Monday, June 30, 2008

On the subject of Moderation

"That request came from his wife."
  - Excerpt of opening narration from "The Odd Couple"

It has been brought to my attention that I spend too much time with my laptop and my television. True enough. I work in television and I work on a computer.

When I get home, I usually am sitting in front of the television, as I am now, with the laptop in my lap typing some e-mail, or blogging, or just aimlessly surfing or Facebooking.

The other day, my better half pointed out that I spend all my days at work in front of a screen, then I come home and do the same thing. True enough.

So while my daily blogging will continue, I will be keeping an eye on my screen time. The sun is shining these days. My waistline is getting a little too big. My kids want to play. 

Getting lost in cyberspace is a fun journey, but everything in moderation.

So if the posts are not as long, if I am not always online in Facebook, if I don't immediately answer e-mail, it doesn't mean I am gone... it just means I am moderating.

Good night, hitting sleep mode.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On the subject of I just don't know

When is something too much?

When does living with guilt outweigh being happy?

When do you give up yourself to make someone else happy?

When do you stand up when you're used to sitting down?

When can you be happy when those around you are not?

When does it feel good to do nothing and not have the feeling you should be doing something?

When can you tell someone to feel better when you feel that they might not want to?

When do questions like these not take up an entire day when it's sunny and 80 and life should be good?

I just don't know.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, June 28, 2008

On the subject of Accomplishment

Getting trophies is fun. I guess that is why parents now buy trophies for kids when they just participate in pee wee sports.
When you win a trophy, it is amazing. I have been blessed enough to win a few in my lifetime. The first one was very special. It was a service award at my high school. I received the only standing ovation in the ceremony, so you could imagine the feeling that rushed through me on that day. The award finished a distant second to the realization that I had made a real difference in the lives of my classmates, and that memory lives far longer than the display of the medal.

Today, I went to Alki Beach for a regional Powerlifting Competition to see a friend from improv class compete. It was her first try at putting her talents to the test. She was pretty amazing, as she came in first in both the bench press and the dead lift.

To be fair, she was first in a competition of one, as there were no other competitors in her age/weight class. When she got her trophy, she shrugged and said something like "first place - the only place." I told her that I believed that she did
 indeed win. The accomplishment of seeing her training pay off, setting personal goals and meeting them - that is winning... no matter how many entered.

So display those trophies with honor, and get ready to hang some more up there with them. You deserve it, and I am proud to have shared the moment with you and your friends.

Good night Adjil, the two time champion of the 12th Annual Bull Stewart Power Lifting Championships!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, June 27, 2008

On the subject of Friends - a new look

The foundation for this blog was born from the fascination of Facebook and MySpace Friends. My very first post discussed this issue. Following a "news feed" item, I now see that I am not the only one that is fascinated with the subject.

A new group has been formed on Facebook called interestingly enough "Facebook friends aren't really your friends." The description of the group goes thusly... When you look at your list of friends on Facebook ask yourself. Are these people really my friends? Or am I just collecting them to show the world how many I can rack up. What do you think?"

The news feed post was produced by the fact that one of my "friends" had just joined this group. This "friend" was and is a fraternity brother of mine. In the realm of Greek world, your brothers are always your brothers. I talk to one of them now, and that was after a long time without even a word. 

When one of my fraternity brothers appeared under "people you may know," I thought it would be a good contact. But is he a "friend" in the true definition. I think so, but a close friend... no.

My best friend in sixth grade was Bill. He moved away shortly thereafter, and I lost touch. When I found him again through the world of blogging, then Facebook, I contacted him to become "friends," hoping to catch up. I was accepted as a friend, but apparently, there wasn't any desire to catch up on his part. As a matter of fact, it seems like he is confused with how to deal with his "friends."

One post on his status said "Now that I have all these Facebook friends, what do I do with them?" My answer appeared on his wall and stated, "You asked what to do about Facebook friends. The short answer is enjoy their company. Have fun seeing their status changes... view a few photos, or post some of your own. Get reconnected with those who you might want to talk to... share some news. Or, just don't do anything with it. It's the beauty of the virtual world, you can do what you want to do, if you want to do it."

Two days ago, he posted a new status item that said, "apparently I am going to become Facebook friends with everyone I ever knew." That, to me, is a good thing as I love to reminisce with people, especially ones who had a special place in my life, as ironically, this person did. I may be his "friend," but it seems like he's only comfortable at leaving it at that, nothing more.

I have only one occasion to introduce myself to someone by saying, "hi, we're actually Facebook friends." The person I introduced myself to laughed and said "so THAT'S were I know you from." We discussed how nice it was to finally meet in person.  We both work with a local improv group, and would have eventually met, but the fact that we had "Facebook" in common allowed me to know her better. At the same time, she might have wondered "who is this guy?" as well. So, in essence, we were already introduced before meeting.

So back to the question posed by the new group. Am I just trying to gather as many friends as I can? No. Do I think that every friend is a real friend? No. Do I have a personal relationship with all my "friends?" For the most part, I can say yes... at about 95 percent.

For me, Facebooking is a great way to enjoy a social circle that allows me to learn more about people I have a relationship with, through work, or play, or school, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

To everyone who has accepted me as a "friend," I say thank you. I appreciate the honor. To me, asking to be a friend or accepting a friend is simple... it says I know you and would appreciate the opportunity to share my world with you, to whatever extent you wish."

So does it matter that Facebook Friends aren't your real friends? I believe it is the relationship you have is what makes a friend.. and if the cyber friendship can turn into something genuine, and further what is already there, it's something truly great.

Good night, my friends, present and future!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On the subject of being just a game

We interrupt the travellogue of father and son to bring you tonight's blog entry. I left my computer at the office and am using the Mrs's.

"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play!"

My softball team had their second game last night. For a while, I thought it was going to be my last.

Playing the game, any game, is supposed to be fun. That three letter word last night was replaced by many four letter ones (none by me, okay one by me) by a team being beaten badly. We didn't do anything wrong, just not a lot right.

The game ended with a controversial play, which set off a load of fireworks. One of our big hitters slammed a ball into left field, which the opponent's left fielder dove towards to make the catch. Except he didn't make it. You wouldn't have known this if you were in the field, as the umpire may or may not have called an out. When a ball is caught in the air, all the runners have to go back to their bases. Our runners had left, so, with no call, they kept running, then ran back when the umpire softly said catch. The game ended with two outs in the last inning. The umpire ended the game right there.

The reason was the players on my team decided to argue the call. The score was such that it would not have made any difference if it was an out or not, but there they were, yelling at the umpire.

As the manager, it's my job to control my team, and I had lost control of them. Our team was known as the most fun team to play as we always were good for a laugh and rarely argued. For some reason (the moon was not full) last night was different.

I said to two members of the team "be quiet!," to which the umpire (who had a lot of attitude himself) said "you don't tell me to be quiet." It was that kind of scene.

The most competitive member of our team had walked off the field, saying to my wife as she left, "I am just in this for fun. I don't need this."

She was right. We didn't need this. Softball is supposed to be fun. It's a game, with no ramifications on real life. No prize waits the best team. Nothing is to be gained by the winners, or lost by the losers. It's just a game.

It's about 24 hours later, and I still am saddened by the scene. I contemplated leaving it all behind, except my company name is on all the jerseys. The idea is to play a game, enjoy it, and move on with life. It was my approach before the game, it will remain so now.

