An Update From The Front Lines

So you know, we’re not losing; we’re not winning; we just fight on.

January 3rd, 2022. A day that will live in infamy. Hey, imfamy’s a big place. It has more room for another date.

That’s the day I stumbled down the stairs at 4:45am as part of my morning ritual, on my way to my office to begin another 12-14 hour day doing what I love to do–writing, creating, producing videos, and putting together another morning radio show for KRKO.

However, as I approached the lower level of our house, I could see a reflection in the rug. That’s not right.

It seems that on the same night we had a massive snow melt, toss in a serious dose of heavy rain, and our sump pump dying and the result:  water filled our lower level, up to two inches in some areas.

Insurance company contacted, water abatement company retained. Now, to make it all happen.

Cue the snails.

I get it. We were not the only ones who suffered flood damage that day. In fact, local companies were slammed so we had to fire up the patience. I know one of the folks from Servicemaster said they normally have rows and rows of equipment in their warehouse, but right now, the shelves were empty.

STAGE 1–The Dry Out

A collection of fans and dehumidifiers were brought in to run 24 hours a day downstairs to help the drying out process. It didn’t help the carpeting downstairs, which had been soaked, to dry out and soon, the air downstairs was a moldy stench of yech. First, “the packers” (no connection to Aaron Rogers) came and took everything away from downstairs, deciding what was totaled and what they could keep and store in a storage unit. Next, after a week of fermenting, the rugs were finally removed which helped make the downstairs air healthier than downtown Beijing during rush hour.

STAGE 2–So, what’s next?

The way the process has been described to me is that once the packers have gone through everything they took, they will send us an inventory list and it’s up to us to make sure everything is included. (Oh, yeah, I remember everything that was downstairs). Then, someone is supposed to come in and test the linoleum that was glued to the cement and the walls and see if any asbestos lurks therein.  To do that, we just found out that the lower level needs to be sealed off so the air can be tested. Since they don’t want the downstairs air to come upstairs, until they get the results IN THREE DAYS, we need to turn our furnace off.

It just keeps getting better.

STAGE 3–What comes after that?

I don’t know. Eventually, the insurance company will say, “Here’s a few Sheckels to help you get things done” and redoing the floors and the walls can begin. After that, we’ll begin refurnishing the spaces and then, after that, our crap in storage will be dropped off and we can recreate a typical all-American lower level.

QUESTIONS THAT REMAIN

Will we have black mold or asbestos in our floors or walls? If so, will our insurance cover the repairs to remove it? Will our stuff be valued at full value? Will all of this take place soon, or wrap up by April? Why am I wasting valuable blogging space to tell you all this?

I never thought it would happen to us. As I learn things, I hope I can pass along useful tidbits that might help you, a family member or friend should they find themselves in a similar situation.

I did meet with a guy from a construction company today that will actually handle everything with the insurance company and I got a good vibe from him. He would act as our agent in getting this all taken care of, and his company came highly recommended by some good friends.

As I continue my temporary, surreal routine of working from a table set up in the kitchen and doing all the writing, video and audio editing and crafting only the finest in comedy, I crawl into my work to keep from being bummed by our situation.

But as I tell my radio listeners tomorrow morning, if you hear me one morning doing Fondue recipes, you’ll know I’ve cracked up. Just keep that Fondue pot handy.

Tim Hunter

OK, Mr. Ronan, NOW It’s Your Turn

By the time you reach your mid-60s, it really is amazing when you sit down and just think about all the people you’ve met and experienced life with, that made a brief appearance in one of the many chapters of your life. Chapters with characters that now are no longer a part of your book. But when reminded of them, it jars loose a few memories you’re proud that you could actually recall.
Get me started on my high school years and you’ll knock loose a flood of memories. (great–more flooding) Favorite teachers, classic life moments, falling crazy in love with the girl next door, being Senior Class President, highlights of my brief basketball career, etc.  I know some people are extremely done with those years, while others hang on to them as if they never ended. One of my post-retirement goals is to finally finish a movie script about those days at Torrance High School, if nothing else, to help preserve those stories for later years when memory fails.

In late December, I was minding my own holiday season, trying to get the career to calm down so I could enjoy my favorite time of the year when I got word on Facebook that Mr. Ronan had died.

If I said, “Mr. Ronan” to any of my fellow Torrance High School Tartars from the Class of ’73, they’d know immediately I was talking about one of the two counselors that helped guide our class through our high school years. Not a small task, when you’re put in charge of directing teenagers in a hurry to grow up, with raging hormones, falling in love with a new person every couple of months, all the while, dancing with the devil known as “popularity.”

Of course, by now, the memories of those days have softer edges, but Mr. Ronan definitely still stands out. It made me smile to think that Jerry lived into his 90s and that dealing with me hadn’t shorten his time on this earth. And when I heard that he had written his own obituary just waiting for that inevitable day, I just had to share it.
 
