Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tire Tracks

Not this bus.
I got run over by a bus today. No, not the one in the picture, but the theoretical one.
The details are unimportant, and it wouldn't be proper of me to tell them anyway. The bottom line is, somebody told a blatant untruth. Nah, that's too kind. They lied. About me. I don't even know if there will be repercussions, but I'm freaking furious right now regardless.

You screw up? Say so. I'm awesome at it. An absolute professional. Hell, I've accepted blame for things that were never my fault to begin with, just to make it go away.

But, dammit.

See, here's the thing. I don't mind a good debate. The truth is that I'm not a truly confrontational person. I don't like to fight (haven't thrown a punch in 30 years) and I really don't like to get into skirmishes - be it at work, with my family, or with my friends. Oh sure, I'll get into debates about Don Mattingly and Cal Ripken with my brother that will leave us hoarse from screaming at each other. I'll go bonkers arguing about Sandy Alderson with Chris Kaelin.

At the end of the day, my brother is still family and Kato is still Kato. So it goes.

But I have a memory.

A pretty good one.

Mike Goldberg and Play-by-Play Announcing


Mike Goldberg is a broadcaster who works primarily on Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcasts, as well as various other programs. He has also handled some play-by-play of Arizona Cardinals preseason broadcasts.

Last Sunday, Mr. Goldberg got his shot to call a regular season NFL game, on FOX when the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions met.

It did not go so well. Goldberg was mocked in multiple corners of the world for his mistakes.

If only it had ended there. The keyboard geniuses (the non-Joe Buck division) were out for blood.

Goldberg would have been well-served to step away from the keyboard and not engage the trolls (yes, advice we all need to take). I've seen broadcasters respond to them in appropriate manners, but often, it doesn't end well, and it didn't work out here.

Goldberg went back at critics with expletives. That's the kind of thing that will get the attention (and not good attention) of a lot of people. Mainly, his bosses. Of course, then he apologized.

The NFL is hyper-image conscious right now. Think they were thrilled to see a Fox broadcaster cursing out the public? Yeah...no. So FOX pulled him from his second assignment, a Vikings/Bills game in Buffalo.

I used to think anyone could do play-by-play. I figured, I can do it. Why can't others? All you're doing is describing what you see. I realized, quickly, how wrong I was. It's a skill. It's not like being a nurse or performing brain surgery, but it's still a skill, and one that I'm proud of. I'm pleased that I am able to make something of a broadcast when I get a roster just minutes (sometimes seconds) before a game begins.

Goldberg appeared to sound horribly unprepared, and while he still would have dealt with critics, he probably would have gotten a second chance if he had just stayed away from Twitter for a few days.

I saw where Laxworm, a Connecticut-based website that is primarily devoted to lacrosse, has stuck its toe into the increasingly crowded high school sports field. Hey, I mean anybody can start up a webcasting station, right? The Worm had put together a small list of high school football games to broadcast, though I haven't heard how they sound.

You might know, I'm somewhat busy with my own games to call. I have no idea how things sound over on WGCH either.

Worm tweeted that they need a PBP (yes, play-by-play) voice for an upcoming Newtown/Ansonia game. I had marked that one as a potential broadcast for HAN (we're still deciding the rest of our schedule). Another tweeter suggested a friend of his. A quick scan of that potential "voices" Twitter feed indicated that he wouldn't be the kind of guy I'd want on my radio.

Image, social media behavior, and ability all combine. They mean a lot. Goodness knows I'm not immune to a social media screwup. It all counts.

Still it comes back to ability. At least I like to believe it does (and it doesn't entirely). On the local level, I can't just hand the keys over to somebody that hasn't demonstrated some skill. There is a lot to doing play-by-play. In short, you become engineer, producer, and talent. You need to open and close the broadcast (not as easy as it sounds). You're watching social media for storylines and scores. You're running commercials. You're doing prep work (if there's actually time) for the game. You're balancing egos both on and off the air, and potentially dealing with any and all distractions, including in the press box.

