Take a Chance, Get Involved

The question came out of the blue. My wife and I had volunteered to help with Hanover High School’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” five years ago because our daughter was one of the elementary school students taking part in some scenes.

So we joined in as bodies for the background in lieu of leaving Bridget alone in the high school auditorium during rehearsal. As we sat there one night before rehearsal, George Matthew – “Mr. George” of library fame – approached me with the offer I never anticipated.

He had a couple of openings due to people pulling out of the play, and he wanted me to fill one of them.

I deflected at first for a variety of reasons. First of all, this was a high school play and, even though the cast featured a handful of adults to make it a district-wide effort, I just felt out of place. Secondly, I had a trip coming up for work so would miss about a week of rehearsal time.

Lastly, and most importantly, I had no idea what to do on stage.

Growing up, I participated in the programs we had to take part in at my parochial school. The only one I really remember was a holiday program that included – I swear to God – eighth-grade students acting out popular commercials in between the other grades singing Christmas carols.

I was cast in a mouthwash commercial. I remember all of this for two reasons, three if you count the fact that I always remember really weird events in life.

I remember that there was much discussion over whether the boys and girls in the commercial would actually kiss like they actors did in the real commercial. We didn’t. I also remember that someone dropped a bottle of Listerine in the hallway as we prepared to go down to the gym. That stank to high heaven.

These memories rushed back to me as Mr. George cajoled me onto stage that night during rehearsal, promising me I was just standing in for the night and could decide for real after my work trip. In actuality, there was no decision. I couldn’t let Mr. George down.

We just passed the five year anniversary of that show, which packed the HHS auditorium for three performances. I ended up having one of the best times I could remember and ended up taking the chance at some Hanover Little Theatre auditions a few months later.

That led to five years of annoying people about coming to see me in my shows at HLT. That led to some wonderful new friendships. That led to realizing that so many opportunities exist out there if you just take a chance.

We have a community filled with civic groups and service organizations and performance groups just dying to get some new blood. Don’t worry if you have an upcoming trip for work or if you have never done it before.

If I can get up there and pretend to be a dog owner like I did this month in our production of “Sylvia” at HLT (and shame on you who didn’t come – we had a blast), then anything is possible.

Little Blue Light

We all seem to live and die by our electronic devices these days. We need to make sure we charge our cell phones, our tablets and any other device that allows us to never talk to anyone because we really need to see that funny photo of a cat.

When you have multiple people with multiple devices, you need to find ways to guarantee that no one ever runs out of juice. That led me to recently purchase a plug for the power strip by our bed so I could charge my tablet right there instead of hunting down an open USB port.

This is where I started to discover a terrible problem plaguing our society.

When I bought the plug, I didn’t really take a close look at the packaging. It fit two USB cords and didn’t cost a lot. That’s all I needed. I don’t know if it included a warning that might have convinced me to look at another brand.

We didn’t realize any of this until after I had plugged it in and settled in for the night. When I woke up, I noticed a strange glow in our room. My wife also noticed when she woke up. I think the guys at the International Space Station noticed.

The plug had a blue light that lit up whenever it was plugged in. A really bright, annoying blue light.

I have no idea why the manufacturer did this. Maybe they thought people could not find the outlet with the plug and needed some help. Or maybe they want to blind all of their customers.

My wife solved the problem with a small piece of electrical tape. Some might say we have nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong. The blue light has invaded our lives now. I have a few chargers that plug into car cigarette lighters. They came free from a conference I attended. They also have the blue light of death. I fear I could get pulled over for using my bright lights incorrectly because of this life.

The problem goes far beyond chargers too. I bought the charger for the bedroom because I have a small humidifier that works on USB power. The thing sits on top of a water bottle – it’s pretty convenient for my nightstand.

In fact, I bought it at the same time I bought this plug. I did not notice that the contraption emits a “soft, relaxing blue mood light.”

I’m not sure what dictionary they are using if they think this light is soft and relaxing. When I plugged it in with the lights out, I worried that an airplane would change its course and try to land in my bedroom.

We have one soft and relaxing blue light already in the world. We call it television, and it solves all our problems and teaches us the lessons we need to learn. Why do some companies try to compete with this? Why can’t they just give me products that will make my life easier without turning my bedroom into a rave?