 

Gerald Thomas “Jerry” Ronan

 
I’m dead – took the last bus out December 9, 2021.

As the sixth of Maggie McGraw and railroad bridge builder Thomas S. Ronan’s nine, the journey began 1926 – on the day winter leaves Camelot. Great good fortune was mine from that at-home birth, merely yards from the banks of the Missouri River in Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Life-long friends, school work, paper routes and four years at Loupe’s Drug Store filled happy boyhood years.

High School graduation in 1944 and induction into World War II Navy duty for two years were simultaneous events; Navy service was growing up time. After an interlude of a year at First National Bank in Pierre, I was off to four years with the Jesuits at Creighton University in Omaha; they calibrated my compass and awarded me a diploma.

That Bank in Pierre had been home summers and college holidays – a post college year in the bank provided a one-way ticket to Europe on the Queen Mary for a two-year-plus adventure. It was a dream come true – Salzburg, Austria was my Shangri la.

Back to the South Dakota prairies: Ranch kids, responsible, almost adults, boarded in town, kept the Lemmon High School lights and the faculty on for ten-hour days. It was a memorable school year and the beginnings of a career with emerging adults.

Following a summer of English classes at Georgetown University, a continental crossing landed me on El Prado Avenue and Torrance High School in 1955. It was to be Home. Thirty-seven years in the “mother school of Torrance” with winning kids and colleagues passed in the seeming flip of a page. It doesn’t get better.

Leave taking was not easy. As classes and volunteer activities kicked in, life took on a new meaning. My affection for Torrance with its small town caring citizens was reaffirmed on a daily basis. I was never far from those Torrance High Tartars.

Never regretted a move – each chapter was a happy experience. Good-byes and leave takings were difficult. Transitions were tough, but life has been good. Trust and gratitude are key. Family and friends are the treasures. Along the way USC awarded me a Master’s degree; my remains go to their Keck Medical School. For my transgressions – for my omissions – I beg absolution.

One by one, Tom and Maggie and now the eighth of their nine has taken leave. Only “kid sister” Helen Pike of Janesville, Wisconsin survives. Her two sons, three of seven other nieces and nephews and their offspring remain. All nine and their issue have made me proud.

Join me in spirit for a Mass at Nativity Church as I make this final transition Sunday, December 19th at 8:00am.
What I recall about the man is that he took his job so seriously. He truly wanted to help students successfully head off in the direction they hoped to go, offering suggestions on classes to take and how best to get there. I’m sure he had a hand in helping me choose typing as an elective, at a time when that was “a girl’s class”, to help create future secretaries. Yeah, this was a long time ago.  But that skill was an important part of what got me where I am today, wherever that is.
He took his job and responsibility seriously, but with a subtle humor that I very much appreciated. I’d have to say that it influenced my preferred style of comedy, because while the laugh-out-loud yuks are fun, there’s nothing better than a subtle masterpiece that sticks in people’s minds.  Clever comedy is an rare art and a great example is still found today in my high school yearbook. 
I remembered Mr. Ronan had written something funny when I asked him to autograph my yearbook and when I dug it out of the bookcase and looked it up, I was right.  Imagine your high school counselor, the person charged with helping you direct your way through those crucial years, writing you a note like this:
 
 
I could imagine some parents flipping out. “All the world’s a stage? Get off?” What do you mean by that?
I take it that he recognized a screwball when he saw one, but that he knew I was going to be just fine.
Wow, he spent 37 years at THS. That’s amazing. I wonder how many other people can look back on their careers and think, “You know, you’re right. He did have a huge part in how I got to where I am?”
I hope a lot. 
Mr. Ronan, sincere thanks for all you did for me and hundreds of other Torrance Tartars. It was appreciated a whole lot more than you’ll ever know.
Tim Hunter

With Apologies to Mr. Ronan

For the second week in a row, I had planned to dedicate my little corner of the Internet to my high school counselor, Gerald Ronan. He passed over the holidays and it started a minor flood of memories that I was going to pool into a blog.

Last week, he got pre-empted by the Great Flood of 2022 in our lower level. OMG, what a nightmare. A week later, they’re just now taking out the soaked and moldy-smelling carpet from downstairs. Hopefully the lingering smell in our house (upstairs as well) will gradually improve.

Then, this past Sunday, we got the news that Bob Saget was found dead in his Florida hotel room, at the age of 65. There was a time in my life when 65 was so old. Now, that’s two years in my rearview mirror.

Bob gained his early fame as the dad in one of those “T.G.I. Friday” shows on ABC. Friday nights, my kids would make an appointment to be in front of the TV, watching that family-friendly collection of characters, and where science perfected that breed of human called “the Olsen Twins.”

