Things heard or not heard

Another Spelling Bee team
Another Spelling Bee team

Here is another of the teams from Saturday’s Spelling Bee for literacy. Also, in this picture, the member in the middle is blocked from view, so you’ll have to take my word for it that she was very pretty. And, of course, the team number holder is Cindy.


Let me say up front that this is not the post I had planned it to be. When I woke up yesterday I expected to sit down at the keyboard and finish a draft that I had started about a week before. But then, as I usually do, I turned on Morning Joe. I became so upset over things that were being said, that I turned off the television, went to the family room to watch Today with Cindy, and sat there stewing during their pseudo-news segments.

While Cindy started getting ready for I work, I started working on my draft, and in high dudgeon – as an aside, have you ever heard of anyone doing anything in low or medium dudgeon? Just asking. – and transformed my post-to-be from an introspective, high-minded opinion piece into an invective filled diatribe. Luckily, I clicked on the “save draft” button rather than the “publish” button.

See, I’m learning. But if I ever get that upset again, well, the post is still in available in draft form.


One day last week my mother called to check up on me and Cindy and anyone else I wanted to talk about. She asked about Jill, who has been battling cancer. I told her that Cindy and Jill had been to the Cancer Center of America in Zion, IL.

Mom said with concern, “Oh, is she alright?”

I said, “Yes, they had good news.”

Mom said, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

“What? No, mom, the news was good.”

“Oh, she’s so young, and has that little girl. I’m sorry to hear that.”

I decided that she did not have her hearing aids in, so I shouted, “THE NEWS WAS GOOD!!”

“Well, that’s too bad. I’ll try to call Cindy when I think she isn’t too busy.”

With that she said goodbye and hung up.


I was in a jewelry store a week or so ago, getting a battery replaced in a watch, and couldn’t help overhearing a snippet of conversation between a sales clerk who was obviously from England, and a married couple. The married woman was saying, “Yes we spend two or three weeks in England every year.”

“You like it then?”

“Yes, we stay in London, but take driving trips around the country and up into Scotland.”

“You drive there?”


“Oh, my, I would never drive over there. It scares me just to ride in a car when I go back to visit.”


And then there was…no I’m not going there. It would just cement the notion that people who live in Indiana are still bigots, whether subtle or blatant. We get enough of that, rightly or wrongly, already.

More memories from Chicago media

One of the cute teams
One of the cute teams

I spent a large part of Saturday at a spelling bee. It takes place after the Scripps-Howard spelling bee to determine who gets sent to…to…well, I’m not sure if they go to a regional or state bee, or if they go directly to Washington, D.C. The spelling bee that I attended is composed of teams of three people of all ages, and it benefits adult literacy programs. I go because a) Cindy volunteers every year, b) I worked a short time for the program in Lafayette, c) because it is fun. I only took a few pictures, mainly of the cute kids. It is difficult to get an angle where all team members are visible; they tend to huddle while they work out the spelling. You can’t see him, but there is a cute little boy standing between the two girls. The cute adult holding the team number is Cindy.


Another activity in Battleground that I haven’t attended in all my time living here is The Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering. It is a three-day festival of music, workshops, square dancing, and more. This year it takes place in late June. They have announced only one act so far, but I’m going to try carve out some time to attend this year.

The festival fits into Chicago media memories because The first time I read anything about the festival, was that Bob Atcher was performing. He had a television program on the Chicago ABC station (WLS) that I watched as a kid. He dressed as a cowboy and sang country western songs. I was cowboy crazy.

I also remember seeing Captain Stubby and The Buccaneers on WLS. When I looked the group up on Wikipedia, I read that Captain Stubby (Tom Fouts), wasn’t the best role model for America’s youth. Still, you can’t believe everything on Wikipedia, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

Also connected to Captain Stubby and WLS was Chuck Bill, also known as Charles Homer Bill. Bill had a kid’s television show on Saturday mornings that featured movie serials, like Buster Crabbe’s Flash Gordon movies. I loved them. On Bill’s show there was a moose head with lips that moved. He was named Herman The German Moose. Bill ended each show saying “Ding Hoy, you Little Feather Merchants.” I now know that a feather merchant is a person who avoids responsibility, but as to Ding Hoy..I don’t even know if I’m spelling it correctly.

Well, those are my media memories for today, and maybe for a long while.

