Saturday, December 31, 2016

Man of the Year (and goodnight, 2016)

Honestly, in my world, who else could it be? The sweetest swan song of all.

Thanks, Vin Scully, for everything you taught me, and for demonstrating grace. Long may you live and may a microphone wind up in your hand again.

We'll see you in 2017...wherever you may be.

It's Just Another Day

Onto '17 we go (Charleston, SC. 2012)
We've dealt with our hatred of this night many times, so no point in dwelling.

There's also no point in dwelling on 2016. It had highs. It had lows.

I mean, that's simply life.

I'm saddened that I only posted 44 times this year, but all I can do is just move on.

I'd rather just look forward. To that end, I have a resolution!

I'm going to wake up tomorrow.

That's probably the best approach.

When you get right down to it, this is a similar post to what I wrote a year ago tonight.

In a lot of ways, not a thing changed. In others, they most certainly did. I wish for the same things that I've been wishing for some time. I wished the same when I blew out the candle on my 48th birthday cake in November (of which I was touched by).

But I learned more about myself. I learned more about how I have to be in certain ways.

It was an eye-opening year. It is what it is, as the saying goes.

I'll endeavor to keep waking up every day. Simply put, as always, to keep moving forward.

We need unity. We need peace. I'm quite doubtful we'll find either, so getting excited and optimistic about the flip of the calendar is sort of difficult.

My apologies for the cynicism, but I'm a realist.

Sean and I wish you well - tomorrow and each ensuing tomorrow.

I'd like 2017 to be a big year.

Beyond that, it's just another day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Celebrities and Grief (RIP, Carrie Fisher)

Tough but tender. Princess Leia. Though there was that "kiss her brother" thing.

We don't know these people. I know that.

Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia of my youth, died today at the age of 60, after suffering a heart attack last week.

And we grieve for these people. Many don't understand why.

Look, I get seriously tired of the martyrdom for Prince, George Michael, etc.

But I get why it happens. I get why there are those who mourn.

Because it's a loss of our innocence. It's a reminder of our past, to a large degree.

For me, Carrie Fisher takes me back to being a kid. It takes me back to the first move I ever saw twice -- called Star Wars (not "Episode IV" or "A New Hope" or whatever). It reminds me of driving down the Taconic Parkway with my cousins -- me, the oldest of the kids in the car -- as my dad teased us about the names of the Star Wars characters.

Princess Leia was Princess Lulu.

This is why we mourn. Not because we think we know them. We don't. I'm somewhat certain I've never been in the same zip code as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, or Carrie Fisher.

But I think my point is clear.

Anyway, I'm babbling.

Without being cheesy, may the force be with Ms. Fisher.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mel Stottlemyre is 'Fighting For His Life'

Off the news of Carrie Fisher having a massive heart attack (USA Today) comes word that Mel Stottlemyre, once the heart and soul of the Yankees' late-60's/early 70's pitching staff is "fighting for his life."

Mel's son, Todd Stottlemyre, passed along the news early today on social media (ESPN).

Mel came to the Yankees in 1964 and went 9-3 before losing to Bob Gibson (hardly a crime) in game 7 of the World Series. Gibson pitched on two-days rest and went the distance. Different times. Stottlemyre threw a complete effort to win game 2, beating Gibson 8-3.

Sadly that would be Mel's only postseason, as the Yankees faded badly over the next decade.

Mel would remain the ace of the staff, and become a five-time All-Star. In 11 seasons, he pitched to a 2.97 ERA, while winning 164 games. Unfortunately, he led the league in losses twice (1966, when he dropped 20 decisions, and 1972, when he lost 18).

His best years were clearly 1968 (the year of the pitcher), when he went 21-12 with a 2.45 ERA. But 1969, with the change in mound height, was his absolute best. Mel went 20-14 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-high 24 complete games.

Mel had arm problems that ended his career at just 33. He was released in early 1975, and eventually reemerged as one of the best pitching coaches in the game. It was Stottlemyre who was alongside Davey Johnson as the Mets won it all in '86. Then Mel went to the Astros and before he rejoined the Yankees. There, with Joe Torre, the Yankees had one of their best runs in history, grasping four more rings between 1996 and 2000.

Mel was a favorite of mine, along with that Murcer guy in the early 70's.
Mel and Bobby Murcer, Old Timer's Day.

I don't have words without being trite, other than best wishes. I wish I had more.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Public Service Announcement

The County Line (courtesy Google)
The intersection of US 6, Baldwin Place Road, and NY Route 118 at the Westchester/Putnam County line has evolved over the years.