Those years are a little fuzzy, but most likely, that was when mom & dad probably went out and hired a sitter, who used TV to entertain them until bedtime and then, the easy money came in. I was not much of a “Full House” fan, but I was aware of its popularity. After all, I was in the “know everything about pop culture” business.

Of course, each of the actors on that show went on to reach additional fame in various ways. John Stamos went off and played with the Beach Boys for a while, Lori Loughlin became a college advisor and the most popular girl on cell block C, and Dave Coulier went on to be the guy whose last name everybody pronounced differently, broke up with Alanis Morrisette inspiring an album and became a household name as the guy who used to play the Joey on TV that wasn’t on “Friends.”

Bob Saget, however, wanted to let the world know he was funnier than what you saw on “Full House.” He became the first witty host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, the narrator on “How I Met My Mother” 

and a stand-up comic that packed theaters, not night clubs.

That was his passion, that’s what he loved to do. After his last show Saturday night, he posted this on Instagram:

I love that one of the last things he remembered doing was something he loved to do.

And just a week before his own departure, Bob posted this tremendous salute to another very funny person:

This amazing woman was exactly who you wanted her to be…

Razor sharp wit, smart, kind, hilarious, sincere, and so full of love.

From the first time I snuck into “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” at 15 years old and watched her hit everything she said out of the park, to decades later, getting to hang out with her on several occasions, I had a small peek into what a remarkable talent and human being Betty was.

We were on an ABC jet once for a junket and I was sitting across from her, both of us sipping Bloody Mary’s. We had been laughing for hours— I looked into her eyes and faux romantically said, “How ‘bout it, Betty, you and me in the bathroom? Mile High Club?” She answered me before I had a chance to finish the invite— “Of course, Bob, you go in there first and I’ll meet you as soon as I finish my drink.” And then of course she went right to sipping from her straw. I waited in that bathroom for over two hours. (That would be the joke on a joke part, in case you take things literally.)

She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design— in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.
My deepest condolences to her family and friends.
Betty White. My God, we will miss you.

I have never considered myself a comedy expert, but more of an aficionado (yeah, I needed spellcheck to help me out on that one) of what and who is funny. Being completely honest, I never thought of Bob Saget as really funny. He was a type of funny, that some people appreciated, but he wasn’t my cup of tea.

Around 10 years ago, we went with friends to a Bob Saget performance at the Paramount and it was a bit of a jarring experience for me. The warm-up comedian, whoever it was, was genuinely funny. However, the Bob Saget comedy fans were done with him within a few minutes and started booing him. How sad.

Then Bob came on the stage and it was one of the most profanity-filled, moderately funny sets I’d ever sat through. The crowd loved it, but it left me feeling like we had just wasted a lot of money on someone not very funny.

As I read the posts on his passing from comedians I do enjoy and respect, they have a tremendous amount of admiration for his comedy chops and that makes me think I should find some sets on YouTube and give him another try a decade later. Regardless of his comedic ability, all of them say he was one of the nicest guys in the business and that scores a lot of points with me. You don’t to be a jerk to be successful, you just don’t.

Yeah, looking back at that evening with Bob Saget, I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the foul language and the topics he covered. It was if he wanted to completely destroy anything having to do with the “Full House” version of him, and he felt the best way to do that was to swear his way out in front of his former TV audience.  Those of you who know me know I’m far from a saint and foul words occasionally come out of these lips, but sparingly and for effect. I find profanity a lazy way to get a cheap laugh. Tell me something funny!

Some of my favorite comedians today–Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black–far out-swear what I heard from Mr. Saget that night, so maybe I’ve evolved. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for the X-rated version of Danny Tanner.

I know what I definitely wasn’t ready for was losing him at the age of 65. Another one in that parade of reminders that our time is limited and we just never know when our clock will expire.

But I do know that Bob Saget went out on top, doing what he loved for an audience that loved him, as people who loved him mourn his passing. And I just don’t think it gets much better than that.

And, swear to God, Mr. Ronan, you’ll get your turn next week.

Rest in funny, Bob.

Tim Hunter

 

 

2020, Too?

Let me begin by saying I’m already looking forward to 2023.

I honestly don’t know what happened. The New Year started with a quiet evening at home, doing our best to stay awake until midnight, watching an embarrassingly cheesy show from the Space Needle and then going to bed.

New Year’s Day was pretty smooth. Got to watch some of the Rose Parade coverage, saw the float from Torrance (where I was raised), watched some pretty good football games and did what you’re supposed to do on a typical first day of the New Year.

That’s where it stopped. Or, if you look at it this way, when it all started.

On Sunday, I was hanging with someone who complained that he and his wife had been experiencing headaches lately. Wait. What? You mean, like you weren’t feeling well, and you came HERE?

