Fun Festivals this Weekend

There’s something about small town festivals that make you happy that you live in the Midwest.  This weekend, you can check out Nordic Fest in Decorah, and Houston Hoedown—aptly happening in Houston.  

Naturally, I’m drawn to the food on the Nordic Fest website.  And while I’m not totally sure exactly what Rommegrot is, I can read the recipe and see that it’s made with sugar and TWO WHOLE STICKS of BUTTER, so it can’t be too bad!  I fancy it’s quite tasty.  Butter makes everything better… and my butt bigger, but I digress.

Besides, if I eat it at Nordic Fest, I’d be eating in the company of three or more, so that means there are no calories, right?  I especially like the fact that it calls for ¾ cup of sugar… and then you sprinkle MORE sugar… and cinnamon on it before serving.  It sounds delicious… and like every dentist’s nightmare.  

Most of these festivals during the summer have their share of 5K runs, or some other athletic endeavor.  I absolutely love the fact that Nordic Fest has a couple of events that even a beer swilling country boy could partake in, like the “Nordic Fest Rock Throw,” and “Molkky.”

The rock throw is pretty self-explanatory, and is likely a real spectator-pleaser.  I would think some enterprising person with the festival should consider selling a sponsorship for the rock throwing event to a chiropractor.  That would be a partnership made in heaven.  

Molkky, on the other hand is quite different.  It’s like a combination between bowling and horseshoes… sort of.  You basically are throwing a wooden baton at pins in an effort to garner the most points.  I would never laugh at this sport, despite the temptation.  I’ve participated in curling before, and I can assure you there’s more to that sport than just winging a “stone” down the ice.  Of course, I’m an auto racing fan, so I understand how people who don’t “get” a sport will snort at it.  Regardless, these sound like a lot of fun to do.

Then there’s the Houston Hoedown this weekend.  They’re doing a different twist on the typical sporting run that most events have.  Theirs is a 2.5 mile run… but you’re encouraged to wear a cowboy hat… and a costume.  They’ll have prizes to award for the most creative, most “Hoedown-like,” and the funniest too.  That might be worthwhile and a real kick to do, if you’re a runner.

As for me, it’s been well-documented that I won’t run, unless my life is in eminent danger, so it’s unlikely that I’d be participating in a run of any sort; however, I wouldn’t mind seeing all of the participants with their creativity!

You can also check out the firefighter Water Fights at Houston Hoedown.  This is quite the spectacle, if you've never seen it.  Firefighters from various communities bring their "teams" to town to square off against other teams... with their hoses.  It's sort of like tug-o-war, only it's done with water from hoses aimed at a barrel on a cable.  You're guaranteed to get a little misty... not from crying, but from the water--so it's a great way to enjoy an event and stay cool--as well as support your local firefighters!

I also love that Houston Hoedown has an antique tractor and car show—as well as the very popular horse, truck and tractor pulls.  That’s some serious horse power there.  I’ve been to a few tractor pulls.  I like to drink beer in one of those resealable bottles… to prevent dirt from getting into my beverage!  

It’s my understanding that they draw a LOT of tractor pullers from around the area to take part in it—so it should be a great showing.  My husband and I are friends with Kurt Heyroth of Bangor, who drives a pulling truck that he did up to look like Tow Mater from the movie “Cars.”  I’m not sure if he’s going to the Hoedown pull or not—but he’s usually a crowd favorite wherever he goes—for obvious reasons.  

Enjoy the festivals this weekend—wherever you’re headed!  And good luck if you’re participating in any of the competitions.

Twitter Twit

Lord have mercy on the stupid.  There isn't much else to add to this.  The tweets speak for themselves.  I will say that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has someone VERY witty at the helm of their Twitter account! 


'Til Death Do Us Part--Costs a Little More in Vegas Now

If you’re planning on eloping and getting hitched in Las Vegas, it’s going to cost you a little more now.  The price of a wedding license in Sin City is rising by $14 to $77.  (It still cracks me up that you need a license to get married, but any moron can have kids... but I digress.)  The vote to increase the price was unanimous by the county commissioners, who intend to earmark the additional funds for promoting Vegas as a wedding destination.

Apparently, the folks in Vegas are concerned that there’s been a significant drop in people getting married there.  I know my husband and I considered tying the knot there, but decided against it, due to our desire to have as many family members present at our nuptials.  A destination wedding just wasn’t conducive for being inclusive with both of our large families.

