Saturday, February 23, 2008

Usually Not Impressed with Grammys...But

This year's Grammy awards Show was one of the best I've ever seen.

From the get-go with Alicia Keyes singing with Frank Sinatra to that great oldies grouping of John Fogerty, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. this was a lot of fun.

Then there was the still-something else Tina Turner singing "What's Love Got to Do With It?" then Beyonce coming on to perform "Better Be Good to Me" and them doing a duet on "Proud Mary." Somewhere backstage, John Fogerty had to be smiling.

If anyone has more fun than Brad Paisley, I'd sure like to know who they are. Who would have ever dreamed that someone would have a hit songs with a subject like "Ticks?"

Then, there was that great gospel part. What a finish!!

Kanye West was more than a bit strange.

Is it possible that Dave Stewart and Ringo Starr are brothers? Sure saw a family resemblance there.

Then, Vince Gill won a Grammy and said, "I just got an award given to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet, Kanye?"

I didn't think I was going to like the two pianists playing "Rhapsody in Blue" but they and the backing orchestra too Dueling Pianos to a whole new level.

The highlight of the show, other than the finale, but that's just because I'm gettin' old, was the performance by Amy Winehouse. I'd heard her "Rehab" song, but nothing else other than her "problems" and even that not much because I won't watch Entertainment Tonight or that ilk of show.

She just blew me away. Talk about bringing back 60s-70s soul!!! She received a whole lot of awards and I felt obliged to go out and buy her album the next week. It is as good as I thought it might be.

Lifetime Achievement Awards went to the Band (one of my all-time favorite songs is "The Weight," Burt Bacharach, and Cab Calloway, all very deserving.

And then there was the finale with John Fogerty, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis jamming. Does Little Richard ever change? Jerry Lee looks his age, and of course, John was John. How do you get better than that?

Sure Enjoyed the Show. --RoadDog

Liz's NIU Memorial Tee Shirt

My wife Liz stayed up most of Tuesday night after we got back from Dekalb and designed a tee shirt to honor the slain five.

It had the black ribbon with the Huskie logo along with the date and the words "Forward, Together Forward." I don't mind telling you that it looked good.

She did this through Zazzle, where she has designed other items. However, Zazzle wrote back that the ribbon was copyrighted and she couldn't proceed with it.

Too bad she couldn't go ahead with it.

Is It Just Me, But Has the Time to Start Worrying Arrived

Our economy definitely has me more than just a little bit worried, and I've been around awhile. I've lived through some rough times in the 60s with the Vietnam War, the fuel crisis of 1973, and high interest rates (right when we wanted to buy a house). But none of that worried me more than I am right now.

Prices just keep going up. Everytime you turn around, someone is announcing they're raising prices.

A trip to the old grocery store is frightening when you get to the cash register. Dining costs have risen. And then there is the joy of filling your gas tank. On top of that, taxes!! Sales tax of 9 to 10 % is becoming common. Oh yes, around here, one problem is property taxes. We are going to hit $8,000 a year this summer. When I finally paid off the house a few years ago, I was paying as much in mortgage as I was for property taxes.

Then, there are SO Many people trying to get rich as fast as possible, with little concern of what that is going to do to others.

Here, I refer to Day traders, Commodity Exchange people, Big Oil, and some real estate people. Don't get me started on the CEO and Boards of Directors situation.

If I had to start somewhere, it would have to be with the crippling gas prices. I do not really see anyone in Washington doing anything about it. A few have given mouth service, but nothing comes of it. Something really has to be done. And done soon.

At least take away Big Oil's rocket up, feather float down gas prices. Something happens like Monday's refinery fire and gas at the pump goes up within hours and takes days and weeks to come back down. If it is to go up fast, it should be mandated to come down just as quickly.

Worried in Spring Grove. --RoadDog

Friday, February 22, 2008

Great Country Songs

I am a big fan of country music. The February 24th-March 1st American Profile magazine had an article on ten great country songs and how they came to be. Many of these are personal favorites of mine. See if you can guess what year they came out. Answers at the end.

Looking for Love-- Johnny Lee-- They were looking for just the right song to sing on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. Lee went to a room with thousands of demos and fortunately found this one within the first ten or twenty. How do you get better than this?

Heaven's Just a Sin Away-- The Kendalls-- This was a father-daughter team, Royce and Jeannie Kendall. Released as a "B" side, but djs started flipping it over and went to #1 and CMA Single of the Year. They just sang great together.

Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On-- Mel McDaniel-- Says Mel, "Just about everybody...loves those girls in 'em. I also liked "Older Women."

Swingin'-- John Anderson-- Anderson and co-writer Lionel Delmore knew they had something when they got the idea for it, but continued tweaking it, even during the singing session. Topped chart and CMA Single of the Year. Sold a million copies. One of my favorite performers. That voice is unmistakable.

You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma-- David Frizzell and Shelly West-- They had been turned down by every major label in Nashville until Clint Eastwood heard it and decided to include it in his movie "Any Which Way You Can." I personally like "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our House" better.

God Bless the USA-- Lee Greenwood-- It had been a long time since he'd heard anyone say they were proud to be from the USA. So, he wrote a song about it. This one still sends shivers up my spine.

Honey by Bobby Goldsboro was included, but that, to me is a gag song. Yuck. I also wasn't fond of Rose Garden, He's a Heartache, or Hell and Water. These were also featured. Guess who sang them? See below.

American Profile is a magazine insert in papers. They feature small-town America and have lots of interesting articles.

"Signature Songs" by Chris Neal

1980, 1977, 1984, 1983, 1981, 1984

Lynn Anderson 1970, Janie Fricke 1983, T. Graham Brown 1986.

