Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday, 2/19


Happy President’s Day!

How many U.S Presidents can you name, aside from the ones in office since you’ve been alive? I’m kinda lucky in that regard, in that I think I can name them all, and it’s thanks to a box of Cheerios. Actually, it’s thanks to many boxes of Cheerios, and the undying curiosity of an 8-year old.

I thin I may have told this story before; if so, forgive me, but it’s kind of appropriate for today. You see, when I was 8, I was fascinated by cereal boxes, what was inside of them, and what was on the outside of them. I would dig through them for the toys, I would save box-tops and send away for items, and I would cut out the games they put on the back of the boxes. When I was (I think) 8, the makers of Cheerios decided to try to improve the civics knowledge of little nerds like me, and started to put Presidential trading cards, 4 at a time, on the back of each box. The idea was that kids would collect them all, thereby improving their knowledge of American history while at the save time improving General Mills’ bottom line by having the parents of said kids rush out and buy box upon box of Cheerios so the trading card collection could become complete.

At least, that’s how I remember it happening in the Koski household. You could collect the cards 4 at a time, but it always wasn’t a different 4 every time; in other words, you might have to collect a double or two to get a card you didn’t have. And since this was back when Tricky Dicky Nixon was President, that means you had 37 cards you had to collect. So at the very minimum, you would’ve had to buy 10 boxes of Cheerios to complete the set, and that’s not even accounting for the fact that you would eventually have to buy more to actually get all 37.

I don’t know why I was so fascinated by the Presidential trading cards, but I was. Before obsessing over the cards, I knew that George Washington was the first President, that Abraham Lincoln was on the penny, and that John Kennedy had been shot, but that was about it. I soon learned that William Henry Harrison caught pneumonia while giving a 4-hour inaugural speech on the cold, and died a few weeks later. I learned that James Buchanan was the only bachelor President. And I learned that Grover Cleveland was the only President who had been elected, lost his re-election bid, but then came back to retake the Presidency in the election after THAT.

Needless to say, despite what I was learning I don’t believe I ever DID get all 37 Presidential trading cards. I’m not sure if it’s because my parents didn’t want to get a second mortgage to buy all those boxes, or because everyone just got sick of eating Cheerios, but I must’ve petered out somewhere in the mid to upper 20s. Still, the knowledge I gained from reading the back of cereal boxes has stuck with me ever since, as I STILL find politics fascinating, and I still know, somewhere in the back of my head, that most of our first half dozen Presidents were Whigs. Not wore wigs, but WERE Whigs.

As in the Whig political party.

So thank you Cheerios. And Happy Presidents’ Day to everyone.

(jim@wmqt.com)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday, 2/16

If you say there's nothing to do this weekend you're insane.

Okay, maybe not literally “insane”, but if you say there's nothing to do this weekend you're woefully under-informed. In fact, this is one of those weekends around Marquette where there's almost too much to do. I was putting together the “What's Up” segment I do for Fox UP a couple of days ago and just here in Marquette County there were too many things to fit into a 90 second spot. I mean, you have the U.P. 200 and other sled dog races and all the parties that go along with it. You have Polar Roll fat tire bike race. You have plays and concerts at NMU Friday. You have the “Night at the Museum” at the History Center Saturday. You have the finish of the U.P. 200 Sunday.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

It seems like each weekend brings something to do in Marquette. About once a month, though, it seems like too many events get crammed into a single weekend. I might be coincidence or it might be because organizers take advantage of the fact that people are already in the city (as with the sled dog races this weekend) but it can occasionally lead to a quandary--

What to do? How to choose? And is it actually possible to fit 26 hours of events into a 24-hour day without breaking several laws of physics? It's a problem, but it's a good problem to have. I think most people would rather have too many things to choose from than have nothing to choose from. But sometimes, you just have to choose.

Thankfully, there are still a few hours left to work out all the details. And maybe, just maybe, by the time Monday rolls around we'll all be happy with everything we chose—or chose not—to do. So no matter what you're thinking of checking out this weekend, no matter where you are, have a great time!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday, 2/15


And here, I thought this was gonna be an easy year.

Yup; I thought that this was gonna be an easy year for me. As the year sprung anew, I didn't have a lot of commitments for 2018; I had two History Center walks, but they were ones I'd already given before. Other than that, the TV show I host, and a trip to Germany with my favorite German girl in the world, it was gonna be a fairly easy year.

