70’s Flashback – A.M. Radio

Oh yeah….Nothing says 70’s like a transistor radio tuned to A.M. Radio (but never quite tuned in perfectly so you could enjoy that scratchy scrabble of static to accentuate all your favorite tunes).

If you’ve never heard the Everclear song, take a moment to enjoy…

And now, would you like to hear a slice of the REAL thing? 

You got it…I don’t mean Toyota either:Dr. John Leader, 93/KHJ Los Angeles | July 1, 1977.

11+ minutes of talk (music edited out) from one of the best loved A.M radio personalities of all time.  Recorded in the Los Angeles area 34 years ago today. 

Give it a little time.  I especially love the description of “the drinking driver.”  Also, did you notice the brief mention of a movie called The Other Side Of Midnight?

Trivia Question:  What is the STAR WARS connection to the movie THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT?  (big hint)

All righty then, just remember…The weekend just looks OUTTA sight!

Wabi-Sabi Blog

I’m struggling with this blog.  And not just with this particular post.  I’m struggling with my whole “in which I overcome my terror of blogging” thing.  So far, it’s not working. I’m still terrified.

Right now I am sitting here with a tight, anxious little knot in my chest because I need to write this post tonight, but I want to get to bed, and nothing is flowing easily, even though I have plenty to say, but I don’t seem to know how to get it out right now and, oh yeah, I am thoroughly convinced I’m a boring little turd and no one really wants to read any of this.

[deep breath]

Before I launched this blog, I took a Blogging 101 class aimed at aspiring authors. All of the blogging and social networking experts out there seem to agree that every aspiring author, especially authors who are in the process of submitting a novel-length manuscript to agents and editors, should have a blog.  Furthermore, the prevailing wisdom insists, any author, including fiction authors, should use the aforementioned blog requirement to create a “brand” that will build a “platform” that will prove you have an “audience” waiting to spend money on your book.

Right.

I’ve written a book set in the summer of 1977 about a girl who loves Star Wars. The audience is out there.  If my writing is good and the story I’m telling is entertaining (two very big ifs), my novel simply cannot fail to find an audience, blog or no blog.  I don’t need to kindle a new flame from cold indifference.  George Lucas did that for me 35 years ago!

I mean, if you don’t know that there are legions Star Wars fans all over the planet willing to spend money on just about anything that has any sort of connection to the Star Wars universe, well…..I don’t know what to say to you.  Were you born under a rock on Mars two minutes ago?

Anyway, being a habitual follower of rules and a bit of a perfectionist, I tried to create this blog according to the almighty “Writer Blog” rules…though perhaps they are more like guidelines.  Either way, rules or guidelines, they have not been working for me.

That said, I’m not ready to give up my blog.

Once upon a time, I went to see a psychic. (OK, maybe more than once upon a time.  Don’t judge.  It’s cheaper than therapy and often more effective for the non-clinical little issues in life.)  Anyway, this particular psychic ignored all of my standard questions about love and destiny.

Instead, she fixed me with this penetrating stare and said, “You have a lot of unfinished creative projects.  They are like tin cans tied to your hair, dragging along behind you.  Either let them go by giving them up forever, or start finishing what you start.”

Gulp!  Not exactly the tall, dark, sexy, wealthy, warmhearted stranger I was hoping she’d see waiting for me in my near future.

So…not ready to give up on this blog forever, but don’t want to add to my metaphysical “tin can” collection of unfinished projects.  Need to get the juices flowing.

When I voiced my frustration and dissatisfaction with blogging to my closest friends, who make up approximately 50% of my estimated blog readership, I was told that I needed to open my focus.

“Write about anything that interests you,” they said.  “Write about all the funky stuff you like to talk about.”

“Oh no!” I could hear the experts disagreeing.  “That will dilute your brand.”  (So I relayed the experts’ message to my friends.)

“Why can’t your personality be your brand?” the friends asked.

“Because my personality isn’t that flipping interesting or original,” my inferiority complex wailed.

“Stop whining.  Just write something we want to read,” said the friends.  “We are reading for pleasure.”

Based on this feedback, I spent some time looking for blogs I enjoyed reading.  I found a few (very few) blogs I liked/admired and many, many, many dead or nearly dead blogs with no new posts for well over a year.  Usually, the most recent post would say something like “I’m going to take a month/few months/rest/break/vacation from blogging.”

Hmmmmm…don’t want to be one of THOSE bloggers.

After much thinking and soul searching, I’ve decided to take the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi and attempt to apply it to this blog.  This blog now declares itself to be joyfully imperfect, impermanent, incomplete…and maybe even slightly unbalanced.

I’m going to keep my 70’s Flashbacks on Fridays because they are fun…until they’re no longer fun.  Then I’ll quit posting them.  Or maybe I’ll move to the 80’s.

