Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Not to Tell Others About Your Birthday.

Every one of us has a day each year that we love to celebrate more than anyone else. This day is really only important to us, other people usually celebrate it with you, but only because they feel obligated. What day am I talking about? Your birthday.

There are a few birthdays that are pretty exciting. The day you turn 16, you get to drive on your own. The day you turn 17, you can fly an airplane by yourself. Then of course comes the privilege to vote and join the military once you turn 18. The last big milestone is 21, when you can finally start drinking legally. However, in my personal opinion, if you joined the military when you were 18, you should be able to drink then. Those guys spend more time away from their family and see more blood and guts in a day than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. I’m not saying that they should drink their sorrows away, but a cold beer after you’ve been out in the hot desert chasing bad guys all day, isn’t that out of line.

After you turn 21, things kind of go downhill. At 25, your insurance rates go down, that's nice but not really worth celebrating. At 30, you start feeling old, eventually you start having kids and their birthdays become more important than yours. From here on out, people tend to celebrate every 10 years...until you reach 90, then every year is a celebration that your heart is still ticking.

Generally, nobody keeps track of your birthday except for you (and Facebook), so I find it interesting how people bring up their big day, when they do want to go celebrate. Some people go with the direct approach, “Hey, just wanted to let you know it’s my birthday on Tuesday.” To which I would respond, “Hey, just wanted to let you know, I’m not getting you anything.” The cool people of the world bring it up like this, “Hey, I’m buying a round of drinks for the whole office tonight to celebrate me getting older.” Some try to slip it into normal conversation, “My wife and I went to dinner last night to celebrate my birthday.” Regardless of how you bring it up to people, it’s tacky. The whole world doesn’t need to know about your birthday, the people close to you will know, but don’t be one of those people who thinks the whole world should be celebrating with you.

Oh, there’s one other way to tell people about your birthday, it’s probably the tackiest, most self centered, shameless, egotistical method out there - and that’s writing a blog and publishing it on the world wide web. Seriously...don't do that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Theater of the Mind

There are some great ways to be entertained out there; who hasn't streamed a movie from Netflix directly to their TV, or watched the latest episode of "The Office" on Hulu, or just tried to catch up on the latest with their friends on Facebook. These are all great forms of entertainment, which is why I'm not surprised that my favorite type of entertainment is disappearing quicker than Girl Scout Cookies in a Weight Watchers meeting. So you might be asking, what is my favorite form of entertainment? Talk Radio.

I'm not talking about the news or sports stations, like Fox or ESPN, I'm talking about good ol' talk radio, you know, theater of the mind. I'm sure you can picture a little boy sitting in front of one of those huge radios from the 1920's. What happened to those days? What happened to the kids rushing home from school, to sit in the living room and listen to their favorite afternoon broadcast.

Anyone can entertain you with special effects or pretty girls, but it takes a very talented individual to entertain someone with words alone. There's something magical about listening to someone tell a story. A good storyteller, one who can paint a detailed picture, will actually make you feel like you're part of the story itself. There are a few storytellers that come to mind; Paul Harvey would tell "the rest of the story" so vividly and with such personality that history became fun. Another great storyteller is Garrison Keillor, who has created an imaginary village called Lake Wobegon. When you listen to one of his stories, you can actually picture the daily business of the residents from a little town in Northern Minnesota.

A lesser known storyteller, from St. Paul, MN, is a man named TD Mischke. Although no longer on the air, "The Mischke Broadcast" was one of the most entertaining pieces of talk radio. Mischke would entertain you with whatever was going through his mind, and let me tell you, it was an interesting mind to get inside. Often times, there would just be silence, which on any other show would be a huge mistake, but not with Mischke, he would sit there in silence for sometimes minutes at a time, just ruffling papers, and mumbling and grumbling. You know you have a talent when you can entertain people by saying nothing....on the radio. Mischke would often take calls from a few select people, these people almost became local celebrities themselves. One of my favorite callers was a young boy named Luke, when you listen to one of his calls, you get the feeling that he may be the next great thing in talk radio, that is, if entertaining talk radio even exists in the future.

Fortunately there is still one entertaining talk show in St. Paul. "Garage Logic", an imaginary town where the philosophy is "anything that needs to be figured out, can be figured out in the garage." Joe Soucheray, the shows host, is the Twin Cities' preeminent purveyor of Common Sense. He is also the self-appointed Mayor and Fireworks Commissioner of Garage Logic, Minnesota. Garage Logic is more a state of mind than an actual place on a map. We are lucky to have such a great show on a local AM station, but unfortunately, other than Garage Logic, this station has switched over to a sports talk format. It seems that listeners would rather be entertained with the latest scores than the mind theater of the good ol' days.

As much as I enjoy listening to music, I enjoy listening to entertaining talk radio even more. But sadly, entertaining talk radio - theater of the mind - seems to be disappearing. I'm hoping for a comeback, maybe people will start thinking it's "retro", much like the clothing of the '70's coming back into style. Until then, I'll just have to be entertained by the voices in my head.