Friday, May 16, 2014

Sometimes A Show Finds You

I don’t know why I tend to get reflective on Fridays but I find myself typing away on my computer a lot on the last “work” day of the week. I’m not working currently obviously, but maybe I’m sitting here today because I’ve run out of chores on my “list of things to do”.

My current state of unemployment, or paid freedom as I’ve come to call it, has given me the opportunity to drop the stress piano that I had been carrying around on my back. The relief has rolled me back to activities that I missed a great deal.

In a return to glory, I’m getting to play golf with my father-in-law in a quantity that is borderline criminal. I haven’t played this much since I lived in Huntsville, AL and I banged around The Canebrake Club three times a week by myself as I tried to fill up the hours waiting for my “big break”.

While I used to drive an hour each way to get my teeth kicked in at work, I’m now either on the course or at the range hitting balls a disgusting amount. The hours spent with a club in my hand has caused me to reflect a lot on my youth when I first learned the game. I think a lot about the time I spent as a 12 year-old, sneaking onto the Andover Country Club to practice at dusk. The trips down memory lane on the golf course have been some of the best parts of this bad career situation and reminded me a lot about the importance of doing things that I enjoy.  

I’m also back in the gym … the other place I would go to burn away the lonely minutes while I lived in Omaha and Des Moines. Working out is also another way to improve my golf game, so there is a symbiotic relationship there. My wife hates me for it because she is 7 months preggo and she says I’m supposed to gain weight during her pregnancy like a good husband (something I profoundly disagree with).

While my personal life used be something I rushed through until I went back to work, it’s been the main thing that has kept me going these past few weeks. I’m not lonely anymore and I’m not waiting for anything to come along and pull me out of a self-imposed geographical exile. I’m married to amazing woman who is about to become the mother of my daughter and my life, outside of work, is exactly where I want it.

When I’m not sweating on the golf course or underneath a barbell, there are many minutes to fill between the moments my wife leaves from work to when she returns. I’m in sort of a weird state because time is moving slowly and incredibly fast at the same time. Each day, there is an instant where I feel like I can hear the each individual piece of sand dropping through the hourglass. On the other hand, it’s been 8 weeks since I was handed my walking papers, yet it seems like it happened only a second ago.

After the shock of the change wore off and I realized that I was actually put in a really cool position by the buy-out (who gets a paid vacation at 37?), I made sure my resume was sparkling and re-mastered my demo reel. Each morning, I try to do something positive like apply for a job, send a resume out, send an email to someone in the biz, or place a phone call to colleague … something that might lead to my next gig.

I’ve been here before but I could stay on the sidelines until 2015 if I wanted to but I don’t
think that is the right move. I suspect I will be employed by the July 4th so I’m trying to enjoy this
unique situation of liberty.

You know the line “books find you, you don’t find books”? Well, I’m that way for television shows. Now, I’m a male, so I’m attracted to certain types of shows over the others but I’ve had Californication on my list of “must find time to watch” for several years now. My current situation finally gave me the hours to burn binge-viewing the Showtime series and while I'm only half-way into season 3, I'm hooked. (Please don't give away thing that might make me hate the show in the future)

While it might surprise you given the show’s context, the characters have me thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult and a parent. 

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s based around an over sexualized, day drinking, narcissistic, author named Hank Moody played by David Duchovny of X-Files fame. The main character is not married but has a love interest that is the mother of his teenage daughter. The three form a dysfunctional family unit that is the center of gravity for the show’s plot.      

While some might watch Californication for the naked breasts (nearly every show) or the witty dialogue, the show has caused me to think a lot about what it means to be a father to a daughter in today’s world. No matter how fucked up his life gets and the damage he does to the people around him, Hank Moody wants to be the best dad he can be. His world is his daughter. He has made mistakes but his daughter is everything to him. Their relationship is the healthiest of the show and I often catch myself thinking what it is going to be like when my daughter is a 12, 14, 16 years old. I wonder how my daughter will see me and what type of father will I be to her?  