So for all you softball superstars whose life is defined by if you win in a rec league, my pity goes towards you. It's just a game, and nothing more. It's not like you make money playing the sport, but of you feel the need for validation, I will bring my Monopoly money and pay you your prize next time.

Good night, I'm out, as apparently the people on second and third were.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger
#21 on your scorecard.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the subject of being Nine - Part 2

Day two started simply enough. We looked for a simple breakfast. Instead, it was the breakfast buffet. Eggs, fruit, cereal, bacon, sausages, these things that looked like flipped over eggs with stuff in ‘em. That should be enough. What’s this? French toast, 10 different kinds of sweet rolls, pancakes, two kinds of syrup? “I’ll take some of all of it,” he said grabbing a small plate instead of the large ones made for the large servings. I am not sure how much he ate, but the idea was bigger than his stomach.

First adventure on our adventure was a trip to Hollywood. Why not Disneyland or Universal? It’s a long story, but the real purpose of the trip was a pair of sporting events, and I wanted to make it as cool as possible.

Before the adventure could begin… the mother in me said we needed to put on our sunscreen. It was more than 90 outside, and we knew it would be a good idea. We were spraying away when a lady asked us where we got it. I told her it came from home. She looked a little sad and I said, here – use ours. She said it wasn’t for her, but for her two little ones. I said, spray away… we have plenty. She could not believe it and was very grateful. The best part of this chapter came as we strolled away, when my son grabbed my hand and simply stated, “Dad, that was nice.” Lesson taught, lesson learned.

Our first stop in the land of stars, or at least people with maps to the star’s homes, was Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Outside this landmark are seemingly dozens of wannabe actors in various costumes, all looking for money in exchange for a photo op. But through the eyes of nine… “there’s Superman… there’s Batman… there’s Jack Sparrow!”

Before I could say, um, be caref… there was Jack Sparrow handing my son a walking stick and making him part of his act. The street performer in his best Johnny Depp attempt (admittedly, he was pretty good) confided that it was his first day trying this. Gullible me believed him for a moment, but when he and my son could not get anyone to perform with him in the show, I actually think it might have been the case. He handed my son a balloon sword and said, “your Dad can give me money for it if he wants, but really, you could have it anyway. Come back in a few minutes and we can try again if you want. This is tougher than I thought.” Two photos later, I did give Jack a buck. The experience for the boy of nine was worth much more.

We entered the theater grounds, landscaped with the hand and footprints of Hollywood’s best known actors and actresses. “Who’s Jack Benny?” “Who’s this Clark Gabilliee?” The meaning was lost on him. Dad was excited. There was Groucho, Bob Hope, Van Heflin (Van Heflin?? – Another long story.)  We were looking for Arnold! Christopher Walken! No, no idea for him. We never found Arnold, but we did find a great photo op for us.

Attack of the street performers. Asian woman in some sort of pirate meets hooker outfit tells the nine year old to grab her sword. Quick picture just to get away from her, and then the explanation about everyone wanting money. He got the idea immediately, and just enjoyed the walk.

We saw stars alright… on the sidewalk. The new Dodgers star was there. “Hey Dad, we’re gonna see them tomorrow! Take a picture. Oh, Jackie Chan! Here, Dad, take a picture. Vince McMahon – he’s John Cena’s boss. You want a picture.”

Then we crossed the street to the land of tourist traps. We passed by the Ripley’s Museum, then the World Record Museum. Only 20 bucks gets you in. “Dad, I wanna go to Ripley’s!” My son loves all things Ripley’s. He has checked out every Ripley’s book from the school library.

At that moment, it struck me. This was not about me. This was about a boy of nine. He didn’t care about a tourist trap. He wanted to see the museum of his dreams (and my nightmares – I’m very squeamish) So in we went, and his eyes lit up. Can you roll your tongue? “Look, Dad! I can roll, Hey, it’s a dead guy! Look, this guy has a tree through his head! Cool! Take my picture.”

Frozen shadows. A cool light trick with glow in the dark walls and a flash. One simple trick, one great bonding moment for Dad and Son. We improvised a lot of different scenes on the wall. I wish I could take pictures to capture the moments frozen in time… however, the flash took away the shadow. The memory is still just as vivid though.

After the two headed sheep and five legged cow, there was a man hanging over an alligator. To see him clearly, one has to step on a platform. The trick was that the platform moved like it was breaking and the alligator moved forward. My son laughed in delight and just had to stay and watch the next three groups fall for the trick.

We looked over the last few exhibits, and it was done. The countenance of his face was more important than the accountant’s summation of expenses.

It was not about me. It was about a boy of nine.

We went back to Hollywood and Highland, and to the vista that allowed for a great view of the Hollywood sign. A Kodak moment for the two of us. Finally… something we could share, and it was very good.

Panic struck moments later. I had lost our parking ticket. We were at the booth and I could not find it. The family who had benefited from our sunscreen was there, and they insisted on paying for our 2 dollar parking. I still couldn’t find the ticket, but thanked them anyway. Turned out the lost ticket was 10 bucks… not a heartbreaking sum, made more tolerable by the kindness of others. “Dad, that was nice of them, and it’s okay you lost the ticket… people lose things. We’re okay,” Lesson taught, lesson learned.

Back to the hotel we went for a wonderful dip in the pool. Just what we needed, but we also needed to get ready to head south for our first sporting event – to see David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy. We met a friend for dinner and caught up with him (he had given us the tickets and the inspiration for this adventure.) We had a little time before the game so, on the advice of our friend, went to a local sports store to get geared up.

Okay, I’ll admit, I went overboard here. My son and I outfitted ourselves in genuine David Beckham jerseys – not replicas. We paid for them, more than we needed to, but I wanted him to have the best. And I wanted one too. So there we were, father and son in matching Beckham jerseys.

The Home Depot Center was as beautiful a place as I have ever seen to hold a soccer field. Not a bad seat in the house, and everywhere you looked, pictures of Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Galaxy logos. Lots of photo ops, many taken.

The moment was at hand. David Beckham arrived for warm-ups. “There he is Dad! There’s David Beckham!”

For a man who was brought up that Football was the sport and soccer just a sport for people who didn’t play football, the moment was not lost on me. Here is the world’s most popular athlete, and here he was, making my son do a bit of hero worship.

The game began… fireworks exploded and within minutes, Becks to Donovan and a GOAL! You would have thought my son had won a million dollars.

The game ended in a 3-3 tie, when Becks just missed putting in the game winner in the final minute. It would have been a fairy tale ending for this game’s story. “That was the greatest game I have ever seen! Thanks, Dad!”

Following the game, we were invited (okay – helped to sneak in) to the post game VIP party where the boy of nine went searching for autographs. (Thanks Rogo!) He got a few, the highlight being Cobi Jones, former US National player and Galaxy star. The son asked, “Who’s he again?” So much for being a star.

The evening ended with a trip back to the hotel, with an attempt to find a beach, which got us lost. We backtracked and got back to the hotel where we pretty much were ready to call it a day. The son slept in his Beckham jersey.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On the subject of being Nine - Part 1

After spending four days in the company of my nine year old son on a sports adventure weekend in California, I have found the answer I have been seeking for many a year. I no longer need to capture the party days of college. Gone are the days where I seek to be a teenager again. Goodbye to the present day with its responsibilities and worries.

I want to be nine again.

