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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 120, April 30: Made-for-TV '70s

My All-Time Favorite
1970s Made-for-TV Movies
They just don't make them like they used to (maybe that's good, considering some of the many that DIDN'T make this list). But these 10 classics (not miniseries) would be of interest to even the most reality-TV-laden viewers out there. Most are dramas - some quite creepy. Going over a long list online really brought back memories. Hope older readers share in those.
Top Tier
"Brian's Song," 1970: Great and heart-wrenching story of Chicago Bears player Brian Piccolo and his friend Gale Sayers. Starred James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. Took a good look at bridging racism.
"Helter Skelter," 1976: I watched this alone one night when I was 19 and it scared the crap out of me! Steve Railsback
was incredible as Charles Manson.
"Sybil," 1976: Another one that gave me the creeps, Joanne Woodward was the evil mom and Sally Field was Sybil,
the girl with 13 personalities.
"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," 1974: Cicely Tyson was the famous black woman who stood up to prejudice and hate. I learned a lot of the sad truth about our history of racism.
Second Tier
"Can You Hear the Laughter? The Story of Freddie Prinze," 1979: Starring someone named Ira Angustain, I remember liking it. Looking up reviews, though, it didn't do so well.
"Duel," 1971: This intriquing horror story of a possessed truck terrorizing Dennis Weaver was done by a young, up-and-coming director named Steven Spielberg.
"Kung Fu," 1971: I liked the movie starring David Carradine
but never got into the TV series.
"The Boy in the Plastic Bubble," 1976: The true story was more fascinating to me than perhaps the acting - led by John Travolta.
"The Legend of Lizzie Borden," 1975: Elizabeth Montgomery was not the nice Samantha from "Bewitched" in her portrayal
of this murderous woman.
"The Miracle Worker," 1979: I barely remember the 1960s original, but was impressed by Melissa Gilbert's portrayal of Helen Keller. And, Patty Duke Astin - who was Keller in the first one -
did well as the teacher.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 119, April 29: What's My Name?

If I Wasn't Jim
What Would My Name Be?
Kris suggested this entry. She actually asked me the question last night on our anniversary after we went out to eat at Fritz & Frites in Galena, Ill. It's a German/French combo restaurant. I had Sauerbraten roast beef, but exchanged the saurkraut and cabbage to get the Frites. A real Eurpoean combo! (And I didn't ask for ketchup.) Anyway, here are 10 names I'd seriously take if my dad Lee James and Edie didn't name me James Lee.
1. Johnny Jeffery: Half-jokingly, I believe I was a Confederate named Johnny Blood in a previous life.
And, Johnny Jeffery really has a ring to it.
2. Abraham Luther: Combines so many people I admire: Lincoln, the Biblical Abraham, Martin Luther King and Martin Luther, of religious fame. (But everybody'd call me Abe)
3. Kirby Bo: A blatant sports name based on Kirby Puckett and Bo Jackson. I'd be embarrassed if I grew up hating sports.
4. Jeremiah Michael: It kind of rolls off your tongue.
A good biblical name. Stately.
5. Dominic Lee: Not sure if a Scandanavian can be named Dominic, but that makes it all the better.
6. Andrew Scott: Say it all the way through - Andrew Scott Swenson - and it's pretty smooth.
7. Ian Bartholomew: With such a short first name,
a long middle name works.
8. Tyrus Paul: If I'm going to be named after a mean guy like
Ty Cobb, I'll need a man of the faith for a middle name.
9. Zachary Lawrence: It would be neat having a first name
with the last letter of the alphabet.
10. Oscar James: Oscar is out there just enough to be worth the risk. But, if it failed, I could fall back on my middle name
and be called Jim ... Swenson.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 118, April 28: Movies of the 80s

My Favorite Flicks
From the 1980s
I've already done a couple of other decades, so I thought I'd tackle the 1980s today. This list includes My Top of that year, though not in order because it's too tough to decide. There's also 20 Close Calls, Popular Movies I Didn't Like as Much as Other People and Movies that Just Missed the Cut of 30 (a few of them were ones Kris got me to watch and I was glad she did)
Top 10
A Christmas Story
Back to the Future
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Field of Dreams
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Raising Arizona
Sixteen Candles
20 Near Misses
Blues Brothers
Driving Miss Daisy
On Golden Pond
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rain Man
Stand By Me
Terms of Endearment
The Empire Strikes Back
The Princess Bride
The Shining
Near Misses
A Fish Called Wanda
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Tender Mercies
The Right Stuff
This is Spinal Tap
Popular 80s Movies
I Didn't Like
as Much as Others
Bull Durham
Raging Bull
The Terminator

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 117, April 27: Why?

Why Not?
Here are some of the "why" questions that have plagued me over the years.
Why do some "have" and some "have not?"
Why can't I stop clearing my throat?
Why are so many children physically and sexually abused?
Why did I have to take Algebra II in high school?
Why do so many people cheat on their spouses?
Why did I start losing my hair at a young age?
Why can't government stop spending so much money?
Why does my cat just keep going and going and ...
Why was I such a mean kid as a junior high student?
Why do some people with 14 or more items in their shopping cart
go into the line that says "12 or less items?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 116, April 26: What a View!