Oh yeah, and you also have to report and describe the action, while keeping your listeners entertained and engaged.


You have to also be smooth.

My guess? Mike Goldberg will get another shot. The reasons are various, but there are a lot of bad broadcasters and politics often works to get a guy another shot. Maybe FOX lets him back on because Dana White, the MMA impresario, wants Goldberg to get another chance. FOX and MMA are business partners, after all. Think about the amount of dreck that gets recycled out there.

It can be disheartening to see and hear.

Pageviews: 2


I was just looking at the stats for this site, and found this not-so-pleasant fact.

Pageviews today: 2.

Ugh.

Of course the answer is simple: write more. Much more. But, seriously, this has never been about pageviews. Oh, sure, I want eyeballs to visit and so on, but it was never about that.

Yet, one doesn't truly want to write for no one to see. 

So it goes, I guess.

The blog has never been heavily promoted, so the fault of all of this falls on the shoulders of the proprietor: me.

I'm rambling here.

This post isn't likely to help drive up the page views. Onto another day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thug For Life

Yup. Living large.
Keep that above gentlemen in your cranium. We'll come back to him.

I went to the Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain yesterday with Sean and other myriad members of the family. We had a nice time, nobody fought, yada yada.

Sean made me take him up to the top of the mountain on the ski lift again. I've found that the only way for me to not lose my mind on the ride is to engage it, by talking and/or taking pictures.
Yes, on the ski lift. Not the first time I've done this. It's therapeutic.
As always, the scenery was beautiful, the beverages were cold, the food was good, it was all overpriced, and the Fräuleins were fräuleining.

It's not quite "the flux capacitor is fluxing," but you get the point.

Oh yeah, and brides, grooms, bridal parties, and wedding guests were getting off the ski lift. Just another day at Hunter Mountain.
Yeah, so, um, let's get married or something.
Yes. You'll ride THAT ski lift to the top of THAT mountain.
I always enjoy the mountain once I'm up there. Sean and I watched zip liners zip away (entertaining for a few minutes). We strolled around a bit, knowing that there's plenty more to see, and that we never see it all. We could have done some hiking, but we didn't. 
Definitely a view I could get used to.
Back at the base lodge, I pondered things while Schweinsteiger checked out the vendors.
Screw the World Cup. I want CONDIMENTS!
I first went to the Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain in 2005, where Sean and I did some form of dancing. At least that's the rumor.
Sean and Daddy doing whatever this is. (Oct, 2005)
I've missed one or two since then, to go along with two missed Big E's since the mid-90s. It's been a part of my fall routine. Every year throws a different wrinkle into the mix:


- It's too crowded.
- It's too empty.
- It's too expensive.
- It's too hot/cold (the weather stinks).
- There aren't enough vendors.

And so on. But still, I normally walk away with some form of a smile on my face.

Now let's return to our friend up top. I was enjoying my funnel cake (I'll spare you the picture), when I looked up to spot the gentleman wearing the Thug for Life t-shirt, with an image of Tupac Shakur giving a double-barrel middle finger to the camera.

I suppose the image should just be left for you to interpret, but really, why? Let's look: here's a white guy at an Oktoberfest who maybe thinks he is "all that" with his "gangsta" mentality. Is the shirt a joke? Was it a gift? I guess I give him credit for wearing it in public, because I probably wouldn't.

Let's put it this way: I know my limits. Bravo to him.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Sad, Yet Real, Conversation

Yes, that's a circa 1997 TV. Can't afford to do better.
When Sean is here, he often stays upstairs doing his thing, while I do mine. We bounce around and spend plenty of time together, but I generally give him his space.

I stopped upstairs to make some dinner and check on him. The following took place:

SA: Daddy, can I come downstairs and watch Doctor Who*?