Give Me Some of That Good Old Country Music. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Man, Are We GETTIN' Gouged

I don't know about you, but gas prices around the Fox Lake area just jumped from $2.96, still a rip-off, a week ago, to $3.06 Tuesday, and $3.13 yesterday.

I knew when we had the oil refinery fire back on Monday that the boys in Big Oil boardrooms were jumping up and down with glee with the anticipated profits they were about to make. Then, I saw in yesterday's Daily Herald for Chicago's suburbs, that the price of oil closed at over $100 a barrel for the first time. What got me was the rest of the short blurb "as investors bet crude prices will keep climbing despite evidence of plentiful supplies and falling demand." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whatever happened to the Law of Supply and Demand or the Free Market Economy? Something has definitely gone awry.

Can you believe those guys. I definitely don't think they have our and our country's best interests in mind as they squim for that all-mighty dollar. Hey guys, haven't you noticed that our dollar has essentially become worthless!!

I'm beginning to think the time has come to close the world commodities market down.

What About gas prices this SUMMER????

Personally, I don't think it will go much over $3.50 despite the fact summer driving season is just around the corner. Prices around $4 or $5 would hurt a particular party's efforts at retaining the White House. Somehow, a miracle will occur. We will find much greater inventories and pumping production. It's a miracle I tell you.

Remember last year, we had the big gas price increases in anticipation of the summer driving season. Once it got here, it didn't go up much.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps the Big Oil folks are thinking that the gravy train is about to come to an end and are having one final feeding frenzy before they're stopped. In that case, we might really see $4 to $5 gas.

Who Could Have Believed? --RoadDog who can't go out on the road because he can't afford to fill up his tank. But, then Again, It's Been a Mighty Cold and Gloomy Winter Around Here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Trip to NIU-- Part 3

For some reason, we hadn't really noticed how cold it was at the boards. Despite all that cold, there were a lot of people there reading and writing. Another person had a big piece of video equipment and was filming here as well. More people kept coming.

We froze our way back to the car and after warming up a little, drove over to part of the parking lot closest to Cole Hall and viewed from the car. We just were not in the mood to walk over to it and we couldn't have gotten too close anyway as the yellow police tape was still up.

We had to back track out of the lot as a Channel 7 van had stopped in the road and wouldn't move out of the way. Nice guys!!

Decided to get a bite to eat and went to the long-time Dekalb favorite eating place called the Junction, right on Lincoln Highway. It opened my first year at Northern, 1969, and has been owned by the current family since 1979. The owner was cleaning partition windows and said he thought his family had made a good purchase of the place. I was wondering why he was cleaning the glass with newspaper and found out it reduces smudges. I didn't know that.

We had been looking for the Feb. 15th Northern Star, but could not find any at the places we stopped. But we did get the Feb. 14th issue. It was strange to read about usual campus happenings, bar parties and specials before the HORROR hit. One group was having something that night at the Cole Hall film area. I guess they didn't have the meeting.

After the excellent sandwiches, we drove across Lincoln to Record Revolution, one of the few remaining mom and pop record stores in the US. They opened in 1973. I talked with the guy there who has been there almost since the beginning. He said that even though they were close to Cole Hall, he knew nothing about it until he heard all the sirens and saw squad cars from many other towns flying down the road to campus. Several helicopters stayed positioned over Lincoln for about three hours until the situation was contained.

I always buy a CD to support them when I'm in town, and got the Best of the Beau Brummels, whose "Laugh, Laugh" was one of my favorite songs back in the 60s. Listened to it all the way back home.

Drove around the dorms and found this is not as easy as it used to be with all the deadends. Also cruised by Altgeld Hall and the Lagoon, two of our favorite places on campus. Next, we went through Greek Row where we saw flowers along a fence in front of one house and I think it might have been the Pike House where the one male killed in the attack was a member. One sorority had a sign on the door about the tragedy.

On the way out of town, we stopped at Steve and Barry's on Sycamore Road to check out their NIU apparel. On checking out, I talked with the cashier who said she was a student but not on campus during the shootings. However, she said her boyfriend was a member of that ill-fated class, but had thankfully decided to skip it that day. Talk about a good decision!!!

Came home and Liz found that the NIU site on Legacy now has 371 pages with about ten entries on each page.

This Still Hasn't Completely Registered.

A Trip to NIU-- Part 2

This was one of those extremely raw, sunny days you can get in this part of the country. I mean, the wind just blew the cold right through your bones.

Nonetheless, we walked over to the five crosses memorial on an embankment on the southwest corner of the student center. I was so glad there wasn't one there for the killer. The whole front area of the crosses is covered with flowers and other items, including a teddy bear. Two guys were filming it on one of those track setups. Several people were silently sobbing with heads bowed.

After a few minutes, we were sufficiently numb so were glad to find the Union open. We went into the bookstore and again didn't find anything regarding the tragedy. A lot of people were also buying NIU clothing there as well.

A person I took to be the manager was on the phone and answering questions to customers. All I heard her say was that they were contacting vendors for those articles and that they'd been closed until today. She wasn't too happy that VCB hadn't closed and were way ahead of her getting those articles which were so much in demand. We told her that VCB was making their own items at this time. You could tell she was really starting to get angry.

We saw one woman with a really nice ribbon with a large metal Huskie logo. Asked her where she got it and she said she'd made it herself.

Walked through what used to be the fraternity hangout when we were there from 1969-1973, the Pow-Wow Room. With school closed, there wasn't much going on.

Started up the steps just as a large group of people were coming down and had to wait. I think they might have been TAs and professors coming from their counseling meetings.

Finally warmed up, we went outside again to the two tents set up to cover the boards on which people were writing their feelings. There are now four. It was nice that someone had supplied Sharpies of different colors to express the grief. Most just said something about prayers. However, some were quite poignant. A lot said, "We are all Huskies today," some of which were from people from other schools. Also, "Once a Huskie, always a Huskie." Quite a few were religious.