The American Soccer Conversation Problem

NOTE: The headline and first few paragraphs are different than when I first posted this. I swore Alexi Lalas said something that Taylor Twellman said. But my main points stand – Klinsmann is not talking about anything new when there are plenty of new things to discuss.

Those of us who have followed soccer in the U.S. for many years have gotten used to former men’s national team player, former general manager, and current broadcaster Alexi Lalas taking up whatever opinion suited him at the moment. It’s what makes him a divisive figure, among other things. But at halftime of last night’s MLS game on ESPN2, he outdid himself I thought he outdid himself.

While he argued both sides of the Juergen Klinsmann-Don Garber kerfuffle, he Taylor Twellman pointed out that Klinsmann was hardly the first men’s national team manager to bring up issues such as where America’s top players should ply their trade to best maximize their talent. Less than a minute later, as Lalas and Taylor Twellman took the obvious line of “it’s good to have these conversations,” Lalas credited Klinsmann for asking questions that we haven’t heard before.

I initially thought Lalas had made the first point, but have re-watched the video and see he didn’t contradict himself. Even though I was initially wrong on that, an important question remains – is Klinsmann really asking questions we haven’t heard before? He also said some of these questions are ones we don’t want to hear the answers to. I disagree with that. We’ve heard all the answers and then some.

In recent weeks, Klinsmann has been lauded by some for addressing promotion/relegation, speaking “truth” to how Landon Donovan didn’t reach his true potential by staying in MLS and criticizing Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley for making a similar decision after their years in Europe.

These aren’t new conversations. They aren’t even interesting conversations. These topics have been well worn for years. They were staples of the heyday of Big Soccer. Hell, I had to endure the “players in Europe are by default better than MLS” back in 1997 in a bar in Hanover, Pa., when some clown told me how the future of the national team rested on the shoulders of Jovan Kirovski alone simply because he played on ManU’s reserves.

Klinsmann has done nothing new. Every topic he has addressed has an easily accessible history for anyone with access to Google. Maybe they are important topics to him, but they are hardly new, and the opinions expressed by both sides are far from ground-breaking.

And this is why Lalas needs a new schtick. American soccer fans have discussed these things to death. That’s not to say there’s nothing to discuss and American soccer is sitting pretty with no obstacles on their way to world domination. Let’s just use some critical thinking skills to focus on some other things.

Like why does Klinsmann only criticize the career path of 2-3 players? If he’s such a big picture guy, why does he zoom in on Donovan (personal connection), Dempsey (spurned his advice) and Bradley (father was former coach)? Why not lambast Graham Zusi and Matt Besler for a long-term pledge to MLS? Why not wax poetic on the decisions of Mixx Diskerud of Aron Johansson? Why not tell us all the bad moves Timmy Chandler has made? Twellman did bring that up some, but we need more of this.

And why focus just on what the players do? Why not take on the culture in Europe which still makes it harder for US players to truly succeed? Why not issue a challenge to managers who ditch Americans so often at the first bump in the road? Why not take on agents who sometimes have no Plan B when their player’s first stop doesn’t work out?

Instead of people worrying about promotion and relegation – a pipe dream – why not take a look at youth programs that invest in the development academy program, but offer nothing substantive beyond the U-18 level? Why not encourage those teams to get involved in USL PRO or the NPSL? Why only focus on how MLS teams develop players?

Why simply pillory MLS for playing through FIFA international dates when that practice is actually growing in other countries? Brazil played through this break. Costa Rica had a full schedule the day after a friendly. The Copa Sudamericana played its Round of 16 during the break!  Maybe the discussion should be on scheduling in general instead of “Garber sucks.”

We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a career in Europe can do good things for some players, but we also shouldn’t focus on picking the nits out of this one subject that is far more complex than the current discussion allows. And the people who pretend they are thought leaders shouldn’t pretend this is a new conversation. Maybe we need to send some of them to Europe to learn how to truly discuss the sport.

Settle Down

Things have already started. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As we all try to wring the last bit of summer out of the season (even though summer technically goes on for two more weeks, but I’m willing to work with the colloquial definition here), the scourge has crept its way into conversation.

People are complaining about winter. Already.

Not one team had clinched a spot in baseball’s playoffs, and I saw moaning about a possibly harsh winter in my Facebook feed. Never mind that the meteorologists predicting this are probably the same ones who routinely miss snowstorms. That’s an inconvenient fact when snow alarmism is involved.