Things to do…later

Places to go, things to do
Places to go, things to do

I have lived in Lafayette for almost a quarter century. And yet, there are opportunities for fun that I haven’t yet tapped. Just look at the sign in this picture, and you’ll see three that I haven’t yet visited. Well, this year, when the weather gets better, I plan on seeing all three. Maybe I can talk Cindy into going with me; but if not, I’ll do it by myself.

All of these places are just a few miles from here. I first heard about Wolf Park in a text section of an issue of ElfQuest comics when I still lived in Auburn and still collected comic books. Wolves are an integral part of the comic’s story line, and Wolf Park became a place visited (I think) by the comic’s creator Wendy Pini and her spouse Richard. At least if was mentioned prominently in an editorial. I suppose I could search for that specific comic to find out, but evidently I haven’t cataloged that series yet. That’s another activity I need to get back to and finish. If you are interested in the comics, they are all available for viewing and reading in electronic form at the ElfQuest website.

If you want to know more about Wolf Park, check out

Prophetstown State Park has been open for a few years, but again, I haven’t been there yet. The price of admission gets you into both the park and Historical Prophetstown, which is called a “sustainable horse-powered farming an education center.” I know a few people who have been there, and they say it is a great place to take young children. I think that geezers like me might find it fun as well.

My next post will also have a tie in to Battleground, as well as revisit another recent post. That’s my teaser.

Who am I?

Battleground monument
Tippecanoe Battlefield monument

I was on the north side of Lafayette yesterday morning and decided to drive on to Battleground, Indiana. It’s less than ten miles from where I had been. It has been a long time since I was last there. I’ll be going back once winter is over and there are leaves on the trees.


I’ve been spending  lot of time recently searching my past in hopes of determining who I am now. That’s one of the reasons so many of my posts are using the tag “memories.” Sounds self-indulgent, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure that remembering things from the past goes along with growing older. Since memories keep popping into my head, I may as well put them to work for me.

I’m starting to think of these disparate memories as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. All of the pieces are spread out on a table with no discernible pattern. But if you take the time to gather together like colored pieces you can start fitting them together and begin seeing patterns. You then work on fitting the patterns together until you can see the complete picture. I’m still seeing individual pieces, but starting to get ideas about patterns. I’ll eventually work it out, because I really believe that all things are connected. I also see that this process is going to take a long, long time.

Earlier today I was playing a mix CD of rock music. Supertramp’s The Logical Song came on and I realized that it was pretty well describing the way I was feeling about my project of self-rediscovery. I have a feeling that I’ll be listening to it a lot more in the near future.

If, while reading my posts, you see patterns before I do, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get.

Memories from Chicago media

The snow is melting
The snow is melting

It was another beautiful sunny day yesterday, and much of the snow melted. Today may see most of it gone since the temperature is going up even more, and it has been raining. The sun is behind an overcast, but I can live with that. Next week? Perhaps more bitter cold temperatures and the return of the snow.


I grew up about an hour’s drive from Chicago. A lot of the television I watched and radio I listened to while growing up was broadcast from Chicago. I hope you can bear with me while I walk down a personal memory lane.

If you are not from the Chicago area, and are not of a certain age, you probably have never heard of Lar “America First” Daly. A few days ago I was watching a DVD of old Jack Paar shows and he mentioned Lar Daly and the way he campaigned for President of the U.S. wearing an Uncle Sam suit in 1960. Daly also had run for the Illinois State Senate, Governor of Illinois, and mayor of Chicago (on both the Republican and Democrat primary ballots), along with many other offices in Illinois. I don’t believe he ever won a race.

One of his campaign promises while running for Governor was to paint the Governor’s mansion red, white, and blue. He also promised to pay for the painting himself, rather than use taxpayer money. I guess when you’re Governor you can do anything you want to a state-owned property.


Yesterday I was composing an email that I never sent. In it I wanted to use the exclamation “Wowie Kazowie!” I don’t know why that popped into my mind. I started to think about and where I had first heard it. I seemed to recall Larry Lujack, Super Jock, using it on the radio. So, I Googled it to see if I was right. Well, my search kept pointing me to Bozo The Clown. Maybe, but I don’t think I watched Bozo more than a half a dozen times in my life. So I then Googled Larry Lujack and found that he had died in December 2013. That saddened me because he was my favorite Top 40 disk jockey.