I can remember - barely - when there weren't traffic lights there. That would be in the early 1970's. Then they put lights up, and the movement meant leaving Baldwin Place Road, making a left onto US 6, and then bearing right onto NY 118.

That's just an example, and this stayed as so for a long time. Minor adjustments were made over the years, but the problems remained.

I remember the family friend who got knocked off his motorcycle in an accident there.

Of course, commerce necessitated the measures to keep things safe. Our "mall," THE Baldwin Place Mall was right there. Our McDonald's was there. The Mobil station that, so long as your horn worked, you passed your NY state inspection (minor exaggeration, but not by much). The County Line Pub (now PJ's) was nearby. Kinney Shoes, Robert Hall, Sears (the catalog store!), Book and Record, Studio Deli, Embassy, ah...the memories!

Up the road was another shopping center, with Shopwell, Arthur Treacher's, King's (a brief Caldor-type knockoff), and more.

The shopping centers are all still around, but things have changed.

And so has the corner of Baldwin Place/6/118.

Including the pattern of the traffic lights.

The intersection was reconstructed over the summer, eliminating the necessity to make the left from Baldwin Place Road before turning onto NY 118. It's now a straight movement. New traffic lights were installed.

And a new traffic light pattern was put in place last Monday.

So as I'm driving to Greenwich this morning, I moved along Baldwin Place Road, and had the foresight to recognize that not everyone got the traffic light change memo.

It's a simple concept: for you to turn left on US 6 West (from 118), you need an arrow. Or no oncoming traffic.

Like me.

Had I not been at least a little smart, a young lady driving a small SUV would have given me a holiday gift. The sound of my horn (a rarity) did nothing to deter her.

I growled and moved on.

She's undoubtedly impervious to her utter stupidity.

Thankfully, all is well.

But look out, should you travel through the area.

The preceding has been a public service announcement.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Embarrassing Admission

Thanks to the snow, freezing rain, and anything else hitting the Pac, I'm chilling out.

I've shoveled the snow, and I can hear the ramblings of Sean and his friend Will, who are playing some computer game...and have been since yesterday.

With Sean and Will both here, I decided to give my up room to them. So that has me in a room of a distant lifetime. Or a glass case of emotion.

With no TV, but of course, in modern-day times, if one has technology, one can survive nicely.

(Or read a book, but let's not lose the point.)

OK, I'm burying the lede (or lead - your call).

So onto Netflix I went. I looked around and came across a classic.


Which I've never totally seen.

And that embarrasses me.

I thought about why. For one, horror never did a thing for me. Until I read the great works of Susan whats-her-name, horror wasn't something I'd read. Like. Ever. It normally took friends to get me to watch a horror flick. So, sure. I've seen Freddie and Jason, etc. I remember having a sleepover at Jeff Terranova's house, circa 1984, and we watched...something.

We also watched Scarface. "Say hello to my little friend," indeed!

More than that, the movie came out in 1975. My siblings, assuming they saw it, were both teenagers, and they wouldn't have dragged their dopey little (six-year-old) brother.

Therefore, a combo of circumstances led us to this.

So let's grab out bigger boat, and jump in the water while listening to Olivia Newtown-John sing "I Honestly Love You!"

Incidentally, I did have the 45 (and still do) of Mr. Jaws. So I've got that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Write The Story, Rob

I'm sitting here with a story to write for the Greenwich Sentinel. It's nice and pleasant and will (hopefully) be enjoyable to read.

And I can't seem to get started.

I will -- I always get the job done -- but I'm dragging.

The Rangers lost.

Alan Thicke died.

Paul is texting me and we're reciting Big Bang Theory lines to each other.

So I thought I'd throw a blog post together.

Back in the days of writing for the Wilton Bulletin, I would write a blog post to get my creative juices going. Someone I knew questioned why I would do so, and where did I find the time? The truth though is that the blog gave me the kick to get the story done.

It was a win-win.

Anyway, back to the story. I've conducted my interviews, sent a picture in to be used, and have my quotes ready.

Now I just need to write.

In other news, John Nash posted a heartbreaking story.

We still see, all too often, that life is way to unfair. Constantly.

OK, now I have a story to write.

Monday, December 12, 2016

2016 CTHSFB: Fin

Greenwich warms up before their tilt with Darien in September.
High school football came to a conclusion in Connecticut on Saturday. Locally, Darien and New Canaan were the only two teams to bring the top prize home (not surprisingly). Kudos to Ridgefield and St. Joseph for reaching the title game. Hillhouse and Ansonia (only their 20th title) round out the champions.

