Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To August...with a Yankee Stadium Rant

It's a busy time.  Lots going on with "The Press Box", work (the ice cream biz at its busiest), getting ready for football season, yada yada yada.

It will just get nuttier in August with more of the same.  So much to do and still retain my sanity!

I saw where the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball voices took Yankee Stadium to task last week, and with good reason.  Despite what anyone tells you, the new Stadium does not retain the sound the way it used to.  Yes, the Yankees fan isn't what it once was, since the fans have been priced out of the area closest to the field, but don't kid yourself.  The Bombers are third in attendance (and have been near the top of the attendance heap for a decade now).

I love this idea that at one time New York was a definitive "Mets town."  To that I say a definitive "bulls*it."  Yes, the Mets won in 1986.  Yes, they went to the playoffs in 1988.  Yes, they drew three million.  Yes, they won, but it wasn't as if the team across town was terrible (at least during the 1984-1988 stretch).

Allow me, again, to give you the lesson of the 80's when the belief was that The Bronx was mega-dangerous.

The whole Stadium attendance argument is multi-layered.

I will take to my grave that Yankee Stadium was the safest place to be on game day with a large police presence.  But at the same time, the team, pandering for the new building that they now have, allowed the belief to carry on.  And (not for nothing, as the saying goes) it wasn't as if the Yankees had slugs on those teams.  It is without doubt that, for a period, they had the best player in the game in Donald Arthur Mattingly.  They also had Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson (Hall of Famers), along with Willie Randolph.  Across town, the Mets had a great team of Strawberry, Gooden, Carter, Hernandez, etc.  But it wasn't as if the Yankees weren't competing (at least through '87).  Things began to go down in '88 and were in the basement by '91-92.

Still, the building could rock.  I can tell you - with certainty - that 27,225 in attendance for Jim Abbott's no-hitter sounded like 57,000 in September, 1993.  Only a few years later, Vin Scully (who called the 1996 World Series on CBS Radio) called the Stadium among the loudest places he had ever been.

I was there for Tino Martinez's grand slam in 1998, Game 1 of the 2000 Subway World Series, and Scott Brosius' game-tying home run in 2001.  The place shook each time.  You couldn't hear yourself think.

I felt the passion in that place from my seat for each Friday night game right up until the end in 2008.

I felt some of that same passion in 2009 at the new place.  The problem was, the sound didn't carry like it used to.  That's where I think the ESPN voices are spot-on.

Again, it's a multifaceted argument.  But I'm looking at a packed Stadium right now on TV and the sound can hit you.  But in the building, it does not have the echo effect that the old place had.

It's the building.  Plain and simple.

I'm out on this note (keeps me from going out of my mind - consider it a reappearance of good old "Rule 55").  Mr. Springsteen and company performed in Sweden the other night, and for the first time on this tour, brought out "Jungleland."  Many had wondered if the song would never be played again, as it was the late Clarence Clemons' tour de force.  But with nephew Jake Clemons on sax, the song sounded amazing via this video shot from the crowd.  Very well done.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I work in a job that sends me into a lot of stores.  Many of them are convenience joints, while others are grocery stores.  In almost all of them, there is music to be found.


I know, I know - the idea is to play things that don't offend people.  But why play crap?  For that matter, why play anything at all?

It's an interesting cross-section.  At one store, you're just as likely to hear some new wave or pop as you are to hear opera or Sinatra.  Another store plays primarily pop tunes - but sometimes offbeat stuff that you haven't heard in years.  Then there are the "oldies" stores, playing nothing newer than, say, 1966.  A steady diet of Fats Domino, Dion, Chuck Berry and so on.

Then there are the places that play radio stations.  I go to one store that must get their audio off the Internet, because they play the most bizarre radio stations, like soft rock music from Missouri, complete with ads.

And then there is WEBE 108.  Now don't get me wrong.  The WEBE model is a solid one - play lots of "safe" music that people in offices, medical buildings, and grocery stores want to hear.  They have DJ's that seem like really nice people, and have been around for years.  But the music is often repetitive and, by the way, not my taste.  Taylor Swift, P!nk, Adele, Katy Perry, and so on.  In fact, have a look-see at their music, and you can see what they play.

And make sure they sprinkle in a little Michael Buble.  They will.  Trust me.

Now spend about two or three hours near a pair of speakers playing that.

My first job in radio was at WMJV (Majic 105) and we played this genre, albeit the safe adult contemporary hits of 1990-1991.  You know, Celine, Mariah, Whitney, Luther Vandross, etc.


It's a very successful concept, and I can't stress that enough.  I just wish there was a bigger playlist, or maybe a lunchtime throwback hour, or something.  That store is the only one I actually carry an iPod into.

When I worked at the red bullseye, one thing that wasn't immediately obvious, but became blissful was that there was no music being piped in.  The silence was, indeed, golden! 

So it was that I found myself thinking about that today at a Marshall's store in Poughkeepsie (part of Lisa's TMM trio, along with Target and TJ Maxx).  After hearing another ungodly spewing of Buble, along came Taylor Dane.

No mas, people!  Think of the children!

So, please, follow the lead of Target, Wal-Mart, and others.  Unless you are Empire Records (since we all know Tower is gone), go with silence, friends.

My ears will thank you.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Staying In

There's something to be said for shutting down.  I mean, closing the door on the world and just hanging out.

It wasn't our initial plan.  Lisa and I were going to spend our Saturday together (trust me when I say this is rare) doing "stuff."  Maybe riding our bikes.  Going to Sears so she could look at vacuum cleaners.  Dinner with my family.  Checking out the new LL Bean story in Danbury.

But...no.  Nope.

