My first new car in 45 years!

I feel the earth move under my feet… but it’s not an earthquake.  The earth is shaking because I did something a few days ago that I haven’t done since 1975.  It was in early 1975 that I last purchased a brand new car.  In 1975 I lived in Melbourne Florida and I still had the car I owned when I graduated from high school in 1971.  It was a beautiful 1966 Chevrolet Impala convertible.
This isn’t a picture of MY Impala, but it looked just like it.
Chevy Impala 1966
However, it did need some work.  If I remember correctly it needed brakes (badly) and the engine was using oil and it smoked a bit.  I did not mistreat this car in spite of it’s muscle-car image, but cars in those days didn’t last as long as they do now.  I know it didn’t have 100,000 miles on the odometer.  The previous year the price of a gallon of gas went from 32¢ to over $1.00, and that Impala was not a fuel efficient car. It had a 396 cubic inch engine (6.5 liters in today’s talk) and got less than 10 miles per gallon in the city, about 11 or 12 mpg on the highway.  I was just a poor boy trying to make ends meet and many times in 1973-1975 I spent my only day off waiting in line to purchase gas.  Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and a few other Japanese car makers had begun flooding the US with small, fuel efficient cars, and the US automakers began cranking out their first small, fuel efficient sub compacts.  Ford had their infamous Pinto, Dodge had their Colt (a rebranded Mitsubishi), AMC had the Gremlin and Chevrolet had the Vega.  I remember that the Ford Pinto had it’s gas tank strategically located just behind the differential, and when they got rear-ended, it drove the gas tank into the differential, rupturing the tank resulting in a fire.
Pinto Fire 3
If you are unaware of the story of exploding Pintos, click the above picture, but my aim isn’t to besmirch the reputation of the Pinto (besides, it’s already besmirched), I’m just letting you know the compact car market in 1975.
So, after giving it a great deal of amount of thought, I decided to trade the Impala for a brand new 1975 Chevrolet Vega.
Again, this is not a picture of MY ’75 Vega, but mine looked just like this.
Vega 1975
In 1975, not all cars had air-conditioning, and neither did my new Vega.  As far as quality goes, my Vega wasn’t a bad car.  There had been warping problems with the aluminum block/head on the earlier Vega models, but by 1975 they had been resolved and the 4 cylinder engine was actually a workhorse.  Even though Chevrolet killed the Vega in 1977, this engine would go on to power the Chevette for many years to come.  When I bought this car I actually lived in Indian Harbor Beach Florida, just 2 blocks from the ocean and that salt water mist/haze from the ocean covered my car all the time, thus 6 months after I bought this car, rust has already broken out around the windshield trim and on the fenders.
Again, not MY Vega…
Vega Rust 2
The Chevrolet dealer where I purchased the Vega was Jim Rathman Chevrolet on US 1 in Melbourne. Today that dealership is Rosner Chevrolet, but the owner at the time was former 1960 Indy 500 winner, Jim Rathman.  Rathman restored my Impala, and at some point in the future I was in Cocoa Beach Florida during the Orange Jubilee and guess who’s Impala was in the Jubilee parade being driven by Jim Rathman’s son?  By that time my Vega was probably in a scarp yard rusting away what little sheet metal was left.
It was probably 1980 or so when I sold that Vega and I couldn’t believe how much it had depreciated. I paid just over $3,000 for that car and the minute I drove it off the lot it’s value was less than $2500.  I swore I would never again buy a brand new car, and until 2 weeks ago I held true to that promise.
Now the economics of my relationship with my wife is such that, because she drives to Greenwood every day for work she gets the new car and hands down her car to me. As of 2 weeks ago I was driving a 2004 Ford Explorer with 280,000 miles on the odometer.  But those of you who know me know that I have been looking at a plug-in electric for several years.  Someone I worked with at Cummins Fuel Systems in 2015 had a Nissan Leaf and it fascinated me. I’ve been looking at them ever since.  I’ve mainly focused on the Nissan Leaf because they have been around since 2011 and there were a few of them floating around in the used car world (very few) and their price dropped significantly every year.  I am in a place where I can actually afford a car payment and began looking for a used Leaf in earnest a couple weeks ago.  But the Chevy Bolt caught my eye and I filled out a new car buyer’s questionnaire on the Sam’s Club web site and within 24 hours I was inundated with Chevy dealers emailing me with quotes. I’ll skip the rest of the details except to say that Brandley Chevrolet offered me an incredible deal (in addition to what was left of the federal & state tax rebates for purchasing an electric vehicle, plus GM’s dealer incentives) with decent financing and a payment I could afford so I drove up to take a look.  I returned to Columbus with a brand new 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV.  I didn’t trade in the Explorer, so I had to go back to Franklin the next day to pick it up.
Again, this is not my 2020 Chevy Bolt EX, but mine’s just like it.
Chevy Bolt EV 2020

