Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

I didn't know Nicole Richie was such a good dancer.

But seriously, I hope you have a fun Halloween. Give out some decent stuff, too. Don't give out candycorn, or the non-descript candy wrapped in solid orange or solid black wrappers. Forget the raisins, the popcorn balls, and homemade peanut brittle. There's a simple formula to giving out good Halloween candy. Name-brand, chocolate themed candy bars. Snickers, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Reese's Cups, Milky Way, etc. This shouldn't be that difficult to accomplish.

Don't be surprised if you come by my house and nobody's home. All of us are going out trick-or-treating this afternoon. Megan will be dressed as "Stephanie" from "Lazytown". The last few years, Megan has dressed up as Snow White. When she went to look for a costume this year, she saw the "Stephanie" and went right to it.

Have you seen "Lazytown"? A tad bizarre. Imaginative and ambitious, but a tad bizarre.We'll bundle up Sarah in some blankets and bring her along in a stroller. Maybe we'll put an alien mask on her and dress her up as baby Suri. I'll try to round up some pictures one of these days.

I was going to go as "Sportacus" from the show, but I didn't want to act like a showoff tonight by imitating his jump-do-the-splits-in-mid-air move.

I'll just be dressed up in the same costume I wear every day -- overworked, underpaid radio host.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't Talk To Strangers

Fortunately, Rick Springfield did talk to a stranger last Friday on the show -- me. Of course, he was promoting a concert and a DVD. If I'd bumped into him at the grocery store, I doubt we'd have had as nice, or as long of a conversation. Just sayin.

For those that missed the interview, here are some of the highlights...

Mike Williams: I don't believe you've played the Rialto before, is that correct?

Rick Springfield: No, I hear it's a great looking theatre. We're very up for the show.

MW: My wife and I saw you back in '99 at Joe's on Weed Street in Chicago.

RS: (Laughs) That was one of the first shows we did (on the Karma tour).

MW: Yeah, there was a Sinatra impersonator that opened for you...

RS: Yeah, wow (laughs).

MW: And the day after, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first daughter, so anytime we bring up the concert, we think "oh yeah, and the next day we found out we were pregnant", so the concert is special to us.

RS: Good memories.

MW: I asked some of our listeners to throw some questions your way, and my wife gets the first one. She had heard that you were working on a Christmas album.

RS: Yeah, it kind of got delayed because fans who know me call it "Rick-time", so I was hoping to get the opportunity to do it for this Christmas but it isn't going to happen, there's too much to do -- we just finished the live DVD that's out now, then we did a VH1 show that we had to mix. We've done some of the Christmas album, and we'll finish it next year.

MW: Another listener, Amy, had heard that there are plans for a new studio album, too. Is that something that you're looking to do in the near future?

RS: Yeah, I'm actually building a new studio, and when that's done hopefully we'll have enough songs to go in and record a new album. We actually do one of the new ones live, we start the show out with "Who Killed Rock and Roll", and it's, you know, a good up-tempo song that's got a good beat, you can dance to it, and that's what most of the songs will have I think.

MW: What can fans expect to see on the new DVD that is out now, "Live in Rockford"?

RS: I think it's really representative of what the show was toward the end of last year. It's 5.1, and high definition, it's like an eight camera shoot, it's really just an amazing job. It's a very exciting representation of the show. The sound is great and the theatre is beautiful. We actually looked at doing it at The Rialto in Joliet. We were going online looking for a real pretty theatre to film this thing in and The Coronado (in Rockford) won out mainly because it was available.

MW: I think one of the things that people will notice when they come to see you Saturday, or if they get the DVD, is the pure joy you have onstage playing music. The enthusiasm, the energy, you really seem to love what you're doing, and it really comes through onstage.

RS: Yeah, I absolutely love playing live. I will do it as long as I'm physically able, and as long as the energy's there, and the energy is great. The crowd energy's amazing. We actually did a USC show for a cancer fund, like a sorority thing in a parking lot and there were about 500 twenty-year olds, and it was great. That kind of energy is awesome, too, you know, you launch into songs and they recognize them and it was wonderful to see.

MW: The other big question on people's minds, when is Noah Drake (the character he plays on General Hospital) coming back?

RS: Well, he's still on the road. They called up the other day trying to find out what my schedule's like in the new year because they want to start writing some stuff in. Obviously they have a storyline in mind. Touring is the most fun for me, but it hasn't hurt to be back on that show, and it seems to have opened up other opportunities, too.

