Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday, 12/8

I wonder how many are given out on any particular night?

Now that winter’s here some of my usual running routes are curtailed, and I find myself running more and more on city streets, instead of the usual Fit Strip or bike path or Park Cemetery or other off-road areas. While I’m usually not keen on street running (especially with the way people drive these days) I do get to notice one thing that you never see while running during the summer.

And that’s tickets on cars that have violated Marquette’s overnight parking ban.

Depending upon where (and for how long) I run I’ll see anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6 cars with tickets on them, but I really noticed it Saturday morning when I went out and saw 4 tickets on just one block. That made me pay close attention; by the time I got home, I counted 14—fourteen—cars with tickets on them. And while I didn’t check each individual ticket, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that those cars were ticketed for violating the overnight ban.

Especially the car that had been plowed in for what looked like several days, as evidenced by the multiple tickets stuck under the windshield wiper. Someone’s gonna have fun paying those tickets, and also paying for getting their car plowed out!

I don’t wanna sound like I’m stereotyping a whole group of people, but I notice that a large majority of people who seem to have ticketed cars get those tickets in neighborhoods with a lot of college housing. I mean, I live I one of those neighborhoods, and that’s where I saw those four cars in one block with tickets stuck under their wipers. On one hand, I suppose I hafta give credit to whomever the cars belonged; I’m guessing they got a little too carried away with their celebrating, realized they weren’t in any condition to drive, and just left their cars where they parked them. That’s great. But after spending what I’m guessing is an amazing amount of money on booze, do you really want to add in another $50 (or whatever the price is) for a ticket, as well?

I’d be curious to know how many of those tickets the Marquette City Police give out on a nightly basis during the winter. I’d also be curious to know how many of those tickets are actually paid, and how much money the city makes off of them on an annual basis. I’m guessing it’s not a small amount, but who knows. Maybe the tickets can pay for a new patrol car or breathalyzer or bulletproof vest. At least something good would come out of it.

For now, though, I’ll just look at the tickets I see as one of the (few) perks of running in Marquette in winter. Sure, you’re slipping on ice, and dodging cars that are driving too fast, but at least I know that when I get done I won’t see that little yellow envelope stuck under my windshield. Because that, I would guess, would not make a run (or going out to your car) very much fun at all.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday, 12/7

Look. I have another song to obsess over!!

Those of you who read this on a regular basis know that I often get a song stuck in my head, and then it won't let go. Heck, it even happened just last month when C&C Music Factory's “Here We Go” took up semi-permanent residence in my brain. Well, it's happened again, and this time I have my birthday to thank for it.

Technically, I have Loraine and the gift she gave me for it. For my birthday, Loraine usually gives me CDs she thinks I might like, and this year's was Lenny Kravitz's “Raise Vibration”. She heard clips of it earlier this year, and when she noticed that it's STRONGLY influenced by 70s R&B she knew it's for me.

She was right.

It's a really good album, filled with grooves that just stick in your head. But my favorite song on the disc (or at least my favorite so far) is a song called “It's Enough”, which is what a song would be like if Marvin Gaye's “Inner City Blues” and the Temptations “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” had a love child. It's eight minutes of musical perfection—a bass line that propels a groove that just won't stop, socially conscious lyrics, and, six minutes into the tune, a trumpet solo that you have to hear to believe.

It's really, really good. And it's a perfect example of why songs set up camp in my brain and won't let go.

Since I have to go play TV host, I'll just leave it at that. Or at this--

Listen to it at your own peril. And have a great weekend while you're at it, as well!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thursday, 12/6

Larger than life? Me? Really?

You sure you have the right person here?

I've been reading through some of the birthday greetings sent my way on Facebook , and two Facebook friends of mine, from opposite ends of the country, mentioned a “larger than life” personality in describing me. While I admit I don't have the personality of a “normal” person, I don't know that I'd call it “larger than life”. Dorky, sure. Weird, perhaps. But “larger than life”?

I don't even think the Backstreet Boys would agree with that.

I mean, I guess I can see where they're coming from. I do things that “normal” people don't do; I do radio and TV and public speaking and all that stuff. But I don't know that that gives me a larger than life personality. Even when I do those things I'm low-key. I'm more observational than I am a “performer”. But that's because that's now I am in real life. No matter what I'm doing, what you see is what you get.

I'm just, you know, me. Doing what I do. Probably because I'm not that good at much of anything else.

It's funny; when I think of a “larger than life” personality I think of someone who's “on” at all times and who drives the world around them. That's not me. Like I said, I'm laid back. I notice things more than I drive things. I react, instead of instigate. I make the pithy little comments instead of the laugh out loud punchlines. That's just who I am. My public persona is exactly the same as my private persona, with the possible exception of a being a little better dressed when the “public” me is out there.

