Sunday, April 16, 2017

Game Show Royalty Gone

It's taken me a while to get to the subject of this post but I wanted to write about it so here it is. 

On March 21, I awoke to the sad news that game show creator and host, Chuck Barris, had died at age 87. 
Barris leaves this life in relative anonymity to anyone who is under 40 years old. To those baby boomers who grew up watching television, he and his productions were part of their lives.

From the mid 60s to the early 80s he was the creator and producer of several very popular and cutting edge game shows. They are part of the reason I am still a fan of that TV genre to this day. 

While Mark Goodson and Bill Toddman were the kings of the game show hill in that time period, Barris raised the game show bar for a new generation that came of age in the early 70s. 

The Dating Game and Newlywed Game were different than any other game show at the time of their debut. Before they were on the air, contestants only revealed a small portion of their lives in the "tell us about yourself" segments of game shows. 

The two Barris Productions shows put the contestants personal lives and personalities at the center of the game. 

Both the "Dating" and "Newlywed" games have been rebooted several times over the last 4 decades. There will always be one thing I will remember about the original versions. 

The Dating Game provided a the plethora of the appearances of many celebrities before they were stars. They included: Farrah Fawcett, Steve Martin, Arnold Schwartzengger, Andy Kaufman, John Ritter and Kirstie Alley to name a few. 

The Newlywed Game had one of the funniest TV bloopers ever on TV. For the time it first aired in 1977 it was extremely outrageous. It's hilarious because of the fact that one of the show's driving forces, questions with a double entendre, really backfired on them in this case.  Do a YouTube search for "Newlywed game strangest place" and you'll find it. 

However, I submit that the real legacy of these shows is the reality TV genre. The idea of revealing in front of America, people the way they really are has its roots in the creations of Chuck Barris' game shows.

My two favorite Chuck Barris shows were "The New Treasure Hunt" and "The Gong Show". 

"Treasure Hunt" hosted by Geoff Edwards (one of the most underrated game show hosts) was syndicated during the 1970s. If you don't remember it here's a link that tells all about it. Treasure Hunt  You can also see segments of it on YouTube. 

For me it was a show that came on after supper before the prime time shows came on. Much like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are today. I think I liked it so much because it was a game show we watched as a family. As opposed to the daytime game shows which you only got to see on days when you were home from school sick.   

What can I say about "The Gong Show"? It was a hilarious parody of all talent game shows that proceeded it on TV. While many people under 40 may think that American Idol was the first show to feature bad acts as entertainment, I say "Nay Nay". The Gong Show thrived on bad acts. 

The Gong Show gave America a crop novelty acts created just for the show including "Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine" and "The Unknown Comic". 

It also made celebrities out of minor entertainers who appeared as judges. 1950s pop singer,  Jaye P. Morgan and comic, Rip Taylor, for example.

Taylor was my favorite. I just thought he was so hilarious. In my opinion he took a persona that was nothing more than an over the top impersonation of Frank Morgan in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" and turned it into a career. But I thought he was hilarious. 

Chuck Barris, the host, had more fun than anyone on that show. I don't think he ever had one serious moment ever. It's amazing he could talk because his tongue was always so firmly planted in his cheek. I also believe that at one time he declared "war" on the network sensors and made it his goal to see how far he could go. This made for great entertainment for a teenager like me.  

Do yourself a favor and go to YouTube and check out the Gong Show clips. You'll have a great time watching them. 

Chuck Barris' autobiography, "Confessions of A Dangerous Mind" was one of the most entertaining books I've ever read. The plot twist at the end literally made me say "NO WAY!" out loud when I read it. The movie was pretty good too. 

Although Barris eventually did admit that the whole "CIA" connection was made up and a literary daydream, I still really liked the book.    

One of Barris' many talents that not many people are aware of was his ability to write music. He wrote a lot of the theme songs and cues for his game shows. 

Of course his most famous musical achievement was writing Freddie Cannon's 1962 #3 hit "Palasides Park".

Back In February of this year, I wrote a two-part series about the celebrities I have met over the years. I am sorry to say that I never got the chance to meet Chuck Barris. 

