God Gave Me Common Sense…And I’m Going To Use It In The Voting Booth In November

So I’ve given up the Facebook…again. This time, it’s 100% due to the political discourse that has seemingly overtaken my favorite social media outlet. Anything and everything seems to dissolve into political talk, whether its the idea of face masks being a useful way of not spreading the virus to whether to not eating a red or a blue popsicle makes you a right or left wing lunatic. It’s uuuuuugly right now with Trumpsters spouting off negativity about “PedoBiden” and Biden supporters ranting about Donald Trump’s obvious shortcomings in all things presidential. There really wasn’t many NON-political posts on my Facebook feed at any given time so…I bailed. But not before giving MY rationale for voting for Joe Biden in November. My last post before possibly returning to FB in late November or December was a link for a Forbes article about Trump moving campaign money into his private businesses along with this…

Doesn’t this bother anyone else? I see all these pro-Trump signs, see so many pro-Trump social media posts…I don’t get what anyone sees in this con man. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m tired of politicians also…so voting for a businessman made sense in 2016 (I guess. I didn’t vote for him but I get it). But come on. This guy is a MAJOR disaster. And I find it hard to believe that anyone truly believes he has anything but his own personal agenda on his mind. You like the tough guy exterior? Why did he go hide in a bunker at the first sign of unrest? You like his stance on foreign policies? He’s basically schmoozing with some of the absolute worst world leaders while pissing off our allies. We all know his stance on women and his apparent love of all things white. He can’t even put together a coherent sentence most of the time. He postures, he insults, he grandstands and all at the cost of our country’s personal well-being. I get that we all want change…but he ain’t it. In my opinion, following him is like trying to walk headfirst into a hurricane and I refuse to go with the flow. Do I believe 100% in the Democratic nominee? No. But I’d vote for a head of lettuce before I checked Donald Trump’s name in November. This will be my last post for a while. I’m tired and I think this should be all you need to either unfriend me or block me and I’m ok with that. I think I’ve had enough of politics and mask arguments and COVID conspiracy theories. We are all tired. I get it. Our world has changed for the worst and the last 3.5 years have worn me down. I think it’s time to put my best foot forward and get started on trying to make it a better place for myself and my family. The Trump political circus has got to stop and I think I’ve had enough. For now…getting off social media will be enough for me to get my thoughts in order. Facebook is a cesspool of false information and angst. In the grand scheme of things…I think it’s a little narcissistic of me to think you’ll care or miss my basketball photos or silly updates but I hope you do. If anything, Facebook is losing a guy who really enjoyed this platform up until maybe 4 months ago but I’ve been heading this way for a few weeks now and I think I’m ready to pull the plug. For now anyway…Peace. I’ll see ya on the flip side. #VotingBidenInNovember.

Ok…so I wasn’t going to get back on Facebook but I had someone text me over Messenger about a “discussion” that was happening so I went to see what was going on. Of course there were the nice “We will miss you” responses and the “I understand” responses and there were a few that agreed with me and a few who didn’t. And that’s ok. But then I had someone who I knew many years ago who is older than me, who I don’t really remember all that well but who I respect on a certain level post a comment that I find interesting. He said…and I quote…

“Alan, God gave you common sense, use it.”

Of all of the comments that were made and all of the back & forth about politics and whatever else…this one struck me. So…I went to went to see what the definition of common sense is. Simply put, common sense is…

Judgment, wisdom, the ability to reach intelligent conclusions. Implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence. A choice showing good common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge.

So now I have to break myself down. Psychologically, there isn’t a whole lot of depth to me. I pretty much feel like what you see is what you get. Inherently, I’m a good person. Raised by good parents in a good, hard-working family. Raised in a time where there wasn’t the kind of discourse that is happening now…or maybe there was but because there were only 3 channels and I never watched the tv at 6:30pm every night…I wouldn’t have known anything about it really.

So let’s look at the definition again. Judgement. How do I judge others? I feel safe in saying if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 50+ years, it’s that people can…and will…surprise you. So…I’m not quick to judge…especially when it comes to appearances. Evaluating after pausing and reflecting can always make a difference. Anyone who is quick to judge doesn’t always see the entire complexities of the human spirit. Some people are quick to give an impression. Others are more controlled, more precise. I tend to judge by the way someone treats other people. It always surprises me how ugly some people can be to others. Which is maybe why I don’t particularly like the guy sitting in our White House right now.

Wisdom. So…I wouldn’t call myself “wise” in many ways. Am I able to carry on a conversation and give an opinion? Yes. But true wisdom comes with knowledge and understanding and there are a lot of things I admittedly am NOT the person you want to ask about many things. Things like…how do you install plumbing in a 3 story home? Or if a car was traveling at 75 MPH and had to travel uphill at an 80 degree slant, how much gas would it take to get to Connecticut? Or even how to make pancakes. Because frankly? I’m a terrible cook. There are a LOT of things I am NOT wise about. But there are some things I feel I AM smart about and I take great pride in my ability to use that wisdom in a way that will make me a better person. That wisdom is what I use when my kids need help making decisions. When my neighbor has a clogged drain or needs help with her lawn mower. Or when there’s a person who can’t find their way to the airport because they got off the wrong exit and now they are a little lost. There are many ways where I am not the wisest man in the room. But I can contribute in my own way and I will ALWAYS try to use my wisdom to help others in any situation. Which, from what I’ve seen, is more than Donald Trump is willing to do.

The ability to reach intelligent conclusions. This is an interesting sentence. Because an intelligent conclusion is obviously different for everyone depending on their intelligence level. So…where do I fall in intelligence? Well…I haven’t taken a test in many years so…I can’t give an exact number. I was an average student, made mostly B’s if I remember correctly. Graduated from a 4 year college. Been somewhat successful in my career path. Raised a couple kids who, by most standards, have seemed to turn out okay. So when it comes to coming to an intelligent conclusion, I feel like I would place myself in a mid-level tier as far as what my intelligence level will allow. Psychologically, I admit I am probably a little more emotional than some men. I allow for empathy in situations where some might not. If you were to put that in political terms, I imagine this puts me in the moderate to somewhat liberal Democrat zone. But I don’t allow myself to be placed in that area entirely. Because of my ability to empathize, I often find myself seeking answers to things that don’t feel right to me. I try to look at each situation as a single entity and not the whole. For example…Donald Trump’s crass comment about grabbing a woman by her private parts. Now…as a man who has heard conversations that sexualize women, I can see where, prior to being the President, a rich millionaire would say something like that. I mean…when you have Trump money, I imagine there are all kinds of people that will allow you to get away with doing anything you want. Do I think that says something about you as a person? Yes. So my judgement would be that you probably don’t look as women as equals. My wisdom tells me that you probably have a bit of a superiority complex and that you probably need to be taken down a notch. My intelligent conclusion would be that I probably won’t be spending much time with you because I actually think women are awesome and would never think to ever do something like that…even if she wanted me to.

So now it comes to a choice. The definition above says that a choice showing good common sense suggests an average degree of ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence without sophistication or special knowledge. As I’ve stated…I’m not special. I’m not overly sophisticated either. You ask me which fork is for the salad and I’ll laugh and pick the one closest the the bowl. When it comes to special knowledge? I know what I know. I definitely don’t have a “special” knowledge about anything. I’m more of a jack of all trades, master of none when it comes to that department.

BUT…can I judge with soundness, prudence and intelligence when it comes to most things that are happening around me. Can I evaluate and make sound decisions based on the situations I can control? And that’s where the Facebook comment got me thinking because I DO feel that I do a good job of that. Evaluating and making decisions is what we all base our lives on. Where we are and how we think are all rolled into that which is our personality and our perspectives.

So I’m gonna say that yes…I feel that God HAS given me good common sense. God has also given me a sense of empathy and the ability to judge from a humane standpoint. I’ve seen what has happened in our country in the last 1,320 days and my conclusion, whether you find it intelligent or not, is that this country is in much worse shape than it was 3.5 years ago. Let’s take a look at the original plan that was promised when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. By his own admission, these 10 things were SUPPOSED to happen in his first 100 days in office…

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Now…did he do any or all of the above? No.

#1…Middle class tax relief? The largest tax reductions were mostly to those who made over $1 million. Now…maybe I know people who make that kind of money? But I guarantee you most people that I have as friends are not making that kind of bank and they definitely are NOT middle class. The biggest reductions were for corporations and considering what happened in the last 7 months or so? I now know that, for Donald Trump, making sure his millionaire friends can find loopholes and collect government funding is a top priority. 

#2 was his way of discouraging companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free. Sounds like a decent proposal…especially when running for election. It never happened. 

Let’s skip ahead to #5 because there been no significant new infrastructure legislation proposed for #3 and we all know that Betsy DeVos is a hot mess at #4. EVERYONE has an opinion about #5. The Affordable Care Act is possibly the most controversial bill that came out of the Obama administration. Trump and his followers have been tossing this one around for his entire time in office and yet? It still exists. 

Let’s see…I’m gonna speed things up here by telling you that #6-9 have been addressed at times but nothing substantial has been passed as of yet. 1,360 days into his time in the Oval Office. But #10 is interesting to me because the original reason I feel Donald Trump was elected in the first place is because we, collectively, as Americans, are sick & tired of the way our nation’s capitol is being run. While the economic budget continues to balloon out of control, our government has not addressed important needs for its people.  Democrats and Republicans behave like children, pointing fingers and blaming the other. It’s really pretty pathetic and so…Donald Trump arrives and can clean it up…right? I mean…if you listen to HIM talk about himself…he can do ANYTHING he wants…right?