Yet, there are still some people who think I'm “larger than life”. I know they meant it as a compliment, and despite my whining I AM taking it that way. I just think they're running down the wrong path. I've known me a lot of years now, and the one thing that I would not call myself is “larger than life”. However, I've been wrong (many times) before, and I'm sure I'll be wrong again, so as far as this goes, who knows?

I just don't think I am.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wednesday, 12/5

Yes, I have a sick & warped mind. Is that a bad thing?

This week on “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday” we're trying to figure out Upper Michigan's favorite “Made For Media” group ever. That means any group put together for a TV show or a movie—everyone from The Archies to The Wonders—are eligible, including the group from one of my favorite movies ever, “This is Spinal Tap”. If you've not yet viewed the movie, you really need to do so; it's the story of a clueless early 80s heavy metal group that's falling apart, not even realizing they're doing so. One of the many gags throughout the film is how the group keeps losing drummers; in fact, most of them seem to explode for no apparent reason.

Well, the reason I bring the movie up—and the reason why my mind may be sick & warped—is that I think I've found the real-life inspiration behind the group.

Two nights ago Loraine and I were eating dinner, and as I've written before our conversations can often lead to very weird discoveries. She came across a book written about a 70's music group. The group had three or four hits, and was quickly forgotten. Because I was curious to see if they're actually still around and performing, I looked them up, and was treated to a fine Wikipedia entry that soon devolved into a session of me (and Loraine) laughing harder and harder as we discovered the tragedies that befell members of the group.

(And as an aside, remember that my earliest comedy influences were Looney Tunes cartoons and the TV show “MASH”. It's no wonder I have such a dark sense of humor).

Anyway, the group went through a few drummers like Spinal Tap, minus the explosions. One fell off a drum riser, broke both his legs, and had to be replaced. His replacement played a few years, then had a heart attack on stage and died during a show. The lead singer developed a few mental health issues and tried (unsuccessfully) to commit suicide by cop. And the guitarist, after finding out he developed multiple sclerosis, retired from the band to take care of his wife, who had been given a cancer diagnosis and shortly after took her own life.

I know. I should not have laughed at the tragedy and the personal suffering that those human beings went through. Absolutely no one should ever have to deal with those types of issues, and if they do they should get our full support. But as I kept reading the article, and as the “Spinal Tap”-esque tragedies kept piling up, I couldn't help myself. It just seemed too...bizarre to have actually happened.

But it did. And I'm a horrid human being for having the reaction to it that I did. But I've seen “Spinal Tap” 15 or 20 times. As I read the article on the group, it's like I almost knew what was coming, and when it started paralleling what happened in the movie I just lost it. A normal human being would have just shook their head in sympathy, but not me. Nope; I just thought of what happened in “Spinal Tap” and started laughing at tragedy, just like Bugs Bunny & Hawkeye Pierce would have.

One of these days I really need to start growing up, don't I?


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday, 12/4

I don’t mind birthdays. It’s the part about getting older that I don’t like.

Some of you may know that it’s my birthday today, and I guess I’m okay with that. I don’t expect people to make a big deal out of it; it’s nothing more than the anniversary of me finally relieving my mother of the burden of carrying me around for ten months. If anything, she’s the one who deserves the honors today, since I wasn’t born until a month after my due date, and this was the day she was finally relieved of that misery.

So thanks for the extra 30 days, Mom!!

But whenever you have a birthday you’re forced to confront the fact that you’re getting older, and if there’s one thing you might have learned by reading this ramblings over the past decade and a half, it’s that members of the Koski family don’t like to confront the fact that there’s nothing you can do about getting older. It just happens, whether you want it to or not.

Who do we see about changing that, by the way?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed, despite my best efforts, more and more signs popping up reminding me of that fact that I am indeed getting on in years. Of course, the latest had to pop up on Sunday, right as I was about to celebrate another birthday. I finished working out and was about to read the newspaper (yes, another one of those signs that I’m “old”) and I noticed that I couldn’t quite make out the print on the page, which I found odd, because I usually have no trouble making out the print. It was then I realized that I wasn’t wearing my glasses, which, as for most “old” people, are bifocals. I slipped them on, and then had no trouble reading the print.

Aside from the heavy sigh the incident provoked, a bit of curiosity bubbled to the surface, as well. Even without glasses, I’ve always been able to read things with no problem. In fact, when I read newspapers after running or when I read in bed every night it’s sans eyewear. Yet for some reason this Sunday, I could not read the print in the newspaper until I put my glasses on.  I don’t know if it’s because the print was smaller than usual or because the room was rather dark or if (gasp) my eyes are just getting a little worse as time (gasp) marches on, but for the first time, I couldn’t focus on the type well enough to read what was on the page. It didn’t matter how close I got to the page, or how far away I held it, something just didn’t work out until I used my glasses.