What makes this even more regrettable is that I had several opportunities. I can't remember exactly all the whens, wheres, and whys but I do know that back in the 2000s Barris made several public appearances in nearby Bowling Green. If I remember correctly, he even lived there for a time while restoring a house owned by his family.  

I always planned to go meet him, get his autograph and have a picture taken with him. But like I said, I never got the chance. 

So for the 2nd time in the last 3 posts, I am saying "thank you" to a celebrity who was part of my life. I never got to do it in person but I do it here and now. Chuck Barris may have been out of the public light for quite a while but his influence is still being felt in the TV business today. 

When I was growing up, in the game show kingdom, Chuck Barris was royalty. 

RIP "Chuckie Baby" 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Leaving Lego Behind?

Welcome to my 900th post. This means that I am only 100 away from my goal of making it to 1000 before the end of the year. Once I reach that that milestone I will have another giveaway. This one will be bigger than the last. Stick around and be sure to read today's offering and the next 100 posts. There will be a quiz (insert high school teacher flashback here) but it could win you a nice prize. That's just a bit of a tease. Now post 900.  

I realize that this post is about an issue that really has no effect on anyone but me. However being aware of the changes in your own life allows you to accept and adjust to them. That said, here's one of my changes. 

Last month, I went to the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. I stopped by the Lego Store, as I try to do almost every time I visit Music City. 

I went in and looked around at the various products they stock there. I hadn't been there since the start of the year. But when I walked out I did it in a way I hadn't in a long time. I was empty handed. I bought nothing.There wasn't anything I wanted.

 Two or Three years ago that would have never happened. Back then, a trip to the Lego store was so exciting and special I would have left the store with a bag full of stuff. But on this day I did not. This got me wondering about just how and why my attitude toward this hobby has changed. Am I tired of it? I had to evaluate for myself just what has changed between Lego and me.  

Ever since the fall of 2012 I have been an avid fan of Lego and all it has to offer. It would be safe to say that there have been times when I have been obsessed. I just had to have them all.  Well, not "them all" but the ones I liked I had to have. 

I started out building what ever I could think of using a 405 piece set (Lego product # 6166)
to occupy my time in between customers at the last call center where I worked at the time.

The "brick bug" bit me hard that fall and by spring I was focused on buying Lego's Creator and Technics kits. In the last 4 1/2 years since I have amassed a collection of close to 200 Lego products, not including the nearly 10 sets of mini-figures. 

Currently I have 35 sets on a shelf in my storage room waiting to be assembled. Some are easy like the Bubble Packs.   
Others are 3 models in one. 
Some will take some time to build and expert skill to put together. 
 As you have seen in my past posts I assemble a lot of Lego kits. When I'm in, what I call, "The Lego Zone" I average about 1-2 models a week. Over the last 6 months I have trailed off just a little bit.   

Since my birthday last September, I have only put together 10 Lego kits. Not my usual pace at all. 

Does this suggest a waning interest in what has been my number 1 favorite hobby for almost the last 5 years? Have I finished my journey down the "plastic brick road"?  

Well, with all the sets I still have to build I'd say the answer to that is, not for a while. But my preferences and attitudes toward Lego have changed. Here are some of the reasons why. 

After buying and building Lego kits for such a long time, I have reached a saturation point in regard to places to display them in my house. I have over 100 models being stored in boxes sitting on a shelf. 

Before the holidays last year, I inventoried and reorganized my collection. I have them in about a dozen boxes holding 125 models. That means 2/3 of my collection is put away out of sight. 

I keep some of my favorites such as my VW van, Mini Cooper, White House and Eiffel Tower permanently on display. 

One day in the near future, I will have my den finished. My plans for that room is to have plenty of Lego models on display.  

But for now it's a little discouraging to build a model that you really like and have to put it in a box. I'm not going to spend money on a Lego product that I'm just going to assemble and then put it away a week later. So now I'm selective when it comes to buying sets.

On the other side of the same coin are the sets I've already written about; those that are to put together. When I see a set in a store (usually Toys R Us or the Lego Store) I have to decide its value to me. Here's how I do that.  

