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!

12/20/18: I was at work this afternoon and had a taste for some Doritos, so I wandered down to the vending machine on our floor, pulled a dollar bill from my pocket and tried to feed it into the slot, only to find it wouldn't take the dollar. I checked my wallet and I didn't have another bill, so I was about to head back to my desk when I noticed the little LCD window on the machine. It showed that the vending machine had a credit of $651.36. I looked around to see if anyone was working on it (or if there was a Candid Camera crew somewhere around) and tried punching in the code for my Doritos. It spit out the bag and reduced the credit by a dollar. I went back to my desk and told my co-workers about it. One guy said that he might go down to get something, since he had recently lost some money inthe machine, but then I started back in on my work and didn't think much more about it.
     A short time later, we heard a commotion down by the vending machine, so I walked down to see what was going on. I found three people from another floor there, with arms full of chips and candy and other vended items. They were laughing and punching the buttons for more items. I shook my head and went back to my desk.
     Still later, I was heading to the bathroom so I looked in on the machine. There was an out-of-order sign taped over the LCD window, but I lifted the sign and saw that there was still a credit on the screen, although it was down to under $400. That made me a little uncomfortable. I don't feel very guilty for taking the Doritos, since I did try to pay first, and I don't begrudge anyone for hitting up the machine for something after having lost money in it in the past, but the wholesale looting I saw just seemed wrong.

12/18/18: Well, we finally replaced our old television. We inherited a 32" Sony TV from Stephie's Aunt Lois in 2005 and it's been serving us well for all this time. We had a bit of a color problem back in 2016, coincidentally when I was out of work and could not afford another TV, but that seemed to right itself and we've basked in its CRT glow for another few years.
     Recently, though, it's been acting up, with it occasionally not starting, and also the edges of the picture getting fuzzy. A co-worker recently won a TV at an event and offered it to me at a good price, so I took advantage of his kind offer and we now have a flat-screen TV, like most of our friends and family have had for years.
     Before we could use it, though, we had to move out the Sony monstrosity from our front room. I remember almost injuring myself when we moved the TV in back in 2005 (it weighs more than 165 lbs.), and I swore that I was going to have someone else carry it out. Unfortunately, it seemed that was not an option now, so I came up with a plan. The landlord has some furniture dollys in the basement that he said I could use. I figured if I could get the TV off the stand and onto a dolly, I could roll it out onto the veranda and deal with it in the spring. So I got the dolly, enlisted the help of our upstairs neighbor, and was soon rolling it out to the porch.
     There was a small step to go down to get to the foyer, and although we navigated the step slowly, we heard a slight crack from the bottom of the TV. I wasn't too worried about it, since the TV was eventually going to the recycler. We then noticed that the way it was situated on the dolly made it too wide to fit through the door to the veranda. No matter, we thought, and went to lift the set slightly, in order to pivot the dolly underneath. When we did, we heard a loud snap and the bottom half of the plastic shell shattered, spreading shards of plastic around our feet and leaving us holding the back of the TV, its guts dropping back to the dolly.
     Fortunately, neither of us were injured, and we were able to get the tube and electronics settled so they fit through the door, but I was stunned by what happened. We were lucky that neither of us was cut by the sharp plastic pieces, and that we weren't jolted by the exposed electronics, since the TV has been until recently plugged in. I did some Googling and discovered that this is a problem with these old Sony TVs (the sticker says it was manufactured in 1995) that over time, the plastic shell gets brittle, and I read many accounts of people having the same experience that we did, with the outer casing disintegrating while moving a TV that had been sitting in one place for a decade or longer.
     For now, we're enjoying our new flat-screen TV, but I'm not sure how we're going to get rid of the TV on the porch. I'm afraid that any recycler might balk at the condition of the set, and I'm not even sure how we're going to move it again, considering its partially-disassembled state. It'll be a problem for warmer weather.