* The only way to watch Doctor Who is on Netflix, which I have on my ancient TV (seen above)

RA: Well if you do that, then I'm going to come up here** and watch baseball.

** The upstairs TV is of this century - 2012, I think.

SA: Oh. I was going to come down and watch it with you.

RA: You were going to come down and watch BASEBALL with me? (Yes, I knew the answer)

SA: Um...no. I meant I'd come down and watch Doctor Who with you.

Somewhere, people are laughing at my sports-dismissive child. That's OK.

Yo, This is Richmond


Facebook friend Michelle Adams Flynn posted a link to a really funny, well-done video posted by RiverCityVA804 on YouTube.

The post itself is from Maggie Owens on movoto.

A little research indicates that the video is actually five years old, but I'm all for any chance to spread some love regarding the 8-0-4 and RVa.



Every time I drive through the 8-0...well, you know, I get deep in thought about what a great place it is and the friends I have there.

The Rubber Band Man

Last night, I spotted a rubber band in my car. I usually tie my iPad/iPhone cables with one to keep them together.

For the heck of it, I initially placed it on my fingers as I sat in traffic on the Merritt Parkway (hardly a new phenomenon).

Later, I put it around my wrist as I made my way to Fairfield Warde High School for the football game between Fairfield Prep and Shelton.

I was pretty surprised at the lack of media coverage for this game (an SCC matchup between 4-0 Prep and 3-1 Shelton), but was thrilled to discover that I was the only person doing the game. It feels like CPTV, MSG, WELI, and other outlets have been covering the same games as us, but in this case, I was the lone wolf.

Literally.

Several times this year, I've had to work solo, and it's fine, yet it's not. The truth is, with such a wide collection of colleagues and friends, you would think I could have found someone to jump in and keep me company, but no dice.



However, I enjoy the solitude. I had a blast doing so during the baseball playoffs and, again, last night. Many broadcasters are on their own, including the legendary Vin Scully. Vin, of course, is in the majors so there are assistants and producers to help him out, but the call is his own.

For those in the lower levels, there generally is no assistance. That's the downside of this plan. You need a drink? A restroom break? Have a coughing fit? Have you simply run out of things to say?

Tough. Prepare. Bring water and throat drops. Use the restroom before the game. Find things to say. Simply put: deal with it. All of it.

Still a partner is nice to work with. Chris Erway and I, for instance, seem to have a good chemistry. The same goes for so many people that I've worked with.

That's the thing: chemistry is huge in a booth. Have I worked with people I've never spoken with or met? Sure - my first Hudson Valley Renegades game with Sean Ford was on the day I laid eyes on him for the first time. However we had spoken before that day. But it's still a risk. You just don't know for sure.

So I called the game by myself and generally enjoyed every second of it. Thanks to Bill Bloxsom for being my halftime guest, and to Paul Silverfarb for joining me via phone from the Greenwich/Norwalk game. Chris Erway and John Kovach will be back with me next Friday at Fairfield Warde as Prep hosts Daniel Hand.

As for the rubber band, it became a good luck charm. Or I left it on to make me laugh.

Or I just forgot about it.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Selfies

The statue of Robert L. Cosby and I at the field that bears his name at Brunswick School in Greenwich. Yep. This is a selfie.
I was doing my morning reading when I stumbled on Jeff Pearlman's two cents regarding selfies.

No doubt that there are different meanings of what a selfie is, but I'm quite sure I've seen Jeff in several selfies over time on his website. Still I get his take. They can be easily interpreted as narcissistic.

And they are.

But still, like everything in moderation, aren't they also fun? I mean, that's sort of the idea, so much so that there is a new show on ABC called, er, Selfie*.

*I watched the first episode. A modern take on "My Fair Lady"/Pygmalion. Cute. Not bad. Couple of chuckles, and Karen Gillan is sweet. Sean and I know her as Amy Pond from "Dr. Who."

