Writers’ Workshop: By No Means The Final (Post #4500)

I put 4500 into the Giphy search engine…

I’ve hemmed and hawed about what I was going to write for today’s Writers’ Workshop, because as you can tell it’s a bit of a milestone. Finally, I decided to just wing it and write whatever came into my head.

Having said that, nothing’s coming into my head. Of course.

We had a newscaster in Chicago named Floyd Kalber who did the 10 PM news on the NBC station, and he’d always end the show with a funny news item. Kind of like this:

"Finally tonight… Sheriff’s officials say someone stopped by the post office about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to drop off a package and saw a seven-foot alligator roaming around the lobby. The building has automatic double doors that allows off-hours entry, officials said.

"That’s the news. Good night."

TV stations used to sign off at night in the early-morning hours, and many stations would have a final newscast before playing the National Anthem and showing the color bars. A lot of the final newscasts were nothing more than the station announcer reading the news while the station displayed a card that said "FINAL REPORT" or something like that. The first time I saw that, it seemed creepy, but at the same time it was kind of cool. I was working the 4-to-midnight shift, and it seemed like the ideal thing to watch when you got home at 1 AM and flipped the TV on. For a long time, even after I started working regular hours, I’d stay up and watch that. Finally, Mary asked what I was watching, and I told her. She just rolled her eyes and said "come to bed."

I know. I’m weird.

Writers’ Workshop: Let’s Do ’em All!

Kat gave us five prompts, and with the sixth she suggested we do all of the other five. I guess we could do that any week….

  1. Tell us about something you did or participated in that a new friend might find hard to believe. I think people would find it hard to believe that I played the bagpipes and was in a competition band for several years. What would made it hard is the fact that all the pictures of me playing with the band have disappeared over the years. I bought my pipes from J. & R. Glen on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh when we were there celebrating a delayed honeymoon. I found a teacher back in Chicago, and when he felt I was ready, he gave me the name of the pipe major of a band close by. I played with them for several years until I was in line for a job that would require travel, at which point I put my pipes in the case and have only opened it once or twice since then. I’d like to say that I miss it, but I really don’t.

  2. Write a blog post inspired by the word: peace. I think of peace as what the Constitution calls "domestic tranquility," or peace at home. I believe that if people have peaceful home lives, they’ll bring that peace out with them into the world. A lot of people don’t have that. Some don’t even have much of a home life to speak of, let alone a peaceful one. I’m at a loss to come up with a solution for that. I wish I could. All I know is that I’ve been blessed with a peaceful home life…

  3. What six words would your spouse use to describe you? Intelligent, loving, responsible, technical, hardworking, funny. Either that or "that fat son of a bitch"…

  4. 90’s fashion is making a trendy comeback. What were you wearing in the 90’s? I’m really not one to follow fashion trends. I became much more casual during that period, going from suits to khakis and dress shirts, then to golf shirts (even though I don’t play golf). I spent a lot of time on my feet as a trainer, and one thing I learned was that comfortable shoes are really important.

  5. Write about something you think you might have been good at if only you had explored that talent more. I took two classes toward my MBA many years ago, and never continued. I didn’t have the money, and didn’t work at a company that offered tuition reimbursement. It was probably just as well, since I needed to reconsider my original major (Operations Management) and the dearth of opportunities in it. Had I started a few years later, I would have seen that Marketing or Finance (or both) might have offered greater opportunities, and as a result I might not have stayed in IT as long as I did. Not that IT had been bad for me, of course…

Writers Workshop: Neat! Sweet! Petite!

You know me: I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore, and when I do it’s generally one of the old sitcoms that are nightly fare on MeTV, or Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on our local NBC affiliate, or Columbo on Saturday nights on COZI TV. At the beginning of May, MeTV began running this at 6 PM…

I was 8 years old when The Addams Family first aired, and I thought it was funny then. It’s funnier now, because I understand the jokes. It hasn’t shown as often in syndication as The Munsters, another horror-based sitcom created around the same time. I can’t understand why: I thought both were funny. Maybe it was how they were funny: The Munsters were monsters that behaved like normal people, while The Addams Family were normal-looking people who behaved like monsters. Needless to say, The Munsters has been more successful in syndication, so there have been more chances to see that show, so maybe it’s the relative newness of The Addams Family that’s appealing.