Shortly afterwards, we found out he tested positive for COVID. We had only been around him for 45 minutes, but you never know. So far, we’re clean, passing our first test. One more on Friday and we will have somehow dodged that bullet.

But then it got worse.

Monday morning, I got up at the usual time, 4:45am, and headed downstairs to my office. I noticed a reflection from the carpeting as I got closer. By the time I stepped on the ground level, I was standing in 2-inches of water. Our entire downstairs was flooded. Our sump pump, apparently inspired by Antonio Brown, just decided to stop working. Melting snow and pouring rain didn’t help and our entire lower level was underwater.

At first, I went into “Fight the Battle” mode. I tried to get the sump pump to return to life, but without luck. While trying to move things around downstairs, the paper shredder popped open and scattered shredded paper bits into the water. To this day, anytime you walk downstairs, you leave a trail of paper bits all over the house.

I went upstairs with my laptop (as my main PC that I do everything on drowned a painful death) and wrote my contribution for Radio Show Prep, as I do every morning. After that, I bolted over to Home Depot and bought a new sump pump and a 9-gallon shop vac. I hooked up the sump pump to a hose that emptied in the bathtub and started sucking up water with the shop vac. I was getting nowhere. I basically found myself just keeping it even.

Thus, the beginning of our first big adventure in 2022. An inspector came out and said, “Yep, you’re screwed.” A crew is downstairs as I type this, beginning the dry out. Then there’s a packing crew coming tomorrow to take everything out of the rooms and put into storage. Then the serious dry-out begins, followed by repairs, recarpeting and painting and then bringing everything back.

Oh, and did I mention my iPhone went into Satanic mode Monday afternoon and I’m waiting for a replacement to come into T-Mobile so I can reconnect to the world. It was writing gibberish in texts, jumping from one program to another, all on its own. Linda Blair would have been proud.

I went into T-Mobile and they said they had never seen a phone behave like that before. Wasn’t dropped. No water damage. It just went ballistic. So, they ordered one for me and I picked it up the next day. But when I got home to finish restoring it, my password didn’t work. So I had to clean it, restore from scratch and see what happens. It’s been several hours and it’s still not done. Then, because it’s a new phone and new access, it’s not connecting with Facebook. Oh, I can launch the program and put in my password, but then it wants an authenticator code. It doesn’t send me one. Now, I’m trying to figure that out. I’m basically locked out of Facebook right now.

With my main PC down, I’m doing this all on a laptop. With my downstairs studio gone, I’ve set up a portable microphone with my laptop and recording my daily radio shows while I sit perched next to my bed in the bedroom. Yep, living the dream.

With a lot of my production and writing projects, I have to download files from the cloud; everything now takes three times as long to do, and each day this week has been a serious struggle.

It’s gotta get better, right?

Or will 2022 just be 2020, too?

Tim Hunter

P.S.–I do feel like I’m tempting fate, posting that picture before the week is actually over.

The Coolest Gift

Like you, I received numerous Christmas gifts this year. Some, I’ll remember for a while. Others will fall into the abyss of memories that, frankly, my brain doesn’t have room for anymore.

Oh, it’s not like those forgettable gifts aren’t appreciated, they are. And I’m sure I’ve passed along my share of forgettable gifts over the years.

Seriously, think about your Christmas back in 2020–how many of those gifts you received that year could you actually name? Then how about 2019? See what I mean?

That further illustrates the point that it really is the sentiment behind the gift, not the gift itself. Regardless of what’s on the other side of that wrapping paper, someone cared (or felt obligated) enough to cough up a couple of bucks, use some wrapping paper from Dollar Tree and do their part to assure you have a Merry Christmas…..or Happy Hannukah….or Krazy Kwanza, or whatever I’m supposed to say.

One of the gifts I’ll treasure most this year actually came on Sunday, the day after Christmas. In Seattle, we received 6-inches of snow, missing the big day by 24 hours….but, with that, it allowed everyone to get their Christmas travels in, then go home before we were buried.

The gift I’m referring to was a phone call. From an old high school buddy I hadn’t talked with in years and probably only a handful of times since we both graduated from Torrance High School in 1973. (Go Tartars)

Mark told me he was compelled to give me a call after he returned from celebrating Christmas in a nearby state at his son’s house. He had arrived back home in Iowa to find the card my wife and I had sent him and he was touched. Not necessarily because of the typical year-end recap that appears in our annual letter, but because it was addressed to Mark and Trisha, his wife.

He felt he should call and let me know that Tricia had passed back in early November. While visiting his folks in California, he contracted COVID and not knowing it, returned home to Iowa and brought the pandemic home. He fought his way through, but then Tricia caught it and in a very short amount of time, it claimed her life.

Mark told me how he and Trisha had been talking about how they would celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary. That would have been number 47. Mark kept telling me how blessed he had been in his life to have her that many years. But it’s just the sudden ending that was really a shock, and still is.

