Friday, November 22, 2019

Friday, 11/22


Don’t ask me why and don’t ask me how, but I’ve had another one of those dreams. It's not a dream like I was describing last week where I go back to college and then blow off my classes. This was a different kind of dream. And because of it, I had an epiphany. It’s not--by any means--an important epiphany, but it’s something someone with a strange mind would find interesting.

Which, basically, means that I (and, perhaps, I alone) find it interesting.

Here’s what I’m talking about. I had this dream where I was trying to re-master Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” album. No, I don’t know why; I just was. And two things were causing me difficulty in the dream--I was trying to re-master it on a vinyl album (not digitally, or even on tape) and kept screwing it up. And the song on which I kept screwing up was “Go Your Own Way”, which wasn’t even ON “Tusk” but was on “Rumours”, instead.

Then I woke up.

Now, I know it was probably just a standard performance-anxiety dream, a dream like my ongoing college class saga and the kind of dream that we all have (except, perhaps, for the whole re-mastering Fleetwood Mac part). It was probably even the kind of dream that I would’ve forgotten, except for the fact that I wanted to listen to music the next morning while working out and decided, because “Go Your Own Way’ was stuck in my head, to listen to “Rumours”.

And THAT’S when I had my epiphany.

If you want to be really technical, that dream led me to two epiphanies. The first was that, even after 42 years, “Rumours” is a GREAT album. It still holds up, both in its sound and in its lyrical content. It sounds like it could’ve been recorded just a few days ago and you would not have been able to tell. I guess there was a reason why, for a year back in the 70s (before “Saturday Night Fever”), it was the best selling album of all time.

Here’s the second epiphany, the one that really made my brain pop. Like I said, “Rumours” is 42 years old. People still listen to it, it still gets played on the radio, and the group (minus Lindsey Buckingham) still tours around the world, playing songs from it. That’s 42 years after it came out.

Now let’s go back to 1977, the year “Rumours” it was released. People in 1977 weren’t listening to music that was then 42 years old. Radio stations weren’t playing songs that had been recorded 42 years before that, and artists that had been around for 42 years weren’t touring in front of huge crowds. That’s because 42 years before 1977 would’ve made it 1935, when people like Rudy Vallee and Al Jolson were still wowing 'em with show tunes they had honed over years of touring in vaudeville.

I can’t imagine anyone who was in their teens, or 20s, or their 30s in the 1970s listening to music that was then 42 years old. Yet even today, from people who are in their teens or 20s or 30s, I get requests to play songs from Fleetwood Mac, specifically songs from “Rumours”. I don’t know if it’s a testament to the album in particular, or just the fact that rock music has been around and popular for so long in general, but 42 years after it came out, “Rumours” still seems relevant.

Whereas in 1977, 42 years after its peak, vaudeville & show tune was NOT.

Like I said, this is probably a subject that no one finds interesting (with, like I said, the possible exception of me), but it’s something that popped into my head while working out yesterday morning. And it’s all because of a strange dream I had.

Our subconscious is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

****

Keep your fingers crossed that a couple of fields stay snow-free at least through Sunday. Now that everything's (temporarily) clear Loraine & I are hoping to get another soccer session in before the snow returns. Wish us luck. And while you're at it, have a great (& fun-filled) weekend yourself!


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thursday, 11/21


Today's a big day for both Loraine and for the co-writer of her first book, “Elwood's War”. Unfortunately, it's not quite “big” in the same exact way.

First of all, the co-author. Elwood Norr, the subject of “Elwood's War”, died 75 years ago today when the B-17 in which he was a ball turret gunner was shot down over Weissenfels, Germany, while on a mission to bomb a chemical factory in nearby Merseberg. He left behind a grieving family, a bunch of friends, and a treasure trove of letters, which became the basis of a big chunk of the book (and is the reason he's credited with “co-author” status). So while it's not the kind of big day that one would usually celebrate, it does need to be noted.