Boy, did that change quickly.

I'm still doing my two History Center walks, but now I've dug up all kinds of new information that means I probably need to totally re-do them. I've been asked to combine my two stupid skills—babbling about history and hosting game shows—into one when I host the Marquette Regional History Center's 100th anniversary trivia contest in April. My friend Jack & I and now teaming up once again to put together a show on the history of schools in Marquette, in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of Graveraet in September. And somehow—I'm not quite sure how—I'll be the judge at the Peter White Library's “Drunken Spelling Bee” next Friday night.

That's right. Someone who doesn't drink much and can barely spell a word more than six letters long is judging a spelling bee with alcohol. I can't see anything going wrong that night, right?

To be honest, in a way, I think all of that (and whatever pops up as the year goes on) should be fun. When I was looking at the dearth of events on my calendar for 2018, I was a little surprised. I hoped people hadn't gotten bored with me. I hoped I hadn't worn out my welcome. But as it turns out that wasn't the case. It just took the people putting all those things together a little longer than usual to get organized, something that I myself am quite familiar with.

And to still be honest, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to handle a year without a lot to do. I mean, I know I complain in here quite a bit when my schedule gets packed and I'm trying to put one thing together while actually doing another. But I don't know that I'd have it any other way. Sure, I keep saying that it would be great to have absolutely nothing to do (and trust me, there are MANY days where I would love for that to happen), but I like to be challenged. I like doing new things and learning new things.

I mean, how many times in your life do you get to mock drunk people as they're trying to spell?

Despite the suddenness with which all this was thrown at me, I'm sure I can handle it. The history stuff—even the school program—is all built upon stuff I've done before, and I should have absolutely no problem hosting a trivia contest or judging a spelling bee. So unlike some past years, I think I still have large chunks of free time still remaining in the year. With any luck, they'll stay that way, and with any luck, I'll be able to enjoy them to the fullest.

We'll see how that goes. Keep your fingers crossed!



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday, 2/14


Happy Valentine's Day. And to quote the sorely missed Craig Ferguson, with a shrug of my shoulders, “That's all I've got”.

Well, at least that's all I've got as far as Valentine's Day goes. But I played a song yesterday and, for some reason, my brain went into overdrive. I don't know why; I don't know how. It just did.,

I had an Instant Request for Bob Seger's “Hollywood Nights” yesterday. If you're not familiar with the song, it's about a Midwestern boy who heads out to California and falls in love with a girl, a girl who dumps him by the end of the tune. The girl, as described by Seger, is one of those stereotypical California girls who, as the lyrics put it, had been born with “a face that would let her get away” with just about anything.

But that's not what sent my brain into overtime. Nope; this is what sent my brain into overtime. The song is 40 years old. The album from which it came, “Stranger in Town”, was released 4 decades ago in 1978. So, for a second, assume that what took place in the song really happened. Assume that the girl born with “a face that would let her get away” was 21 when the song happened. That would mean that the girl born with “a face that would let her get away”, the girl that broke the protagonist's heart, would be 61 years old.

The girl born with “a face that would let her get away” would now, in all likelihood, be a grandmother. And the guy whose heart she broke? There would probably be kids calling him “grandpa”.

That's what sent my brain into overdrive.

No, I don't know why I thought of that. I mean, I knew in the back of my head that the song was 40 years old. I haven't heard it in a while, which probably led me to listen to the lyrics a little closer than I normally would've. And for some strange reason, stuff just started to add up until I realized that the two characters in the song are now almost eligible for Social Security.

I wonder if Bob Seger ever considered that fact even a remote possibility when he wrote the tune?

Ponder that, I guess, and have yourself a great Valentine's Day while you're at it. Hopefully, weird stuff won't send your brain into overdrive throughout the day

8-)


(ps—the interview with Ed Roland of Collective Soul I mentioned yesterday went swimmingly. Unlike some rock stars, he didn't take himself or what he does too seriously, and that's always a bonus. You can hear it on the air this (Wednesday) afternoon around 335. I'll also put it up on our Soundcloud page after it airs).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday, 2/13

I get to interview another rock star today.

I realize not everyone gets to say that in their everyday life. Heck, I realize that the vast majority of people NEVER get to say that. But because of this weird job that I have I have to interview Ed Roland before I go on the air this afternoon. I'll play it back later this week, before the group's shows at the Island Resort.

But I get to interview another rock star today.