This line of thinking has also caused me to realize that for the first time in my life, I’m about to be outnumbered in my own home by the opposite sex. I’m the oldest of 4 boys and 1 girl. When I was born, it was my dad and my mom. Then my brother Ben was born two years later. When I was a teenager, my two other brothers were born with my stepfather in the house.

It is astonishing to think about the fact that I’ve never been in the gender minority in my own home in 37 years and to be honest, I’m not really sure how to handle that. There is a lot I don’t know about living with girls.

My sister was born right after I graduated college. I left when she was 2 months old to move to Virginia. I was gone for the next 12 years of her life. I never saw her first steps, or her first words and basically jumped back into her life as a young adult.

What I’m getting at is that I never was around for the daily changes that a baby female accomplishes. I don’t have the same naïveté to boys though. How do you handle those subtle changes that happen to kids when they are female? What is a father’s role in major and minor moments of a girl? It’s all Greek to me at the moment.  

My mother had me at 18 and has dedicated herself to the birth of babies. Not just her own 5 kids, my mother is a lactation consultant who taught me more about breast milk than about dating girls. I know all about how the baby gets here … but what happens after, for the next say 20 years?  

My father would tell me, after getting my mom pregnant after knowing her for just 6 weeks, that if I knocked up a girl early in life that he would tie my dick into a knot. He didn’t share my mother’s love of young humans but I watched my brother grow up. I don’t need to be taught about being a boy … I am one. But a daughter? Yikes.     

Californication is based around the womanizing of the main character but it’s the father-daughter relationship that has drawn me to the show. It’s beautiful to watch a self-indulgent older adult try to change for his child, his only child and I feel like that is going to happen to me as well. I’m changing even before she gets here.  

Watching Hank’s relationship to adult women versus his relationship to his daughter is also a wild juxtaposition of images. As men, we see women one way most of the time … and since I know that … how am I going to handle that line of thought towards my own flesh and blood? How do I handle make-up and outfits?

I guess I’ve got 13 years before I have to worry about bras and boys right?

In the end, I think that is what the show is trying to say … that no matter how fucked up the Hank Moody’s character is; his family is what really matters. The rest is just bullshit and not really important.

You try your best to raise your daughter as dad. You won’t be perfect. You will make mistakes but you do everything you can to make them happy. At least that’s what I hope to do.

Actress Madeleine Martin plays hank Moody’s daughter. My daughter Madeline will be born in late July.

Like I said, sometimes, shows just find you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Time to move on from ESPN NH

It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going   - Tom Petty 

Radio stations are sold everyday. When you are in the business, you see the names of radio hosts, GMs, salesmen etc. who are let go seemingly daily when a new ownership group takes over. It’s never fun when it’s your name getting called but it happens to nearly all of us who decide to pursue this career. 

As of Friday, April 11th at 5:01 pm, the same time I posted this note to my blog, I officially was removed as General Manager and afternoon show host of ESPN New Hampshire by the new management group of the station.  

I am announcing this because many of you have asked on social media, via text, email etc. why I was no longer on the air and what happened. It’s been a weird few weeks and I wanted to keep it quiet until it became official.

I will admit that I did not see this coming, the way it went down I mean. I was ready to move on from ESPN New Hampshire after 3 years but I thought it would be on my terms. This move could be a blessing in disguise because the feedback from the industry has been awesome but it's always a little scary when it happens. 

Luckily, I’ve been through buyouts before and know you can’t do much about it, but this was different because I’ve never been management before. Legally, I can’t say much, but if you know me, you know how I feel about this decision. 

What I can tell you is that I chose to remove myself from the show on March 26th when I was told that the radio station had entered into an agreement with a group that wanted to replace me. I was given the option to stay on the air until the deal went final today but I thought it was best to remove myself right away as both host and GM.

In hindsight, I’m sorry that I didn’t say goodbye to the show’s audience that had enjoyed what I put on for the past 3 years. I left right away because as the General Manager, I felt like my staff needed a clean break as soon as possible. My presence would have made things very awkward and I knew my staff would be freaking out enough at the news of my removal.

You should know that the people that I worked for at ESPN NH took good care of my family and me. We will be fine and in fact, I’ve basically been on a paid vacation since I left. Really not a bad gig if you ask me.