I suppose, for a nearly 46-year-old goof, the point is that I sometimes want pictures with or of something. So what's the harm if I turn the iPhone on myself? How is it bad if Paul Silverfarb takes one with Big Red, the Greenwich Cardinal mascot, to send to his sons?

Paul's the one on the left. I promise.
#Re2pect
Sean and I posted a #Re2pect-ful picture to Derek Jeter last Sunday. Pretty benign, no? Must be, because some 50 or so Facebook users "liked" it.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't For instance, I was going to send this one to Lisa, to show that, on occasion, I clean up OK. I didn't like it, and never sent it. The point is, I had no photographer, so this would have to do. I'll risk the embarrassment now.
Yeah. I don't know.
Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. One more. Why? Why not? I was bored, I guess.
That's a big head.
And, still! ONE MORE! HA!
Derek Jeter Day

Connecticut School of Broadcasting
HA! TWO!

I guess what I'm getting at is: what's the problem? Why do we over-analyze and judge so much? I get it - if it's harmful, then that's a problem. But tell me - seriously - where I've set society back in any of the above photos? They're mostly just goofy pictures of a guy having some fun. Most of the time it's boredom and silliness taking over; other times it's lack of a photographer.

Sometimes I think, as a society, we fret over things that really aren't worth fretting over. Let's also be clear: I'm not after Jeff Pearlman here. Jeff's opinion is hardly new. Yet there seems to be those who just want to hate because, well, they like to be a contrarian. They think it's simply the way to go. They're so uncool that they're cool because, oooh, they hate selfies!

See: Challenge, Ice Bucket.

By the way, I have one of Lisa and I taken outside of Crystal Cave in Pennsylvania. She objected to the photo (she looks great). Thus that won't be posted.

OK, nothing more to see here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Abacab


The late 70s, early 80s were seminal times musically for the artist eventually to be known as Rob.

It was around this time that I was listening to a lot of Imus, learning really how to time a radio program, and figuring out what my own musical tastes were, as opposed to what was influenced.

Disco? Sure, I dabbled. It was unavoidable.

Our car radio was an AM. It would be a short time before I'd grab my first stereo system (turntable, 8-track...and AM/FM tuner).

None of this is relevant, except that unless I was in my sisters car (probably the yellow Camaro, although the red Camaro was sweet), I wasn't getting that sonic boost of FM with the cassette player!

All of this made me think of "Abacab," the whoosh of electronic with a pop heart from Genesis. While they still had a few years left in their evolution from prog rock masters to full pop artists (oy, Phil Collins, what happened?), their more deep pastures had been left behind for what would eventually be "Invisible Touch" and "I Can't Dance."

The lyrics were catchy and energetic to a kid in 1981...
Look up on the wall
There on the floor
Under the pillow
Behind the door
Not exactly "The screen door slams. Mary's dress waves" of Springsteen, but it worked.

Still does. Great song. Great album.

Done


I was furious last night.

The details aren't relevant, only because I'm not a bridge burner, though I will say I confirmed something about the Greenwich situation that I suspected all along.

I. Just. Knew.

Top that off with things that truly disappointed me, and you've got one hot, steaming pile of Rob.

I'm burying the lede (or lead, you call) here. Back to my point: I was pissed at something and instead of keeping it to myself, or ranting to Paul Silverfarb or Lisa, I did something else.

I posted on social media.

I also ranted to Paul and Lisa, but you get my point.

I wrote, simply: I'm done. Just done.

I wasn't bothered by it either, but then my mother, who comments on everything (and I mean ev...ery...thing), did her thing.

That was one. Then my friend Harold asked if I was OK. Then I got a text from John Kovach. Lisa was getting texts.

I deleted the post.

Oops.

Regardless of the situation, I should have been better than that. I shouldn't have let that happen. In a time in which watching the collapse of people by watching the insanity they write on Facebook makes for great entertainment, I need to be better.

I'm always advocating to not be that narcissistic tool (except for harmless self-taken pictures). I'm always saying to be wise, and not flash your social media muscles. Don't be a keyboard genius. I try - hard - to take the high road.