The age seems to be magical and full of wonder. Life is not about the next appointment or the next dollar to be made. It is about what has just happened and what will happen next.

Our journey began on Friday when we stepped on the plane. He had flown before, but not at a time where he could remember the occaision. At security, it was interesting how the metal detector worked. Once on the plane, no beach blanket novel was needed to entertain, just the pictogram card explaining the safety procedures. No DVD player. No newspaper. Think nothing of the two magazines I just bought him to keep him occupied. No, just the safety card.

Once we landed, it was off to get the rent-a-car. We were on the bus and he wanted to pick up a map. “Where are we” he asked. “Hey, can we get a Hummer” he asked. In LA, I said no… but the lady at Hertz gave us a sporty G6. Cool car, Dad.

Californians will tell you that life can begin and end with an In and Out Burger. For us, LA life began with one. After a long wait, the food finally arrived. “This is the best burger I have ever had in my whole life!”

To the hotel, we went, through the labyrinth of roads called the California freeway system. In the dark, we moved, for a while. At 10 PM, on a Friday night, traffic halted on the 110.

“Dad, is it always like this?” I recalled that it usually was and remembered when I got stuck in it trying to catch a plane or get to a TV shoot. But for him, the novelty of traffic at 10 PM was just that… a novelty.

At the hotel, the glass towers beamed skyward. We were met by the valets to take our car. “Is everyone this nice” he wondered. Then we saw movie posters lining the walls of the entrance, as the hotel had played a starring role in many movies. We passed by one poster in particular that grabbed his attention. Dad, ARNOLD!

Checking in was not a slam dunk. We entered the room using the cool key. He wanted to do it so I let him go first. As we went in, he noticed something was awry. “Dad, is there supposed to be a towel on the floor?” I said it probably fell off the bar. “Dad, why do the beds look slept in?” Okay… now this was weird.

We called down and they changed our room to one in the Circle Tower. That meant an unexpected surprise. We stepped onto the glass elevator, and there it was. “This elevator was used in the filming of ‘True Lies” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.” He was in movie heaven.

The news was on as we prepared to go to bed. We heard it was “all time record heat for Los Angeles.”  Oh,  joys for me. “Dad, what is the hottest I have ever been?” He was about to find out.

Warn out from the trip, he could not get to sleep. Too excited. What were we going to do the next day? When does the pool open? What time does the soccer game start? Are they going to give our car back to us, or will they keep it? And at 2 in the morning, I heard him.

“Dad, you’re snoring too loud. Could you keep it down? I am trying to sleep!”

... to be continued.


Friday, June 20, 2008

On the subject of Quality Time

"Roll down the window,
Put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys Baby
Don't let the music stop
We're gonna ride it till we just can' ride it no more."
- Randy Newman - "I Love LA"

Los Angeles awaits.

A trip to the "Southland" used to be a business trip six or eight times a year. I would go down to the campus of UCLA or USC and tape a television show over a one day period and come back to usually rainy Seattle and put it all together.

The sunshine, beautiful people, cool places, warm weather make it a place one never wants to leave, but I don't think I could ever live there. However, for the sheer largeness of the aura, the grandness of it's grandeur, and being a totally bitchin' place, it's hard to beat.

Today, I leave for a totally new experience. My son and I embark on our first father/son trip. Just the kid and me.

For those who don't know me, my son is a mini-me. He is nearly an exact incarnation of me at age 9. He sings, cracks jokes and loves sports. He'd rather watch TV than read. He knows what a pretty girl looks like but is embarrassed to acknowledge it. He is kind, gentle, caring and loves life when it isn't crammed with the stress of everyday life.

Our trip will include lots of sports including seeing David Beckham and the LA Galaxy, which the soccer playing son is really looking forward to seeing. Even if Becks can't play, seeing the game played in a quality manner in a sold out stadium will be an experience. Then on Sunday, it's a day under the sun at Chavez Ravine watching the Dodgers, eating a Dodger dog, and wearing Dodger blue. I don't expect him to become a Dodger fan, but there is something about that atmosphere that makes one like them.

We plan on going to the beach, seeing Arnold's handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and our very first stop in LA - In and Out Burger! We're staying at a fancy, shiny, LARGE, hotel in Downtown.

More than all the experiences, I hope he will enjoy the freedom of taking a trip to a far off place at his age. My parents did the same with me at this age, and it shaped my life. I will totally admit that the trip they took me on was longer (two weeks vs. four days) and larger (Germany vs. LA) than the one my son and I are about to take, but at the same time, it's a big man's trip, not a kid's adventure.

Yes, he can be a kid and enjoy "stuff," but I hope spending time with his "old man" will be the thing he might end up remembering most. Maybe not tomorrow, but in 20 years. And that... is quality time.

Internet access will be sketchy in LA, so I may not be able to update until Monday night when we return... if that is the case, expect a mega-blog on Monday with entries kept on the road.

Until then, good night Drew, hope you are having fun.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the subject of Awesomeness

"Welcome to Seattle. where the waters cold.
You can kiss my mocha frappuccino soul"
- Lease, the Musical 

There are few times I have been absolutely blown away from going to a movie or a show. Tonight was one of those rare occasions.

Having been a student of improv, I understand the basics of yes, and as well as other "rules," but I have no idea how the cast of Lease, Seattle's Own Rock Opera is able to do what they do. They are, in a word, awesome. Okay, they rock. Okay, there is not a good enough word to describe them.

The premise is this. An 80 minute musical where the opening number is the only thing planned. Everything, and I mean everything is made up on the spot including musical numbers that rival broadway songs that have been written in a room and revised 90,000 times. Here, they are made up on the spot and the entire cast of seven participates, sometimes singing a group number. Hey - how do they know what to sing. They just do, and it is incredible.

I am proud to say my teacher is one of the leads, but in this show, because everyone plays a lead, and every night it is different. 

Sadly, closing night is tomorrow, otherwise I would be calling everyone to go see it.

Bravo people. You Rock!

Good night, lights down, take a bow.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On the subject of Soreness

"I haven't got time for the pain,
I haven't got room for the pain,
I haven't the need for the pain."
- Carly Simon

I am old. Okay, not that old, but I am old.

Softball season is finally underway after two straight rain outs. However, if it had rained tonight, I probably would feel much, much better right now.

As the pitcher, at 6-4 and 250 pounds, I am quite the sight in blue just 55 feet from the plate. To the men, it's a big guy pitching. To the women, it's I hope this guy doesn't hit me. For my team, I am the one that has to put the ball in play.

Tonight's game began unremarkably, with the opponents seemingly hitting at will. I was putting the ball in play. We came right back and scored more runs, but they came right back and scored some more, thanks in part to me messing up. We never were able to rally and lost.

Don't know the score. Don't care. Yes, I like to win. No, my heart isn't broken from losing.

Instead, I am sore. Will be sore tomorrow morning. Dumb ol' me forgot to stretch. On the mound, I do a stretch every time I pitch. For those who have ever seen fastpitch, I look like a slow pitch version of Jennie Finch, with the exception that she has talent, she has looks, she has a large endorsement contract, she has... well, hell, she's Jennie Finch!

So after this blog, it's time for a bath with soothing salts. I know, too much information. We have a hot tub - haven't plugged it in for years, so it's just a tub, and a television with an episode of Sliders.

I would watch Celebrity Circus, but the idea of watching people hurt themselves when I am sore, not gonna do it.

