Blinky the Clown

“Aww, what a cute baby Adam!” ~Someone…maybe

Now this video, this video shows a treasured memory from my childhood. I appeared on “Blinky’s Fun Club” for my 2nd birthday. This aired on September 10, 1990. Blinky was the alias of Russell Scott, a fixture on Colorado TV for 40 years. He spent the vast majority of his career at KWGN-TV in Denver. Blinky ended each show with a song, singing “Happy Birf’day” to a group of kids. It was a highlight of multiple generations of Colorado children to have Blinky sing to them.

Unfortunately, Blinky died today. He was 91 years old.

 

Russell Scott: 1921-2012

Blinky was a childhood idol of mine. He might have been the first one. Appearing on his show is one of my earliest memories. His kindness radiated on the screen and his simple message was just to tell kids stay out of the street. I firmly believe that Blinky’s magic made me want to be on screen.  He planted the seed that led me to the career I have today. Heck, you can tell as much by how I charged the camera in the video as soon as he uttered my name. Blinky’s Fun Club led to doing the elementary school announcements, which led to journalism and video production classes in high school, which led to journalism, the only career path I’ve ever seriously considered.

I told him how much he influenced me last year when I drove 200 miles from Nebraska to Morrison, Colorado for his 90th birthday party.

A piece of my childhood died today, but I was just one of countless millions of children he influenced. That’s the hallmark of legend.

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If the suit fits…

What’s that thing on my ear?

I wore a new jacket today on air. I say new, but it’s actually fairly old. My parents bought me the suit that jacket came with when I was a sophomore in high school. I wore it to speech and debate tournaments. They were always good about getting me things to help with school, even if they weren’t completely necessary, like this suit.

Now, the reason you’ve never seen this jacket is because it never fit me. I haven’t been able to wear it since I graduated high school. I could barely fasten the buttons, and even then, I looked like The Tramp.

Buy hey, it fits now! I tried it out this morning on a lark. Now I’ve lost enough weight to back into an old wardrobe. I kept this one piece of clothing (I lost the pants several years ago when I accidentally put them in a washing machine…oops) for years after I could actually use it, moving it with me throughout three different states. But being too lazy to take the thing down to Goodwill paid off. I get to rock the black pinstripes on TV. The only drawback is that those four jackets on the coat rack behind me are kind of loose now. But it’s better to fit one and be fit rather than fit four and be fat.*

 

*I couldn’t fall myself fit yet in a million years. I just liked the wordplay there.

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Sometimes

Sometimes my job requires me to travel to far away towns with populations I could count on my fingers and toes.

Sometimes, to get there, I have to drive through more small towns I’ve never visited before.

Sometimes, those town have speed limit signs that I miss completely, due to a lack of familiarity with the area.

Sometimes, a law enforcement officer notices my speed not adhering to the posted limit (that I completely missed).

Sometimes, the flashing lights come out and I pull off to the side of the road, cursing under my breath.

Sometimes, the sun shines and the birds sing, and the cop believes your (TRUE!) story, and lets you off with a warning.

Sometimes, like today.

Thanks, officer.

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Adam Vs. Adam

The picture on the left is from January. The picture on the right is from last week. Long way to go, but at least I don’t look like an egg with hair anymore.

I wish I could tell you how much weight I’ve lost to this point, but the gym keeps switching scales, which each have their own interpretation of my weight. All I can says is I look better, feel better, and after comparing images, am motivated to keep going.

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Reconnecting

I’ve spent this weekend getting reacquainted with an old friend. My friend was a constant in my life for more than a decade, but we had drifted apart, as friends sadly do with the passage of time. But my friend is back, and everything is all warm and fuzzy again. Obviously I’m talking about my Nintendo 64.

The red light warms my heart.

Yes, I’m writing an ode to a video game system from two decades ago. (The 90s were two decades ago? I feel old…) I bought one in high school for 30 bucks. It was outdated even when I bought it, but my parents refused to buy me and my brother video games when we were kids, so even an N64 was a HUGE deal. I was hooked immediately. I’ve had other systems over the years, your Xbox’s, your PS3′s, but my trusty cartridges were always what I turned to.