Wisconsin farm country, viewed from Castle Rock.
My Favorite Views
of/from Natural Sites
This is dedicated to the mountains, bluffs, rivers and oceans on God's green earth. I've seen so few - much fewer than I hope to eventually see. But, as always, I do have a list of my favorites up to now. (BTW: Kris and I are planning a trip to see the Grand Canyon in August, and that will immediately knock out one of the 10 on this list)
The Badlands, South Dakota: It's like you've been dropped onto a different planet, they are so unusual. From a distance or close up, these bad guys are jaw-dropping.
Captiva Island, Florida: Much of this island off the southwest coast of the Sunshine State resembles a jungle as you drive along the narrow roads. Its better known sister is Sanibel Island.
Castle Rock, Wisconsin: Located off the beaten path near Fennimore, this private bluff is there for the climbing. Somewhat challenging, I've scaled it 3-4 times, the most recent
about seven years ago.
Devil's Tower, Wyoming: Famous from the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," there's no comparison to its awesome sight in person. And the rock climbing is great.  
Indiana Dunes State Park: When my family stopped here on our way home from a trip to Mackinaw Island, we climbed up over a ridge and I swear we had found the Sahara - next to Lake Michigan! Very cool.
Mississippi River, below Effigy Mounds: There are so many great views of the Mighty Miss in this area, but this is probably my favorite. And the National Park itself isn't too shabby either.
Pacific Ocean, San Diego: This is where I first set eyes on our largest ocean, in 1978. The waves and surfers impressed me more than my first view of the Atlantic in Daytona Beach two years earlier.
Snake River, Idaho: It really does snake around, and you can get some magnificent views of it while driving west of Idaho Falls -
with mountains in the background.
Teton Mountains, Idaho/Wyoming: Up to now, my all-time favorite natural site. They spring up majestically almost from flat ground. You can see them from both states, but the best view
is from Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: The only time I was there, I saw two other cars. It was the first day of a new season, and I was on my way to an interview in Idaho Falls. Imagine having this greatest of all great national parks to yourself!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 115, April 25: Greatest Albums

My Favorite
All-Time Albums
I've been in the mood to do this list for a while. I can't possibly limit it to 10. So I'll do 50. But I won't waste time with comments. Suffice it to say that some of these are critically acclaimed, some are far from it. That's the beauty of having a personal blog. I don't buy many albums anymore, so most of these are from the past. Anyway, hope some of these are among your favorites. (*Possible Top 10s)
Abraxas, Santans
* A Day Without Rain, Enya
Almost There, Mercy Me
Are You Experienced? Jimi Hendrix
Back Home Again, John Denver
Band on the Run, Wings
Best of the Doobies, The Doobie Brothers
* Best of Three Dog Night
Blind Date With Destiny, The Bent Scepters
* Blue Sky, Night Thunder, Michael Murphy
Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Simon & Garfunkel
Brothers and Sisters, The Allman Brothers
Caribou, Elton John
Christine McVie, Christine McVie
* The Definitive Collection, ABBA
Down Two, Then Left, Boz Scaggs
Endless Summer, The Beach Boys
The Essential Leo Kottke, Leo Kottke
Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? The Cranberries
Face the Music, Electric Light Orchestra
Fashion Nugget, Cake
* Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac
* Get Born, Jet
Grand Funk, Grand Funk
* Greatest Hits, Bread
Greatest Hits, Carpenters
Greatest Hits, Jim Croce
* Greatest Hits, Gordon Lightfoot
Greatest Hits, Patsy Cline (Country)
Greatest Hits, War
Harvest, Neil Young
History: America's Greatest Hits
Hotel California, The Eagles
* Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin
In Living Color, Cheap Trick
It's Only Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stones
* Long Distance Voyager, The Moody Blues
* Machine Head, Deep Purple
Paranoid, Black Sabbath
Rubber Soul, The Beatles
* Rumors, Fleetwood Mac
Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
* Sedaka's Back, Neil Sedaka (Yes, possible Top 10!)
Seventh Sojourn, The Moody Blues
Special Edition, J.J. Cale
Storm, Fernando Ortega (Christian)
Tattoo You, The Rolling Stones
Tulsa, Wayne Hancock (Country)
* The Very Best of Roger Whittaker
What A Crying Shame, The Mavericks (Country)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 114, Easter: Thankful

He Has Risen
And I Am Thankful
For ...
My Good Health: Running yesterday on the Heritage Trail, I thanked God for my good knees and the ability to have run
and played sports for so long.
My Good Mind: Though it plays tricks on me at times, it works and I keep working it to keep it honest.
The Golden Rule: I believe in it so deeply, I only wish I could follow it at every moment. It transcends religions.
Having a Job: I don't take it for granted, especially since I'm doing what I love - working on a newspaper.
My Writing Ability: It could be better ... I could have a million seller! But God has given me an ability to put words together in a way that conveys clearly (most of the time) what I feel and believe.
My Journey: He has taken me to so many places - physically, emotionally and mentally - and I trust He will continue to do so
to make me the man that I am.
My Three Families: How lucky I am to have my immediate family, my first wife's family and me second wife's family
as people I can count on to care.
My Sons: Jay and Shawn are men now and I am very proud to say that I am their father. They will carry on the Swenson name very well.
My wives: Jane taught me to care about others first and what courage is all about; Kris is teaching me tolerance and opening me to new ways to look at things I used to take for granted. God bless both.
My faith: It's very weak at times; I am so human. But deep down it's there and I am so thankful. I pray others gain strength from it or eventually discover its wonder and rewards.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 113, April 23: Take Me Out to ...

