Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday, 3/22


The final piece of our trip puzzle has finally fallen into place.

One month from tomorrow we leave for our nine-day soccer trip to Germany. Everything has been in place for months with one exception, an exception that some might consider kind of important considering our whole reason for going over there is to see a particular soccer game.

That one exception? Tickets to the game.

It wasn't our fault; the Bundesliga (the German soccer league) hadn't released the times and days of the final few games of the season for their teams. They were waiting to see how a couple of those teams fared in the Champions League, along with which games they wanted to put on Friday nights (their version of “Monday Night Football”. Well, it's now all been decided, and we will be watching RB Leipzig and SC Freiburg play in Leipzig on Saturday afternoon, April 27th.

We can't wait.

We actually haven't purchased the tickets yet. We can't until Wednesday morning at 10 Central European Time, which is (at the moment) 5am our time. I know I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how it's impossible for me to function before noon, so I'm hoping Loraine has no trouble clicking on whatever she needs to click on to get the tickets, as I'll probably be standing behind her with one eye open and 95% of my brain power still in sleep mode.

But at least we'll have our tickets.

Now that we know the exact day (and time) of the game, we can set firm times for some of the other things we wanted to do in Leipzig, including hopping on a train and heading over to the nearby town of Weissenfels, where Loraine and the town's mayor held a joint press conference six years ago, to see some friends. We also want to explore Leipzig itself, something we haven't had much of a chance to do. When we first settled on this trip we knew we'd be able to do all of that; we just didn't know when.

Now we do.

I won't know for a couple of weeks, but the game we're going to may be on TV here in the US. Fox Sports shows Bundesliga games, and with RB Leipzig being in 3rd place in the league there's a good chance it may air here, especially considering that league powerhouse Bayern Munich (the evil Bayern Munich, as they're known around our apartment) playing the next day. If so, I'll let you know, not because we plan on being on TV but so anyone who's interested may get a glimpse of the raucous atmosphere we're subjecting ourselves to.

Now that the tickets are set (if not totally finalized) that's the last thing that needs to be taken care of, aside from the usual last minute stuff like packing. But we still have 32 days left for that.

It's gonna be cool.

On that note, have yourself a great weekend. If you're waiting for YOUR tickets to go on sale, I hope it happens soon!

8-)


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday, 3/21


Wow. I can't believe we're done for the year.

I'll have to keep this kinda short, because I'm off to NMU in a bit to tape the final episodes of “High School Bowl” for the year. We're doing two shows today, the semi-finals and the finals, and it puts the wraps on another fun season, a season that seems like it just started yesterday.

But now, it's over.

I don't why it seems like it's been a short season, especially considering all of the weather related crap we went through. Maybe it's because we shot shows in groups this year; five shows in three weeks here, three shows in three days there. Maybe it's because after five years I actually kinda know what I'm doing. I'm not sure. It just seems strange, but that's how it goes. It has been a blast this season, and despite all of the challenges I'm very sorry to see it come to an end. Some familiar teams have made the semis, while there are a couple of surprises in there, as well. I can't wait to see how it turns out later today. You might have to wait a few more weeks to see it for yourself, but trust me when I say this—there are some amazing moments still to come this season.

The season that, like I said, wraps up shooting in just a few minutes.

With that, I'm off to make sure my tie is straight. Tomorrow, the final piece of the puzzle falls into place.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday, 3/21


And happy first day of “Spring”!

Actually, it's been almost (early) Spring-like around here the past few days, which means that the snow is melting and leaving in its wake a bunch of stuff no one should have to see. So with that in mind I dug out a blog that I used to post every year around this time (although not for the past half decade or so). Here it is, as originally written March 24th, 2003 (back, apparently, when I felt I needed to capitalize almost everything for emphasis).

It's kind of sad things really haven't changed in the 16 years since.

****

I’ve discovered the one bad thing about snow melting in Marquette—dog crap.

Piles of dog crap EVERYWHERE.

You know, if I ever run for Marquette City Commission, I know I may be the biggest loser in the city’s electoral history. Why? Because some days, I feel like one of the main platforms of my campaign would be to ban dogs in the city.

Now, I know MANY people will not agree with that sentence, but it’s the truth—a city really IS no place for a bounding, fun-loving, full of energy animal like that. Farms are GREAT for animals like that. Suburbs with big back yards are GREAT for animals like dogs. And I really do think dogs can be a valued member of a family, especially with a single person looking for companionship or a family with kids. But to try and keep them cooped up in houses or chained up in a yard…that’s really not fair to the animals, is it?

Marquette has three specific laws regarding dogs, and while 90% of the people follow them to the letter, it’s the 10 percent that DOESN’T that made we want to write this column.