I’ve had this car for almost a month now and so far I love it.  By far, this is my favorite car I’ve ever owned, a distinction that used to belong to my 1969 Olds Cutlass Convertible, I brought this car home and the next day Terry & I took a trip to Louisville, which was about 160 miles round trip.  General Motors claims that the range on this plug-in electric is about 260 miles so I had plenty of power left when I got home.  I believe that the range of plug-in electrics is it’s biggest limitation so when I bought it, I thought this would be my car for driving to work or around central Indiana and if we wanted to take a trip we would drive Terry’s Ford Edge.  But After further driving and research, I’ve determined that there isn’t much of a range limitation at all.  With the vast number of quick-charges available around the country, there really isn’t anywhere I can’t go.  If I wanted to drive Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark to watch a baseball game, no problem.  It’s about 180 miles round trip from my house to the ball park (about 90 miles each way). That’s well within the range of my car, with about 70 miles left over.  But if I wanted to spend a little more time in Cincy, there are a half-dozen fast charges located within walking distance of Great American Ballpark (GABP), so I could plug it in an top of the battery during the game about about $5.  How about Wrigley Field?  Not to worry… it’s 233 miles from my house to Wrigley Field so getting there shouldn’t be a problem, but if I were battling a strong headwind and if I used the air conditioning the entire trip, I would probably want to stop in Lafayette for lunch or a snack, and connect to a DC fast charger near I 65 in Lafayette.
Chevy Bolt Charging 2020
These DC chargers will charge a fully discharged Chevy Bolt in about an hour, so my Bolt would take about 30 minutes to fully recharge.  Once I’m at Wrigley Field there are several Electric Vehicle charging stations within walking distance of the ballpark, so I could plug it in to fully charge during the ballgame. Or if I decide to sty overnite and take in a Museum or another ballgame, so problem. Most hotels in the area has EV chargers located on premises. The total charge for this trip would be less than $25 using public chargers… with the DC charger in Lafayette being the most expensive at about $7-$8 for a fast charge.
How about thinking even bigger… After watching a couple of YouTube videos about Bolt EV owners taking their car on long trips (one of them was from Vancouver to Las Angeles, just over 2,000 miles,) I decided to research a trip to Daytona Beach, where my family usually spends Thanksgiving.  But a problem.  There are DC fast charges located strategically along I-65, I-24, I-75, I-10 and I-95 so no matter how I decided to drive to Daytona, I could always find a DC charger which would recharge my car in about 30-45 minutes. Just enough time to grab lunch or dinner.  If I drove my EV I estimate I could make the trip for about $100 in charge fees, or less if the chargers were complimentary such as at Hotels. I would estimate that about 30% of Walmart Supercenters have EV chargers, especially in the south and west, and nearly every Chevrolet/GM dealer has a DC fast charger available for use.
Taking a long trip in an EV would require some planning, but it could easily be done and with the proliferation of charge stations, nearly doubling in number  ever year) the future is only going to be easier for long distance travel.
Let me explain the chargers, there are 3 different kinds of chargers for the Chevy Bolt EV, Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and other plug-in electrics.  The Level 1 charger is a 110 volt charger  that plugs into any 110 volt electrical outlet. It is a trickle charger and takes nearly 30 hours to charge a fully depleted battery.  For my normal driving that would have been enough, but sometimes I need it charged faster so after a week I bought a 220 volt Level 2 charger from Amazon.  It cost less than $300 and required extra wiring to install, since it uses 220 volts. The Level 2 charger will charge a fully depleted battery in about 8 hours.
This is the charger I purchased from Amazon.
Seimens EV Charger
I have found that in my normal routine, including at least one trip of 30-40 miles every 3 days, I have to charge it every 3 days for about 4 hours.  I have an app on my phone to monitor charging, and if someone disconnects it while it’s charging, the vehicle’s alarm system goes off and I get a call/text on my phone. I can also turn on the heat/AC/heated seats and heated steering wheel using my phone.
So after one month all I can say is I love this car.  It’s fun to drive and very, very cheap to operate.  The weakness of this car will be spending winter in Indiana, which reduces battery life considerably, and if it’s extremely cold (below 10 degrees) GM recommends I keep the charger plugged in regardless of whether it needs charged, to keep the batteries warm without using energy from the batteries. I’ll try to update this next January after experiencing those conditions, but as of today, I can’t say anything bad about thius vehicle.. and every time I pass Circle K or other convenience stores, the only time I stop is if I want a Polar Pop.  And as gas prices begin to rise again, the more I enjoy passing those gas pumps. I’m not exactly Mr. Green, but I also feel like I’m doing something responsible, driving  a vehicle with zero emissions is a bonus!

 

Holy Mackerel! 2018 is nearly over!

I can’t believe the year 2018 is almost over.  It seems like yesterday was December 31, 2017 and we were singling “Auld Lang Syne” and counting down the seconds to midnight.  The only thing is, I didn’t sing “Auld Lang Syne”, nor did I countdown the seconds to midnight.  Why?  Because I went to bed at about 10:00 and fell soundly asleep.  Even as the neighbors fired off fireworks left over from the 4th of July, not to mention banging on pots and pans, I was in bed sound asleep.  My point isn’t really my sleeping habits on New Year’s Eve (although it has become habit), my main point is there are just a few days left in 2018 and I have yet to type a blog this year.
It’s not like I’ve been blogging annually, if you go back look I did post at least once a year in ’17, ’16, and ’15, but after posting 3 or 4 times in 2012, I skipped ’13 and ’14 completely.
Ok, Ok, OK, I realize that I have 10 days till Christmas and 17 days till 2019.  That leaves to two weeks and 2 days to conjure up brilliance on these pages. Yes, I’ll delete this drivel and replace it with something witty.  Unless I don’t in which case I still have something posted, right?
PS: Why did I type this in BOLD FACE?
That’s better…. More to come… or not.