Fenway Park
My All-Time Favorite
Major League Baseball Stadiums
From the first time I walked into County Stadium in Milwaukee as a 10-year-old in 1967, I've been fascinated by the structures. Though many of the games I've been to over the years proved to be rather boring after a few innings, I have fond memories of the ballparks. Here my favorites from the 20 or so I've been to.
1. Fenway Park, Boston: My favorite team, I finally got to see a Red Sox game just a few years ago. Took my then 18-year-old son Shawn. The Green Monster and all lived up to my expectations.
2. Wrigley Field, Chicago: The other "old-timer," it's showing its age more than Fenway, but you gotta love the ivy walls, view of apartments and history. Maybe there'll even be a World Series there before they have to tear it down.
3. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles: The ravine it is located in is very picturesque, and there is a nice history here, too, though not near as long as the top two on this list.
4. PNC, Pittsburgh: A modern inviting and scenic park. I love how downtown Pittsburgh can be seen beyond the outfield and the small crowds allow you to move into the box seats!
5. Miller Park, Milwaukee: Compact and modern with a retractable roof. This comes in handy when you buy tickets early and have to drive four hours - no worries about rainouts.
6. (Old) Comiskey Park, Chicago: Very old-fashioned with the support beams in the outfield, it just oozed history as I sat and watched the one game I ever saw there.
7. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City: I covered an American League playoff game there in 1981 while working
for the Fulton (Mo.) Sun-Gazette.
8. Progressive Field, Cleveland: The size alone and huge video screen are enough to make this a jaw-dropping experience. Its location near downtown is cool, too.
9. County Stadium, Milwaukee: Probably not on many lists because it was so plain, this is where I saw my first dozen or so games - including a World Series game in 1982.
10.Chase Field, Arizona: I didn't see a game there, but the boys and I ate in the outfield restaurant during a spring training trip. Looked beautiful from our perch.
Other notables: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati; Arlington Ballpark, Texas; the Metrodome, Minnesota; (New) Comiskey Park, Chicago; Oakland Coliseum; Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego.
Top 3 want to see: Camden Yards, Baltimore; Target Field, Minneapolis; Yankee Stadium, New York.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 112, April 22: 2-In-1

My All-Time Favorite
Musical Duos
As I researched, I discovered there weren't as many that I liked as I thought. But the ones I do are very memorable and continue to provide good music for my iPod.
Here's the list with my favorite song from each:
1. The Carpenters, "Goodbye to Love" - It used to be "Close to You," but "Goodbye to Love" has grown on me and has a great guitar solo by Tony Peluso.
2. Hall & Oates, "Kiss On My List" - I used to think they were saying "Kiss on My Lips."
3. Sonny & Cher, "Baby Don't Go" - This song could be among my Top 50 of All-Time, which is saying a lot.
4. Simon & Garfunkel, "El Condor Pasa" - "Cecilia"
is a close second.
5. The Everly Brothers, "(Til) I Kissed You" - A great one to whistle to and a Top 100 all-time song for me.
6. The Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Didn't know until TONIGHT that this was a duo.
This song is another Top 100. 
7. The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army" - Hard-rock duo that sounds like it has 4-5 bandmates playing.
8. Seals & Crofts, "Hummingbird" - Very pleasant duo.
Also love "Summer Breeze."
9. Loggins & Messina, "Thinking of You" - Just beats out the classic "Your Mama Don't Dance."
10. England Dan & John Ford Coley, "Nights are Forever Without You" - Long names and long song titles
("We'll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again")
HM tri-state duo: Okham's Razor, "One That Got Away"
- A Platteville-based, folksy duo.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 111, April 21: I Scream, You Scream ...

My Favorite
Frozen Treats
Kris bought me (us) a new ice cream called Red Carpet Red Velvet. It's similar to one of my favorite desserts she makes (see April 13 blog). Anyway, I didn't have an idea for a blog tonight, so she suggested ice cream. Well, being fussy in ALL foods, I could only come up with about eight flavors, and most of them had something to do with chocolate (though I really liked the Velvet stuff). So, I decided to list my favorite frozen treats,
since I like more of a variety of them.
1. Chocolate swirl ice cream: Or vanilla with chocolate syrup. I know, pretty plain. But it's my favorite. What else can I say?
2. Ice Cream Sandwich: The vanilla inside the chocolate
cake-like covering is very tasty.
3. Chocolate sundae: I don't like the nuts on them, but sometimes add pineapple pieces instead of cherry.
4. Orange sherbet: Remember the Push-Ups? Are they still around? I don't eat this as often as I used to, and when I do, it's in small doses as it gets too "tangy" for me.
5. Drumstick: There is no way I can explain why I like these when there are nuts on top. But I do, and danged if these Drumsticks
don't dumbfound me.
6. Popsicles: My favorite flavors are grape, cherry and root beer. But again, don't eat these as much as I did as a kid.
7. Ice Cream Bar: Basically a vanilla and chocolate combo again. But I saw online that there's a Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Bar out there somewhere! Gotta try it.
8. Neopolitan Ice Cream: When I was younger, I was so fussy I just ate the vanilla and chocolate. Now I like all the flavors.
See, I've progressed!
9. Fudgicle: Another one that I'm not sure is still around. Loved them as a kid and it would be neat to try one again.
10. Freezer Pops: My favorite flavors are cherry, grape and orange. Had a few when the boys were young. They were easy
for youngsters to handle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 110, April 20: Movie Songs

A List of Songs That Always
Make Me Think of a Movie
Whenever I hear these songs, I think about the movie they were in. It's not a list of the "greatest" songs ever in movies (though some might be) or even the most obvious. It's just a personal connection I have - and you probably do, too, for some songs from some movies.
"Holiday Road," by Lindsey Buckingham ("National Lampoon's Vacation"): It's played a lot when Chevy Chase and clan
are on the move.
"Hot in the City," by Billy Idol ("Big") It's when Tom Hanks
gets a ride in a limo.
"I'm Alright," by Kenny Loggins ("Caddyshack") It blares out at the beginning and plays every so often in this hilarious film.
"Maniac," by Michael Sembello ("Flashdance") Everytime I hear it I want to start running in place as hard as I can.
"My Guy," sung by Dee Dee Sharp ("Sister Act") One of two movies on this list with Whoopi Goldberg (go figure). 
She and the nuns sing it in a great scene.
"New Slang" by the Shins ("Garden State") Kris tuned me into this movie. The song is playing on the lead female character's headphones and she lets Zach Braff listen to it. Sweet scene.
"Que Sera Sera," by Doris Day ("The Man Who Knew Too Much") Doris sings this to help her son escape from his kidnappers
in this great Hitchcock flick.
"Tequila," sung by The Champs ("PeeWee's Big Adventure") You all must remember it's PeeWee's dance scene in the biker bar.
"Unchained Melody," by the Righteous Brothers ("Ghost") My favorite movie on this list, but when I hear the song, I get sad
for some reason. Whoopi's great in this film!
"Up Around the Bend," by Credence Clearwater Revival ("Remember the Titans") This rocker played as the Titans
were pounding on their opponents.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 109, April 19: The Twilight Zone