Vegas sometimes carries the connotation of bad decisions, which I think also enters some people’s minds upon hearing that someone got married there.  I mean, Carrie Underwood’s song, “Last Name,” spells that whole deal out quite clearly.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason for the decline?   

I wouldn’t mind renewing our vows down the road there… mostly because Vegas IS a lot of fun.  I mean, "Elvis" could perform the ceremony!  And of course, there's the chance to win money at every turn!  Would you get married in Vegas?  Do you know anyone who did?  Are they still married?

Cracked Fairytale

How many times have we heard Blake Shelton or Miranda Lambert deny the rumors that they were considering divorce? Too many, really. But now, it would seem the rumors have become factual. The pair announced yesterday that they were splitting.

Are you really surprised?

They’re both superstars with careers ON FIRE, trying to attempt to have a normal life together. Honestly, that’s a recipe for disaster. Balance is key in any marriage—and I’m going to go out on a limb and say there was ZERO balance for these two.

How do you connect on an intimate level when you’re both touring or working promotional schedules? I’m not saying it’s all about the sex, but it’s all about the sex. When you’re young and married—that’s a big deal. Or when you’re a man—that’s a big deal.

I’m not saying there was a third party (or fourth party) involved with the split—and I truly hope there was NOT.

Theirs was seemingly a long-distance relationship in the hot spotlight of the public eye. How awful would that be to live? I don’t know about you, but my husband and I spend some time venting to one another about crap that happened during the day. It’s these moments that allow us to bond even more—and be supportive of one another. That surely was lacking for Blake and Miranda’s marriage.

An article from 2012 in People magazine was quite telling of the one-sided nature of their relationship. Here’s a quote from Blake in the article:
“She literally has flown across the country to be with me for one night and will get up and go home the next morning… where I just won’t do it and say, ‘Oh, I’ll see you next week!’ I’m just a guy about it, I guess. She’s always been the one to go through hell to make sure we spend time together.
She’s kept us strong, especially in the early days when it was easy to give up and say ‘This is too hard.’ She’s the one that’s always found a way.”

I’ll just say I’m glad that my marriage isn’t riddled with such obstacles for together-time, or drama of being a big star. It’s one of those times when you sort of look at what you have and appreciate the simple things that keep it real.

Seeing the High Note

Remember the Seinfeld episode, where Jerry explains to George about leaving on a high note, and George invokes the “Thank you, good night,” exit repeatedly at the most inopportune moments during the show?

How do you know when you’ve hit a high note?

Phil posed the question to me yesterday, “If you could have two tickets to any concert—any artist—any genre—what would it be?”

I couldn’t answer immediately.  I needed to think about it.  I mean, if it could be ANY artist—alive or dead—that warranted a little more thought.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to Nashville, during the CMA Music Festival for the past eight years, so I’ve been able to see most every current act that I might be interested in enjoying.  Phil’s question was one that really left me pondering.

I had never seen Johnny Cash in concert, and he sprung to mind after some extensive thought.  But I would want to see him earlier in his career, as opposed to his later years.  I’m not trying to be mean here when I say this—but I had the opportunity to see Glen Campbell one year in Nashville, and it was just before his Alzheimer’s got really bad.  He still sounded pretty good, but he was really struggling to remember the lyrics to his own songs, and even be the showman that he had been for so many years, commanding the stage.  If it hadn’t been for his children on stage with him, I’m not sure he would’ve been able to get through the entire performance.  It was difficult to watch, but I’m sure it was 1000 times harder for him to contend with in the spotlight.

This wasn’t how you want to see the country greats on stage.  It made me wish that I had been able to see him when he was “hitting the high notes” in his career—before the dreaded disease took so much from him.

Going out on top is no easy feat.  It’s hard to recognize when the time is right to exit.  Like Brett Favre, or Michael Jordan—sometimes it’s tough to let go of something that has defined you.  For others, it may just be a financial thing.  Not everybody in the entertainment or sporting industries has an excellent financial advisor to help ensure that the dough that is rolling in today—is being invested or saved for tomorrow.  