First of all, let’s specifically address the dog poop issue. There is a pooper-scooper law in Marquette. If you dog goes, you have to clean it up. However, just look around any sidewalk in Marquette where the snow has melted. You see piles of the stuff EVERYWHERE. You have to jump over it, walk around it, detour by it…and all because some people refuse to follow that law. And if you point that out to someone whose dog does their natural business and doesn’t clean it up, they get defensive, like you’re persecuting their poor pet for no reason at all.

Maybe we should just put mounds of bacteria-breeding material on every street corner and be done with it.

There’s also a leash law in Marquette, one that states you must keep your dog on a 6-foot (or shorter) leash. Yet every time I go running or walking (especially in the summer, near a park) there ALWAYS seems to be a loose dog running toward me, fangs bared, often times nipping at my heels or jumping on my leg. When I yell at it or push it out of the way, the owner once again gets defensive and says “my dog won’t hurt you”. Well, how do I know that? It’s an animal showing its teeth and running at me. What do you THINK goes through my mind at a time like that?

Finally, there’s also a law that says your dog isn’t s’posed to be outside between, I believe, 11pm and 7am. That way, your animal won’t bark, whine, or whimper, and keep everyone in the neighborhood up. Now, I may be a little sensitive on this issue, seeing as how I have a neighbor who keeps TWO dogs out and vocal every night, but isn’t common courtesy an issue in this matter? If your backyard (or wherever you keep your dog) connects with 6 or 7 other backyards, SHOULDN’T you think about others before putting your dog out? My neighbor has said they put the dogs out because they bark inside the house and keep THEM awake.

After hearing THAT, I just kept thinking “HELLO…if they’re loud in your house, whaddya think they’re like OUTSIDE”?

I know that I’m in a VERY small minority on this issue. I know that no one wants to get rid of their dogs, and I know that no one wants to see more restrictive laws placed on them. Maybe if that 10% of people I mentioned at the beginning of this column would just realize that their pets can be and sometimes ARE a problem, and would do something about it, maybe we could ALL live in peace.




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tuesday, 3/19


Who knew Anne Murray had it in her?

Over the past couple of months on “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday” we've been doing this little competition to find out Upper Michigan's favorite “forgotten” singer of the past 40 years. By “forgotten” we mean people who had huge hits through certain decades and then kind of faded from the spotlight. Some of the winners for particular decades included acts like Gerry Rafferty and Sade. We then pitted them against each other last Friday, and the ultimate winner was...

Anne Murray?

I kid you not. We had six people in the finals; winners of the favorite “forgotten” singer for the 70s, 80s, and 90s, both male and female. When we started we had this list of favorites which we posted for people to peruse before voting. Anne Murray was so far off of our radar that we didn't even include her when putting together the list for “forgotten” female of the 70s, yet she won that competition hands down. And then when we had the finals last weekend it wasn't even close.

Anne Murray once again won hands down.

There are two things to consider about this, the first being that Anne Murray was so far off of my radar when putting this together that something may be wrong. In one of my many radio jobs I'm supposed to have my finger on the pulse of Upper Michigan's musical tastes. Obviously, I blew this one big time, in that I didn't even consider that Anne Murray would rank anywhere near the top. That one's totally one me.

Hopefully, it's not a mistake I make again.

The other thing to consider is WHY Anne Murray seems so popular. When asking some of the people who voted why they cast their ballot for Ms. Murray something interesting popped up. A lot of people voted for her because their parents or grandparents used to listen to her music, and they have great memories of listening along. That I can understand. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing, especially when it comes to activities shared with people who may no longer be with us. I guess I just didn't realize that Anne Murray was part of that nostalgia.

My bad.

So the title is now hers. It probably won't be enough to make her come out of retirement, but if Anne Murray ever decides to mount a comeback tour, I have a pretty good idea of one place where she might sell out a show or two.

At least based on last Friday's vote.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday, 3/18


Go ahead. Help them out if you can.

As you may know, the Westwood Girls basketball team is heading downstate for a state Division 3 title run. They play in the quarterfinals tomorrow night in Gaylord; if they win, they then play Thursday afternoon in Grand Rapids, and if they win that game they play for all the marbles Saturday afternoon. Now, sending a team hundreds of miles away for the potential of almost a week costs a lot of money, and that's why we're doing out part to help them out. Here's how--

I'm gonna have several members of team on the air with me today, talking about both their trip and the need for funds for it. We'll also see if we can separate some listeners from their money in the form of payment for an Instant Request. I'm also thinking that we could put a spin on it, as well. Say, as an example, someone pledges $100 to hear “The Macarena”. It would seem to me that someone else may be will to pay $200 NOT to hear “The Macarena”, and last time I checked, $200 was better than $100, so it would be a win-win.

The team would get more money, and Upper Michigan wouldn't have to listen to “The Macarena”. What's not to like, right?