We saw the first one that had been featured so much on the news that said in huge letters "We are NIU." There were a few directed to the only male student killed who was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

I have been at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, but this one was just as striking. Again, it was hard to keep the teardrops in check. They are going to need some more boards when the students come back. As it was, there weren't many open spaces. I did leave the simple message "Don and Liz. Class of 1973."

I hope that someone has the foresight to keep the boards and crosses (as well as some of the articles) for some kind of a commemoration.


A Trip to NIU-- Part 1

Yesterday, Liz and I took a drive out to Dekalb to have a look at things ourselves. Last night, Liz had downloaded a copy of the black ribbon with NIU logo and we put it in the back window.

The first thing we noticed was that all flags from Sycamore to Dekalb were at half mast and many of the signs at local establishments had words of comfort regarding the tragedy. Same with flags and signs along Lincoln Highway, Il. Route 38.

We drove by the infamous Room 105 at the TraveLodge. There was no yellow tape and it appeared to be ready to rent out again. I'm not sure that that is the proper thing to do. Talk about an infamous motel room. We definitely spent a night or two in that room in the past. I don't even think it should ever be rented out again.

We stopped at the Village Commons Bookstore off Lucinda and found a lot of people there buying NIU clothing. I guess everyone wants to be a part of the community and show it by wearing the colors.

At first, we were disappointed that there were no ribbons are anything for sale to commemorate the tragedy. Then I over heard someone asking another person where they'd gotten their ribbon. They said at the cash register by the other entrance to the place. We walked over and found a group of employees working on assembling ribbons. The ones for 99 cents were just a ribbon, but for $5.99, you could get a ribbon with a metal Huskie logo on it. They were a bit on the small side so we only bought two.

I had thought Cole Hall was closer to the Fieldhouse and drove around there, but couldn't find it. Drove along Lucinda to the other side of the Holmes Center, the student center. We could see the much filmed and photographed five crosses on the south side of the union.

Doubled back to the visitors parking and found it was open. They usually charge $5 a day to park, but weren't open. We saw at least six news vans parked along the spaces closest to Cole Hall. This is now five days after the event.

To Be Continued.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Garnet Mimms Releases New Album

Best-known for 1963's "Cry Baby" which went to #1 R&B and #4 pop which essentially brought gospel music into rock, Garnet Mimms has a new album coming out in March called "Is Anybody Out There?"

This is the first effort in 30 years by Mimms who is now a preacher.

Another big hit, especially in Beach Music, is "A Quiet Place."

R&B expert Robert Pruter writes that "Cry Baby" was "one of those great seminal songs in the emergence of soul music... The song was a gospelized production so full of the soul-saving, fire-and-brimstone ectasies of the black sanctified church that it singularly stood apart. ...Never had the public heard anything so intense and emotional on Top 40 radio."

No doubt there. "Cry Baby" just bleeds anguish. I couldn't have put it any better myself. I have his greatest hits album, well CD. I just might have to pop that on and give it another listen.

Chicago Tribune Feb. 13th "Second chapter for soul singer" by Nick Cristiano

More on NIU

The Tribune Article continued that Northern is a big draw for Illinois students looking for an affordable eduacation at a large, public campus. The vast majority are from Illinois and most of them from the Chicago area. Large numbers of students go home every weekend.

I could have gone to any school in Illinois, but chose Northern because it was close to home, BUT NOT THAT CLOSE.

Compared to U of I, getting in is considerably easier. Plus, NIU's sports teams are NCAA Division I. We are what is called Mid-level. We're good, but have big problems competing with the Major Division I teams.

Academic strengths are business, education, and art. NIU also has a law school. Both Liz and I received out teaching degrees here in 1973. A lot of the teachers we taught with in Round Lake were NIU grads.

Northern was founded in 1899 with 173 students attending classes in the Castle on the Hill, Altgeld Hall. Back then, it was called Northern Illinois State Normal School and its purpose to educate future teachers. Later, it became Northern Illinois State College before getting its present name in July 1957. I also recall that at one time it was Northern Illinois Teachers College.

Altgeld Hall, named after Illinois' education governor, and the Lagoon area in front of it are perhaps the most beautiful spots on campus in my estimation.

The story is around that when the selection committe visited Dekalb, the Kishwaukee River had been dammed up and the water slowly released when the visitors were in Dekalb in the summer to make it more appealing. It just might have worked because Dekalb got the school.

Some famous graduates are US Rep Dennis Hastert, actress Joan Allen, and Garrett Wolfe, Chicago Bears running back. Also, there's the RoadDog, whoever he is. Also William the Goose.

Feb. 17th Chicago Tribune "NIU a strong draw for Illinois residents" by Jodi S. Cohen.

My Old School. --RoadDog

Profile of Northern Illinois University

The February 17th Chicago Tribune ran an article on NIU. Some facts:

Faculty: 1,279
Students: about 25,000
Tuition: (fall 2007) in-state $7,889; out-of-state $14,039
Race/Ethnicity: 71% White, 12% Black, 9% Hispanic, Other 9%
Gender: Women 52% Men 48%
Full-time/Part-time: 90%/10%
Applicants: Admitted 61%, Not Admitted 39%
Housing: Non-college 67%, College 33%
Financial Aid: 60% loans/jobs, Scholarships/grants 40%

We were paying $250 a semester when we attended back in 1969-1973. Ouch.

NIU Tragedy

Liz spent a lot of time on the internet last night looking at items dealing with the Valentine's Day killings.

She was able to download the black ribbon with Huskie logo and the Huskie logo where a tear is coming out of his eye. Those two things really get to us.

There are a lot of student-produced videos on the web as well. We especially found the one where the guy followed the news staff of NIU's paper, The Northern Star around the day after the shootings. Also, the one with Pres. Kennedy speaking hit home.