I have to decide if I like it enough to pay for it and have it sit on my self for a year or more. (I have sets that I bought back in June 2015 in my "to be assembled" queue) If it is then I buy it. 

There are some sets, I have not purchased based on that standard. The Lego Idea Maze and Yellow Submarine sets are just a couple of them. 

Another reason I decide not to buy a set is if it is a lot like another set I already own. I have a lot of car, airplane, and robot sets. I don't need any more.  

There's one last thing I need to tell you about that's now affecting my buying decisions. It's the assembly challenge. I want to build something I've never built before that's not your typical Lego model. I am drawn to something that has new or unusual pieces and is a bit more complex than just clicking 3 or 4 pieces together. This is why I am drawn to the Lego Ideas brand.  

The easy sets I choose these days are usually those that I know my granddaughter will like them and want to play with them. 

The problem with larger and more detailed sets is that they usually require a bit of an investment. The one recent example that currently sits on my shelf is this Disney Castle set. 
 I know I've written about this before but only to announce that I now owned this set. This set is a dream come true for me. It is by far the most detailed and complex set I've ever owned. It will also be the most challenging. 

The cost of this Disney Castle set is in the upper echelon of the Lego price point. Because I have a personal limit on how much I will spend for a Lego set at one time, I saved up for several months before I bought the Disney Castle. But I am so excited about having this displayed on my shelf some time in the future that it was well worth the wait. 

The next big high priced Lego set I am really looking forward to getting is one that is coming out in June. It is the Lego Ideas Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket set. 

Except for the announcement of a release date of "sometime in June" and a these pictures on their Facebook page, no other details for this set have been announced. 

 The main thing I'm interested in is the price. With it rumored to be 43 cm tall it will be a large set and probably priced accordingly. Unless it turns out to be an outrageous price I am not that concerned. I just want them to take my money and give me this set. 

So those are the reasons I am not buying as many Lego kits these days. The reason I am not building them at the same rate as I have in the past is simple. I've got goals that I'm working on that have a higher priority for me. There are only so many hours in the day and sometimes other things come before "Play". 

To answer the question that I have used for the title of this post, "No" I am not leaving Lego behind. I may be slowing down a bit but I've got plenty of sets to keep me involved in the hobby for at least another couple of years. 

Will I still be assembling Lego models when I reach my 60s (Geez, that's only 2 1/2 years from now) I don't know. That may be a subject I'll address in another 900 posts.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Richard & Me

This may seem a little strange for me to be writing about this person but I've got a reason. He's been mentioned quite a bit both on social media and on television, lately. He's been around as part of pop culture for over 3 decades. He's been an actor, a entrepreneur, an author, a talk show host and lots more.  I'm talking about Richard Simmons. 

He's been talked about more during the last month than he had over the previous 36. The reason he's been in the public eye, recently, is because he's been out of sight for more than 3 years.

Now for someone as intense and devoted as Richard Simmons had been for more than 3 decades that kind of change, and the suddenness with which it happened, has been rather bewildering. 

Last month one of Richard Simmons friends and regular patron at his exercise studio from 2012 until its closing in 2014, Dan Taberski, started a podcast to try and discover what happened to the renowned exercise guru. He produced a 6 episode podcast entitled "Missing Richard Simmons". 

If you are a fan of Richard's or the least bit curious about his situation, I'd recommend this podcast for informational purposes. I must warn you though. Don't take everything you hear as "gospel." The middle episodes kind of go "off the rail" in regards to accusations by some of Richard's inner circle. Take a lot of what you hear with a grain of salt. You can find the podcasts on I-Tunes or at

The reason I am writing this post is not to give publicity to the podcast but to share with you the influence and effect Richard Simmons has had on me. It goes way back to the early 80s and potentially extends to today. 

Richard's over the top, flamboyant on-stage personality was sometimes too much for me. I disagreed with the way he allowed himself to be portrayed and treated by some media. His touchy feely way of getting his message across sometimes made me feel a bit uncomfortable. But getting me past all of that over more than 30 years has been Richard's passion. He is nothing if not sincere in his dedication to those who need his help. It was always evident in his actions (both public and private), his service, and his products. 

