Friday, August 29, 2014

Music and memories....

Our home received a new addition this past week.

An RCA Victor Stereo Console.

In the notes my mother in law had written prior to her

passing, she had made her desire known that it was to

come to North Carolina and reside with us.

It has a place of prominence in our den.

Marianne and I each brought music to our marriage.

Albums. Singles. LP's. 45's.

They were resurrected this week.

Songs we hadn't heard in years.

We sang along thanks to our our subconscious, which

had filed away every lyric and guitar lick.

Mountains of memories of people, places and things.

And the emotions tied to each.

To drop a needle on the groove.

To hear the crackle and hiss of a diamond on vinyl.

It's not as much how it sounds to the ear.

It's how it sounds to the heart.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You don't need to be a detective.....

I had lunch today with two of my best baby boomer buddies.

If you had been sitting nearby with your back to us, you would

have immediately pegged us as members of that elite

generation, due to one gigantic clue.

Our topics of conversation.

Within seconds of greeting each other, we seamlessly

slid from "What's up?" to "What hurts?".

Second subject was diet.  What we can eat and what we can't eat.

Third subject was what procedure we just endured and/or

what procedure was coming up.

A strong bond between friends is made even stronger when

sharing what the first thing you said was after you regained consciousness

after a colonoscopy.

We "get" each other.  We support each other.

Iron sharpens iron.

We'll do it again in another month or two.

Pick up right where we left off.

Then probably pick up prescriptions on the way home...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back To $chool.........

"When did 'Back To School' become big business?".

I asked this aloud as I stood in Staples yesterday to buy

some printer ink.

I was halfway down a line that stretched twenty deep.

And to think, this was even before the kids know exactly

what each class will specifically need.

When I was in school....(Cue the eye rolling from the kids)

I needed a few #2 pencils, some loose leaf notebook paper,

a three ring binder (With "subject dividers" if you wanted to

be all fancy), a protractor and some Bic pens.

We carried our books, stacked on top of one another,

and hooked under our strongest arm, wedged against our


 There were zero backpacks.

There were no parades of parents at the beginning and end of

every school day dropping off and picking up kids.

We walked, pedaled our bikes or rode the bus.

My "social media" was television and I was allowed one hour

a night.

Today is different. I'm not saying anything other than that.

And one more question.

When did printer ink become big business?!?!?!?.......

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Givers and Takers.....

It's part of the Yin and Yang of life, I suppose.

Some people take. Some people give.

Over the weekend, my family and I, like millions of others,

participated in the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to raise funds and

awareness for ALS, aka "Lou Gehrig's Disease".  It has gone "viral"

on social media and millions of dollars have been raised through

the effort.  It was a fun thing to do, and we made a donation.

I just saw an online survey that revealed almost 50%

of people said that they would never do something

like that.  I'm sure they have their reasons.  Maybe they think it

would be embarrassing. Maybe they don't want to be cold

and wet for a few seconds.  Maybe they don't have the money to


The bothersome thing to me is that some of them won't

because they just don't care.  About ALS patients.  Or about

anything.  You know, the "What's in it for me?" folks.

These are the Takers.

There are all kinds of ways to give.

You can give financial support to great causes. You can give

your time as a volunteer.  You can give your wisdom in a

mentoring role.  You can give a kind word or deed when and

where it's needed.

Takers do none of that.

It took me a long time to realize the truth in the saying, "It is

better to give than to receive."  I've found that it feels better too.

Danny Thomas famously said, "There are two kinds of people in

the world. Givers and Takers. The Takers may eat better, but the

Givers sleep better..."

And I enjoy my sleep.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"The King is dead...."

On this date 37 years ago, August 16, 1977, I was the mid day disc

jockey and music director at WROV-AM in Roanoke, Virginia.

Around 12:30 a listener called in and asked me if Elvis was dead.

"Are you kiddin'??? No. Elvis is definitely NOT dead."

Late that afternoon I was in my apartment when I noticed that our

afternoon guy was playing Elvis' "Suspicious Minds". I found this odd

because in those days the guys on the air could choose their own

oldies to play.  The current hits had to be played in a particular

order and rotation, but freedom of choice was the rule for the older songs.

