Flashback: “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale

In recognition of the passing of Art Bell (who used this song as bumper music a lot), here’s Maxine’s biggest hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard charts in 1975.

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Giants Among Us

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I’ll let you figure out who the giant is…

Thanks to a YouTube user named Nigel John for uploading the recent HBO documentary about the life of Andre “The Giant” Roussimoff. It was one of the better pieces about Andre I’ve yet to see, and there’s been a lot of work in “pop culture” in the quarter of a century since the big man has passed on that’s out there.

(Footnote: the documentary, as many seem to do, seems to forget that Andre was the WWF champion in February of 1988 very briefly, ending Hulk Hogan’s four-year reign with the belt. When Andre gave the title up to a fellow wrestler who didn’t earn it, the title was “held up” – not awarded to anyone – until “Macho Man” Randy Savage won a subsequent tournament.)

I’ve never seen Andre personally, but I once met the world’s tallest woman, Sandy Allen. I met her a few weeks before my ninth birthday in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in 1980 on a New York vacation. I had relatives in Geneva, New York at the time, so off we went one day westward for my first and only (to date) trip to another country.

My mother still kids me about what I said to Canadian customs as we crossed the border. Remember, this was 1980 – long before 9/11, long before any President thought of building border walls. As was customary, the border agents asked if we have anything to declare.

The eight-year-old version of me didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the question. My cousins and I had munched on some bananas and Cheerios (without milk, because that could get messy) on the way to the border, so that’s what came to my mind.

“Only these bananas,” I said, holding the yellow fruit up for the agents to see. Everyone in the car looked at me as if I had somehow pledged allegiance to Satan or something.

There was a Guinness Book of World Records exhibit in Niagara Falls at the time. Around that time, I had gotten the paperback version of one of their yearly editions at a book fair at my elementary school, and that piqued my interest. There was also a short-lived game show around that time called The Guinness Game where contestants were staked with money and wagered on whether or not attempts at various world records would be successful.

(Footnote: I once had the home version board game of the show. No kidding.)

Two things I remember: a very big pinball game on display with a ball the size of a baseball moving around the electronic board, and meeting Sandy Allen.

One of the photos that didn’t pass the test of time was of me, two of my cousins, and Sandy towering above all of us. In the photo, I’m the tallest of the three children, but Allen is towering over me with ease, and still would if I had met her having reached my full height of roughly six feet and an inch.

In the photo, she’s resting the right forearm on top of my head – that I remember. I’m pretty sure my mother and aunt got a chuckle out of that. Meanwhile, I’m holding as still as I can – I don’t want to get this mountain of a woman mad at me!

I wish I still had that pic. It always brought out amazement whenever I showed it to friends. I’d tell them, no – I’m not that tall. But this woman, she’s huge!

Speedy Delivery

I’ve used the same computer now for most of the last five and a half years. It’s been a workhorse for me, but even workhorses have parts fail on it from time to time.

A couple of months back, I noticed an orange light in the upper right of this HP computer I’ve been using all of this time. It freaked me out for a bit – what did it mean? Oh, it’s the Wi-Fi adapter on it no longer working. Being the tinkerer I am, I consulted the oracle of Google to see if anything could be done, and trying a few workarounds – nope, it still wasn’t going to work.

It dawned on me that what I needed would cost a mere pittance – a USB Wi-Fi adapter. Amazon had them available to my specifications for under $10, and one company offered free shipping and handling. Works for me – click, click, click!

Amazon told me it wouldn’t get here for a week. It got to my home in two days.

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I plug the part into a USB port – and I have Wi-Fi on the computer again. I don’t use Wi-Fi for the computer all that much, I let my mobile devices and whatnot do the lion’s share of the usage on it, but if the situation occurs that my Ethernet plug ever stopped working, it’s a good backup plan to have around. On top of that, if I were to travel, I wouldn’t be S.O.L. with a computer with no working Wi-Fi.

While these online mega-companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Apple are now facing government scrutiny, it should be noted that there are times where they go get things right and make things easier on us. This latest experience I had with Amazon was definitely one of those occasions.