Whatever the reason, it’s great to see a show I haven’t seen much in the last 50 years.

Writers Workshop: My Latest Purchase

CCrane CC Solar Observer radio with AC adapter (source:Amazon)

It’s that time of the year again: severe weather season. We get more than our share of severe weather during the summer, and when that happens it’s always good to have a radio at your disposal, particularly a radio with the weather band built into it.

Now, we’re not hurting for radios around here. I have two practically identical radios from the CCrane company that receive the broadcast bands (AM and FM) as well as shortwave, aviation, and weather bands. The main difference is that one radio has the ability to isolate single sideband (SSB) broadcasts on shortwave. I keep one in the bedroom for the times when one of the weather apps on my phone alerts me to dangerous weather.

We’ve been lucky so far in that no tornadoes or severe thunderstorms have knocked the power out for several days, but Mary and I realize that it could just be a matter of time before the lights go out for an extended time, and we decided that we needed a radio that could be powered several ways (battery, AC power, using solar power or wound up to keep the radio going), a flashlight, and a way to charge our phones, as well as AM/FM/Weather bands.

I found all of that at Amazon with the CCrane CC Solar Observer radio. At just under $80, it gives us all the things we want.

The main source of power is the rechargable battery pack, which when fully charged gives enough power for almost 20 hours. It can be recharged using the AC adapter, the hand crank, or the solar panel, depending on your situation. You can also power it with 3 AA batteries (which we always keep in stock here).

There is an analog tuner for AM and FM and a dial for selecting which NOAA radio station carries your local weather. The analog tuner is a bit of a pain especially after you’ve gotten used to digital tuners, but it does the job, and we don’t use the tuner that often. There’s an internal antenna for AM radio and a whip antenna for FM and weather radio.

There’s a very bright LED flashlight, a headphone jack, and a jack for a USB adapter. Why they didn’t just build a USB port into the radio is hard to understand, but the USB adapter does its job.

I like it: there are things I would have liked to have seen (a digital tuner, alarm for alerts, and a USB port rather than the adapter), but it’s a good radio and does the job. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Writers Workshop: That’s OK…

One of the prompts for today is "What band or TV show would you like to see reunite?" That’s not an easy question to answer, because it would be practically impossible for it ever to happen. Face it, it would involve bringing people back from the dead in either case.

Many of the bands I remember from my younger days have either disbanded, and many of the members have passed on. Take The Beatles, for example: only Paul and Ringo are still living, John having been murdered in 1980 and George having died in 2001. The closest they got to a reunion was in 1994, when Yoko Ono found a cassette of John playing the piano with three songs he had been working on, and the remaining members of the band got together and turned two of them into Beatles songs, "Free As A Bird" (released on Anthology 1) and "Real Love" (released on Anthology 2). But that’s as far as it went: there was no tour, no full album, and there’s been nothing since.

Or take the band Chicago: three of the original members are no longer with the band, guitarist Terry Kath (died in a firearms accident the week we got married), bassist Pete Cetera (left the band and evidently wants nothing to do with them), and drummer Danny Seraphine (was fired). A fourth, saxophonist Walt Parazaider, has had to retire for health reasons. Frankly, if I want to hear Chicago, I’d just as soon listen to Leonid & Friends, from Russia and Ukraine, who made a name for themselves by doing dead-nuts-on arrangements of Chicago songs and have expanded their repertoire.

As far as TV is concerned, most of the shows whose reunions I would like to see were made back in the ’60’s, and in most cases the actors have passed on. Ron Howard is the only remaining cast member from The Andy Griffith Show, Robert Clary and Kenneth Washington the only ones left from Hogan’s Heroes, Dick Van Dyke and possibly Larry Matthews from The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc. Even if they were to re-cast any of those shows, I and all the other fans of the original shows would be subconsciously comparing the replacement actors to the originals, and the new scripts to the old ones, and finding them wanting.

It occurs to me that we still have the original shows from TV and the music from the original bands. Who needs reunions?