So…let’s clean up Washington. Drain that swamp. Get our country back on the right track. Just like he’s done for his personal business ventures like the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City or his Trump University which is, I’m sure, a place where someone can get an outstanding education and learn good judgement and wisdom! I mean…this guy can obviously fix it all and make America Great Again! Woohooooo!!!

But…he hasn’t. Here’s what MY common sense tells me. It tells me that Donald Trump is a con man. He’s not the savior of our country. He’s only done what Donald Trump does on a grand scale and that’s make matters worse. He has acerbated the situation in our country to such a degree that it is going to take YEARS to get our country back on the rails again. Was the pandemic his fault? Of course not..BUT…it was. He failed to expand the inventory of critical medical supplies, he failed to strengthen the CDC and he failed to help critical components of our national public health system. He ignored warnings, he lied to the public about it, he has tried to place blame on Dr. Anthony Fauci (who is the ONLY person I would have listened to in the case) and anyone else he can point a finger at, and he has discouraged the use of face masks and pushed dangerous, unproven drugs and remedies as a way to combat the virus.

It has been a circus from day one. And that’s just the coronavirus situation. 

Common sense. There is a lot to be said for having it. Through the years, you develop it as you go. I’ve had my parents, teachers and in many cases, my friends and coworkers, that have helped me develop mine. When I think of the last 1,320 days, my common sense does not tell me that we are doing pretty damn good. No…quite the opposite. MY common sense tells me that this has been a complete and utter disaster of the highest magnitude. Politics were bad enough BEFORE Donald Trump’s stay in the Oval Office. Now? It’s almost comical how bad it is. At least before there was familiarity to it. Politics have always been a topic that can spur debate and conversation. But now? I can’t even look my Trump supporting friends in their eyes anymore. To me…being a Trump supporter makes you a racist, a homophobe and someone who is unable to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The last few years have not been okay. Not even a little bit. And MY common sense is pretty sure that I done a pretty good job of evaluating, judging and making an intelligent conclusion on Donald Trump and the ideology that he has brought to the White House. 

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Pandemic Walkabout Highlights

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Throughout this pandemic, I have been taking walkabouts every day, usually with my 2 dogs in tow. 6 months into this shitshow year known as 2020, I can honestly say that, despite how bad the rest of the year has gone, the music has been pretty good! While I’m still a fan of throwing on one of my favorite albums and not worrying about actually listening to new music, it has been a pleasant surprise that there have been some pretty strong album releases in the first 6 months of 2020. Here are my favorite new releases so far of this strange year…

AUBRIE SELLERS – FAR FROM HOMEAubrie Sellers

A current front-runner for my favorite album this year, it hasn’t cooled off for me yet. The daughter of LeeAnn Womack brings her mother’s class mixed with her own sense of dark cool to these 12 tracks of country excellence. My dream country tour would probably be Aubrie with Sturgill Simpson in small, dark desert clubs around Texas. Just love that vibe that they both put out.

 

PEARL JAM – GIGATONPearl_Jam_-_Gigaton

A return to form for one of the last remaining great grunge bands of the early 90’s. Eddie Vedder bring the heat in 12 tracks that remind me of the band’s glory days. Some great rockers on this one and a couple that slow down the pace but bring some seriously perspective lyrics.

 

GERRY CINNAMON – THE BONNIEGerry_Cinnamon_-_The_Bonny

This Scottish singer/songwriter deserves more attention stateside than he gets. I have thoroughly enjoyed his previous efforts and this one stays in tune with the rest of his body of work. “Where We’re Going” is an early favorite for my song of the year but the rest of this album is just as strong. Give it a listen!

 

ALLAN RAYMAN – CHRISTIAN
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One of the more unique artists today, this Toronto-based singer hits his stride with this 14 track effort. “I Talk To My Cigarette,” “Stitch,” “Hello To Me” & “Blush” are all excellent tracks but you could do worse than simply buying the entire album and enjoying this one with some headsets and a nice porter or stout.

 

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER – SIDEWAYS TO NEW ITALY
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One of the best walkabout albums of the year. Every song is excellent and they all just seem to meld into one long track. So much fun and reminds me of every college album I’ve ever heard. While I’d like to recommend a couple of songs…I can’t. They’re all great. Just go get this one and figure it out for yourself.

 

MONDO COZMO – NEW MEDICINE
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While I probably need a little more time to give this one a 100% backing (I just downloaded it today), I did listen to the entire thing while walking today and it is a strong effort! The opening track, “Black Cadillac” opens this album and is one of the best songs of this year. It reminds me a lot of Lou Reed and there are several other songs that have definitely influenced lead singer Joshua Ostrander (Iggy Pop & The Rolling Stones come to mind).

 

RUN THE JEWELS – RTJ4
RTJ4_Run the Jewels

Released during one of the more tumultuous times in our nation’s history and a couple of days early, Run The Jewels bring the heat with some scathing lyrics to keep the social fires burning. Like all of their albums, RTJ know how to bring you along on a journey of anger and social distortion. The 2 rappers (Killer Mike & El-P) never lack for giving their opinions and are dead on with this release. This is 11 tracks of pure fire.

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Turning The Page

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When reading a book, every page adds to the story. As you flip through them, by the time you’re a few pages in, you’re vested and you need to know what will happen? How will it happen? Who will it happen too? There are many chapters that become a single story…and this week our family had a chapter end.

This week, our son graduated from high school. I know, I know…it’s but a single moment in a book FULL of moments in what I pray will be a successful life for him but…in this moment…I just want to stop and enjoy the pages we’ve read already.

First off…what an amazing 18 years this kid has had. He’s got so many friends and people who love him. I have met so many people this year for the first time who have told me what an outstanding young man he is. And he definitely is…but it’s not because of me, that’s for sure. Along the way, there have been so many people to commend for helping raise my son, from the coaches he’s had since he started playing intermediate sports to the teachers he had this year for the first time, every single one of these people have played a role in his life somehow. I cannot thank them enough for being the second tier of parents that have helped him shine when I wasn’t there. And trust me…I wasn’t there a lot. So for him to be the young man I think he is has taken a lot of work, not only from his mother and I…but also from a large group of people who have been around him since Day 1.

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And then there is his mother. What an amazing woman this lady has been. Taking out the fact that she’s my wife, she has been the most incredible mom a young man could ask for. We often say that if I had been a single parent, our kids would probably be failing every class and would have all kinds of issues. This may or may not be true but I DO believe they would not be the people they are today with having her as the backbone of this family. While I am gone for weeks on end at any given time during the year, Stephanie has been there for them to talk to, for them to cry on and for them to love. I couldn’t have picked a better partner and she has done a remarkable job with Chris. He is becoming a remarkable man and a lot of that is her doing.

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I’m not going to discount myself. I’m not just coasting on her coattails and doing nothing over here. I have played a role in his life. It might not be apparent right now but I hope I’ve instilled in him a good work ethic, a good sense of humor (with a dash of sarcasm) and some damn good looks. All of that should get him through for a few years at least. After all of that runs out…he’s on his own. But I figure…at least I didn’t put up an airball and have him looking like me back when I was a kid. He definitely got off better than I did in the looks department.

I remember the first time I had to take him to daycare. Stephanie couldn’t do it. The thought of leaving him with someone else was too much for her to bare. So I did it. I remember having a slight panic attack in the car as I went to leave, not wanting to leave the parking lot. Fortunately I can say that leaving him there did NOT scar him for life. If anything, it probably made him more well adjusted as he had to learn to fit in.

I remember the first time I we dropped him off at the Northern Kentucky Montessori School. It was mind blowing to hand him off to a group of teachers who would teach him so much. He would go to school there for 2 years. Such a wonderful group of teachers and so loving to him for that short time.

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I remember walking him to school for first grade to the school where he would eventually graduate from. Our school is all-in-one from elementary to high school, all in the same building. So when you spend 12 years in one place, you get to know many people. And people get to know you. And whether you like it or not…you become a part of the community and, I would like to think in Chris’ case, the community has loved and accepted him.

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Then for his senior year, this pandemic hits, knocking everything out of whack. No spring formal, no spring sports, no graduation. it’s hard to get to this point and not have those things. Will it matter in 10 years? Probably not. But right now? It’s everything. Not having that last couple of months with the people you’ve grown up with, had successes & failures with, laughed & cried with…it’s disappointing and sad and I know it’s not easy. But Chris has been great about it. I know he is disappointed and he’s told me that he’s had his moments. But overall? The kid has been handling all of this very well and I’m proud of him.

So now…we turn the page. On to the next chapter which will be amazing, I’m sure of it. College is where you get to learn who you are, what you want out of life and meet some of the people who will be with you forever. But before that page is turned, I just wanted to celebrate one more time all of those who have been along for the ride with Chris as he goes hurtling through life. Time doesn’t stop for anyone. Every person I ever met who has kids always say, “Enjoy it now because time goes fast.”

All I can say to that is….that ain’t no lie.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for the last 18 years. As a dad, there’s nothing I could’ve asked for more than my son having the support and love that he’s had from those outside of our home. It has paid off in more ways than you could know and I love you for it!

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Making A Memory That Will Last Forever

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Final Cut Pro Timeline for a 40 minute video…

Although my job is in graphics, I’ve always enjoyed the process of taking images and music and creating video projects for myself. Through the years, I have made a few things I’m proud of…a reunion video for my 1987 high school class, music videos for my family & a few friends, little things here & there to pass my time. For my son’s senior football season last October, I decided I wanted to do something for he and his teammates so I made the longest project that I had done up to that point. Clocking in at just over 25 minutes, I honestly assumed that would be the longest project I would ever put together. But…I was wrong.

