Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.
I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:
Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.
Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.
Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.
Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger. Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine. Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago. A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.
Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!
My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.
My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.
You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.
Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album. It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.
Matt Riedy & Frank King–It’s all about opportunity. Back when radio brother-turned-actor Matt was working over at Smooth Jazz, he connected me to a comedian he had worked with, Frank King. Frank used to do stand-up comedy with Jay Leno and had remained connected to him, faxing him jokes each day. Frank invited me to join his White Collar Comedy submission sheet and for most of a decade, I was lucky enough to be able to sell jokes to Jay. The thrill of having him tell a joke that I wrote, word for word, was about the biggest high a comedy writer could experience.
Dwight Perry–This Seattle Times’ lighter side of sports writer has dropped in some of my Wacky Week lines over the years and given me exposure that I wouldn’t otherwise receive, being off the air. As recently as last Sunday, a friend said, “Hey, I saw you in the sports page again today!” Thanks for the plugs, Dwight!
Jean Godden & Sherry Grindeland–When both were back in their day writing newspaper columns, they gave me quite a few mentions and let me show off my comedy writing skills to their readership.
You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.
I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.
It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.