Chris Erway and I were back in Greenwich on WGCH and, with the help of Shawn Sailer, Matt Hamilton, Sean Kilkelly, Ian Barto, Phil Giubileo and others, we brought the sounds of Cardinals football to the radio. I'm grateful to each person who helped make the broadcasts palatable. It's always been a labor of love.

Thanks to GHS head coach John Marinelli and his team for welcoming us, and coming on the air whenever I asked. A special nod to Connor Langan, who I talked to off the air a few times, especially after hearing a knucklehead bad-mouthing him. Not cool.

I also did a bunch of games for Brunswick, and thank Joe Early, coach Jarrett Shine, and their team (and fans) for welcoming me -- along with the aforementioned Shawn Sailer, as well as Sean Adams, and AJ Szymanowski. A shout out to Camille and Carlos, who ran things for us from Bleachers.

We battled bad wifi, lack of internet connections, occasionally failing equipment, cold weather, rainy weather, a wobbly scissor lift, and so on. In other words, it was an average season.

In the end, Darien won a thrilling Bowl* game. New Canaan raced back to tie that game. I only wish they could have met again for a state title, like they did in 2014.

* I still think it should have been called the FCIAC Championship Game because, in the end, they really were the two best teams. But I like traditions.

Once again we saw countless outstanding athletes, and really good people. We laughed with the fans and hopefully demonstrated that we love what we do.

As always, every broadcast went through the ringer that is my brain. Overall, I walked away content from 2016.

Onto winter.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Happy 87th

Father and son. Best Western Tahitian Gardens, Holiday, Fl. Feb. 1986.
I was going to write about my father's 87th birthday yesterday.

Then yesterday happened. The less said, the better.

Then yesterday afternoon/evening happened, and I attended my cousin Ron's 70th birthday party (his birthday is actually in January, but oh well). Ron's father -- my Uncle Bill -- would have been 92 today.

We wound up spending just a moment talking about it, and pondering how strange it would be. To us, my dad ("Uncle Don" to him) is always going to be frozen in time in his late 50's. My Uncle Bill will be frozen in his 60s, at least to me.

It was a passing thing. Then he began looking forward to strawberry shortcake.

Which I don't eat. Not surprisingly.

Anyway, I digress. No matter what, they would have enjoyed the party. At least I think so.

We never really know, do we?

Thanks, Shawn

A Sailer Selfie at WGCH.
My friend Shawn Sailer tweeted a few minutes ago...
Yes. I quite get that.

Shawn started his own blog a few weeks ago and, in the grand Exit 55 tradition, we will write about it here. Now we hope that, unlike myriad other blogs that we've promoted here, Shawn will stay with it.

I've needed to remind myself that there are no rules about how many times one must post when doing this, unless you're getting paid for it. I'm not -- and have never made a dime off this effort -- so I shouldn't put the pressure on me that I have in the past.

Therefore if, oh I don't know, a blog (Creative Conjurings, for example) is quiet for a stretch, fear not. They'll be back. Too smart. Too talented. Too many things to say still.

The creation of Shawn's blog, coupled with his writing over at The Spectrum (Sacred Heart University's newspaper) has encouraged me to ramp things back up here. Every now and then, we get a friendly reminder. I'm glad.

Oh. Wait. I didn't use the "ramp" line with the intention of it being a road metaphor. You know: ramp. Exit 55.

No. I'm not that smart.

OK, digressing badly.

Getting into this kind of writing -- the very kind I've always wanted to do (that is, columnist-style writing) -- is fraught with peril. When I started here in August, 2007, I was largely fearless. I used (generally) common sense and had a lot of fun with it. The topics were all over the place, because I wanted to be more than a one-note band.

We're still that way, but things have changed. The topics are often running around in my cranium. Steelers, Yankees, music, politics (very little politics, but still), roads (and travel), pop culture, and on and on and on.

Along the way, my voice has had to adjust. I realized that that more people read this than I ever thought, and while I want discussion and even debate, I left things open to interpretation.

Am I still willing to tell you that, for instance, American Idol destroyed American popular music? Why yes. Yes I am, though I don't know if I want it to be at the cost of hurting those close to me. Anyway, that's the minefield we traverse.

Early on, I got a private message from someone who thought I was writing about...someone else. Truthfully, I wasn't. In fact, whenever I really wanted to dig in with something, I posted a video. Thus Rule 55 was created (thanks, Sean Kilkelly, for the name).