I have already had one friend tell me that I should just avoid them this winter if I don’t like to hear people complain about the weather. But why would I do that? If I don’t have some friends who complain about the weather, I wouldn’t get the chance to complain about people who complain about the weather.

This is not an indication that I love bad weather. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The days I can just relax and enjoy the beauty of the snow make for some of the best winter days. The days when I get stuck in the snow on my way home do not.

But I try not to waste my breath talking about how bad things are when it snows for one very simple reason. I can’t change the weather.

My pragmatic side dominates things when this topic comes up. Enough things in this world can raise my blood pressure. I try to keep things that I can’t control off of that list.

Besides, I have the good fortune of working at a place that will close when the weather gets bad, meaning I will never curse bad weather when it gets me a day of sleeping in and watching television. I know not everyone has that luxury and sympathize with those who get angry when they can’t take a day off when school is cancelled for their kids.

But the recent phenomenon didn’t even rise to the level of complaining because a snow storm disrupted your plans for the day. Like I said, the first pumpkin beers were barely on the shelf when this angst started to bubble up.

Complaining about weather that is actually happening is one thing, but complaining about a report that weather in the future might be bad – especially when predicting these kinds of things is horribly unreliable – makes absolutely no sense to me.

We have a chance to buy our Halloween candy seven weeks ahead of time, and some people want to worry because there are reports that think winter might be a bad one? It isn’t even Snuggie weather yet. Can’t we wait to freak out until we see a snowflake or maybe even some falling leaves?

Get outside and pour yourself a summer drink. We have a couple weeks left before fall officially starts. Watch some football. Carve a pumpkin. You have plenty of time before it’s appropriate to complain about snow.

Then I’ll tell you to knock it off and make some hot chocolate. Mother Nature doesn’t care what we think.

Up All Night

Sometimes, life gets in the way of some pretty important experiences. Take the recent television marathon of every episode of “The Simpsons” ever produced.

I admit that I don’t have the same affinity for the legendary cartoon that some people do, but this event really caught my attention. Just because I can’t remember which season was the best of pull out obscure quotes doesn’t mean I’m not thrilled by the idea of showing a couple decades worth of a TV show in order.

The problem is that I have a job and a family and a life. All three of these things are completely incompatible with seeing how far I could push my body before I collapsed out of exhaustion.

For the record, I probably wouldn’t have made it more than 20-some hours. I don’t have the stamina that I did when I was a kid, but it would have been fun trying.

OK, that’s not completely true. I probably wouldn’t have lasted much more than 20-some hours as a kid either. As much as I wanted to stay up for ungodly amounts of time watching TV, I could never do it.

The task had greater obstacles back in the day. I remember looking through the TV Guide – yes, kids, we actually had to look through a printed publication to see what shows would be on TV when I was young – to plot out marathon viewing sessions.

These sessions only existed in my mind. First of all, I would always find gaps in the schedule where nothing good was playing, even in the early days of cable TV. Second, the presence of my parents and siblings never guaranteed me unfettered access to the TV. Lastly, I’m a wimp and would conk out in the middle of the night regardless of how much soda I drank.

I can only think of a few times when I overcame this inability to satisfy my urge to stay up for long hours simply so I could tell people I stayed up for long hours. None of them involved television.

I managed long spells awake two of the times I flew overseas. The first time, when I was on a high school trip to England, I stupidly took some generic caffeine pills because I heard that’s how kids in college pulled all nighters. I didn’t feel so good afterwards.

One time in college, I stayed up all night to write an important paper, turned the paper in, went to my classes and worked the entire next night at the campus newspaper. I may have napped a little, but I was probably up for close to 48 hours.

When I finally got to my fraternity house, I went to our TV room to wind down before sleeping. I threw a quarter in the soda machine – which also had beer interspersed in it because we ran the thing ourselves as a cruel game of Russian roulette – and promptly got a Milwaukee’s Best.

I sighed, dropped another quarter in the machine, hit the same button and received another beer. My friends celebrated because that was the lone double whammy they had put in the machine.

Chagrined, I sat down, drank both beers and slept for an eternity. I guess I will never find out if 48 hours of Bart Simpson could replicate that slumber.

Generic Issues

More than a decade ago, one of the regional grocery stores called their generic brand “Finast.” Around that time, I secured a new job which included a nice bump in salary.