The killer's girlfriend comes from Wonder Lake, Illinois, about ten miles from here.

The debate as to what should be done with Cole Hall continues. I still say classes should continue in the building next school year. The actions of a lone deranged person should never dictate eduaction. It should have it's name changed to honor the killer's victims. Plus, I believe some of the seats and the shattered door should be kept, along with the "We Are NIU" board and the crosses. That would be fitting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Frances Klaus Funeral-- Part 2

After the service, Liz, Sherrie, and I had a short time for a final family viewing. This was especially difficult.

I then joined the pallbearers to move the casket out to the hearse. It was raining quite hard by now (after last night's snow).

We took less-traveled streets over to Memory Gardens Cemetery. It was very hard to remember to go through stop signs and stoplights without stopping, but I still slowed down and was very watchful.

When we got to the cemetery, there was a back up for use of the two chapels. Some outside services had been moved inside.

The deacon gave a short service and then we went over to Bogies' for a luncheon. Everyone agreed that the food was excellent and it was a perfect place to have it.

So Long Frances, We Will Miss You.

Dirty Dancing in Middle School?

Well, I don't know about the dirty dancing, but I do know a lot of today's music is unsuitable for playing at schools. And since I have and still do deejaying at middle school dances, I ought to know.

What brought this up was an article in the February 13th Chicago Tribune about the Frankfort, Illinois, Park District calling off the rest of this year's dances because of inappropriate dancing among the kids.

If you want to know why they dance this way, tune in MTV.

I don't really notice any inappropriate dancing when I deejay, but then, there are those explicit songs in both lyrics and often language. And the kids REALLY want to hear these songs. I won't play them which doesn't make the kids too happy.

One in particular that they want to hear these days is "Crank It" by Soulja Boy. I wish I had a buck for every time a kid requests it. They usually understand when I explain why I won't play it.

I usually don't listen to the songs of today very much, but tune in to countdowns before I have a middle school job. I like to know what I'm playing.

These songs are just not appropriate for play in any school, much less a religious one.

The Little Old Song Censor, Me. --RoadDog

Two More Movies-- Fool's Gold and Spiderwick Chronicles

This last Friday, I went to the McHenry Theater and saw two more movies. It's hard to beat the $3 matinee prices.

Fool's Gold-- Romantic comedy, but with our awful winter and all that blue water and warmth, it didn't do my cabin fever any good. If I had not become a teacher, my second choice was underwater archaeologist so I could look for sunken treasure. I liked the Paris Hilton girl.

Spiderwick Chronicles-- Due to timing, I saw this one second...after the schools had gotten out. Guess who were there in large numbers? I don't normally like to see movies with lots of kids in the theater because of the noise, but they weren't too bad. Lots of parents in attendance.

If you like a sci-fi and special effects, this movie is for you.

Give Me a Good Old 3 Buck Movie Anytime. --RoadDog

NIU Horror

Our Illinois Lincoln Highway State Director, Kay, was on campus during the shootings, just across the parking lot in the library.

She said that afterwards there were trails of blood to nearby buildings from the wounded. They have since been cleared off.

We've had discussion as to what to do with Cole Hall. Some believe it should be torn down and a park made. I think it should be reopened with a name to honor the fallen and perhaps some of the chairs in the first rows turned into a memorial. I'd also preserve the broken door. We can not let one deranged person stop education in any way.

I still think some of the WTC's framework should have been preserved and used as the memorial for that sad event.

Still a shock.

We have spent many nights at the TraveLodge where the killer stayed. Perhaps, at one time we actually stayed in the same room. Shivers down my spine.

Oh-Oh, Refinery Fire--Get You Gas Now!

Heard on TV that there was a refinery fire. You'd best get out in the next few hours to fill up your gas tank before gas prices go up.

You Know How They Are!!! --RoadDog

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More on the NIU Horror

Still somewhat numb because of Valentine's happenings at Northern's campus. That night, I was planning to watch the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on the History Channel, but didn't get around to it as we had our own one in Dekalb.

Yesterday, I wore my NIU colors: hat, jacket, and sweatshirt. That was a nice idea out of Virginia Tech for college students across the country to weak Huskie red in honor of those slain. As alumni, both Liz and I did as well. I'll be wearing them for awhile.

My brother Bob called in the morning to talk about it. He wasn't paying much attention to the news yesterday morning when he heard the name Northern Illinois University and that caught his attention. My cousin Debbie had a daughter at Va Tech last spring and another one had just recently graduated from there.

We both agreed that there really isn't much you can do to stop a crazy person like that short of putting police by every classroom. Bob said that perhaps all instructors and administration should be trained and licensed to carry a gun and have one on them to prevent this from happening. He has a point in that these crazies wouldn't be so prone to go after people who can shoot back. As a former teacher, I sure would hate to see it come to that.

I went to see two new movies at the McHenry Theater and the woman running the place talked about it after seeing my "colors." She had a daughter who graduated from there.

After the movies, I drove over to Best Buy to get the Amy Winereis CD. The person at the check station at the front of the store wanted to know if I was from Northern. He said he was a student there and was not happy because he couldn't wear red. Best Buy's color is blue. Had he been working at the nearby Circuit City, he'd have been ok.

We talked for several minutes. He said he'd also been near Cole Hall a short time earlier. He was glad that classes will resume Tuesday. As he said, you can't just let something like that stop everything.

Completed My Best Picture Viewing

This past Wednesday, I saw the fifth of the Academy Award nominated Best Picture movies. As I said before, last year I saw 37 new movies, none of which was nominated.

The film was Juno and didn't look very promising by the advertisements. It turned out to be my favorite of all five, and would be my pick for best picture. It was definitely quirky with lots of great moments. Quite a trick to make something as funny out of something as serious as a high school couple having a baby.