When a virus decided to upend my senior’s final couple of months of high school and there is nothing going on to keep my mind busy, I decided to start to put together a video for Chris for his senior year. I figured I could put it together and he could watch it for his last day of school. But then my wife created a private Facebook page for senior parents to post photos & memories of their kids and an idea blossomed…why not make a video for his entire class?

The funny thing about how these projects go is…I don’t have any idea what I’m doing when I start to put the storyboard together in my head. Usually I rely on the music. I love finding songs that fit my mood for making these videos and for this particular project, I had found one early. The song was called “Senior Year” by the country artist Drew Baldridge. It’s a perfect song for a graduating senior. So…with that I started processing how I wanted to create this single video accompanied by a 4 minute song.

As the years have passed, I have a pretty good library of photos of Chris. I mean…he IS my kid so…who doesn’t take a million photos of their kids? But his classmates? Well…not so much. Honestly…other than his best friends that he’s had since he was 6, I don’t really know his class very well. Chris has never been one to stray out of his social group so I’ve heard names through the years, met parents at school events but for the most part? I didn’t know a lot of his class. So I asked my wife what she thought of me making a video for the entire class. She loved the idea and encouraged me to ask the parents on her Facebook page to allow me to use their posted photos. So…that’s what I did.

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After posting this on Facebook…all hell broke loose.

Look…most projects that I have done in the past have been videos that I can control. I use photos & video that I have already and I put it all together and viola! A cool little video. But this became insane as far as organization is concerned. On average, I would say I probably use a couple folders for photos, a folder for video and a miscellaneous folder for scenics and such. For THIS project, the flood of photos on Facebook kept growing and I was getting email with photos attached and video sent over Messenger and more photos texted to me and before I knew it…there was NO way this was going to be a 4 minute music video.

Senior Video Folder

Ok…so I needed more music. Which is fine because I love listening to music and this was a good reason for me to hop onto iTunes and check out some new stuff. I found a song by Tyrone Wells called “Time Of Our Lives” which was, at first initial listen, a perfect song for the video. I asked my kids what they liked. Ava said “Memories” by Maroon 5 would be a good song…so I added it. Chris liked “Forever Young” by Alphaville. No wait…”Forever Young” by Jay-Z. “NOT Alphaville Dad. That song sucks!” (Nevermind that Jay-Z basically took the original song by Alphaville and sampled it to make his own song. Heavy eyeroll here). I voted the Jay-Z song down, but I liked “Memories” so…it’s in. Anything else?

Chris told me a story about how, whenever he and his friends went to pick up their friend, Ethan, they would crank up the music in the car and play this song that he liked. They always recorded him when he came out of the house and it was like at basketball games when they announce a player before the game. Ethan would pump his fist in the air and come running to the car. It was all kind of preplanned and they did it every time they went to his house. The song was called “Runaway (You & I)” by a dance group called Galantis and from the moment he showed me the TikToks of Ethen coming out of his house and after hearing the song? My creative brain was turned on. I now had a 3rd song.

So I started searching the photos and videos, taking a lot of the group photos, hoping that I was getting as many seniors as possible. As is the usual, there are a handful of parents who take millions of photos of their kids (I raise my hand) and there are parents who have, throughout the years, maybe taken 10. So trying to sort through those millions of photos became my full time job for maybe 2 weeks. In that time, I thought…why not interview a couple teachers? Maybe get them to say a few words to the kids? So I emailed the principal at our school and asked him if he would be interested in doing a Zoom meeting and he could give me a couple soundbites for this video I was trying to produce. Mr. Kaiser couldn’t have been nicer and we set up a time to virtually meet.

Here’s the thing…I can’t record a Facetime call of the person I’m interviewing (something to do with privacy issues). The person being interviewed has to record it. So we did the interview but for some reason it didn’t record. So we decided to meet at the school (at a socially acceptable 6 foot distance) so I could interview him there. I figured I would ask him a couple questions at his desk and that would be that. But he decided he would give me a tour of the school, talking about a couple classrooms and places in the school that could provide memories for the kids years down the road. It was a BRILLIANT idea! So…we walked the deserted hallways at Beechwood, me shooting video wherever we went. Now…at this point I had thought this was just going to be a couple music videos and a couple teachers talking about the kids. But now this had turned into something a little bigger than that.

After that interview, I started editing the first music video for this project. I knew I wanted to highlight the kids when they were in elementary school, but I wasn’t sure at this point HOW I wanted to work it into this project. Mr. Kaiser was hired when the kids had entered 7th grade, so he really didn’t talk about the early years at all. I figured maybe I could “guide” a teacher into talking about them at a younger age but getting teachers to talk on camera can be a test. Most don’t want to be on camera (or so I learned) so getting someone to talk to me about the kindergarten years was problematic. I found a new song from a new artist named Conan Gray called “Little League” which was PERFECT for their early years. I had tons of photos and it literally took me maybe a couple of days to put the video together. But I still didn’t know how to work it into the storyline of the seniors. Then I asked my daughter what she thought of it and she said…”Just put it at the beginning.”

“No introduction or anything?”

“Nope.”

And so…that’s what I did. The first stage was in place. After that, it all started to come together in a flood. Mr. Kaiser’s interview was the centerpiece of the project and I realized that it was the glue to keeping this thing on track. I already had a football video edited that I had created on the fly when the team made it to the state semifinal. I figured I’d stick that in there somewhere. I found a news story online, a video that was produced by the school and some band footage. I found another song I really liked called “Time Moves On” by Phantom Planet that stuck in my head. I really wanted to do something with it if I could. So now I’m up to 5 songs to edit music too, plenty of photos and videos and my head is swimming from trying to keep it all together. The only thing missing?

Video of teachers and students.

Look…at this point, teachers are still working. They had virtual classes to conduct, their classrooms and lives have been upended and here I was, asking them to let me interview them for a music video? Obviously…most don’t have time for this kind of stuff. They have things to get done. But a couple of them generously gave me their time and their memories and together became the most important part of this project.

As for the students, it was announced that on April 27th, the school would be making chicken patty sandwiches for the seniors. Apparently this is a fan favorite at lunch for these kids and they were told that they could drive up and get a sandwich to enjoy for the final time. While I had no idea what kind of video I could get from something like this, it was a beautiful day and I wasn’t doing anything so I headed over to the school to see if any of the video could be useful. As I watched the first couple kids come through the drive-thru line, there were teachers helping hand out the sandwiches and they were talking to the kids while they stayed in their cars. The idea hit me that maybe I could ask them if they would say a few words for their classmates after they passed through the car line. Sure enough…maybe 10-12 kids stopped and gave me a quick comment. And just like that…I had everything I needed.

After a couple long days in my basement editing, I was pretty much done. The entire video was a little over 27 minutes long, had 5 music videos, the band, football team, theater ensemble, as many photos of kids as I could possibly muster and the teacher interviews. It really was fun to put together and I was all set to “put it out there” for all of the families to watch.

BUT…it wasn’t done yet.

The school was setting up a Senior Month in May. This video was going to be a part of that. And the school had plans of their own. They had asked all of the teachers to say something about the class of 2020 and had put together a 13 minute video of the teachers and senior photos of the kids. It’s funny how my mind works because after watching the video of all of these teachers talking about the senior class, I realized that honestly? That’s really all they need for now. My video, while a project of good intentions, really isn’t for now. Hearing the teachers all give their thoughts on Chris’ class and the students is what this class needs right now. They all miss each other, they miss their teachers, they miss the moments that should be taking place as they wind down this chapter of their lives. They don’t need music videos and photos they’ve seen and all of this pomp & circumstance. They just need those calming voices, the ones they’ve been hearing for the past 4 years, telling them that they miss them and love them.

MY video? Well…I imagine in 15 years, my video will be important to them. It’s fun and flashy and will hold memories that perhaps they had forgotten. And while I waited to release my dedication to the class of 2020, I discovered a couple more things to add onto the back end of it, some funny moments that didn’t work in the body of the piece. So I added some “Tiger Extras.” And then the school put up some signs of each student in the Class of 2020 that lined the main road outside the school…so I added one more music video. Not a lot of editing needed to be done. I chose that Tyrone Wells song for that because the lyrics spoke to me and I simply walked down Beechwood Road and recorded each sign. And that, as they say…was a wrap.

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To my son and his friends, I hope you enjoyed the video. It really was a lot of fun to put together and I hope that in 15 or 20 years, you can play it and remember what a wonderful time in your life high school was. I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I took Christopher to kindergarten for the first time. Time flies and I truly believe in the quote above, the one I ended the video with. Go and paint your own masterpieces and make the most out of your lives. It’s time for Chapter Two!  #WeAreBeechwood

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Editors Note: Oddly enough, the first song I had found for this project (Drew Baldridge’s “Senior Year”) never made it in. Funny how things change as the creative process works…

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When The Memories Fall Out

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Throughout The Not-So-Great Quarantine of 2020, I’ve been binging on memories. Memories of people, places and things. I’ve been through bins and boxes of old photos, remembering less anxious times and enjoying the flood of memories that I have that can put my mind at ease. Today, I tackled a job that I have been dreading. I basically removed all of the pages of an old photo book in order to make another, this time hopefully to extended the narrative of it to include where I am currently in my life. This old scrapbook included memories of elementary school (old newspaper clippings of a history project I made in the 4th grade, a dance competition I was involved in during a town festival), high school (basketball clippings, writing awards), college (tv & radio photos, awards) and into my post-college work career up until about 1994 in Dayton, OH. But the adhesive in this scrapbook was near its end and I want a restart. And so…

IMG_5500Now that all the memories are out, I can start fresh. But I’m sure I won’t venture far from the photos and clippings that this one had. It lasted me for over 30 years and was someplace I could go to remember moments and people…

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My first organized dance in the 8th grade at St. Nicholas Middle School and my first dance was with a curly red-headed girl named Audrey Scott. Audrey and I were friends back then (and still on Facebook) but little did she know she would be forever etched into my life story when she accepted my invitation to hit the dance floor. And how about this posture huh? I don’t remember this moment (probably because I imagine I was a nervous wreck) but I’m sure I was fully aware of where my hands were. It was a parochial school, after all. And the nuns were all watching! And the song? “True” by Spandau Ballet. I remember because at the time I thought that song was dumb. And now? Every time I hear it? I think of Audrey and that first dance.

