AND WE ALL MOVE ON…

The best thing about getting older is that, of course, it’s better than the alternative.

But as I continue to rack up the years, I see others who don’t get to enjoy that good fortune. We’re all blessed with a certain amount of time on this planet, we just don’t know how much. The only consistent thing is that it’s never enough.

AUNT DORIS

Last weekend, we lost my Aunt Doris. She was the fourth of the six Brandner kids raised on the family farm just outside of Roscoe, South Dakota and in her lifetime, she didn’t get very far away. After getting married, she and her husband worked another nearby farm until he died at a young age and their oldest son, my cousin Clay, took over. Doris moved “into town” which is where she called home up until she passed at the age of 88 last weekend.

The day before passing, my mom was able to have a nice chat over the phone with her. Doris was so excited about being driven over to Ipswich, a nearby town with an actual grocery store. When you’re confined to an apartment in a small town of 269 people, something like a trip to a real-live grocery store can be a big deal.

The next day, following all the excitement of Friday, Doris had a ticket for a performance of the Edmunds Central High School’s production of “Trouble in Tumbleweed,” featuring her granddaughter, Ember.

By the way, Edmunds Central serves 32 students, grades 9-12.

Aunt Doris enjoyed the play, but as it concluded, she went to applaud and couldn’t raise one of her arms. It was the beginning of a stroke and, of course, for an ambulance to get her to a hospital, it had to be summoned from another city. By the time it arrived and Doris made the 45-minute trek to the big city of Aberdeen where the hospital was, things did not look good. In the wee hours of the next morning, she went to her eternal reward.

The last time I got to see Aunt Doris was at a Brandner sisters reunion back in 2019, which seems like yesterday. Doris and her sister Virginia left the Dakotas to travel all the way to Portland, Oregon, where youngest sister Judy lived. My mom and sister Debbie headed north from L.A. and my wife Victoria and I headed south to the Rose City for a couple of days.

I’m sure I have video of that group, as pretty much, when one or more are gathered, it turns into a laugh-fest.

Even though I would only see Aunt Doris and the rest of the South Dakota clan every couple of 5 years or so, when we were together, we just picked up where we left off before. I had kept up on her life thanks to my mom’s updates on the phone, but one of the most endearing things about Aunt Doris: for most of my life, she would always take the time to send me a birthday card every September. And not just a “Happy birthday, Doris” signature, but a hand-written, detailed update on everything that had been going on in Roscoe and her life that sometimes would often spill over to the back side of the card.

I’m pretty sure I saved every one of those cards. I’m going to have to dig them out and read ’em again.

What a sweetheart. Enjoy your rest. You will be missed.

MR. SLATER

Say what you want about Facebook, and I know you will, but it does allow us to keep up with people from our long ago past. This morning, I saw a post announcing to the world that my high school drama teacher, Mr. Slater had passed away at the age of 90.

I call him Mr. Slater because that’s what you called teachers back in my high school days. His full name was Charles Slater, he was the head of the drama department at Torrance High, and while I wasn’t into the drama thing, there was a time when a friend had written a play and asked if I would try out for one of the parts in his production of, “Nuts!” (hold the wisecracks at least for a moment) I got the role, Mr. Slater oversaw the production and made me as good as I could have possibly been. Acting was not my forte, but being goofy was, and somehow, we pulled it off.

That was my only real connection with Mr. S, but of the drama students I knew, they loved the heck out of him. Picture a Gene Wilder type appearance, with the big eyes and the curly 70s perm, and you have Mr. Slater.

Man, the power teachers have to make a difference in their student’s lives. It’s been 50 years since I roamed the halls of Torrance High School and I still find myself relying on some of the lessons learned there.

To all the teachers at THS, thank you.

DWIGHT PERRY

Now, wait a minute–Dwight’s still with us! In fact, they held a retirement party for him last Sunday as he hangs up whatever you hang up after you’ve been a sportswriter in the Seattle area for an eternity. Dwight not only turned the big 7-0 last weekend, but his kids organized a retirement gathering for him (on a Seahawks bye week, I must point out) so friends and colleagues could gather in Kent to celebrate his contributions to multiple print media outlets in the area, including the Seattle PI and the Seattle Times. His weekly column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times was responsible for countless people saying, “Hey, Tim, I saw you in the newspaper.”