I also liked the other four movies as well.

If I had to rank them:

2. No Country for Old Men
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Atonement
5. Michael Clayton

All of these movies were a bit strange.

The Dog's Pick for Best Picture, Juno. --RoadDog

60 Inches of Snow...and Winter Ain't Over Yet!!!

We knew we were overdue for a "bad" winter, although I'm sure the so-and-so snowmobilers don't think so, nor the skiers. The last really bad one was 1979 when I was running out of places to put the snow in my shoveling and the roof of the local K-Mart collapsed in Round Lake Beach.

Since then, we had some snow and some cold, but not as much as we've been getting this year. Right now, on Spring Grove, Illinois, we've received 60 inches of that white stuff with more predicted for tomorrow!!! And, like I said, winter ain't over yet.

According to Tom Skilling, WGN's weather guy and brother of the infamous Enron Skilling, so far this season, we've had 30 days of measurable snowfall of a tenth of an inch or more. This season is also the 5th snowiest since 1928. And that includes the snow winters of 1967, 1978, and 1979. Could we set a record?? For some reason, we've been particularly socked along the Illinois-Wisconsin border where we live.

Thankfully, up until February, all snows essentially melted because of "heat" waves with temps up to the low 60s, mighty warm for around here. But now, as AmyWinerice says, "No, no, no." It is mounting up alongside the driveway and sidewalk,; about 2-3 feet.

And Then There's the Cold and Gloom

We have also had a large number of very cold days. We only rarely get over freezing and often hover around zero-15 degrees.

Plus, really getting to us, is the lack of sun. From February 1-12, we normally have sunshine 46% of the time. So far this year, it was 12%

No wonder so many folks, except the snowmobilers and skiers, have had it up to here with the winter. The snowmobilers especially haven't had much chance to have fun on their investments the last twenty years, perhaps a week to 9 days a season. I don't feel so sorry for them anymore.

Some people are talking about heading for warmer climes.

To find out about Chicago's memorable winters go to Feb. 16 in my history blog. Also see Brother Bob's Great 1967 Snowstorm experience.

Wait a Minute, I'm Retired, What Am I Waiting For!!!! --RoadDog

Friday, February 15, 2008

Horrible News from NIU

The killings and shootings at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb have really shocked Liz and myself. We are both 1973 graduates of the university, located about 60 miles west of Chicago and about 55 miles from where we live now in Spring Grove.

We were having a Valentine's Day dinner at a local place when a lady asked the people to put the news on where we saw a picture of Northern and the words NIU Shootings. She was out snowmobiling and had just gotten a call from her daughter, who was a student at NIU. The daughter was ok and had not been by the site.

We came home and called a Gail, a friend who went back to college for a degree. She was ok, but said she'd been parked right by the building where the shootings occurred just a hour earlier.

We paid particular attention throughout the evening as more news came available.

When we were students, the thought of this happening would never have enetered our mind.

Sad Times.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mardi Gras Zydeco--CJ Chernier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band at the Woodstock Opera House 2-8-08

I should mention that I also have several cassettes and CDs of his father, Clifton Chernier.

We had forecasts calling for another 2-3 inches of snow for last night. It started snowing on the way to Woodstock and continued during dinner at Angelo's, right on the historic Woodstock Square. So what's new these very snowy days. Fortunately, there wasn't any accumulation.

Angelo's was intended to be the original site of the Tip Top Cafe in the "Groundhog Day" movie, but the owner didn't want to be closed for the six weeks, so a vacant store across the square became the site of Phil's gluttony. The production company made it look as much as possible like Angelo's.

This being Friday in this area, it's hard to pass up on a good Fish Fry, and that is what we had. Liz had cod and I had whitefish. The place was crowded and a lot of folks were going to the show judging from their conversations.

The Woodstock Opera House was originally the city hall and built with a stage and auditorium for events. Built in the early 1900s, it is quite an impressive structure. During the filming of the movie, it was the Pennsylvania Hotel where Larry and Rita stayed. This is also the structure where Phil committed one of his suicides.

Still to be partied.

Louisiana Two Steppin'. --RoadDog

Got to Celebrate Mardi Gras Anyway-- Bon Ton Roulet ZYDECO!!!

Sitting here right now listening to C.J. Chenier's "I Ain't No Playboy" cassette. That's right, I said cassette!!! For those of you who don't know, CJ is the son of the "King of Zydeco," Clifton Chernier. His dad was one of the founders of this music we call zydeco. Zydeco could best be described as a mix of rock and roll and traditional Cajun music with Louisiana overtures.

Being as how this is Cajun music, some of the songs are sung in French, a language that at one time was illegal to even speak in Louisiana in an attempt to anglicize the Arcadians.

You can always tell where a zydeco band is playing as that is where people will be jumping and moving. I don't think it is possible to hear this music without moving to it.

Last Saturday, while in Woodstock for the Groundhog Day Festival, I spent $25 apiece for 7th row seats to see CJ and his Red Hot Louisiana Band. The show was last night.

I checked my collection for CJ Chernier albums (well cassettes and CDs) and found that I had two different cassettes and three CDs (four actually, but one was a duplicate). Two of the CDs were already stocked in my Ultimate Jukebox.

One cassette is out in the car where we listened to it coming and going to the show last night.

The three CD titles are: Too Much Fun, The Big Squeeze, and I Ain't No Playboy. The last two are in my jukebox.

Au Contraire, Mon Frere. --Road "Zydeco Boogaloo" Dog

Academy Awards Quest Continues

I couldn't believe it when they posted the nominees for Best Picture and I hadn't seen any of the five. Last year, I saw more new movies than most people, 37, but not one of them was nominated.