My Favorite Episodes
from The Twilight Zone
I've loved this show since I was a little kid and it scared me. These days, I can watch any episode at any time because Kris bought me the complete set for a wedding present four years ago. As I reviewed the five seasons, I initially narrowed it down to 27 episodes - nine from Season 3 and only two from Season 4, when it went from 30 minutes to hour-long episodes. Here is the Top 10, although most are interchangeable even with the special mentions:
1. "The Hunt," Season 3: An old mountain man and his dog share some good times in the present and in the future. One of the more sentimental of all episodes.
2. "An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge," Season 5: A French short film aired just once, it involves the hanging of a Confederate soldier who somehow gets the break of his life.
3. "Living Doll," Season 5: Telly Savalas stars as an abusive father whose daughter gets a very special doll. Let's just say that "Tina" and Telly don't get along.
4. "Kick the Can," Season 3: A classic that also appeared on the 1983 Twilight Zone movie, most of a group of nursing home residents learn how to be young again.
5. "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," Season 5: Another classic on the '83 film, William Shatner stars as the only  airplane passenger that sees a monster on the wing - or does he?
6. "Eye of the Beholder," Season 2: Filmed in a very closeup and dark style, this episode features a woman undergoing yet another plastic surgery. And she hopes she'll finally look normal.
7. "Time Enough at Last," Season 1: Starring my favorite Twilight Zone star, Burgess Meredith, a hen-pecked bookworm finally sees his wish to have more time to read come true. Or does it?
8. "A World of His Own," Season 1: A writer dictates his creations into a tape recorder which has some intriguing powers that he likes, but his wife doesn't.
9. "Still Valley," Season 3: A Confederate soldier discovers a way to almost single-handedly win the Civil War for the South. Should he or shouldn't he?
10. "The Invaders," Season 2: Agnes Moorehead pulls off a wonderful one-woman episode with hardly any dialogue. She tries to fight off a miniature flying saucer from taking over her 19th-century rustic cabin.
Special mention: "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" Season 1; "The Obsolete Man," Season 2; "The Dummy," Season 3; "The Printer's Devil" Season 4; "The Masks" Season 5.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 108, April 18: Heavenly

10 Things I Imagine
About Heaven
This is my seventh of what I call "serious" posts. 
I don't believe there is anything wrong with talking about heaven. I wish we'd talk about it more - without judging. But it makes people nervous because it really can become a deep conversation. Some of the 10 things I imagine about it are deep;
some aren't. Perhaps this list will cause you to ponder, too.
1. Mind-Boggling: Ultimately, it will surely be too magnificent for me to try to describe in this or any other list. But I imagine it being like earth - without the blemishes.
2. Intellectual: You don't believe in it? Consider its possibilities. You surely wonder about intelligent and advanced life in space. What about time travel? Heaven is a similar unknown to seriously ponder.
3. Forever and ever: Seems like a long time. But again, expand your mind to consider that time -
and all of its limitations - won't exist in heaven.
4. No pains: Wow, the aches I've been accumulating over the years - physical and emotional - will go away.
5. Loved ones: They'll be there. And I believe you will love everyone - and be loved - as much as you loved anyone on earth.
6. Boring?: No way! Wouldn't it take an eternity to meet and share stories with every single person who ever lived? I believe it will. And I'll learn how to play an instrument! I'll read fiction!!
I'll slow down and smell the roses!!!
7. Flying: Yes, I believe we'll be able to fly high in the sky and swim to the deepest part of the oceans.
8. Animals: They're God's creations, so they will be there, too. Imagine falling asleep next to a lion or petting the squirrels.
Fido and Tabby will be there, too.
9. Space travel: I imagine finally moving at the speed of light and seeing God's most distant creations. Then, who says we won't meet life from other galaxies? Why not?
10. Judgement: So who will go and who won't? I would not be a Christian if I didn't proudly say you need to believe in Christ. Yet, since I also know I am not God, it will be up to Him what ultimately happens. Like a young child trusts and believes in his loving father - even when doesn't understand his actions -
I believe and trust in a loving God.
 (I owe the expansion of some of my views on this subject
to the book, "Heaven," by Randy Alcorn.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 107, April 17: Loner