One of the comic radio serials that he broadcast, if memory serves me correctly was The Tooth Fairy which was a creation of Dick Orkin. Orkin had also created Chickenman. I thought that Chickenman was superior…or at least funnier.

Chickenman was broadcast all over the country and on the Armed Forces Radio. We used to listen to it in Staff Message Control, the office I was assigned to in Heidelberg. When it came on the Sargent Major in our office would go slightly crazier. He detested the show, but left it on because everyone else loved it, including the Lieutenant in charge of our staff group. It was great. I need to Google Dick Orkin to see if he is still alive.

Things I wanted to say

A return to “My relationship with writing”

It is a cold wind chime
It is a cold wind chime

I decided to take this picture before things started melting. The icicle is between four and five feet long.


I mentioned in Part 3 of “My relationship with writing” that I was advised to compress my original draft. I did that. But there were two sections that I cut (one before I even sent a draft for review) that I hated to lose even though they slowed and sidetracked my main points. Rather than let them disappear into the electronic trash on my PC, I offer them here for your entertainment…I hope.


When I was a freshman in college my roommate used to get a letter every week from his parents. I noticed one week that his letter was a carbon copy of a typewritten letter (the younger amongst you may have to Google carbon paper). When I asked him about it he told me that rather than write separate letters to him and his sister, who was attending a different school, they just typed one letter for both. They alternated each week as to who got the original. My impression was, “Just how impersonal can you get?” I don’t know if he felt that way, but I can’t imagine having to share a (not-so-personal) letter with my sibling. Where is the warmth? How busy were his parents that they couldn’t write individual letters? Letter writing has always been important to me.


Writing for the State was a soul killer in one great sense, but it did teach me one lesson that I should have learned long before: Write With Clarity. I find that as I work on (most of) my posts, I try to eschew ambiguity. I want the person to whom I’m writing, to have no doubt as to what I’m saying. Perhaps I even overdue that aspect of writing and, as they might say here in farmland,  turn my topic into a wooden post, rather than a cornstalk rattling in the wind. Or maybe that’s just a lot of hot air.

I learned that lesson early on when working at our administrative office. If your product had ambiguity in it, it was given back for a rewrite. If a document with just one unclear clause went out to the field, you could bet your bottom dollar that a covey of mid-level managers, who were searching for reasons to show how smart/concerned they were,  would be calling your boss to point it out and ask for clarification; and your boss didn’t want to talk to them any more than you did. So clarity was emphasized.

I also learned in that stint at admin, that nothing went out of our section without something being changed by my boss to put his stamp on it. I figured that out only being there a week or two. I didn’t take it personally, but two of my co-workers may have learned it, but they hated it. I can understand. They took their work seriously, and knew what they were doing. They put his practice down as being misogynistic. He probably was, but he always, with all of his staff, put his stamp on every document.

Music Memories 6: Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman: Somebody Else’s Troubles

Somebody Else's Trouble
Somebody Else’s Troubles

Unlike most of the my other Music Memories posts, this one doesn’t tie back to any one specific incident. Rather it reminds me of a number of things. It is a bit like playing the album in a large empty room. The songs echo off of the blank walls, floor and ceiling. Like the echoes, you hear the present and the past. If you listen hard enough you might think you hear the future, but that is impossible…I think. I’ve seen where some people believe that there is only a past and a present, that the future doesn’t exist. I’ve seen that other people believe there is no present or future, only a past that keeps repeating itself. Still others believe there is no past or future, only a present that goes on forever. But all this speculation belongs somewhere else, not in a post about Steve Goodman’s music.

I never saw Steve Goodman perform a live show, but I wish I had. I remember seeing him on television on a show named Made In Chicago which later changed its name to Soundstage. I liked what I saw, but I couldn’t find any music by him in the local record stores. I’m not even sure he had recorded anything then.

I forgot about him after a while, but then I heard his recording of City of New Orleans when it started getting some local airplay on the radio. Even later I came across this album in the record store, and while it didn’t have City Of New Orleans on it, I decided to try it. Wow! The album starts with Michael Smith’s The Dutchman. That song alone was worth the price of the album. The album also turned me on to the fact that Goodman’s guitar work was great.