Good night, and now... Calgon, take me away.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger
a/k/a not Jennie Finch

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On the subject of Keeping up

I have spent my day watching other people's work and it makes this six foot four person feel about three feet tall. There are some people doing some awesome, creative, innovative work out there and I want to do it too.

As a 45 year old television producer who has been in the business nearly half his life, I pray the business is not passing me by. I have kept up with what makes a good show, what tells a good story, what can make people feel an emotion. However, some of the editing and effects I see in today's work makes me wonder how people can think in such an outside of the cube way. 

You can't call it out of the box anymore. Cubes are 3D and that is the way of the video world in this era. And you can't watch on just one screen, you have to think of what to put on every conceivable medium from long boards to screens. I even saw an entire show projected onto a screen the size of an entire arena... and it was amazing.

There is a time when you realize you need some help, and I am going to reach out to some young minds and find some new vision that I can help guide, while they can help guide me. It's a win win situation but an honest one.

Let there be no doubt, I am good at what I do, and will continue to be so. However, to be better and strive for the best, a good team can beat a superstar any day... and it's time I start a team.

Good night remote, I have work to do.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On the subject of Summer

Summer finally started today here in Seattle.

The sun was out. I could wear a t-shirt. Sunscreen was not an option, it was a necessity.

Summer used to start for me on Memorial Day weekend and last until Labor Day. I was very lucky as my parents bought a beach town house on the ocean in Bethany Beach, Delaware. The days usually consisted of breakfast, spend all morning on the beach and in the waves, break for lunch, go out on the beach all afternoon, come in for dinner, and walking on the boardwalk to the downtown area to have an ice cream cone, strawberry licorice (before they called them red vines) and play miniature golf for 50 cents. I'd go to bed and start the routine up al over again the next morning.

Life was pretty simple back then. The highlight of the day would be going to the Post Office to pick up the mail. You would go up to the counter and ask for your mail by your name. The address was simple. Your Name, General Delivery, Bethany Beach, Delaware. When I would get mail from the Baltimore Orioles, it was a special day. They were usually replies to fan letters, which, back then, meant an autographed picture, or a sticker of some kind.

One shelf of the built in bookcase on the stairs was my "desk" decorated with the latest pictures from the O's. Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, Earl Weaver and Boog Powell were the stars of the show, and the stars of my desk. Bumper stickers and round stickers were stuck on the wall. It was a shrine to heroes.

On special nights, I would sleep outside on a cot on the screen porch; the moon and stars and the night time tourists my companions. It was pretty sweet.

In 1975, my parents sent me off to camp for the first time at the Citadel Summer Camp for Boys. We lived in the same barracks as the cadets. We had inspection every morning. We had to fold everything a certain way, and place items in certain drawers in a certain order. Even underwear had a precise way it was to be folded. It was hell.

Luckily, I had an outlet for my unhappiness, and out right homesickness. My parents knew the President of the University, and I would steal away to the "General's House" where his wife would fix me a diet Coke and lime and listen to me cry for hours. To try to make me feel better, she gave me a Citadel baseball cap that was a light blue, and much nicer than the uniform cap we were all forced to wear, along with uniform t-shirts and shorts. My new cool cap was out of uniform, and I got in trouble for wearing it, but it allowed me to be me, and it was a statement of sorts. 

I survived that summer, after many tears, and my parents picked me up and we went off to a resort island in South Carolina for a week. I remember two things about that island. I remember playing golf with my dad, and I remember watching Muhammad Ali for the first time on live television as he fought Ken Norton on ABC's Wide World of Sports. What I didn't know is that my parents had bought property on another island, and that was to be our new summer home. 

On Seabrook, days on the beach would be replaced by days at the pool doing 3/4 back flips. meeting girls by the jukebox and going to the dances at neighboring Kiawah Island. I won a lot of dance contests with a partner named Elizabeth Scheld. She and I won so many times, they made us the judges. We also had a collection of Kiawah t-shirts in every color from our victories as well.

And it would be on the beaches of Seabrook that I would meet my first loves... but that, my friends, is a blog for another time. My current girlfriend (a/k/a the Mrs.) wants to watch a movie, so it's time to turn off the laptop for a while.

Good night, Moon.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the subject of Getting Mad

I'm ticked.

I am one day away from a romantic weekend getaway. I have no work to do. My wife is pretty much finished with school and without stress.

Meanwhile, I am about to go boom, and why?

I get upset at one thing more than any other. I want people to take responsibility. If you say you are going to do something, you do it. It doesn't matter if you are 9, 19, 29, 39 or 49. Older folks can get a little bit of a pass, as they have earned it. Bottom line, do what you will say you will do.

Part two - if you are not going to do it, do not... may I repeat... DO NOT ask me to make an excuse for you. Take responsibility yourself.
With that long preface, new subject - yet related. I promised myself I would blog on a daily basis, to keep the habit. Every blogger knows the moment when they break the cycle. However, I owe my wife a weekend without the computer, without the cell phone, with just... well, me.

So I'll see you on Sunday.

Until then, good night to you and you and you over there.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the subject of Belonging

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound we're both living under
Whatever we deny or embrace, for worse or for better
We belong, we belong together.
   - Pat Benatar

More than anything in the world, the emotion I want to feel is that I belong somewhere. There are very few places where one can truly feel that way. 

One is at home, with a loving family - a state which I will never take for granted as I know there are so many broken homes where no one can feel that way.

Rarely do you find a place where you feel like you belong, but I have hope.

I met with the director of a local theatre group today about some new video projects. It is a place that I am volunteering some of my time as I believe in the programs they offer and the shows that they do. Our conversation covered many different topics, from my qualifications in the television business to hometowns to what makes a show work. However, one topic struck me quite strongly.

He said that when a newcomer to the company arrives, they are told that rehearsal time is from 7 to 10. When the rookie arrives, they are usually surprised that rehearsal ends at 9 PM. When they ask the obvious question, which is, "I thought rehearsal was three hours," the director smiles and says, "yes, it is, and follow us to the tavern up the street for the final hour." He told me that it creates a sense of family, and makes people want to be a part of it.

IMHO (love that txting term,) the key to any successful operation is building a team that believes in the leader as strong, yet approachable, and the company as a place where "they belong." This theatre group defines that statement.

I have been a part of many different companies, and the feeling of family is the difference between those places where I have wanted to be, and those that "worked for."

For seven years, I worked for a place most sports fans would give their right arm to work for. In that job, I got to go to NBA Finals, Baseball, NBA and NHL All Star Games, and just about any sporting event in the area that I would want to cover. I got to travel to a different college campus every single week. I had what could be called a dream job. 

About four years into my tenure, the place was bought out by a major network, and the decisions made by the people up the hall, now were made out of Los Angeles. The "family" died a slow and painful death, and just as achingly, people started losing their jobs courtesy of hatchet men brought in by the new management. All the cool assignments in the world wouldn't make it worth staying there.

Fast forward to the present, and one particular part of my job. I work with a major university and its sports teams. One team in particular, makes me feel like family. While they are one of the so-called "non-revenue" sports, with a smaller budget, I treat them very well because of one thing... they thank me. From the moment I walked into the coach's office for the first time to the season ending banquet, this group of athletes made me feel like I belonged, and for that, I would do just about anything.

When you feel like you belong, you want to be there, and you will go the extra mile.

Here's to walking many miles.