Years ago, I decided to add Dwight to my weekly Wacky Week joke list and once a month or so, one of my lines would tickle his funny bone and he would stick it into his column. I will be forever grateful. In fact, there were times that some of my jokes that Dwight included in his Seattle column would show up in other newspapers around the country, so he was apparently being watched. To that end, when his daughter sent me an invite to attend his retirement bash, I had to at least make an appearance to say thanks. While the gathering was heavy on newspaper types, I had a great chance to meet and chat with Dwight’s son Matt, and meet one of his colleagues, Justice Hill. Mr. Hill still writes a weekly column for Cleveland.com but you’ll want to check his main website and follow his travels. Getting around the globe is what he’s doing these days and posting about his adventures right here.

I had forgotten that Dwight suffered a series of strokes last year that set him back for a while, but he got back up on his Sideline Chatter horse and returned to putting out those fun, positive stories for sports fans. I’m sure hoping that someone takes over that column, but if and when that happens, Dwight Perry is going to be a tough act to follow.

Enjoy your downtime, Dwight! You can just see how thrilled he was to finally meet me in person.

And we all move on….

Tim Hunter

It Really Happened

I have to be honest, something like this has never happened to me before.

Oh, there was that time I went “ghost hunting” with my producer, Bryon, at a south end cemetery on Halloween years ago and we talked ourselves into believing we saw some misty figures off in the distance. I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but for the sake of a bit on the radio, sure, I saw something.

And I’m still not totally convinced I saw an actual ghost a couple of weeks ago, but it’s probably the closest thing to it that I’ve experienced.

So, it was a Sunday afternoon. That morning, my wife and I made a rare cameo appearance at a service at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard. We had bumped into Pastor Gretchen at the grocery store the week before and she reminded us that All Saints’ Day was coming up, when everyone was invited to bring along a picture of someone they had lost and put it up in a window of the church. And so, we brought along a picture of my wife’s father, Ernie, who passed away last year.

After church, we enjoyed a rare day of not much to do, watching the Seahawks on TV and then after the game, running a couple of quick errands. As we headed home, we traveled west on 125th Street in Seattle, which happens to run right in front of the Evergreen-Washelli cemetery, where Ernie enjoys his eternal rest. I drive by that spot a lot and always look over his direction, just to make sure all is well. But this time, as I glanced over while I was driving, I immediately got chills. There, in the cemetery, not far from Ernie’s final resting place, was a man of his stature, in a blue oversized coat, just like the one he used to always wear, walking a big puffy white dog. Since I was driving, I’d check to make sure I wasn’t about to run into anything, then over to the cemetery, then back to the road and so forth until the cemetery was out of view. I didn’t stop, as I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing, plus, I didn’t want to say something that might freak out my wife.

But I was pretty damn sure that was Ernie.

I told Victoria about the sighting later and she found it “cool.” So, she didn’t freak out. If I had known that, I might have slammed on the breaks and yelled out, “Look!” But I didn’t.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in heaven or whatever awaits us after this life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that wherever we end up, we get to spend eternity enjoying the things we loved. Ernie loved walking that dog, and people recognized him around his neighborhood as “that guy who walks the big, white, fluffy dog.”

And for probably 10-seconds, I got to see him again. Or, I think it was him. It had to be him.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. And I know, one thing’s for sure–it really happened.

So, I thought I would share.

Tim Hunter

Let’s get political, political…

Yes, I’m going to take a gingerly stroll down this topic on the eve of those infamous mid-term elections.

No preaching, no secret agenda. You see, I’m old enough to remember when people could actually DISCUSS politics, without one thinking the other was a monster for having an opposite view. Flashing back 60 years ago when I was a kid, I recall my parents having friends over and them discussing the upcoming presidential election. (Gee, that would have made me 5-years-old) The phrase that stuck in my brain was, “Someone said that if Kennedy’s elected, he’ll have us all praying to Mary!” (Kennedy was a Roman Catholic. You know, the ones who wore togas)

Zip back a mere 40 years, and I can still see news coverage of President Ronald Reagan having beers with House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal. Yes, a Republican and Democrat, with serious political differences, but remembering the important thing: we’re all still Americans.