I could easily figure out who was on the air simply by hearing the chosen

tunes.  Our afternoon guy never played Elvis stuff. Never.

As the song ended, he announced that Elvis had been found dead

at Graceland at approximately 2:30 that afternoon.

Hmmmmmm.......How did that caller know that he was dead

two hours before he was found?  I went on the air the next day

and asked her to call in again.  I never heard from her, and it

still remains a mystery to me.

Years later in the late 80's, rumors started that Elvis had faked

his own death, and there were "sightings" of him at random

fast food joints around the country.  By then I was doing mornings

in Durham, North Carolina, and we hatched an idea to broadcast

live from Graceland on the morning of  his anticipated return.

I don't recall the date of our broadcast, but I remember the

mathmatical formula for it. The date....month, day and year....would

add up to the total of 2001. Reports were that Elvis believed most

strongly in numerology, and would return on the date that would

match the title of the music that became his "theme song" that played

just before he appeared onstage at his concerts....The theme from

"2001: A Space Odyssey".

As you know, Elvis did not return on that date, or any other for that matter.

That we know of.

And if you think we were totally nuts for imagining that he would

on such a specific date, consider this.

The date of his death was August 16, 1977.

Add up the numbers.  8+16+1977...

Long live the King.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stop the stigma....

I am one of the fortunate ones.

My Dad died on September 3, 2001.

The Towers fell a week and a day later.

In the days that followed, I noticed that I would stand

in my closet in the morning and I couldn't decide

which shirt to wear.  I would stare at my choices and be

unable to just pick one.

I lost interest in everything.

I didn't feel depressed.

I didn't feel anything.

I eventually ended up in a counselor's office, but I wasn't sure why.

"I'm not sure how this works.", I told her.

"Just tell me what's going on.", she replied.

I didn't think I had much to say.

90 minutes later I stopped talking.

"What do you think?", I asked.

"What do you think?", she replied.

"I think I'm depressed."


I came out of it.  I get sad from time to time, but nothing like


But I have seen deep clinical depression in loved ones.

Total breaks with reality.

Friends and family have the very best of intentions when they say,

"But you've got so much to be happy about!!!"

"Just count your blessings!!!"

"Snap out of it!!!"

It ain't that simple.

Depression and mental illness aren't tangible.

We can't see it.

It's in the mind.

It's like a ghost that sneaks up on you.

Pay attention to those around you.

If a friend or family member asks if your wife/husband/Mom/Dad

are OK, perhaps they see something you don't.

Maybe an intervention is in order to motivate a loved one to

seek help for a problem they don't even know they have.

The tragic death of Robin Williams has raised awareness of the

seriousness of mental illness.  We can hope that such awareness

will lead to lives being saved.

But we must...


Monday, August 11, 2014

Rest in peace Robin....

Shazbot.  If you're familiar with the 70's comedy series "Mork And Mindy",

you know that to be a profanity uttered by Robin Williams' alien character Mork.

We were out to eat with friends when the word came down that Robin

Williams had died, possibly by suicide.  He was only 63.

I must confess that I was shocked. And then I wasn't.

This man with the craziest improvisations, this man who brought doses of

delight to millions, and who moved us with his roles in "Good Will Hunting",

"Dead Poets Society" and "Awakenings" had some major inner demons.

Admitted problems with drugs and alcohol, hand in hand with depression,

are not uncommon in the entertainment world.

By all accounts, he was always on.  Always making the audience laugh.

But we can only guess what he was like when there was no audience.

When he turned out the light and his head hit the pillow, where did his

thoughts take him?

How sad and how ironic that a man so adept at making us all laugh

through his need for acceptance, couldn't find a way to accept himself.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

I'll start again.....tomorrow.

I weighed this morning.  It had been a while.  Apparently.

During the season of Lent I gave up all sweets, allowing myself

some Greek yogurt with honey at night as a substitute for my

ice cream fix.

This reverent strategy helped me drop 12 pounds during the 40 days

of observance.