MW: Did you recover from, what was it a liver problem? I'm trying to remember through my wife's watching of the show.

RS: Yeah, it was a liver transplant and yes I did recover from that, as people do on soap operas. They recover 100 percent (laughs).

MW: Many times over.

RS: Yeah, I remember one of the characters got shot and she said, "ohhh, I get shot again?!?!"

MW: Was there pressure from General Hospital to play your music on the show, especially as things took off for you in the early 80's?

RS: Actually, I was originally hired as an actor by Gloria Monty who was the brains behind behind the whole GH phenomenon, and I'd been on the show for about three weeks and she quietly came up to me and said 'I hear you're also a singer' (laughs), so it was very cool that they didn't know about the music side, and then obviously when the music side really hit they started saying 'would you play on the show', and I always said 'no'. I just thought it was too goofy to suddenly have this doctor launch into a song that was by this guy who was going out touring. It was too much of a sellout. They didn't push it too hard.

MW: Right, you'd be visiting a patient, along their bedside in the hospital saying to them, "let me help you out, let me play this song for you" and grab the guitar...

RS: (laughs) The believability factor is hard on soaps sometimes as it is, so I think launching into a pop song as a doctor would stretch the limits of that even.

MW: With your music, there was always kind of a critical acclaim vs. popularity in the early days. I know you felt the merits of your music were strong enough, that it shouldn't have been 'I'm successful musically because I'm a soap star'. I think when your songs stand the test of time like yours have, that's pretty much testament to that.

RS: Yeah, that's great. There was really no way for me to address that other than to just keep playing, and whatever happens, happens. You can't have someone that doesn't think you have any credibility, you can't talk them into thinking you have credibility. You just have to let time go and either have them change their mind, or make up a new set of views, so, that's all I could do, is wait, and fortunately the music has had legs. I've been playing guitar for 35 years, I have some expertise. In fact, the live show, it always surprises people the kind of viruosity of the band, so I'd rather surprise them, then have them be disappointed, so that's great.

MW: You've had the Behind The Music treatment from a few years back, and wasn't there a cartoon about you back in the 70's?

RS: Oh jeez (laughs), that was a serious misstep, boy. I've made a few missteps in my career, but that was the biggest.

MW: What were some of your influences musically growing up?

RS: Rodgers and Hammerstein. My parents were big musical fans, movie musicals, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, and I really loved all that kind of music, because that was the only music I heard at the time. And also the writers. Writers were the kings with all the broadway shows that went to musicals and movies, so I was very aware of the power of songwriters. Then The Beatles hit and that kind of took it to a new level for me, and they were in the same age group. It's always been focused on the writers as far as I'm concerned.

MW: I know there's a girl that you've been involved with as far as charity work and fund raising efforts for Sahara Aldridge. Can you give us an update on her situation and how fans can help out?

RS: I've known Sahara since she was five years old. She's twelve now. She's amazingly brilliant, bright, beautiful kid, and absolutely out of nowhere was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Things were looking pretty bad, and her parents took her to Houston for some treatments -- they've done some pretty radical stuff, and it's actually looking...she's back home right now, and they're doing fundraisers for her, and it looks like we'll be doing a fundraiser in her hometown in December. People can find out more at my website. She's very worthy of your attention, and your prayers, and whatever you want to send her. I love her, and I doing it because I have to, you know? I must.

MW: Absolutely. Thanks so much for your time, Rick. We hope you enjoy The Rialto, I know the fans are looking forward to it. Bar none, when it comes to reaction from my listeners to music we play, you're at the top, and I'm not just saying that because you're on. It's usually you, Bryan Adams, and Bon Jovi. Something about you guys...

RS: (laughs)

MW: I get the most emails, requests, and reaction to your music.

RS: God bless them all.

MW: Thanks, Rick.

RS: All the best.

Fans can find out more about Rick at rickspringfield.com

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kenny Rogers was filthy in Game Two

Big controversy surrounding Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers and the "dirt" that he claimed to have smudged on his pitching hand in Game Two of the World Series Sunday night.

This image from ESPN.com shows Rogers' hand as it appeared in Game 3 of the ALCS (left), and Game 2 of the World Series (right).

Dirt, huh? Dirt that just happened to be smudged in the same exact spot in your last start?

