Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Onto 2014

Well...not quite, but any chance to post anything related to Calvin and Hobbes is OK with me.
So here we are. Another New Year's Eve.

For those celebrating, many blessings to you. For those choosing to lay low or not celebrate at all, you have my regards.

Personally, due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control, I'm at the homestead. Sean is with me tonight. My niece Stephanie is as well. We're all keeping an eye on Mom, who is getting stronger every day.

Lisa has to work tomorrow. So...bottom line...just lay low.

2013 was quite a year, wasn't it? And yet, can't we say that about every year? That's why this whole thing has always been so specious to me.

I saw triumphs - remarkable moments of happiness. I stepped back into the work world in a big way. A year ago tonight. I felt tremendous despair. I wasn't working full-time, and felt like my world was teetering. I also spent New Year's Eve almost entirely alone, save for my friend Brian and his kids on Skype.

But I found work at the Wilton Bulletin, and The Press Box soldiered on, and along came the Sound Tigers, and Hersam Acorn Radio, and Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and Wilton Continuing Education, and...

Sheesh. Be careful what you wish for.

But there was also sadness. Just in the past few days I've heard far too much to break a heart.

We saw it all, as usual. Boston ran the gamut of emotions, from the terror of the Marathon to the exultation of the Red Sox.

2013 was a lot of things. There was a bit of a renaissance for Mr. Huey Lewis. We made our way to Cape Cod, only for a few days. A long trip to both Virginia Beach, and Washington, DC. We passed through Richmond.

We didn't nearly travel enough.

The Yankees? Meh. The Steelers? Same. Rangers...Knicks...etc...

Of course, sports gave us thrills (Alabama/Auburn, LeBron, Wimbledon, etc). That's why we stay with them. They piss me off a lot, but it's still a big part of my life.

We will treasure Mariano Rivera. A true all-time great as a player and a man. We will remember 2013 for him.

I'm sorry, for those who have been loyal, that Exit 55 saw such a significant drop in material this year.  The output that I presented was by far the lowest full year since 2008. I can't say 2014 will be any better, but I'm not sure it will be any worse. As I've alluded to, there are big changes on the way.

I think I can speak on behalf of Lisa and Sean when I say that we wish you all a pleasant start to 2014. We hope that it brings you health and happiness, just as we hope for the same for ourselves.

(And, just as a PS, Vin Scully is the Grand Marshall of tomorrow's Rose Bowl Parade. Happy that I could help with that info.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Radio Bulletin

From our Thanksgiving Preview Show. (Christopher Burns photo)
Today marks the beginning of my final week as a reporter for the Wilton Bulletin.

I want to thank Jeannette Ross, the editor of Bulletin, along with my colleague Chris Burns (and a nod to my former colleague James Passeri) for their patience and support during my time here. We will remain colleagues and maybe I can actually sit down and have lunch with them occasionally (something I didn't do enough of).

By next Monday, I will be settling into my new position as...well, it doesn't really have a title, but I'll be the head of Hersam Acorn Radio. "Radio boss," "Radio GM," and a few others have been tossed around. It matters very little - the radio thing is mine to run.

I won't do it alone, but we're still figuring all of that out. All of the great people here will continue to support this effort in one form or another, and maybe we can bring some new faces on board as well.

But I could use a little help!

First, if you haven't already, start following us on Twitter! Next, please go to Facebook and give us a "like."

Our Hersam Acorn Radio Mixlr page is here.

Our SoundCloud archive page is here.

Our papers and websites are:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Gathering with Mom in Connecticut, 12/24/2013.
Despite my Grinch-like feelings of a few days ago, there is no choice but to plunge forward and grab a little spirit.

My Christmas Eve was spent with Sean, doing shopping (some for him, in fact). Target and Best Buy were my places of choice.

I don't mind shopping on Christmas Eve, although I would prefer to avoid the food stores (and I did).

Later, Sean and I saw Mom, and we were joined by my sister's family for some Christmas Eve pizza. It was simple and fun. With Mom in rehab, I just couldn't see myself anywhere else.

Laura, her kids, and Sean and I made a late run to the Setti's house in Norwalk (Google it if you ever want to see a big light and decoration display). I've missed going there only once in roughly a decade so I was glad we were able to keep the tradition alive.

As we parked to walk around, some snow flakes had become to fall. That would, eventually, lead to a full-blown white-out.

That only seemed to enhance the atmosphere in Norwalk, as Santa and Mrs. Claus visited with visitors. For me, it gave me pause about the drive back to the Pac.

Overall, our trip was fair - save for sliding down a hill in Pound Ridge. Sean, recognizing my tension, actually began to massage my shoulders.

"I think you need this," he said. What a kid. I played it cool and thanked him. I didn't want him to worry.

We made it home, where Sean (again, he's 11) remained true to his belief in Santa. He already had the cookies and milk lined up by the time I wandered upstairs to check on him. Soon his letter to Santa would follow.