In this case, I goofed, and I own up to it.

I'm super, hyper-stressed these days (enough that it's kept me off the blogsie wogsie). To explain would have people saying that I complain too much behind my back, so really, why? I'll just say the stress has been unhealthy, and we'll carry on, won't we?

Am I OK? No. Not really. But there's really nothing to see. I should have kept it offline.

Move along. Move along.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Game Day

Chris Erway, right, and me, at the Rye-Harrison (NY) game in 2010. Ignore the Greenwich football logo.
Every September, there's a moment. It's one that I have privately.

It hits me at a high school field, or in the car, or somewhere else. It can't be predicted.

This morning, it hit me at home. I had just finished brushing my teeth, stepped back into the hall and slapped my hands together.

It was that moment that can only be described as a combination of pride, excitement, and nerves.

It has hit me, every year, since 2000. I was too terrified in 1999 (my first year) to feel anything else.

It's opening day for me of football season. The beginning of my broadcast year. Normally, the Greenwich Cardinals were involved. Today, it's a prep school game between St. Luke's of New Canaan and Cardinal Spellman of The Bronx.

I'm nervous. Always nervous before the first game. I have to remind myself that I'm here for a reason. People tell me I'm here for a reason. My friends believe it. Some of my peers believe it. My boss believes it. That, yeah, I'm good enough to do this.

I'm proud. Proud to have the opportunity that I have, and of the team assembled around me.

I'm excited. Hey, it's sports! It's supposed to be fun, and all I have to do is talk about what I see in front of me.

Lastly, it's all of that above that makes me a little emotional. Largely because I'm an emotional guy to begin with. But, somewhere, I hope people I love are listening and smiling. Somewhere I hope people that I don't know are smiling and listening.

Lastly, I feel sad at the thought that who knows if they have a radio or a computer or a smartphone in the great beyond because, honestly, who really knows if there's a great beyond?

That's too philosophical for me.

If it all goes well, around 1:20 or so, the music will begin to play. My emotions will hit their peak. Finally, I'll have no choice. It will be time to speak. After that, hopefully, it's like riding a bike.

It's game day. Listen live at hanradio.com.

Let's go.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm Not the Voice of the Cardinals Anymore

Interviewing Peter Salvatore after the 2002 FCIAC Championship Game
"All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves." - Amelia Barr
I have to write this: I will no longer be calling Greenwich football on WGCH.

I probably needed to write this about a month ago. Then, suddenly, I didn't. So I began to relax and forget about it. In fact, yesterday I told you (my trusty reader) to forget about the whole thing.

Moments later, my various means of communication began to light up.

Now, I'm back, needing to say it out loud.

After 14 years and 161 games (give or take), two state championships, five FCIAC titles, and countless other moments, I'm done.

I was first a part of GHS football for a playoff game in 1999 as a sideline reporter and analyst at Boyle Stadium, as the Cardinals beat Fairfield Prep to move onto the state championship game. When Sports Director John Connelly stepped down the following summer, I ascended to the lead role.

I worked with great people. People who became friends. The staff at GHS, through three athletic directors, have been phenomenal. The great Brian Kennedy, who set me up time after time with anything I needed, is a true pro and a friend. The same can be said for the coaches, from Rich Albonizio through Wayne Gioffre and TJ Ostruzka. They, among so many other coaches, all made me feel welcome and trusted me with information. I thank them all.

Of course, it's the players who make it all work. From the Longo boys to the Jones brothers to Pat Wilson, Ricky Riscica, Justin Gaccione, Jeff DeVico, Peter Salvatore, Mike Lefflbine and beyond, I've been blessed to broadcast them, and I can't possibly name them all. Many of them are now friends. Beyond that, I watched John Sullivan go from being a high school great to a Viking.