Every wonder how Loraine discovered Elwood and, by extension, the book that came out of it? Well, a couple of decades after Elwood died on a November 21st, a young lady was introduced to the world on that same date in a Saginaw hospital. That's right; it's Loraine's birthday today, and one of the (many) reasons she gravitated toward Elwood, among all the men & women she's researching, is because November 21st is a big day for both of them.

Not, as I said, a big day in the same way, but a big day for both of them nonetheless.

I often wonder what Elwood Norr would make of the impact he had on the life of someone who would have been the same age as a granddaughter.  I'm guessing he would be just as amazed as we are about the book that came out of his letters, and how that book led to us visiting the city over which he was shot down, where we were greeted with open arms, several press conferences (in German and English), and how it's all led to Loraine being perhaps the most famous American ever to visit the city.

In fact, there have been several times during our several trips over there that Loraine has said, only slightly under her breath, “Elwood, what have you gotten me into now”?

So even though they never met and even though they were born decades apart, today's a big day for two people of whom I myself have grown quite fond, this dude--



And the amazing woman who's made sure that people know who that dude was--



So thanks for your service and your sacrifice on this day, Elwood. And happy birthday to his co-author, the most amazing woman in the world and, as we've discovered, apparently the most famous American ever to visit Weissenfels, Germany.  Hope you enjoy your brownies!!

Love,


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday, 11/20


And here, I thought the internet was supposed to make us smarter.

A couple of days ago Loraine and I were listening to a couple of songs by The Carpenters (don't ask). As is our wont, we became curious as to who was playing on the tracks, and because the internet DOES have a lot of useless information on it, we were able to look up and see whether or not legendary drummer Hal Blaine was playing on both “Ticket To Ride” and “It's Gonna Take Some Time”. (Spoiler alert—he does on both. Not that anyone other than us cares). Anyway, when I went to Google to type in “Carpenters 'Ticket To Ride'”, you know what the first suggestion was that Google offered, meaning Google had been asked this question more than any other about the song?

“Who wrote The Carpenters 'Ticket To Ride'”?

We were both kind of flabbergasted for a second. Who wrote “Ticket To Ride”? Isn't that kind of having to ask “Who wrote 'Romeo & Juliet'?” I mean, I know that many (or most) people aren't as conversant about pop songs as the two of us are, and I know that some people may have questions about things, but who wrote “Ticket To Ride”?

Really?

I mean, I can understand asking who wrote “Rainy Days & Mondays”. I can understand asking who wrote “Close to You”. I can really understand asking who wrote “It's Gonna Take Some Time” (Carole King, if you're curious). But to ask who wrote “Ticket To Ride”? And have it be the first thing that pops up on Google when seeking information on the song?

Some days, I really worry about the future of humanity.

I mean, I shouldn't be a snob about this; really, I shouldn't. But the original “Ticket To Ride” was a Beatles' classic—a number one song, in fact—and I would've thought that a great chunk of humanity would at least know who originally did it. And that's backed up by observation—this year on “High School Bowl” I've had chats with three different students who are fans of the Beatles. And if even teenagers these days know about the group and their music, then why, oh why, was that question the first thing Google popped up about the Carpenters' version of the song?

Oh, the humanity.

I know; I'm getting worked up over nothing. Like I said, not everyone knows all the useless crap that resides in my brain. Not everyone, apparently, knows everything there is to know about The Beatles. And, to look at it another way, at least people ARE interested in who wrote the song, which if nothing else may show the enduring power of it and the the writers behind it. But to have it be the first suggestion that pops up when you Google it?

We live in a weird world, I guess. I'm just on one end, the rest of humanity is (apparently) on the other.

8-)


(Here. To cleanse my brain and yours....




Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday, 11/19


I may have found the second greatest opening paragraph in news writing history.

Nothing catches my eye like a good opening line or a great opening paragraph, especially in a news story. Fiction, essay, and feature writers get to do it all the time, but in the world of news writing, which tends to be dry and factual, you don't get to see it often. It's only when a bizarre set of circumstances come together that you get to string together words like what I'm about to share, something I saw 13 years ago, and something I still consider to be the greatest opening line in a news story ever--

“A jazz musician was injured Friday after jumping from a burning motor home driven by a one-time roller skating stripper’.