There have been a lot of musicians and athletes who have made millions in their careers, only to be left with very little when they were older, due to poor decision-making or management.  So, unfortunately some celebrities—like athletes and musicians—find themselves having to continue to “work” past their prime.  Sometimes it’s not so bad—but other times, it can be downright sad to see.  

With that all in mind—who would you choose to see in concert—if someone were to hand you a pair of tickets to any show… and a time machine if necessary?

Practical or Lazy?

Men and women definitely process thoughts differently.  I'll get to that in a minute, but first, I'll need to lay some groundwork.

I’ll admit that I’m a lucky woman—because my husband, Toby actually does his own laundry.  Not just because his clothes are generally full of all kinds of grease, fluids, and other things such as metal fragments from something he was fabricating—but because he knows that it’s a nice thing to do, so I don’t have to deal with the messes he makes with his clothes.

The challenge for me, is that he’s notorious for using the dryer as his clothing storage place, rather than folding them and putting them away in his dresser.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to transfer your freshly washed clothes into the dryer and finding it’s still full of another load of laundry that’s been sitting in there for days.

My husband always acts innocent when I call him on it. 

“Really?  How did that happen?!  Are you sure they’re mine?”

I think he does it because he knows that I fold clothes better than he does—and to my discredit, I’ve made a point to let him know that I don’t like the way he rolls his stuff into a ball and throws it into the dresser.  So, I guess I created that monster.

Phil Costigan holds a similar view as my husband.  Phil thinks that there is no real need for dressers or cupboards.  In his mind, it makes perfect sense for people to leave their clothes in the dryer and pull them out as they need them, and likewise, pull clean dishes out of the dishwasher to use, until it’s empty and then just reload it with the dirty ones and start the process all over again.

Phil’s theory is flawed though.  Most people have more than just one load-worth of clothes that are worn over the course of a week.  I would NEVER co-mingle my clothes in the laundry with Toby’s.  They’d all come out smelling like race car fluids, and if you’ve ever had a whiff of rear-end grease, you KNOW that is flat out nasty. 

The dishwasher, while Phil’s idea makes SOME sense, is still not feasible.  It leads to a sink full of dirty dishes, until all of the clean ones are used from the dishwasher.  I hate seeing a sink full of dirty dishes.  I’d rather keep my sink clear for use doing other things.

Am I being ridiculous on this, or are these guys just being lazy?  What are your thoughts?   

Classy vs. Tacky

Honestly, I'm NOT a prude by any means of the word.  I've been known to tell my share of blue jokes, and even mutter a few naughty sentiments under my breath.  I openly admit that.  However, I do know enough to temper my comments or behavior in front of youngsters.  I've always admired the way the Bugs Bunny cartoons had some adult humor in them, that I never "got" until I was MUCH older watching them again!

At any rate, last night, we popped on the television and the Billboard Music Awards were on--in all of their "glory."  Again, I'm not a prude--but PLEASE!  Self-proclaimed "greatest," Kanye West was on there performing, with over 80% of his song being "bleeped" out, due to inappropriate language for broadcast television.  And knowing that there are words today that DO make it on TV, that in the past never would, makes one wonder what in the heck those lyrics were last night!

I've never considered myself to be old fashioned, but there is something to be said for leaving something to the imagination.  Fashion worn by female pop artists these days just doesn't leave much there.  Brittany Spears, while she definitely had a rockin' body--she must have felt the need for affirmation on it, based upon the getup she was sportin' as she strutted across the stage, struggling to lip synch to her own repeated one-line song.  Honestly, the outfit (and I'm using that term loosely) was what might be worn in the strip club perhaps?

It just made me cringe for any young girls who may have been watching the show at their homes, thinking that THIS was what they have to do, to become popular, famous, or even liked.  What a horrible example to parade in front of impressionable minds.  You may be reading this thinking-- "Oh, lighten up! It's entertainment!"

I'll give you that.  But then I'll ask you if you have a daughter, would you want her to attempt to emulate Brittany Spears?

I didn't think so.

Conversely, there is Carrie Underwood, who scored the Christian Song of the Year, with "Something in the Water."  Of course, we didn't get to see Carrie accept the award, as it was among those that were not presented on the air last night.  Go figure.  I guess that's the price you pay when you aren't flaunting your body to the public?

Hopefully, your kids are learning that dressing like a two-bit hooker is not the "norm," despite what is shown repeatedly by some artists in the mainstream.  Thank God we're country music fans, eh?