 

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 (8-22-17)

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 has come and gone,  Very quickly in Columbus Indiana, where we had a 92.6% eclipse.  When it became noticeably darker (about 2:15 PM EDT), everyone came outside to see what they could see, which wasn’t much considering we had no eclipse glasses. Don’t ask me why I’ve been talking about this eclipse for 10 years and wound up on the day of the event with no glasses… but necessity is the mother of invention as they say, and I found that by putting on 4 pairs of good sunglasses layered together with zip ties, I could view the sun and it didn’t seem to burn my retinas out or inflict noticeable brain damage.   We had periods of clouds and sunshine but there plenty of opportunities to check it out.  By 2:27 Columbus was at the darkest point of the eclipse and by 2:45 it was pretty much back to normal. I must say that it was worth the wait, but there was an air of sadness as I was constantly thinking about my brother Dale, who was the first person to mention to me that there would be a total eclipse in the USA in 2017 and for many years we talked about.  He really wanted to see it, but unfortunately he passed away in the fall of 2015.  After our eclipse was over I went inside and watched the network coverage and I must admit that they did a fabulous job… especially ABC… and WISH-TV in Indianapolis.  WISH-TV had a continuous stream online and the coverage from their stream was excellent!  While I was watching coverage on TV, I was in contact with my niece (Aimee) in Greenville South Carolina, which was also in the path of totality.  Aimee was sending me fantastic pix of the event.  It was almost impossible for me to get away to see it in Hopkinsville Kentucky as I planned, but between watching a 92.6% eclipse from my back yard, watching the television coverage and getting live updates and pictures from my niece, I’m pretty satisfied.  As I mentioned in other blogs, the next great eclipse for the USA will be on April 8, 2024.  And eve more importantly,  Columbus Indiana will be in the line for totality!
Eclipse 2024 Map

I must admit that I’m getting up there in the years and at this point, there are no guarantees of tomorrow,  let alone 7 years.  But if I can hang on that long, I’ll get to see what Aimee saw today, and as a bonus I’ll get free glasses compliments of Aimee.  She’s sending me theirs.  The only real problem with a total eclipse in Columbus Indiana on April 8th, 2024… The weather!  How many sunny days are there in early April ion Indiana?  Not very many and that’s not an exaggeration. After living through nearly 65 April 8ths, my guess is that 70% of them have been cloudy.  And I don’t mean cloudy like today (scattered cumulous clouds),  I mean “April showers bring may flowers” cloudy days.  At that time of the year we frequently go several days without seeing the sun. That means there’s not a good chance we will have clear skies to view the eclipse of 2024, but even if it is cloudy, that means we will be in darkness for nearly 4 minutes, beginning at 3:07 PM and the totality here will be nearly 4 minutes long, as opposed to the 2 minutes and 40 seconds at Hopkinsville, Kentucky today (which was one of the cities with the longest duration in the USA).  Click here for more info about the 2024 eclipse.
Today’s event was great, even if I didn’t make it to Hopkinsville, but in 7 years it’s going to be even better!

Less than a month away! (7-30-17)

I first wrote about this in April 2008,  and again in June 2012, and again in June 2015. My excitement increased each time I spoke of it, so you’d think I would be dancing on the ceiling, but I’m not.
It’s the great Total Solar Eclipse of 2017!
But it’s been in the media so much lately that it is no longer my little secret.  It all started over 10 years ago when my brother Dale said that he really wanted to be able to see it.  We made plans and talked about it for years.  And now, it’s almost here.
It’s coming to the Ohio Valley on Monday, August 21, 2017 at about 2:30 PM (EDT).  If you live in Columbus Indiana and want to see it, the closest place is probably Bowling Green, KY or perhaps Hopkinsville, KY, which is about 80 miles or 1 hour 15 minutes south of Evansville.  In Hopkinsville the eclipse will begin totality at 1:24:39 CDT and last for 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  If you want to want to see it, there are a couple of ways to get there, but the fastest and easiest is probably to go south on I65 to Elizabethtown, KY, then head west on the Western Kentucky Parkway (aka: US 62 which also has a few convenient toll booths to assist you on your journey) and follow that to Hopkinsville. Here is a map.  If you don’t want to go to Bowling Green or Hopkinsville, there are lots of other places with front row seats, including Nashville, TN but the closest place to Columbus Indiana is Hopkinsville or perhaps Bowling Green.
Total Eclipse NASA
There are several videos on YouTube that give a lot more details:
This is one of my favorites
And another
If you have your heart set on seeing the eclipse first-hand, it’s going to be a long day.  It takes about 3 1/2 hours to get to Hopkinsville, or 3 hours to get to Bowling Green Kentucky, assuming there’s not much traffic on I-65  (but my guess is that I-65 will be a parking lot from Louisville to Nashville). And then there’s always the possibility of rain… What if it’s raining at 1:30 PM (CDT) or even cloudy?  If a 3-plus hour drive isn’t your idea of a good time, or you are unwilling to bet a day of your life on the weather, you could take one of those airline junkets promising to keep you in the totality for several minutes with a spectacular view regardless of the weather.  The only drawback to the airline deal, they are only departing from Portland, Seattle and Denver.
And then there’s always the hotel problem.  I tried to make reservations 2 years ago and 1 year ago, and I tried again at Christmastime.  They all said they weren’t making reservations until January 2017.  So I tried again in January 2017 and the rooms were almost sold out, and the ones remaining were well over $500 a night.  The reputable hotels were over $1,000 a night.  OK, I guess Ill be dozing off in my car.
In fact, after 10 years of planning it looks like I’m not going to be able to get off work to attend.  And my brother will never get a chance to see the eclipse, he passed away in October of 2015.  But there are alternatives….