Top 10 List of Things
I Like to do Alone
Some of the things on this list I like doing with others, too.
But I get some inner satisfaction from doing them alone, too.
1. Working in the Yard: With my iPod in pocket, I thoroughly enjoy putzing around in the garden or just sitting for a while and pulling Creeping Charlie. It's rare I sit still.
2. Working in the Office: Saturday mornings are so quiet at the TH. I can get so much done, and with my music turned up a little louder than during the week, too. I'll miss this some day when I retire.
3. Taking a Plane Trip: Alone, I can put up with all the preparation crap because once I'm in my seat, there's not a care in the world. The hum of the plane is soothing and I love having a window seat.
4. Driving at Night: Similar to taking a plane trip, but I have to stay awake. With good music, it's pretty easy. In fact, I nod off more often driving between 3-7 than I do past 10 p.m.
5. Cleaning Around the House: Organizing things, washing the kitchen floor, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, washing clothes ... anything but dusting, for some odd reason.
6. Running: I've run with Kris and other male friends, but there's nothing like running alone on a good route on a good day listening to - you guessed it - my iPod.
7. Going to a Movie: Kris and I go to one almost every week, but I also really enjoy sitting alone watching a good film. It's another good way to get away from life for a couple of hours.
8. Watching a Good Game: I watch too many games, to be sure, but it's not quite as often that I plan ahead to watch a specific Packers or Badgers game and then have them live up to expectations.
9. Listen to a Record: I don't do this as often (iPod :-( But we do have a turntable and occasionally I'll lie on the floor and listen to a complete side of an old album.
10. Shooting Baskets: Again, I'm getting too old to do this as often, and when I do, it's usually for 30 minutes at the most. I will say that I still can amaze myself at how good an outside shooter I am!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 106, April 16: Guy Warblers

My All-Time Favorite
Male Vocalists
If nothing else shows my eclectic taste in music, my favorite male vocalists surely will. They range from hard rock to country to easy listening. I've subdivided them into solo artists
and lead singers in bands.
Solo artists
Michael Buble: One of the newer ones on my list.
Very upbeat singer.
Jim Croce: Great young career cut short by tragic death.
John Denver: Lived a little longer, but still died young.
Al Green: My pick for greatest black singer ever.
Gordon Lightfoot: Definitely among my Top 5.
Elton John: He's gone downhill as he's aged.
Rod Stewart: Ditto. But don't we all? No.
Roger Whittaker: I'm not ashamed to say I love his voice.
Hank Williams Sr.: He's what country was and should be.
Stevie Wonder: During his prime, he was just awesome.
Lead singers of bands
Greg Allman, the Allman Brothers: Oozes blues/rock with every word.
Lindsey BuckinghamFleetwood Mac: Definitely among my Top 5.
Britt Daniel, Spoon: He has grown on me with his soulful/rock voice.
Mark Farner, Grand Funk: Classic rock voice at its best.
David Gates, Bread: The exact opposite of Farner,
but I like them both a lot.
Justin Hayward, The Moody Blues: My favorite singer in this band.
Paul McCartney, Beatles and Wings: He has aged as well as anyone.
Colin Meloy, The Decemberists: The most catchy voice of the 2000s.
Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin: A lot of heart and soul
in his presentations.
Ozzie Osbourne, Black Sabbath: Why? I can't explain it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 105, April 15: Shopping List

My Organized
Shopping Trips
Kris and I just returned from HyVee. We "usually" get along with we get groceries together. But I follow a much more regimented routine than she does. So we occasionally clash.
Here is my typical solo trip to the grocery store.
1. Fruits and vegetables first, always: Or should I say pineapples and carrots. That's what I most often get. And they go in the little upper tray near the handle!
2. Skip a couple of aisles: There are few canned or baked goods that I ever buy. But occasionally, I grab a jar of peanut butter or ketchup. They go in the bottom, back of the cart.
3. Breads/Chips: Whole wheat bread and Cheetoes is the regular buy. They go in the tray with the fruits and veggies.
4. Pop: I'll stock up on Dew if I need it, but always get some Diet Sunkist Lemonade for Kris. If 12-pack of cans, on the bottom level below the basket. If eight-pack plastic bottles, split
and straddling the rim of the cart.
5. Freezer goods: This could include Tombstone pizzas, TV dinners, frozen veggies, ice cream ... they all stack close together in the main cart - toward the front.
6. Dairy goods: Often it's a gallon of OJ and several cups of yogurt. They also go near the frozen goods; the yogurts stacked neatly next to each other for easy unloading. I save room for the milk,
which I get at the organic area, in the front.
7. Cat food/litter: As Tabby is eating and peeing us out of house and home, this is a constant every trip. The 10 cans of cat food usually fit in the tray; the litter goes by the pop in the bottom.
8. Miscellaneous: It could be tissues, heat wraps, vitamins, Q-Tips ... there's always room near the front of the cart for these.
9. Checkout: All the same things - such as the cans of cat food or cups of yogurt - are kept together. Cold items roll down the conveyor belt together, too. Milk in a bag? No thanks.
10. Loading up car: I try to lean things next to each other so they won't roll around on the trip home. And I always make sure my cart is rolled tightly into the cart in front of it in the outside stall. Why not?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 104, April 14: The Youth

Some of My Favorite
Boys I've Coached
Through more than 30 years of coaching youth sports - with a few breaks here and there - I've had the privilege and pleasure of dealing with hundreds of youngsters. I coached girls only three years and they were in junior high. My level I love most is the 8-10 year olds. Here are just a few of my favorites (not counting my two sons, who, of course were my favorites).
Alex: A quiet and polite boy who is developing
into a very good pitcher.
Andrew: A strong young gentleman whom I coached in basketball about 12 years ago. His father died when he was a teenager.
Ben: I've coached at least five Bens (three are on my current team). All were a joy in their own special ways.
Isaiah: One of the new kids on my Little League team, he looks like he could be very good some day. Very polite and well-spoken
for a 9-year-old.
Joel: Coached him in various sports and was a thoroughly well-behaved kid. He became a national caliber spelling bee competitor.
Jonny/Johnny: Again, I've coached several. One season, it was Big Jonny and Little Jonny. I don't believe it's ever been John or Jon.
Katwaan: One of the more animated boys I ever coached, he played basketball for me when I took on a group of kids
from the Boys Club. Great smile.
Kurtis: The son of a co-worker, he had his challenges to overcome. I heard he recently has become a Christian. Wonderful.
Marcus: Was on the same team with Katwaan, he eventually became an all-conference varsity basketball player.
Neil: I consider him my third "son," he was Shawn's best buddy growing up. He's always been small, but always
spunky and very coachable.
Michael: I've had many Michaels - some were feisty, some were projects. I'll never forget any of them.
Monardo: I sponsored him in baseball three years ago. More of a soccer player, he was one of the most intelligent kids I ever coached.
Nate: We called him Big Nate because he was so much bigger than most kids his age. But he was gentle. I coached him in baseball, but he became a great basketball player, too.
Ryan: Another common name of kids I've coached, one in particular stands out from basketball. I wish I could have had him baseball, too. He could pitch!
Spencer: A very quick boy on a quick Boys Club basketball team. This was the first team I coached after my first wife, Jane, passed away. I'm sure she smiled down on me.
Tanner: Another boy on that first team, his dad helped me out a lot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 103, April 13: Kris the Cook

