January 02, 2017

Copperhead Road

I've loved listening to music since I was a youngster. Rocking out has always been a part of my life. I especially enjoy songs that tell stories. Therefore, "Copperhead Road" is one of my all–time favorite songs. The whole journey is outlined in the first part of the song:

"Well my name's John Lee Pettimore Same as my daddy and his daddy before You hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here He only came to town about twice a year He'd buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line Everybody knew that he made moonshine Now the revenue man wanted Grandaddy bad He headed up the holler with everything he had It's before my time but I've been told He never came back from Copperhead Road"
 I've often been amazed at the story telling aspect of the lyrics. You could sum up the first few lines as, "My name is John Lee Pettimore III and my family has a history of making moonshine. The IRS was after my grandfather, but that was way before I was born. My grandfather died in a tragic accident up at the cabin, located down Copperhead Road." The way Steve Earle wrote the lyrics, managed the words, and set the scene is pure wordsmithing. I mean we come to like the downtrodden, white trash protagonist of the song. We even root for him when he decides to try something a little different up in the holler.

December 13, 2016

Ticonderoga Days

There are other quality pencils 

I used to be a Ticonderoga #2 specialist. It was the only pencil I would write with. I first encountered Ticonderogas when I was a little kid. I didn't know there were pencils that existed that might even be better than the original Ticonderoga #2.
Until a couple of months ago, I had never heard of a a Jumbo Grip Faber–Castell or a Blackwing. I watched Dan Pink's Pinkcast where he raved about the Faber–Castell. He even directed the viewer to his favorite pencil site on the web, CW Pencil Enterprise. I later found out there is actually a small pencil boutique store in New York City that is the original CW Pencil. I searched around and, ironically, found Pencils.com. Between CW and Pencils, I discovered that a market for quality pencils exists.

As I began my quest for better pencils, I also happened upon a blog that raved about the Blackwing and highlighted what a great pencil it was. I decided I had to give a Blackwing a try but the only place I could find one in Michigan was in Grand Rapids. So one late summer afternoon, Lori and I journeyed to the Urban Center for Contemporary Arts downtown GR and I bought my first couple of Blackwings, plus a Blackwing Longpoint Sharpener.

Suddenly, the days of the Ticonderoga #2 were becoming limited. There's a whole other world of pencils out there that I didn't even know about. I've used some Ticonderogas, Blackwings Golden Bears, and even the Faber–Castell Jumbos. Right now, I'm partial to the Palomino Blackwings and their subscription service.

December 10, 2016


GUNSLINGER: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre

I can't believe it was two-and-a-half years ago that I won a contest, but it was. In February 2014, we were on vacation in Florida, down for Spring Training. I'm a big fan of Jeff Pearlman's work and actually had already pre-ordered his new book at the time, SHOWTIME. His contest asked for some PR/Marketing ideas, so I wrote him some ideas that I thought would be cool, even mentioned how my favorite rocker, Kid Rock, could capitalize on these ideas. I entered the contest near the deadline, but I was the chosen winner. Jeff let me know that I had won and even blogged about it. So, now every time he publishes a book, I get a copy. Now, that's a pretty cool contest prize. 

The other day, my autographed copy of GUNSLINGER arrived in the mail. I can't wait to read it as I have read most of Pearlman's books, but definitely the last couple. He does more research than most authors and digs deep into the content. He makes his biographies read like novels and I think that is so key for writers. If you are able to put your reader into the story, it makes the story better and the reading quicker. For example, when reading THE ROCKET THAT FELL TO EARTH, there were times when it was almost like Pearlman was telling "the rest of the story" because we knew the headline and the main story, but now we were reading the truth. 

You can read an excerpt of the new book here. Pearlman even gives his background information on GUNSLINGER in a blog post, if you're interested. 