That was until late last year. My N64 died, right in the middle of a nostalgic game of Mario Kart with my best friend from college. I sat there staring at the frozen screen, hopeless, knowing this would be the last image my trusty console would ever give me.

Even the controller is superior.
Simple. Elegant. Fits perfectly in your hands.

The thought of buying another one never crossed my mind. I was a week away from moving 900 miles and it was around Christmas and 16 year-old video game systems just weren’t a priority. It was unlikely I would ever enjoy the familiar thrill of 64 bits again.

However, like a shining beacon of my childhood, a N64 entered my life again when I was gifted one last month. Ah, childhood relived, complete with blocky graphics and a healthy dose of Italian plumbers. It’s been grand.

I’m fairly sure I’m not exactly objective on the subject, but I think the N64 is the best video game system of all time. Sure, the graphics look closer to ancient cave paintings than real life, but that doesn’t bother me. The most important thing for me is how much fun you have playing the thing, and I have more fun with my N64 than any other gaming system.

For starters, the games are great! I can spend all day beating up Donkey Kong and Link with my mighty lightning from the sky! (When I play Super Smash Bros., I have to be Pikachu. It’s non-negotiable.) If I don’t want to fight with cartoon characters, I can pop in GoldenEye and show off my license to kill. The games also aren’t as difficult to learn.

It’s quite a “power” trip to be able to summon lightning from the sky. See what I did there?

I don’t have time to manage a squadron in Call of Duty or sit through 15 minute cut scenes. I’m an adult (who blogs about kids games) with a full-time job. I just want to be able to pick up a controller and be throwing 50 yard bombs in NFL Blitz within three minutes.

I think the ease of play makes it a better party console than newer systems. Sure, you can log online with your Xbox 360 and play anything you want with anyone in the world, but that’s not really being social. It’s sitting alone with a headset on. When I was a freshman in college, people would come over nearly every night to play N64; Some of them didn’t even like video games. But it was amazing how crazy competitive some of those games got. We’d throw controllers and scream profanities as we’d try to dodge turtle shells homing in on us. It’s more fun when four people can pick up a controller and immediately start playing something fun and easy to learn. (Additionally, simple game play means you can have fun well into the night, even after indulging in an adult beverage or eight.)

Of course, it is old. The N64 came out in 1996. I was eight years old. Gas was less than a dollar a gallon. But the games don’t grow less fun over the years. Plus, you can buy a used N64 plus a bunch of games for the price of one new Xbox game.

The original Nintendo system from the 80s is now hip and retro, which means people will probably start to ironically appreciate in N64 again within a few years. I might buy a T-shirt of a 64-bit Mario on a Go-Kart when they start selling them. But it doesn’t matter when the N64 comes back in vogue, because if never fell out of style for me.

 

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Oh yeah, I have a blog…

So…haven’t been around these parts for a while. The last month has been intense for me. You know, the usual, hearts won and lost, waking up in giant puddles, becoming the talk of the town because of my singing abilities…you know, stuff.

But I was reminded of my “Shame Yourself Thin” initiative, so I’m updating you on my progress tonight.

To sum up, it’s going well! I just got back from the gym, and the scale there weighed me at 318.8 lbs. I was 352.0 when I started this whole crazy thing in March. Let’s see: 352.0 minus 318.8 equals…a whole bunch! Or 32.2 pounds. I weighed around 330 lbs when I graduated high school in 2006, so this is huge for me. I’m in better shape than I was in high school. Ha!

I’ve been going to the gym, but I also significantly changed my eating habits. As an experiment, I decided to go vegetarian for as long as I could. I never in my life imagined I could for more than a day or two, but I lasted three and a half weeks. I did give in, but I’ve only had meet once more since then. It’s amazing what that change does. It means going to a fast food restaurant is a huge ordeal, because 99 percent of their meals have meat. So I don’t go. It also helps cut down on eating other unhealthy foods, like fries that always come with burgers. As a result, I’ve also significantly cut down on eating fried foods. If I want chips, I get baked chips. I’m eating a lot more fruits and veggies than I did, and I’m eating more at home, which saves money. One change ended up having several positive consequences.