As Maria and I celebrated, I told her we could now buy “the finest meats and cheeses.” She replied, “Instead of Finast meats and cheeses.”

The joke has hung around our house all this time. I really have nothing against generic brands and often buy them myself. The markup for the name on the box isn’t always worth it.

My wife, however, made a grave miscalculation about that last week. She bought generic Cheez-Its.

To say this caused controversy at home would not accurately capture the situation. There were text messages followed by a long discussion at dinner followed by Facebook posts that allowed friends and family to weigh in on the matter.  One of my older sisters taunted us with a picture of a bag of Cheez-Its with the caption “looks like we made it.”

That kind of hurt. I have turned into a little bit of a cheapskate as I have gotten older. I don’t make impulse buys like I used to. When I do, I make sure I am getting a really good discount.

But some things shouldn’t even enter into the conversation when it comes to cutting corners. I mean, if you really have money problems there is absolutely no shame in getting generic cheesy snack crackers.

Thankfully, we don’t have that kind of issue right now. We’re not diving into swimming pools filled with money (well, not yet because I am writing this before Friday’s lottery drawing) like Scrooge McDuck, but we can easily afford the 50-cent difference between the generic and name brand on this item.

When we took this topic to social media, some folks suggested a blind taste test to see if the hubbub about this purchase really mattered. I would have no problem with that. In fact, I bet I would enjoy the generic brand just fine.

Some products transcend the whole name brand vs. generic debate, however. The name defines them.

Cheez-Its falls into this category. So do Oreos. I would argue that Fritos do, but the price difference between the two is pretty stark so I supported my wife buying the generic ones as long as she put them into the name-brand bag to quell any potential uprising.

I also have no problem with generic salsa or salad dressing or other condiments. We eat generic yogurt sometimes, and I regularly eat generic granola bars in the morning at work.

This is a pretty fine line in my mind. While we never reached a consensus on this issue, people pretty much agreed that generics as a whole aren’t bad. It all depends on the product.

For instance, I have no problem with generic soda. When I see a sale on the off-brand stuff, I will sometimes grab a 12-pack or two.

One of my wife’s guilty pleasures is a diet soda in the afternoon. I wonder what would happen if I bought her a generic brand?

On second thought, I don’t know if I want to go down that road. She could retaliate with generic beer.

In Defense of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

Sometimes, I feel like I should address this subject as if I am attending a recovery meeting.

“Hi, my name is Brian.”

“Hi, Brian.”

“I think The Big Bang Theory is a quality television show.”

Actually, that kind of meeting wouldn’t require the anonymity and potential shame that can come with a gathering of folks in recovery. The show has a massive following.

That speech is probably better suited for some special group of folks who like the top-rated CBS comedy, doesn’t consider it pandering and also enjoys “smart” comedies like Parks and Recreation and critical darlings who did not attract enough viewers to get a chance at a sustained run like TBBT.

I point this out only because some of the most virulent criticism of the Chuck Lorre show, especially in the wake of Jim Parson taking home another Emmy last night, comes from places like Warming Glow, a pop culture site which I enjoy except for its slavish devotion to Community creator Dan Harmon. (I like his show, but the fanboy following is over the top).

My big mistake came when I waded into the comments there and said some things and some other people said some things and I went and clicked the check box which stopped sending me e-mails whenever people replied to my comments because, well, the Internet.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to try and defend a show which does so well that it’s top actors will earn $1 million per episode this year. They don’t need my help. Plus, I really don’t care if other people like TBBT or any other show I like. My God, I watched Raising Hope to the bitter and can’t wait for the final season of Cougar Town. I’m not making my choices based on popularity.

I guess I just take offense at the criticism (from places like Warming Glow) that if you like TBBT, you have no taste and only watch TV to not think and don’t understand comedy. I think I understand comedy pretty well. I watch a lot of shows that critics love. I cut my teeth on M*A*S*H*. My family watched Cheers before it became a national hit.

Sure, Chuck Lorre brought us Two and a Half Men before TBBT, and that brought us Charlie Sheen’s antics and a shocking Emmy for Jon Cryer and the whiny guy who played the kid and then railed against the show. But should the scientists from California pay for the sins of that show just because they share a creator?

I love Parks and Recreation, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find fault with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, also from the brain of Mike Schur. But the mob mentality against TBBT seems to have to more with reputation than people having actually watched many episodes of the show.