I mean, it has everything you need—it's factual, it tells a story, and it's so absurd that it can't have happened. Yet, it did. In the 13 years since I've seen it I've thought of it often, especially when trying to come up with opening lines for these things. I never thought I'd come across another quite as bizarre, until I saw this NPR headline over the weekend--

“Three Indiana judges have been suspended after a failed attempt to visit a strip club led to a drunken brawl outside an Indianapolis White Castle that ended with two of the judges being shot.”

I mean, I know Indiana can be a strange place, but THAT strange? Why did the judges—in this case, two male and one female—want to go to a strip club? Was there a reason they couldn't get it? Why did they end up drunk at a White Castle? And why did two of them get shot there?

I mean, that one line is filled with sooooo many questions that you HAVE to read the story, right?

Right?

I can just imagine the reaction of the reporter assigned to the story, thinking it was just another hum-drum piece that said reporter could probably do in their sleep. Luckily for them, it wasn’t. And luckily for us, that person had the wisdom, the foresight, and the, well, uncommon mind to put all the details of the story together in such a way that makes the rest of us riveted with just 33 words.

I hope—nay , I aspire—to write something that good some day. I know I'll probably never get the chance, but a boy can dream, can't he?

8-)

Tomorrow, more proof that the internet is NOT making people smarter. Not you, of course, but some people who ask Google strange questions. Details then.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Monday, 11/18


This was the weekend I started to try and answer a question posed to me by Loraine every year at this time--

“What are you gonna make for Christmas cookies this year?”

When she asked I had to shake my head in wonder. Wasn't it just, like, a month or so ago I actually baked all those cookies?

8-)

Christmas cookies are always a big deal, if only because I do them twice. For more years than I want to remember, I’ve always gone over to my parents to make the traditional Koski family cookies. Even when I didn’t live in Marquette, I always made sure I got home (if only for a day) to stick them in the oven. Over the years the tradition spread to the next generation, as was helped in the task by my nieces Mallory and Sydney. But now that they're all grown and moved away, I'm back on my own. And it's too bad, too, as one of their jobs was to make sure their grandfather didn't eat them all before Christmas.

Some years, that was a full-time job.

The second group of cookies I make is at my place. These are the cookies that the question that opened this blog addressed; the 6 or 7 different kinds I bake every year, some of which we eat, and many of which we share with family, friends, and neighbors. Like with my parents, there are some “traditional” cookies I always make--The Grandma Cookie, the Yooper Cookie, and those incredibly yummy cherry-chocolate blossoms I’ve come to know and love--but I always also like to try several different cookies. . .ones I’ve never tried before. One will invariably have chocolate, another nutmeg. Maybe one’ll have fruit or mint, and the other will have some kind of exotic flavoring that I have to spend several weeks trying to track down. And THAT’S why Loraine always reminds me about Christmas cookies in the middle of November--so I’ll have enough time to figure out what I’m making, and then track down everything I’ll need to actually make them.

Well, guess I should go dive deeply into some of those cookie books I have lying around, and see what I can come up with for this year. Wish me luck!



Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday, 11/15


Happy Opening Day.  Or, if you’re non-denominational in this regard, Happy Friday. Whichever works best for you.

Occasionally, I write in here about bizarre dreams I’ve had. I’m sure these things open a window into my (very unusual) psyche and give you an idea of what it’s like being me. Well, I’ve had pretty much the same dream a couple of times over the past few weeks, and I have no idea what it means.

Aside, perhaps, from the fact that I have a very unusual psyche.

Here’s the dream in a nutshell. I have, for some reason, gone back to college, usually in a city different than Marquette. I’m not really sure why I’ve gone back to college, but I have, and in doing so I’ve taken a full load of classes. The only problem is that I, in my dream, only end up going to one or two of the classes. The other classes I just blow off, even though I know (in my dream) that I’m paying good money for them and that I’ve moved away for the chance to take them. I also know (in my dream) that I’ve had a dream like this before and that my usual standard operating procedure is to blow off a class or two. So basically I’m dreaming about a dream that I know I’ve dreamt, a dream that didn’t make sense the first time I had it and still doesn’t make sense in any subsequent versions of it.