What the hell happened and why did we let it get this way?

I have my political beliefs, you have yours. I respect that. I’m not going to try to change your mind and I guarantee you won’t change mine, but that’s OK. Politics is only a part of who we are, it determines our future as a group and the kind of country we live in and will leave for the next generation. But it’s sad how it has become less about philosophy and debate, and more about marketing and manipulation.

As further proof I’m not trying to sway your vote, I’m posting this now. My ballot was filled out and mailed in two weeks ago. I have a feeling more and more people are getting it done early just to get it out of the way.

I’ve got a couple of videos I’d like to put on your radar. The first, this brilliant parody of a horror movie trailer about where the Democrats are when it comes to a future presidential candidate.

So much truth.

And another dose of truth for you here. This one touches on the blinders that some voters strap on and this preacher (yes, you will hear some preaching here) absolutely nails it. Thanks to sister Debbie for passing along.

But as I tell people I know who are freaking out about how these mid-term elections could go, we get the government we deserve. I hope for the best, but if we’re not bright enough to elect the right people, well, we’ll have to live with it.

So much more I could say, but for now, that’s enough.

Know WHY you’re voting the way you’re voting. Is it because of things you believe, or the marketing fears that they’re capitalizing on? Is it conviction on the candidate’s platform, or the talking points sent to them to repeat over and over because of what they found out in focus groups?

But here’s hoping you do vote so you can at least share the credit or the blame.

Tim Hunter

The Places I Go, The Things I See

We went to a 50th birthday party last Friday.

And that’s where the typical comes to an end.

Special decade birthdays have evolved over the years. I can faintly remember attending some 30th birthday parties where people complained about feeling “so old.” Little did they realize, that feeling was just getting started.

Then there were the 40th birthday parties, which usually amounted to people gathering and complaining about the latest issue with their bodies. “My knee hurts…”, “My back went out last night….”, etc.

The all-time record holder for the best 40th birthday party has to go to Mark Shoener, an attorney who lived in the neighborhood. He and his family lived a culdesac over and our neighborhood was “one of THOSE neighborhoods” that went all out at Christmas. I’d say, 75% of the houses all decked out in Christmas lights by the day after Thanksgiving. Well, Mark’s birthday was in early December and his wife thought it would be funny if, for the party, she hired a stripper for the birthday boy.

Oh, sure, inside, laughs were roaring as the dancer tried to embarrass the birthday boy. But outside, I could only imagine the family slowly cruising through the neighborhood with the kids looking at all the Christmas lights, when they came upon one house, where a stripper was performing in front of the huge picture window. I could hear the father saying, “Honey, we gotta move to this neighborhood!”

Back to the birthdays. It was a treat being invited to a 50th party. We’ve hit that time in our lives when some people don’t want other people to know how old they are. There’s kind of a blackout period for the 60th and 70th and then, if you’re lucky enough to make it, it seems like it’s suddenly O.K. to celebrate an 80th. We’ve been to a few of those. In recent years, we’ve celebrated several 90ths, including ones for my parents, as well as Victoria’s.

A couple of things made our Friday night outing especially fun. First, the whole 50th thing. We found ourselves surrounded by people both above and below 50, so some fresh blood! Although, truth be told, we hung mostly with a couple (she was with Trophy Cupcakes) who were in “our age bracket.” (think late 40s and don’t ask questions)

But the coolest thing of all was the venue. Actually, it’s a future venue, going through a transition. Because the Georgetown Steam Plant is a historical structure, it’s not going anywhere. And thank God!

First off, it is the last remaining steam plant of it’s type in the world! Here’s a website that will tell you more and let you can take a virtual tour. We were able to wander around, go upstairs, to the boiler room, and yes, there will need to be some major work done. Funny, but the birthday invitation urged people bringing their kids to the party not to “lick the pipes or walls.”