Another 10 pounds was the goal.


A road trip to Tennessee for a family reunion with a lot of

Marianne's special trail mix along the way, country cookin'

and fast food stops (Because it's illegal to go to Tennessee

and not eat at a Krystal...) all contributed to my weighty


After I weighed this morning, I gave myself the talk that most

of us give ourselves at a time like that.

Out came the dumb bells and the kettle bell and the "Perfect Pushup"

thingies....I cranked out pushups, squats, curls and crunches. It was back

onboard the "Pain Train" baby, 'cause I was gonna get in shape today!!!

Lean proteins, veggies and lots of water were in order.

Then...........just minutes ago............I walked into the kitchen.

Marianne said, "I found a bunch of Oreo's that we forgot we had.

Now they're kinda stale...", as she shoved one of 'em into my mouth.

If Oreo's had been created in the Book of Genesis, I'm pretty sure

that Eve wouldn't have tempted Adam with a piece of fruit.

My brain shutdown. I was like a shark on a feeding frenzy.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together after a few minutes.

I had righted the ship.  I was back on course.

But one burning question remained.

How does anyone forget they had Oreo's?????

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Better vision with age......

Yep...You read that right.

My vision has improved with age.

Of course, I've had LASIK surgery and cataract surgery on both eyes.

And I have reading glasses scattered around home and Hyundai.

But that's not the kind of vision I'm talkin' about.

I'm referring more to the definition of "vision" as "perception".

I think I see things a little more clearly these days.

I see the things that matter most in sharper focus.

I also see the things that don't matter.

I see the little moments in life as some of life's biggest.

I see the friends who have stuck around when the road got rough.

I believe that I see into events and through people better than ever.

My "Phony-O-Meter" has become finely tuned.

So has my "Real-O-Meter"....

Some things do get better with age....

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Please remove your shoes, and we'll remove our common sense..."

The text came in yesterday afternoon. Our daughter Jessica, whose business

name is "Rosy Revolver", was hung up at a security gate at Phoenix's Sky

Harbor Airport.

"Do you have a gun in your purse?", whispered the TSA agent.

"No. Oooohhhhhhhhhh.................."

She had been teaching a jewelry class in Phoenix and one of her students

thought it would be a neat thing to give Jessica a toy revolver as a token of

her appreciation for teaching her some of the craft.

I was concerned when she let us know because I'm very aware that some

toy guns can easily be confused for the real deal.

All passengers behind her had been re-routed to another line.

Backup was called. Five TSA agents hovered.

After much debate, it was deemed that she was not a credible threat

to her flight.

She handed the "gun" to me earlier today.

My brain was officially boggled.

I understand that we live in a post-9/11 world.

I'm totally onboard with our need for increased security.

But......this toy resembles a "real" gun about as much as those

little bags of pretzels they dole out on the plane resemble

a "real" snack.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rainy day doze........

As I type this, my wife Marianne is asleep in her chair.  It's been

raining on and off all day here in North Carolina.

She and I both got a solid eight hours of snooze last night.

She really shouldn't be sleepy.

The house is quiet.  The ceiling fan is spinning in low gear.

The dogs are curled up on their beds. Both are snoring.

I don't think she was wanting to fall asleep.

Sometimes that's the best kind of nap.

When you think you're focused on something and you

notice that your eyes are crossing.

Or you have some random thought and it penguin

dawns on you that you were almost dreaming.

Yep. That's some pretty good nappin' right there.

To be totally focused on somethin' and before you know

it, you've drifted off to sle

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fading memories....

The irony is not lost on me. The fact that I can't remember the last

time my oldest brother Terry called me by name.

Why would I make note of such a thing?  He had called me

"Billy", "Bill" or "Bubba" my entire life.

Until he didn't.

Because he couldn't.

He doesn't remember.

Today's visit was pretty tough.

I scrolled through photos on my phone.

He recognized a couple faces. Our Dad. Our dog Missy from

forty years ago.

No, he didn't call me by name.  But on this first day of August, 2014

he called me "brother"....

I won't forget.