Mark was a very talented saxophone player and one of the fearsome foursome of buddies I had during my Torrance High School days. There was Guy, Tank, Mark and yours truly, who during my high school years, acquired the nickname “Tab” after the actor. That’s the name that went on my letterman’s jacket. It’s still there.

Any guesses who the four screwballs were in the front row?

While three of us experienced many a relationship during those formative years, it was just a couple of years out of high school that Mark became the first of us to get married. While those days softly blur, I can still remember Trisha being so sweet, so tolerant.

Mark can come off pretty strong and say some things that might tick some people off if you didn’t know the real Mark. That was just his style and it still cracks me up to this day.

I could hear in his voice the hurt and caring as he spoke of Trisha’s passing. I can’t even imagine having a lifetime of plans suddenly yanked out from under you as you finally reach those so-called “Golden Years.”

As we wrapped up our conversation, Mark asked that I go upstairs and give my wife, Victoria, a big old hug for him. “You just don’t know how long you’ve got together.”

And you don’t.  But life is a continuous balancing act. You don’t sell the house and bet it all on 31-black and see what happens, nor do you sit at home and start every sentence with, “You know, someday…..”

I know that after my chat with Mark, I need to get a little bit better about my life balancing. Sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me!

And thanks for the gift I’ll be remembering for a while, Mark.

Here’s to a happy 2022, everyone!

Tim Hunter

Another Batch of Holiday Traditions Conquered

I’m basking in the glow of that period of the holiday season where you start to feel, “You know, this is actually all going to work out!”

Mailing out the last of the Christmas cards on Sunday helped. Got the long-distance packages off in the mail. (had to pay priority mail rates, but I know they’ll make it there in time). 

And the annual Ho Ho Brother project is completely done.

A couple of decades ago, the tech guy at KLSY, Rick Taylor, taught me how to burn my own CD’s. I love learning new technology, and after watching him do it for a couple of years, I started my “Ho Ho Brother” series, in the year 2000. That means that this year’s compilation is my 21st in a long line of holiday collections.

Over the years, I feel I’ve learned the balance of what goes into a good Christmas CD (although, these days, while I burn a few actual CD’s, I’m promoting the streaming link, coming later in this writing.)  My goal is to make the collection a unique Christmas experience. Some old songs, some new songs, a few comedy bits or holiday commercials from long ago–pop it on and the next 70 minutes are fill with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit.

The past 10 years (except for one), I’ve collaborated with a local singer named Alana Baxter and, each year, we’ve created a new Christmas parody song. You’ll find the whole collection here

Among them, you’ll find this year’s timely song, “Christmas Vaccination” (done to the tune of “Christmas Vacation”, my all-time favorite holiday season film). And while the song could have been enough, each year we produce an accompanying video. Here it is:

This is my biggest holiday season challenge each year.  Basically, the steps:

  1. Find a song
  2. Write the lyrics.
  3. Record Alana singing the lyrics.
  4. Find a time in our mutually busy schedules to film the video.
  5. Find time to produce the video.
  6. Try to get all that in between the day after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas.

And somehow, it happens.

This year, I wanted to tackle the idea of Santa going around and injecting people with the COVID vaccine, whether they want it or not. In my mind, it would be Santa visiting many homes and injecting lots of arms, but the logistics were just too overwhelming. I also wanted to pursue the idea of Santa going out to events to shooting people with the vaccine using a pea-shooter, but I only had time to shoot one scene and I scrapped the idea.

But here’s that deleted scene.

 

Sorry, Pat, for leaving you on the cutting room floor. And while I’m at it, if you’d be willing to be an extra for next year’s video–God knows what it will be–just let me know and I’ll put you on the list.

I had big plans to have a real Santa star in the video. He’s one of the University Village Santa’s and he was willing to do some scenes for me. However, we had scheduled him on the same day Alana & I were going to record the song (gotta do it when you can) and by the time we got there, parked and tried to track him down, we had just missed him. So, that inspired me to dig out the Santa suit that I inherited a couple of years from GSR Rentals in Monroe. Thanks again, guys!

Again, this is entirely a passion project. No budget, no one’s getting rich, my crew is me. It’s short of a miracle that somehow those songs turn out as well as they have. And each is a time capsule of that particular adventure we went through.

Yes, a challenging couple of traditions. But once again, conquered. 2022, I’m ready for the next challenge.

In the meantime, please enjoy this year’s HO HO BROTHER 21!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tim Hunter

 

You better watch out….

Nicest Among The Nice

I try to be a nice guy. I think it’s a good place to be.

Oh, there are a few folks out there that would argue the case. But I ‘m not claiming to be perfect. I just like to keep things positive, try to make the majority of my actions to make things better or to help others and not hurt anyone.