There has always been two sides to Richard Simmons. There was the public side that most people knew. He was the strange curly haired guy in a tank top and short shorts who seemed to always act like a clown. Then there was another  guy who followed his heart and allowed people to see his most vulnerable side in order to connect with them. This allowed him to help them with their struggle; the same struggle he went through. 

It's that 2nd guy that I have been drawn to over the course of my life. How he helped me is what I'd like to share with you now. 

I'm going to be covering about 30 years of history and events so please bear with me. This is going to be one of my longer posts. Here are the details, as best as I can remember them. 

The presence of Richard Simmons has been what I'd call "seasonal" in my life. There have been periods of time when his influence and inspiration was a daily presence. Then there were times when my attitude toward his programs and products took on a "been there, done that" disposition. 

I was in my 20s (early 80s) when I first heard the name Richard Simmons. My sisters talked about him all the time because they watched the ABC soap opera, General Hospital, during the time Richard was a semi-regular on the show.  

I saw him for the first time the way I would see him, for the most part, over the next couple of decades, on a talk show. I don't remember exactly when the first time was or which show he was on. But my best guess is that it was either on Regis & Kathy Lee in the morning or David Letterman at late at night. 

Very rarely did I see either of the Richard's own TV talk shows because they were on in the middle of the day. I was at work and there were no DVRs and video recorders hadn't yet become affordable for the average guy.  

But when I did see him on TV, I was impressed with his energy and enthusiasm. He addressed aspects of losing weight and staying healthy with an energy and positive attitude. 

I remember making my first serious post-high school weight loss effort by following the exercise and food plan Richard introduced in his book "Never Say Diet". 

The "Live-It" plan (opposite of "Die-it"), as Richard called it, worked pretty well for me. But I ran into the same problem that I have had with weight loss plans all my life. I didn't like a lot of the foods that are on the plan, so I ended up eating a very narrow regimen. It was hard eating a baked chicken leg every night when the rest of the family was eating Salisbury Steak with gravy; even if it was just the frozen bake & serve kind from Encore. 

Also learning exercises from still pictures in a book wasn't all that easy either. Repetitious floor exercises aren't my favorite anyway. So that didn't last too long either. 

In 1988, Richard started to appear on television a little more often and not just on talk or game shows. That's when he came up with a new way of presenting aerobic exercise. "Sweatin To The Oldies" took the video workout craze started by Jane Fonda in 82 and gave it a fun, party type atmosphere. His first "Sweating" video had a high school prom theme and used pop music favorites from the 50s and 60s. 

It came out during one of my "been there done that" phases I mentioned earlier plus at that time I considered workout videos something for women. 

Two years later, Richard was out with a new infomercial, a unique way to track what you eat, and a 2nd edition of "Sweatin To The Oldies." 

In the time between the videos, I had taken to working part-time on weekends as a DJ for weddings and parties. I used my own music collection, which was mostly songs from the 50s, 60s, & 70s. I soon associated that music, the same used on "Sweatin To The Oldies" with everyone having a good time. 

When I saw the clips of "Sweatin 2" on Richard's new infomercial some of the same songs I played at my parties were included. That got my attention. Also there were people of all shapes and sizes in the video. Some of them actually looked like they really needed to exercise. I don't mean that to be insulting. 

Up until Richard's, nearly all exercise videos had people whose skin tight leotards fit their perfectly fit bodies. Something that seemed rather irrational and intimating to me. To see real people who "looked like me" was a breath of fresh air in the stale "stepford wives" world of workout videos. 

But the thing that kicked off the next, and longest, phase of my Richard Simmons fandom was Deal-A-Meal.

This was a card system that helped you with limited calorie intake. Each card represented a specific type of food: meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, and fat. The card had a list of pre-measured portions of a variety of foods that fit into that category. 

According to your weight loss goal, you were allowed a certain number of each type of card per day. You'd start out each morning with all your cards on the left side of the wallet. As you ate your 3 meals and snacks you'd move the corresponding cards to one of the four slots on the right side of the wallet. When all your cards were "dealt" to you were finished eating for the day. 