First of all, the cast is pretty damned good. Many wring their hands over Parsons winning another Emmy, but I think the bigger problem with the award system is the lack of recognition for Kaley Cuoco for her performance as Penny. I don’t think she should win, but a nomination would go a long way toward rewarding her for what I feel is the role that makes the show work.

Secondly, the show hardly relies on one simple premise. It’s not just making fun of nerds. For instance, the Leonard-Penny relationship has, in my estimation, handled the “will they or won’t they” with more alacrity than most TV shows with the same dilemma. The ways they have each tried to expose the other to things outside their comfort zone really strengthens the relationship. I doubt the critics could actually discuss those in depth because they haven’t watched enough to see the

Thirdly, who cares what nerds think about it? Community isn’t judged by what people at two-year schools think. Parks and Rec fans don’t worry about the thoughts from municipal leaders. So why do the people who criticize the show often say, “look, even nerds hate it!” It’s a TV show, not a referendum.

Lastly, the way the writers have made adjustments over the years, adding characters to the universe while showing how that affects the other characters and giving them all some sort of social tic to throw something else into the mix has helped keep the show fresh (and let those who discovered it in reruns come into the new shows with a sense of discovery).

I don’t expect the people who hate the show to change their mind, but I selfishly wanted to go over this because it seems like the debate has devolved into nothing but “it sucks” vs. “big ratings.” The reality lies somewhere in the middle. Let’s hope the discussion can get there at some point as well.

Car Coveting

Back when the nuns taught me the Bible in grade school, I think I had trouble understanding some of the ideas.

I completely got don’t kill, love your parents (even if that can be tough for a kid sometimes) and don’t steal, but the whole “do not covet” thing might have gone over my head a little bit.

That’s tough for a kid. Who doesn’t want the kinds of things that their friends have, but their parents won’t buy for them? Especially in an era where video game systems were just starting to pop up everywhere.

This whole concept, however, has started to become more clear over the past year or year and a half.

I have not undergone some religious conversion. My clarity comes from my car, which I purchased last winter.

However, the vehicle purchase didn’t eliminate any potential coveting because I enjoyed peace with my decision. Oh, no, the new car made me covet things even more.

I love my car. It handles great and gets great gas mileage and has some bells and whistles which make my daily commute much more tolerable. But the absence of one item which I had on my previous car has ramped up the coveting to an all-time high.

My car does not have a sunroof. With the kind of weather we have had recently, I have a feeling I might break a few commandments other than the whole coveting thing if it meant getting a sunroof on my car.

The blame for this situation falls squarely on my own head. When I realized that my old car was headed for the junkyard, I had to develop priorities for its replacement. The purchase came a year or so earlier than I anticipated, making me focus on finances kind of closely.

That meant a sunroof fell into the category of “would be nice’ instead of “must have.” I distinctly remember looking at the options for the car I wanted and knowing I would regret going with a model without a sunroof no matter how much sense it made for my bank account.

For a while, I didn’t have too many regrets. The heat of last summer made the point moot. I didn’t see myself driving with the sunroof open when I felt like I was traveling through a furnace. For a while, I thought I had made the right decision.

Then we got into this mild summer, and all that went in the trash. I used to enjoy few things more than my early morning commute down back roads to Baltimore with the sunroof open. Now when I leave in the morning, I crack a few windows to enjoy the fresh air, but it’s just not the same.

I understand that we can file this whole thing under “First World Problems,” but that doesn’t stop the coveting. Life throws a bunch of decisions at us and buying a car without a sunroof so we can continue to pay our mortgage is just one of the ones I don’t like.

Because if I had to sleep in my car because I bought one with a sunroof when I couldn’t afford it, I don’t think I’d care what kind of features it had.

Farewell, Robin Williams

I don’t think I have ever seen the unanimity of shock like I saw on social media last night when the news of Robin Williams’ death his the news. When a celebrity dies, you can count on some people in your network to take it hard, but many others don’t even notice. Not so with the man who brought us Mork.

In the end, I did not post anything because I didn’t know what I could add to the conversation. It’s not like I think I have an important voice, but what does another post really matter. I wanted to think of something useful to say, if only to show how much Williams’ career meant to me as someone who tries to make people laugh and occasionally think.