My Favorite
Kris Desserts
I did my favorite store snacks on March 28. They don't come close to Kris' desserts. She's become locally famous for many and as word spreads, I'm hoping one day she'll retire, set up Kris' Cakes & Things and makes us independently wealthy. In the meantime, I'll keep eating em up and working em off.
1. Raspberry Cheesecake: Not that long ago, before ever trying it, I thought cheesecake was just yellow and tasted like cheese. Kris has changed all of that, starting with this flavor.
2. Triple Layer Chocolate Mousse Cake (above): Not sure if that's the exact name, but I just had a piece and my mind is floating in chocolate heaven.
3. Red Velvet Cookies: This used to be No. 2. They're soft cookies with chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting. Wow!
4. Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies: These are huge. And I love when she freezes them so I can grab one, microwave it and savor it (often dripping cholocate on my chin :-(
5. Lemon cheesecake: This one is a bit tangy, but still excellent. (I'm overly sensitive to tangy things, even when they're not that tangy.)
6. M&M Bars in a Pan: Or just chocolate chip. She makes a pan for me for each Fantasy Baseball Draft.
7. Fat Balls (Oreo Truffle Balls): Hard chocolate outside, soft cake inside ... they're scrumptious.
8. Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chip cookies: If you haven't noticed, I'm partial to chocolate.
9. Peach Cobbler: I've started liking peaches a lot more in desserts in the past few years.
10. Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing: I loved how they tasted, but also the bright yellow and blue flower icing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 102, April 12: Lights, Camera ...

My All-Time
Favorite Actors
I was talking to Kris about this and we agreed it's a very tough list to compile. It's so subjective, and how do you really determine the final cut. I just couldn't limit to to 10 ... or even 20. Here's my Top 25 favorite actors,  broken into a top tier and a second tier. (I'm copping out on this list more than any other so far.)
Top Tier
Cage, Nicholas: Pure acting, no. But some of his movies
                            are my favorites.
Cooper, Gary: Class act, class actor.
Douglas, Michael: Just beats out his father in my tier system.
Duvall, Robert: He just keeps going and filling his roles perfectly.
Ford, Harrison: Action or drama, he gets it done.
Freeman, Morgan: The nicest actor around maybe.
Hanks, Tom: Could be my No. 1 - but I'm copping out, remember.
Hoffman, Dustin: Could be my No. 1 ...
McQueen, Steve: The coolest actor ever, maybe.
Nicholson, Jack: The next coolest ...
Stewart, Jimmy: Among my Top 3, if I was counting.
Washington, Denzel: "Glory" got him off to a great start, for me.
Second Tier
Bronson, Charles: Definitely the coolest second-tier actor.
Depp, Johnny: Maybe the most daring, as far as the variety
                         of roles he takes.
DiCaprio, Leonardo: He seems to be improving each year.
Douglas, Kirk: Tougher than Michael, perhaps should be
                          Top Tier instead.
Dreyfuss, Richard: I liked his earlier work better, but still top notch.
Eastwood, Clint: Almost as cool as Bronson.
Hackman, Gene: "Hoosiers" is a big factor in his inclusion
                             (plus a few others, of course).
Heston, Charlton: Tough as they come and demands attention.
Poitier, Sidney: So sophisticated and a real trailblazer.
Sellers, Peter: Almost solely for "Pink Panthers,"
                         but also could be quite profound.
Smith, Will: Charming and it all seems to come so natural.
Tracy, Spencer: Very dramatic, but surprisingly funny, too.
Wilder, Gene: Could really make you feel something when he acted.
Near misses: Humphrey Bogart, Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, Michael Cera, Kevin Costner, Henry Fonda and John Wayne.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 101, April 11: Cool Covers

Santana Abraxas
My Favorite Cover Songs
by Any Artist or Group
It's very common for major singers or groups to cover songs written and/or sung by previous famous artists. After doing some research, I've come up with my Top 10 covers - some of which I didn't even realize were covers.
1. "Black Magic Woman," by Fleetwood Mac, covered by Santana. Both versions are excellent, but Carlos Santana's guitar and hispanic version is a slight step up.
2. "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," by Gladys Knight & the Pips, covered by Marvin Gaye and also Credence Clearwater Revival. All three are great in their individual ways.
3. "American Woman," by the Guess Who, covered by Lenny Kravitz. As with many of these, both versions are good. I like the original a little better, but Lenny can rock.
4. "Big Yellow Taxi," by Joni Mitchell, covered by Counting Crows, featuring Vanessa Carlton. The cover is very creative, with Carlton's backup vocals. But it's bittersweet because of its 2003 timing.
5. "The First Cut is the Deepest," by Cat Stevens, covered by Rod Stewart. I never heard Stevens' version but loved Stewart's.
6. "Stand By Me," by Ben E. King, covered by John Lennon. Kris gave me a CD of Lennon's covers of old songs
and this was by far my favorite.
7. "Red, Red Wine," by Neil Diamond, covered by UB40. A great reggae version of the old Diamond classic.
8. "Love Hurts," by the Everly Brothers, covered by Nazareth. There is no WAY the Everly Brothers sang this anywhere
near the way Nazareth did.
9. "Hard to Handle," by Otis Redding, covered by the Black Crows. Again, never heard the original, but the hard-rock cover was awesome.
10. "Take Me to the River," by Al Green, covered by the Talking Heads. I must find Green's version as these two artists
are a couple of my favorites.
Honorable mention: "Statesboro Blues," by Blind Willie McTell, covered by the Allman Brothers. This is an HM because McTell's original version came out way back in 1928!

