Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

03/28/18: Today my cell phone rang, and the caller ID said it was a call from New York. When I answered, a recorded voice told me that my bank was monitoring my credit and it was so good that I might be able to qualify for zero percent credit. I only needed to press 1 to speak with a live operator. I pressed 1 and was told I was number 22 in the queue. Since Stephie was making dinner, I had time so I waited.
     The queue went down pretty quick, and I was thinking of what to say by the time I was in single digits. Stephie said I should hang up but I said no, I was excited.
     Finally a guy picked up the call and asked how I was. In my most exuberant voice I said, "I'm great! How are you?" He seemed a little taken aback, but replied, "Fine, thanks for asking. Are you looking for information about reducing your credit?" I said, "Yeah, the message said that I could reduce my interest to zero! But I figured that since I have such great credit, you guys should be paying me! Is there any way of getting a negative interest rate?" The guy chuckled and said, "If only, sir. If only." Then he hung up on me.

03/10/18: I was in the car today when I turned on the radio. I usually play podcasts or music from my phone, but I was not going to be in the car long, so I thought I'd just listen to what's now known as "terrestrial radio." As it happens, it was the time of day when all the stations conspire to all play commercials. I went down the line: XRT, WLS, DRV, all were playing commercials. I wasn't in the mood for jazz or classical, so I thought I'd check out the Loop. As much as I complain that I seem to always hear Steve Miller or Bob Seger, there's something comforting about a station that still plays the music I listened to in my first car. So I pressed the button, but I didn't recognize the song that was playing, which was puzzling. I listened for a while, and realized that the lyrics has something of a religious bent to them. I briefly thought it might be a joke, or maybe just a commercial, but the song ended and a voice came on that was definitely not the rock 'n' roll DJ that I was accustomed to. Then they said the station was K-LOVE, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. As soon as I got home I checked the 'net and my worst fears were confirmed: 98.7 WLUP was no more.
     I spent the next few minutes reading the new stories about how a Christian broadcaster bought the station and after a week of on-air reminiscences (and a final playing of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell",) a part of my youth was gone.
     It's kind of amazing that I would discover this on the day that it happened. As I wrote above, I don't listen to much radio, and when I do, it's usually NPR. And I haven't really been a loyal Loop listener since the early Eighties, but there was something comforting about being able to tune in and hear AC/DC or Van Halen or a little Ted Nugent, although he's a little hard to listen to these days. Back in the day, I was a big fan. I had the logo shirt. I had a knit cap with the logo. I had both Chicago Rocks albums. I drank the Coho-Cola. I went to Disco Demolition night with my buddies (but no, I never went on the field.) I even attended the first ever Loopfest at the International Amphitheater.
     But as I got older, my tastes changed. I started seeking out different types of music, things the Loop would never play. When Stephie and I got together, she was a huge WXRT fan, and pretty soon that was all I listened to. I didn't care for talk radio, so I never listened to Brandmeier, Matthews, Bonaduce, or god-forbid Mancow. Another station, the Blaze, briefly had a similar format in the early '90s, and we played it in the office. (My co-worker at the time is where I got the phrase "ah-xelent Zah-plin" when some oft-repeated songs by you-know-who are played.)
     And now if the radio is on, it's likely jazz on WDCB or info on BEZ. I do pop on WDRV once in a while to hear the two songs that Steve Miller recorded or all three songs in the Bob Seger canon, or some other songs from my youth, but it's nothing like the Loop was. I know it's still streaming on the web, but that's not the same. Though these days, what is?

02/13/18: Judging by the dreams I've been having lately, I must not be very ambitious. Two nights ago, I had a dream that I was in London, meeting dignitaries as a representative of the US Government (not the current administration, obviously.) The problem was that I was Vice-President. I wasn't dreaming that I was President, but Vice-President. Who does that?
     And in my dream last night, I was driving around a rural countryside, meeting people in small cafes and stopping at quaint little shops. It may sound like a great dream and it was. The only problem was that I was driving a Yugo! Couldn't it have been a little sports car, maybe a vintage MG or Triumph TR6? What's the matter with me?

01/25/18: Lately I've been listening to Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, and found that I'm liking it more than I expected to. I first heard about it via a mention on Mark Evanier's blog, which is also highly recommended by me. Mark wrote that he was scheduled to be on the podcast soon, so I thought I'd check it out. To be honest, I didn't recognize a lot of the names of the guests, but once they were on the show, I found that I knew them. Gilbert and his co-host Frank Santopadre have a great affection for character actors, in both movies, TV, and the stage, and while some guests were not instantly recognizable, the conversations are fascinating, because they inevitably include many of the big names in entertainment of the past 50 or 60 years. One name that came up was Harry Dean Stanton, and I believe that I had a hand in his popularity. Let me explain...
     Until he passed away last year, Stanton was one of the more popular character actors, rarely a star but always making an impact in the films he was in. His career went back to 1954, but I first noticed him as the doomed engineer Brett on the star ship Nostromo in the original Alien film. After that, I noticed him in Escape from New York and Private Benjamin and other, earlier films. In 1982, he had a small part in a goofy comedy called Young Doctors in Love, which tried to capitalize on the "spoof" genre after Airplane became a big hit. Before the movie was release, I found myself walking through Evergreen Mall when I was approached by a cute girl holding a clipboard. She asked if I had some time to talk about some movie advertising, and since I had some time to kill, and she was cute, I agreed. She showed me several images and asked me whether each would entice me into a movie theater to see the film. As I was studying the posters, I noticed Harry Dean Stanton's name listed in the fine print of some of them. I mentioned that I liked him, and she asked me who he was. I told her that he was a solid actor who deserved more recognition, and that him being in the film could possibly be a factor in my wanting to see it.
     Weeks later the movie was released, and I was surprised to see Stanton's name listed on all the posters. I even remember his name specifically mentioned in most of the promotional material. After that, it seemed to me that he was everywhere, starring in Christine, Repo Man, Paris, Texas, and the original Red Dawn over the next few years. Suddenly, it seemed that Hollywood discovered what a great actor he was, after almost thirty years in the business. In that fantasy world that I live in, I like to think that my mentioning him to that influential ad executive who stopped me in Evergreen Mall while I was drinking my Orange Julius was instrumental in his success.

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