The other night, thanks to my brother-in-law, Kris, I was able to attend a “meet and greet” with the Prince of Nice Guys, Tyler Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks.

Even just hearing that would make the guy uncomfortable.

As kind-hearted as he is, he’s also very modest. He shows up to play football, has fun, makes great plays and then goes off into his personal world. It’s taken some time, but he’s finally accepted the fact that if he just pushes himself a little beyond his comfort zone, he can use his celebrity to make a difference. Such was the case at the event this past Monday, when Tyler was handed the microphone and it was time to turn it on.

 

 

This year, he is the Seahawks nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. If he wins, he’d be the second Seahawks to do so in a row, as quarterback Russell Wilson received the honor last year. What makes Tyler such a perfect nominee? It all has to do with the passion he has for helping out the youth from his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 2019, Tyler and his Light It Up Foundation hosted their first “job shadow” where the foundation awarded four young women from Tulsa to come to visit Seattle and job shadow members of the Seahawks organization. Much of what Tyler aims to build for the youth from his foundation is exposure.

“People from my hometown, they don’t really see what life is like outside of where we grow up, so unless you play sports, nobody is going out of town,” Lockett said “And so once you finally get out of your own city and you’re able to see what life is like outside of it, then you get a new perspective. It allows you a vision and have an imagination.”

 

 

He’s simply one of the good ones and a lot of those are usually drowned out by the loud ones and the showboats. I just wanted to cast a quick spotlight on a talented, caring and modest hero we have right here in our city.

Thanks for setting up camp here, Tyler. You truly are the nicest among the nice.

Tim Hunter

#walterpaytonmanoftheyear

Oh, Christmas Tree

I’m celebrating my 66th Christmas this year and while decorating Christmas Tree #1, my mind was full of thoughts.

There are so many things I remember from those Christmas’s growing up. That was back in the day when we’d go out and get a real Christmas tree, mom would spend an entire day in the kitchen making her various Christmas cookies and treats and my dad put his wood-working skills to use and created Mr. & Mrs. Frosty and the snow kids. For a couple of years, my folks actually put this white fiberglass “snow” on their front yard, to give the illusion of a winter look in Southern California. It only took a couple of years that formerly pristine snow had the look of 6-week old dirty snow and went away.

For my very first Christmas, at just three months old, mom & I posed in front of their glorious tree by the big picture window in the living room.

 

In time, the tree was relegated to the office, which eventually became my bedroom.

In later years, it finally earned its spot back in the living room, but not always by the picture window.

Over in nearby Gardena, where I was born and around 15 minutes from my parents’ house, my dad’s relatives lived in a home where they had one of those tinsel trees with the rotating color light bulbs. It was a thing at the time.

You’d just set up one of these:

Hit it with one of these:

And it’s Christmas.

There are several events for me that help kick off the holiday season, but it isn’t until the Christmas tree is up and decorated that I feel the season coming on. To me, that signals commitment and a time-sensitivity, especially as you watch the tree dry out in record time from the moment you bring them inside.

Back in the 1980s, the Seattle P.I. had a writer named Ann Combs. When I was at KOMO radio, I got to interview her and she told me her story of how the Christmas tree worked at her house. From the time they could reach a branch, she would have the kids do all the decorating. Oh, sure, when they’re real young, the tree was only decorated for a couple of feet. But her thinking was, when they’re old enough and big enough to reach the top, it was time for them to move out.

At our house, Christmas Tree #1, as I mentioned above, is the artificial tree I bought at Lowes a decade or so ago. I went there the day after Christmas one year to see if I could score any screamin’ deals on Christmas decorations and they had a sign up that said: “9-Foot Westinghouse Trees $20.”  I don’t know why they were blowing them out, but I actually checked with three employees before grabbing one, to make sure that sign was right. The original price was $259 or something like that.

So that’s the artificial tree in the house. Then, for our living room, we buy a shorter, real tree that goes up on a raised platform. Around 5-feet is perfect (and also, cheaper). That’s the upscale tree, with the fancy Norwegian ornaments, the clip-on candles and such.  The normal routine is for me to decorate the one in our dining room and Victoria does her fancy one in the living room.

For me, that’s perfect. The dining room tree is where all the ornaments I like are hung with care.  I’m talking Husky and Seahawk ornaments, some of the hand-made ones that have survived the years, and the ones that scream, “Oh, Tim must have decorated this one”–several Scottish ones, a Christmas pickle, a JP Patches and Gertrude ornament (a Seattle kids’ show host from the past), a Bigfoot ornament, my Santaur (looks like a cross between Santa and a….oh, let me just show you)

Plus, a bunch of cool Christmas ornaments from places Victoria and I have been over the years. Leavenworth, Alaska, Florida, etc.   It’s a friggin’ thing of beauty!