I ate meat at the Lakota Turkey BBQ I helped serve at last week.

Look at ‘em! Can you blame me?

I leave you with this. Any regular viewer of WDAZ knows Charley Johnson left recently for greener pastures. It’s a huge blow for us, but we’re thrilled for him. Molly Thorvilson put this video together as a goodbye present for him. Everyone has been doing lip dubs of this song, but I wager ours is one of the best…plus it looks like I nearly kick the camera in one of the scenes. That would have ended well…

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Hardcore

I weighed myself again at the gym today. I’m down to an unofficial 330.8 lbs! That’s a little more than ten pounds lighter than my post almost exactly a month ago! I’m thrilled with the progress, and this good news will only strengthen my resolve.
Until next time, this is Adam, shaming myself thin.

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Beer Review #8

Did you know it’s Craft Beer Week? It’s a glorious testament to the spirit of small brewers. Beer is for everyone, and with the help of craft beer, everyone has a beer they can call their own. Today we look at a beer that’s so crafty, it’s only available two months a year.

Beer: Boulevard Boss Tom’s Golden Bock

Origin: Kansas City, Missouri

ABV: 6.1%

IBUs: 22

I had tried this beer last year during its limited release, and remembered it fondly. When I found it on tap at the local brewpub/tavern/place-where-everybody-knows-your-name I decided to go back to the same fountain I once quenched my thirst at. It doesn’t quite hold up to my memories, but it’s a pretty good brew.

The color is gorgeous. It looks like you’re drinking liquid gold, aside from the fact liquid gold would incinerate your internal organs.

The first taste really showcases the hops on this one. It borders on too bitter for my taste, but thankfully stays on the right side of the fence. It has kind of a dry, wooden taste that sits on the back of your throat. It makes you thirsty, so naturally you want to take another sip. Brilliant marketing strategy, really. The finish is dry and relatively clean.

It’s a strong brew that asserts itself without taking over your taste buds. It’s like the perfect boyfriend, who is strong when you need a man and gentle when you need emotional support*.

Food I would pair this beer with: Honestly, this seems like more of a solitary beer. This beer is a loner, Dottie, a rebel.  But I’m no expert at pairing food and drink. Maybe some smoked salmon or something to counterbalance with the wooden dryness of Boss Tom’s Golden Bock.

Verdict: Strong beer. Good beer. It’s only available during April and May, according to Boulevard. So even if it’s not up your alley, give it a shot before it leaves the neighborhood.

*Not that I would know what women want in a man. Trust me, I don’t.

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Repeat History Lesson

This little essay is in no way meant to express my personal views on same sex marriage. I was simply struck by how significant the historical parallels are between two different marriage debates, especially considering the events of this week. I’m just using those similarities to map out how I think the same sex marriage debate will evolve.

My gym odyssey is slowly trending in the right direction. I clocked in today 347.2 lbs, which is .8 pounds lighter than last week. It helped that I stayed on the elliptical an extra 15 minutes or so today because I wanted to catch the end of the movie I was watching, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. I was reminded that the movie and its message is just as topical now as it was when it was released 45 years ago.

The movie is a story of a young couple, a black man and a white woman, who share their decision to get married with shocked and skeptical parents. After an evening of hand-wringing, the girl’s father (played by Spencer Tracy in his last role before death), eventually surmised (SPOILER ALERT!!!) that it shouldn’t matter what he thought of blacks marrying whites. The kids loved each other that was enough for him to support their marriage.

But love between two people isn’t enough for some. It wasn’t until 1967, the year the movie was released, that interracial marriage was legalized on a national scale. Of course, controversy over marriage didn’t stop them. It caused several firestorms just this week.

First off, North Carolina voters took to the polls on Tuesday and passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Mind you, it was never legal in the state. The amendment is just added protection to ward off potential challenges to the law.

The next day, President Obama made a startling announcement and came out in favor of same sex marriage. I tend to think Vice President Joe Biden forced Obama’s hand a little by supporting same sex marriage a week before, but it’s still surprising to hear the President give a definitive opinion on such a contentious issue.

