.2 (-2.0 / -8.0)
05/27: 285.2 (-2.0 / -10.0; no meeting in Rincon; did weigh-in at Springfield)
06/02: 282.4 (-2.8 / -12.8)
06/09: 281.2 (-1.2 / -14.0)
06/16: 279.4 (-1.8 / -15.8)
06/23: 278.2 (-1.2 / -17.0; no meeting in Rincon; did weigh-in at southside WW office)
06/30: 275.4 (-2.8 / -19.8)
07/07: 272.6 (-2.8 / -22.6)
07/14: 271.0 (-1.6 / -24.2)

So far -- [knock on fake pressbord] -- no gains.

I'm doing something right, it seems.

Basic desire, plus inner fire, plus a healthy dose of male ego (I'll show YOU, Miz Tina!) equals a new path I've rather enjoyed so far. Tangible benefits have yet to show themselves - save for some shorts now fitting a little more loosely - but I know those will come very soon.

And I'll press on, tweaking as I go, until I get back to where I can engage in some long-lost activities. With Seraphim at my side for many years to come.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Closing in on 10%" Gleck

14 July 2008

Next week ... 25!!

After a big weekend in the wilds of Deer Stand Hill, Alabama, I submitted myself to the Disciples of Nidetch and big silver measuring platform therein.

I didn't cop another 2+ pound removal this time .... but it was still a good one; I dropped another 1.6 pounds. And since I'm taking anything over -1.5 as a good week, then I'm calling it good.
Cume figure is -24.2 pounds. Sure, I would've loved to have had 2.4 gone this week, in order to clear the 25# mark, but that's what next week is for.

Looks like I'm on a good fast track toward my first big goal: 10% gone (29.5 pounds) by Monday, August 11.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "271 even" Gleck

11 July 2008

"Why aren't Sonny and Cher in color??"

About six months ago (how appropriate, eh?), I made a post about Motel 6 circa 1977. In it, I said: "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."

Okay, it was 1974 ... and here's that very advertisement:
It's a lo-res scan, so here's the text:

Green faces, purple skies. When have you ever had a color TV in a motel that got decent color? Well, Motel 6 has in ingenious solution to that problem. We have black-and-white TV sets in our rooms. Actually, we didn't do this to save you problems. We did it to save you money. Color TV sets cost a lot of money. Money that has to come from charging more for the room. That's one of the reasons Motel 6 rooms cost so little.

Pay TV is here. But even black-and-white sets cost money. So our sets are coin-operated. 25 cents for two hours. That way we can get our room rates a little lower still. And we economize in other ways, too. No sauna baths or "free" limousine to the airport, that kind of thing. That saves us a lot of money. Which lets us save you a lot of money.

All rooms $6.60 to $9.90. We have only two kinds of rooms. Rooms with one double bed and rooms with two double beds. One bed, one person is $6.60. One bed, two persons, $7.70. Two beds, two persons, $8.80. And two beds, three or four persons, $9.90. That's the price. Every day at every one of our 150 motels.

Of course, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Even economizing. We spare no expense to keep our rooms spotlessly clean. We have excellent beds (and "Magic Fingers" machines that didn't freakin' work!!), a swimming pool, thick carpeting (nothing says "1970s!!!" like thick carpeting). And in climates that need it, air conditioning ("Air ... con-DISH-uh-ning!"). But color TV, no. You lose green in the face. You gain green in the wallet.

Gangrene? Oops, my bad -- that's Scottish Inn or "Clean Stay USA."

It's a good snapshot of the 1974 flavour of Motel 6. (Of course, by 1977, inflation had cause the price of our room in El Paso to go for something like $11 smackers, give or take a few quarters for the telly)

Notice how all the rooms went for the same price, regardless of location? Even Motel 6 doesn't do that today. The rooms back then were small. I mean, SMALL. You can easily tell which Motel 6 properties are older-vintage. When I see one (Opelika, Ala. is a great example), I know not to expect a lot of space on each side of the single king-sized bed in there. :-)

They DID have a valid point about the color TVs. Even the ones in Holiday Inns back then weren't all that and a bag of Baked Lays. Green faces, purple skies, pink oceans, orange mountains .... yeah, it was that bad. Sometimes a motel will sell old room TVs at fire-sale prices, but I'd never consider buying one -- those poor things take a lot of misuse and all around ill-treatment, especially from drunken rednecks.

But my Dad was reeeeeeally ticked off about that coin-operated B/W television.

Ciao for Niao

--Talmadge "We'll leave the lava-light on for you" Gleck

10 July 2008

Oh, positive. Very, very positive.