As a public service, while decorating the tree this year, I took some mental notes and would like to offer these up just in case you’re about to tackle the tree-decorating chore in the next few days.

TIM’S TREE TRIPS

1) You always start with the largest ornaments on the tree, by carefully placing each in front of the burned-out lights you just can’t seem to figure out.

2) Always buy a new box of ornament hooks in November when they first show up. Oh, sure, you bought one last year, but good luck finding that one.

3) The best part about artificial trees is, if there’s a thin spot, you just bend the branches.

4) Well, and the fact you don’t need to water them.

5) Candy canes trim a tree nicely. I’ve been using the same ones for a decade now and should anyone steal one from the tree, I bear no legal responsibility for what happens.

6) When shopping for a tree, remember, the person helping you is trying to sell more trees. So, if you ask a question, they’ll probably going to tell you the answer they think you want to hear. For example, the classic one my wife always asks is, “Are these trees fresh?”  The following response ranges from, “Oh, yeah, we just got ’em off the truck yesterday!” or “Absolutely! Sure. You bet!” without any qualifying for their statement or an explanation for why that “Hillary in 2016” bumpersticker is stuck between the branches.

While there are lots of parts of the Christmas celebration I can take or leave (did I SAY lutefisk?), I just gotta have my real Christmas tree. The watering, the needles, the price—yeah, I can understand why a lot of people have gone to fake or no trees at all. Maybe someday, I’ll have to opt out.

But for now, just give me my tree and no one gets hurt.

 

Tim Hunter

A Salute To New Ideas

When people ask what I do, I have to give them the old “Jack of all trades” description of my work routine. Oh, I could just mention the top couple of jobs, but my professional style is more similar to that guy on the Ed Sullivan Show with those spinning plates.

For my younger readers, here’s a clip.

The biggest lesson I took from my three decades of playing radio is that you need to evolve, you need to keep fresh, learning what’s new and constantly have some plates spinning. That lesson was really driven home with my first radio departure, when I found out that I was losing my job on the same day I had a son on the way.

After that, I made sure I always had multiple gigs going. A main one and a bunch of smaller ones, in different areas. I was constantly learning something new and with each new skill, I considered making myself more valuable. What it did over time is give me an overwhelming urge to one day break off and not work for one company, but with as many people and projects as I could balance.

Always be fresh, always try something new.

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved with dozens of new ideas. There were hits, there were misses, but each gave me a new skill and perspective on something I previously had no experience with. Back in the days before Linkedin, it allowed me to constantly make new biz acquaintances.

There was the time I did an Inspector Gadget impression for a computer game. The company wanted to hire Don Adams (aka Maxwell Smart) but he wanted $1-million. So, for $20 an hour, I said every phrase imaginable and they used my poor man’s Inspector Gadget voice. Sadly, they didn’t have the computer game part quite figured out, and the game didn’t play on computers very well. I have a copy of the CD-ROM, but with a quick Google, I actually found a way to play it and hear my voice from almost 30 years ago right here.

Then, through various friends, I was introduced to a guy who had a brilliant idea. Do tours of cities like, oh, say, Edmonds, on a cassette. You’d put it on in your car, hit play, the tape would tell you where to drive and what you were looking at…and then, tell you where to go next. It was a bit of a flop, too. And I’ve got a couple of those still wrapped in plastic.

Going a way back, I remember connecting with former KOMO news anchor Ruth Walsh, who wanted to try launching a syndicated weekly radio show.  We did episodes for a couple of months, but it soon faded away….

The great ideas just kept on coming. One that was fairly successful was an audiobook of a couple of the “Wizard of Oz” stories. A guy named Bill Wright who owned Piglet Press and was a huge Oz fan wanted to create several audiobooks (yes, more cassettes) and we actually produced three of them. I say “we” as in the late Debbie Deutsch, who was the narrator; a girl named Alexandria who did the voice of Dorothy; and yours truly as EVERYBODY ELSE.  We’d record for hours at a studio in Lake City, and then audio guru Bob Majors fixed the sound to perfection. Former Bothell High School Principal Bob Stewart told me that he and his kids loved them as they drove across the country on vacation. Nice to know they’re still out there.

I was lucky to work on quite a few new projects during my lifetime, but geeze, the pace at which new stuff is coming out these days is insane!

What brought me down this rabbit hole? Well, I have a daughter-in-law that is taking a big swing. One of her classmates from graduate school has launched a new venture and she’s going to get on board Map Your Idea.

Right now, to introduce the product and get people to use it, it’s free. That allows this startup to build up a collection of examples of how small businesses and organizations are putting it to use. Go ahead, visit the website and see how it works. It’s pretty intuitive and who knows, your work or organization just might find it quite useful.

All this to say, I love innovation. And trying. Success is also a nice biproduct, but the experience and the lessons you take along with every swing at the plate will someday find a way to be quite valuable in your future.

