Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Flip of the Calendar

Sean - The Doctor's Apprentice - plays his new WiiU.
So we're done with this year.

It's tempting to look back at 2015 and break it all down. Sure, it was trying, but it does me no good to wallow in the mire*.

*Come on, baby, light my fire.

I'd rather, if anything, look at the good. There was plenty. So many broadcasts. So many shows.

So. Many. Games. I loved it. Call fifteen baseball games over five days? YES, PLEASE?!?
A favorite picture, with one of my closest friends: Paul Silverfarb, in Cooperstown.
I got to travel a bit - even if I never left the east coast. I still got to visit Boston, Scranton twice (mock if you wish), Cooperstown, Vermont, and everything between here and the North Carolina/South Carolina border.

As always, friendships were strengthened. Relationships were deepened. We loved. We lost.

There was bad to 2015, but there's bad to every year. I'd rather focus on the good, and of course, keep moving forward©.

Again, there was good.

There are things that drive me for the future. I said this a year ago - about wanting certain things badly. Nothing has changed.
Two guys talking sports. John Kovach and I rocking in Cooperstown.
We didn't do much around the bloggity this year, and for that, I apologize. But I'm grateful - so very - for the views. For every kind word. Even the criticisms. They sting. Sure. But they help make me better. They give me things to think about. I got more criticism of my broadcasting than ever this year, and that had much to do with more ears and eyeballs on it. I think about all of it, and assess it. Then I move on and decide how to address it.
Two guys, 50 FCIAC Championships: Chris Erway and I.
I love my friends and their support means so much to me.

While my family vexes me, I still love them.

I'm honored by the people who have helped make HAN Network a machine. A couple of times stand out to me:

- Cooperstown, in which I glanced over my shoulder at one point on NY Route 28, to see I was the lead car of a whole bunch of HAN people, all dedicated to a kick-ass baseball broadcast. We did that, and a lot more. The spirit there is remarkable.

- The New England Babe Ruth Regional, where we did those 15 games. Then I rested my voice.

- Vermont, where for four days, we spoke with business leaders and more in some truly beautiful settings. My great son was there. Plus we didn't get electrocuted when our tent was launched onto wires.

- The Turkey Bowl/FCIAC Championship game, where we put on one hell of a broadcast, despite being minutes from possibly not getting on the air. It's where my 25 years in this business came in handy. I knew - KNEW - we'd find a way to pull it off. The number of games that haven't made the air in my career have been minimal, and that one was going to be fine.
Kato and I. Laughing and drinking coffee.
The images that I shared here represent just a few of the many wonderful moments. I can't possibly represent everyone and everything.

There are more. Many more highlight moments. Laughs with those great friends of mine. Dinners. Quiet moments. Moments of reflection.

Things that I've learned about myself.

"All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today." A wise man once wrote that (Bruce Hornsby) and a great man sang it (Huey Lewis).

Onto 2016. Another day follows January 1. Let's make that one better than the one before. Then repeat.
Sean gets shy talking about "Snakey."

The Final Nutmeg Sports of 2015

Casey Kasem on the left, and Shadoe Stevens on the right...counting 'em down!
This came together quickly.

Nutmeg Sports - our final broadcast on HAN Network in 2015 - counted down a top 15 of 2015.

I put the list together on Sunday with a random collection of memories. Then I tossed the idea towards both AJ Szymanowski and, eventually, Eric Gendron. Initially, it seemed too last minute.

Then we put it together. A couple of final suggestions came in, and with social media from Kate Czaplinski, video editing from Eric, audio editing and photo selection from me, a nudge from Susan Shultz for a particular call*, and Marty Hersam's enthusiasm, we banged it.

Donald Eng joined me for the show (he's normally not available on Wednesday's) to co-host.

It's one of my favorite shows of the year.

Just phenomenal work from the HAN Network team.

*People have quoted a few calls and comments to me over the years. It seems that "Eat a sandwich, catch a touchdown" is a favorite. I appreciate the love for it, but I've used lines like that before. Nevertheless, I'm happy it resonated, although maybe not so much with the Trumbull Eagles. Susan told me that she thought it was hysterical, and that her reporter, Kevin Webb, has even mentioned it. Yet it's more about Michael Collins, the New Canaan quarterback who threw nine touchdowns that night, en route to eventually breaking the state season record. It's about the games and the athletes. So the call was fun. I hope it enhanced it.

Here it is - the final show of 2015. Thanks for watching.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Song?