I decided to see the five and now am missing just one, Juno.

Last Friday, I saw Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men.

Thursday, I saw Atonement and There Will Be Blood. All of these were at the Regal Cinemas in Round Lake Beach, which has 18 screens. Unfortunately, their matinee prices are $6.50 and $7. My usual main place to see movies is at General Cinema in Fox Lake where matinees are $5.

Atonement had quite the surprise ending, although I figured out the real culprit when the shameful act took place. The movie was against the backdrop of WWII and Dunkirk.

There Will be Blood was about the early days of our oil industry when the profit motive reigned. I guess things just don't change, right Exxon? All I can say is not to get Daniel Day Lewis mad at you as his "brother" and the preacher found out.

Four Down, One to Go. --RoadDog

Quite the Winter--Snow and POTHOLES!!!!

This has been, and still is, one of our worst winters. Not only have we gotten more snow than usual, but this is the worst time of potholes I've ever seen.


This past Wednesday, it snowed pretty much all day. I had to clear off the driveway three times with considerable accumulations. The Village of Spring grove finally gave up on plowing our subdivision streets and there had to be 8 inches out there.

I'm guessing we had a total of 14 inches. The official Woodstock measure was 14 inches, and that is near here. Thank goodness for snowblowers!!!

No snow after 6 pm, but Thursday morning, I had to go back out and clear about two feet of snowplowed snow off the foot of the driveway. Thursday, I drove to Round Lake Beach and found all the roads to be somewhat difficult because of snow still on them. Rollins Road in RLB was almost impassable. Turning into any business parking lot was dangerous and I saw a lot of cars stuck.

Some of the snow on the roads was packed down and driving was rough!!! to say the least.

Then, There are the POTHOLES!!! Cost me $49!!!!

This freeze, sub-zero, and 50 degree weather is wrecking havoc on our roads. Rand Road and Cedar Lake Road are especially bad for them. In places, you can't simply go around the potholes wothout hitting others.

A pothole in RLB cost me $49. Thursday, as I was leaving the Regal Cinemas, I got stuck in a pothole. Only with help from a pusher did I get out, but the Dakota's Check engine light came on and stayed on. Yesterday, I took it to it to the dealership and had it checked. All the rocking back and forth to get out of the pothole had caused the brake switch to be stuck in the off position and the connector broken. Well, at least I got a "free" carwash out of it.

Salt Shortages

Yet, another problem among the towns and villages right now is that we are running out of salt. Major conservation measures are being taken which is probably why the roads were so bad Thursday. Plus, some ne'erd0-wells are making big bucks out of the shortage. The price of road salt has almost doubled, and that is if you can get it.

As of Yet, NO snowmobilers have Come Around to Volunteer to Clear My Driveway and Sidewalks. Imagine That!!! --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Frances' Funeral-- February 4, 2008-- Part 1

We sure had some weather for the event. We had a surprise snowstorm Sunday night of about five inches, so I had to get the snowblower out to clear the snow off before we could leave. The drive there was extremely sloppy with spray thrown up and I used a lot of windshield solvent. The, we had a regular deluge of rain during the visitation and drive to the cemetery.

Sherrie, Liz's cousin from Missouri, had driven through the storm last night. We drove to Stonebridge Apartments on US-12 in Arlington Heights and picked up Frances' friend Sarah. It brought back memories from the number of times we went there during the almost 18 years Frances lived there.

We had some extra time so went by Liz's home on Patricia, mine on Anderson, and the Klaus' first place in Palatine on Boynton.

At Ahlgrims Funeral Home, we were amazed at how good of a job they had done on Frances. She looked better than we had seeen her in a year. We had considered a closed casket because of all the weight she had lost. There was a beautiful spray of flowers on the casket and an arrangement of flowers from my family standing beside it.

We had a total of 18 people at the visitation and service. Most of them were neighbors from the Patricia Lane home. Liz was shocked to see the young Liz she used to babysit for from across the street all grown up at 40 years of age and with four kids. Quite a few of the ladies from Frances' breakfast group were there, and two from where she worked.

A deacon from St. Thomas of Villanova officiated at the service. This is the church Frances went to. I got up and gave a few of the stories I've written about on this blog. They were well-received. "How Great Thou Art" was played at the beginning of the service and "Amazing Grace" at the end.

Woodstock, Illinois, Groundhog Day Festival

February 2nd was Groundhog Day and I went to Woodstock for the annual Festival.

Crowds have been growing every year, but this was the biggest I can remember since Groundhog Day occurred on Saturday this year. Plus, the weather was very agreeable for this time of the year.

I overslept Woodstock Willie's 7:07 a.m. prognostication (he didn't see his shadow, but with the 12-16 inches of snow we're getting today, I don't know). If the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, it's a sign that winter is about over. I heard someone say that there had been about a thousand people for the prognostication.

Usually, the Woodstock Theater has only one screen for the showing of the "Groundhog Day" movie, but today, there were two and both were filled. I was able to get an end seat about three rows back from the screen, not a favorite place to sit. Unfortunately, two families with young kids sat in the rest of my row. Two to five year-olds are not going to find this movie interesting. They talked incessantly and were there ever a lot of trips to the bathroom and to get refills of pop and popcorn, which are free.

Afterwards, I went to the chili cookoff which was also crowded. They should really have the people go into the room to taste it in groups. It gets so crowded, especially with the big winter coats, it is difficult to get to the pots. Great chili as usual. I especially liked the vegetarian chili. I'd never heard of that before.

Went to Village Cove on the square and left a note on the bulletin board that Frances had died. She had lived there when it was an assisted living facility for three and a half years before she moved to Alden Terrace.