It’s good to know things. And I hope you’ve taken a few big swings in your lifetime.

New ideas–I salute you!

Tim Hunter

Putting the Thanks into Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day means a lot of things to different people. It’s a day of stress, of family get togethers, watching football games, hanging lights, planning out the shopping, drawing names and of course, eating turkey.

Somewhere in all that we try to think about all that we’ve got, how fortunate our lives have been, and immerse ourselves in gratitude. Because when you sit down and think about it, each of our lives truly are blessed. It’s downright sad that the bulk of the holiday season is all about “what more can I get” than “you know, I’ve really got more than what I need.”

I mean, for God’s sake, you can buy anything with a couple of clicks of a mouse these days. I’ve gotten to the point where, if I need it, I buy it. If I don’t really need it, I’ll pass.

I wouldn’t say I’m non-materialistic, but when asked to write up a list of what I would like for Christmas, it was a struggle. Most of what I wrote down is what I’ve put on that list for the last 15 years. And when Christmas Day rolls around, when all the wrapping paper has been ripped off, I’ll have some nice holiday bonuses to enjoy. But as far as importance, those gifts are near the bottom.

As I get older, some of the most precious gifts to me are time. Time spent with people I care about, from college buddies of long ago, to friends and family that I just don’t see that much anymore. As you read in a recent blog, I lost a cousin a couple of weeks back–a cousin I didn’t even know I had until three years ago. I’ll tell you, she’s come to mind quite a bit lately, because dammit, we just weren’t given enough time together. If I could have had anything for Christmas this, just one thing, it would have been to have one more sit down with Diane.

That’s probably why the Facebook post of a longtime radio friend that I read yesterday really hit home with me. Sean and I worked together briefly a long time ago, back when radio was still in black and white. We’ve both lived lifetimes since we last saw each other and while I lament the passing of my cousin, he’s still absorbing what it’s like to lose a child. 

 

Last year was to be the first Apple Cup in 20 years I watched without Griffin by my side. It will instead be this Friday. Again, in the interest of transparency, our shared experience was less shared than an experience when it came to watching the Apple Cup. For the last ten years or so, Griffin spent nearly the whole game on his phone, WhatsApp-ing with who knows who whilst I watched every play with the intensity of a dog watching its owner slowly fill its dog dish with the evening kibble. Griffin’s experience of the Apple Cup was via replay: my overly emotional reactions cueing him to look up from his phone to watch the replay. For the first several years that he had his phone, it nearly ruined the game for me. I’d look over at him, hunched over his phone and mutter just audibly enough, “Cougar loving Duck fan can’t be bothered to watch the frigging game.” But over time I resigned myself to the fact that this was way we shared our passion for the Dawgs, shared memories one replay at a time. I’ve pondered over why the holidays are so difficult a time for those of us who have lost a loved one and why it is possibly trebly hard for those who have lost a child. The only answer I’ve come up with is space. The holidays offer us an opportunity to slow things down at work and school and create more space for reflection, relationships and fellowship. That space becomes a yawning breach when one of those for whom it is designed is no longer with us. Our reflections project into the present and worse yet the future as we transpose memories of holidays past on to holidays future and grieve the loss of both. Sadly, ironic in this for me is my own tendency during past holidays to watch time speed up as the stress of making every memory special drained them of joy, and filled that space with missed expectations and crooked Christmas trees. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. When our Christmas ad season now begins in late September something has definitely gotten a little out of whack societally. The pressure to make our holidays look like our favorite movies (or at least like the Home Depot commercials) is very real and very unrealistic. We press a year’s worth of entertainment into 20 days all while trying to encapsulate (and dress up) our family’s victories over the past year in our Christmas letter (assuming we remembered to snap the holiday photo when we were on Vacation in August). So, as we approach this holiday season, our second without the one person in our family who seemed to have the season in its proper perspective, let’s make a promise to one another. Let’s allow ourselves to be the imperfect beings we are. Let’s celebrate the lean the Christmas tree is taking to the right. Let’s allow our kids to build their memories their way, if only via replay. Let’s skip that seventh Christmas party and walk the neighborhood and look at the lights with our family. Let’s write a Christmas letter that tells it like it really happened. And certainly, let’s at the very least make some time to sit and be quiet in the space the season allows and hear what’s there is to be heard.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Griffin would recommend

 

And if your eyes are a little moist right now, you might as well read Sean’s message to his late son on what would have been his 23rd birthday

Meanwhile, back at the holiday, when you find surrounded by Thanksgiving this Thursday, be present. Take in those moments and store them in your brain like a fine wine. Because the older you get, they’re the things you’ll cherish a lot more than anything that makes it on to your Christmas list.

Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks for being out there for me.

Tim Hunter