I just saw a post on the evil of FB from old friend John Monteforte (ah, the Sears days of 1986-88) about Christmas songs.

Indeed, for instance, The Pretenders* didn't intend "2000 Miles" to become a holiday staple, just because it mentions Christmas. Alas, it has.

* Incidentally, every now and then I come back to listening to The Pretenders, and if you need educating, let me just say Chrissie Hynde rocks. I mean, so does James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, and Martin Chambers (the original lineup for the first two albums, along with Hynde), as well as the lineup she used on Learning to Crawl, their 1984 album. Both Honeyman-Scott and Farndon had died and she regrouped with Malcolm Foster on bass and the wonderful Robbie MacIntosh on guitar. Maybe it's the correct spelling of Robbie that I like about him. Anyway, getting way off-topic, I recently revisited The Pretenders' first album. Wow. That's basically the point. Start with "Precious" and let Hyndy simply punch you in the gut.

Wow. Again.

Ok, I digressed wildly there.

Now, back to non-Christmas-yet-Christmas songs.

This isn't a Christmas song. Yet it mentions Christmas. As I write, it's Christmas Eve. Again, alas.

Turn on all the Christmas Lights (and listen).

Such a great, under appreciated song from Billy Joel. The Nylon Curtain has long sat right near the very top of my favorite albums of his, and this song is part of why.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Music (Non-Christmas Division) Just Because

Ah yes...1991...
Here's an old HLN song I saw on the evil of Facebook today.

The song was on the album Hard at Play, and came out in 1991. Yes, the video and the song ooze of 1991, but so be it. The band is in major blues/soul mode. He don't know. No, I mean he really doesn't know.

But I do.

Favorite album? No. Favorite song? Nah.

It's still Huey and Johnny and Chris and Mario and Bill and Sean. The original lineup.

That's all.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Perfection - Sinatra

Sinatra and Basie
I've said this before.

I'll say it again.

Frank Sinatra, with Count Basie and his Orchestra (conducted by Quincy Jones), in an arrangement by Nelson Riddle, performing "I've Got You Under My Skin" in early 1966 is just about the greatest piece of recorded music I've ever heard.

Written by Cole Porter, the song was part of a "wonderful new show" at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas that was released as Sinatra at the Sands later in 1966. The overall album is widely-regarded as one of the greatest live shows ever put on record (or CD or 8-track or digital media). Rolling Stone placed it at 36th all-time.

The Chairman of the Board had just turned 50, and he is in fine voice throughout the album. But it's "I've Got You Under My Skin" that is simply blistering. Basie and the band don't overwhelm it. They sit in waiting, tingling along until WHACK!

That's when things explode.

It settles back down, with Frank's voice - that masterful interpretation - taking it from there.

Then it climbs until we reach the zenith: "Don't you know, you fool, there ain't no chance to win. Why not use your mentality?  Wake up! Step up to reality! Annnnnnnd each time I do, just the thought of you makes me stop just before I begin!"

Then a moment of silence. The slightest moment, as Sinatra breaks it down.

You feel it. You know our hero stands no chance.

None. He's trying to be wise. He's trying to recognize it and walk away.

He can't. He's whipped.

"Because I've got you," he sighs. "Under my skin. Yeah you're grabbing me under my skin."

Basie bangs the piano and we're done.

It's exhilarating and exhausting.

On this day - the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth, take a moment and listen to something of his. Even if it's not your genre. Just take three minutes and listen. Listen. Hear that voice. He's not just singing. It's something entirely different.

You'll feel it.

It's Sinatra.

Accept no substitutes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A Smile

Tonight was Sean's holiday concert at his middle school. If you've been to one, then you know the drill. You wait patiently for your child/brother/friend/cousin/whomever to perform and try to survive the rest of the evening.

Sean rocked on the sax as always, but that wasn't the story of the night.

Sean doesn't have braces anymore. Yet that's not the story either. Not entirely.

Let's back up.

From the time he could do so, Sean had an electric smile. I mean, simply mega-watts. It was the expression handed down through generations.

Then, basically, it stopped.

He'd grin. He'd smile without showing his teeth. On occasions, he'd show his teeth, but it was the smile I was used to.

He didn't like his teeth.

He got braces a few years ago, and the smiles continued to hide, or be seen in moments with the braces showing.

Yet tonight, after he finished the concert and greeted his family, he posed for a picture. The braces were removed today, and I encouraged him to show those teeth off. This instantly became one of my favorite pictures of him.

By the way, here is his eighth grade picture. Still handsome for sure.