Good Night, Exit Stage Left.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On the subject of Timing

"Life is about timing." - Carl Lewis

Easy for one of the world's fastest men to say, but hard for the rest of us.

I bought an iPhone last year. I paid 400 bucks for it. I love it, but will I still love it tomorrow.

Life is about timing.

My Dad always told me about his house, "this is a beautiful house, and with real estate what it is, I hope it can leave you something nice someday." He said that two years ago when real estate was still good.

Life is about timing.

I bought an SUV last fall. 

Life is about timing.

I finally got involved in team sports again last year. The last time I played on a team, I weighed 175, now I am 250. One guy, when describing my new found talents said I was the first guy he ever saw that could stretch a home run into a triple. I play Softball now every Wednesday.

Life is about timing.

Just when I spent some of the greatest times of my life with a great group of people in a Tuesday night class, they move the class to Wednesdays.

Life is about timing.

My wife and I are going on a special date on Friday at a very fancy hotel. She has spent the last two nights working until 245 AM and 5:45 AM respectively, and will be doing the same tonight. You suppose she is going to be a little tired on Friday?

Life is about timing.

I am writing this on just a couple of hours sleep myself. 

Life is about timing.

Good morning, Honey!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Monday, June 9, 2008

On the subject of Men

"I try to be like Grace Kelly, but all her looks were too sad,
So I tried a little Freddie, I've gone identity mad."

I just don't "get" men, and I am one. I don't think I ever have. Maybe it was because I was forced to drive a minivan for a few years, and had all the testosterone sucked right out of me.

Fact is I have always been this way. My women friends will tell you. My men friends will tell you. I am just different. For me, that's okay.

My blogging friend Little Ms. Notetaker recently went out to a social function, which presumably is a place where people want to meet other people. This particular party was even put on by a local radio station for the purpose of singles meeting singles.

See her blog linked to the right for the full story... but, long story short, one of the few desirable men in the room came over and talked to her, and gave her his number. Problem was, the number belonged to a mother whose voicemail cheerily spoke of the family not being able to take the call.

Why in the hell can't men just be honest? I know very few that can. It seems to be a part of the man handbook that to be a man, you have to prove it. Big trucks - are you hauling something or making up for something else. Drink more than everyone else and be obnoxious, what does it prove? Roll through a stop sign or don't even stop, is coffee that important?

Okay, I will admit, women do this too, but it seems like two factors make you more likely to make me go sheesh. The more expensive the car, the more rights you seem to have. The more you make, the more you feel entitled to. Oh, make it a third, if you are a man, you're more likely do all of the above.

So here's the challenge I put to men. Just for a minute, put yourself in their shoes. I don't mean go get a pair of F Me Pumps and parade around in them. (Okay, how many men just went for the gutter while the women went "shoes!") I mean, consider what it is to be gentle. Think of what it means to be emotional. Feel for one minute that you have to work that much harder for things that you might already take for granted.

I can handle men one on one, or in a group of trusted friends, but in a group of "guys," I will probably feel out of place. I guess that is why some of my best friends are women, and why calls for "a guy's night out" rarely come my way.

Doing karaoke, I usually understand songs by women (we've already talked by Amy Winehouse) better than those by the rocking he-men. One of my favorite artists is Mika, whose song Grace Kelly talks about a guy who couldn't win no matter if he was gentle, or a manly man. I understand that one. 

The quote I use the most is "in the battle of the sexes, I can't root for my own side." It sounds like something one might use to pick up women. Well, I have one, and I plan on keeping her.
As my parents taught me, it's okay to be a man as long as you can learn to always put the word gentle in front of it.

Good night Ladies, and Gentlemen!

Yours Truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On the subject of lost and found

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see."

If you have read this blog before, you will notice there is a new title picture. It was taken about two years ago on a beach on Seabrook Island, South Carolina at about 8 PM or so. There was just enough light to get an exposure, but I wanted to do something a little different. 

There I am standing on the beach, but you see another me, seemingly happier, striding away with a smile on my face. Smiles at that time were at a premium, but the photography was what I did to keep myself occupied and detached for a while. A couple of miles up the street, my Dad was laying on his death bed.

The pictures I took on that trip had a life of their own. They were images taken through the eye of someone who wanted to escape from reality. The late night colors... the multiple images... the inanimate subjects were an examination on where my life was, where it was then, and where it would go in the future.

So, in the moments just after dinner, when there was nothing to do for my dad, while the hospice workers did their work, while my sister detached in her own way, I went to the beach. It was in that same ocean that my mom's ashes were spread just a few years earlier. The twilight - the sunset on an Eastern beach with a western view, was the perfect atmosphere for taking a trip to find meaning in a time with no meaning, with every meaning. A walk of consciousness if you will.

Sometimes to walk toward the future, you have to come to grips with the present.

It was on this beach, at this time, that I realized youth, as I knew it, was a thing of the past. I was about to be "an orphan." I was about to become the patriarch of the family. It scared the hell out of me. At the same time, I was not fearful. 

My Dad had lived a wonderful life. He was, in every sense of the word, my hero. I looked up to him in every way, even though I would not consider our relationship close until I was out of college. We weren't distant, we just weren't close.

He had spent his life preparing me for this time. "Be a man," he said. "Be a gentleman," he clarified. It was all the advice I needed. It was so simple. 

My dad died two years ago today, or at least I think it was today. I don't know. I don't want to know. He died at 1:47 AM, which, for reasons only known to him, my mom and God, was probably close for the perfect time for him to go. 

I do miss him, but when I go back and look at the pictures from that time, as I did for some reason today, I get a sense that he never left.

Good night, Dad.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

On the subject of a Nice Surprise

This will be short and sweet. In yesterday's post I spoke of great expectations, and how I thought that I did not have any chance of winning an Emmy Award tonight at the Northwest Regional Emmys. And that if I did in fact win, I would gloat on all my presences on the web.

So let me gloat, and give an acceptance speech, as the Emmy goes to HS Gametime for Outstanding Sports Series. (I was in Bellingham watching Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops make me laugh so much, by belly hurt, so I missed the ceremony.) Ahem, clearing throat.

Thank you to KING 5, Tony White, Paul Silvi, and Mike Cooley for all their incredible teamwork over the past 6 years. Thanks to Rick Swanson for believing in the project, for Mike Krieger and Mike Gwynn for staying up so late on Friday nights, and to the great high school athletes that we have covered in the past, and the future stars we are looking forward to seeing in the upcoming years.

We now resume your regular blog, already in progress.

Good night, Dad. I won! Yea!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, June 7, 2008

On the subject of Great Expectations

At about 6:40 EDT, millions of people thought they were going to see history. What we saw was a bit of a mystery. Big Brown was expected to come in first... instead he comes in last.

At the track, tickets are ripped up. At homes across America, folks are kind of in shock. If there weren't such great expectations for a sure win, would it have meant less?
It seems our world is built on expectations rather than reality, and the world's people are bound by the results of those expectations. In business, we see stocks sink when the profits did not meet expectations. Hey, my company is happy when we make money. Some companies make millions and millions, yet if they did not meet expectations, their value goes down.

Tonight are the Emmy Awards for my region, and I am up for one. I fully expect not to win. My fellow Executive Producer and I have our money on some Idaho Outdoors show to take the trophy for Outstanding Sports Series. I don't have an acceptance speech written. As a matter of fact, I am not even going to the ceremony. The reason I am okay with any result is that I gave my best effort to make the show as good a show as I could, and know that everyone gave that same effort not for just the award entry, but for every show. We have won already. (If I do actually win I shall gloat with glee tomorrow and shout it on every one of my presences on the web!)