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Look…nevermind that the opposing team was 1-9 coming into their game against us. 24 points was the most I would score in a high school game in my career. I remember this game NOT for the fact that I scored 24 points OR for the fact that we won. What I remember the most is at halftime, one of my teammates was mad at me for “hogging the ball.” Coming out of half, I was so mad at him that the very first shot I took was an airball. I have no idea how many points I scored after that…

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This was my crew back in the day. The people who were my friends. Some I stay in contact with, some have moved on. But each one of them played a role in my life during my high school years. That guy on the top left there? That’s my best friend Chuck. One of the nicest and coolest guys I’ve ever known. His Mom was my junior and senior English teacher in school and she was not only one of my favorites, but she was also instrumental in me becoming who I am today. Funny…I am on an Ohio University Facebook page and someone just mentioned that they don’t remember many of their college professors names. I can say with total honesty…I don’t remember ANY of them. But I remember my high school teachers and Dr. Lepp was one of a kind. Same goes for her son. Still one of my favorite people on the planet to this day.

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In my college career, I actually attended 2 colleges. Ohio University-Zanesville is where I got my Associates Degree, Ohio University is where I got my Bachelors. My sophomore year, despite working at a tv station, 2 radio stations, going to college and trying to maintain friendships, I also somehow found the time to play ball for the OUZ Tracers. As I recall, I couldn’t travel with the team or practice because of work, but the coach needed players so…he asked me to participate during home games. I DID manage to go on the road a couple times (I vaguely remember losing a buzzer beater from a half court shot in one game) but this was the highlight of my very short college basketball career. 11 points ain’t bad when you’re only hitting the floor for a few minutes. I’ll take it. Plus…we scored 144 points?!?! Did my teammates make to the NBA or what???

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While I have several pages of my college days in this old scrapbook, most of them dedicated to my college radio friends and old girlfriends, this page represented my graduation day. So funny to look at myself back then with the perspective of knowing what I know will be my path in life. I wonder…if given the chance to go back and tell myself the future, would I change anything? I’m happy to say…no. Probably not. College was 4 of the best years of my life…but it was only 4 years. Since then I’ve had many more and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Before I started doing what I do now for a living, I actually WENT to sporting events for fun. Looking at these ticket stubs, I imagine the Ohio State games were when Jay Burson was playing. Burson was Ohio’s leading high school scorer at John Glenn High School when I was a sophomore. He led the state in scoring at a time when there wasn’t a 3-point line. Obviously that record has been broken since but my Dad and I loved watching him play and went to several Buckeyes games where he played for 4 years. The Reds tickets stubs were from when I was living in Dayton, OH and working at the local NBC affiliate. A buddy and I would drive down for night games, go out after the game and then head home and be at work the next day by 4am. I miss being young. Those were fun times.

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So many memories in this old scrapbook…most of the stories it would tell have been excellent. But it’s time to start a new one. Give it a fresh start. Some new adhesive. I think post-2020 Pandemic is a good place to start fresh. But these memories will always be with me and to all those who have been a part of my life to this point?

Thank you. You’ve made every moment on this journey one to remember.

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Top 25 Albums That Influenced My Life

IMG_5029Back in my college radio days…

It’s difficult to organize a list that spans 51 years. A lot of thought has to go into it and for me…it’s very personal. As a lover of music, I find a lot of times my tastes swing all over the place. From country to pop to rock to jazz to alternative to just about anything really, I love most all music in all of its variable forms. Through the years, I have owned hundreds of albums in different formats…vinyl, 8-Track, cassette, CD, digital downloads, I’ve owned them all! And no one format is better than the other, in my opinion.

I think what makes music so unique is that, as you grow, it becomes a part of who you are. A lot of the bodies of work I’m going to list here hold special meaning for me. I can listen to them front to back and not want to fast forward or skip a single track. More often than I’d like to admit, I would love a single song I heard on the radio or in a movie or on tv then I’d go buy the album and I would be disappointed in the rest of it. So…to have an entire body of work be complete ain’t something to disregard. So that really is the only guideline I have for this list. Each of these albums is one I can listen to in its entirety and not need to skip a track.

So here you go…my personal favorite 25 albums ever. Some might surprise you. Some might make you wonder what my ears are thinking. But each one of them are great in my opinion and I would like to thank each band or artist that made this list. Thank you for making a piece of art that I will continue to enjoy for the rest of my life!

 

REO Speedwagon

25. REO Speedwagon – “High Infidelity” (1981)
Favorite Track: “Out Of Season”
My fondest memory of this album was listening to it constantly in the local video game arcade in my hometown, McConnelsville, OH. As I loaded Galaga with my quarters, the owner of the store would be cranking this album. I must’ve listened to it the entire summer and it always reminds me of those great summer days.

 

Vince Guaraldi Christmas

24. Vince Guaraldi Trio – “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)
Favorite Track: “Skating”
I’ve pretty much grown up watching this every holiday season of my life and every time I hear it, I go back to a much simpler time. I’ve even been known to throw this one on in the summer months when I need cheered up. Love every single track. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Def Leppard

23. Def Leppard – “Hysteria” (1987)
Favorite Track: “Run Riot”
Summer of 1987. I mean seriously…were ya listening to anything other than this and “Appetite For Destruction?” I was a Def Leppard fan when “Pyromania” came out in 1983, but this took it to a whole other level. And I love the pop/rock nature of this album. Where some bands rebel against their leanings, Def Leppard embraced the fact that they could rock AND have great melodies without losing their rock band integrities. I burned this album out that summer and through the winter months. Love every track on the album which is why it made this list and not Guns N Roses. While I like “Appetite,” I don’t like every track. This one? I do with the weakest for me being “Pour Some Sugar On Me” which just got entirely too much airtime.

 

INX Welcome

22. INXS – “Welcome To Wherever You Are” (1992)
Favorite Track: “Baby Don’t Cry”
My first year in Dayton, OH and I remember it came out during the summer months. Honestly…it’s just a really good summer album. I can throw it on and listen to every track and it reminds me of a time where all I had to worry about was myself and my friends. Good times…

 

Nirvana

21. Nirvana – “Nevermind” (1991)
Favorite Track: “Polly”
Not gonna lie…when this album came out…I didn’t get it. Everyone was raving and ranting about this band from Seattle who was changing the music scene and upon first listen? I hated it. Loud, couldn’t understand the lyrics, I didn’t know what to make of it. Then I started to just enjoy the music, forgetting the lyrics. To this day, in almost half of this album, I have no idea what Cobain is singing about but that’s what keeps bringing me back to it. Oh…and it just fucking rocks!

 

Gordon Lightfoot

20. Gordon Lightfoot – “Sundown” (1974)
Favorite Track: “The Watchman’s Gone”
Summertime…you need an album to relax to? Throw this one on. I don’t know exactly WHEN I started to love this album but I can say it has been a mainstay for me since I saw him perform live in Dayton, OH in the early 90’s. I loved “Sundown” & “Carefree Highway” in the 70’s and then I finally caught hold to what a great album the entire thing was. Now I listen to this album whenever I need to take a breath and think about the ocean.

 

Oingo Boingo

19. Oingo Boingo – “Dark At The End Of The Tunnel (1990)
Favorite Track: “Long Breakdown”
Oingo Boingo could easily be written off as an 80’s party band, with appearances on multiple movie soundtracks of that decade. And while their album “Dead Man’s Party” is a MUST own if you love alt-pop from the 80’s, this album is, in my opinion, their strongest body of work. Made after lead singer Danny Elfman went off to do soundtracks with Tim Burton, it is surprisingly dark lyrically and yet the music is spot on Boingo. I remember listening to this in college over & over again and I still love it to this day.

 

Paul SImon Graceland

18. Paul Simon – “Graceland” (1987)
Favorite Track: “Boy In The Bubble”
Released my senior year in high school, obviously being named Alan left a lot of room for “You Can Call Me Al” references. Personally…I wouldn’t even put that song in the top 5 best songs on this album. I love the African sounds that Simon utilized in the music and his lyrics are spot on throughout! A pleasant surprise? When he switches to zydeco towards the end of the album on a couple tracks. Gotta love the man’s ability to take various genres and make some fantastic music!