Coming on April 8, 2024 there will be another total eclipse in the US, and I can watch it from my own back yard!

Eclipse 2024 Map
A total eclipse right here in Columbus Indiana!  And for those lucky people in parts of the US (Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky), the path of this eclipse crosses the path of the prior total solar eclipse in 2017. Meaning that the people of Cape Girardeau, Carbondale and Paducah will experience two total solar eclipses within a span of seven years. Not bad considering most of the people in the United States have never had a chance to view one.  My dilemma: Try not to die within the next 7 years, or go to Kentucky next month.  I guess I’d better try to figure out how to get off work next month.

The Great American Eclipse of 2017
The eclipse came and went.  Very quickly in Columbus Indiana, where we had a 92.6% eclipse.  When it became noticeably darker (about 2:15 PM EDT), everyone came outside to see what they could see, which wasn’t much considering we had no eclipse glasses.  But necessity is the mother of invention, as they say and I found that by putting on 4 pairs of good sunglasses, I could view the sun and it didn’t seem to burn my retinas out or inflict noticeable brain damage.   We had periods of clouds and sunshine but there plenty of opportunities to check it out.  By 2:27 we were at the darkest point of the eclipse and by 2:45 it was pretty much back to normal. I must say that it was worth the wait, but there was an air of sadness as I was constantly thinking about my brother Dale, who was the first person to mention to me that there would be a total eclipse in the USA in 2017 and for many years we talked about.  He really wanted to see it, but unfortunately he passed away in the fall of 2015.  After our eclipse was over I went inside and watched the network coverage and I must admit that they did a fabulous job… especially ABC… and WISH-TV in Indianapolis had a continuous stream online and the coverage from their stream was excellent! While I was watching coverage on TV, I was also in contact with niece (Aimee) in Greenville South Carolina, which was also in the path of totality and she was also sending me fantastic pix of the event.  It was almost impossible for me to get away to see it in Hopkinsville Kentucky, butbetween watching a 92.

More on Baseball (10-3-16)

It was about a year ago that I wrote about rejoining the baseball world after a 20 year sabbatical. I know that’s (calling  it a 20- year sabbatical) a contradiction of terms, but bare with me on this. Or is it bear with me on this? It’s bear.
Boy… My first blog in months and I’m already confused.
Anyway… If you think I abandoned baseball again since I haven’t been posting scores or “W Flags” on my Facebook page, no, I haven’t abandoned baseball.  In fact I’ve listened to or watched 90% of the Cub’s games this whole season. So I’ll make up for not posting “W Flags” on Facebook:
cubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-wincubs-win
Ok… there are 12 flags. But I would have to insert 91 more flags to show what the Cubs have done this year (103 winning games this season).
Yes, you heard me right.  The Cubs have won 103 games this season. The last time the Cubs won 100 games was in 1935.  In fact, until this year the Cubs have only won 100 games 5 times:
1906   116 wins
1907   107 wins
1909   104 wins
1010   104 wins
1935   100 wins
Even in general, winning 100 games doesn’t happen often.  It looks like it’s only happened 99 times in the last 125 seasons (from 1892 through 2016).  So even though the Cubs have joined a fairly elite group in winning 103 games, and are the best team in baseball as they have been all season long, I don’t even think about the Cubs winning the world series.
How about this: The Cubs have 3 players that could wind up as the National League Most Valuable Player: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell.  So you’d think that would bolster my hopes that the Cubs will win the world series, right.  Nope.
How about pitching?  The Cubs have the best staff in baseball.   Last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrietta, this year’s potential Cy Young Award Winner Kyle Hendricks plus John Lester, John  Lackey and the most feared flamethrower in baseball, Aroldis Chapman. This guys throws 105 mile an hour fastballs. So with a great starting rotation, a solid core of middle relievers and Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman to close them out, am I now satisfied the Cubs will win the world series?  Not at all.
The bottom line is, although I believe the 2016 Cubs are the best Cubs team I’ve seen in my life, and I do believe they are the best team in baseball,  I felt better about last year’s team winning it all than I do this year.  It’s not that I am superstitious or anything or believe in that Billy Goat curse or any of that nonsense.
What I do believe in is numbers.  And history has shown me that the team with the best record in baseball rarely wins the world series.  One of the things that makes baseball so great is that on any given day, the worst team in baseball can beat the best team in baseball.  Last week the Atlanta Braves (one of the worst teams in baseball) put the spanking on the New York Mets (one of the best teams in baseball fighting for a wild card slot), sweeping them at New York.
Remember what I said, “On any given day, the worst team in baseball can beat the best team in baseball”.  Last year the Kansas City Royals won the world series and at the end of the regular season, they only had the 4th best record in baseball.
If you clicked the above hyperlink and read the article, you know that over the last 54 seasons, only 14 teams with the best record went on to win the Fall Classic
That’s why I don’t think the Cubs will win the world series this year.  Some of the best teams in the history of the sport have been eliminated before making it to the World Series.  Plus, one of the teams with the best win/loss record in the history of baseball was the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won a record 116 games… Any they got beat in the American League Championship Series.  They didn’t even make it to the World Series.
The 2001 Seattle Mariners share the record with the most regular season wins.  Guess who the other team is… The 1906 Chicago Cubs, and that team lost the 1906 World Series to their cross town rivals, the Chicago White Sox.  I’m not really saying the 1906 Cubs and the 2001 Mariners are the two best teams in the history of baseball, but I am saying they had the best records in the history of the game and neither won the World Series.
Last year the Cubs rolled into the post season with a bit of momentum, and a little bit of swagger but not a lot of attitude (except Arietta). This year they just rolled into the post season.  They really are the best team in baseball but on any given day, the worst team in baseball can beat the best team in baseball.
Still, like last year it’s been a great year to be a Cubs fan and at this point, that’s good enough for me.  Any wins from now on will be a bonus.
Added Later (March 2018): Well, the Cubs did it! After a 108 year drought they won the world series in one of the most thrilling series of all time, and game #7 should go down as the single best world series game of all time. I could ramble and post stats for hours but by now I’m sure you’ve already seen/heard most of them.  Not to mention that this team has the potential to wake the post season for many years to come.
Ok.. I’ll give baseball a rest now., but one more time:  CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