12/09/18: I think I'm turning into my Dad. We got an invitation from my buddy to attend his daughter's piano recital. We went, as we usually do, and it was a great time. The piece she played was a Debussey piece called 'The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.' We met her in the lobby after the performance and I told her that it was a beautiful piece but that I didn't remember it from the movie. She asked what movie and I said 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' That is so something that my Dad would say.

12/01/18: Guess what? I did it! At 10:45 CST last night, I submitted my file to the automatic counter on the NaNoWriMo web site, and it reported that I had written 50,505 words since November 1st. As you can see on the graph here, I was behind every day until the last. Even though I took some time off of work with the intention of writing, I still had to write like a fiend on the last day to hit my goal.
     It's funny, but I don't have the sense of accomplishment I did the other times. I think it's probably because while I have enough here to put out as what will likely be book two in the Barnstormers series, the overall story has a long way to go. At least I got to see the video at the end of the NaNoWriMo people cheering my success. I love that part.

11/28/18: I've long been a fan of Frank Zappa's music. I was introduced to the music of Captain Beefheart because of his occasional collaborations with Zappa, but it was not until the past few years that I've really grown fond of the odd sounds that the good Captain and his band of oddballs made on the records that I purchased back when records were a thing.
     Years ago I picked up a 10-record box set of Zappa bootlegs, and one of those included was an odd little record called Metal Man Has Hornet's Wings. It's a collection of early Zappa tunes with a couple of Beefheart songs mixed in. The title track, which later showed up on the legitimate Mystery Disk release, has Beefheart tweeting like a bird and riffing over a bluesy little tune. I always like the song, but I could never figure out what the man was singing about.
     Now I know. This morning I stumbled across this article from 2017 that explains that the lyrics on the song (actually titled Metal Man Has Lost His Wings) were improvised by Beefheart from text head read on the cover of a Metal Men comic that happened to be laying around the studio that day. The article points to advertised one of his albums in Marvel Comics back in 1968, so the comics connection wasn't new. I think that this is a very small peek into the creative process of two favorites of mine.

11/01/18: I probably should have my head examined, but I'm attempting NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you new to the neighborhood, this is the National Novel Writing Month challenge that has people all over the world attempting to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the month of November. This will be my fifth attempt, after having been successful on all four previous tries, so I feel the stakes are a little higher this year. I hope to complete book two of my Barnstormers story in 30 days. Wish me luck!

10/01/18: I was back at work today after Summer Vacation, our first vacation since I started this job almost two years ago. Kalamazoo was great, and the Air Zoo was fabulous. I did chicken out on the biplane ride though, not because I was afraid to go up, but because of the cost. We were already debt-funding this trip, and I couldn't justify spending the extra money. Maybe I'll be able to afford it next summer.
     Ann Arbor was good, too, but there didn't seem to be as much to do there as there was in Kalamazoo, so for our second full day there, we drove to the Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn. Wow! There is so much to see and do there that we didn't get to see everything in one day. And oddly enough, while the Air Zoo only had a half-size replica of a Curtiss Jenny, the plane flown by my protagonists in my Barnstormers story, the Ford Museum had a full-sized one! Granted, it was hanging from the ceiling so I didn't get a great look at it, but it had a cool fish painted on the side!
     So today I was back at work, and as I swiped my badge to get in, I chuckled to myself that it was a good sign that the badge still worked. But I sat down at the computer and for the life of me, I couldn't remember my password! I knew what the kernel of the idea was that I used to create it, but I didn't know the exact spelling. To make matters worse, I usually get in two and a half hours before the next IT guy, so I was stuck. That'll teach me to take a week off!
     I tried for over an hour to determine what the password was, but to no avail. I use KeePass to keep track of all my passwords, but I couldn't get into the computer to access my KeePass file. I finally broke down and texted my manager and he reset the password from home, likely chuckling at my expense. After much digging, I found a program on my system that still had the password stored in plain text, so I then had to log into all my password-protected applications to reset them. Then I stored a copy of my new password in LastPass, the service I use for keeping track of my personal passwords, so I won't have to go through that again.