 

Beatles Rubber Soul

17. The Beatles – “Rubber Soul” (1965)
Favorite Track: “In My Life”
Honestly…you could probably argue every album on this list EXCEPT for this one. But then it breaks into…”Well…it’s not THEIR best album” diatribes and I don’t have the patience to have those discussions really. The Beatles wrote so many great songs that it would be an injustice to even try to compare YOUR favorite album to mine. EVERYONE has their own thoughts on it so I’m giving you mine. Every single track is delicious to the ear. The single memory I have of owning this particular album was getting it along with several other Beatles CDs at a thrift shop in downtown Zanesville, OH. Literally got at least 7 or 8 of their albums for $5 a pop. Other than that memory? I’ve been listening to it since I was born…

 

 

Sturgill Simpson

16. Sturgill Simpson – “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth” (2016)
Favorite Track: “Keep It Between The Lines”

What is NOT to like about Sturgill Simpson? He’s blurring lines in music today, swinging from old country to straight out rock! This album is a fascinating study about a man dealing with fame and being gone from his family. Written for his son, this album hit me hard because it says so much that I feel when it comes to raising a son while being gone so much for work. Kudos also for the album cover, which I think is also just perfect.

 

Beastie Boys Ill Communication
15. Beastie Boys – “Ill Communication” (1994)
Favorite Track: “Sabotage”
After their debut with “Licensed To Ill” on Def Jam (which I will talk about a bit more later), the Beasties completely moved on and did their own thing. Thankfully. While I LOVE “Licensed To Ill,” the path they eventually took was more interesting than recycling the same party album over & over again. This album dropped in the early summer of 1994 and I couldn’t stop listening to it. 25+ years later? It’s still music to my ears.

 

 

Bryan Adams

14. Bryan Adams – Reckless (1984)
Favorite Track: “Run To You”
THIS album was HUGE in my life! I owned 2 copies of the cassette at one point.  pretty sure it was in my cassette deck when I went on my first drive by myself without my parents and it was the soundtrack to my spring break that year when I received my first kiss from a girl named Skye, who I met in our RV park in Orlando, FL. Every track has meaning for me and I will occasionally throw it on when I just want to remember the good ol’ days. And any time I hear “Heaven,” I’m taken back to that first, awkward kiss…

 

Alex O'Neal

13. Alexander O’Neal – “Hearsay” (1986)
Favorite Track: “Criticize”
Little known fact…Alexander SHOULD have been the lead singer of The Time. There’s a story behind O’Neal and Morris Day but needless to say…he didn’t get the gig. Instead he became a solo artist and in 1987 (my freshman year in college at Ohio University-Zanesville), “Fake” was a hit single. I loved that song so…I bought the album on cassette and…lo & behold…I loved every song on it! Tracking in with 9 songs, this album also included some pretty silly in-between tracks dialogue which has not aged well. But the music? Timeless and wonderfully 80’s…

 

Phil Collins

12. Phil Collins – “Face Value” (1981)
Favorite Track: “In The Air Tonight”
Let’s face it…”In The Air Tonight” is possibly THE quintessential song of the 80’s and one of the most recognizable songs in the history of music. The drum solo? Come on. It’s perfect. And it’s my personal favorite song of all-time. But what is easy to forget is that there are MANY hit singles on here and it has been one of my favorite albums since it dropped in 1981. I recently got a chance to see Phil in Cleveland in 2018 and, despite having some health issues, the man can still sing! No one does pop songs quite like Phil Collins and this album is fantastic.

 

Boston

11. Boston (1976)
Favorite Track: “More Than A Feeling”
I have no idea how many of the 8 songs on this album were hit singles but every one of them SOUNDS like a hit single. Apparently it peaked at #3 on the Billboard album charts
but was openly recognized as one of the greatest debut albums in history. For me though? It’s all about the music. And this music has been in my ears for going on 40 years strong.

 

Sugar

10. Sugar – “Copper Blue” (1992)
Favorite Track: “Fortune Teller”
Bob Mould has a voice that needed to grow on me. A lot like Kurt Cobain, I wasn’t sold on his vocals for a while but the music on this album is just so good that eventually I came around. So many of these tracks are just amazing and once again, this album was released during a crucial time in my life. I had just moved to Dayton, OH and this album was in my music rotation for at least 2 summers.

 

TPOH Love Junk

9. The Pursuit Of Happiness – “Love Junk” (1988)
Favorite Track: “She’s So Young”
I have included a couple of college albums on this list (because high school & college are when you are influence the most, in my opinion), and this album is right up there with the best of them. Produced by Todd Rundgren, this alt-pop band only had a few albums and, as far as I know, charted only with the song “I’m An Adult Now” but this entire album is fantastic! I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve never heard of them. It all reminds me of my days in college radio…specifically the hours spent at the Ohio University radio station, ACRN.

 

Dire Straits

8. Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms” (1985)
Favorite Track: “Why Worry”
So…there’s a story behind this particular album and even though it really is a classic, there is a reason I hold it in such high regard. In 1985, I was a sophomore in high school. I lived out in the country, no one close by to hang out with. So…many evenings, I would hop on my bike and peddle to the closest town to play basketball at the town square. That summer was when “Money For Nothing” was a HUGE hit for Dire Straits and I bought the cassette. I listened to this album every time I rode my bike home, usually after dark. I listen to it and I remember biking on the open country road, no one to bother me, sweaty from playing basketball and a cool country breeze cool on my forehead. I love this album and the memories it brings me.

 

The Cure Kiss Me

7. The Cure – “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me” (1987)
Favorite Track: “Just Like Heaven”
I have to be honest…a part of me really wants to put “The Head On The Door” here because I do believe that it is the more listenable album as far as length and radio playability is concerned but this album is how I was introduced to The Cure and they continue to be one of my favorite bands of all-time. If I were to list, in order, the bands that I have probably spent the most time listening to in my lifetime, The Cure would be in the Top 3 with U2 and probably AC/DC. This album just takes me back to my college days. I remember buying “Just Like Heaven” as a cassette single at first. The song sits firmly in my Top 5 favorite songs of all-time. And then at some point I bought the entire album and was enthralled by Robert Smith’s vocals.

 

Violent Femmes

6. Violent Femmes (1983)
Favorite Track: “Add It Up”
College. Nothing screams college like this album. It just sounds like college. Every song I know by heart. The guitar sounds like your buddy could be playing it at a beer party in a frat house somewhere on the south campus. I don’t care what college you went to, you have heard this album. And I could listen to it any time and be perfectly happy.

 

Licensed To Ill

5. Beastie Boys – “Licensed To Ill” (1986)
Favorite Track: “Paul Revere”
Whoo man. Where do I begin with this one? When this album dropped in 1986, I was a junior in high school. While not naive to rap, I had never heard anything like this before and, once again, it had to grow on me. I was used to listening to The Outfield and Bryan Adams, not 3 guys singing about porno mags and fighting for their right to party. But that lead single pretty much changed my taste in music by itself and this album doesn’t have a bad track on it.

 

Prince Purple Rain

4. Prince – “Purple Rain” (1984)
Favorite Track: “Purple Rain”
I don’t think I even need to explain this one. It pretty much speaks for itself. Now…go purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

 

ACDC Back In Black

3. AC/DC – “Back in Black” (1980)
Favorite Track: “Shoot To Thrill”
What do you do when you’re a young kid in the early 80’s and you have access to 2 or 3 radio stations that all play pop or easy listening music? Well…you don’t listen to rock, that’s for sure. And up until my 2nd cousin came to visit my family for a summer, I had never heard of AC/DC. But Tommy showed up with his collection of 8 track tapes, pretty much all rock from AC/DC to Ozzie and showed me the light. At the time, I want to say “You Shook Me All Night Long” had just started to be played on radio. I dug it. Tommy introduced me to their entire collection and I’ve been a big fan ever since. The only downside to this album? “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” While I love the double entendre that AC/DC rolls with in pretty much ALL of their songs, this one is just kinda cringeworthy to me. BUT…the other tracks MORE than make up for it. I don’t hate the song that much to not include this as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Because it is.

 

REM Document

2. R.E.M. – “Document” (1987)
Favorite Track: “The One I Love”
R.E.M. released 3 albums in my college years and “Document” was the first in 1987. As a freshman in college, I really hadn’t been exposed to a lot of “alternative” music. I mean, yes…I had heard some of their music before (“Superman” was a single off of their 1986 album “Life’s Rich Pageant” and had been played on our local radio stations), but I didn’t know anything about Michael Stipe and his band until I got hooked while listening to them at the college radio station at OUZ. One of my favorite moments on this album is the saxophone in “Fireplace.”

 

U2 Joshua Tree

U2 – “The Joshua Tree” (1987)
Favorite Track: “Bullet The Blue Sky”
I don’t think this will surprise anyone who knows me. What MIGHT surprise people is that this is the ONLY U2 album in my Top 25. While I consider myself to be a HUGE U2 fan, I have to be honest…not every one of their albums is filled with great songs. I love their catalogue but they definitely have songs that I don’t really care for all that much. If I did a Top 30? You’d find “Achtung Baby” in the mix. But let’s focus on this album. Few can argue its place in rock history. It won “Album of the Year” in my senior year in high school. It had 3 Top 10 charting singles. It is a spectacular body of work and “Bullet The Blue Sky” is my favorite song that they perform live with Bono usually using a bullhorn to get the point across. Easily my favorite album ever.

 

So there you have it…my Top 25 favorite albums. I’d love to do more but I figure 25 is a nice round number but if you’re curious? Here are a few honorable mentions…U2’s “Achtung Baby,” Supertramp’s “Paris” (the first album I bought with my own money), Bear Hands’ “You’ll Pay For This,” The Cure’s “The Head On The Door” and REM’s “Out Of Time.” I’d probably throw Led Zeppelin’s “IV” in there also.

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When I Woke Up…It Was All Different.