Goodman wrote many of the songs on the album, including the title song that I’ve linked to. Other artist have ties to this album as well: Jerry Jeff Walker wrote the lyrics to The Lovin’ Of The GameThe Barnyard Dance led me to Bogan, Martin and Armstrong (who had appeared at the 1933 World’s Fair), John Prine and Jimmy Buffett were among the people who were in the cover picture of the album, and I’ve read that Bob Dylan played piano and sang backup vocals on the album. I’m leaving out a lot of other ties that could stretch this post to beyond anything most people want to read.

I think I now own most of the Steve Goodman recordings, either on vinyl, CD, or in digital form. Each of them has something worthwhile to offer. I can only wonder what new things I would be listening to if he hadn’t died when he was thirty-six. And now I can’t listen to the final verse of the title song without thinking about that.

Music Memories 5: Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Virginia and Jimmy
Virginia and Jimmy

I have to admit that this is another album that I bought because of the cover picture. When I went into the record store just off campus in Bloomington in 1966 I wanted to buy something by someone I had never heard before. That store had a great selection of both folk music and jazz. When I saw this album in the jazz section I knew I had to try it out. It was a lucky selection.

The arrangements were by Oliver Nelson and Claus Ogerman. I had never heard of Ogerman, but I had heard of Nelson. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision when I heard the opening bars of Slaughter On Tenth Avenue played by a big band. When I heard Jimmy Smith’s organ start playing I knew that I was enjoying that song at least. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Parts 1 and 2 followed, and I knew that I had picked the right album, because each song was better than the last. I was disappointed in myself, however, because I had chosen to buy the monaural version of the album rather than the stereo.  was buying the album without hearing it in advance, I went cheaper in case I didn’t like the album.

When the end of the 1968-69 year at IU rolled around I was so short of money that I didn’t know if I could buy gas for the drive home. So I decided to sell some of my albums to get gas money. Since this album was not in stereo, I put it on the market. A young student from Saudi Arabia came to my room when he heard I had jazz albums for sale. He bought this album as well as one by James Moody, one by Miles Davis, and a few others that I don’t recall. He complained about the condition the albums were in (they weren’t that bad) as a way to try to bargain with me. I wouldn’t budge on the price since I needed the money, and he paid the full amount.

A few years later, when I got out of the army, I decided that I wanted to get new copies of the albums that I had sold. Sad to say, I couldn’t find the albums on sale anywhere. Amazon didn’t exist back then. I finally found this album on CD in 2007, and the James Moody and Miles Davis albums just last year. Patience is a virtue…and good jazz stays good jazz.

Music Memories 4: It’s A Beautiful Day

It's A Beautiful Day
It’s A Beautiful Day

I first heard this album when I was in the army, stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. One of the guys I worked with, Lou, bought the album and played it six times on the day he bought it. I didn’t mind. I liked it. Over the years I’ve read a lot of bad reviews for the album. I still don’t mind. I still like it.

I bought four more of the groups albums over the years, but I felt that each one was weaker than the last. They weren’t bad…except It’s A Beautiful Day…Today. It was pretty bad. When that one came around David LaFlamme, a founder of the group, was gone. I believe that was their last album on the Columbia label.

I listen to the album fairly often, and each time I do, I think at least fleetingly of Lou. We worked in the same office, Staff Message Control for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAREUR and Seventh Army. We were all thankful that we weren’t in Vietnam. We also did just about anything we could to avoid being transferred there. That happened to one of the people in our unit, though I don’t remember his name. Of course as soon  as he got his orders,the speculation started that he was really an undercover CID (Criminal Investigation Command) officer who had been spying on us. Before you ask, I don’t know why it is CID and not CIC…it’s the Army, go figure. Anytime something out of the ordinary happened, we put it down to CID having someone undercover in our unit.

Anyway, Lou and I would spend some of our time off hanging out. In good weather it wasn’t unusual for us to go into the old quarter of town, buy a bottle of wine, and then go down to sit on the riverbank and drink the wine. Lou would go on about how he wanted to go back to New Jersey, find a girlfriend, let his hair grow out, and sit around listening to music and smoking dope. It was the height, or maybe the depth, of his ambition.

Lou was able to get marijuana in Heidelberg. He got it often enough that he was paranoid; so much so, that everyone was a potential CID agent in his mind. That was probably good. He wasn’t busted while he was there. He rotated back to the states and was discharged about a month before I left Heidelberg. I never heard from him after he left. I hope he found a girlfriend and grew his hair, but I hope he didn’t drop out.