09/21/18: Stephie and I needed to get away, so we decided to take a little trip. Our first thought was Wisconsin, but in the mood for something different, we decided on Michigan. Some friends spoke highly of Kalamazoo, so that was our first destination. We didn't have any plans, other than to go to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, in hopes of getting some inspiration for my Barnstormers story. Mainly we just wanted to get away.
     The drive was nice, and the motel room was decent, after we had some initial quality problems (we'll never stay at a Red Roof Inn again!) the room was decent. We then went downtown to check out the area. It looked like there were some storm clouds moving in, but the day was nice and we enjoyed a little window shopping.
     Stephie spotted a small coffee shop, so we stopped in so she could get a tea. While she was talking to the guy behind the counter, I wandered back to a wall plastered with playbills, and spotted one for Morris Day and the Time, playing that night. I asked the guy where the theater was, and he said two blocks down. I left Stephie waiting for her tea and hurried down to the Kalamazoo State Theatre and scored tickets!
     The Kalamazoo State Theatre is a converted movie theater, first opened in 1927 and renovated in the mid-'80s. The place is beautiful, fairly well-preserved, and the show was great. The band was tight and Morris did all the usual shtick. We were amazed that they played the first half-dozen songs without a break, one song blending into the next. That's not unheard of, but these are fairly up-tempo numbers and that drummer kept up amazingly. He got quite the workout. I was kind of surprised by the frequent mentions of Prince, who had passed away two years ago. I suppose the Time owes a lot of it's success to him, so maybe the fealty was warranted, although it has been two years now. All in all, it was a great first day in Michigan.

09/10/18: This is my Gerber Shard. I keep it on my keyring. If I'm being honest, I bought it because it's cheap, it's an interesting gizmo, and it allows me to have a bottle opener with me wherever I go. I saw it on that Everyday Carry web site where they try to convince you that everyone should have a knife in their pocket at all times (which, come to think of it, is Gibbs' rule number nine on NCIS.)
     I've had it for a while now and have successfully opened many bottles of beer for my self and friends, but at work today I found myself in need of a Phillips screwdriver and couldn't find one. Then I remembered the Shard on my keychain. I checked and one end is shaped like a Phillips tip, so I tried it and it worked great. I don't think I would use it as my primary screwdriver, but in a pinch it worked great. And did I mention it was cheap and opens bottles?

08/24/18: Cautionary tale: today I accidentally deleted all of Stephie's artwork from our server. I was trying to help her do something and got frustrated, so I went to delete the file I was working on. In my haste, I used the Shift-Delete key combination, which hard-deletes the file rather than placing them in the Recycle Bin to be removed later. I didn't notice that Windows had helpfully selected all the files in the folder, so when I deleted what I thought was just the file I was messing with, it happily deleted everything. Several hundred pictures of Stephie's artwork were gone in the blink of an eye. I thought was going to be sick.
     Fortunately, I had just done my monthly back up this morning. I'd tested restoring my backups in the past, but back when I used to back up to tape, I'd had tapes fail and not been able to recover anything. I didn't have that problem this time and the restore worked like a charm. I recovered all the pictures that I had inadvertently deleted.
     Two lesson learned today: I should stop using the Shift-Delete combination, especially when I'm frustrated and not paying attention, and more importantly, make sure I keep to my monthly backup plan.