Wicked Sense of Humor

Our black lab, Bo has a pretty wicked sense of humor.  Without fail, every time I mow the lawn, he takes it upon himself to “make a deposit” right in my path and then he runs a victory lap, before lying in the grass for a prime vantage point.

 He watches with doggy delight as the pile gets slung across the yard, and I can’t help but scrunch up my nose, as the warm stench invades my nostrils.  

I swear I can hear him laughing, even over the loud engine on the mower.  

Does anybody else have a dog that does this?

Woody Guthrie's American Song Delivered!

When we had Jeremy van Meter and Ryan Lee in the studio to promote the Commonweal Theatre production, “Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” I had no idea that it would lead to one of the most memorable performances that I’ve ever witnessed.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to take my mother to the show—and make the day into a mother-daughter event.  Neither of us had ever been to Lanesboro, MN before, so we were fairly confident that it was going to be a great experience—and we were right!

We started with dinner at Pedal Pushers, which was a charming café that served the most flavorful fish tacos we have ever had!  We split a dessert—bread pudding, which was heavenly—and is now looking fantastic on our hips!

We browsed some shops along the street, before finally making our way to the theatre.  Phil was right when he told me that there wasn’t a bad seat in the entire place.  The stage juts out, allowing for seating to almost completely encompass it.  You almost feel as if you are a part of the production, because you are close enough to have eye-contact with the performers.

“Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” has a cast of only five actors, and a man on the piano.  The five players all injected not just acting, but singing and musical talents into the show.  I’m no expert, but I know that it’s incredibly difficult to find one—let alone five individuals who are a “triple threat,” meaning they can act, sing and play a musical instrument.  Yet, here we were in little ol’ Lanesboro, immersed in an amazing production with five triple threats on the stage.

The music definitely drove the bus for this show—as one would expect—I mean it IS about Woody Guthrie, and his artistic take on what happened during the course of his life.  It was a unique walk through history, shedding light on the dustbowl, the Great Depression, and the turmoil that was brewing from that time.

I appreciate talented musicians so much, and I will tell you that my favorite instrument is the mandolin—mostly because of its versatility to uniquely convey emotion.  Ryan Lee delivered that as he perfectly picked the strings—providing a sorrowful undertone to an poignant song one minute—then getting the whole place jumping with a jubilant riff later in the show.

The haunting harmonies were astounding too!  I honestly was so blown away at the monstrous amount of talent on that stage that was impressively amplified through the skills of just five actors.  

With each song, I thought to myself—THAT was the best performance of the night!  But then they’d do another song, and I kept repeating that sentiment!  It truly was an excellent production—executed by a tremendously talented group:  Stela Burdt, Gary Danciu, Ryan Lee, Megan Pence & Jeremy van Meter.  I highly recommend that you go and see the incredible “Woody Guthrie’s American Song."  It  runs through September 28.  You can check out showtimes and ticket information here:

Do the Right Thing

It’s Mother’s Day week, and I can’t help but think of some sage advice my mom gave me in life, that if applied to every situation would help make this world a better place.

“Do the right thing.”

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  Whenever you’re faced with a situation that has you at a crossroads, just ask yourself if what you’re about to do is the “right thing.”
Of course, the “right thing” is usually easier to identify if you have a foundation of solid morals and values.  Fortunately, my mom instilled those in my two brothers and me.

The horrible tragedy over in Menasha—where four people are left dead, including the distraught man who opened fire on random people, including an 11-year old girl and her family—killing her, her father, and critically injuring the mother, before shooting himself—is a prime example.

The gunman needed help, obviously.  The right thing was certainly NOT to harm innocent people who had absolutely nothing to do with the source of his challenges.  The right thing may have been for people around him to recognize that he was unstable, and work toward getting him the help he needed. 

That’s another whole can of worms.  Anymore in this world, we tend to become engulfed in our own lives and choose not to engage with people we know, even if we see they need assistance, or just a friendly ear to listen.  That’s not doing the right thing—ignoring someone who needs help.

I’m going to start sounding like some old codger; wistfully wishing for days gone by, when things were simpler, but it’s true.  I do miss certain things about the “old days,” before we became so disengaged, thanks to this electronic age that we live in, and we’re now prone to only see things as black and white.
Speaking of black and white—there’s another whole issue these days, given the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore.