I talked with the president of the Georgetown Something or Other and he’s heading up the drive to turn it into a museum and entertainment venue. Rather than boring you with more details, I think the pictures will give you an idea of what a massively impressive venue this is, and will be in the future.

I’m glad we don’t just tear down everything. Oh, the places I go, the things I see….

Tim Hunter

Well, I’ve Reluctantly Joined The Club

You can’t say we didn’t try.

My wife, Victoria, and I had spent the better part of the past two years and 3 months doing what the CDC recommended, following every word of St. Fauci, wearing masks when others had decided they were through, never wandering into a grocery store with a bare face and yet this past week, we got COVID.

We found out on Monday, Memorial Day, that we had been exposed to someone with the virus on Sunday. Then, we learned we had also been exposed to two more people at a wedding the previous day on Saturday. (aka, the bride & groom)

And with that, our luck ran out. I kept telling myself for several days that it had to be a cold. I mean, for God’s sake, there are still colds and flu’s out there. Not EVERYTHING has to be COVID!

But on Friday morning, after testing every day since Tuesday, I finally got the double bars. Victoria earned her stripes on Sunday.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Friday, I was scheduled to be the reader, music man and goofball for an auction in Everett benefitting the Campfire program of Snohomish County. Then, Sunday, I was on tap to once again be the auctioneer for the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle Fish & Meatball dinner. Victoria was equally crucial to that event, but had to harness her delegation powers

Shortly after my positive test, I spent the morning scrambling to find replacements for me, so that the shows could go on. Kudos to buddy Ken Carson who took on the Campfire thing solo, and then showed up to wow the crowd at Sunday’s Norwegian gathering. Ken, they loved you. Looking forward to working with you at the Bothell Boosters Auction in less than two weeks. I should be clean by then.

Meanwhile, back in sick bay, I figured I would pass along what knowledge I’ve acquired during my unplanned travels down this road:

I’ve been sicker: The symptoms seem to come in waves. A plugged nose, followed by a runny nose, a slight burn in the lungs, tiredness. But when you get down to it, it feels more like a mild cold that I’m pretty sure is thanks to having my two Moderna vaccines and a booster. We were planning to get that second booster but wanted to wait until our schedule slowed down a bit, in case there were any side effects.

We’ve also had several friends also catch the crud over the last week say exactly what I’ve said–“I’ve been sicker.”

If you can get Paxlovid, get it! That’s the Pfizer product that helps speed up recovery and I’m hoping it does. There are several qualifying factors that allow you to get it–being over 65, having certain health conditions, etc.–but if you qualify, it’s a game-changer. What I can tell you about it–the biggest warning is that it doesn’t play well with a lot of other medicines. So, if you’re taking something regularly, you may have to stop for the 5-days you’re Paxloviding. (ooh, look, I made it a verb!) I had heard that when you take it, you start feeling better on the second day. That may have been true, but I wasn’t feeling that bad to begin with. I’m now on day 3 and to me, the headline is that the story I heard about how you get a metal taste in your mouth–absolutely true.

Prepare to be amazed how word spreads–Seriously, we had told less than 5 people that I had tested positive on Friday morning and by 9am, I had gotten messages of support from two people who had absolutely no connection to those 5 friends. This is why I have my secret identify plan ready for when I finally do win the lottery.

You’ll be forced to rest–Geeze, I got in all the episodes of “Stranger Things”, caught up on “Barry” and discovered how great “The Lincoln Lawyer” is on Netflix. So, there is an upside.

It’s the world in which we live. Another friend who caught it this week made the frequently made comment, “Well, if you haven’t gotten it yet, it’s just a matter of time.” As part of a team that was doing SO good about avoiding it, I’d have to agree. But even though it seems like it just won’t go away, we’ve at least worn it down so it’s now a lighter form of the original and the vaccinations seems to be doing their jobs.

If you have any questions or want thoughts from someone who sits in the front row, don’t hesitate to ask. I’d use my radio address, tim.hunter@krko.com because it’s the least busy of them all.

Glad to help in any way I can, especially now that I’m a member of the club.

A very reluctant member. Meeting adjourned.