We were lazy.  Well, not entirely.  It wasn't like we didn't go out or clean up.  I went out twice - once for a cup of coffee and an egg sandwich, and once to go get dinner (pizza, of course).  As for the family dinner plan, it came together at the last minute, and we needed more time to get ourselves there than was available.

So Lisa cleaned and I cleaned up some of her pictures and videos.  We were semi-productive, and we keep growing closer.

I don't know about you, but I often run myself into the ground.  Don't get me wrong, because I'm not complaining but when you factor in everything, "down time" isn't a priority.  Occasionally, I need a day like this to refresh and recharge.  The problem is, I don't often know when or how to do it.  I think I owe Lisa some thanks for getting me to take a break, even if it wasn't the initial intention.

Oh yeah, and as for the video, this is one that Lisa has been patiently waiting to load.  I'm going to put it here on the ol' blogoria.  She shot it standing on Kaaterskill Falls - a spot that was an achievement (for me) to get to, but was also a little hair raising.  Lisa went right near the edge, which made me nervous.  Plus I was aware that we needed to go back down.  So yeah, I was a touch shaky.

And pictures?  Well here's a classic one.  Lisa and I were having breakfast on Cape Cod one morning when she snapped this picture of me.  If you haven't figured it out, I'm looking at my cell phone.  A very typical thing for me.  The beauty of it is that Lisa embraces it and laughs at it.
While we're at it, here's Sean, kicking it in the pool.
Here is the only picture of all three of us from Cape Cod...just add water (there's an embedded joke in there).
And finally, Sean and his daddy.
All in all, it was a relaxing day for us.  Tomorrow, we'll come back into civilization.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Olympics and Politics

Jim McKay, speaking the harrowing words of 1972 in Munich.
The Games of the XXX Olympiad are getting underway in London as we speak.  The opening ceremonies will air in tape delay tonight on NBC (a place I once desperately wanted to work).  I get the business sense of doing that, but I feel like showing them live would have been appropriate.  Just my take.

But as always, the Olympic games find ways to let politics drop in and muck things up.

If you need a history lesson, here's a quick one: the Games were held in 1972 in Munich.  Palestinians known as "Black September" stormed the quarters of the Israeli team and took hostages, demanding the release of prisoners.  After negotiation and debate, the drama that played out over September 15 and 16 ended with the deaths of six Israeli athletes and five coaches, as well as a West German police officer.

The broadcasts were carried on ABC, with Jim McKay, Howard Cosell, Chris Schenkel and an armada of talented voices in the old golden blazers of the Alphabet Network.  Watch this quick piece on the late Jim McKay, and wait for the end when he speaks those chilling words: "They're all gone."

The London Games mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, and many people think it is only right for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recognize it.  Regardless of race, religion and such, I think it is the proper thing to do.  ELEVEN Olympic participants died in Munich.  They were there for the Olympics. As such, it is incumbent on IOC boss Jacques Rogge to pause for a minute to allow those losses to be remembered.

Why does this seem so simple, and yet so complex?

Rogge will tell you that he already had a moment of silence for them - at the Athletes' Village - earlier this week.

Enter Bob Costas.  The NBC host will not let the moment pass during tonight's broadcast, as he had said he will rip the IOC for their petty attitude regarding this, and will have NBC observe its own moment of silence.  To that, I say bravo. 

In a world that comes off as so blatantly politically correct, this move would be right to draw that kind of criticism.  But in a world that can often come off as cruel and cold, it seems right. 

This isn't about pandering.

This is about the athletes.  As usual, Jacques Rogge is playing the all-too-familiar role of the villain.

Let there be pause.

Then bring on Paul McCartney!

Then let the games begin.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cougar...Cougar Mellancamp...Mellancamp...Oh Who the BLEEP CARES?

I went over the edge of the waterfall in the old musical barrel today.  One of my truest, closest friends, Jon From R-Va, had nudged me there, but never badly.  We agreed to disagree.  Then along came Lisa ("Along Came Mary" is a different tune - by The Association in 1966).  Though not the only person to help push this vehicle along (you can add my brother and a few others to the movement), she nonetheless gave us a priceless moment...

The Scene: Massachusetts Route 6A, between Truro and Provicetown.  A pleasant evening has begun, but on Rob's SiriusXM satellite radio, a warbling has commenced...  Lisa, a blonde in the passenger seat, reaches over and increases the volume.  Rob, the driver, sits there, silently, and for the next few minutes, with his hands gripping the steering wheel, turning his knuckles white, feeling leaving his fingers, says nothing.  His blood pressure increases with each second.  No other sound exists in the car, except the odious sound emitting from the radio.  Sean remains silent in the back seat, fearful that these might be his fathers' last moments on Earth.

Or he's not really paying attention at all.

Then came today.  Chris "Kato" Kaelin, my friend, WGCH colleague, and "Press Box Playmaker", who did a great job helping me with last night's "Clubhouse" show at Colony Grill, made one simple statement: he thinks Bruce Springsteen is awful, and John Mellancamp is better.


I mean, opinions are like, you know, but...really?

I'll spare you the build up.  I'd take Bruce's WORST song over ANYTHING by what's-his-name.

I've long-wanted to do a list of most overrated acts, and most overplayed songs.  No more suspense.  Winner, winner, mother-effing chicken dinner.

John Mellancamp..."Jack and Diane."  Admittedly, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" are right there on the overplayed list, along with the Eagles' "Hotel California", "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  We could also throw in, maybe, "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, "More Than a Feeling" by Boston, "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas and "Walk this Way" from Aerosmith (both with and without Run-DMC).  Then we could also say "anything by Bon Jovi", "1999" by Prince, and certain songs from Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey (ugh...double ugh), and ahem, Celine Dion.