Some will use this news as a way to attack my family or me. That's fine.  I understand the world today and the industry I work in but I am very proud of what I did in New Hampshire. I drove the renaming, rebranding, and relaunch of the radio station. I added programming, new play-by-play agreements, and grew the station as the number 1 sales person, programmer, afternoon show host, and General Manager. My staff was awesome and went above and beyond daily to make the station a success. 

Radio is a competitive business but I know that I still love the medium the same as I did back in 1995 when this journey began.This is just another chance to make myself into a better host.

Below is a demo of my work … I do need a new gig now after all :). Feel free to share the video with anyone.

Thanks to the audience of ESPN NH for a really fun ride. I came home 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve met my wife, got married, and will welcome our first child into the world in July. It's been awesome and I don't regret leaving KXnO in Des Moines for home one bit. 

Hopefully, my daughter will get to hear her dad on the radio again very soon.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How is a father-to-be supposed to act and other thoughts

I’m baaaackkkk…. Like you care right? Well, you are reading this, so thank you caring enough to spend a few moments of time here. I’ve sucked as a blogger (and as a writer) and I’ve given you nothing of quality except my annual Top 10 albums of the Year posts. 

I have to do better but I’ve said that like 100 times but maybe this time I mean it? 

I’ve also said this before … that writing is something that has never been a strong suit of mine but I really like doing it, so I’m going to try to flush out some ideas over the next few weeks in this space because it’s mine. I like that. The ownership that I get from this blog. If I want to write “fuck” … I can write fuck. If you don't like it ... well, fuck off :) ... just kidding. Don't leave. I'll get to the point. 

All my life, I have tended to like anything that allows one to have complete control. Driving, hosting a radio show, playing a video game, sports … I like things that allow me to be the captain. I'm not the greatest leader but I do attempt to lead by example. I don't need to be the center of attention but I do need to feel like I'm being heard. For the past few years, I haven't had that with radio and it has been a problem. I hope to fix that soon.    

So, I can’t say I’m the most creative person but I like the fact that a blog allows one to make something real that wasn’t real just a few moments before a finger tip strikes a key. I guess that’s why I’m so excited to be a father. Something out of nothing times 1,000 right? (This is the point of this entry) 

My wife and I will welcome our first child, Madeline, into the world in July. We created something from nothing and she is growing inside my wife. That is such a freaky thought but make sure you say my daughter's name right or my wife will correct you quickly. It’s LINE … like Mad-I-line … like the character from the book.

Here she is:

Madeline at 24 weeks 

I spent from 2000 to 2012 chasing my radio career. I went from 22 years old to 34 as a single man. Sure, I had a bunch of long relationships, lived with a few girls and talked about getting married a few times but I was never really close. I was pretty sure that being a father was out for me. I wasn't even positive I wanted kids to be honest. 

Then one night this fall, that all changed with a pee test. 

Theresa, my wife, has told me that since we got the news, that I’m not showing enough excitement about our pending life-altering arrival for her tastes. She wants more from me. Her parents are buying baby outfits like Target is going to run out of them and I've been reserved.

It's not like I'm upset. I've been to every important doctor's appointment and have purchased baby books and baby things but I have a question. How are you supposed to act? If I'm not showing enough excitement, how I am supposed to do that when I think I am?

I don't do fake. 

I will admit that I'm scared out of mind at the idea of being solely responsible for the life of another human being. I love the idea of being a father and can’t wait for Madeline to arrive but my wife tells me that I need to talk to other first-time fathers to ask them how they behaved during their wife’s first pregnancy. I guess that's her way of giving a hint that I'm not doing what I'm supposed to. Yet, that would do nothing for me. She knows this too because I’m very unique. Talking to other people won’t change me or help (… so I blog about it right? Lol. 2014 baby)

Maybe my delayed reaction is because Theresa and I tried once to get pregnant. Once. That was all it took. I have admitted to Theresa that I was shocked at the speed of it all. I was just coming around to the idea of trying to get pregnant when that + sign showed its face.