Tim Hunter

I Was Almost At The Bus Station When My Ship Came In

So, for years, I’ve been using an Alaska Airlines card to rack up mile so that, whenever we travel, we can get some ridiculously cheap airfares.

And it’s worked great–until a pandemic came along. Then we stopped traveling. So, with almost 100,000 miles waiting to be used, I thought I’d take advantage of Costco’s offer of switching to their VISA card, which would give me rewards cash back.

Oh, I’ve been using this for everything. Xfinity bill? Pay it with the Costco Citi card, then immediately pay the card off. Basically, use it like a debit card, but just make sure to pay it off right away.

I figured my rewards would come to me like the previous Executive Member Rewards and last year, I received a check for $177-ish, which was a kick back on my in-store purchases at Costco. I even lost that check at the store and had to ask for a replacement, which they sent in the mail a couple of weeks later.

I thought that was the end of it.

But then at the end of last year, I got this email that looked about as spammy as they get.

Oh, sure. Who do you think you’re dealing with here, pal? I already got my rebate check, fools. And I’ve never received anything in the $400 club. And what’s with the info4.citi.com address? Oh, I’m not falling for that one.

A week later, the aforementioned rebate check appeared in my inbox:

Uh, well, it looks real. But I don’t have time to deal with this right now. So, I devised a plan: print it out, take it to Costco at some point and see what they have to say about it.

Well, that was in early January. As readers of this blog know, that’s when my world got turned upside down and our downstairs flooded, wiping it all out. I had printed out the coupon and it sat behind my laptop until this past week, when I was heading north to visit a friend. I thought, this is the perfect occasion to just hop into customer service, ask if it’s real and be on my way.

I walked into the Shoreline location, the guy asked me to step forward and I told him the story of this spam-looking coupon. He playfully said, “Oh, one of these,” took it from my out-stretched hand and tucked it underneath the cash in his open till. He continued his dry delivery with someone like, “Yeah, I’d just forget about it, if I were you. I’ll take care of it.”

He then handed me a quarter.

As I stood there wondering what was going on, he grabbed a chunk of bills from his till and started counting out: “20, 40, 60, 80, 100…..” and so on, until he had counted out $438 to go with my new quarter.

“It’s real?” I asked. He replied, “Yup!” I told him, “If I could get through this glass, I’d hug you.”

The spam-looking coupon was authentic. The measly 3% kickback grew to quite the size by using the card to pay for almost everything over the year.

But I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people saw that email come in, viewed it as spam, and never collected their bonus? I wonder if CITI Bank is counting on that happening?

It’s why I felt compelled to tell you about it. I mean, seriously, I almost threw the darn thing out because it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle or embarrassment to take it into Costco and ask.

Search your inbox in late December and early January for CITI, Rewards or Costco and see what shows up. I can’t believe I almost tossed away $400 because of how weary I am about receiving spam. I was this close to being at the bus station when my ship came in.

Tim Hunter

Life Hack #189–Go To Arizona

We’re all on this journey together and whenever I come across a life hack that is life changing, I feel compelled to pass it along.

My latest discovery occurred during the much-dreaded “Spring Ahead” weekend, which occurs during the shortest weekend of the year. Once again, we were forced to move our clocks ahead an hour to please the ghost of Ben Franklin and appease farmers who lived over 100 years ago.

This year, the time change was scheduled for the same weekend that I was invited to the wedding of a good friend, Corey Newton. He was marrying the love of his life and I was not going to miss it, so on Saturday morning, we flew down to Arizona, caught the wedding and reception, saw a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a while, went to bed, woke up and flew back home to Seattle.

Besides being an incredible wedding, It was the most painless time-switch ever.

You see, when we left Seattle on Saturday, we were still on Standard time. When we landed in Arizona shortly before noon, we had arrived in a state that ditched the time change years ago. They are in the Mountain Standard Time Zone, or Seattle’s version of “Daylight Saving Time” year ’round.

Technically, we “lost an hour” during the flight. But who knew? On paper, it was a 4-hour flight but in fact, was actually a 3-hour flight. Think about it–when you’re on an airline, you really can’t be a good judge of time. I’ve been on 2-hour flights that seem like 5 hours, and 8-hour flights that seemed like 4. Airline flights are a lot like movies: when you check your watch, they’ve gone on too long.