08/20/18: This was the weekend of the annual Silent Summer Film Festival, put on by The Silent Film Society of Chicago. I've been going for many years now (and have the t-shirts to prove it!) but this year I was only able to make one screening: Rin-Tin-Tin: Where The North Begins from 1923. I thought that I could talk Stephie into going, since it was Rin-Tin-Tin, but she's sticking with her "Only Douglas Fairbanks" rule for silent movies, and I respect that. I went yesterday and the film was terrific, as was the organ accompaniment. I haven't been to too many SFSC events since they moved most of them to week-nights at the Arcadia in St. Charles, but I was glad I went.
     While I was there, I was looking around at the crowd and it skewed older, and I was thinking about how future generations will see silent films. I keep hearing about how hard it is to get young people to watch a black and white film, let alone one that has no dialogue. I remember how excited I was to see silent films when I was a kid, and it made me a little sad to think that not a lot of kids have that curiosity, although I don't know how may of my peers growing up had those same interests.
     But I think all is not lost. I stopped at Jewel on the way home, and behind the deli counter was a young woman who noticed my Silent Summer t-shirt on a previous visit, when she told me that she really liked silent films, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend. When I saw her there, I gave her a flyer I picked up listing all the upcoming SFSC events, including a Halloween showing of The Phantom of the Opera at a church in LaGrange. She seemed really excited about that.
     And on my way out, the cashier commented on my t-shirt showing the moon from Melies' Trip to the Moon. Not only did he recognize it from the film (as opposed to the Smashing Pumpkins video or the Hugo Cabret movie or book, but even got the year (1902) right. Maybe there's hope after all.

08/17/18: I've not been in the best mood this week, but this video made me happy this morning.

07/15/18: Our neighbors were away this week, so they asked Stephie to go there each afternoon and let their dogs out. She had a great time doing that, and I went with her one day and saw this on the table. I assume it was left there so that it could be glued back together after they returned, but it looked kind of funny so I took a picture
     The family returned this weekend and we stopped over there to talk to them, and I asked them what happend. They said that the youngest daughter did it, but didn't want to talk about it. They told her she wasn't in trouble, but they wanted to know what happened. She hesitated a bit but then told her parents that she knew that Elastigirl stretched, so she thought the toy would as well. Seems logical to me.

07/14/18: This morning, my dream started out with Stephie and I on vacation. I was at a park somewhere, and there was a soccer ball that was deflated. No, that's not right. There was a small door in the side of the ball, which may not have been a soccer ball at all, and it had four screws on it. We didn't have the right size nuts to tighten the door, so I went to a Fila store. I walked up to the clerk and asked "Parlez-vous englais?", so I think I might have somewhere been in France. We got the ball sorted, and next thing I know, I was in a Wal-Mart type store, and Stephie had a shopping cart. She was buying four big bags of cotton balls, and seemed excited about it. I noticed she had a couple of bottles of liquor, and since we were in Europe, I went to the liquor department to see if they had any Vat 69 in stock. They didn't, and I woke up.
     As a bit of background to this, a few years ago I was reading a Dan Turner story in which someone mentioned Vat 69. The very next thing I read was a Michael Shane mystery, and in it, Shane buys a bottle of Vat 69 to bribe a stoolie. I thought it was a coincidence that both would pick a liquor that I'd never heard of, so I did a little research and found that Vat 69 was a pretty popular scotch in the mid-20th century (the name came about because the distiller kept trying out different recipes, and he liked the 69th one) but despite a small resurgence in the early-aughts because of the Band of Brothers mini-series on HBO, it's been unavailable in the US in its traditional bottle, as shown here. I know that because while I'm not a scotch drinker, I did spend some time trying to buy a bottle. The only way I would be able to get one would be to order it on-line, but the shipping was actually more than the price of the booze, and I was not willing to pay that for something that I might not even drink, but just put on my shelf next to my candlestick phone and my collection of Black Mask stories. I figure if we ever get back to Europe on vacation, I'll try to pick up a bottle there.