 

 

Lost Art

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Art Bell died on Friday the 13th. In a way, fitting.

As one person put it on Twitter, of course, Art Bell would pass away on Friday the 13th. But it did happen, with a mournful George Noory breaking the news on Coast to Coast AM late on Friday evening on the very show Mr. Bell used to host.

I’ve never met or spoken to Art, but his impact on radio in the era I worked in the business was profound. I’m pretty sure that Art was briefly on North America One, a satellite sister entity of the Sun Radio Network, in either the late summer or early fall of 1991 – though my recollection of that is a bit fuzzy here in 2018.  When I worked for Valentine Communications producing Radio Free America in 1995 out of WBDN in the Feather Sound area of Clearwater, Art’s show was on the station, airing at 1:00 in the morning through to 6:00. I’d often run errands when my radio shift ended at midnight, and I’d catch the starts of Art’s shows driving around in my car.

WFLA, the big talk station in the Tampa Bay area, eventually picked his shows up locally. I heard him again in 1996 on a Greyhound bus heading out to stay in Las Vegas for a few weeks, then got hooked hearing him out in Sin City listening to his shows on 720 KDWN. I’m living in Florida again in 1998, driving up with my mother to North Carolina one overnight with Mom getting spooked out listening to the “Sounds Of Hell” recording Art frequently played in that era. Memo to future self: don’t scare your mother when you’re driving a car.

In the last two decades or so, he was on and off the air numerous times. He’d sign a new deal with someone, then find the deal wasn’t up to snuff and leave just as quickly as he returned. As many of us in the profession, my guess was he wasn’t too fond of the consolidation the radio business has gone through since the FCC laws changed in 1996, trying satellite radio, then online radio with what became his last sortie in the business.

My sincerest condolences to Art’s family on their loss this past day.

 

 

To Tell The Truth – Or Not

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Did it not strike you odd that Mark Zuckerburg testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, but the United States Senate did NOT want to put him under oath?

I’d say more about that dog and pony show yesterday, but if you’ve been following this blog the past few weeks, you should know what a sham I think it all is.

With their inability to put Mr. Z under oath yesterday, Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – showed their collusion. This also should be a “canary in the coal mine” to us commoners that they’ll fix things in a way that punishes us as if we were the criminals even though we perpetrated no crimes.

Just like 9/11 punished us and took our freedoms with the Patriot Act that was anything but patriotic. Just like Obamacare came to be nearly a decade ago, mandating citizens pay for it without any laws saying such a mandate was legal.

Congress and Facebook – they are one in the same. If they can find the way to screw you, they will. Hurry up and drain the swamp, Mr. President – if you can. On the Facebook front, yesterday was a very disappointing day.

 

The Wrath Of Conor

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You can tell from the press the incident got that this was not a publicity stunt, or anything staged like those organizations with “W’s” in their acronyms do.

Conor McGregor, the MMA star who fought Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match last year before being stopped in the tenth round, caused a bit of a scene at a UFC press event this Thursday past in Brooklyn. Grabbing a hand truck, he threw it into a bus full of MMA fighters, shattering windows and injuring two fighters, and causing three fights on the card to be canceled or altered.

Not a good look all the way around. Conor’s now in a lot of hot water, arrested by the NYPD and perhaps staring at jail time. His future with UFC is also very much in doubt at the moment.

That being said, he still has a lot of career choices. I could see him following Ronda Rousey into the WWE – his attitude would seem a perfect fit for their scripted world. He could go into boxing, or join a rival MMA organization. Doing any of those things wouldn’t tarnish his career any, and would grant whatever group that signs him up a bit of a buzz when he debuts there.

To me, it is another illustration of how poor sportsmanship has been glorified to the point where it has become a new normal. When Mike Tyson famously bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, I wondered what message that kind of foul play sent to youngsters. I can’t help wonder about the message McGregor has sent in 2018.

Not a good look for anybody. For sports, for MMA, for sportsmanship.