In this case, I spent the three hours in flight doing some work on my laptop and then catching a short movie. The next thing we know, we’re landing in Arizona. From that point, until the time we flew home, there was no time change. We woke up Sunday morning in the same time zone in which we landed, and Seattle adjusted their clocks while we were gone.

Even my wife, who is one of the time change’s biggest critics, barely talked about it. I figure if it makes her life easier, it may just justify going on an Arizona trip every second weekend of March.

As for what we’re going to do in the fall when we return to standard time, I’m sure if there’s an easier way to do that. I guess I could try to talk her into a trip to Alaska, but that could be tricky. I’ll work on that angle.

But in the meantime, next year for “Spring Ahead” weekend, may I offer up Life Hack #189: When it’s time to “Spring Ahead”, Go to Arizona.

Tim Hunter

My War With Wordle

Earlier this year, I started noticing these weird posts by people on my Facebook feed. Something like this

⬜🟨⬜⬜🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟨🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

At first, I wasn’t sure if my computer monitor was going out, or if the ‘Ruskies were trying to pass along a secret message to their spies here using a special kind of code.

Eventually, I learned that it was a result you’d get when playing the online word guessing game, Wordle.

Wanting to stay on top of social trends, I thought I would investigate. I played the game, got a kick out of it and most days when I get up, it’s one of the first things I do. (after making coffee and playing Jeopardy with Alexa)

Since you’re only allowed to play it once a day, it helps you from getting addicted and wasting a lot of time with it. I’ve been stumped a couple of times and then kicked myself for not being able to figure it out.

But then, Wordle-gate came along.

Around a month ago, the New York Times bought the game and fears immediately surfaced that they would start charging for this daily challenge. Was that the Old Gray Lady’s evil plan?

Well, not yet. But what some people were talking about online is that since the Times bought it, the puzzles have been getting harder. At first, I laughed it off as just a bunch of whining players who were stumped a few too many times. But then, last Sunday’s word made me re-think my position.

The word of the day? “Tacit

And I wasn’t the only one to notice that particular word. Now known among loyalists as “Word 246”, people were pretty ticked about that choice.

Yes, people were really upset.

Be honest–when was the last time you used that word?

Maybe when you were drunk, and slurred the sentence, “I’ll have to ask it”, which sounded more like “I’ll have tacit.”

Or, maybe you had an upset stomach and remarked, “I’m dealing with tacit indigestion.”

What exactly does ‘tacit’ mean? The dictionary tells us that means, “understood or implied without being stated.” Use it in a sentence? “Your silence may be taken to mean tacit agreement.”

Oh, yeah, I say that all the time.

I have never heard of that word before in my life. I’ve never used it and I can pretty much promise I’ll never use it in my remaining days. Why? Because if I did, I would have to explain what I just said.

So, are the new owners of Wordle trying to build up our vocabularies? I already have Reader’s Digest for that. That’s not why I play the game and if they’re going to start tossing me curve balls like tacit and have me guessing at words I’ve never heard of before, well, then, two can play at that game.

On Sunday, when I had figured out the ‘acit’ parts of the word and was only letter shy of nailing it, I did what every red-blooded Wordle player would do. I fired up Google and asked, “Words that have acit” in them.

Since there was only one possibility, I entered the missing ‘t’ and all was right with the world. Take that, Wordle.

It’s the first time I’ve resorted to this because I do want to keep adding wrinkles to my gray matter. I’ve solved some of the puzzles in 3 guesses, while others took me the full six guesses with the “Whew” comment from Wordle as I guessed correctly on my last try.

For now, I’ll keep playing Wordle. If you haven’t tried it out yet, do that here.

And one other hack that I stumbled across. Play the game on your phone first (a different IP address) and since the world is playing the same word that day, learn what it is on your phone, then guess it with one guess on your computer. Impress your friends. Influence your enemies.

What does the future hold for the game of Wordle? I don’t know, but if I get a chance to chat with the future, I’ll have tacit.

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

 

 

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….