Oh, I almost forgot about both "Start Me Up" and "Beast of Burden" by the Stones, and virtually anything from Bad Company.  And, yes, I read one poster say "Yesterday" by a little act called The Beatles is very overplayed, though, as he noted, much of that was due to the fact that it...is...the...most recorded song.  Ever.  There are so many cover versions that I expect Chris Erway to eventually release one.

Interestingly, this discussion board post from 2009 seems to agree, and throws in "Glory Days" by The Boss, though I think "Dancing in the Dark" is more overplayed (although it is sounding better in concert - and I've never liked that song).

Yet I'd rather have "Dancing in the Dark" on replay then "Jack and Diane."

Or anything else by John Mellancamp.

I don't get it (that's another list - things I don't get, including Jackson Browne).  This clown is even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, brought to you by Jann Wenner.  But, as anyone can tell you, that RnR HOF is a sham.  Cool museum (I was there in 1999), but hard to call it legit with Madonna included, along with the object of my ire.

Others share my feeling about him - he made this list of most overrated acts from 2006.

I think, when it comes to someone like John Mellancamp, the overplayed factor goes hand-in-hand with the overrated piece.  I actually like a few of those overplayed songs that I mentioned above, but there is something about Mellancamp that bothered me from day one.  Yeah, for a moment or two, I could tolerate "Pink Houses" or "Rain on the Scarecrow", or "Authority Song", but then you heard them again.  And again.

If you were around from, say, 1984-1986, you know what I mean.  Soon, he became the very definition of "Indiana Springsteen" to me.  A poor imitation, to be sure.

Bruce can rock.  He can roll.  He can get you into a trance during a live show.  He can raise you up like a preacher in a Baptist church (PRAISE GAWDAH!).  And he does it without smoke bombs and whatever else.  As for the songs, wow, what else can be said?  Brilliant.  I mean, if we're even going to battle this Springsteen/Mellancamp debate, then let's have at it.  How can these five songs be topped?

1) Born to Run (duh).
2) Jungleland (Clarence Clemons solo is reason enough).
3) Rosalita (Come out Tonight). (Pure joy.  Fun.  My son's favorite Springsteen song.)
4) Thunder Road (I hate to pick three songs from one album, but...wow...)
5) Darkness on the Edge of Town (starts with a thump, then explodes with the chorus).

Then there's the very underrated "Bobby Jean" (really the only song from Born in the USA that I'm a fan of), "Wrecking Ball", "Kitty's Back", "Candy's Room", "Tenth Ave Freeze Out" (hear it live with the tribute to Clarence and you will yell, clap, and cry), "Tunnel of Love", and so many others.  "New York City Serenade", "Incident on 57th Street", "Trapped", "Atlantic City", "The River", "Badlands", shall I go on?

Sorry, nothing in the Mellancamp canon can match that.

As always, it's all about opinions.  Some overplayed songs and (arguably) overrated artists are perfectly fine, and it's in the ear of the beholder.  Somewhere along the line I had had enough of hearing him and his music - seeing him looking so smug in interviews, with the cigarette in his hand (that's ANOTHER rant).  But I also know he is a very patriotic American, and has done a lot for veterans (and he was once on with Don Imus playing music to support the troops - I can respect that).

But all I need to hear is Jon...my brother...Lisa...and Kato...and I feel it come back.  And then...THEN...have Kato tell me that John freaking Mellancamp is better than BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, and I sense that we need to call 911.


I put him in that list of Cyndi Lauper, the already-mentioned Bon Jovi, and a few others that boggle my mind.  I'm amazed that they stay relevant.

To each their own or, to use a saying that I love (thanks, Kenn Tomasch): "Your mileage may vary."

No Motivation

I'm having trouble getting fired up for another day.

We are supposed to have such storms that the clown governor of New York (anyone named "Cuomo" generally earns such lack of praise from yours truly, truth by told) issued a press release warning all of us to take precaution or whatever.  Build a bomb shelter, or load up on bottled water, or something like that.  Not really sure.

I'm not criticizing him for doing so.  I'm sure his heart is in the right place.  Or he's covering his ass (as in "liability").

So I have to pull myself together and make something of this day.  Perhaps - call it a hunch - I'm just exhausted.  Yes, let's go with that.

On the more positive side, thanks to everyone for the likes and kind comments that both Lisa and I received the other day.  As I said in the post, I know her putting a relationship status online was a big step for her.  I wasn't sure that we would do that, but she felt the urge and went with it.  I also know she even felt a little awkward about posting the link to the post on her page.  But what I know about Li is that she often thinks everything through before making her decision.  I know that feeling as well and can understand it completely.  As I also wrote, I thought about not being as public, but really, why should I change now?

Hard to believe but August is just a few days away.  I've stayed very busy this summer with "The Press Box", but also with "The Clubhouse" (in my "third wheel" status).  Sadly, it seems my Hudson Valley Renegades days are over (hey, it happens), but August is the time in which I begin to get fired up for high school football.  Before we know it, practice will begin, and I'll prepare for year number 13 at the mic for Greenwich High.  As always, I find myself trying to improve the broadcasts.  It's often tough - especially given that the WGCH team has lives outside of the booth.  Chris Erway, for instance, doesn't get out of work until 6:00.  That makes it tough to get to games that begin at 7:00.  In fact, we all jump through hoops, with Ryan DeMaria and I being the ones with the longest commute.

No complaints.  We love what we do.  Plus we're talking around the WGCH homestead about growing the sports product.  That, of course, keeps me hopeful.

Huey Lewis is doing several shows in the area (some with Joe Cocker).  Bethel Woods, PNC Bank Arts Center and Jones Beach are among the metro-New York stops.  They stopped by Jimmy Kimmel's show recently (sans The News).