That’s My Story… (12-11-16)

I’ve told this story several times over the years and after they announced that K C and the Sunshine Band would be playing The Labor Day Hospice Concert this year (2016), a few people who’ve heard my story called to ask me my thoughts… so I decided I’d better get this story on paper (or at least on a blog) so here it is.
IN the summer of 1975 I lived and worked in Melbourne Florida, working at a radio station in Cocoa Beach. This was when AM radio still ruled but FM was out of the gate.
The station was WKKO (I know there’s a huge country station in Toledo with those call letters today but this was over 40 years ago). Studios were just off I-95 in Cocoa.

WKKO 1975
Studios just off I-95 at State Road 520

WKKO_control_room
The WKKO Control Room

I occasionally played records at a lounge called Big Daddy’s in Vero Beach. Actually Big Daddy’s was a chain with several locations in Florida, but I played records there on Saturday nights. Remember, disco was big in these days.
There was a little record company in Hialeah Florida (on the fringe of Miami) and in late spring or early summer 1975 a promotions guy from T K Records dropped off several copies of a record at WKKO’s studios. It was an unknown band made up of mostly studio musicians for TK Records. I found it laying on the counter and listened to it. I thought it was a great record and I told the program director (PD) he should add it to our playlist. He said it was a bit too ethnic (or a similar excuse) and it didn’t get added.
I nabbed a copy of it (this was in the days of 45 RPM vinyl records) and took it to Big Daddy’s the following Saturday. I played it and the people went nuts. I think I played it 4 or 5 times that first night.
On Monday I went back to WKKO and told the PD it was a really good record and told him the people at Big Daddy’s loved it too. He still didn’t add it and the next Saturday at Big Daddy’s it was the hottest song,  requested 4 or 5 times. On Monday I finally talked the PD into adding it, although in a very low rotation. I also called a friend at WDAT (1380 AM, now WELE-AM) in Daytona Beach and told him about it.
The first time we played it at WKKO the phones went nuts and within a week it became an A Current, meaning we played it every 90 minutes to 2 hours. It was the hottest record of the summer of 1975 and shortly after we added it, WDAT in Daytona beach added it, then the Orlando stations added it followed by WAPE (AM 690) in Jacksonville. WAPE was a 50,000 watt AM station heard all over Georgia and Florida and was a huge station in the southeast.
It soon became a Southeast Regional Breakout hit in Billboard magazine and it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in late June 1975. On August 23, 1975 it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Shortly after that the guy from T K Records gave WKKO a gold record for breaking the single. That was 41 years ago and this band would go on to have a dozen Top 40 hit singles, 5 of which went all the way to number 1.
The name of the single was ”Get Down Tonight” by K C and the Sunshine Band.

K C and the Sunshine Band 1975
K C and the Sunshine Band in 1975

K C and the Sunshine Band Album
Their debut album

I’m not so arrogant to believe that K C and the Sunshine Band would have never been discovered without my help, they were a great band and most certainly would have had massive success, but I like to think I might have hastened things along.