Thursday, March 12th, 2020, I was wobbling into the Beacon Orthopaedic Center at 5:30am for my 7am discectomy. Around 6:10am they gave me some gas and anesthesia and I was out. I have no idea what time I woke up but I was in pain and couldn’t get comfortable. I remember someone helping me get my sweatpants on and my socks. I don’t remember anything after that. Next thing I know I am waking up at 5:30 and I thought it was 5:30am so I started making coffee. It wasn’t. It was 5:30pm and Stephanie was making dinner.

The things I can tell you that happened while I was in this dark place and I don’t remember anything…

  1. My wife drove me almost 35 minutes to get us back to our neighborhood.
  2. I ordered a 2 cheeseburger value meal at the McDonalds drive thru.
  3. We actually sat down to eat. I took a bite of a sandwich and couldn’t finish it.
  4. My kids’ school is closed including all sporting events
  5. The NCAA cancelled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
  6. The PGA cancelled or postponed several golf tournaments including The Masters.

The first 3 really are not that big of a deal considering I was under heavy anesthesia and I was told I could be pretty tired all day. Those last 2 though…they were doozies. I’ve been working March Madness for at least 15 years. It’s my favorite sporting event to work. That first week is AWESOME! If you like sports…you like the Madness. And to not have it this year is very disappointing. The other, The Masters, is another personal favorite event. I’ve worked Amen Corner for 13 years or so and now it has been postponed to a date that is yet undetermined.

So what is going on? Well…there’s a pandemic happening right now. The first of its kind in my lifetime and everything is being shut down. This goes for ALL sports (NBA, NHL, Racing, you name it). Schools are closed. People have been advised to stay indoors or stay at least 6 feet away from one another. Businesses are closed including restaurants. Grocery stores are running out of toilet paper and bread. The President is on tv every day telling everyone how bad it is (or isn’t, depending on what mood he is in) and the stock market is a shit show. No one knows when things will return to normal. There have been graphs and studies done showing what damage the Coronavirus has done in other countries. Local news has flashing red graphics and every headline is BREAKING NEWS! All in all…it’s easily the most insane thing I have ever seen.

9/11 was bad, for sure. After that morning of September 11th, it took weeks for everything to get back to normal. This has the opportunity to go for months. Currently I have no work booked until at least mid-May and that’s up in the air. There are industries that are in jeopardy. The government is contemplating sending money to families who find themselves in financial ruin. People are stuck in their homes. It’s only 5 days in to this situation and I’m at a loss. I’ve started putting together a resume for the first time in 20 years and I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. My back is still healing so I can’t lift anything heavy and I’ve been told to allow it time. I’m one of millions who are currently without work opportunities and looking at what IS available? It’s gonna require me to be able to do manual labor.

This is such a strange situation that I have no idea which way it will go. Guess we will find out. But this is for sure…next time I have surgery I’m definitely NOT doing it in March…

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Pain & Dealing With It

My Back

Pain…for me anyways…is literally a pain in the ass. I’ve been dealing with various symptoms of sciatica and back pain for many years and after so much of it, the idea of pain is really simply…how much can you deal with? I can’t say one way or another what my level of pain is. Everyone deals with pain in different ways. I’ve had friends who have had years of chronic pain, some who have fought cancer and won, some who have lost, some who have worse back pain than I do and some who have arm or leg or you name it pain. Fighting pain is the worst. It takes a lot of time and energy and depending on your ability to cope…it can take away days off your life.

For me…this particular adventure with my back buddy started in September of last year. It had been almost 3 years since my sciatic nerve had reared its angry head. I had 3 epidurals, some therapy and some dry needling and *POOF*…it was gone for 3 years. And then…it was back. Oddly enough though, this time it wasn’t a surprising sharp jab to the back that it normally is. This time, it was coming on slowly. This time, I figured I better get started on it early to try to ward off any of the normal pain that I get with this issue. So I started my stretches, went to therapy, got some electric stimulation and acupuncture treatments for a couple months…lasting through October until just before Christmas. Nothing helped. If anything, the pain kept getting worse and worse. So I decided to attack it head on. Went to get my first round of spinal steroid injections in December. It didn’t help. Suffered through until January and with the 2nd treatment and it started to feel a little better! So I was feeling good about myself, was even able to play basketball a few times without injury and thought I was on my way! But then…the 3rd epidural a couple weeks ago. I dunno what happened but…the 3rd one blew everything all out of whack again. I was pretty much back to where I began if not worse.

So…I’ve decided to go a different direction. Look…I’ve been dealing with back issues since college. Bulging discs and arthritis are my enemies and considering what some people have to deal with? I’m willing to accept them. But they hurt and they aren’t pleasant to deal with. I feel like I have a certain level of pain tolerance but I’m quickly learning that as I age…that tolerance begins to waver a bit. I’m not 29 anymore. I can’t be fighting leg and back pain and still be an active 50 year old. So I’ve made a decision. I’m gonna have a non-invasive surgery to try to clear this up.

First off…it ain’t spinal fusion. I have a friend who just had that procedure done and I hope that he recovers quickly but that is a few months of recovery time and I don’t have that kind of time. No…this is a simply discectomy. L5-S1. Basically…the gel in the discs that separate the spinal bones have been thinning out and the one that lies in the L5-S1 area has burst a little, allowing some gel to seep out and it’s pressing on my sciatic nerve. Try as I might, that stuff just isn’t going to disappear. And I think that 3rd epidural caused some undue shifting or something in there because now it’s worst off than it was and I’ve had enough.

So on March 12th, 5 days prior to the beginning of March Madness, I’m gonna go in for an hour long procedure. The doctor (who is highly recommended and has been nothing short of awesome the couple times I’ve met him), will make a small incision in my lower back, he will push aside some back muscles (assuming I still have some back there) and he will remove whatever is pressing on that nerve and then he will sow me back up and kick me out into the world. I’ll be in & out in under 45 minutes and if all goes well…all this pain that I’ve been suffering through will be at least whittled down to something more manageable. Right now…you’d swear I was 80 years old the way I’m walking around.

Anyway…I figured I’d just write all this down in order to let everyone know. I’m not worried about it and I’m not scared. If anything I feel like it’s probably about time. This procedure has been going on for years, works 95% of the time and has worked for several of my friends. I’m just hoping I get the positive results I’m looking for so I can get on with my life. The last few months have been difficult and the past 2 weeks have been the worst of them all. Here’s hoping I can get through the next week and a half without too much pain and then I’ll be on my way! Wish me luck!

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My Favorites Of 2019

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As we wrap up another decade, I considered going back and doing a “Favorites of the last 10 years” post but….upon further review…that might be a little much. I can’t remember yesterday, let alone try to remember something I saw or did in 2010. So I figured I’d just break it down for this year and call it a day. Here are my favorites from the year of 2019. Enjoy!

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This year was excellent when it came to film. While there are still several critically hailed movies that I have yet to see (“1917” & “JoJo Rabbit” come to mind), I’ll go with what I HAVE seen and leave it at that for New Years Eve…

5. “Captain Marvel” – I know, I know. A lot of people would question this simply because, in a year with so many OTHER superhero films and with this one being critically lauded as too simple and boring, why is it one of my favorites? Well…I saw this movie 3 times in the theater and bought it and have watched it maybe 5 or more times and each time I can say this…I was entertained. I love superhero movies and I thought Brie Larson made a great superhero! I enjoyed the storyline and her introduction and I can’t wait to see the next step in the character’s evolution.

4. “Booksmart” – A John Hughes-esque comedy released in 2019, this little gem took me back to my youth and gave me hope for this generation of teenagers. A coming of age story of 2 nerdy senior girls, this will take you on a journey that will leave you laughing, crying and wishing it didn’t have to end. I loved it.

3. “Avengers: Endgame” – Do I even have to get into it? It’s Marvel’s masterpiece and crowning jewel of a storyline that was 10 years in the making. I love superhero movies. Nuff said.

2. “Doctor Sleep” – Probably the last full book I read…back in 2013…and this movie nailed the characters and the vibe of the book. I loved how it tied “The Shining” and a grown up Danny Torrence together and created a fresh new story with a character I already knew. It all makes complete sense and the wrap up was completely satisfying.

1. “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood” – When I saw this in the theater, I walked away not really sure WHAT I thought of it. After repeatedly viewings, I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite Tarantino movies. It takes us inside the late 60’s, allowing us to observe the end of THAT decade through the eyes of several characters and somehow manages to mix in a true-life horror storyline and twist it in a way only Tarantino could. All involved are awesome, Brad Pitt steals the show and DiCaprio has possibly one of my favorite scenes ever in a movie when he throws a tantrum…on himself. This movie is for any person who loves movies, music and doesn’t need a movie wrapped up in a nice little bow.

A few extra notes on this year in movies…

Most Overrated Film: “Ad Astra” (As good as Pitt was in OUATIH, he’s a complete bore in this one.)

Film I Was Most Disappointed In (But Will Probably Watch Again): It Chapter 2 (Perfectly cast and yet not an entirely satisfying ending to this Stephen King 2-parter.)

Film Everyone Loved That I Will Probably Never Watch: The Irishman (It’s Scorcese & his cast of cronies. Hasn’t this been done already?)

Most Pleasant Surprise Considering The Reviews: Star Wars IX – The Rise Of Skywalker (Don’t know what else you could expect from this series. It wrapped up a lot of storylines and was darker and more entertaining than the previous two.)

Movie I Watched & Wished I Hadn’t: The Art Of Self-Defense (A dark “comedy” that I was excited to see but just couldn’t get into it. Maybe some day I’ll revisit it but I just didn’t like it that much and was disappointed.)

Weirdest Movie Of The Year With The Most Outstanding Cast: The Dead Don’t Die (I love zombie movies but this one is the most bizarre of them all.)