Well, let's see, what else?  The Yankees worry me, and I'm intrigued by the addition of Ichiro.  Weird to see, for sure.  The Steelers just opened training camp yesterday.  Their division is stronger, but I still like the Stillers chances.  By the way, anybody have a couple of tickets to the Steelers game at Giants Stadium later this year?  That would make for a nice birthday present!

OK, perhaps motivation is starting to hit.  Feeling alright, I guess.

I finally bought a new camera (yay, me) from the "life is too short" category.  Here's a test image - taken last night at Colony Grill in Fairfield, CT, where Chris "Kato" Kaelin, Sean Adams, and I were setting up for "The Clubhouse."
And, with that, I'm out of here!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Maybe I Should Explain

There's no law.  Nope - I checked the books.  Social media?  Not that I can tell.  Justice system?  Negative.  So I feel like it's time to open up.

I've been called "secretive", which is a mean way of saying "occasionally private."  Yes, I don't reveal everything to everyone.  Sometimes, I just plain forget.  Don't be fooled by my memory.  It forgets things - a lot.  But that's a different rant for a different time.

My writing has been stagnant lately.  Certainly I've been off my game.  I could have written some from Cape Cod, but didn't.  Even since I've been back, I haven't done much.  I thought about why, and concluded that I had personal stuff on my mind, and wasn't quite sure how to address it - and so, I didn't write much.

Maybe I should.

Last Wednesday night, after talking about it earlier in the week, Lisa (I've mentioned her, no?) put our relationship online via Facebook.  I know that is a huge step for her, having dealt with stuff in her past (that is for her to discuss, or to give me the OK to discuss, so let's leave that here).  I, of course, bring my own baggage.

But after not making it "official", we did.  We both said it didn't matter much to put it online.  Sometimes, if not handled correctly, it looks so childish; so high school.  But as Lisa said, "we're in a relationship.  That's the fact."  So it's online, and I'm pleased.

I had been more public in my "previous life", and had wondered if I might be more low-key about this one.  Reasons for that were various, but in the end, I decided that I shouldn't change.  It's OK.

So who is Lisa, and how oh how did this happen?

Lisa is a friend of my cousin (Kris) and his wife (Lori).  I was introduced to her back in my single days (October, 2009, to be exact) - after I finished broadcasting a football game at Harrison.  We met at her job, spoke for a moment, and I was told to give her a call.  We went out - exactly three times - to Starbucks, over a span of about five months or so.  We seemed to like talking to each other, and could spend hours on the phone just jabbering away (I don't do that with too many people).  But each meeting (I really don't think of them as dates) got colder.  Something was amiss.  We would say hello to each other via messages a few times, and see each other at Kris's birthday party in June of 2011.  As I recall, it was a fairly awkward thing.

Of course, Lisa and I were off living our separate lives by then anyway.

By early 2012, things had changed.  I was at Kris and Lori's in April when I jokingly suggested that Lisa should join us at the Easter dinner that I had been invited to (little did I know that she was already invited).  Lisa didn't make it (and didn't know I was going to be there), so I figured nothing had changed.  Then I sent her a text as I drove out of her old hometown of Amenia, NY a few days later - and received no response.  I figured for sure that Lisa wanted no part of dealing with the mess that is me.

At least that's what I thought.  The truth, of course, is always different.

I met Lori for dinner not long after so that she could bring Sean's bicycle to me and as Lori went to take a sip of coffee, I asked how Lisa was.  It was then that I thought Lori was going to choke on her favorite beverage.  She told me that, although she wasn't playing "matchmaker", she had spoken to Lisa, and that Lisa didn't get my text (her phone was busted, it turned out).  They spoke about me, and other stuff.  Turns out, she would always read my Facebook page.  She liked me!  And so...

I said to Lori: "You're telling me that I should give Lisa a call."  Without saying a word, Lori put her head down to sip her coffee, and nodded.  Yes indeed.

I should tell you that I wasn't thinking of getting back into a relationship.  I felt that I was in a time in which I was going to enjoy friendships and figure some stuff out.  But fate - oh the wicked, fickle finger of fate - has a way of playing the cards differently.  Lisa could tempt me to jump back in.

So Lisa and I did talk on the phone...and didn't stop...for four hours.  It was like we had picked up where we had left off, and yet, it was different.  She was different.  Nothing cold.  Completely interested.  We decided that we should get together, and go to a drive-in movie (my first - YES - first).  We met at her job (seemed safe) and headed to a park to take a walk where we passed a nice waterfall.  We stopped and talked, and made our way to a diner (nothing fancy) for a bite to eat.  She made it quite clear that I had to pay on the first date (I laughed at that).

I'm sure you have questions about other things (don't worry - Lisa did also), but I simply think I can't reveal all (yes, I did reveal to Lisa).  Stuff happened and it was time for me to move along.  Time to see where things go.  I don't think those stories are pertinent here.

Have I mentioned that I hate questions?

Anyway, we went to the drive-in (Overlook in Poughkeepsie) and saw the Zac Effron dud The Lucky One, and made fun of it as we sat in my car.  We started watching the second movie (The Cabin in the Woods) and soon bailed.  Date over.

Lisa went to her first Yankees game (!) a few nights later and, without expecting it, that turned out to be date number two, as one of her friends bowed out - leaving the ticket open to me.  And that, friends, is kind of that.

We've worked through the details over these past few months, and you've seen and read about some of our early adventures.  Lisa is a nurse.  She's blunt, sensitive, can be shy, likes to laugh, loves to travel, is smart, always late, and though she has no interest in sports, she never misses a "Press Box" show.  She loves cats.  She loves music (we differ on some musical choices though - John Effing Overrated Mellancamp?), movies, and so on.  She likes to be active, and when she's on can ride her bicycle for miles (and hours).  She's good for me in that way, and others.