In any event K C and the Sunshine Band will be performing at Rock the Park August 13th 2016 at Mill Race Park. [Added August 2017:  The band showed up and did a sound check and was set to go for the 9:00 show, then mother nature kicked in, providing us with a strong thunderstorm with very heavy rain, which ultimately cancelled the show.  Columbus missed out on a potentially great show, but I’m sure Wayne Casey and the band took the architectural tour].  I’m not sure how many original members of the band are still around, but Harry Wayne Casey is still the front man.  The number two man for the band, Richard Finch (an Indianapolis native) who co-wrote Get Down Tonight and most of the other hits for the band, was arrested in Newark, Ohio, on March 23, 2010 on charges of having sexual contact with a 17 year old male. Police stated that
during an interview, he admitted to having sexual contact with that teen, and other teens
aged 13 to 17. In December 2010, Finch pleaded ‘no contest’ and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He served his sentence and was released on March 13, 2017.
But as for the Labor Day Weekend concert, it should be a great show, especially if you are over 40 and really liked disco (I am both).
{This blog was edited 8-27-17 to state that the concert was cancelled and updated on Richard Finch’s current status}

Top Box Office (1-4-16)

Over the Christmas holidays I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens… twice.  It was really good and I will be going back to see it for the third time before its original theatrical run ends.

Force Awakens
It really is a good movie.  And it looks like it’s going to break box-office records. But is it one of the best movies ever made?
Nope, it isn’t even close.
That’s what wrong with the headlines proclaiming Avatar to be the the biggest movie of all time, and Titanic and Jurassic World part of the top 10. In fact, based on domestic box-office, here are the top 10 domestic movies of all time:
#1  Avatar (2009 $760 million)
#2  Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015 $740 million thru 1-3-16)
#3  Titanic (1997 $658 million)
#4  Jurassic World (2015 $652 million)
#5  The Avengers (2012 $623 million)
#6  The Dark Knight (2008 $534 million)
#7 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999 $474 million)
#8 Star Wars (1977 $460 million)
#9  Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015 $459 million)
#10 The Dark Knight Rises (2012 $448 million)
Those are the current top 10 based on ticket sales in the US, current as of 1-3-16.  The problem with this list is that it doesn’t reflect the number of tickets actually sold, it reflects on box-office dollars, not-adjusted for inflation.  The actual number one movie of all time is 1939’s Gone With The Wind. The reason it doesn’t rank at #1 on this list is because the price of a movie ticket in 1939 was about a quarter.  The current cost of a movie ticket (nation wide average) is about 8 bucks. So for Gone With The Wind to do the same amount of box office as The Force Awakens, it would have had to sell 32 tickets at 25 cents each to equal one ticket at today’s price of 8 bucks.  You see where I’m going with this… I believe all lists of the most popular movies should be adjusted for inflation. Here is the list of the top 10 movies of all time, adjusted for inflation. And I really believe it better reflects the actual popularity of movies:
Gone With The Wind
#1  Gone With The Wind (1939 Adjusted domestic gross $1.7 billion)
Star-Wars-cdfdff98.jpg
#2  Star Wars (1977 Adjusted domestic gross $ 1.5 billion)
Sound of Music
#3  The Sound of Music (1965 Adjusted domestic gross $1.2 billion)
ET
#4 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982 Adjusted domestic gross $1.2 billion)
Titanic.jpg
#5  Titanic (1997 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
Ten Commandments
#6  The Ten Commandments (19566 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
Jaws
#7  Jaws (1975 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
Doctor Zhivago
#8 Doctor Zhivago (1965 Adjusted domestic gross $1.0 billion)
The Exorcist
#9 The Exorcist ( 1975 Adjusted domestic gross $952 million)
Snow White
#10 Snow White Seven Dwarfs (1937 Adjusted domestic gross $938 million)

I’ve seen all of the movies on both lists, several of them multiple times. I saw almost all of them in theaters (the exceptions being The Exorcist, Dr. Zhivago and The Ten Commandments, which I saw on Blu Ray or regular DVD).  In spite of all of the hype surrounding The Force Awakens, it’s nothing compared to all of the hype surrounding Star Wars (1977) or the hype leading up to and including the release of  Gone With The Wind in 1939 (according to what I’ve read and seen in documentaries) .What about Titanic?
Sure, Titanic was a good movie but was it really one of the top 5 in history?
I believe the multitudes of 13 year old girls swooning over Leonardo DiCaprio were the ones snapping up all of those movie tickets. But that was still enough to put Titanic at #5 on the top 10 after adjusting for ticket price and inflation, which still makes it impressive.
The Sound of Music certainly got a lot of hype when it was released and it seems like the music was coming out of speakers everywhere in 1965.
I played in band in Jr. High and High School and I believe at some point I’ve played every single song from the soundtrack.
The movie that I am least familiar with is Dr Zhivago. I’ve seen it a couple of times and I was aware of it’s popularity when the novel was published, and the movie was good but it was a very long movie about Russians, and a love affair taking place in the years leading up to and including the Bolshevik October Revolution in 1919 and I wasn’t quite in the “history phase” of my life yet. Not sure how this managed to make this list but I was a 13 year old male when the movie was released and I wasn’t exactly their target demographic. Otherwise this list seems pretty accurate.
Back to Star Wars: The Force Awakens… This is certainly the best Star Wars film I’ve seen since the original in 1977. I know there are many Star Wars fans who rank The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the series, but I had issues with it (that’s another blog), so even if Force Awakens passes Star Wars (1977) on the list of biggest box office ever, it will never pass Star Wars (1977) in adjusted gross.
Every time I see one of theses lists I want to correct them, and remind everyone that Gone With The Wind is really the biggest box office draw in history, and Star Wars (1977) is a close second! They will probably never be challenged.