The outpouring that hit the Internet last night took on many forms. Some people posted their favorite sayings from “Mork & Mindy,” the show that introduced us to Williams and showed that a sitcom can survive a thin premise when in the hands of an extraordinary talent. Others focused on his dramatic work, especially “Good Will Hunting.” Another line of tribute took us to “Mrs. Doubtfire,” where he perfectly mixed the silly and serious.

The fact that we had so many examples explains why this has hit such a wide swath of regular people. That and the fact that one of the target markets for social media literally grew up watching his career unfold. But the real evidence lies in the reality that Robin Williams wasn’t a comedian or an actor.

He was an experience. From his comedy specials to his movie performances to his talk show appearances to his sitcom characters, he let you live inside his manic mind. We all probably knew, in some way, that he had a screw loose, but let that open a door to experience joy and pathos. We all benefitted from that, which makes this tough to take for so many people.

He also didn’t sully it with an outward dark side. He had some problems with fidelity and struggled with drugs and alcohol, but he didn’t hit or hurt or any of those other things that can sully the memory of someone so talented. Williams merely fought demons that so many other people do, but he couldn’t ultimately win the battle.

That’s what brings so many people together. I don’t profess to know what Robin Williams would want, but remembering those amazing performances and his energy while letting people know that they can find a way out of the darkness regardless of how many awards they have won is probably the best thing we can do.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Looking Over My Shoulder

A few recent news stories have uncovered behavior by websites that shock and worry some people.

First of all, we all learned that Facebook allowed researchers to mess with people, I mean “tweak the algorithm,” to learn how people reacted when they saw predominantly happy or sad news in their news feed.

Then I heard about the dating website OkCupid, which matched up people for dates even though the pairs were incompatible. Once again, they said they just wanted to mess with people for fun, I mean they said they wanted to see if the expectation of a good match outweighed the reality of the situation.

I wish I could tell you the results, but I really didn’t care enough to do more than pay attention to the story on a surface level.

It’s not that I’m an advocate for websites doing bizarre social experiments on people. I just don’t see what all the big fuss is about.

You see, I grew up with seven older siblings, including four older brothers. My whole life has been a social experiment.

I had to explain this to someone at work recently. I had trouble opening one of the doors leading into our office area. My key went in, but I needed to jiggle the handle to get the thing to properly open.

One day, I struggled with this as someone walked past the door. I asked if he had experienced the same thing. Thankfully, he had because I sometimes fall into a default mode of assuming that my brothers worked together with the people who run our building to mess with my key while setting up a webcam to enjoy my struggles.

I don’t like walking around this way. I have learned how to eliminate flinching from my life, but I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head much of the time that someone is just toying with me.

This doesn’t usually manifest itself in imagining elaborate plots involving my workplace, but it does mean I can jump a little higher than the average person when I get engrossed in a task and someone comes up behind me.

In essence, I sometimes live with the specter of a Wet Willie hovering over my head.

That’s why I can’t get too worried if Facebook makes it so some people see a preponderance of bad news in their news feed just to see if that person posts negative items or positive items as a result.

That’s why I don’t feel a ton of sympathy for an OkCupid user who hates sports, but accepted a date from someone who plans their entire social calendar around ESPN’s broadcast schedule.

Those folks can probably move on with their life. They don’t have to scramble for the furthest back seat in any vehicle because that guarantees that they won’t get fish-hooked.

That’s the kind of invasion of privacy that really impacts your life.

Up All Night

Sometimes, life gets in the way of some pretty important experiences. Take the recent television marathon of every episode of “The Simpsons” ever produced. I admit that I don’t have the same affinity for the legendary cartoon that some people do, but this event really caught my attention. Just because I can’t remember which season […]

Happy Birthday, ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’

On this day in 1986, something very special happened. I had no idea at the time. R.E.M. released Life’s Rich Pageant on this day 28 years ago, the band’s fourth album. I had yet to discover the Athens (Ga.) quartet at the time even though I saw them open for The Police a few years earlier. […]

Take a Chance, Get Involved

The question came out of the blue. My wife and I had volunteered to help with Hanover High School’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” five years ago because our daughter was one of the elementary school students taking part in some scenes. So we joined in as bodies for the background in lieu of […]

Up All Night

Sometimes, life gets in the way of some pretty important experiences. Take the recent television marathon of every episode of “The Simpsons” ever produced. I admit that I don’t have the same affinity for the legendary cartoon that some people do, but this event really caught my attention. Just because I can’t remember which season […]