She loves the movie Avatar and wants me to see it.  I never had any interest.  She also likes "The King of Queens" on TV, while I...well...don't.  At all.  Yet we sit and watch "The Big Bang Theory" together.

We have things in common, and we have differences.  All good.

She's never had children, but likes Sean a lot, and is good to him.  That, of course, is huge.  It's no secret that Sean and I are kind of a package.  Her kindness and patience with Sean is incredible.

She also likes my writing, and encourages me to write about anything (including her).  She trusts me, and that's huge.

We're still learning.  Trust me on that.  There's no jumping the gun, but there's also no denying things.  So far, we are simply having fun and trying - hard - to not over analyze and over think things.

And so it is that, if you haven't figured it out, all of this is what this post was about.

We haven't been back to Starbucks...yet.

Hanging on the Cape

Cape Cod.  The Cape.  Visions of the Kennedys, high society, miles of beaches, souvenir shops, and, yes, a paradise of debauchery emerge.

After talking about going for many years, I crossed the line late in the evening of July 8th, making the approach to the Bourne Bridge.

But it wasn't that easy.  Never is, is it?

We got a late start - hitting the road at 6:45 on Sunday night...and arrived in Eastham, MA at our wonderful house (some might call it a "cottage") just before midnight.  Traveling in two cars, with Sean and I leading the way and Lisa behind us, we made a few stops, including at the rest area just outside of Sturbridge, MA where we wondered if they had to go find the meats to make our sandwich at a farm.  It shouldn't have taken that long!

So Sunday was, for intents and purposes, lost.  We settled in - Sean crashing on an air bed and Lisa and I opting for a small tent outside of the house on the deck.  Too small, in fact, as my restless sleep sent me inside to the couch (my call, not hers).

Monday was the first true day of the trip.  We needed to settle in, get acquainted, and let the fun begin.  That's exactly what we did, staying near the house for some relaxation, including hanging out in the always comfy hammock.  We would meet up with our good friends Mick and Gretchen that night for a seafood dinner (though I think we would all agree that it wasn't exactly the best that the Cape has to offer).

Tuesday was our day!  So it seemed, as we climbed on our bicycles for the trek to Coast Guard Beach.  The obvious advantage to traveling like this is that you don't need to pay to enter any of the beaches.  Bring a car, and bring your $15!  So we traveled via two wheels and, while I'm proud to say that we survived, it was a survival of the fittest (and most sane).  Sean is still very much in the learning stages of riding a bike and this was, by far, his biggest adventure yet.  And still, with the uber-patient Lisa next to him, he did so much better than he thought!

This was the payoff: the first view of the Atlantic Ocean, which, despite having a great white shark hanging out not too far from here a few days earlier, was cool and comfortable on this day.  While not a beach person per se, I'm getting a little more comfortable out there (and bought myself a sun shelter and a chair with a canopy to keep me from sunburn), I'm beginning to really enjoy the beach.  Honestly, I didn't want to leave, but given the ride back to the house, we knew we must go.  Lisa left us in case she needed to drive a car to pick us up (it took her all of about 20 minutes to get back to the house - freaking experienced bike rider), and Sean and I took...um...an hour (if not more).  I love my son, but he might be the first child to walk a bike DOWN a hill!

For dinner that night, we went to the Orleans Inn, just down the road in Orleans.  Sean liked the pager that he was given.
I liked sitting on the deck, enjoying the clam chowder, and this amazing picture of Lisa, who says she's not photogenic (sigh).
Oh, I might have missed a detail of Tuesday.  Heading back to Monday night, I set up a larger tent for Lisa and I to stay in, leaving the smaller tent to Sean.  We all woke up Tuesday to the sound of lawn mowers - OK, nothing unusual there - except that these lawn mowers were roaring around "our" yard, and shooting grass all over everything: the tents, the house, and the cars.  And they shot rocks at our cars, breaking one of Lisa's windows!
In the end, it was a minor issue, as insurance and a local glass company had the whole thing fixed by Friday afternoon.  But still, it was annoying at the time.  Best to stay calm, and I think we did.

Tuesday night, we tried to play mini-golf and a few things were learned: A) sometimes, I can play pretty well (hole in one on my first shot of the round).  B) I can also fade when ruffled (especially by a child).  C) Lisa, who hasn't played in 20 years, is good, but... D) She's also a little competitive.  I want to play real golf with her, but not if I want to dump an adult beverage on her head to stop her smack-talking.  And all of this leads me to E) Sean.  Sigh.  That kid expects to be perfect every time.  Noble, indeed, but not possible, especially when he is ten and never practices and is always putting himself in competition with me, who has been doing it much longer.  Result?  He didn't even come close to winning, and I didn't come close to winning by a larger margin.

It's supposed to be fun, no?

Now we're onto Wednesday.  More beach time, we hoped.  This time, we would head to Massachusetts Bay.  I let Lisa serve as tour guide for this trip, while I get comfortable with the Cape.  She recommended Great Island in Wellfleet, where we would walk a bit but the dunes would be cool and the beach would be nice.  So we parked.  Then we walked, and enjoyed the view.
Then we reached a sign that said, essentially, that particular beach was closed due to something related to nesting birds.  The only available beach was a mile away, which we tried to walk for a bit.  It got hotter...and the sand began to burn...and so on.  Sean and I stayed game (but I think we all knew the reality was that we were going to leave).  Lisa gave the word and we bailed.  Fast.  FAIL!  But not before Lisa and Sean changed shoes.  To be honest, Lisa, who has a thing for camouflage, just wanted to wear Sean's came flip flops.

We tried First Encounter Beach in Eastham and while we hit the water for some fun, we were also getting eaten by these nasty greenheaded flies.  We were done.