Now this diet program may seem incredibly unsophisticated and simplistic compared to today's technology. Deal-A-Meal may seem like a papyrus scroll in a world that's filled with fitness trackers you wear on your wrist and nutrition tracker apps on your phone. Let me assure you at the time it was a innovative and unique tool. 

Early in 1993 I bought the Deal-A-Meal kit from Richard Simmons through his infomercial. The package included a lot of helpful things. In addition to the Deal-A-Meal cards & wallet, I found out the Sweatin 2 video and the "Let's Take A Walk" cassette (more about both in a bit). The package was well worth the price I paid. I believe it was about $80 in total. That was a substantial investment for me at that time.  

I had some success with Deal-A-Meal and I stuck with it for a long time. But eventually it went the way of the other diets I tried at that point in my life. But the Sweatin To The Oldies 2 video turned out to be something that I really latched on. It became an important factor in my battle of the bulge throughout the 90s. 

I tried the Sweatin to the Oldies 2 video a few times and I liked it. It became part of my exercise routine, when I chose to have one. 

In 1994, I read another Richard Simmons book: "Never Give Up". 
This book included a brief autobiography and a few other inspirational stories of people Richard had helped over the first 20 years. 

During that same year, I started exercising to the Sweatin To The Oldies 3, which came out in January. I liked it even more than Sweatin 2. 
Since my sisters and I were all trying to lose weight, we decided that we would get together and exercise to Richard's aerobics videos. 

We started getting together at my sister, Peggy's house on Thursday nights. We usually did the Sweatin 2 video. Sometimes I could get them to put in Sweatin 3. 

We tried to expand our group to others at our church by moving to the church building's fellowship hall a few times. But eventually we ended up back at Peg's house with just us, and a couple of friends. 

We formed our own little support group which I dubbed with the acronym, HELPS. It stood for Helping Everyone Lose Pounds Sensibly. 

I also had a TV and a VCR set up in the attic of my apartment where I would exercise in between our group get togethers. 

In 1995, Richard's 4th aerobic video came out. This one was called "Sweat N Shout". Of course, I just called it "Sweatin 4."

Also, at that time, I was producing my own music retrospective programs, called "Rewind" (I still record them today). That year I decided to write and record a program featuring the music from Richard's 4 videos. I also included an the audio of one of his many appearances on David Letterman's late night talk show. In that clip he sings a song about losing weight and Deal-A-Meal to the tune of "When The Saints Go Marchin In."

At the end of "Never Give Up, Richard gave his mailing address for people to write to him. I wrote him a letter telling him about our support group and included a dubbed cassette copy of my Rewind show featuring his music. 

He sent me back a very nice letter thanking me for the tape and included an autographed picture and a copy of Sweat N Shout. It was very encouraging and kept me motivated to keep trying to lose weight. 

As a means of trying to put a little more variety into the exercise sessions both at home and with my sisters I connected two VCRs and used my crude video editing skills to create a "Greatest Hits" version of a Sweatin To The Oldies. Essentially it was an aerobic workout mix tape. I made it a little shorter than the actual Sweatin videos. It soon became my sister's favorite.    

I copied that compilation workout on a video tape with a brand name that started with the letter v. The brand's logo was stamped all over the box and on the center of the video tape itself. So in addition to our acronym  that served as the name of our group we added to our jargon, "Let's do the 'V' tape tonight". 

I had a couple of other ways that I would exercise using Richard Simmons products. Using a stepper and a video called "Sweat N Step" was a different and fun way to get a workout. 
 Although it didn't feature the oldies music or the festive carnival atmosphere of the "Sweatin" videos; it was a fun workout. A relatively subdued Richard and the presence of some of his actual Slimmons instructors made it a enjoyable change of pace type workout.  

Included in the infomercial package for the Food Mover (more on that coming up) were two audio cassettes. Richard Simmons' "Take A Walk" and "Take A Hike". 

The 30 minute "Take A Hike" cassette was always in my Walkman on my countless walks along the paved path along the Lehigh canal on the south side of Easton, PA. I listened to that tape so much that I knew it by heart. I still have a digital copy of it in my I-Tunes collection. I will have to listen to it again on one of my walks soon. 