The "tele-blood-eters" have struck again.

This afternoon they left a voicemail on Seraphim's cellphone. Yeah, it's that time. It's been more than 56 days since our last donation of blood (May 3).

But we did try to make another donation. And after what we went through, it's a damn good thing they didn't tele-blood-eter ME. Because, the way I'm feeling right now, I'd teach that poor call center person a few new four-letter words to add to her vocabulary and share among friends.

So, did we donate? No. And here's why:

The blood drive was Sunday, in fact at the same location as it was the day we last gave. We both got to the bloodmobile at about 2:20 p.m., and were "welcomed" (using the term loosely) by a larger woman with dark hair who clearly had the following written all over her face: "@#$%!! MORE PEOPLE??!!"

Gruffly, she pointed toward toward the scantron sheet and donor booklets and, with the speed of an auctioneer, told us what to do. (I half expected her to say "Sold American!", but anyway.....) Being previous donors, it's a good thing we were accustomed to the whole procedure; that would've been awfully intimidating to someone trying to give blood for the first time!

Seraphim and I sat down and waited our turn. Today it wasn't as busy, so it didn't look like much of a wait. We filled out those scan sheets, taking care not to fill in more than one circle so as not to blow up the mainframe computer ... as more than one teacher warned us in grade school during those California Achievement Tests they gave us each Spring (Do not open the donor booklet until told to do so?).

After filling in the basic information, and taking good care not to fold, spindle or mutilate our scantron sheets, we proceeded to take the donor booklet, sit down and then peruse said dog-eared pages. Booklet = singular. I decided I'd just read over Sera's shoulder. I mean, hell, it's not as if I'm not familiar with the requirements. I haven't had sexual relations with anyone outside this crazy marriage. I haven't patronized any prostitutes. I haven't visited any foreign countries (Mississippi included) ....

Well, we're sittin' here on the bench, I mean we're sittin' here on the Group W bench ... another of the Red Cross workers turned around and, as if I were committing some mortal sin, asked "Have you read the booklet?" I replied, "I'm reading over my wife's shoulder." I go on to remark, "We've already donated - twice - so I know the drill." (I mean, if I were ineligible, would I have wasted time, wear and tear and $4.00 gasoline coming out here????)

His response blew me away: "YOU STILL HAVE TO READ IT!" It was said in a very condescending, unprofessional tone of voice.

Wow. All I could do is reply, "Yazzah." Which I did.

Seconds later, I was called into the little booth for the iron test, and questionnaire (totally pointless, because you've already read the booklet -- under penalty of bitching out by arrogant twats -- and because you could easily lie through your teeth throughout the whole thing, and they'll still take your blood!).

It gets even better. The woman who was jockeying the laptop and fingerprickers looked and behaved as if she were a refugee from a nail salon. Attitude and all. Every other sentence was punctuated with the phrase "Young Mon." For instance, "What's your date of birth, YOUNG MONNNNN??"

How nice. Korean by way of Jamaica.

I handed her my Red Cross donor card, and she began keying the number into her laptop. Then she stopped.

It seems I'm "ineligible" to give blood. "Indefinitely ineligible."

Excuse me? It's been more than 56 days (64, to be exact). You haven't even begun the Grand Inquisition. My blood, I presume, is okay because I didn't receive any notification from Red Cross that indicated otherwise.

"I cannot tell you the reason, YOUNG MONNNNNN, you need to call this number", as she gave me a sheet with the toll-free number of blood services. There was some kind of reason code it returned, but she refused to tell me. She was acting as if I had some kind of health issue ... and it reeked of the kind of thing you'll encounter when you try and apply for a store credit card and you're denied.

I was very ticked by this point, and as I came out I told Seraphim, "Bad news, honey, I cannot donate blood because my credit score is too low."

We both left, and another woman (younger, with blonde hair and glasses -- a FRIENDLY woman at that, boy was she out of place in that bloodmobile!) gave us two Red Cross baseball caps "for coming out and trying."

What I wanted instead was the Rice-A-Roni and Don Pardo's autograph.

Later, Seraphim told me she almost took my arm and said "Not today...." She saw that first woman's face before I did and had a bad feeling.

Monday, I called the blood center and also the local chapter -- believe me, I was going to have words with the Savannah chapter for their attitudes. I couldn't get a warm body at the local office to save my life. Finally, I reached somebody in Charlotte. "Sherri."

It seems that I was mistakenly flagged as ineligible due to "system consolidation." Apparently they're merging the Atlanta and Charlotte donor databases and some people are being barred in the process.

I asked when that would be corrected and "Sherri's" answer was "maybe two weeks. But I hope you'll consider trying to donate again, and just call us beforehand to make sure you're off the ineligible list."