On occasion, we were break things up by hitting the beach near "our" house, allowing us the advantage of being close to home, and still being able to relax.  Beaches and pools both have their drawbacks.  The pool was in the ground, with a depth of eight feet, with a comfy temperature.  We spent some of Thursday at that very pool before jumping in the car to head to Provincetown.

If you're not open-minded, you might want to skip P-town.  As I'm teaching my child to be respectful of all people, I can say we had fun.  Now I will admit that my goal of driving to P-town was to see the end of US 6, my hometown road that begins in Bishop, CA and rolls 3205 miles across the US, passing through the heart of Mahopac (along with sub-route NY 6N).  It used to start at the Pacific at Long Beach, but was truncated (foolishly) in 1964.  I'll have to go back to Provincetown to really get a feel for the eastern end/beginning of US 6, because I drove to the end after dark.  Signage was absolutely terrible (from what I could find).
Just a note...this is NOT the historic route of US 6.  This actually is US 6.  Damn.

On Friday, we headed into the town of Chatham, a beautiful village, extremely typical of what one expects Cape Cod to be.  Some nice shopping, some trendy restaurants, and a lot of money.  Personally, I'm not complaining.  I enjoyed it.

Sean and I grabbed some time to visit the Marconi Beach area on Friday night, where Guglielmo Marconi worked to establish wireless communication across the Atlantic in 1903.  That, of course, was interesting to me.
We found it, but it wasn't all that exciting.  Still it was cool for me to see.

Saturday was a day for more pool time, but we quickly pulled ourselves together to run to Skaket Beach in Orleans to see the tide go out and play in the bay!
Lisa and I sat and talked (and listened to the Yankees/Angels game on my phone!) while Sean built and dug and put crabs into his little "ecosystem" that he built.
But as this is me, and I love all things baseball, we went to the Orleans Firebirds/Wareham Gatemen game.  I was in heaven...with the woman I care so much for (and, yes, we did announce that we're "in a relationship" on Facebook) and the son who is my world.  Watching my favorite sport.  Talking with some play-by-play announcers.  A beautiful night weather wise.  What could possibly go wrong?
Safe to say that I look happy, no?

But note to self: feed your weary fellow travelers BEFORE the game in the future.  Lesson learned.

Sunday, simply, was time to go home.  Nobody wanted to - we all agreed that we would have liked to stayed longer, and that we would like to do this again.  The chemistry is pretty nice between three of us, but we're still learning.

So much fun was had and, yet, we barely scraped the surface of the Cape.  It seems will, indeed, have to go back!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Colorado Tragedy

Instead of writing inane posts about Cape Cod (I will, eventually, and they won't be inane), or bitching about clueless people (and other moaning), allow me to send you to this link from Deadspin, with news of the first "name" to come out of this mornings shooting in Colorado.

Her pen name was Jessica Redfield (given name Jessica Ghawi), and she wanted to be a sports broadcaster.  As her Twitter page said, she was "Southern.  Sarcastic.  Sass.Crass.Class."  And all she wanted to do was go see the new movie in the "Batman" franchise.

And now she is dead, along with (as of this writing) 11 other people, and dozens more injured (the number was said to be 50).  Included in the injured are an infant and another youngster, said to be six.  I'm just working off of what I've heard so far, and we can debate why such young children were at a violent movie, being shown at midnight, but I don't think we're here to have that discussion.

This is sick.  Sad.  Pathetic.

And now we have a face to put with the tragedy. 

More will follow.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to Reality

I literally have about two minutes to say that I'm back from a great week on Cape Cod.  Sadly, I have to go straight from this to work.  Lisa is already working, and both of us aren't exactly feeling our best this morning, likely the work of either rogue pizza, or a bad cupcake that we bought before leaving the Cape.  Whatever.  Makes returning all the more painful.

Anywho, I will dazzle (or bore you) with stories from the trip when time allows.  I'll also be back in the power chair on "The Press Box" tonight.

Oh what I would give to be back on that beach above (Coast Guard Beach - nice place).  But duty calls.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

What's not "Breaking" and Other Linky Dinks

A few random thoughts as I wait to begin my vacation...

I've belonged to a couple of text distribution lists for so-called "breaking news."  Specifically, ESPN, LoHud (the Journal News) and CBS-New York.

Folks need to go back to the drawing board to figure out what's breaking.  Edward R. Murrow is spinning in his grave.

See, here's the thing.  With ESPN, they're going to give you stuff that is related to them at the Worldwide Leader.  For instance, they'll let you know that a soccer quarterfinal is starting on their airwaves in about 20 minutes (yawwwwNNNNNNN...ZZZZZzzzzzzzz).  Or Wimbledon, which they now air.  On the plus side, they'll also send you final scores of your teams and other such stuff.  But quite often their version of breaking news is lame.

That leads me to LoHud.  Oh boy, I can't wait for another text on whether or not alcohol was found in the body of the ex-wife of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  Or an accident on the Hutch (somewhat useful, I would say). 

I guess I'm from a different era.  The mere sound of the "breaking news" stinger theme interrupting a show could - and still does - reduce me to chills.  What could be happening?  Something related to the President?  Our safety?  What?

And then...nothing.

Listen to the NBC theme music that begins this montage.  Yikes.

The rest of the montage is interesting as well.

We know the deal: networks (and newspapers and tv and radio stations) are all out to be the one to break a story.  But my god, make sure it's legit!  My old News Director at WGCH, Jim Thompson, had a couple of carts (like 8 track tapes) lined up.  They had varying degrees of audio on them, including "special report" and "BULLETIN" (which was only to be used in case of war or something severe).