I wasn't so fond of the "Take A Hike" tape. It just didn't seem to motivate me like the "Walk" one did. 

Another one of Richard's walking tapes that I had was "Walk Across America." 

Again I didn't use this one very much but it is connected to a specific memory. 

I remember putting a duel plug adapter into my portable cassette player and plugging in two pair of headphones and walking to that tape along the Delaware Canal path with my sister, Shari.    

I only had the opportunity to meet Richard Simmons once in my life. That was during the early 90s. I think it 94 or 95. Through his monthly news letter (I got a subscription as part of my Deal-A-Meal package) found out that Richard was going to be holding a seminar at the Mountain Laurel Resort in Long Pond, PA on Mother's Day weekend. The resort was only an hour away from where I lived at the time. 

The seminar included a "healthy" brown bagged lunch, a chance to meet Richard, and a 20 minute workout with him. 

I was excited about the opportunity to meet Richard and get a picture. I also thought it would be fun to exercise in one of his "classes" as well. 

When the day came we were late getting there; I don't remember why. The event started at 10 and we didn't get there until 10:30. By the time I found a place to park, walked to the entrance and picked up my seminar package and name badge it was 11 o'clock.

When I got to the conference room where Richard was doing the meet and greet. The line of fans was a multi-row switch back that started about 6 feet from the door and snaked across the room to a small stage. Richard was standing in front of the stag greeting, hugging, and taking picture with his fans. Most of them were women. I remember thinking to myself, "having hundreds of women who are crazy about you come up and give you a hug is a great gig."

The person at the door told me that the line was closed. Richard was only greeting until 12. Only the people already in line would be able to meet him. 

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. To say I was a bit angry would be a fact I didn't make a big deal out of it (but I would write a strongly worded letter to the event promoter a week or so later). I simply resolved to make of it what I could. The line was roped off and you could walk up the side of the room to the stage and get close to where Richard was. If I couldn't get a picture with him I was going to get a picture of him. 

Now this is in the days before smart phones with cameras and digital photography. These are scanned copies of the film prints from that day. 

As you can see someone did get a selfie with Richard but it wasn't me. 

At noon we went into the resort dining area and had our bagged lunch. I don't even remember what it was specifically but it was "healthy". 

The workout was a lot of fun. It was held in the same conference room as the meet & greet. The resort supplied small exercise mats and bottles of water.

Richard gave a 10 or 15 minute motivational talk before the exercise. The mats were laid out on the floor spread across the room in rows. I managed to get a mat in the third row just to the left of the stage where Richard was giving instructions. I enjoyed this part of the day the most. 

It wasn't the encounter I'd hoped it would be when I bought my ticket. However, I will always remember it as the day when I saw Richard Simmons in person.  

In the last half of the 90s the Deal-A-Meal wallet and cards evolved into the next generation, Richard's Food mover. The food mover works on the same principal as Deal-A-Meal but it's self contained. 
You placed a preprinted card that shows the portions you get for a specific amount of calories into the plastic device. It has windows that slide up and down; similar to the kid's game "Guess Who." As you eat your portions you close the windows. When all the windows are closed, you are finished eating for the day. I used the Foodmover and really liked it.

As the 90s went on Richard Simmons made even more workout videos. Disco Sweat, Groovin In The House, Dance Your Pants Off, Broadway Sweat and more. I got just about them all of them. 

At the start of each year he would release a new package. After the Foodmover first came out, I stopped buying the packages and waited until the video was available by itself. 

As things started to change in my life in the late 90s and I would soon be starting over, the longest season of Richard's influence in my life came to an end. 

I moved to Bowling Green, KY in March of 1999 to be near Paula until the circumstances were right for us to get married. 

Richard Simmons published his most detailed autobiography that year. I bought a copy and read it from cover to cover very quickly. 

At the end of the book there was a list of how to "stay in touch" with Richard. Among them was "Richard", his new website. The internet was still in it's infancy but had become a pretty good marketing tool already. Because I was living alone with a lot of free time on my hands, I decided that I might as well look toward getting myself healthy again. This meant losing some weight and getting some exercise.  

I only got online and became a member of Richard's Clubhouse on his website. This included something I liked the most about being on the internet: a chat room. 