See a related blog on Jan. 6

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 100, April 10: Best TV Shows

My Top 100 All-Time
Favorite TV Shows
To celebrate my 100th posting, I'm listing the 100 TV shows I've most enjoyed during my life. Many I shared with people I love(d) and that's why they're on the list. Many I savored alone. Most are from the past; very few from the 2000s. When you're not into reality TV, Idols, Dancers or CSI - and you don't have HBO or Showtime - well, it's kind of a lost TV decade. Oh well. Several of my shows would likely not be on anyone else's Top 100. I think that's cool. I hope you celebrate my list, not pick it apart or judge it. And, if you'd like to add some of yours, I'll celebrate those, as well. Enjoy and reminisce. (Shows with * are in my Top 25.)
A list of notable omissions is at the end.
The Top 100
* ABC's Wide World of Sports
The Addams Family
* Alfred Hitchcock Presents
* All in the Family
America's Funniest Home Videos
American Bandstand
* The Andy Griffith Show
Arrested Development
* The Bennie Hill Show

* The Beverly Hillbillies
* Bonanza
The Brady Bunch
Candid Camera
The Carol Burnett Show
Charlie's Angels

The Cosby Show
The Dating Game
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Doug (cartoon)
* Early Edition
* ESPN Sports Center
Family Ties
Fantasy Island
* The Flintstones

The Flip Wilson Show
* The Fugitive
Gentle Ben
Get Smart
* Gilligan's Island
Good Times
Gomer Pyle USMC
* Green Acres
Hannity & Colmes

* Happy Days
Here's Lucy
Hogan's Heroes
Home Improvement
The Honeymooners
* I Love Lucy
Late Night With David Lettermen

* Leave it to Beaver
The Love Boat
Married ... With Children
* M*A*S*H
The Match Game
Mission: Impossible
* Monday Night Football
The Monty Python Show
Mork & Mindy
Mr. Ed

The Munsters
My Favorite Martian
My Three Sons
The Newlywed Game
* Night Gallery
The O'Reilly Factor
The Partridge Family

Pee Wee's Playhouse
Police Squad
The Price is Right
The Red Skelton Hour
* The Rifleman
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Sanford & Son
* Saturday Night Live
Saved by the Bell

* Seinfeld
Sex & the City
The Simpsons
60 Minutes
The Smothers Brothers
Survivor (the first season only)
Three's Company
* The Tonight Show (Carson and Leno)

To Tell the Truth
Touched by an Angel
* The Twilight Zone
The Walt Disney Show
Welcome Back Kotter
What's My Line
* Wheel of Fortune
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
WKRP in Cincinnati
* The Wonder Years
Ten notable omissions:
These didn't make it for various reasons and are likely on most other people's Top 100:
Desperate Housewives, E.R., Frasier, Friends, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Office (could move in some day), Roseanne (never will), The West Wing and The X-Files.
Day 200: Top 200 All-Time Movies
Day 300: Top 300 All-Time Songs

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Preview of Day 100

My Top 100
Television Shows
of All Time

Day 99, April 9: Projects Update

How Are They
On Feb. 13, I did a blog about ongoing projects I hoped to maintain or complete. Here is an update on those 10 projects, in reverse order as they were posted in February.
10. Daily blog for 2011: Missed two days, but quickly caught up. Messed up on the Day count at one point
and had to retype about 30 Titles.
9. 100-200 Situps a Day: Average is right about 150
(I've done 10,245 so far)
8. Lift Weights Every other Day: Maintaining it.
I do pushups the same time.
7. Run Every other Day: Pretty consistent. I'm not back at peak pace yet, but I've done 85 miles so far this year.
6. Find and Buy a Dresser to Share With Kris: Completed.
5. Finish Watching all of My New DVDs: Finished "The Time Tunnel." Have watched some of each of the following: Indian History, Civil War stories and 5th season of Saturday Night Live.
4. Add to my iPod: I'm going through my complete 695-page Billboard Top 40 Hits book to add songs. I'm up to K. Most recent adds were by Journey, Jewel and Jay & The Americans.
3. Read Entire Bible: Just finished the story of David and Goliath in the Book of 1 Samuel. I'm on page 404 of 1,800.
This project will not be completed in 2011.
2. Finish My Second Book: Writing about Cuba City coach Jerry Petitgoue and tri-state high school boys basketball. I'm into the 1990s. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Be a Better Husband: Our Bible study group has finished the husband/wife segment. I've learned about being more empathetic.
I can be better.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 98, April 8: Bonus TV