We know couples that it took years for it to take and some that are still trying to get knocked up. Not us. I’m a perfect shot. Ethan Wragge has nothing on me (look it up here if you don’t get the reference) but I do wonder how I didn’t knock up a girl in my 20’s if my swimmers are that aggressive.

Anyways, I’m 36 (37 on Friday) and Theresa is 32 and you would think that our ages would have been an issue but it was a layup. I guess that’s why she and I are the perfect match. We went on 1 date and I knew I was going to marry her. You can call me crazy but after 2 hours, she got up to go the bathroom at the Green Street Grill and I told myself that I had just met my future wife. So, it shouldn’t have been a shock that we didn’t have to work hard to get preggo right? She and I were supposed to be together and do this.

The rub is that when my wife told me that we were going to have a baby, I freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. She screamed. She cried. She ran to tell her mom and dad. I didn't.

I kinda went silent and started to worry about all the things that could go wrong. That's what I do. I look for the bottom to drop out when I think it could. My mind raced during those first few days. Would the baby be healthy? Were we ready? Was I ready? At one point in time, I said I would never be a dad because I loved my life exactly the way I set it up. I’m extremely selfish and I’m about to do the one thing that requires you to do the complete opposite.

There were a lot of health factors with Theresa as well and I wanted to get to a doctor ASAP. Once those hurdles we cleared after a few weeks, I relaxed a lot but at the time, all I could think of was what could go wrong. I told Theresa that I had “gone into crisis mode” to deal with all the possible negative outcomes of the pregnancy.

Bad move as you probably could guess because I haven’t lived that statement down yet. It's now a go-to card to play when she isn't happy with me. I don’t think I will get away from that for the rest of my life lol. But, I am really excited and now I get to freak out about the fact that I’m having a girl. 

I lost my virginity at the age of 16. I dated for 20 years and dated plenty of girls. I guess it’s pay back time right?

This is how I show my excitement I guess. Bragging about my soon-to-be new addition news to the world. This is how I show I’m thinking about my daughter, right now, in the middle of a pretty trying time in my life. I’ll explain more later on that front and you will understand my point to this but I know that I can’t wait to meet Madeline.

That fact, I’m sure of.

**This week, I watched the series finale of two shows that I watched during a very transformational time in my life - my late 20's. Remember that I hate endings. Hate them and the changes that they bring. So shows that I spend a lot time with normally impact me in some profound way. I wouldn't be watching them unless I was invested in them after all.   

First, I watched the end of the Showtime series “Weeds” on Sunday via Netflix.

The lead character of Nancy Botwin was so unique to television. A flawed, sexualized, confused, brilliant, manipulative female protagonist who got what she wanted more than not. The series ended in 2012 but I didn’t see the end until just now, 2 years later.

I guess I was predisposed to liking the show because I could relate to it. Marijuana has played an interesting role in my life as my father grew pot in his apartment while I was in high school. I learned a lot about the process of growing the plants from my dad as a teenager and my friends loved that my dad was ‘growing weed'.

Yes, I smoked my fair share of it until I was about 30. I only smoke a few times a year now. 

My dad also brewed beer at the same time as he grew. Seeing the two substances and their impact on a person who takes it allowed me to form the opinion that pot and alcohol are very similar and should be legislated as such. I see them as equal and prohibition of one and not the other as stupid.

Legalize it and tax it like alcohol. 

So, a show based around a family that grew pot was very appealing to me. Kevin Nealon’s character of Doug was his best role to date, in my opinion. He killed it. I’m mad at myself for waiting so long to see the last season but it was time to end the story where they did and even though the ending was soft, it was done properly.

You have to know when to walk away.

Where Weeds succeed, How I Met Your Mother failed brutally on Monday. I was living in Omaha when I started watching the show around 2005 and really, really liked it for many, many years. I related a lot to Ted and many of my friends could be considered “Barneys”. It was the same thing that brought me to the HBO show Entourage starting back in 2004. 

I won’t spoil anything but if all you need to see to understand the storyline of a series is watch the pilot and series finale, I think you failed the audience. Yes, the journey of life is what is really important but if the name of the series does not match the main purpose of the show …. What the fuck are you doing? (ah, swearing feels good).