That same day, the Governor of my home state, John Hickenlooper, in an emotional press conference, called a special session of the Colorado legislature to debate a bill which would legalize civil unions. Legislators had failed to advance the bill before the original legislative session ended. Opponents said there simply wasn’t enough time to go through the bill. Starting Monday, they will have the time.

Like 45 years ago, marriage is an important issue to a lot of people. Even though marriage is a contract between two individuals and no one else, everyone feels they should have a say in defining it for everyone.

If we look back at the debate over interracial marriage, arguments over the practice lasted a lot longer than you might realize. As recently as 1983, polls show more people disapproved of interracial marriage than approved of it. To me, that’s nuts. I was born in the 1980s. For me, to know that there was still that much racial strife then, and for that many people to be open about it, is shocking.

Support for same sex marriage is taking a quicker path to social acceptance. It wasn’t until a year ago that the majority of Americans polled supported the practice, but support for same sex marriage was as low as 27 percent in 1996. Support for interracial marriage didn’t outnumber the its detractors until 1991. It was as low as 29 percent in 1972. Support for same sex marriage climbed 26 percent in 15 years. It took 19 years for interracial marriage support to rise 19 percent, from 29 to 48. Even then, that was only a plurality of the vote (10 percent of people had no opinion on interracial marriage…in 1991).

Regardless of public support, legislative support for same sex marriage is way behind support for interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was fully legalized in 1967, when about 75% of people disapproved of it. The majority of Americans approve of same sex marriage now, but only seven states plus Washington D.C. have legalized the practice.

If nationwide support is stronger for same sex marriage than it was for interracial, why isn’t it legal in more places?

Interracial marriage was legalized nationally in one fell swoop thanks to the Supreme Court (forgive me for linking to a Wikipedia page). The court hasn’t dealt with the question of same sex marriage directly yet, but that could happen soon, thanks to two cases moving through the court system. It’s obvious the country was dragged kicking and screaming into a world of greater racial equality. It may take the same efforts to legalize same sex marriage, but there will fewer people to drag along against their will.

Now here’s where the lessons Spencer Tracy and company teach us can come in handy. Both same sex marriage and interracial marriage are something the vast majority of people opposed for the vast majority of this country’s existence. Tracy’s character hated the ides of his daughter marrying a black man. He never changed that opinion. He simply came to the conclusion that his opinion didn’t matter when it comes to others. His daughter was in love. Her fiance loved her back. To the father, skin color was irrelevant after that.

If the movie was made in 2012, he would come to the same conclusion. The only difference would be that his daughter would have brought a woman home. But in both cases, love is all that counts. That’s the path same sex marriage is following. It is going to gain more and more acceptance. Eventually, people will look back and wonder what all the fighting was about. It’s the arc of history.

The evolution of opinion is happening faster than with interracial marriage, and regardless of your opinion, or mine, same sex marriage is probably going to be legalized sooner rather than later. Marriage is ultimately based on love. Love can transcend race, gender, and religion. Doesn’t love seem like a good lesson to learn?

 

 

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Musical Culture Clash

There’s a fantastic band in Devils Lake this week. Yamma Ensemble came all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel to delight crowds in North Dakota. Their music is a mix of all sorts of different cultures, from Balkan to Jewish to Arabic.  The band put on an hour-long concert at Lake Region State College tonight, and it was absolutely wonderful.

The band is in town as part of the Arts Midwest World Fest to present music and culture workshops at local schools. I’m so glad there is a program that brings a fresh cultural perspective to small towns.

The show made me reminisce about my former life. I was a radio DJ in college, and my specialty was international music.* One of the things I miss most about college and big-city life is the access to live music. So having a band come all the way from Israel to rural North Dakota is pretty much a dream come true for me. I know I’ll be excited when the next band with Arts Midwest, Cudamani from Bali, comes to town in September.

If you want to see what I saw tonight, check out the video below.

*I found the MySpace page for my old radio show. I forgot this thing existed! There’s not much on it except a bad picture of me sitting in the radio studio, but the link’s there if you want ammo to make fun of me with. :)

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