See? Unusual psyche.

I think there are two things at play in this dream, the first being the premise that I would move away to go to college and yet attend only half of my classes. That doesn’t make sense to me; after all, it’s certainly nothing I would ever do in real life. If I ever was gonna go back to college (and especially move away to do it) I’m sure I’d wanna get it done as quickly as possible and as well as possible. I mean, if you’re gonna go back to college, go back to college. Yet there must be something in my brain that made me dream this dream the first time. I have no idea if it’s standard performance anxiety material or if there’s some kind of deeper meaning to it, but I must’ve had the dream (the first time) for some particular reason.

I just don’t know what that reason was.

The second thing in play is the fact that I’ve had the dreams multiple times, and that in those repeat airings I know I’m dreaming, I know I’ve had this dream before, and I know my actions won’t have any real world consequences because, well, it’s just a dream. And I don’t get it. I know that as you get older your dreams become more literal, they become more grounded in reality and your everyday life, but I had no idea that you also become more self-aware about whether you’re dreaming or not. I don’t know if this is something everyone experiences or if I’m starting to mutate into something just a little different than the norm, but it seems weird to dream about having dreams, and to know that you’re dreaming.

I’m sure if I had a shrink she could tell me what all this means, and I am curious, but I don’t know if I’m curious enough to pay $200 an hour to find out the answer. All I know is that if I dream about going back to college and then not going to any of my classes again, there’s a part of my brain that will tell me my dream is just a dream. And that, in the end, it really doesn’t matter if I go to that class my dream wants me to skip.

On that note, have yourself a great weekend. I hope your dreams are all good ones!


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday, 11/14


I know I post this every year. In fact, I think I've posted this every year since I started writing these, which was almost 18 years ago, and I read it on the air every November 14th for a few years before that. But if you post something every year on a certain day for 18 years, it kind of becomes a tradition, doesn't it? And since this is the time of the year for traditions, it wouldn't be very nice if we broke it, would it?

Would it?

8-)

Good luck to everyone heading out. Those of us who aren't heading out will try and keep the lights on for you!





“’Twas the Night Before Deer Camp”,
by Jimmy Koski, grade 3.

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DEER SEASON
AND ALL THROUGH THE CAMP
HUNTERS WERE UNLOADED BEER CRATES
AND LIGHTING UP LAMPS

THE RIFLES THEY HUNG
IN THE PICKUP WITH CARE
IN HOPES THAT A 10-POINTER
SOON WOULD BE THERE

I IN MY ORANGE
MY BUDDY IN GREEN
SAT DOWN TO A CRIBBAGE GAME
THE BIGGEST EVER SEEN

WE PLAYED THROUGH THE NIGHT
AND EMPTIED THOSE CRATES
BUT MORNING SOON CAME
WE DIDN’T WANT TO BE LATE

WE SET OUT AT SUNRISE
AT DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT
PUT DOWN A BIG BAIT PILE
IN HOPES THAT BAMBI WOULD BITE

WE SAT AND WE WAITED
AND WAITED SOME MORE
I KEPT MY EYES OPEN
MY BUDDY STARTED TO SNORE

WHEN TO MY SURPRISE
STANDING RIGHT BY A TREE
WAS A BIG 12-POINT BUCK
MY PANTS I DID...WELL, NEVER MIND ABOUT THAT

I BROUGHT UP MY RIFLE
I LINED UP THE DEER
THEN MY BUDDY WOKE UP AND YELLED
“HEY--WHERE’S THE BEER?”

THE BUCK RAN AWAY
I LOWERED MY GUN
MY BUDDY JUST LAUGHED
SAID “LET’S HAVE SOME FUN”

WE WENT BACK TO DEER CAMP
AND HAD US A BALL
SO LET ME SAY THIS--
GOOD LUCK DEER HUNTING TO ALL...

(copyright 1999)