They should have done 2 seasons and ended it but it was too popular for that. So, they extended and extended, sucking all the joy out of it. The series finale was awful and left me feeling like I wasted my time with the show.  

**If you don’t think that the NCAA Tournament is the greatest sports event we do as a country, then you aren’t paying attention. This year has been tremendous. The teams in the Final Four this weekend have battled and proven themselves worthy.

I still like Florida to win it all. They were my pick entering the dance but UConn is going to be really, really tough. The winner of UConn vs. Florida could be your champ very easily. I’m not a huge fan of Wisconsin nor do I think Kentucky is going to keep this up for 2 more games.

Regardless … enjoy the last 3 college hoops games of the year.

**If you think anyone but Doug McDermott deserves the National Player of the Year – you aren’t paying attention to college hoops … at all!

**Red Sox lost on opening day ….. 1 of 162 folks. 1 of 162. Long way to go…

Just like me.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Red Sox hit the White House

I promised that I was going to write a lot more on here ... and that starts tomorrow.

In an effort to prove that....Here's the best selfie of the day

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2013

Another year down and time for another list of the best albums I found this year.

When I was 12, I found a pressure value that allowed for a release of emotion that momentarily calmed down from the constant bouncing of my foot or tapping of my pencil long enough for me to be reflective and introspective on my life. I was a pensive, hyperactive kid who never fully accepted what adults were trying to tell him and I felt their agendas more than most kids my age. I was a natural fit for journal writing as a kid and kept them until my early 30's. I couldn't play a note of music but lyrics became a passion of mine and the love of lyrics kept me searching for great music every year.

Now writing was something I have never been particularly good at (even today) but it was the profession of my uncle. I basically thought my mother's brother was the Michael Jordan of life during my teenage years so with his encouragement, I decided the exercise of putting words to paper to express myself would be something good to do. As an adult, journals became an important part of my ability to stay away from New England for 12 years while I was working in radio but the benefits of using them have been with me for a long time.  

Journals and the Top 10 music lists started one December day in 1989 when I took a notepad out and starting to list things that were on my mind and in my life. I listed the places I went, the cities I hoped to go the next year, girls I liked, the best things that had happened in the world that year, the music I was listening to was scribbled down in list form. I've always been able to offer up an opinion on nearly anything so ranking things from 1 to 10 was just natural for me even at 12.  I wrote my rankings all in one of those black notebooks that we all used for school and kept it under my bed for security.  

The writing wasn't very deep but it did help me look back on what I had in my life and what I should have been thankful for. I have never done much reflecting at Thanksgiving, like most people. There isn't a great reason for that except that New Year's seemed like a more natural time for reflection since it felt like something was ending and there was soon to be a new beginning. I have always hated endings, probably because my parents split, but the act of writing each December allowed me close to book, per say, on some of the things in my life that were bothering me. My parents got divorced that year and my mom would be getting married again within the next few years. It was therapeutic for a pissed off kid.

I eventually stopped writing about my life at the end of every year and focused more on the day-to-day but I didn't stop listing my favorite albums for the year every December.

I'm reminded of the calming influence of words on days like today, when I wish that manslaughter was legal in Massachusetts as our parade of horrible drivers snake their way through crowded intersections while texting away with their infant child in the backseat. One day, I'll write about my friendship with anger and how I have used it over the years for fuel, but today is about the end of the 2013 year and the music that I found over the last 12 months.... 

So many things happened to me this year, marriage, baby on the way etc ... that I really didn't do a good job of finding new artists like I normally do. This list won't be filled with bands that nobody has heard of and you might even find it a touch boring. However, I'm big on tradition and I have a lot of fun doing these lists ... so, thanks for reading. 

10. Former Lives - Ben Gibbard

My wife and I have an ongoing joke going about the lead singer of The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie. She thinks Ben is a castrated male who has never gotten a girl in his life. I quickly point out that he has dated the likes of Zooey Deschanel, who I think is hot but that only pisses her off more. But because she is my wife, she understands my love of this kind of music. Ben went solo for the first time in 2013 and the results were mixed by the critics. I didn't fall head over heals for the record but it's solid and worth owning if you like Death Cab's earlier work.