"Where did the reindeer get their names?" he inquired. He was also curious if Santa liked Skylanders (a toy/game thing, for those not in the know). Lastly, he apologized for leaving water, instead of milk in previous years.

After that, he was in bed, excited over the thought of what tomorrow (now today) will bring. Unfortunately, he is currently in bed, expecting nothing from this house, as I had told him that my gift would not arrive in time for Christmas. But, no, it made it today, and was actually sitting outside the front door when we got home.

His day should be merry and bright.

I hope that for all of you. I know this isn't always the easiest time of year, and I know some of you who are feeling intense sadness for one reason or another. I know many of you who agreed with my "Bah humbug" take on the holiday season. It has, in short, been a rough one for many.

I hope today that you find some joy.

Sean and I will be up in a few hours, and we will enjoy our time together before he goes back to his mother. It will be a quiet, yet happy time for us.

Then it will be over. Then it will be 2014.

Back to 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Time is Here Again

The Beatles sent their fans a Christmas record every year from 1963 to 1969.

Arguably, their most famous creation was 1967's "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)," which was a heavily produced collage of Beatles silliness.

So, without interruption, here are The Beatles.

If you prefer the more conventional Christmas type of song, we can also accommodate that. First, here's John (and Yoko and others).

And, for equal time, here is Paul.

Consider this a retort to my "Bah Humbug" ways. Lest you think I lack holiday spirit.

Humbug, Bah

Yep, come o' ye faithful. Have a holly, jolly freaking Christmas.

Merry Xmas one and all.

OK, normally, I can rally around the ol' mistletoe.

But wow. This has been some holiday season.

I have one person shopped for - ONE. O-N-E. He happens to be 11, and is the biggest reason to still believe in the magic of the season. I can get past the crass commercialism, the "HEY! Start playing the holiday tunes in JULY!" and so on.

Then I ordered Sean's gift, and got the note that it would be delivered.

On December 30th.


We add that to a season in which (if you haven't heard) my mother is rehabbing from pretty major surgery (or, in her words, "I almost died." Lovely.),  I've been working, essentially,  two and half jobs, with minimal personal time, and so on. Stress? Nah.

Believe me, I understand there are people who have it worse, and everyone needs to have a perspective on what they can handle. So yeah, I'm fine. But add it all up, and it can make one, er, grumpy.

So looking at the egg nog as being half full, being busy is good, and Mom appears to be on the upswing.

It's a mixed bag, and it's fine. No, not that mom stuff (that was pretty serious), but hey - a year ago, I was largely unemployed. I was hoping for work. Those around me were hoping for work for me. Like it or not, I got it.

LOTS of it. As such, it took a huge personal toll.

What is that about "be careful what you wish for?"

So the simple bottom line is that I have a date with a store-to-be-determined tomorrow, Christmas Eve. Maybe I can find a few things for Sean to open, along with a few other loved ones.

It shouldn't be about the gifts. Yet, that's all I hear. All I hear about is money.

Yeah, greed is good. Blech.

For me, greed is wanting Mariano to finish off the 2001 World Series so we can have FOUR Yankees Championships in a row. It's about Neil O'Donnell NOT confusing Larry Brown for a Steelers receiver, or Rashard Mendenhall holding onto the ball so that the Black and Gold are 8-0 in the Super Bowl.

That's greed. Money? Meh.

I don't talk about money. I don't - simply put. With anyone. Don't ask me how much I make. Don't ask me about raises and such.

LET ME BOTTOM LINE IT FOR YOU: happiness. That. Is. It.

I once took a job for the money. How did THAT turn out?

Money. The root of all evil since forever.

The holidays should be about being together. It should be about family and loved ones. It should be about the kids. If you are the religious sort, it has a bigger meaning.

It shouldn't be about petty jealousies, who buys the biggest gifts, and other gluttonous ways.

I recently sat in the Danbury Mall, waiting out a snowstorm and working (naturally). I watched children climb into Santa's lap. I watched them smile. I watched them hug him. I saw the unbridled joy.

There, in that moment, I felt the warmth in my own heart.

We'll get through the season just fine in the end. Plenty of good times and bad times (you know I've had my share**). As we turn the page to 2014, there will be new horizons and ch-ch-changes (David Bowie, thanks).

And yes, that's a hint.

**It's been correctly pointed out to me by Dan Arturi (with an assist to Adam "Froggie" Froehlig) that I should have noted my quote of the MIGHTY Led Zeppelin. I did, indeed, quote "Good Times Bad Times" from Led Zeppelin (informally known as Led Zeppelin I). I felt that my mention of the song quote would have been obvious to you, the knowledgeable "Exit 55" reader, but I shouldn't assume. Plus, and let's be honest here, is it ever bad to work in a reference to Led Zeppelin?