Do the right thing.

Destroying other’s property and looting stores is not a suitable form of protesting. 

I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough.  I’ll do the right thing and leave it at that.

Giving Space to Destroy

I know I’m not alone on my feelings about what’s going on out in Baltimore.  I feel the same as when the situation exploded in Ferguson, MO a few months ago.  I have to believe many do.  

How in the world does the destruction of other people’s property and other violent tactics serve as a protest to be taken seriously?
Allegedly, these protestors are trying to make a statement about the police-related death of Freddie Gray.  That is in and of itself is a whole different bucket of worms.  Was there police brutality involved in his death?  I don’t know.  I do know that Mr. Gray had taken off running from police, when they were attempting to arrest him.  He had been arrested previously on drug charges.

But back to the whole pillaging and looting—what in the world are these people thinking?  How does this behavior serve to make a perceived bad situation right?  Why are people doing this?  Well, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore pretty much gave permission to these folks to act like savages.
During a press conference, she asked the Baltimore Police Department to give those who wished to destroy, the space to do that.  Here’s the video from the press conference where she said that.

 What?!  Why would someone in authority essentially prevent those who are supposed to protect the public from doing their job?  Baltimore Police were essentially forced to allow people to take their aggression out on innocent people’s property.

This is just another reason why I’m grateful that I live in the Midwest.  While we’re far from perfect here, we just don’t seem to tolerate that kind of thug behavior.  For the most part, we respect other people’s property and lives. 

I think back to even natural disasters.  When Hurricane Katrina happened, people in the area affected waited for the government to come and help them.  When we had the torrential storms and heavy rain back in August of 2007 in our area—there was horrible destruction to homes and lives.

People didn’t just sit and wait for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to arrive to help make everything better.  Folks around here helped their neighbors to pick up the pieces and rebuild.  I heard stories from friends and family over in Rushford, MN who said that when the folks from FEMA did arrive, they were astounded at how much had been accomplished before they even got there.

It’s that same “can do” spirit that is lacking in Baltimore.

Again, was there something hinky involved with the death of Freddie Gray?  I don’t know.  But I do know that destroying other’s property and acting like a thug is not going to do anything but make a bad situation worse.  Since when did destruction equal protesting?  It’s just insane, and it’s driving the bus to encourage stereotyping of that thug behavior.

What is the answer?  I’m not sure.  I tend to think if parents would actually parent their kids and teach morals and values, instead of trying to be their kid’s “best friend,” things would be better.  Parents who are absentee; caught up in their own lives—whether that be work, or nefarious activities are equally to blame.  Those parents need to grow up, be real parents, and set the right examples for kids.

I know we’re not perfect here in the Midwest, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  Here, for the most part, we are sheltered from the stupidity of the kind of behavior we have witnessed in Ferguson, MO and now in Baltimore, MD.   

Stop Political Rants on Facebook

It’s going to be a whole year and about seven months before the presidential election, and already coverage is kicking into high gear--and I'm already sick of it.  Aren't you?  Every day we are subjected to stories of who is running, who is considering running, who is for this or that, who did what in their past… it’s obnoxious, and it’s WAY too early to be dealing with this drivel.

I understand that the news media will be covering these stories—it is their job after all, but what annoys the living daylights out of me are people on Facebook who feel compelled to spout off about all kinds of political wankerness.

Seriously—when was the last time you changed your political ideology after reading a Facebook post?

Yeah—I never have either.

Quite frankly, I don’t affiliate myself with the donkeys or the elephants.  I think they’re all crooks, if they’ve been in office for more than a decade—and some of them are nefarious even before they arrive in Washington, but I digress.

My point is, I’m an Independent voter, and I know many others who are too.  None of us are swayed by Facebook posts.  And let’s be real.  I enjoy using Facebook as an escape from all of the serious crap going on in the world.

Can I get an Amen?

The Voice - Top 12 Recap

Now that we’re down to the final 12 contestants on The Voice, I feel compelled to rant and rave about their performances. Two will be eliminated, based upon these performances. In the order that they took to the stage, here’s my take on them—feel free to chime in with your own thoughts.