Aside from flashbacks, I’m going to write about whatever I like to talk about.   In case you don’t know me very well, here’s a quick sampling of…

Funky Stuff I like to Talk About:

  • Healthy eating and weight issues
  • Bad/crazy diets I’ve tried
  • Ghosts
  • Nature
  • Writing as a creative process
  • Creativity in general
  • Books I’ve loved
  • Books I’ve hated
  • Being a closet Star Wars geek
  • Just about anything else that inspires me in the moment

So, to sum up:   (1) still afraid of blogging, (2) not ready to quit, (3) wasted money on a blogging class as am now I’m going to ignore the almighty blog/brand/platform rules I learned in the class, (4) slightly new blog direction is imperfect “wabi-sabi” blog, and (5) Dagnabbit!  I’m up past 1 am blogging again.

Oh, and comments are ALWAYS welcome and much appreciated!

Planes, Trains & Automobiles?

I have never sat down and watched the 1987 comedy classic starring Steve Martin and John Candy, but I’ve never let that minor little detail stop me from comparing my bad travel experiences with the movie.

“It was a little like Planes, Trains & Automobiles,”  I’ll tell people when describing a few minor inconveniences, like a flight delay followed by a GPS malfunction in the rental car.  Add a third element to the misfortune mix, like a traffic jam or a lost long-term parking ticket, and suddenly I’m describing a one way journey to WoeIsMeVille.

Yeah…after this past weekend, I’m going to officially retire that comparison from my conversation.

Last week, I enjoyed a week of sun, laughter, food and fun in the Outer Banks (Corolla, NC) with my dearest friends in the world.  But that’s not what I’m here to write about.  This post is about the journey home.

It started with a traffic jam that nearly doubled our travel time to the Norfolk, VA airport.  (Yes, that traffic is normal for a summer Saturday on the OBX, but we didn’t expect it.)  Still, this was no problem.  We had afternoon flights and had given ourselves more than enough time to get to the airport.

After seeing my friends off at the Southwest concourse, I settled in for a 2+ hour wait near the gate for my 5:50 pm Delta flight.  Soon, the flight was listed as delayed fifteen minutes.  Then thirty minutes.  Then fifty minutes.  Welcome to Delta.

As I listened to other passengers fret over disappearing layover times and possible missed connections, I silently savored the joy of travel via direct flight.  Then someone announced the flight was cancelled.

I know it happens, but it’s never happened to me before.  There was a momentary swell of anxiety in my chest, quickly replaced by mild annoyance with all the overreacting going on around me.

A few people burst into panic.  I heard choruses of “Why? Why?” and “What are we going to do?” coming from multiple directions.  I would not have been surprised to see Henny Penny run through the scene screaming “The sky is falling!”  A retired Delta flight attendant with a Stella draft in one hand and her iPhone in the other calmly announced to anyone listening, “Bad weather.  That’s just summer in Atlanta.”

I ordered a glass of wine and called Delta.

My customer service agent had a thick Jamaican accent and the conversation felt a little like talking to Peggy from the Capital One Commercials, except my guy did right by me.  He got me booked on a 5:50 am flight the next morning (Sunday), emailed the confirmation, gave me a $100 voucher, told me I could pick up my checked baggage at the gate and advised me to ask the gate attendant for assistance in booking a room at the “distressed passenger rate.”

Okay, not such a bad deal.

I called my Honey to warn him of the change (as he was supposed to be meeting me).  While I was explaining the situation, his electricity went out.  Yes, it was a nasty thunderstorm in the ATL.  I most certainly did not want to fly in this weather.

I decided to give the more frantic passengers time to clear out, so settled in to enjoy my wine and work on my weekly writing assignment.  When I finally made my way to the ticket counter, there were very few people left.

  • A young mother traveling alone with two small children who couldn’t find any other flights home for at least three days.
  • A family of four that was going to need to rent a car and drive two hours to get to another airport in order to catch a flight to their hometown in Texas.
  • A young woman who was going to have to rent a car to get to her grandparent’s funeral in Florida the next day.
  • An active duty soldier who needed to report to his new post the next day…he’d been in this airport since 5 am and this was the fourth flight that had been cancelled for him.

As I listened to these people’s stories, any residual annoyance gave way to a lovely mix of sympathy for their situations and gratitude for mine.  Even though I was ahead of some of these people in line, I let them go first.  Compared to them, I had nowhere to go and lots of time to get there.

As we were waiting, another family of four arrived on the scene.  The father, a red-faced beefy guy in a Texas Longhorns t-shirt, started yelling that this was unacceptable, that he was through talking to idiots, and that he needed a supervisor out there RIGHT NOW.

The soldier (who looked no older than some pairs of underwear in my drawer) quietly commented, “Because it always helps a bad situation to behave like a complete jerk.”

It took me a moment before I started giggling.  Then everybody in our little group was giggling.

When I finally made it up to the counter, the agent was lovely.  And I do mean she was wonderful at her job.  She gave me three meal vouchers, fought valiantly to get me a rate of $89 at the airport Sleep Inn (they wanted to charge $105) and drew a map to the free shuttle area.