Bob Hudgins led the movie sites walk as usual. He was the location manager for the movie and largely responsible for its being filmed in Woodstock and has lots of stories about the movie. The only real snow used was the final scene which was filmed early on in the production. The rest was made fron ice and spot-spread. He had a room in a building across from the square and wasn't happy to find himself awakened every morning at 4 am when a semiload of ice was delivered and put into a chipper.

I didn't go on the walk because of the large number of people, I would guess to be about 500. I went to Jenapea's and had a very remarkable coffee while listening to a pair of folksingers.

At 3, I went to Stage Left at the Opera House (Pennsylvania Hotel in the movie and where Phil Connors jumped out of the tower) and joined the second annual "Groundhog Day Movie"Symposium. We discussed what the movie really meant, saw some goofs, and had three groups do the Phil Connors-Ned Ryerson bit. There was one couple who had come in from Kansas City for the festivities.

Great Fun in Small-Town America. --RoadDog

Now We Know Where All Our Money is Going

The recent announcement of Exxon-Mobil's amazing earnings for the last quarter along with pictures of the amazing building program going on in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, surely gives me a good idea where all my money I pay at the pump is going. And then Sunday, the Chicago Tribune Travel Section had an article with pictures of the billions of dollars worth of infrastructure work going on in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Now we know, as if we didn't already know. Some folks are getting rich while the rest of us slip farther into varying levels of poverty.

Sure makes you wonder.

Think About that the Next Time You Fill Up. --RoadDog

Getting Nailed by Snow, Snow, and More SNOW!!!!

I just came in from using the snowblower on some of the most wicked snow I've ever had the joy of knowing or playing in its luxuriant whiteness.

That stuff is HEAVY and coming down very hard. Usually around here, the snow comes in from the west, but this is from the east and often the northeast. That makes it worse as the house faces north, so it was coming right back in my face.

I'd say we had about two inches yesterday afternoon, then sleet off and on last night. There was another four inches that fell this morning.

It's still snowing hard, and we're forecast to have another six inches and possibly ten!!

Weather reports say this is the fourth heaviest snowfall in the Chicagoland area in the last 25 years. And that was three snowfalls ago.

Thursday, we were supposed to get about two inches by the Wisconsin border. We got six inches. Then Sunday evening we had a surprise snowfall of about five inches. I had to go out in it to get some more gas for the snowblower and slipped all the way to the station.

Before driving to Frances' funeral Monday morning, I had to get the ol' snowblower out. Then it rained hard for most of the service both at the funeral home and cemetery.

Where are those lousy snowmobilers when they should be out here clearing my DRIVEWAY!!!

And I'm NOT Even Going to Talk About that Snow by the Street!! --RoadDog

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Frances Stories-- Part 2

In Case You're Wondering How Come There Were so Many Wisconsin Cars in the Parking Lot

Frances was noted for making some of the funniest comments. One time, we were in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We parked at a store. On the way in, Frances asked, "How come there are so many Wisconsin cars in the parking lot?"

Green Eyes of Jealousy, or Was I Ever in Trouble

About two months ago, I was visiting Frances at Alden Terrace in McHenry, Illinois. She was unable to feed herself, so I was helping out. Her roommate, Violet, was sitting next to her and also having problems eating. Frances was doing her picky eating and not accepting much at all. She had her head down and appeared to be sleeping.

I gave Violet a few spoonfuls and suddenly felt that someone was watching me. I turned toward Frances and found her head to be up straight and a pair of green eyes boring holes into me. To say the least, I immediately quit feeding Violet and returned to tending to Frances expecting a lecture, but she was nice to me that time. When you were with her, You'd better be paying attention only to her.

The Three Amigos

I can only imagine the fun times and situations Frances got into with her good friends Vivian Olsen and Kay Etherington. The times we met them, it was definitely anything goes.

Another Member of "The Greatest Generation"

Having lived through both the Great Depression and World War II, Frances definitely was a member of the "Greatest Generation." The problems she had to surmount were considerable.

Well, One GOOD Thing about World War II

Had it not been for this war, I seriously doubt that Frances would ever have met her husband, Amby. He was from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Frances from Abilene, Kansas. Her future husband was in ordinace and stationed at nearby Fort Reilly, Kansas. They met in Abilene at a dance. She was dating someone else at the time, but true love, you know.

I'll Tell You Which Way's North, Just Don't Ask Me Which Way is Left

Frances had a remarkable sense of direction. She could be anywhere and tell you which way was north, south, east, or west. However, she never knew her right and left. It was fun being in the car with her and giving directions. They'd all have to be translated in the cardinal directions. You just couldn't tell her to turn right. It had to be, turn east.

Some Frances Stories --Part 1

Visit Pike's Peak, but NOT in MY CAR!!!

Frances was very proud of her 1987 Buick Century, the first and only new car she ever bought on her own.

A year later, we went with her on a trip out to Kansas to visit her childhood home and friends. We also took a side trip out to Colorado and visited Colorado Springs. Liz and I wanted to go to the top of Pike's Peak, but Frances didn't want to, so she let us take her car.

Once there, we found out that the tickets to take the tram up were sold out until late afternoon. Not wanting to wait around or come back, we decided to drive up to the top. I don't mind telling you that this was one scary drive.

When we got back, we told Frances, and she hit the roof. She shrieked, "You could have wrecked my car!!"

"But Frances, if we had wrecked your car, we could have been injured or worse."

"I don't care!! You could have wrecked my car!!"

And we were her daughter and son-in-law.

She Sure Liked that Car.

Little Old Lady from Pasadena

I'm not saying that Frances had somewhat of a leadfoot when she was driving, but you definitely wouldn't want to get in her way. Even with all that speeding, she only got one ticket that I'm aware of, and was she ever mad about that.