I also got to know their parents. Whether it is Susy Bawol, Alyce Kavanagh, Roe Lefflbine, the Riscicas, the DeVicos, the Hahns, Cindy Poletsky or anyone else, I've loved you all for allowing me to know your kids and for your kindness. You invited me to join you for the captain's breakfast, or tailgates, or even postgame beverages.

The Chelwicks, Dick Leonard, the late Bob Darula, Evan Dubin, Avery Belicka, and too many other people to name...just all the best. The backbone of the GHS football family. We laughed in the booth too many times to count. Or on the field. Or at film night.

My fellow reporters, from Dave Fierro and Tim Parry to Jesse Quinlan through Paul Silverfarb. We all seemed to get that the right thing was to cooperate with each other. That will continue, regardless.

For the listeners, many of you didn't always like me. Maybe it was my sense of humor, or you wanted more, or you didn't like me getting excited when another team scored, or whatever. The criticism helped - both positive and negative.

Lastly, the WGCH team that was assembled over the years was remarkable. In the beginning, it was just Sean Kilkelly and I. It evolved through Mark Rosen and Ian Handwerger. It added Tommy Dee, Tom Polina, Tom Kane, Ricky Fritsch, Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, Ryan DeMaria, Jason Intrieri, Nick Angotto, Matt Hamilton, Tom Prizeman, Max Barefoot, Nick Fox, Rob Crowley, Zach Fisher, John Collins, Amanda Romaniello, and a few others. I've tried to name you all and have likely failed.

It's been a remarkable run. I'm told that I called more games than anyone else in GHS/WGCH history, and I'm honored if that's true. I've tried to give you my best while being honest and fair. I wanted to stay a lot longer than I did.

I guess that comes around to the simple question of what happened...

I heard back in the mid-summer that another broadcaster was going to come aboard with promises of sponsor money and maybe even a big-name analyst. Assuming he could, I was likely out. While I tried to hold out hope, I also had to get my own fall schedule in order, including my list of games for HAN Radio.

Last week, I heard various things disputing the above, but it was soon discovered that, with some work and cooperation, I'd be back. I began to prepare for year number 15 at the microphone, with the task of finding other play-by-play voices to jump in on HAN.

Yes, calling Greenwich games meant that much to me. It often took precedence over my real job, or my personal life. So, as I've done before, I crafted out a game plan to get me on the WGCH call. I passed it along to the management of both WGCH and HAN. Marty Hersam at HAN was on-board. It seemed, at first, that WGCH was as well.

I found out yesterday that I was out, when friends reached out to me. I have yet to hear anything official from my radio home since 1997, but I'm a fairly bright guy.

I don't know if this means I'm totally done at WGCH (some want me to walk out now, but that's not how I am). There is certainly some anger at how this was handled. If it is, I was honored to do this for as long as I did. Nothing lasts forever.

If it is, my thanks climbs immeasurably to Bill Brehm, Mike Mora, John Spang, Mark Smallwood, John Connelly, and so...so...many others. Owners. Management. Salespeople. Lindsey Romeo, Joy Marshall, John Iannuzzi, Jim Thompson. Other show hosts. Man...the list is endless.

What you learn is nobody owes anyone a thing. You can do a show for free for two years and it means nothing. You can give and give and give. It just doesn't matter. It's business. Nothing personal.

I'll still be around Greenwich with HAN Radio (we have at least three football games lined up for this year). Except now, more than ever, I have to treat Big Red like just another team.

Sean Kilkelly, the first person I called when I became Sports Director, and my friend, will now be the voice of the Cardinals on WGCH. I wish him good voice and good games. I also understand that it's an opportunity. Take it and run.

I hope you'll all come find me over at HANRadio.com.

So thanks, Greenwich. Thanks for these wonderful football memories. Thanks for everything. It's been an amazing honor.

To better days...

The Number

My Lehigh Valley IronPigs jersey.
I've told this story before, so feel free to tune me out. For you newbies, how exactly did we get to this 55 thing? And the exit, and so on?