But back to Shawn (Sailer, that is). This guy has a voice (and he's among the best Twitter follows you'll find), and he's figuring out that he's not afraid to use it. We have talked various and sundry topics, and I hope he starts writing things like that for you. Yes, that's me in the picture on his Nov. 30 entry, but this is not about me.

I promise.

OK, so we need to ramp up Shawn's non-sports interests (he knows I'm slightly kidding as I write this), but I know you will enjoy his thoughts.

Once he starts writing them.

And boom. As I write, he has just posted something about his beloved Packers.

In which he referenced Green Bay's Super Bowl XLV victory.

Over the Steelers.

My Steelers.

Forget everything I just wrote.

Monday, December 05, 2016

What a Picture Says

The meeting point of three states. Sort of. Not really. But go with it.
I'm in the WGCH nerve center (or broadcast center), finishing a few things up before I head for home.

My mother and sister wanted to do a shopping trip over the weekend in Pennsylvania, and as I enjoy such things (and like to drive), I was drafted as chauffeur. It's a good gig. Rounding out our foursome was the always-affable Sean Adams. Yes, a fourteen year-old boy enjoys such goofiness.

We went last year and had just a great time. We grabbed a hotel room at the last minute off of Priceline and made a weekend of it. To be honest, a repeat in 2016 looked unlikely, mostly due to the still-not-so-grand economy (yes, I understand the unemployment rate has dropped. That doesn't mean we're all rolling in money). To be honest, things are...well...that's not why you're here.

However, things improved enough to where, with some savvy budgeting, the trip could take place. We shopped, we Christkindlmarkted (if I can create such a word), we laughed, we ate.
Later in the day, one of us would be happen (answer: me)

We teased Sean. Lovingly.

My boy continues to grow and, truth be told, I suspect he will surpass me in height if there is a 2017 trip. To that end, I had to buy him no jeans to replace the ones that had become "capri-length."

We meandered a bit over the two days, going through a few different antique stores before moving back towards New York. For Sean, our beloved son, grandson, nephew, I made good on a tradition: visiting the old Erie Turntable in Port Jervis, NY.

It's a small thing, but something that train fans like. It costs nothing and sits in back of a Rite Aid, Burger King and (currently) abandoned plaza. But there's always hope!

To an extent, I think Sean liked playing tour guide to his aunt. He also wanted to check on his rock that he left outside of one of the old trains that sits on site (he's convinced it's still there, and I think he's right).

Then we moved over to Tri-States Monument, a spot where an honorary marker notes the meeting place of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

No, it's not the actual tri-state point (that would be in the Delaware River, but why ruin this with facts?). Still, after driving through a cemetery and parking underneath the dual bridges of Interstate 84, and weaving around the trash, can you blame us for wanting the monument to be THE point?

Anyway, I'm babbling along. I've taken Sean a few times to the point, and I've been there on my own as well. I find it enjoyable, especially when it's quiet. Laura wandered around, taking pictures, and Sean and I found ourselves in our own world.

In fact, I realized that I didn't take a picture of him "standing in all three states," as I did in previous trips, dating back to when he was quite young. So, a failure on Dad.

As Laura returned to the car to rejoin Mom, Sean and I stood on the edge of the Delaware, skimming stones. Sean struggled to find the arm angle, but instead of getting frustrated, he took some of my instructions and practiced.

Years of imitating Dan Quisenberry and Kent Tekulve paid off for me.

Unknown to us (until later), Laura took two pictures of us as we finished up by throwing larger rocks into the river. The goal, of course, was to have a large splash as we climbed back to the car (and reality).

The anatomy of the picture is basic: father hurls rock into river. Makes fool of himself (as usual) by mock-showboating for his son to further mock him. Thus the outstretched arms in the first photo, and the fully-victorious "touchdown" pose in the second. Also, the boy reaches for another rock in the second photo so that he may try to create his own splash (while saying "Kobe" as an exclamation point, even if he has no clue who Kobe is).

Oh but there's so much more. There's an entire father-son relationship in there. There's a bond of two "pals" (yes, we know that the one wearing number 84 is supposed to be the respected authority figure). This is, honestly, about the closest to athletics that we share between us here. But wait -- there is more. There's love and the enjoyment of the splash (visible in both photos). There is simplicity. There's no pressure here. It's nature, and it's natural. It's water and earth. There's the setting sun. You can't hear the trucks rumbling overhead.

It's the very essence of Sean and his proud/loving dad, with the hope that the sun isn't setting on anything.