Hannah Kirby“Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks Wow! She is really finding her stride; such a powerhouse vocalist. She gets a little wild-eyed sometimes when she’s singing, giving the impression that if you were her boyfriend, and you ticked her off, you might want to sleep with one eye open. Nonetheless, she was amazing, and I would anticipate she makes it through to the next round, despite getting the first position of the night, which can be a kiss of death for some.

Brian Johnson - “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” by Sting. He’s a pretty solid vocalist, but he seemed to blend in too much with the background singers. Not a very memorable performance, but I like this guy’s voice and the fact that he’s chubby.

India Carney“Take Me to Church” by Hozier. It seems like mostly guys cover this tune, so it was a nice change-up to have a female do it. I thought she hammered it out of the park too. Incredibly strong vocal performance—and memorable, which is what is required if one is to make the cut to the next round.

Mia Z“Miss You,” by the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards was rolling over in his grave… oh wait, he’s not dead yet. Well, if he WAS dead, he would be rolling over in his grave, due to the dolphin calling that she was trying to pass off as singing, while vamping about on the stage, as if she was trying to distract everyone from her horrible attempt at singing. Truly horrible.

Deanna Johnson“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United. Like what many of the coaches said—she was really rough at the beginning, as she was trying to sing WAY too low for her abilities. It improved as she got deeper into the song. There is a certain sound to her voice that is intoxicating.

Sawyer Fredericks“Imagine” by John Lennon. Let me preface this by saying—I love this kid’s voice and talent. I just wish he’d quit lamenting the fact that he doesn’t want to go back to the farm, like it’s a bad thing. Heck, I know LOTS of farmers, who wear their career as a badge of honor—and rightfully so; it’s a rewarding job—even if it doesn’t pay extraordinarily well. (And for the record, 88 acres is really nothing… my husband about spewed his drink across the room at that comment). But onto the performance—it was fantastic. It boggles the mind to hear it come out of his elf-like face. Occasionally, he sounds like he’s a sheep bleating, but overall—he’s very talented.

Rob Taylor“I Put a Spell on You,” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. This guy blew me away with his falsetto. This was DEFINITELY in his wheelhouse. He brought the song, which was originally done in 1956 into the modern day with his treatment on it. AMAZING!

Corey Kent White“Why,” by Jason Aldean. Early on in the competition, I was not totally convinced by this guy. I’m starting to become a believer. He’s a very genuine performer. It was a solid rendition. He definitely will have the female vote in his favor.

Koryn Hawthorne“Stronger,” by Kelly Clarkson. I love the fact that this girl has vision for her own performance and the arrangement of the music. The break in her voice gives me chills every time, and there’s a real gospel vibe to what she does. Plus, she has phenomenal energy, and ALWAYS looks like she’s having fun on stage, which is more than can be said for some of the earlier performances tonight.

Joshua Davis“America,” by Simon & Garfunkel. He has a really great tone to his voice. I loved him from his blind audition on this show. While his performance was really good, I worry that the younger audience on this show will feel disconnected from the song. I’m hopeful that were able to connect with his passionate performance.

Meghan Linsey“Girl Crush,” by Little Big Town. I love this song—and it was a PERFECT choice for her to sing. Plus, it was a brilliant move to perform what is probably the hottest song right now in country music. I cried. I admit it. When Meghan sings, you can feel the heartache. She is absolutely amazing. I’ve written about her before, so it’s no secret that she is my frontrunner to win. I have a girl crush on her.

Kimberly Nichole“The House of the Rising Sun,” by The Animals. It was a vocal explosion—in a very good way. This is another song that has been covered extensively, but she was able to put her own spin on it, with her amazing vocal range. She was fierce on stage too, which helped to accentuate her performance. I have no doubt she will sail onto the next round.

So, who will be packing their bags to go home? I’m thinking it will be Mia Z, and probably Brian Johnson. Mia was pretty bad… Brian was just unmemorable, unfortunately. What do you think?

Second Chances

I’ve always enjoyed watching the reality singing show, The Voice.  The whole concept of their “Blind Auditions” is appealing to me, because it takes the appearance factor out of the equation and makes it truly about talent; giving real people a chance to realize their dreams.
If you’ve been watching the show this season, you know that Meghan Linsey, formerly half of the duo, Steel Magnolia, is competing on there.  It still amuses me that during her Blind Audition, three of the four coaches—Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, and Christina Aguilera turned around to get her on their team.  Blake Shelton didn’t!  And Meghan had toured with Blake early in her career!