In that chatroom, I became friends with a woman named, Mary. She lives in California just an hour west of Disneyland.
We spent many nights at our keyboards on opposite sides of the country talking about diet, exercise, our families, hobbies, and anything else we could think of. She really helped me stay focused during a transitional time in my life. 

Mary and Carollee have a direct connection to Richard Simmons. They used to attend classes at Slimmons, his workout studio. Carollee also appeared in Richard's "Groovin In the House" video. 

Mary is still my friend to day. She is a kind, generous, positive, and encouraging person. She always sends pictures to me and has even sent gifts to members of my family. 
She and her daughter, Carollee, are the best friends I've never met. I wouldn't even know them if it wasn't for the influence of Richard Simmons in our lives. 

Since Paula and I have been married, I have continued to be a Richard Simmons fan; if even if it's only from a distanced. I have always tried to watch his infomercials, talk show and guest star appearances. 

Up until his self imposed exile, the place I saw Richard the most was on QVC. He offered his products to the mass audience right in their living room. I always tried to catch his appearances on the shopping channel. It was the one place where I felt the "real Richard Simmons" still came through. The one who has had influence on me for a good portion of my adult life. 

As I write this post I am looking at the stack of more than a dozen Richard Simmons exercise DVDs that I have gotten off the shelf and brought them into my living room. I am looking to making a new effort toward getting healthy again. Those workouts along with walking, and riding my bike, are going to compile the exercise that's going to help me get to my goals. 

Ok, Richard hasn't been seen in public in over 3 years and a lot of people are wondering why he's gone. But if you own a Deal-A-Meal, Foodmover, a Sweatin video, a book, or any other kind of Richard Simmons merchandise that has or still does help you in any way; as far as I'm concerned he's still around.    

A few days ago there was a story on the internet reporting that Richard Simmons has just signed a new merchandising deal with a licensing company co-founded by his long time manager. In an interview that manager mentioned that there is a possibility that Richard would make promotional appearances for this new line. 

Should his fans get excited? Only time will tell. But even if he continues to remain out of the public spotlight I will always be grateful for the help and inspiration he's given me. Thanks Richard.   


Thursday, April 6, 2017

March Wrap-Up

Hello again. It's been a while since I've written anything but I've had a bit of writer's block. With the start of April it's time to get back to the keyboard. Let me catch up with what I've been doing during the last couple of weeks of March and initial days of this month. 

On March 18, my wife and I spent the day in Lexington, KY. The reason we were there had nothing to do with March Madness. We were attending a play in one of my favorite theaters. The Lexington Opera House is a place that's a real throwback to the days of small venue theaters. It's very quaint (yes, I just used that word) and charming. 

We went there to see the classic Neil Simon play, Barefoot In The Park. Here's the picture they took of us in the lobby. It should have been staged a bit better but you get the idea. 
 We have been to this venue at least 3 times together. I went with my sons once to see "Spamalot". That was the only time I have had floor seats in this theater. Paula and I like the mezzanine section.  There really isn't a bad seat in the house. This was our POV for this performance. 
Here's a link to a video I shot while waiting for the show to start. At The Opera House

Of course, my life would not be complete without quality time with my grand children. The last days of March included visits to their new house and a sleep over at our house.

My grandson, Gabriel, is now 5 months old and changing every time we see him. 

He's rolling over, cutting teeth and discovering both the good and bad tastes of baby food veggies and fruits. 
Other than when he is hungry, tired, or needs changing, he is happy and almost always smiling. He's very curious about the world around him. 

Ever since she was an infant, I have always tried to nurture my grand daughter, Aria's appreciation of music. One of the first toys I ever bought her was a Minnie Mouse themed ukulele. 

During the weekend she spent at our house late in March, I found out that her enjoyment of singing has grown beyond what we sing together or the Mickey's Sing Along video she watches at our house. 

While watching the movie "Sing" on video she asked me to get out my microphone and amplifier so she could be "a star" too. 
While she didn't really know a lot of the words she had a great time trying to sing along and reveled in hearing her own voice over the speaker. I'm hoping her passion for music continues as she gets older. 