I agonized over naming the blog back in 2006, before I found a way to combine two things: roads and my number.

I've been a passionate road nut since I was a baby, when my parents would beg me to go sleep on our long road trips. The rhythm of the road, combined with the fascination of what I was seeing out the window, just sucked me into something I still enjoy. Some think this is nuts, others shrug, others like it.

What thrilled me was when I discovered a culture of fellow road peeps in the late 1990s. Some of them are friends, even if only via social media.

That, of course, is where the "Exit" comes from. Now, I felt I needed a number. I thought about Exit 59, which when I was a kid, was what we used to leave Interstate 75 in Florida to drive across the upper reaches of Pasco County to reach my grandparents' house in Holiday.

That exit is now Exit 285, part of a great renumbering to mileage-based exits. So the poem/song I wrote in 1986 (give or take) is now irrelevant.

Don't ask.

I've always been a numerologist, and the roads have given me 95 (too many trips between Maine and Florida to count), 6 (have lived near it my entire life), and 19 (again, back to my grandparents' place in Florida).

Sports is where most of numbers come from, of course. I'll memorize something off of who wore it ( a license plate might include 5473, but that's DiMaggio/Gehrig/Mantle/Ruth to me, or two non-World Series years for the Yankees).

Yep. Me.

My first favorite number was four. Why? I was four years old. So when I turned five, I switched to that. (Yes, a bandwagon number-jumper. I'm sure I'll catch flack for that)

Alas, I felt compelled to stick with the smiley-looking nickle. It was also around that time that I knew - just knew - that I was destined to be a New York Yankee. Hey, I couldn't field and I couldn't hit. So I was perfect!

I was at a neighbor's house one day and he had one of those numbers that used to get put on ones varsity jacket to recognize the year they graduated. He gave it to me - a five, for 1975. We would put it on the back of a little Yankees jersey that I owned (and still have it). I told him of my plan to wear the number on the Yankees.

Except...well...no. The number had been retired in honor of Joe DiMaggio in 1952.

Now my memory is foggy about the next part, but either he suggested 55 or I came up with it myself. Either way, the legend of 55 was born.

Funny thing: I almost never wore five after that, either getting whatever number was handed to me, or picking two due to a certain Yankees outfielder named Murcer, who wore that from 1979-1983. As I got older, it was always 55 whenever I could pick it.

This blog had to be called Exit 55. It stuck.

The number has been so identified with me that HAN Radio's call-in number has 55 in it.

And if you don't know, now you know.*

*When I'm quoting Biggie, you know it's a sign of the Apocalypse.

The Face of Misery

I stayed at Lisa's the other night, and got up the next morning with a hunger for some breakfast. I went to the deli about a mile or so away, where they make a pretty decent egg and cheese wrap.

It's a local kind of haunt, and they certainly have their regulars. I am not one of them.

Behind the counter stood a young woman, maybe mid-20s, though I'm not sure because I'm awful at guessing ages (especially females).

Her: "Help you?"

RA: "Ham, egg, and cheese wrap please?"

Her: "What kind of wrap?"

RA: "Plain*" (* Yes, I am uber-Vanilla. Probably always will be.)

Her: "Anything else?"

RA: "No, thank you." (Insert Robbie-esque smile, an attempt to elicit anything)

She turned and went about her business. In the process, I couldn't sense whether she had a personality. To be honest, I wasn't sure she had any emotions. Her face was stone cold.

I was fascinated. Watching her work, it was clear that she simply deplored what she was doing. In a quick analysis, it seemed sad.

It could be that she really hated her job. Maybe she hates her life. Hates being in Dutchess County, NY.

Then again, given my nature of wanting to know the full story and not judge too quickly, it could be that she hated who she was working with. Or her boss had given her a hard time. Or a customer. Or she broke up with her boyfriend.

I guess the point is: who knows?

She might have simply been having a bad day.