Anyway, I'm rambling.  Bottom line, I've backed off of those text lists.  I was able to change what I receive.  We'll see how it goes.

Elsewhere...Behind the Steel Curtain wishes a happy 79th birthday to the Pittsburgh Steelers, founded on this day in 1933.

Look at the clown in the red Red Sox jersey at the top of this post from Chad Jennings on the LoHud Yankees blog.  The Sox have yet to beat the Yankees this year (though they did win that game last night) and this moron is giving it to Phil Hughes.  Says a lot about fans, doesn't it?  Not just in Boston, but Philly, New York, and elsewhere.  Sadly, a lot of bad fans are out there.

I mentioned my friend Gretchen, who just celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary with her husband Michael.  She put up a bunch of pictures from their wedding in front of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.  Scroll down for a group shot that includes a lady holding a four-month baby named Sean, and Sean's dad.  Flashback!

I'm happy that the Renegades are back on the radio, as they have landed on WKIP in Poughkeepsie.  Ken McMillan has the news.

And there's bridge work going on in Richmond.  Who better to document it from an historical point of view than Jon?

OK, time to hit the road!  See ya!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Still Hip to Be Huey

Happy birthday to one of music's good guys, and leader of one of our underrated bands:

Huey Lewis.

I need say no more.  We need music.  But first, how about a movie reference (big weenies won't let me embed it)?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

So I Was Listening to Baseball Today

Maybe Chuck Costello, friend of "Exit 55", will be the only one to enjoy this post, but I've got to get this off my chest.

I had to work today, on the Fourth of July.  It's all good - I didn't have Sean today, and Lisa also had to work (such is the life of a nurse).  Nor did I have any parties to go to.  So yeah, I was OK with working.

I was in the car as the Yankees and Rays were getting underway.  Happy to take advantage of my SiriusXM subscription, I went to the proper channel, expecting to hear the Tampa Bay feed (as satellite radio normally provides the home teams audio).  Instead, it was from ESPN Radio, featuring Jon Sciambi with the play-by-play, and Chris Singleton doing color.

And once again, I ask: why are talented announcers getting passed over for this?

My problem, to be specific, is with Sciambi, who has a big-time gig with ESPN, and was with the Braves and Marlins before that. I mean, he is fine in a bland kind of way, but his call, to be blunt, is lazy, and it's not the first time I've noticed it.  His play-by-play would be OK, perhaps, if he was on TV.  But I'm not sure I need to tell him that he's...on...THE RADIO!  As such, radio means description.  A sample for you:

"Price winds and fires to Swisher for a called strike.  Oh and one."

Well, thanks for that.  Let's go through baseball play-by-play 101, friends.  What kind of pitch was it?  Fastball?  Curve?  Change?  Slider?  Cutter?  And where was the pitch located?  Outside?  Inside?  At the knees?  On the corner?

And so it went.  I normally enjoy listening to other broadcasters instead of the dynamic duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WCBS, but I couldn't take it.  This broadcast was boring, lacked flavor, and as I've already discussed, lacked detail.  In fact, it relied way too much on statistics, and not enough on story telling - at the very heart of baseball broadcasting.

So I switched off to the much maligned Yankees broadcast team of Sterling and Waldman.  Say what you want about Jon (and you all have), but John can at least give you this:

"Nick Swisher leads off and Price fires a fastball strike at the knees.  Oh and One to Swisher, who struck out his first time."

To be clear, these are paraphrases of what both Sciambi and Sterling said on the air, but I think my point is clear.

Selfishly, moments like this make me not only miss doing play-by-play, but angry that I'm not doing play-by-play.

And Chris Berman gets to call a Monday Night Football game this year?  Seriously, the mind explodes.

OK, we return you now to whatever hideously overproduced televised fireworks display you might be watching.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Beary Scary

After enjoying a delightful dinner of sausage and peppers (of course, I always go sans peppers and onions) with a marinara sauce (AWESOME IDEA, DAWN!), Lisa and I enjoyed some laughs with our fellow campers before retiring.  It had been a long day for me, so I was perfectly content to sleep.  We retired to our tent and I went off into dreamland - albeit not a perfect night's sleep.

I had heard of bears strolling through the area - a standard camping concern.  Personally I prefer my bears to look like Yogi...or these...

Lisa wasn't sleeping well that night.  As for me, I drifted in and out.  Around 2:30 or so, I was brought to life by the sound of Lisa, who shot up and exclaimed: "THERE'S SOMETHING OUT THERE!"

Now, let me be clear.  This was not said in an excited whisper.  It was enough to pierce the silence of the night at a campground.  She was clearly excited and scared.  I did what I could to calm her down but the reality was that I had not heard a thing.  She swore - definitively - that she heard the growl of a bear, and the rustling of items just outside our tent.  Indeed there was a garbage bag outside - but it did NOT have any food in it.

So began our long nightmare.  Lisa, gripped with fear, held onto me for the next 45 minutes or so.  This brought on a case of the shakes in my entire body that I have never experienced - not because I thought we were going to get mauled, but because I needed to move!

We talked in very soft whispers: "Do you hear that?"  "What was that?"  "Please don't move!"  "Is it gone?" And so it went.

Finally, we heard what was definitely a bear growl, but it was off in the distance.  That began the dialogue about our next steps.  Keep in mind, our tent window was mostly zipped shut.  But then a light appeared.  HALLELUJAH! I thought to myself.  Somebody has come out to check on things - all is fine!

I don't think Lisa saw it that way.  For the first time, I saw anger, not fear.  She unzipped the tent and snarled as she shined her flashlight outside.  She blasted a verbal haymaker out the window at our unwelcome intruder...

Who turned out to be Jimi, the boyfriend of Lisa's friend Joan*.

Jimi the bear.