Obviously, Blake felt like a schmuck for not turning around, but as luck would have it—he was able to get her onto his team during the battle rounds with a steal.  Meghan is killing it, every time she hits the stage on the show.  Last night, she did a cover of “Love Runs Out,” by the pop band, One Republic.  Her bluesy voice is phenomenal!  I’m hopeful that she will either win the competition, or at the very least—be able to give life to her singing career again.

I saw her perform with Joshua Scott Jones—as the duo Steel Magnolia at Country Fest in Cadott a few years ago.  It was just so sad.  Knowing the pair had a romantic relationship, and they were engaged to be married; it was difficult to watch them unravel right before our eyes on stage.  Joshua was visibly drunk, on drugs, or both.  It was painful to watch him stagger around on stage and be so sloppy.  They were SO disconnected in that performance, and I’m pretty sure that most everyone watching breathed a sigh of relief when it was over; it was THAT awkward to watch.

Needless to say, the two broke up in every sense of the word.  No more band, no more engagement, and no more future; musically or otherwise, it seemed, at least for Meghan, until The Voice.

I’m hopeful that America will support her and she’ll skyrocket back into stardom. I’d like to think that viewers will appreciate her history and talent—and not deny her this opportunity, just because she has already had some success in her life. God has given her such a talent, and in my opinion, she deserves a second chance at making it in the music industry.  

Good, Clean Fun

Yesterday was a strange day for me.  Every year for quite some time now, April Fool’s Day seems that way; mostly because it’s become a tired exercise of lame or cheesy jokes and tricks.  People are more in tune for those antics and the game is diluted before it even starts.  The idea of pulling off another legendary prank, such as the much discussed “Bagging of the Phones,” as executed by Brucie Bumchuckles in 1986 on the radio, is nearly impossible to pull off in this day and age.

Of course, part of the reason for that also lies in the fact that we have become a sue-happy society.  Phil and I were talking the other day that there are so many people who would appear to have lost their sense of humor.  Anger seems to be the new emotion of choice.  Couple that with political correctness, and it becomes a gag order that we execute on ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m not trying to be a Negasaurus on this, but people truly seem more jaded and easily offended these days by practically everything.  

The internet is still the one place that is filled with creative ideas and plenty of hook, line, and sinker-swallowing, when it comes to April Fool’s Day.  It’s likely a product of people being more apt to believe crap about celebrities or other public figures.  There were actually a slew of stories yesterday that were incredibly amusing.  

Aaron Rodgers being fined $25,000 for going onto the court at the Wisconsin NCAA game last week, had many people shocked and outraged.  My personal favorite, (probably because I WISH it was true) was the “story” of Brian France, Jr. stepping down as CEO of NASCAR.  Quite frankly, I think that organization would be WAY better off without him at the helm.  Apparently, many other NASCAR fans feel the same, as that one got A LOT of traction too, but I digress.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that there are still gullible people out there who will believe things on April Fool’s Day.  For that, I’m grateful, because I feel as if this “holiday” now delivers that let-down feeling kids get when they discover the truth about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  

It’s actually kind of a shame that we’ve lost the fun in what the day used to be.  Perhaps most of us are just too busy to buy into the shenanigans of yesterday, but it’s probably more likely attributed to what I mentioned before; that people are just so easily offended these days, and quick to secure a lawyer.  Maybe we need to have a spokesperson—to be the face for the holiday, and breathe life back into it.  I’d vote for Brucie Bumchuckles in a heartbeat, and I’d be willing to bet that there are many who would support that motion.

Thank God It's Friday!

I’m not exactly a bible-thumper, but I do believe in God, and think He plays a starring role in my life.  I believe things have worked out as such to lead me where I am today; thanks to Him.  I probably don’t give enough thanks for things big and small.

So, I’d like to take a moment to do just that—and encourage you to do the same.

Thank God for true friends that will stand by you through thick and thin, and don’t allow outside drama or petty things get in the way of that.

Thank God for family, who have always supported me, and picked me up when I was at my lowest points in life, and cheered the loudest during my successes.

Thank God for our military, police, firefighters and EMTs who make the career choice to put themselves in precarious positions to protect our country and communities.