She came out to see me once when I was deejaying and I dedicated "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" by Jan & Dean to her. Embarrassed her a bit, I believe.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Everything Set for the Funeral-- Part 2

The Cemetery

We drove from Ahlgrim's (always thought this to be a very appropriate name for a funeral home) in Palatine, to Memory Gardens in Arlington Heights so Liz could sign a paper to allow the grave diggers to open the grave. Normally, we wouldn't have had to do this, but Frances is going to be buried in the same vault as her husband Amby. They are buried in a section where the coffins are stacked on one another. This then, in effect, is the opening of a grave.

There was a very interesting picture taken of Memory Garden in 1950 when it first opened. You can see Rand Road (US-12) in the very top right portion. What floored us was that there were mostly open fields in the picture. Definitely not the situation anymore; houses and stores everywhere.

The person we talked with, Jim, is about our age and was in a 1960s Chicagoland rock band called Dawn & the Nights who evidently were quite good as they toured with Paul Rever & the Raiders and he was making $2000 a week back then, quite a bit of money even now, but especially back then when gas was just around 30 cents a gallon and a new car around $2000-3,000. Unfortunately, I had never heard of them.

We went out to the grave and made sure of the style of print.

How Much Does It Cost to Dig a Hole and Fill It In?

Ideally, we would have had Frances buried on Saturday, but the funeral home would be completely bonkers with two big wakes, one with 400 people and the other with several thousand.

They usually don't do funerals on Sundays (which I didn't know). The price to open a grave during the week is $1695. On Saturday it goes to $2495 and is $3500 on Sunday. These prices reflect how much the gravediggers union gets. I think I got into the wrong business to make money.

They don't even have to dig the whole, just clear off some dirt from above the vault, lift the lid off, drop the new casket in and close it.

Plus, it is hard to get a religious person to officiate on a Sunday.

We decided to have the funeral on Monday.

The Luncheon

As we were leaving, we mentioned to Jim that we were now going to look for a place to have the luncheon. He suggested the nearby Bogies in Mt. Prospect, right across from Randhurst.

We decided to have a look. Turned out, this was the only place we had to look. They cater to a lot of funeral luncheons and even have a brochure for it. We don't expect but about twenty people in the whole funeral but can get a private room and order off the menu or from their buffet. Put a $50 deposit to hold it.

We were getting hungry and had their excellent buffet which is American on Thursdays. Mondays, it is Italian.


What is it about every time we go to Palatine and Mt. Prospect that makes it start to snow. We had a big snowfall when we went back for our 40th anniversary of going steady in December, the same with our trip to visit Randhurst one last time, and now, today, it snowed again.

Maybe the snowmobilers should ante up to pay for us to make some more visits. However, they would have to sign a codicile saying that one of them would have to come up and clear off the driveway and sidewalks.

JSS- Early Spring-- More Snow-- Hope Sen. Kennedy Doesn't Endorse Me-- Clinton/Obama Ticket-- Snow Days Are No Big Deal Anymore

JSS- Just Some Stuff-- Really, not much for us to do until Monday's funeral.

1. Woodstock Willie probably didn't see his shadow. I had planned to make it out to Woodstock, Illinois, to see whether or local prognosticator predicted six more weeks of winter. He was pulled out of his stump at 7:07 a.m. and whispered in the man in the top hat's ear. What Willie said is not to my knowledge. They were there, but I was in bed sawing logs.

Judging from how overcast it is here at 8:05, I would have to say he didn't see his shadow, so we will have an early spring!!! Good news, especially after you see the next entry.

2. Very snowy winter-- It snowed at least seven inches here on Thursday. The Tribune said this is the fourth snowiest winter in the last 25 years. I believe it. We'd have some really tall drifts and banks now, except every so often we get 40 degree plus days and everything melts.

Snowmobilers are very happy, however. We usually only have three to five days of decent snowmobiling around here anymore. I still think they should have to come over and shovel my driveway and sidewalks before they go have their fun. Why should I have to suffer so they can have fun?

3. Sure Hope Sen. Ted Kennedy doesn't endorse me!!! Much to do about nothing was made a few days ago about the august senator from Massachusetts endorsing our Senator Obama for presidency. If I were Barack, I would definitely not accept it (he did). I only have one word, and it begins with "C." I just used the first letter as I can't spell it. Keep swimming away Ted!!!

4. Will it be an Obama/Clinton ticket or Clinton/Obama ticket in November? After this past week's debate between the two senators, I'm of the opinion we're either going to have an Obama/Clinton ticket or Clinton/Obama ticket this November on the Democratic side. Either way, that is a remarkable ticket, the first woman or black man (well half any way) in the White House.

5. Snow days are no big deal anymore. Yesterday, the Round Lake schools were called off because of the snow on Thursday. I was not even aware of it, nor did I listen to the radio to hear of school closings. I wonder why that is? Oh yes, I'm retired!!!!!

Just some stuff. --RoadDog

Friday, February 1, 2008

Everything Set for the Funeral-- Part 1

Yesterday, we went to Ahlgrim's Funeral Home in Palatine, Illinois, where the wake will be held. We finalized the plans with Brad, who helped us get everything set up in the pre-paid funeral we had to get in place in order for Frances to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

He used my 92nd birthday blog entry to prepare Frances' obituary.

Frances will not be happy that we included her age, but that is necessary. I sure hope she doesn't come back to get us for it. About two months ago, one of the employees at Alden Terrace had asked how old Frances was while I was there feeding her. I told her Frances was 92. Frances didn't say anything. About ten minutes later, very quietly and discreetly, Frances informed me in no uncertain terms that I was not to TELL anyone what her age was. All through her life, she wouldn't let anyone know how old she was. The most trouble Liz ever got in as a child was when she was caught with Frances' drivers license. Even at 92, she didn't want anyone to know her age. Even as I type this, I look around at every little noise. You just never know!!!

It didn't take too long as everything but the final details had been previously arranged.