I am on my way to a show in a little theatre in Bellingham to see Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops for a pair of what I expect to be, really great shows. Oops, there are expectations. Will I be disappointed if they are not bell laughingly hilarious? No. I just want to be entertained and I know it is in my soul that every one does their best to achieve.

So in this world of Great Expectations, I am happy with what is reality. I, too many times, find myself nothing but disappointed when I expect great things to happen. When I just go into a situation with the mindset of what will be will be, then I can truly be happy when ti all works out.

Good night, and good luck.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, June 6, 2008

On the subject of being "Facebook Happy."

I am a chronic Googler. I know there is a pill you can take to help, or a 12 step program to enroll in to help this situation, but I can only control what I have control of.

I Google myself. I Google my television shows. I Google old friends. And when you search out your past, sometimes you open up the past to find you. Such was the case this morning when I found a short note from a dear friend from college. I had found her on business networking site, and took a shot in the dark with a message to her.

Sometimes you have to go beyond Google to find these old friends. You have to register for a LinkedIn or Classmates account, but it can be a great thing. In addition to hearing from my college friend, I heard from an old co-worker from my CNN days, as well as one of my former interns (who I have kept up with over the years.) Three reconnections in less than an hour. Wow.

It has been a blast catching up with the past, but sometime it can bite back at well. Exhibit A for this is one of my first Facebook "friends." This was one of those "friends" that Facebook finds for you - the people you may know. I recognized the name when I saw it. The picture was not as clear, so I wasn't sure. It turns out that she was a little sister in my fraternity.

This person is one that changes her status a lot. I like those kind of people as it kind of gives you a window into what they are living, and allows you to feel like you are in the virtual party room sharing a beverage with them.

I messaged her and said it was nice to see someone from college. I got a nice message back. She visited a frat brother in Chicago and mentioned that she was there on her status. Many of my friends here are from improv, and a group of them are performing this week in Chicago. Wanting to support them, and remembering that this person was someone who enjoyed the fun side of life, I sent her a message mentioning the Improv Festival and that if she was still in town - it might be fun.

The message back was a little loud and clear to me. "Take it easy on the Facebook. Too Facebook happy." Okay. I get it. This cyberspace world has rules, not written anywhere, but to be understood none the less. I think she believed that I was wanting a larger connection to her, but what I was thinking was that she might enjoy the work of some of my friends. Oh well, a little misunderstanding among "friends."

Too Facebook Happy. Okay, maybe the Facebook honeymoon is still going on, but for me, I am okay with being happy for a little while longer. I am not a pesterer... is that even a word? However, I do like to feel that I can make a positive feeling for folks by sending along a nice word, or helping out a friend, or just reaching out to say hello. For those of us who have a structured life of family and work, there is room for connection, especially since my day is usually void of it.

Getting a message or an e-mail from someone on a personal level can be an absolute highlight to my day. My inbox is filed with requests for me to do something for them - do a video - do a report - make a phone call - be a part of a meeting. It's the personal e-mails or messages that say I was thinking of you or something reminded me of you - those are the ones that I long for, and those are the ones I treasure. Call me selfish for liking to get something positive in the inbox.

So I am very happy to have connected with the past, promoted friendship for the present, and opened up possibilities for the future. If that makes me "Facebook happy," color me yellow and put draw a big smile on my face.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the subject of Lunch

It's the most important meal of the day!

Oh wait, are not we all told that is breakfast? I wholeheartedly disagree, and it has nothing to do with what I put in my stomach.

For me, lunch is one of two things. It is a time to leave the confines of my windowless office and see if the sun is up (which here in Seattle is always an iffy thing.) Or it's time to interact with someone.

I work alone as a hermit in a dark office where the computer monitors give off more light than the fancy lights that my wife bought for me. Because of this, I don't have much of a chance to talk to people outside of the occasional phone call or e-mail.

That is why my Facebook/MySpace obsession, along with the one you are reading here is worse than it could be. This is my way of talking, even though no one may be listening, but if you are... let's have lunch.

I usually go to Quizno's and have a regular Honey Bacon Club on wheat with no onions or tomatoes, with mayo added after the oven. The thought of baked mayonnaise sounds awful. This is my usual. It is so usual that it is written on the oven at the Mill Creek location for all the new employees will know what it is. Those who have been there a while will start making it as I am walking up to the door. Sad, isn't it?

It's not the first usual I have had. I think it started in college at Southern Methodist University where I would frequent a place called Galagaskin's. There it was a large cheesesteak with extra mayo and a cup of Wisconsin cheese soup.

When I moved back to Washington, DC, Jerry's Subs and Pizza was the place and two slices of four cheese white pizza was the order. With a large coke.

I will usually spend time talking with the folks at the shop. Karrol has become a friend at Quizno's. They opened shortly following the sale of a Blimpie which was my usual place, until the wonderful people who owned it, moved to San Diego.

My usual there, Hot Club with Macaroni Salad and a large Pepsi and a USA Today. Oh, I didn't tell you? The newspaper is my usual date for lunch. The last few places I have frequented always have a newspaper there. It's a wonderful touch for a table for one.

Today, I had company for lunch, and it was a new place for pizza. It was nice to have a real person to talk to.

So, if you happen to read this in the middle of the day on your I-Phone or Blackberry, I have enjoyed sharing lunch with you. If you happen to read this at another time and you have a portable device, please feel free to make me your lunch date every day. I enjoy the company!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On the subject of IF's

We could keep trying, but things will never change,
So I don't look back.
Still dying with every step I take,
But I don't look back.
- "With Every Heartbeat" by Robyn

Here's the problem. I do look back. I look back a lot. Nostalgia haunts my life, and I keep trying to get back, even though I want to look forward.

I got a call from my high school prom date today. She's a mother of twins and a stepmother of someone getting ready for her own prom, thus the phone call. Over the wires, or should I say wireless of the phone, floods of memories returned.

A few minutes later while I was taking a nap, I was awakened by something on the Oprah show (which was playing in the background as I had fallen asleep.) On the screen was an ad for MetLife with Snoopy. MetLife - for all the IF's in life.

So, I started looking back at many of my IF's, and there are a lot of them. Knowing that you are pretty cool for just reading this, I won't share every single one ("Thank God," says the reader,) but I will hit some highlights from this life called mine.

IF I didn't choose pro wrestling announcing, I might be an NBA or major college play by play announcer now. I chose ESPN and something fun over something with a future.

IF I took my parents up on their offer to place me on the Social List of Washington, I might have grown up with some pretty high status folks and be an executive, or married to one.

IF I had followed my peer group in the amount of drinking in high school and college, I would be an alcoholic now.

IF I hadn't been so quick to fall in love, I might have had better relationships with women throughout my teens, and 20's.

IF the US hadn't boycotted the 1980 Olympics where I was scheduled to be an intern with NBC Sports at age 16, would I have been a high level part of NBC Sports now?

IF I hadn't been obsessive about learning interesting facts about television, like the nicknames of stations like 11 Alive and KSTWashington, would I have gotten the job that moved me to where I live now?

IF I had actually done weights and worked out in High School, would I have been a star athlete and be in better shape now?