Surprisingly Fun Movies That I’d Recommend If You Just Want Something To Watch But Don’t Want To Think Too Much: The Peanut Butter Falcon, Good Boys, Yesterday (I enjoyed all 3 and would recommend all 3 if you’re in the mood to relax. “Good Boys” has a lot of cursing and sex talk by middle schoolers but that’s what makes it so funny!)

Movie I Didn’t Like That People Will Give Me The Most Heat About: Joker (I know, I know. It’s a super-VILLAIN movie, it’s got all the critical accolades, the lead is one of my favorite actors working today…how could I NOT like this movie? Maybe BECAUSE it was all of the above and I had such high expectations? I dunno. But I watched this movie and was just bored. “But it’s following him into madness as he morphs into one of the most revered villains of all-time!” Yeah…and we get to watch every step. And we get to watch Phoenix primp and preen in front of mirrors, dance alone in bathrooms and basically try to make the character darker than Heath Ledger did but…I didn’t get it. So sue me.)

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Moving on to music, let me just say…there was a LOT of good music this year and it may be one of the strongest as far as the music that I’ve been listening to. I admittedly am an iTunes “searcher” when it comes to my music (which limits me to whatever iTunes decides to put out there) but I do try to go deeper into genre catalogues and find that there are a lot of great musicians out there in ALL genres. I’m not as into today’s modern rap but I still managed to find some that I like and could even find some EDM that I enjoyed. That being said…here are my Top 10 favorite tracks of 2019…

10. “No Plan” – Hozier

9. “Do It Like That” – NOISY

8. “Suck On Light” – Boy & Bear

7. “Them Cold Eyes” – Spiral Stairs

6. “Mr. Radioactive” – Bear Hands

5. “Remember To Breathe” – Sturgill Simpson

4. “Hypersonic Missiles” – Sam Fender

3. “Kiss Like The Sun” – Jake Bugg

2. “Now Or Never” – The Hawkeyes

1. “Father Of All…” – Green Day

Pretty much all alternative rock songs but if I posted my complete Top 25 there would be tracks by Max B (reminds me of 2Pac), Moon Hooch (delicious saxophone) and Midland (with one of the catchiest country line dance tracks since Billy Ray Cyrus). It was a great year for music and that makes it difficult to pick my favorite album of the year but…not really. I’ve burned this one out and I’m going to see this artist in concert in February. I’ve loved all of his albums even though he’s skewed genres each and every time he’s released an album. This one is all rock and not only are all the tracks awesome…but the album art is possibly the greatest ever! As an added bonus…the guy released a short anime film that featured his music that was one of the hippest things on Netflix this year. My favorite album of 2019 was…Sturgill Simpson’s “SOUND & FURY”.

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When it came to television, I pretty much strayed away from over-the-air tv. I don’t really get into watching sitcoms or dramas anymore and have become a straight binge watcher. For that reason, my interests and likes are pretty few. But if I were to recommend something to watch? I’d go with the following…

5. “The Umbrella Academy”

4. “The Mandalorian”

3. “Living With Yourself” (The only non-superhero type series on this list, Paul Rudd is great in this and the premise is kind of silly but works!)

2. “Watchmen”

1. “The Boys”

As for life Top Moments, there wasn’t a whole lot to report. I turned 51, went to some concerts, suffered through some late year back pain, went on vacation to the west coast, worked a lot. Pretty much the same kind of story as every year. But I’d say the Christopher college experience had been my family’s biggest story as we search for his college choice for next year. He was accepted at Kentucky, Ohio and Northern Kentucky but we are still in limbo as we wait to hear from Cincinnati (the front-runner at this point). Obviously, being an Ohio grad, I would love for him to go to Athens but I get the feeling he’d like to go to the premier business school in our area AND be close to home. We will see soon enough what his options are and I imagine next year will be an entirely different post about life after his departure but for now? Having a happy, healthy and stable life is the best story I can tell and I’m ok with that. Finding humor is the most important way that I handle so much and I feel good for my age. I hope the coming year continues along the same path and I look forward to another decade of life!

(Knock on wood)

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This “Last” Will Be Special

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With this being Chris’ senior year, there are going to be a lot of “lasts” that he will be experiencing. There was the last “first day of high school”, his last Homecoming dance, his last “first practice of the season.” And there will be many more as this year goes flying by. Tonight though…this one is gonna be tough. Tonight will be his last regular season football game, it’ll be Senior Night for the Beechwood Tigers and this will be the last time that I will know that when he takes the field, it won’t be my last time watching him play. Playoffs start next week and, as a parent, you know going in that it could be their last game. There is no safety net. If they lose….they’re done. Which is why tonight is so special. And that will be the last time I get to see him run onto the field, put on his helmet and play ball with the 12 other guys that we’ve had the pleasure to watch grow into fantastic young men while having a sense that I WILL get to see him play at least one more time.

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10+ years ago, on August 27th, 2009, his mother and I watched as he took the field with his Spartan teammates at Robert A. Warner Field. Little did we know the culture we would become a part of, the friends we would make and the elation of winning or the deflation of losing that having a son who played football would bring. It sure has been an exciting ride! From winning a couple local youth football championships to winning 3 state championships, every year has brought something new to store away in the memory bank. It has been a pleasure to watch and it is going to be incredibly hard to not have this anymore.

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So many memories. I don’t even know where to begin really so I won’t. Writing this has me tearing up and I don’t want to spend one more moment of this day being sad. This is a celebration. My parents are coming into town to be here for Senior Night. It’s going to be a cold evening. I plan on having some hot chocolate, I want to sit with our friends and I want to enjoy this for what it is…an exciting moment in my son’s young history. It will be the first time I get to experience seeing what this game has meant to him. Our family will walk across midfield with him before the game and the fans and parents and friends will clap and wish us well. It will be something I haven’t experienced since MY senior night with my basketball team so many years ago. And then they will face off against a tough opponent whose quarterback is the son of a friend of mine. That one will be tough to watch because I’ve watched Chris and his friends take on Paul and his teammates for years now and his Dad and I always have great discussions about their performances. It’s a great rivalry and knowing that this is the last regular season game will make it all the more sweeter if we can pull out a victory.

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It’s been a awesome 10-year ride and I’ve got photos and video to prove it. Maybe some day I’ll go back through and re-watch and re-live all of this but for now? I just want to enjoy tonight and be there for Christopher. I don’t know if he realizes what is happening or even thought about it on this level but I know I have been. For weeks now. And I’m so proud of him and his team for what they’ve accomplished. It was a rough start for sure, going 1-4 after winning a state championship is a lot of pressure. But they have come roaring back, winning 4 in a row and now sit with a 5-4 record and the chance to win against a tough team tonight. It’s exciting and it’s made for a great season!

Anyway…I’m waxing nostalgic and just wanted to get this down before I move on with my day. Tonight is going to be special and I don’t want to miss a second of it. So….

GO TIGERS!!!!

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West Coast Vacation 2019

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This year for our summer family vacation, we headed out west to San Francisco and La La Land. While I kinda wanted to go to Seattle (my favorite town), we thought maybe we could do that at another point because neither of the kids had ever been past Denver and there is a LOT to do in the 2 largest cities on the west coast. So…I managed to find direct flights for Steph and the kids so that they could fly directly into San Francisco. They arrived early and went to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. They then spent the next couple days visiting Stephanie’s cousin, Chris, and his wife Maggie and their kids. They visited downtown San Fran during the Gay Pride Parade and also drove down Lombard Street. They also drove north to go to a state park and see some redwood trees!

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On Monday night, I joined them in San Fran (I had to work over that weekend) and on Tuesday we all piled into our rental and made our way down the Pacific Coastline, driving through Pebble Beach, Big Sur and San Luis Obispo and seeing some amazing sites! We took a ton of pictures, ate at Nepenthe and saw some giant ass elephant seals sleeping the day away.

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On Wednesday, we took a studio tour of Warner Brothers. We got a behind the scenes look at a Hollywood studio with a fake town, lots of movie props and a couple of famous sets! We had a blast on the tour despite not seeing anyone famous or being allowed to take any photos of the Ellen studio (for whatever reason).

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That evening, we met up with Stephanie’s former roommate, Robin, and her family. We ate at Yamashiro, a Hollywood restaurant that overlooks the Los Angeles skyline and told a lot of stories of our younger, television news days. We had a blast and the dinner, while costing a fortune, was worth every penny. It was a highlight of our trip, for sure! That night, we went down to the Santa Monica Pier and took Ava on her first Ferris wheel experience. How this child got through almost 15 years of living without getting on a giant wheel is beyond me…

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On Thursday, as we prepared for our July 4th Los Angeles bus tour, we experienced our very first earthquake! We were all just getting dressed and relaxing when we could feel the hotel sway. The light above my head starting drifting from left to right. It was an odd feeling but I can’t say I was really scared. It was just a just a unique feeling. After that and after grabbing some coffee and grub from Philz Coffee Shop, we hopped on our tour bus. As our guide (also named Alan) drove us around Hollywood, we got to see some cool locations including The Viper Room, Rodeo Drive, Justin Bieber’s former party house and a slew of other Hollywood greats’ homes. We stopped off at the market for lunch and got a chance to hang at the Walk Of Fame to take some photos. The most disappointing part of the tour was not really getting a close up of the Hollywood sign. Apparently the locals don’t like people hanging out in the Hollywood Hills and so our bus wasn’t really able to stop at too many locations. Oh well…it was still a fun ride!