*OK, for those who read this post when I first put it up, I had Jimi with the WRONG WOMAN.  For the record, Jimi is NOT with Dawn (whom I originally wrote).  He's with Joan.  I apologize profoundly for the mistake.  Guess the weekend was a little weirder than I thought, or something (sarcasm).


Jimmy, it seems, couldn't sleep, and decided to sit on the picnic table, located just outside of our tent.  He decided to pass on telling us he was out there when Lisa popped up in fear.  It seems that, at that moment, he was looking for the bear that he also heard in the distance.

Bears at places like this have no interest in getting "medieval" on humans unless we threaten them.  To be sure, that is why I never felt nervous about the situation.  Had there really been a bear on our site, he would have rooted around for some deliciousness and headed elsewhere.

I didn't think there was any way that I would get any more sleep that night, as it was now after four, but as things calmed down, I crashed with thoughts of friendly bears dancing in my head...

Dictionary Definition

As someone who enjoys writing, I also like words.  I don't think I'll ever have the widest vocabulary ever, but I do enjoy trying to use different terms.

Last week, while camping, we played a couple of those campfire-types of games.  Specifically we played things that involved words.  I don't remember each of the words I used, and trust me, not all of them were: A) fancy words and B) suitable for print.  But I do remember one that absolutely had my fellow campers scratching their heads:


Let's head to dictionary.com for this one!


ostentatious in one's learning.
overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.
So it is fair to say that my writing here could possibly be construed as being pedantic.  That is all.

I Came Home to This

Last week, Sean and I went to GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills so that I could perform my duties as producer/engineer/third wheel on "The Clubhouse", a golf/sports talk show hosted by Brian Crowell and Mark Jeffers.  Sean was amazed by the beauty of a country club, and had the chance to ride in a golf cart.  Believe me, this was exciting stuff.

He also ran around the grounds and came across three wayward golf balls.  He proudly took his new possessions home with him.

Move forward to Friday, the day when Sean was to go back to his mother.  I had to get an early start to drive up to the campground to meet Lisa, which meant leaving Sean with my mom for a few hours.  Trust me, saying good-bye to him always leaves me in a state of sadness.

I finally returned home yesterday and found, among my mail, one of the golf balls, with a note - written by Sean on a blue Post-it note.  It said:
"Hi Daddy.  Sorry I'm not here to give you the golf ball but Mommy has one and I have one so we're never too far apart.  Love, Sean"

All I could do was smile.  He's an amazing kid.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Big Hike

It was just a few weeks ago that Lisa and I did our big Kaaterskill Falls hike.  At that time, Lisa knew she would be back in the area to go camping with friends, and I was invited to go along.  We drove up separately and met at the North South Lake Campground in The Catskills to hang out with her friends Dawn, Mike, Joan, and Jimmy.

Good times.

I've taken to camping much more than perhaps I have ever expected, but let's be clear here: I'll never be a "rough it" type of camper.  Oh no.  This guy needs a shower...running water...creature comforts.  But I never did leave the campsite (which I normally do).  I stayed on the grounds, and enjoyed what it had to offer.

I'm camping with the family in August, and I think that will have wifi and possibly electricity.  I don't apologize for this.  Nor do I apologize for going offsite to do day trips.  But this worked out very nicely.

Everybody did their own thing for the most part at the campsite, which is a good thing when you've got two couples, and six distinctly different people.  That, friends, is a whole different topic.

Lisa and I broke away from the others late Saturday morning to go hiking.  Of course, I mistakenly said "walk" and was informed that we weren't going on just any old walk.  "Walking" implies a nice stroll, or something like that.  "Hiking" implies that my fat arse is getting a workout.

Ah, semantics.  But Lisa and I were on the same page.  I knew that the area had trails that would lead to some amazing views.  I was all for that.  My initial plan was to visit the site of the former Catskill Mountain House, a fairly easy hike that, in reality, was far too short and, really, wouldn't have been very good in the way of getting exercise. (We would do that hike this morning and, to be honest, it paled in comparison to what we did a day earlier).

The suggested hike was to go to North Point.

In theory, it's considered a moderate hike.  At a little under two miles, it's not a "long" walk.  What it does have, is some rocks to climb, and a few steep spots.  For the out of shape (hi!  That's me!) it is a good challenge.

But oh was it worth it.  And a day later, I'm not feeling any pain.  So let's call this a victory.

Plus you get to walk across the cool little bridge (and I think this might be the only picture of Lisa that I'm authorized to post).
There are other highlights, such as small waterfalls, but the streams that we encountered were fairly, if not completely, dry.

Along the way, we met other hikers, and there was a nice spirit of camaraderie. 

But the payoff - the WOW moment - was this, and the pictures (on this hazy day) do not do it justice.
At an elevation of about 3000 feet, North Point offers a view well down towards Poughkeepsie, and up towards Albany - perhaps 70 miles or so.  With the haze, the view was still impressive.

I enjoy the chemistry I have so far with Lisa as we do things like this.  We seemed to move at the same pace, and took breaks where appropriate.  Still, getting back to terra firma was rewarding, and perhaps that's the biggest payoff of all: the sense of accomplishment.

Then again, I wasn't so fond of the feeling of dehydration, but that's my problem, and one that I'll have to do better at for future experiences.

We walked (oops, hiked) for about three hours and 45 minutes, and it was so worth it.

Lisa asked me if it was the highlight of the camping trip for me.  I'm not sure it was the highlight, but it was a highlight.  For me, the highlights included laughing with new friends, eating yummy meals, and spending quality time with Lisa.  In "our house"
It's a very very very fine house (fine house).  Or you can always go the New Wave route (and you can't go wrong with Madness).

Then there was the bear story.  Stay tuned...