Aimee Mann is on my MT Rushmore for female singers ... so I had to pick this track for the list since she guest sings on it.

9. Give Up  - The Postal Service 10-year anniversary release 

In 2003, the before-mentioned Ben Gibbard was in a band called The Postal Service in Seattle. It never got huge outside of indi-rock fans but it had a loyal following that grew after Death Cab became a big act a few years ago. I came across them in 2007 and loved the album and was pissed to learn they had split up. So, of course, when I heard that a 10-year anniversary album was coming out, a double-album at that, I had to have it. Because my wife is my wife and I love her dearly, she surprised me with the album one afternoon right after it was released even though she hates it. The album is as good in 2013 as it was 10 years ago.


8. Night Visions - Imagine Dragons 

Rock music is dead. Can we all agree that if one of the best album that we can deliver in the genre is this release, that the genre is dead and might be gone for good? I don't mean that to destroy this band because the album is on my list for a reason, I like a lot, but like I mentioned in my favorite 10 songs of the year, this band will be forgotten in a year. We will see this band on VH1 in 10 years when they look back at the music of 2013 and you will say 'yeah, that was a good record. What happened to them?'. Thank goodness for Arcard Fire.

7. Our Version of Events - Emeli Sande'

This album was bought on a whim as my wife and I were driving to breakfast one Sunday afternoon this summer. I love Brit music and we were listening to an acoustic performance of this song on NPR and we bought it on the ride there via my iPhone. It blew us away and Emile's voice is legit throughout the record. I don't normally like this type of music but it's a really fun album if you give it time to grow on you. It's not a homerun, first play kind of record but worth your time.

6. Indicud - Kid Cudi 

Ok, so this album is so fucking confusing that it's borderline genius. Kid is tripping on several tracks ... high on all of them and I'm not really sure he knew what he was doing but it's like listening to a musical version of throwing shit at the wall to see what works. I don't know if I love this album or I hate it. For that reason, it gets high marks for making me listen to try to figure out what the hell Kid was trying to do with this.

5. Reflektor - Arcade Fire

Some people think this is the best album of the year and I wouldn't argue if that's your opinion. I like it a lot but I find it lacking some of the memorable songs as their previous release "The Suburbs" had. I think this is the future of rock music as this is the best rock album of the year.

4. Self-Titled - The Civil Wars 

I picked two songs from this album for my favorite 10 of the year. So, it would be the logical thought that this would be my favorite album of the year right? Wrong. The first 9 tracks are fucking unreal. I love ... I mean LOVE them....and then we get to the last 3 tracks of the album and it falls apart. It's like the having the greatest dinner ever and cake being burnt to a black crisp. Whoever had the idea to cover "Disarm" by the Smashing Pumpkins should have their head checked cause it is a disaster. Because of the last 3 tracks, I couldn't pick it as my favorite album and had to drop it down a bunch.

3. Let's Be Still - The Head and the Heart 

I've written a lot about this band and their second album did not disappoint. It's more melancholy than their first album and doesn't have a major radio hit on it but it's very strong from start to finish. I was pretty mad that I missed them in Boston this time around.

2. Marshall Mathers LP2 - Eminem 

What am I going to say here that you don't already know about this album? It's a huge record and has multiple number 1 hits on it. Em can't do what he did in the 1990's .... he can't shock us anymore and that's actually a great thing because he goes on attack mode on the album without worrying about the FCC and anyone else for that matter. His use of sports name and references in his raps is truly awesome. I love this song ... maybe it's cause it speaks to me a little lol. Great rap album.

1. Magpie and the Dandelion - The Avett Brothers

This was hard. Everyone always wants to know what your favorite album is but to be honest, any of the top 4 could be in this slot. It was a great year for albums and a lot of fun to listen to them. This album was the one I was the most excited to listen to and I have loved it for months. For that reason, I give it props in the top spot for delivering on the anticipation.

Thanks for reading this for another year!!! Feel free to let me know your thoughts and share your favorites too!!