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On Friday, our last full day in Los Angeles, Christopher and I crossed one off MY bucket list as we got up early and went down to Venice Beach and played basketball at the courts made famous by the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”. We met some guys and played 2-on-2 for about 2 hours. We didn’t shoot particularly well but we had a great time and now I can say I did it! Later that afternoon, we met up with another of Stephanie’s friends from high school and had lunch. That evening we went to see “Spider-Man: Far From Home” at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater (cross of ANOTHER bucket list item!) in Hollywood. Needless to say…it’s one of the premier theaters in America and it was amazing seeing a movie there AND experience earthquake #2 in 2 days! This time though, it was a little unnerving to see people rush for the exits as the floor was vibrating and the theater rocked a little bit. Stephanie and I looked at each other, not sure what to do and as we contemplated our escape (where’s The Rock when you need him?), the tremor stopped and we continued on with the movie! So weird that in all my travels I’ve never experienced an earthquake and now I can say I’ve sat through 2 of them…

On Saturday, we packed up and headed to the airport but not before stopping at In N Out for some burgers before we left the left coast. Thanks for the memories California! Maybe someday we will make it to Seattle but until then…THIS trip was definitely one to remember!!!

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A Very Good Year

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Wow. I mean…when I look back at this past year, 2018 might go down as one of the best in my life. As I sit here, trying to remember all that happened, I found I had to write them down because of the volume. Despite the fact that we really didn’t get a “family” vacation last year like the previous year, my family joined me in San Antonio where they got to go to the NCAA Championship. While I’m sure that was a cool moment for them, I had to work but it WAS my first time actually working the actual broadcast of the Final Four for CBS. But the memory I will take away from that event will be playing basketball with Fer and my work friends the night prior to the big game! I had a dream many years ago of actually PLAYING in a Final Four but this honestly was the next best thing!

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I actually would say this past year was a very big year for Christopher more than anyone. Going to the National Championship was a highlight of MANY highlights for him which would also include turning 16, getting his drivers permit and license, getting a new car and winning a 3rd state football championship! As you can imagine, I’m always proud of him but this year was, by all accounts, pretty spectacular for him.

Ava also had a great year! She was involved in multiple theater performances including a big role in “Bah Humbug”, she joined the golf team and got a lot of experience this season and seems to have taken a liking to the sport, and she spent a week at summer camp and made several friends who I think she will remain friends with for many years!

Stephanie also had a lot going on in 2018. With her job keeping her busy and all of the things that she does at the kids’ school, she was constantly on the run but she DID find time to go to a few concerts, entertained her friends here in Cincinnati and got a new car this year!

As for me…well…I cleared a few artists off my concert bucket list. Saw Sammy Hagar and Phil Collins in back-to-back nights with my BFF, JT. I also saw Radiohead, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Charlie Puth & Hailee Steinfeld (HEY! It was for Ava’s birthday!). I got to work some big events which included the Final Four, the Super Bowl, The Masters, U.S. Open, & the PGA Championship. I also managed to get out to Pebble Beach for the first (and second) time.

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This was a great year for entertainment as well. Loved “Avengers: Infinity War” and “It”. Enjoyed listening to new albums by Jason Aldean, The Wombats, White Denim and a band named “Fucked Up,” which was probably my favorite album of the year despite their awful name.

Oh…and I turned 50 this year and got to celebrate with my family at Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the year) and with many friends I don’t get to see much anymore. I got a new set of golf clubs, a new golf bag and an invitation to play in a 50 & over basketball league starting in January. All in all…a pretty good deal!

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This year wasn’t without some sadness though. My Uncle Jimmy (y Dad’s younger brother) passed away a couple months ago. We lost our neighbor, Tonya, early in the summer. I also lost a few close work friends (RIP Janice, Zark and Robert). Celebrities who passed include Burt Reynolds, Aretha Franklin, Stan Lee, Stephen Hawking and Neil Simon. Politically we lost 3 HUGE names in former President George Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and Senator John McCain.

 

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A Half A Century

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Sooooo…I’m 50.

Seriously…I had to pause and look at that before I moved on because…it just seems so…crazy? Odd? What is the word I’m looking for? Unbelievable?

When you’re a kid…50 sounds OLD. Hell…when you’re in your 20’s, 50 sounds old. Actually…make that your 30’s also. Then you hit 40 and realize that 50 is right around the corner. And now…here it is.

Today…I am 50. A HALF of 100.

So yeah. THAT happened today.

What can I tell you about life? Hell…I don’t know. I swear I looked in the mirror a couple weeks ago and I was in my 20’s. Now? I’m 50?!?!?

What the hell happened???

There’s a scene in a movie called “Liberal Arts” that I can relate to. In this film from 2012, a guy goes back to visit one of his college professors. As they sit at a table and talk, the professor, played by Richard Jenkins, and his student, played by Josh Radnor, have this discussion…

Prof. Peter Hoberg: You know how old I am?

Jesse Fisher: No, how old are you?

Prof. Peter Hoberg: It’s none of your goddamn business. Do you know how old I feel like I am?

Jesse Fisher: [shrugs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: 19. Since I was 19, I have never felt not 19. But I shave my face, and I look in the mirror, and I’m forced to say, “This is not a 19-year-old staring back at me.”

[sighs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Teaching here all these years, I’ve had to be very clear with myself, that even when I’m surrounded by 19-year-olds, and I may have felt 19, I’m not 19 anymore. You follow me?

Jesse Fisher: Yeah.

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.

This pretty much sums it up. I’ve never actually FELT like an adult. Sure…I have adult problems and have to deal with adult issues BUT…despite some nagging back injuries and a couple kidney stones…I have always felt 19. Obviously, this ideology comes back to haunt me every time I decide to drive to the basket a little too hard or I try to pick up a air conditioner without bending my knees. And that’s the thing about growing older, I think. You can stay young mentally on so many levels. But your body has its own agenda and it WILL have a say in how you live your life. You can work hard at keeping fit, eat healthy and do all the right things, but in the end…it’s the body that makes the difference. I don’t FEEL 50…until I get into the 4th game of the morning and my knees start to ache and my back starts to get tight. I don’t feel any differently other than that. I’m still me. I have a few grey grey hairs that tell me otherwise but…I feel pretty good for being a half of a century old.

Lately I’ve had a lot of people look at me funny when I tell them I’m turning 50 and that makes me feel good. Apparently I don’t LOOK 50. I’m sure my lifestyle has a lot to do with that. I’m living a pretty good life. I’ve worked hard but the job I have isn’t necessarily the most physically demanding job. I move around a lot, get ample enough exercise, don’t sit around too much. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink (often). Have never touched drugs of any kind that haven’t been prescribed. I don’t ride a motorcycle, don’t walk with my back to traffic and always look both ways…twice. So I have my ways of dealing.

I wish I had some sage advice…but I don’t. Everyone lives their life in different ways and 50 years in, I can honestly say that I’ve done more than I ever dreamed I would. Been to a lot of places, seen a lot of things and made a lot of friends. I’ve made mistakes, done some dumb things and lived. I remember not wearing a seatbelt when I was young. THAT could have been deadly but…still here. Rode a bike without a helmet. Drank out of a water hose. Didn’t die from a deadly virus. So far, (knock on wood) things have been pretty damn good. 50 years of pretty damn good is, without a doubt, an excellent life for me.

So today I turn 50. So what? I survived my 40’s. That’s about all I can really celebrate here. I made it another 10 years! Woohoo! And with each passing year I write a little less and talk a little lower because if there is one thing I’ve learned in my years it’s that…no one really gives a crap.

It’s life…we all live it and we live it to the best of our abilities. So get on back out there and keep at it, young man!

And so…I will.

Peace!

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Aaaaaaand Another State Championship (Three-peat)

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For the 3rd season in a row, the Beechwood Tigers have won a Kentucky state football championship in Division 1A play. This year, Chris moved to wide receiver and cornerback and was able to get some time in with varsity while also playing a majority of snaps with the JV squad. This year’s crop of seniors dominated playing time on the varsity level and for good reason. The graduating senior class has been to the state title every single year! So…4 years in a row they made it to the final and this year they got a little revenge. Facing a tough opponent and the team that beat them 4 years ago, the Pikeville Panthers. It wasn’t an easy win, with both teams trading the lead a few times during the game. It all came down to a missed extra point as the Tigers intercepted a Pikeville pass into the end zone with a little over a minute left in the game to win 21-20! It was one of the best football games I’ve seen at any level and one that will forever be a great memory for Chris and all of his buddies!

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A New Driver In The House

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16 years I’ve been driving this kid around. When he was an infant, I strapped him into his car seat and listened to him screaming when we bought a new Ford Explorer (I wanted to pull the car over and leave him by the side of the road! Obviously that didn’t happen…) and as the years have gone by, I’ve driven him and his friends to wherever they’ve needed to be for whichever sport they happened to be playing. But THIS week? I lost that privilege. Fer is officially a driver out on the roads of Kentucky now…and my gut feeling is that he’s gonna be a good one! He is careful (at least when I’m in the car), drives responsibly and has a good sense of what is around him and what to watch for. Apparently he gets ALL of those attributes from me…because his mother is a terrible driver. (just kidding. But not really. But I am!)

Anyway…if ya see him out on the road give him a honk (because then he will think he’s done something wrong and that will totally drive him nuts!) and a wave! I’m proud of him and can’t decide if I’m happy that we now have another driver in the house (AND a new car insurance policy) or if I’m sad because now I’m needed even LESS than I already am. Either way…it’s a huge change in our household. Feels weird. And let the “Can I borrow some money for gas?” questions begin!

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