06/21/18: I had a dream last night in which I was walking around a neighborhood (more of a subdivision actually) and I was carrying a dog leash in my hand. I was obviously looking for a dog as none was attached to the leash, but I don't remember that it was a specific dog. I was walking down the street when suddenly, Kisu was running toward me. It was the young, spunky Kisu we remember from years past, before all the health problems she had in her later years. She ran up to me with that happy smile on her face and spun around like she used to do when she got excited.
     That's all there was to it, really. We lost Kisu almost two years ago, and I don't think I go more than a day or two without thinking about her. I woke up from this dream thinking that maybe she was reaching out to us, to say that we've grieved long enough, and it's time to think about adopting another dog.

06/17/18: My memory is not what it was, not that it ever was very good for anything more than snippets of old Monty Python skits. Recently a friend of mine told me that he was digging out old journals from when he was in his early twenties, and he discovering reams of information about events in his past that he had only vague recollections of. Man, I wish I had that. I realized a while back just how valuable this web site is when I couldn't remember something and found that I wrote about it when it happened. Not everything is here, but many major events in my life got at least a passing mention here.
     So I've started a project that I'd been thinking about for a while. I created a spreadsheet on Google Docs (for portability sake) and have been adding brief mentions of events in my life. I've tended to recall times of my life based on a few significant events, such as jobs, cars, computers, and vacations. I know those are far from the most significant things in a person's life, but I can attribute exact dates to those events, and I can use them as guideposts to organize some less-remembered items. I'm just doing this in my free time, adding a few items at a time, but I think when it starts to get fleshed out, it will trigger more memories that I can plug into the timeline.
     I was adding some concerts to the list, most of which were easy because I still have a pile of ticket stubs and most have the date on the part I kept, but there was one event I don't have the stub for that I wanted to include. Back in 1981, the restored version of Abel Gance's 1927 masterpiece Napoleon was touring the country, accompanied by a full orchestra. It played at the Chicago Theater, and I remember going, but I didn't remember the exact date. My date was a friend of a friend who I took to her high-school prom, and since we only went out a few times besides (I was asked to a lot of proms by "friends") I knew that it was spring of that year. I tried searching the web for details, hoping it was only there one weekend (I remember we went on a Saturday) but it played two weekends, so I'm not sure which I saw. But on the first Google search result screen, there was a link to a picture on Wikipedia with the caption, "A group of moviegoers in front of the Chicago Theatre marquee in 1981 at the showing of Abel Gance's Napoleon". I expected some group of anonymous fans, but when I clicked on the picture, I actually recognized several people. In the center is noted author Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara. They are flanked by Don and Maggie Thompson, who I felt I knew personally from all the articles I read by them over the years of my subscription to the late, lamented Comics Buyer's Guide. The guy on the left is Alan Light, the founder of CBG, and the other is Terry Beatty, an artist and collaborator of Collins. There is no mention on Wikipedia of who these people were, but it cam from Alan Light's flickr account, and a caption there confirmed my identification.
     I started my project with the intention of recovering some of my memories that may be slipping away, but considering I recognized these people that I only knew from the pages of a magazine I subscribed to, I think maybe my memory is not as bad as I assumed it is.