Oh, woe is me.

Since then, I’ve read many things—including newspapers—without wearing my glasses, and I’ve been able to see them just fine. But that fact that I had this particular problem for the first time just a few days before turning another year “older” affected me in the way that all incidents related to aging affect me—with me not handling it like an ”adult” would.

So at least I’ve got that going for me!

Don’t worry; I’m sure that as these incidents keep popping up, I’ll (hopefully) get a better grip on them. After all, as I’m always told, these incidents DO pop up more and more as you age more and more, and, as I’ve found, there’s nothing you can (yet) do to stop that. So like I said, while I don’t mind birthdays, this whole getting “older” thing is just not my cup of tea.

Sigh. . .and make it a heavy one, if you’d like!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday, 12/3

It’s December already? Nobody asked if that was okay with me!!!

December’s one of those months that I can’t quite decide if I really like; after all, it has the good (Christmas cookies), the bad (cold, and no time to do anything), and the ugly (I turn another year older). But it also has something that happens during this time of the year. It gives me my only chance to see a phenomenon that I otherwise am unable (or unwilling) to experience.

That’s right--December allows me to see my only sunrise of the year.

Those of you who know me know that during most of the year I’m never awake to see a sunrise. The closest I come are those nights in June when I fall asleep a few hours before the sun rises. I’m not complaining, or anything; based on my body clock, that’s just a fact of life. But with the sun rising so late (if at all) during December, it does allow me the opportunity to get out see it come up. . .if, of course, our ever-present cloud bank actually allows it.

I’ll usually get to see my sunrise while out running, and it always seems to occur when I’m out running on the bike path near Picnic Rocks. I’m pretty sure you get the best view of a sunrise in Marquette from there; after all, there must be a reason a bunch of cars are parked in the lot every morning around the time the sun comes up. And I have to admit, the one sunrise a year I see from that location is much different than the sunsets I see from many different locations on a regular basis. The sunsets always seem to be “dirty”, for lack of a better word. When the sun goes down for the night it’s masked by all kinds of gunk in the air, kicked up by the activities of everyone during the day. Sure, the sunsets can be quite vivid, but like I said, they seem “dirty”.

Not the one (or two, or three) sunrise a year I see, though. The atmosphere’s had the chance overnight to clean out all the gunk that accumulated in it the previous day, so that when the sun comes up, it comes up undiluted by the flotsam of the previous day. Like the daybreak it heralds, the sun when rising is clean and clear and full of promise. I can see why people enjoy watching it come up, and I’d do it more often myself, if during most of the year the sun just didn’t come up so darn early.

So aside from Christmas cookies, I guess you can add “sunrises” to the list of good things that December brings. I’m not quite sure if those two outweigh the cold and lack of time and the fact that I turn a year older, but at least December has one or two things going for it.

Unlike, say, January. But that’s a topic for another month!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday, 11/30

I've been talking about food and/or grocery stores all week, so why stop now?


Actually, it's just something I observed while eating dinner last night, something so...strange that it made a piece of spinach shoot out of my mouth because I was laughing so hard at the absurdity of it all.

Sorry about that, Loraine.

Okay.  What made me laugh so hard that a piece of spinach went shooting out of my mouth? Well, it was in a flier for a local grocery store (one of the ones I actually mentioned in yesterday's blog). One of the deals they have coming up is this—if you buy 4 of one item, you get a fifth, separate item for free. It's something grocery stores do all the time and, usually, the items are grouped together by some common thread. You know, buy four boxes of cake mixes and get a container for free; something along those lines. So just what was this particular grouping, the one that made me laugh so hard spinach went shooting out of my mouth?

Buy four Healthy Choice frozen dinners, and get a container of ice cream free.

No, I'm not making that up. I couldn't make it up if I tried. I wasn't seeing things, either. After I apologized to Loraine for shooting spinach out of my mouth I showed her, and she saw it too. There is a currently a deal at a local grocery store—buy four things that are healthy (heck, “Healthy” is even in the name!) and get a tub of fat absolutely free.

Now you see why I laughed so hard that spinach flew out of my mouth?

I don't know why the store stuck those items together. I don't know if the store just got a great deal on a bulk buy of ice cream and needs to get rid of it, or if someone actually sat down and said “you know, we should pair a low calorie dinner with a high calorie dessert. That makes sense, right?” I mean, sure it makes sense, or at least as much sense as going into a restaurant and ordering four pieces of cheesecake and a Diet Coke. But there it is, in the flier in black and white (or red, black, & white, if you wanna be technical). Buy four “healthy” dinners, and get a tub of ice cream for free.

America. What a country.


On that note, have yourself a great weekend. If you're in Marquette, enjoy many of the church bazaars and public open houses going on the next few days. And if you go grocery shopping, I hope all of your deals are as healthy as the one I just described!