The answers to all these questions are, of course, rhetorical. Life is what it is, and that is perfectly okay with me. I thought writing down a few of them might be a way to set them aside, but they bring up more.

But before I go... let me answer some of them.

I did choose pro wrestling, and have some of my best friends because of it, including some people I would have never crossed otherwise. If I hadn't done wrestling, I wouldn't be here.

I asked my parents not to list me in the "Green Book," which listed all the top families in Washington, DC. I probably missed out on some Debutante Balls and some rich friends, but I don't think I could have kept up an illusion for long.

Making the choice to not drink was one of the best in my life, and has been a great lesson to my kids.

Yes I did say "I love you" a little too soon in some relationships, but I did that with the woman I have been married to the past 14 years, and it's working out pretty well.

Working with NBC for the Olympics would have been a dream come true, and I got the chance to apply later in life to work for NBC's Olympic unit. It was the wrong time, as they decided that the long form stories I loved to do was something they didn't love so much anymore.

My wife and kids hate the fact that I am a remote junkie and when we go on trips, I am fluttering through the channels looking at what they all look like, and what they call themselves. Knowing KSTWashington led to me being here, thus being married and having kids.

Not being a good student, or a great athlete still haunts me a little. My son is taking after me on the study part, but he sure loves to do sports. I love to watch him but will never push him to make him something I wasn't. Too many idiots that do that to their kids.

IF I had not started blogging, would I enjoy my evenings more. No, this has been fun, and I hope that if in some amazing way this little entry helps someone realize that looking back can help you move forward... that's a good thing.

As my friend Little Ms. Notetaker would say: Note to self: Have fun for the next couple of entries to let people know that you aren't always this serious.

Good night Gracie.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On the subject of British Pop and a Station to Love

In the 80's, I was a DJ at a roller skating rink. Now that tells you a lot about me. I used to love all the dance music, and the power of hitting a great tune that would get all the kids up to skate and bounce and be happy.

Fast forward to 2008, and I have found something that makes me get up and dance and bounce and be happy. It's British pop music. So how did I find myself here? It started with a chance surfing of the internet.

Many at work listen to music on the internet, whether it is internet radio, or a familiar station from their town or their home town. It's about finding something that makes you feel good, or it's just background noise. For me, the search was to find something that would not distract me while working.

Back in 2006, I had gone through a lot of CD's, mostly Enya and Cirque du Soleil soundtracks, but I was falling asleep. 

My first forays into internet radio began with stations from overseas, usually in a foreign language. Listening to French, German or Swedish radio meant I didn't understand what was being said, so I wasn't distracted.

Then one day, after a search of European radio stations, I happened on Capital Radio in London. The music was wonderful, and so different. Yes, there was some crossover with American artists, but it was there that Amy Winehouse and I were introduced, then it was Mika, Robbie Williams, Kaiser Chiefs, Leona Lewis, Take That, and Kylie!

So much for being distracted... now it was about being happy!

The on air personalities are very pleasant as well. The first I heard was Lucio in afternoon drive, which was especially funny since it was early morning for me. In addition to all his star studded interviews, I learned from Lou Pepper about all the eyewitness travel news (it's O2 - see what you can do). (Travel news is traffic to us - but travel is so much more fun.) I heard about Lauries getting stuck (busses) and what the latest David Beckham news was.

At night (afternoon here) were Bam Bam and StreetBoy... two guys who make Howard Stern seem very lame. Their sketches kept me in stitches for days. My wife would hate me always talking about their latest practical joke. Sadly, those guys are gone (they didn't last long in the music driven format, ) but they were sure fun.

Plus, the Brits must have some rules about public service announcements. I know now that Curb Crawling is something you should not do. Wearing a Con-Domm (that's what the guy says) is a good thing. That if you don't pay the congestion charge, they will come after you. And most of all, women do not want to get a social/sexual disease.

Now, Capital has changed their lineup. My day starts with Greg Burns, the new afternoon presenter. Then Lucio comes on with a lot of star interviews and premiere coverage. I get the latest sports updates live from the big football games (Soccer to you and me.) The promos that feature former "Grease" host, Denise Van Outen (seen at right with morning partner Johnny Vaughn,) saying "Good Morning, London! just make me smile!

My favorite bit is "Flirty at 9:30" which is sometimes replayed later in the day. Basic premise is a person who has a secret crush on someone gets to ask them out. The catch is that the DJ will offer them money in lieu of the date before telling them who it is. When they find out, the funny begins. I have heard co-workers, long time friends, and even yes - same sex crushes, rise into new heights or crash violently. I wonder if they ever check back to see if anyone got married from "flirty."

On Fridays (my busiest day) they have two other great shows. Johnny Vaughn's (their morning show) Desert Island Disco, which features a current artist playing the songs they'd want stranded with them on a desert island. That's followed by Des Paul's Dance Anthems, which really makes me move through the end of my work day (sometimes goes on through Capital's MORNING show on Saturday.)

However, it's the music that keeps me jumping, and knowing about great artists before they come to the States is the most fun part. Now, people don't ask me about Amy Winehouse & Leona Lewis anymore, but they do ask about Mika and September and SugaBabes.

Here's a quick playlist. If you get a chance to give it a listen, it's at

Mika - Big Girl (you are beautiful) 
    - an awesome song with a great message.

Amy Winehouse - "You know I am no good"
   - see previous blog for more on me and Amy

Girls Aloud - "I can't speak French" 
    - okay - so it's commercial like the Spice Girls, but I love them.

Duffy - "You got me beggin you for Mercy" 
    - It gives me a 60's flashback.

Wiley - Wearin' my Rolex - a damn funny song

Scouting for Girls - "Heartbeat" - Their Elvis isn't dead song is great.

The Hoosiers - "Worried about Ray" 
     (is that who Amy Winehouse would rather be home with)

Alphabeat - "Fascination" 
    - reminds me of a great concert song every one would sing to.

Kylie Minogue - "Wow" 
    - that's a good word to describe her as well.

Sam Sparro - "Black & Gold" 
    - every time it comes on, I sing the Kristen Wiig "Goooollld" on it.

Of course, it's pretty tough to listen in the car, but that is where XM comes in... I'm Club U-POP, are you? 

Yours Truly,
Johnny Blogger

Monday, June 2, 2008

On the subject of "going to 'Rehab'"

"They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no."

It was two days after my 45th birthday that in a bar called Hula Hula that those words came out of my mouth. I was doing karaoke for the first time in many years. Gone from my mind was any memory of doing it before - so why now? The occasion was a warmup for my improv class performance the following Sunday. Teacher Doug thought it would be a great idea for us to lose our stage fright BEFORE our showcase, and set up the evening.

"Yes I been black, but when I come back, gonna know, know, know."

All week, I had been preparing for this moment. What song would I do to establish my presence? Most people do a song that they identify with, something that might define them - My Way, New York New York, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Love Shack. So why was it than when I was introduced as doing the next song, the karaoke screen said "Rehab, in the style of Amy Winehouse?"

"I ain't got the time, but if my daddy thinks I'm fine."