December 04, 2016

No Longer the Pontiac Pussycats …

Turn the Lions on the TV

For the first time in a long time, I'm planning to watch the Lions' game today. Now, what that really means is that the Lions are about to break our hearts again! When the Detroit Lions suddenly are on everyone's TV set it means that they're doing well. I used to be a die–hard fan and would watch them regularly. As the team faded and started to be worse than usual every season, I quit watching. The "owen" Lions were the last team I watched regularly — I didn't want to miss them messing up and winning a game that year! They have come a long ways from the Millen Days …

December 03, 2016

The Fast Food Gourmet

Fast Food Gourmet

In the fall of 1988 or so for my birthday, my buddy Bru took me on the "fast food gourmet." I don't necessarily remember the food from all the places, but I think it included McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. I'm not sure, though. My modern FFG would include flying to Las Vegas to get a double double at In N Out, seeking out a Wendy's for a Frosty, and maybe going to Culver's for french fries. That's just off the top of my head thinking, actually. I suppose I could go to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries and be just as happy. Back in '88, Subway was relatively new to Traverse City and Taco Bell wasn't really on the list of choices.

I remember in the last '70s going to Flint with my Grandma Morgan and Mom and one of our stops sometimes would be a visit to Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers. I think a lot of times we would also go to eat at Hudson's, too, which was probably classier than Wendy's. 

In the '70s, I also would sometimes get a Big Mac at McDonald's and that's probably why I still love a Big Mac. McDonald's has been a part of so many people's lives it's amazing. Later, I discovered the quote from Ray Kroc below. So true. 

December 02, 2016

Baseball's Season and a Solution

The Baseball Folks Got It Done

It's good that the baseball folks on both labor and management sides were able to strike a deal before the deadline on December 1. I thought that it would happen simply because both sides are making so much money it's not funny. 

I still think some changes need to happen. I realize that the season is going to start in the middle of the week beginning in 2018 so the players can have five more off days. I think moving the opening of the season up is not the best idea UNLESS teams are going to start in domes and warm weather cities. That would mean the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs, et. al., would never have a true Opening Day.

If I were part of the solution, I would go with opening the season about a week later and ending it at least a week earlier, if not more. In June, July, and August, each team would play a double header every week–end whether it was on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Teams would have 12 week–ends essentially during those months, so one double header each week–end would take 12 dates off of the schedule. Certainly, you could charge for both games or your could have a premium cost for the double header. There have to be enough old school fans left who would love a double header with a 20–minute break between games.

Baseball should end its regular season before September arrives — and the post season before November arrives. A month to complete the playoffs seems reasonable enough. Baseball isn't the kind of sport where a team would appreciate a bye that is any longer than one game. A "bye series" would get the team out of rhythm and in baseball, rhythm matters.

It seems like this would be a way to create excitement once again (not that the game isn't already exciting!)

December 01, 2016

Thanksgiving and Buckets

Bucket List Item: Checked Off

On Thanksgiving Day I was able to do something on my Bucket List. I don't necessarily have a Bucket List written down, but there are things I would like to do — and attend the annual Lions Thanksgiving Day Game is one of those on my list. I have said for years, "We should go to the Lions game on Thanksgiving." And we never had.

The night before Thanksgiving and all on the road was lots of snow and slush and ice and (stuff). And Tyler Stegman, Courtney's fiancé, had gotten a chance to get the tickets. It was a complicated negotiation but eventually it was decided that we would attend the game. Lori even got us some gear for the game and we met at the Mt. Pleasant Olive Garden for dinner. I'll leave out the details, but suffice to say we were going to the game.

The trip down to Detroit was great as usual. The game was neck 'n' neck most of the time until the Lions kicked a last second field goal to win. The crowd is awesome at Ford Field. Imagine if the Lions ever actually put out a high quality team — the fan base will go insane! When the cats are on defense, the building is so LOUD! It has to be a tough place to play for visitors.

We ended up having our family Thanksgiving on Sunday and it was wonderful. The turkey was delicious and the noodles were possibly the most popular item. Even the pumpkin pies were top notch! Happy Thanksgiving!