 

Jimbo and Baseball (9-21-15)

First off, if you are a Cub fan you might want to check out the hyper-links in this blog. Lots of great video embedded.
I’ve spent most of my idle time this summer watching baseball, but it’s been a long ride back.
As a youngster, my sister lived in Chicago and I spent some summer months visiting and watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN. This was before WGN became a cable superstation, and I became a Chicago Cubs fan and have remained that way. I was a young Cub fan in 1969 (well, I was a sophomore in high school) when the Cubs had a huge lead late in the season. In fact they led the division from the start of the season for 105 straight games going into August. They had a seemingly insurmountable lead of 8 ½ games over the Mets… But it was not to be. You know the story: The “Miracle Mets” went on a terror and won the division by 8 games over the 2nd place Cubs. Cub Skipper Leo Durocher made plenty of mistakes which resulted in the September swoon, and that was my first real shot at being heartbroken by the Cubs.
I was working in Florida when WGN became a superstation and finally I was able to watch 150+ games a year.
I watched the Cubs thru the 70’s and early 80’s on WGN whenever I could, but they were the lovable losers. “Wait ‘till next year” became my favorite saying.
In the early 80’s the Wrigley family sold the Cubs to the Chicago Tribune and the ledgendary Jack Brickhouse (“back, back, back, HEY HEY, a home run!”) retired and Harry Caray moved from the White Sox to the Cubs.
Jack BrickhouseJack Brickhouse

I saw Harry on TV (White Sox broadcasts) when I was in Chicago… the Sox were on a Chicago UHF station station, WSNS ch 44, and were not available anywhere but Chicago, I remember not particularly liking him. He seemed like he was more of a hard drinking fan than a play-by-play guy. I remember when he was doing White Sox games he was drinking and promoting Schlitz beer. Later on I would learn that it was because of a bad relationship with the Bush family when he was fired by the Cardinals. Caray admitted in 1984 to Milo Hamilton that he’d in fact had an affair with the daughter-in-law of the longtime Cardinals owner Gussie Bush – which has long been rumored to be the reason for his firing by the Cardinals in 1969. Harry was not going to promote Bush’s beer any more! Before and after the White Sox years Harry was a “Bud Man”. Harry was with the Sox during the infamous “disco Demolition Night” promotion on July 12, 1979. If you are in the radio biz, or were a Sox fan, you what that means. It was the beginning of the end of the disco era.
Harry Caray - YoungHarry Caray
The significant thing to me about being a baseball fan during the 80’s was the baseball strike of 1982. My daughter, Jennifer was in the hospital in very critical condition and had just had open-heart surgery. I desperately needed a diversion and baseball was it. But the players and owners could not get together and the strike of 1981 was enevitable. The strike began on June 12 and forced the cancellation of 713 games resulting in the infamous split-season playoffs. All I remember about that was that the Cincinnati Reds had the best record in baseball and they didn’t make the post season playoffs.
When the middle of the season was cancelled it broke my heart and really changed my view of baseball players and owners.
I nearly gave up baseball but I was Cub fan and the future was looking good.
My family went to Tucson during spring training 1984 and watched the Cubs play the Indians at Hi Corbit Field in Tucson (before it was the spring training site for the Rockies the Indians played there). We also went to Phoenix and visited Sun City and Mesa to watch the Cubs. It was at Hohokam Park that I got a chance to talk to Dallas Green, the GM of the Cubs (he sat a row in front of me). I remembered him from his Philly days plus his first season as the Cub GM. I obtained his autograph. I also talked to Jim Fry, the new skipper, plus Jody Davis, Ryne Sandberg and almost the entire roster.
I also met and talked to Harry Caray and Milo Hamilton. They were so approachable in spring training and it was so much fun to be a fan. Dallas Green had made some significant trades and the Cubs looked good this season.
I remember watching the “Sandberg Game” in June. Check it out on YouTube if you get a chance. I knew then that Cubs would go all the way!
The Cubs won the division in 1984, and for the first time in a zillion years they were going to play in the post-season! I came very close to buying tickets to the game in Pittsburgh, knowing the Cubs would clinch the division title there, but I didn’t want to watch baseball at Three Rivers Stadium in front of 5,000 hapless fans (the Pirates really sucked during this time). In any event the Cubs won the division and would be playing the Padres in the NLCS. I will spare Leon Durham (whom I met and got his autograph at spring training) and not go into details of the NLCS. Suffice it to say that the Cubs lost in a heartbreaking game 5 of the series against the Padres.
In 1989 the Cubs again won the division and would play the Giants in the NLCS. Of course the Giants beat the Cubs in game 5 with Mike Beilecki pitching for the Cubs and former Cub Rick Reuschel pitching for the Giants. This was the year the Giants played the Oakland Athletics in the World Series and they had that earthquake!
I continued watching the Cubs thru the early 90’s but by 1994 the owners and players were at it again. On August 12th the strike began. It was the fourth in-season work stoppage in 22 years and resulted in the remainder of that season being cancelled, including the postseason and, for the first time since 1904, the World Series. The strike was suspended on April 2, 1995 after 232 days, making it the longest such stoppage in MLB history, breaking the record set by the 1981 strike.
948 games were cancelled in all, and MLB became the first major professional sports league to lose an entire postseason due to labor struggles. Due to the strike, both the 1994 and 1995 seasons were not played to a complete 162 games; the strike was called after most teams had played at least 113 games in 1994 and each team played 144 games in 1995.
I had had enough! I swore I would never watch a baseball game on TV or visit and major league ball park for the rest of my life.
As a result I missed out on the Sammy Sosa years plus the Cubs playing in the post season in 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008. I will admit I did watch one of the games during the playoffs in 2003. That was when the Cubs played the Braves. I didn’t watch the entire game but I did see the fan interfere with Moises Alou’s catch and it reminded me that Cubs were still haunted by the curse of that stupid goat.
But I basically lived mostly true to my original statement. I did go to a couple of games in Cincinnati, one at Riverfront Stadium and one at Great American Ballpark. But let me make it clear, I got those tickets free from the radio station where I was working and it only cost me the gas.
While I was away they expanded the league, adding teams in Miami, Tampa, Denver and Phoenix. The Astros left the National League while the Brewers left the American league. The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals. The National League teams were playing the American League teams during the regular season… Interleague Play was here. Lots of changes, most of which I knew nothing about until this spring.
During Spring training this year I looked at the roster and started paying a little more attention to the Cubs. I guess after 20 years, I could give baseball another chance.
I started the season watching the Cubs on Comcast Sports Net Chicago and WISH/WNDY. They had these young guys, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, plus Starlin Castro and a bunch of other good players. Plus, they were wining.
Anthony_Rizzo_2012Anthony Rizzo
Kris_Bryant_on_April_27,_2015Kris Bryant
I pony’ed up for the MLB package on Dish Network so I could keep up with the Pirates and Cardinals and to be honest, I have watched a lot of baseball this season. A LOT OF BASEBALL!
Kyle_Schwarber_on_July_8,_2015Kyle Schwarber
The Cubs also brought up Kyle Schwarber in late June and he has been a delight to watch. Most of all the Cubs were winning. They’ve been the 3rd best team in the Major Leagues most of the year, but since they were playing in the toughest division, they were behind the Cardinals and Pirates.
As I write this we have about a week left in the season and the Cubs are in pretty good shape to make the wild card game. I am more excited about the Cubs this season than I have ever been. I have been wearing my Ryne Sandberg #23 Cubs jersey,
I don’t know if the Cubs will win in the post season, but they certainly have a shot with these guys.
No humor in this blog, but I did get to tell my baseball story, and re-live a lot of memories. I would have posted pictures from all of our trips to Arizona during spring training but the great flood of 2008 claimed them, along with my autographs and memorabilia.
But I have forgiven baseball and am enjoying the game again. I guess it’s about time.