It had been two years since my Dad had died. In those two years, there have been very few times where I have been a genuine portrayal of myself. One time was at a softball game, where I decided that after having one of the worst days of my life, that I was going to end it as one of my best. So I became, well, an a-hole on the field. Not a real nasty one, but rather someone who just didn't care anymore. I was all over the place. Heckling batters from the pitcher's circle like I was in the front row at the Sportatorium booing the Fabulous Freebirds. The center fielder, who had dropped two balls in the first inning found herself confronted by a channeled Matt Foley, motivational speaker. "Drop another ball and you'll be living in a van down by the river." In answering the very vocal first basewoman of the Krashtest Dummiez, that night's opponent, about the fact that I must have been hyped up on Mountain Dew, I replied - TWO SOOOOOPER BIG GULPS, I thankyouverymuch.

Since then, I have played characters. Dad. Husband. Boss. Co-Worker. Each of these are part of me but they are not me.

"Cause there's nothing you can teach me, that I can't learn from Mr. Hathaway."

My record collection when I was little was not typical. The first album I ever bought was Helen Reddy's "I am Woman." That was followed by the 45's of "The Night the Lights went out in Georgia" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Then there was "Killing me Softly" by Roberta Flack (with a duet with Donny Hathaway. Not your typical 8 year olds collection... at least not one for someone who would end up married and very straight. My tastes were different. They would lead to disco and then to early alternative, and now to an obsession with British pop.

"Didn't learn a lot in class, but I know it don't come in a shot glass."

I was not a great student in school. Didn't like to read, barely liked to write. I was a child of media. Radio and tape recorders were my best friends. Being a DJ into a cassette was as good as it got. In high school, I drank a little to make it look like I was cool. Never could hold onto great grades or alcohol. Neither meant a lot to me, they meant something to other people.

Now as I am older, I love to write, and I don't drink - haven't had a drink since the early 90's. 

"The man said why you think you here. I said I got no idea."

I started taking improv when my therapist told me I needed to do something for me. I always appreciated the talents of the people on "Whose Line," especially Wayne Brady. I loved comedy. I never acted, but I thought it would be a great outlet. There it is. I found something for me! So I signed up that day, only to be old that the class had sold out. 

Luckily, I was able to find another class with a genius named Matt Smith, who introduced me to the art. I have taken many classes from many teachers, but never felt like I was "getting it," and I began to be very discouraged. In my older age, had I lost the ability to think fast and be funny?Here I was, the one voted "Thinks he's Class Comedian," and I couldn't come up with anything funny.

Finally in one class, I just shut up and used my body to do the talking. It was a watershed moment. This 6-4, 250 pound guy seemed to be able to say more without a word than the big voiced guy he shared a body with. Finally, I started to get it.

"I'm gonna, gonna lose my baby."

I have never been a great dad. I try to be, but my patience does not equal the patience of my Mom. She raised me on the tail end of raising what would turn out to be an alcoholic/drug addict daughter. There were few times in my life where I could feel the stress she was going through. I don't keep that stress hidden as well. So now that my kids are 11 and 8, I try to do better. But the girl is entering puberty, and I have been told that in the next few years, if I can get her to ever talk to me, it will be an accomplishment." 

My son always talks. He's mini-me. He sings in the car. He cracks jokes. He hates to read. He loves to play with cameras. Damn... it's scary!

"He said 'I think you're depressed."

I have tried two anti-depressants in my life. Both gave me migraines. I don't think I have ever been depressed, but I have been sad. Stress is a bitch, and anxiety is a nasty mistress.

"Kiss me here baby and go rest."

Sleep, it is something that is relatively new to me. I love to sleep, used to do it for 10 hours a day. I used to be a night owl. I used to be younger. Then I got married, had kids, took a job that made for long days, late nights and lots of stress. Sleep? What's that? (See "on the subject of late nights."

"I don't ever want to drink again. I just, oooh, need a friend."

After improv classes, most everyone would head over to a local bar for drinks and tater tots. I was the only teatotaler in the group. That made me unique, but not unapproachable. As a matter of fact, it made me have a clear understanding of who I was. Each night, I would sit next to someone different and learn what I could about them. I discovered a new world. This diverse group was comprised of individuals from many different walks, from unemployed to executive, party animal to straight laced, powerlifter to those with few muscles, mustached to clean cut. Individually, we were as different as could be. Together, we were an incredible aura. I had not found a new group of friends. I had found something much different.

"It's not just my pride, it's just till these tears have dried."

At the last class, we played my favorite improv game - 10 through a door. the object is to come into a scene with a different character every time - with no preconceived ideas. Every time the teacher said switch, you had to run around the chair and come into the "door" with another character. On about the fourth or fifth character, I ran through the door with my hands folded and began to look at each person in the class. Doug yells "SWITCH!" And I move on.

Following my run through the many characters, he asked me to explain what the character was that had folded hands. He said I thought I was stuck and wanted me to move on. I told him that I was not stuck at all. I was just taking in the moment of being around such an incredible group of people. It was then I did something I would have never expected. I cried. I didn't want it to end. I had found myself again... not the one playing a character. I had no desire to ever, ever lose the feeling I had at that moment.

"They tried to make me go to rehab, I won't go, go, go."

So there I was singing in a jazzy Amy style. I had my eyes closed, except when I needed a word or two. And when I finished, I felt a peace I had not felt in years. One classmate said "I didn't think you had that in you?" I said to myself, I have had that all along. It is who I am... I just needed to go to "Rehab" to find it.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, June 1, 2008

On the subject of middle aged crushes.

Yesterday, I told my wife that I was not going to push her to read my daily entry on my blog. I said, "Honey, if you want to know what I am writing, feel free to log in and see."

That may be put to the test with the thoughts I am sharing with you today.

I have a crush on Kristen Wiig.

I don't have any idea about her personal life. If she asked me too, I wouldn't go have an affair with her. However, she does one simple thing to me that really, REALLY turns me on. She makes me laugh.

Now I love my wife more than anything or anyone in the world, but she has to be a serious person most of the time. She is a full time student in a very demanding program. She is the mother of two sometimes very demanding children. She has very little time to laugh.

When she does, she becomes very attractive to me all over again. When the cloud of real life lifts and I see her smile, she is a brick house. When she laughs genuinely (not a pitty laugh) at something I say or do, I am just ready to jump her bones and kiss her endlessly.

On Saturday nights, I share my bed with two women. My wonderful wife and Kristen. When the Target lady finds that elusive handbag, I get tingly with glee. When Penelope shows up at a party, (I knew Kristen Wiig before anyone else as I was one of the three people who actually watched the Joe Schmo Show - "you now have to leave the lap of luxury and go back to your meaningless life working for the man.") there are emotions that just come over me. When the deep voiced Cougar arrived on the screen, I wanted to be 20 again to be pounced on. When, I'm just kidding, the nervous, I'm not nervous, just kidding, Weekend Update contributor Judy Grimes, just kidding, looks into my eyes through, her eyes were looking, just kidding, just kidding, just kidding, I feel like I am going to lose it, just kidding, just kidding. Palomino! To me, she's just Gold!

At the end of the night, the one I do kiss is my wife, when we both have the energy to achieve the actual kiss. Life has been pretty exhausting for her, and she has lost her smile. I know it's there, and she will find it again. That will be the time when I can "leave my crush" and "go back to my honey," because her smile and laugh trumps anything I will ever see on TV.

When it all comes down to it, we may have many crushes in our lives, but only one true love. I, luckily, have found mine.

Oh darn, I have to go take my son to a movie, so I can't continue on the subject of my man crush, George Clooney. See! My wife and I DO have something in common!

yours truly,
Johnny Blogger