I don't know if we'll get THAT involved, but I do know that we wanna raise awareness throughout the afternoon about both the great job the team has been doing this year, and the fact that their greatness actually needs a little money to continue. If we can do that, then we've done our job, whether or not we have to listen to “The Macarena”.

That's happening from one until four today, so if you have the chance, check it out. And if you'd like to help out yourself, the team has set up a Go Fund Me page to take donations. Just CLICK HERE for more information.

Thanks!


Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday, 3/15


Beware the Ides of March!

Sorry; I just always wanted to write that and actually have it make sense. And since today IS the actual “Ides”, I can now rest happy. I just need to figure out what color to wear. After all, if tomorrow (St. Urho's Day) is purple, Friday (St. Patrick's Day) is green, and yesterday (Pi Day) was the color of (duh) blueberries, what does one wear for an “Ide”?

I'm going for black. I'm assuming Julius Caesar would agree.

And yes, I do need to know I need to get a life. You don't need to remind me.

8-)

Today's gonna be one of those days, I think. Maybe some of that is because it's Friday and I have to get everything around here ready for the weekend. And maybe some of it is that fact that I was woken up early this morning in perhaps the one way I don't mind getting woken up early—by the chirping of birds. I don't know if you've noticed it, especially with the warm & wet and now cold & icy weather of the past few weeks, but at least in my part of Marquette there's been an increase in the number of song birds plying their trade during the early morning hours. In fact, after being awoken early today, I went running without my usual iPod, and was astounded by the amount of bird chatter I heard all throughout my little jaunt (which included a lot of downtown Marquette, believe it or not).

In fact, sometimes the birds were even louder than the cars, muffler-less pickup trucks, and Marq-Tran buses that usually interrupt whatever I'm listening to.

I also have to admit I'm enjoying like the fact that evenings that are now longer, thanks to the time change last weekend. Instead of walking home in the dark I get to walk home in the light., and for some reason it just seems to make the three-block jaunt a little easier, even through what I'm sure will be a chilly & slippery walk tonight. It may just be a perceptual thing, but to me at least walking home against a bitter north wind is slightly less cold with a little daylight hitting your face.

Not only that, but now that it's light out when I walk home I can see the proto-buds on my favorite lilac tree, and know that Spring will be here for real sooner rather that later. And who doesn't want that?

Okay; seeing as how I've already accomplished so much waking up a few minutes early I'll stop babbling now, go find something black to wear, and get ready to head to work. And with any luck, I won't run into anything (or anyone) I'll need to “Beware” of today. Wish me luck!


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thursday, 3/14


And happy Pi Day, a perfect day to discuss this particular topic--

Just what's wrong with you people???

And by “you people”, I don't mean the fine, intelligent, and tasteful group that reads this on a daily basis and goes about leading upstanding lives. Nope; I'm instead referring to the people who, in a survey by the American Pie Council, left blueberry pie off the list of the five favorite pie flavors in this fine country of ours.

Once again, what's wrong with you people????

I'm serious here. One of my “Weird Facts” on the air last week was how the American Pie Council & Crisco did a survey that found out 92% of Americans enjoy eating pie. That in itself is not cause for any concern, unless you're like me and wonder why 8 percent of the country doesn't like pie (that, though, may be a pondering for another day). The survey then went on to survey the five favorite pies of Americans. To perhaps no one's surprise apple topped the list followed by another solid choice, pumpkin.

It's then that it started to get weird.

Pies number three through five were, in order, pecan, sweet potato, and chocolate. And while I applaud the concept of pie number five, how could any of those rate ahead of blueberry? Blueberry pie is, like, one of the gifts we're given for being human and being able to combine ingredients together so that the sum is waaaaay more than the whole of the parts. It turns a bad day good, and a good day even better. It's nothing short of manna from the heavens.

And yet it didn't even make the top five.

I don't know if this survey was skewed toward people living in the southern US, where pecan and sweet potato pies are popular, or if (once again) I'm just so far out of the norm that when I like is what no one else would like. But to only have one fruit pie—apple--in the top five (and yes, I know pumpkins technically are fruit, but that's not the point here) just doesn't seem right. Even if you don't think blueberry pie should make the list, what about cherry pie, or raspberry pie, or strawberry pie, or key lime pie?

Fruit and pies go together. Don't believe me? Ask a company like Hostess. You don't see them selling sweet potato pies in their collection of hand-held fruit pies, do you? Nope. You see apple, you see blueberry, you see cherry, and, at least according to Google you also see lemon. But sweet potato? Nope.  Pecan? Nada.

Hostess obviously knows something about pies. So what's wrong with the rest of the country?

(jim@wmqt.com), firm believer in (and lover of) blueberry pie.