Thank God for dogs.  The excitement shown when I return home after each workday never gets old.

Thank God for spandex-infused denim, as it prevents me from having to lay on my back on the bed to zip up my jeans.

And finally, thank God for a career that allows me to be creative, write, and talk with people.  Life is good.

And So It Begins

We all deal with things differently, particularly when you’re delivered life-threatening news. For me, it made me want to hold onto my husband very tightly. It also prompted me to think a LOT harder about our financial future. We had virtually nothing in place, should something happen to one of us. And there we were; in the middle of “something.” My husband, Toby had been diagnosed with cancer.  

He had never had a colon exam, and it was something that I essentially forced him into doing. While it may make you feel awkward about having it done, it’s an incredibly simple process for early detection of cancer. I think it’s safe to say that we’d all prefer to not have our lives cut short. I’d like to think Toby’s life has been saved by the procedure, and I remind him of that often; particularly when I want him to do something for me. He will tell you that the worst part of the whole ordeal was drinking that God-awful gallon of noxious liquid designed to get your innards squeaky clean. The procedure itself was a piece of cake.

The good news was, his battle was not as vicious as what some people endure. His cancer was caught at stage 2, so two surgeries later, he was deemed cancer free. He’s back to normal; well, as normal as can be. If you’re at all familiar with my husband, the bathroom has always been a frequent place for him. He says he does some of his best “thinking” in there. I think it’s in your best interest to avoid the room after he’s vacated it.

At any rate, I decided to leave my 20 year career in radio, for something that provided better work-life balance, and a path to a better financial future. That new career was working out pretty well—selling memberships to the National Federation of Independent Business—despite having a territory that was almost two hours north of home. But then came December and January. That’s generally when many business owners put a death-grip on their spending. Working for straight commission, and putting about 1000 miles on my vehicle each week was taking a toll on the finances, so I decided to pull the plug on that venture.

Toby freaked out, but fortunately, it was only one week before the next opportunity revealed itself. I started working at Wehrs Machine & Racing Products in Bangor on a temporary basis. Being a huge fan of racing, it was a pretty awesome job to have. I was applying like crazy for all kinds of other jobs; landing a few interviews, but nothing ever fell into place.

Timing is everything. Several weeks ago, I received a very random Facebook message from Jen O’Brien at Midwest Family Broadcasting. She inquired if I missed radio, or ever thought about getting back into it again. I have to be honest here; I had no intention of returning to radio again. It wasn’t what I thought I should be doing. I wanted work-life balance and that path to a better financial future. In radio? Please! But I agreed to meet with Jen for lunch at Piggy’s later that week. What could a conversation hurt? Plus, she said she would buy, so of course, I was down with a free lunch!

It’s amazing how when you go into something without expectations, just how incredibly relaxed you can be. That was probably the most enjoyable lunch that I have had with someone that I literally just met. (Other than the surprise of KQ afternoon drive DJ, Rachel Chase & Brittany Styles from Z-93 happening to walk in for lunch and spotting the two of us sitting together, the entire meeting was free of any awkwardness.)

Later, I had the opportunity to have a lunch with Phil Costigan at Big Boar Smoker in West Salem, to get to know him, and see if the two of us thought we would be able to work together. (TWO free lunches?!) We had to wait until after he came back from vacation, but as it turned out, we hit it off pretty easily. I’m convinced that over the course of this new adventure in radio, I will be sampling all kinds of wild game, thanks to Phil.

My point here is that this was a very thorough process, that none of us dove right into; instead we methodically explored it, taking our time to fully consider things. I’m sure there will be people from my past who are going to be upset with my decision, but isn’t that part of the lesson in life? You can’t make decisions based upon what others will think. You have to do what’s best for you.

In the end, I was convinced that it was right for me to venture back into radio. Chad at Wehrs Machine was very understanding, and didn’t insist on a two-week notice, so once we had an agreement struck; it was only a short matter of time.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, and incredibly perceptive, you likely noticed earlier this week that I was suddenly becoming friends with many of the characters here at Midwest Family Broadcasting. I am finding that they are a pretty gregarious and fun bunch. I'm pretty sure that I’m going to like it here.  I’m grateful for the opportunity, and amazed at how life takes such interesting turns. And so, it begins… what was old, is suddenly new again.      ~Jacklyn