Our home video collection, especially my Disney movies, grew during the last half of March. In addition to "Sing" we also now have "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them"on our movie shelf. 

Out of all the movies we saw in 2016 these two are probably my wife's favorites. I bought them for her. I'm sure she'll watch them over and over again in the future. 

I also, made significant progress in the quest to replace my Disney animated movie DVD collection with Blu-Rays. I started out the month needing 22 including the 2016 animated hit, Moana. I bought that one on March 7, the day it was released.  

Taking advantage of a 60% off sale from the Disney Movie Club I added 7 more: Atlantis, Fun and Fancy Free, Great Mouse Detective, Home On The Range, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, and The Wild. I am down to needing just 14 to complete my Disney blu-ray collection. 

Speaking of movies, Paula and I went to see two very popular films over the last week. She was excited about both of them. Me, not so much. 

Disney's live action version of Beauty and The Beast had great visuals and of course the music is classic Disney. I won't go into details here, but while I liked quite a few things about it, there was so much wrong with this film that I really didn't like it. 

A couple of years ago, Paula went to an event sponsored by our local library and met the author of the book version of "The Shack". She was really impressed by him then, so she was anxious to see the movie. 

I only knew the basic premise of the story. In addition, prior to going to see the film, I had read some very negative stuff about the movie from some Christian ministers whose opinions that I really respect. This made me rather skeptical going into the theater. 

The movie is a very emotional, and an intriguing and interesting spiritual metaphor. I won't give away any spoilers here but; the "real life" aspect of the story in regard to the little girl was very emotional for me. Almost too much to watch. 

I apologize to people who enjoyed or were touched by the movie but, I didn't like it. I don't know what religion the movie was presenting but as far as I'm concerned it wasn't Christianity. At least the Christianity presented in the Bible I read. It was more of a hybrid of Christianity and other middle eastern religions. Perhaps there was  symbolism I didn't understand or misinterpreted. Again, I won't get into the details but I didn't care for the movie. 

I have mentioned my enjoyment of listening to podcasts in this blog before. In mid March I took the next step in my commitment to some of the podcasts I subscribe to. I decided to become a financial supporter. Through a website called "Patreon" some podcast invite listeners to show their support with a monthly donation. It is a nominal amount but it comes with some cool perks. I have decided to do that for two podcasts: "WDW Today" and "The School Of Laughs" podcasts. The reason I chose these two is that they both originate in Nashville. My donations to these add up to less than $20 a month. They come with some great privileges including exclusive Facebook groups, newsletters, and live podcasts. So far I am enjoying the additional access to the podcasts.

I finally received my prize for winning the Moonpie contest on the BLT Lunch Break podcast. I was expecting to get a t-shirt and some Moon Pies. I only got a t-shirt. I don't even know if I will ever wear it. Here are some pics of me trying it on. 

With the change of the seasons and warmer weather it's time to get back to working on getting some of the repairs, clean up and improvements done here around the house. 

Last Saturday we had a plumber come and replace the drainage pipes under the house that had eroded to the point that they were leaking. It made the back bathroom virtually unusable. But thanks to his hard work we now have two working bathrooms again. 

The next change we made was a significant one. We decided to eliminate our dog, Angel's crate. Over the last year things have changed. She's never shut up in her crate. When we leave the house we simple put her in the room where here crate is and close the door. That shuts her off from the restof the house. She's a good dog and never gets into anything in the room. That includes her treats and bag of food. 

So Angel no longer sleeps in her crate. She now has a very comfortable pillow in the back left hand corner but has an entire room to herself. She's very happy about it. 

I mentioned we have plans for that room. This includes a set up that will help me move forward toward my goals. In the near future I will assemble a desk that fits in the far right corner and will serve as both my office and recording set up. 

I will keep you updated on how this transition is going as it gets done. 

So there's an update on what's been going with me over the last 2 or 3 weeks. There are some other things I want to let you in on but I plan on featuring them in a post all their own in the near future. 

I just wanted to write this one and get it published so I get back into the habit of providing content for you. That way you can count on finding something new almost every time you check back. Thanks for sticking with me. See you again, very soon.