I thought the drama was over.  I was wrong.

I needed to be on the 4:00 am shuttle to the airport, so I set my alarm for 3:30 and fell into bed around midnight….only to wake up at 2:30 am to the sound of many voices in the next room, at least 4-5 people talking.  This was no wild party.  They were talking in normal conversational voices about mundane topics like lawn care and a mutual friend’s divorce.  Not a single cuss word was uttered.  The walls were thin.  I could hear the deep southern tone in their voices.  I nicknamed that room The Midnight Baptist Convention.

Now, I was a bit perplexed as to why this soft babble of voices had pulled me out of sleep.  I should be able sleep through moderate chatter (though I did wonder why that conversation they were having could not have waited until a more reasonable hour…maybe they were Baptist vampires).  While contemplating this, the room on the other side starts gasping and moaning and squealing with pleasure…you get the picture.

I am all in favor of a little pleasurable fun between consenting adults, but since when does squealing “F*@k we have neighbors!” over and over to the rhythmic clanking of your bed seem like good manners?  I nicknamed them Dick and Mona.

The air conditioning suddenly started up and all noise was (mostly) drowned out.  That gave me an idea.  I cranked the thermostat down as low as possible and piled on the covers.  It worked fairly well, but the damage was done.  I couldn’t get back to sleep.

At 3:30 I got up with the alarm to a room so frigid you could see your breath and switched off the A/C.  Dick and Mona were still at it.  Now she was gasping “F*@k it’s so good.”

Really?  Like I said, I’m all for getting physical….but is it really that good if you’ve been at it for over an hour without getting to O-Town?  I doubt it.

The shower had no hot water.  Seriously, I turned that knob every which way possible and waited over 10 minutes.  The best I could do was slightly warmer than glacial.  By this point, I was laughing so hard it almost stopped my teeth from chattering.

Here’s the end of the story….I made it back to the airport, on my flight and was safely home by 10:00 am.  Whew!

Believe it or not, I still feel very lucky.  It could have been a lot worse.

70’s Flashback – Led Zeppelin Tour 1977

I’m going to admit something that might forever mark me as tragically unhip, uncool and hopeless.  I’m not a Led Zeppelin fan.  But you can’t flash back to the 70’s and ignore them!

A quick Google on this day in history, turned up two interesting facts:

  1. Led Zeppelin was on tour in the US April – August 1977.  On this day in history, they were playing Madison Square Garden.
  2. Apparently, lots of Zeppelin fans brought their 8mm cameras to film various dates on the tour and have uploaded those amateur efforts for our viewing pleasure… 

According to the Zeppelin experts out there, here’s the set list from the 6/10/1977 concert:

  • The Song Remains the Same
  • The Rover intro / Sick Again
  • Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  • Over the Hills and Far Away
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You
  • No Quarter
  • Ten Years Gone
  • The Battle of Evermore
  • Going to California
  • Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
  • White Summer / Black Mountainside / Kashmir
  • Out On the Tiles intro / Moby Dick
  • Heartbreaker
  • Guitar Solo (incl Star Spangled Banner) / Achilles Last Stand
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Whole Lotta Love / Rock and Roll

70’s Flashback – This Week in 1977

For some reason, I am fascinated by the fact that this year’s calendar dates match up with the days and dates in 1977–the year Star Wars hit theaters.  Also the year I chose as the setting for my first novel.  A very important year that is obviously dear to my heart.

The next year this will happen is 2022. (Good grief, let’s hope I’m not still editing this novel in 2022.)

Anyway, I was just doing some quick fact-checking in my original research folders and came across a page from my hometown newspaper dated June 3, 1977.

Here’s a quick snapshot of life in my little home slice of Ohio, thirty-four years ago today….

  • 8-16-oz bottles of Coca-Cola were on sale for $1.09 at The Beer Dock
  • Frisch’s Big Boy was offering All the Perch You Can Eat for only $1.85
  • The Cinema Four was showing Slap Shot (starring Paul Newman), The Sting (also starring Paul Newman), Annie Hall (destined to win 4 Oscars despite the lack of Paul Newman) and Nasty Habits (“Hilarious Heavenly Hash” according to Rex Reed).  Any show starting before 6:30 would cost an adult $1.50.
  • The Valley Drive-In was featuring Super Van (“It’s a free-wheelin, fun-truckin, freak out!”) while the Heath Auto Theater was raising the cinematic bar with Cherry Hill High (“School is out. Love is in.”)
  • Uh…anyone notice a lack of a certain blockbuster movie with an official release date of May 25, 1977?  More on this in a later post.
  • Daytime television still included Captain Kangaroo, The Howdy Doody Show, Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Dinah and Match Game….

Ahhhhh…..Match Game!  The best freaking game show ever!  Oh how I miss you Charles Nelson Riley.