My Favorite TV
Mini-Series & Documentaries
I haven't watched that many, but I do have a Top 10 list (as always!) Ken Burns has three on the list.
1. "The Civil War" (1990): There was no doubt, was there?
2. "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977): The portrayal was heavenly.
3. "Baseball" (1994): Could have been better, but still great.
4. "Lonesome Dove: (1989): Kris hooked me on this on DVD.
5. "John Adams" (2008): Ditto. We watched this together and loved it.
6. "Roots" (1977): An eye-opener for a kid
from a lily-white community.
7. "The West" (1997): Another great Burns' effort.
8. "North & South" (1985): A little too much soap opera,
but it was the Civil War!
9. "Centennial" (1978): Barely remember it, but it was pretty cool.'
10. "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" (1966-76):
Hey, it was listed as a documentary and I liked it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 97, April 7: Coaching Kids

10 Things Youth
Coaches Should
and Shouldn't Do
I've coached youth sports off and on for 30-plus years. I've done boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, YMCA football and youth baseball. Most of this was with my two sons. But for the past four years, I've volunteered to coach Little League baseball, even though my sons are long gone from that age. Here are 10 things I've learned coaching kids 12 and younger.
1. Make it Fun: It's not fun if you yell too much.
It's not fun if you don't laugh enough. 
2. Set rules: My players don't wear their baseball caps on backward and they don't say "this sucks." (They are allowed to change into a "rally cap" at the right time and they can say "this stinks.")
3. Don't make them cry: Many already have a hard time holding back tears; don't get mad enough to cause them to cry.
4. Tease, gently: Almost from the first day of practice, you can figure out which kids to gently tease. It's a form of giving them attention - especially when you smile with them.
5. Praise, praise, praise: Since I set rules, sometimes I have to scold. I make sure to triply praise any kid I've ever had to scold - even if it's for the littlest achievement.
6. Be a kid: Yes, I can be strict and order them to pay attention. But, dang it, I'm still a kid at heart and I'll get down and dirty with those precious children.
7. Shield them from their parents: This is tricky, but if I have an over-zealous parent, I remind the kid that his dad means well and not to get too discouraged by his actions.
8. Scrimmage a lot: If all you do is drill, drill, drill the kids will think it's all work. Besides, you can teach a lot through a controlled scrimmage - like sportsmanship.
9. Don't set a bad example: Don't make winning so important. Most of the kids don't care that much. This is for THEM, not adult egos.
10. MAKE IT FUN! Statistics show that many kids quit organized sports soon after they become teenagers. We've made it too regimented, too serious, too much work - it's NO FUN! You aren't going to develop a professional athlete out of your kid. But you can keep him or her participating by chilling out a little bit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 96, April 6: Super-Size?

My All-Time Favorite
Fast Foods
I'm not going to bad-mouth fast foods. Nobody is making anybody else eat them. Nobody is forcing anybody to super-size them. Eaten occasionally and in moderation, I don't see any harm.
1. KFC: Original, please! The mashed potatoes and cole slaw are almost as good as the chicken. I've gone from the 4-piece when I was in my 20s to just a 2-piece.
2. Burger King: Usually, it's the two cheeseburger meal. Once in awhile, I'll get a Junior Whopper. They have my favorite frieds, too, btw.
3. Pickle Barrel Subs: A Dubuque-owned business, I like the taste of these better than any other subs I've eaten. (I consider this to be "eating healthy" compared to most fast foods as I add no salt, pepper, vinegar, sauces or dressings - seldom cheese)
4. Panda Express: If they had one of these in Dubuque, it would rank higher. I almost always partake of these places in out-of-town malls.
5. A&W: Great burgers and fries, plus a mug of frosty root beer. Not as fast as some places, but worth the wait.
6. Panera's: One of Kris' favorites, it's another nice, healthy alternative to many on this list. But my favorite hot sandwiches often cut the roof of my mouth :-( 
7. McDonald's: The only thing I ever order anymore is the Quarter Pounder Meal, no onions. But I like it a lot.
8. Taco Bell: I don't eat here too often anymore, but when I do, it's usually just some hard-shelled tacos.
9. Subway: Doesn't rank up there with Pickle Barrel, but still a good, healthy option to burgers and fries.
10. Arbys: Another spot I don't take advantage of too often. In Dubuque, it's out of the way to get there.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 95, April 5: Fun & Games

My Favorite Games
As an Adult
I listed my favorite games as a kid on Jan. 16. Now it's time to do the adult version - even though kids could and do play all of my adult favorites. But I do remember my late sister, Amy, giving my first wife and I a sex-related game for Christmas once. She said it was a good game for newlyweds. We never did play it.
1. Scrabble: It's really not even close. I've played it with all of my relatives; I've played it alone (many times). I've played it online; I've played it in the park. I'm hoping it will keep me from getting Alzheimer's!
2. Euchre: I don't play 10 different card games, so they'll be included here. I watched my dad play and I've played against my father-in-law. It's huge in the Dubuque area.
3. Balderdash: A game of creativity and bluff, it can turn into a "real" adult game of innuendos if people are drinking. I've laughed until I cried playing this with friends - most notably Roger.
4. Scattergories: One of the favorites of my two sons when they were about 10-14 years old. But it's fun for all ages as you create lists based on letters of the alphabet.
5. Trivial Pursuit: I don't play it anymore, but when it first came out, it was a blast. But boy, was it hard - especially when I played against other newspaper types in Idaho Falls years ago.
6. Family Feud Game: At one time, I was the only unmarried member of my family and when we played this, I got to be Richard Dawson.
7. Spoons: A card game that is similar to musical chairs. Spoons are laid out in the middle of a table and when somebody gets four of a kind, everyone reaches for a spoon. Deadly on the knuckles!
8. Scene It, Movies: Kris and I don't play too many games besides Scrabble. And, when we play this DVD game, I usually get beat as she's an expert on movies.
9. Canasta: Another card game, it was very popular with baby boomer parents. It requires two decks and probably more patience than most people have these days.
10. Monopoly: I didn't get into this game as much as a lot of people - didn't have the patience! But it's still a classic I've played many times over the years.