Thus, we had a communication breakdown. Yeah. I went there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go work another 12-13 day, spread over the two and-a-half jobs (No "Press Box" tonight, by the way, as I'm sure some of you will delight in Hofstra basketball in our place).

On Hersam Acorn Radio (via GreenwichPost.com, NCAdvertiser.com, and FCIAC.net), you will hear the Greenwich Cardinals and New Canaan Rams in a fine hockey tilt. Chris Kaelin, John Kovach, Josh Fisher, and I will bring you the action.

Paul Silverfarb might also show. And maybe - just maybe - I won't suck.

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch..."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pearlman and Degl

Jeff Pearlman's work has been lauded around these parts before. Sure, we disagree on things, but he's topical, occasionally controversial, and so on. He always gets me thinking in one way or another.

His Quaz is almost universally outstanding, because he highlights people you may or may not have heard of. His visit with Dave Fleming, for instance, was a highlight for me, since I graduated with Dave from Mahopac High School.

That brings us to John Degl. John also came out of the 'Pac, a few years behind me. He was an tremendous wrestler, and, to me, a pretty good kid.

I know, because I would often come over and watch John, and his brother Greg, when his parents would go out. During the summer, it was not uncommon to find the three of us eating at Texas Taco or Red Rooster, followed up by mini golf or bowling.

We almost always had a blast. I can remember shooting hoops outside of John's house, and my own friends stopping by to join us, since it was in a neighborhood (Lake MacGregor) full of kids I went to school with.

For the most part, I didn't have problems with John. If I did, we addressed it and moved on. But, maybe because I was a few years older, he seemed to respect me. He didn't give me a hard time overall.

I found out, through Jeff's writing, that John was actually a bully to Jeff. You'll learn that, and John's reaction, as well as a lot more in Jeff's Quaz with John. As you can see, time has healed some wounds, and everyone has moved on.

They're both good guys.

It's a good read.

We'll Get 'em Again Today

I called the second period of last night's Bridgeport Sound Tigers game, at home, against the Manchester Monarchs.

It's an overall mixed review. The further I get away from it, the more down I get. It just wasn't up to my standard.

I was nervous. Behind the play at times. Blah blah blah. Blech.

Phil Giubileo called the first and third periods. His work is great, and it's why he'll be doing some fill-in on Islanders Radio in January, among myriad other things that he does. Just an outstanding pro.

These are the highlights, with both Phil and I on the call. I'll be back in the booth later today.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela once visited Yankee Stadium, in 1990. He was a free man by then, freed from person after spending 27 years locked because he opposed Apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was a hero.

Nelson Mandela died today at the age of 95.

Anybody who believes in freedom - in humanity - needs to tip their cap to the memory of Mr. Mandela.

Note to Self (aka I'm So Dizzy) and Other HAN Radio Notes

Back in August, I was driving to Lisa's house when I went to turn right off US 44 (goes from Plymouth, MA to Kerhonkson, NY) onto West Street in Pleasant Valley, NY. After making the turn, I began to feel a little lightheaded.

Within a mile, West Street became a spinning wheel.

I was dizzy.

I pulled into a nearby elementary school parking lot and got the car stopped. After a brief bout of nausea (sorry if that's "TMI"), I pulled back onto the road and went on with my day.

Today, while going over some things regarding Hersam Acorn Radio, it happened again.  I squashed it down.

And it happened again.

And again.

I was OK to drive (I promise) and got myself to a nearby Rite Aid. Nurse Lisa's suggestion was that I get some sugar in my system - STAT!

A Kit Kat, 100 Grand, pumpkin muffin and maple doughnut later (from Dunkin Donuts, along with a cup of coffee), I feel generally better.

The lesson here - as it was in August - was that I shouldn't be starving myself. Now, I didn't mean to do it, but it happened. I probably need some backup food at my desk (a granola bar will suffice, I suppose), but the point is that the lesson has been learned.

Now I'm sitting at a Wilton Board of Ed meeting. I like the people here, but ugh. I'd really like to be home and prepping for Saturday's Ridgefield/Southington football game.

Oh, and we'll do a half hour pregame show tomorrow at 4:00. All on your local Hersam Acorn Radio network station (aka, FCIAC.net, RidgefieldPress.com, etc).

As for Saturday, we have something really cool in store: live on-site updates of games from our reporters in the field.

And the following weekend might be the busiest broadcast weekend I've had in a long time.

And Joel Cookson was kind to ask me to be a guest on his CIAC podcast. When it's ready, it will be posted here.

There's more coming. It could be lots more. But I have to be patient. And eat.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

I'm very excited to say that I've joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a very small role, as an occasional color analyst, and backup play-by-play man to the "voice" of the Sound Tigers, Phil Giubileo.

Phil will have the call today, and I'll try to stay out of the way, as the Sound Tigers host the Manchester Monarchs at Wesbster Bank Arena. Game time is 3:00.