I couldn't tell you how many famous people my job has allowed me to speak with over the years. I just know it's a lot, a number so proportionally out of whack with the rest of the population that I often feel like I live my life in some kind of weird alternate universe. I've spoken with famous people in person and on the phone. I've spoken with them while driving them around and having dinner with them. I've spoken with singers and artists and politicians and writers. And heck, I even did a last-minute interview with a comedian while I was walking on the beach at McCarty's Cove and he was on an airplane flying to the U.P.

That was weird, but modern technology means you can do stuff like that.

One of the bad things about speaking with so many celebrities, at least if you're me, is that sometimes, especially after a few years, the interviews blend together. I don't remember what I spoke about with certain celebrities. I mean, I know I spoke with them, but I have no idea what we talked about. And then there are a couple of acts or artists that I THINK I interviewed, but I'm not sure if I really did or not. I know that probably says more about my memory than anything, but heck—if a normal person spoke with a celebrity, even on the phone, you'd think they'd remember that they did it.

But, of course, not me.

The weird thing is, I don't seem to get starstruck when I do these interviews. I know that the people to whom I'm speaking have a schedule they need to keep and certain things about which they wish to speak, so I tend to be professional and stick to whatever they want to get across. But I always try to throw in one question they (hopefully) haven't heard before, a question that will make the famous person chuckle or (even better) say “that's a good question”. Some of the people to whom I speak do dozens of interviews a day and hear the same questions over and over and over again. If I can make the experience even slightly unique for them; well, then I've done my job.

I'm off now to get ready for that interview, plus another with someone who probably doesn't have a roadie to carry his equipment around (unless there's something we don't know about Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt). If anything juicy (with either) happens I'll share tomorrow.



Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday, 2/12

Well, I guess I'm below average.

As is my wont, I was doing some laundry over the weekend; specifically, I was washing jeans. And that got me to thinking, which as we all know can be a very dangerous thing. How many pair of jeans does the average American own? So after I stuck the jeans in the machine, I pulled out my phone, went to Google, and received my answer.

Seven, if you're curious.

As I mentioned, I'm below average in that respect, as I had just thrown each pair of jeans I own—all four of them—into the washing machine. But as I scrolled down a little further, I took solace in another fact that had followed the mention of seven. You see, even though the average American owns seven pair of jeans, they only wear four of those pair.

And since I wear each of the four pair that I own, for once, at least in that regard, I'm perfectly average!

That was one thing I learned by Googling the number of jeans that the average American owns. The other thing I learned? That tracking cookies are everywhere.

After checking out that fact on Google, while I was waiting to put the jeans in the dryer, I checked out a few more websites on my phone. And, wouldn't you know, each and every site I visited had an ad on it just for me—an ad about buying jeans. I mean, I wasn't surprised; after all, cookies are on every single computer device we use, and advertisers use those cookies to determine what we're interested in. But to see the ads for jeans just a few minutes after I did a Google search that had (literally) nothing to do with buying jeans.

Well...let's just say I had to chuckle. And had be glad that I hadn't just searched for something a little more, shall we say, adult. Because then I can just imagine what would've popped up as ads on my phone. I probably would've had to buy a new one.

8-)

So the next time you get set to throw jeans into the wash, check and see if you're above or below average. And be thankful that you won't have to look it up yourself, and then be bombarded by ads for jeans each and every time you go online.

That's okay. You can thank me later.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday, 2/9


Okay, this cold can go away any time soon.

Lest you think I'll be whining about the weather yet again...we'll, you're right. Kinda. The cold of the past week, while getting us all down (and forcing me to take Loraine's car for a ride every morning), will be going away soon. As I mentioned yesterday, the fact that the days are getting longer and the sun peeks out from the clouds a little more means that one day, hopefully, soon, we'll return to a world of colors--



A world of friendly sunflowers--



A world of nature's creatures doing what nature's creatures do--



A world of our favorite places--



A world of seeing where we live from new angles--



And a world of whimsy, inspired by the sun and the warmth--



That world is, hopefully, not too far away. Keep your fingers crossed that we get to live in it again, and live it in soon.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Have yourself a great weekend. If you're terminally bored (or, if you're like me, you need to take your car out for a ride to make sure the battery survives) I'll be doing a live broadcast tomorrow afternoon at Marquette's newest Burger King, the one on US-41 in front of Lowe's. Stop by and say “hey”!