06/10/18: Today we moseyed over to our local mini-multiplex and saw the new Avengers film that's been raking in all the dough. I've had pretty good luck with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as opposed to DC, which turned me off with The Dark Knight to where the only DC movie I've seen since is Wonder Woman, a film that reviewers think was an anomaly because it wasn't as "grim and gritty" as the rest. We've seen all the MCU films to date except for Black Panther, which Stephie didn't want to see, and pretty much liked them all. The last Iron Man movie was not too good, and I didn't much care for the second Avengers film, but the new one is raking in money by the bushel, so it's got to be good, right?
     While the credits were rolling and we were waiting for the obligatory end credits scenes, I didn't say anything to Stephie. As we were walking out, she leaned over and said, "I'm never seeing another comic book movie again." I don't know that I would go that far, because I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Shazam! film (even though the character's name is not Shazam, it's Captain Marvel, dammit!) but I think I can pretty much guarantee that I'm not going to see the next Avenger's movie, whenever it comes out. I did not have a good time at the show.
     I'm a comics fan, but I don't know much about the Marvel universe that this plays out in. I didn't read the Infinity Gauntlet or any of the other Infinity stories, nor do I care to, especially after this. I have a passing familiarity with Thanos from the '70s when my brothers and I bought darn near every title on the rack between us. I don't remember him being this powerful, where he and his followers could just take out every hero that dared stand against him. I realize that powerful heroes need equally powerful adversaries to make a good story, but watching this film was like following your favorite football team all season, only to have them get to the Super Bowl and lose 51-3, without ever getting the ball past mid-field. Apologies for the sports analogy, but that's what I thought of as we were walking out of the theater.
     I know that this is only part one of two parts, and there will probably be some redemption in the second film, not to mention nullifying most of the deaths that were so shocking and senseless, but I don't care. I paid to see a film, not a half a film. I remember back in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back came out. General consensus is that Empire was the best of the original trilogy, but I thought it sucked because it ended without any indication of Han Solo's fate (yeah, no spoiler warning for a 38-year-old film.) Friends told me that we would find out in the next movie, but I knew that was three years away! When the second part of this one hits the multiplexes next year and were I to go, I wouldn't remember anything other than a profound sense of disappointment from this one.
     It had some good points, sure, and some of the action scenes were exciting, but overall it was just one depressing fight scene after another, up to the crappy ending. Just "thanks for your money, come back next year." I probably would have put up with this in the comics back when I was a kid because they only cost me twenty cents to read, and I knew the story would continue in thirty days, with maybe an ending. But at over $20 including refreshments for the two of us, and having to wait at least a year for the conclusion, I feel ripped off.

05/06/18: Attention, friends. After more years than I care to admit, we again have a working doorbell! You no longer have to call us from the foyer to tell us that you've arrived. Feel free to stop by and try it.

04/13/18: Today was Friday the 13th, so we thought it would be a good day to buy a new car! As many of you know, we downsized to one vehicle while I was taking the train to work. With no public transportation options for my new job (well, none that would have me on the train for less than five hours round trip) we've been getting by using my sister-in-law's car. We knew that they would need it back someday, and that some day was this weekend, so we went shopping. We tried to find a reasonably priced used car, but couldn't find one that we thought would be reliable for my long daily commute. So we stopped by Westfield Ford, where we purchased our Escape, to see what was available in our price range.
     There's something about Westfield Ford. I don't know if they're hypnotists or what, but this is the second time we went there "just to see what was available" and walked out (rather drove out) with a new car. This time it was a brand-new blue Ford Focus. We walked in and taledto the salesperson, who immediately found us a car he thought we might like. We took it for a drive and really liked it, but as I was parking it, Stephie asked the salesperson in the back seat what all the buttons on the console were. He said they were for all the amenities, like the heated steering wheel and heated side view mirrors. I immediately objected, reminding him that we needed basic transportation without all the bells and whistles. He went off and found us the same car but without all the gizmos. It does have satellite radio, but I gather that's standard, so there wasn't anything I could do. It'll just be a useless button on the radio, because after the initial subscription period is over, I am not paying for that.
     I really loved my previous Focus, and this looks to be a worthy successor. I hope it lasts as long as the last one did, or at least long enough for us to pay it off!

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.

03/16/18: I know I've complained about the lack of news on the Yahoo "news" page before. I no longer look there when I'm trying to figure out what's going on in the world around me. Unfortunately, because I reach my web mail via the Yahoo site, it dumps me on the so-called "news" page when I log out of e-mail, and I can't help but glance at what Yahoo considers news. The breathless item pictured here appeared today on the first page of the news, so the Yahoo algorithm must this this is important to someone.
     Granted, the item appears to be from the web arm of People magazine so we shouldn't expect hard-hitting journalism, but c'mon. How is this "news" in even the broadest sense of the word? And it warrants an exclamation point at the end of the headline? The fact that I have no idea who Shiri Appleby is really is beside the point.

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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