Coming Soon! Well 2 Years But It’s Gonna Be Good! (6-3-15)

Again, it’s been a while since I posted here, so I thought I’d remind you to remember this date and write it down!
Monday, August 21, 2017
The place:  Hopkinsville, KY
On this date there will be a total solar eclipse in North America and the closest and best place for us to see it is Hopkinsville Kentucky (see.. there is a reasonable excuse for visiting Kentucky after all).

Ecli[pse 2017

If you live close to this line, book your flight, make your reservations because this is a once in a… well, forever, experience!
There is a small problem…. As of 5-3-15 I can’t fine a single Hotel in Hopkinsville that is taking reservations. The best I could do is the Best Western, who took my name/number and said they would call me after Christmas 2015. That’s when they will start taking reservations for 2017, but I digress.
There is a website called “elipse2017.org” with a plethora of info, but here is what it says about Kentucky:

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KENTUCKY

Kentucky also boasts wonderful viewing areas, with totality at Paducah (1:22pm) lasting 2m20s of totality. The Land Between the Lakes is a wonderful spot to view the eclipse from, and the farther north you are here, the better! Eddyville gets 2m39s at 1:23pm. After that, Hopkinsville lies right on the centerline, and enjoys 2m40s of totality at 1:24:41pm. This, together with the preparations that the folks at Hopkinsville Community College are making, makes it a great place to consider watching the eclipse from.

Franklin (2m26s at 1:26:48pm) and Russellville (2m29s at 1:26pm) are other good spots from which to see the shadow. Bowling Green lies in the path, but it is on the northern edge, and folks here are advised to head to Hopkinsville, or down I-65 into Tennessee.

Mammoth Cave and Murray are not in the path, and neither are Louisville and Lexington. In these locations, the eclipse will never be total for you, and you will need to use eye protection for the entire eclipse! This show belongs to the far southwestern part of the Commonwealth, and you are urged to get there and be a part of it all!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
My brother first tipped me off about this 10+ years ago and we’ve been counting down the time.  My brother (Dale) is battling cancer, but if he is not around in 2 years, I’ll be there in Hopkinsville with my Polaroid and Brownie cameras, ready to bring you all the sights.  I might even shoot some video on my phone (who would have thought I could do that 10+ years ago?).
In any event, remember the date and I’ll see you at the Dairy Queen in Hopkinsville Kentucky!

Hopkinsville DQ (2)
Yea, that’s really the Hopkinsville DQ

He can write too!