Excuse YOU? You mean I have to go through the telephone menu hell, wait several years on hold, BEFORE heading to the bloodmobile where I'll be treated like cattle by Red Cross workers who so obviously were trained by our fine Airport TSA agents?? Sheeeeeeyet.

I'd done some research as to whether Red Cross was the only option for giving blood. Turns out it ain't; there's Memorial Health, a local hospital, which operates its own blood bank in conjunction with The Blood Alliance, which serves Jacksonville and Savannah.

I told "Sherri in Charlotte" as much, and what she said and HOW she said it spoke volumes: "I really wish you'd give blood with us."

How do you like that? Blood wars! Don't drink Pepsi, drink Coke. Ford, not Chevy. Does "Sherri" have a sticker in her cubicle of Calvin taking a whiz on the words LOCAL BLOOD BANK??

Meanwhile, I wrote a letter to the Executive Director of the Red Cross in Savannah complaining about our treatment. I mailed it later that Monday afternoon, too. As of Thursday evening, I have yet to hear back from anyone.

07/11/2008 UPDATE: I did hear back from "Sherri" ..... the 'ineligible' flag was removed from my file. Groovy. Give her points for trying. Now if only I can hear back from someone at the LOCAL level. Somehow I doubt it. Maybe there's a reason. Still, I have some hope.....

Through the online searches about Red Cross, I came upon some interesting information. I was reminded about how the organization pocketed millions of dollars for 9/11 survivors. How they refused to set foot in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. HOW THEY CHARGED SOLDIERS FOR DOUGHNUTS AND COFFEE DURING WORLD WAR II (Officers got 'em free. OTOH, the Salvation Army - bless their genuinely Christian hearts - never shook down our troops). Google it yourself. Your eyes too will be opened by just how many of our "greatest generation" citizens loathe the Red Cross with the same ferocity as toward Hitler and the Japanese. Even today.

What I don't understand is why Red Cross acts so arrogantly about giving blood? I don't have to give blood. But I WANT to give blood and help my community. I'm ready and willing to endure the small amount of pain that goes with it. At the same time, what I will NOT endure again are attitudes like what we experienced Sunday afternoon.

If the Red Cross wants my blood badly enough to turn around and charge $300+ per unit for it, most of it I'm sure further greasing one of their already overpaid executives, then they'd better draw my blood with a golldurned smile on their faces!!!!!

After all, through the line of work I'm in, I understand very well the gross stupidity of alienating the people who come forward to donate for something they believe in, something they could just as easily sit back and "consume" for free.

Red Cross is going to have to do some serious backpedaling before I'll ever again darken one of their bloodmobiles. 'Till then, we'll be calling The Blood Alliance. At least my fluids will stay in this area and help one of my neighbors who might need it.

In closing, as always, this YOUNG MONNNNNNNNNN says "Ciao for niao."

--Talmadge "Old and crusty, but YOUNG!" Gleck

07 July 2008

Okay, so it didn't suck -- just call me consistent.

After a holiday weekend, which presents a weight-removal challenge to many, I stepped on the scale this evening with limited confidence. I didn't expect much due to last week's amazing 2.8 drop, plus we had in-laws over for the Fourth of July weekend. I was just hoping to crest 20 pounds, which I could've done with -1.2 or more.

Did I ever. The scale indicated yet another 2.8 pounds vanished over the past week. Good gawd on a Pogo-Ball.

Okay, I had off work today - slept 'till the crack of noon - and all I consumed today was a 7-point Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza. That, and four servings of ice water. I'm sure that didn't exactly hurt tonight's weigh-in.

I've consumed lots and lots of water. Kept within my point limits. Done those things right. 12 points' worth of activity, on top of that.

Grand total as I begin week #10 of Weight Watchers: -22.6 pounds.

On a somewhat related note: The WW meetings in Rincon are held at Goshen United Methodist Church just outside of town on Highway 21.

The below picture, I swear to you on a stack of, ummmmm, Cokesbury Hymnals?, is exactly how we saw these items on their "This-Do-In-Remembrance-Of-Me Table." Neither of us posed them; these are how they looked:

My Child, Take This Grape Juice For It Is My Blood. And My Body Is This Stale Loaf of Bread Next To It. Amen. Oh, and don't forget to grease my felt-lined brass urn. Glory.

This is one big reason I'm not comfortable as a Protestant. The Bible clearly says wine. W-I-N-E. WINE.

Grape juice and week-old deli bread as proxy for Christ?? And you think I'm being blasphemous??!!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "272.6" Gleck