The popular theory is that it was pine tar, something that is common for pitchers, and position players, to use on cold nights to help them get a better grip on the ball.

What's interesting is that Major League Baseball doesn't do anything more to stop players from using a 'performance enhancing substance' like this. And if the Cardinals lose the World Series, shouldn't more criticism rain down on Tony "The Genius" LaRussa for not making more of a stink about the Rogers situation in Game Two after LaRussa was told about the "smudge" by some of his players who noticed it on a television monitor in the clubhouse?

The "dirt" may or may not have had any direct impact on Rogers' ability to shut down St. Louis' lineup, but if I'm LaRussa, I'm talking to the umpires immediately, and talking to baseball officials about the possibility of getting Rogers tossed from the series. Or, I'm at least doing everything I can to get as many cameramen in Rogers' way wherever he goes in the hopes that he'll shove a couple of them and draw a suspension.

Now I'm not sure. I just looked at the picture again. Maybe it's not pine tar after all. Maybe he's just a sloppy wiper.

Yep, he was filthy alright.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Flushing Nemo

Two years ago for her 4th birthday my brother, Rick gave our daughter, Megan a Betta fish as a gift. He and his girlfriend brought a tank, helped put it together, and Megan was all excited. It was Megan's first pet. Well, the fish died last week. Not a big surprise, these fish only live a couple of years anyway, and it had been real lathargic the last few weeks and months. I even tried to prepare Megan for the fish's ultimate demise by telling her that he wasn't feeling very well, they don't live that long, etc. I was trying to cushion the ultimate blow.

I keep saying "the fish". Megan originally came up with the name "Sincomm" for the fish, but after a few days, she changed it to "Nemo". The tank stayed in her room, and Nemo was actually pretty easy to care for. Change out the water every so often, feed him once a day, and that was it. In fact, the small container of food we got on the day of her party in '04 hadn't even run out yet.

As Nemo started to become less and less active, and given how long we'd had him, my wife and I realized we'd soon be reaching the day when we'd have to break the news to Megan that Nemo had died. Over the last few weeks, everytime I looked at his tank, I was expecting him to be floating on top. Most days, he'd just be lying on the bottom, sleeping, resting, meditating, whatever they do. Megan started to ask about him, why he wasn't moving much, and that's when I started to tell her that he was getting old, tired, and might not be around much longer.

About a week ago, I checked on Nemo, and there he was, on the bottom of the tank again. I looked closer, and he wasn't moving at all. I tapped on the tank several times, turned the light switch on several times, even dangled a picture of a sexy female Betta fish in front of him -- nothing. This fish was fried.

I wasn't looking forward to the upcoming talk with Megan. I remember telling her that my family's dog had died a year or two ago, and that was pretty rough. And that was a pet that Megan had only been around a couple of times. I was hoping that my earlier talk with her about Nemo's advancing age and poor health would help ease the sadness of what I was about to tell her.

I sat her down after school, told her the news, and she cried as I expected. After a few minutes she was better, and she wanted to see him. After she looked at him for a few seconds, she said she wished I hadn't told her. Megan would have rather had us just get rid of Nemo, replaced him with a new fish, and then at that point, we should have told Megan.

It reminded me of when I told her about our family dog. I wanted to avoid telling her the truth, and instead, make up some excuse as to why "Lollie" wasn't around anymore. We went with the truth then, and with Nemo, too. I told her we wanted to be upfront and honest with her about Nemo. I told her that we could get another fish if she wanted, and she shook her head yes.

Later that night, we scooped Nemo out of his tank, took him to the bathroom where we all stood around the toilet and prepared to flush him as they did in the memorable scene from The Cosby Show.

My wife and I each said something about Nemo, and Megan did, too. Then Megan flushed the toilet, and there went Nemo.

Then more tears came from Megan. A few minutes later, she said she didn't want another fish, because she didn't want the next one to die, too. Understandable.

Megan and I both want a dog, but my wife always shoots that one down. If I were to get a dog, I might as well build myself a doghouse in the backyard.

Maybe I can get my brother to give me one as a gift.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Il will

Osama? Saddam? Rosie? Nope. This dude is more frightening than any of them. Slowly stockpiling nuclear capabilities over the years, while assembling an army of over a million soldiers, Kim Jong Il is puffing out his chest lately and letting everyone know that he has some very big toys that go boom.

It's hard to take him seriously, though. Look at him. What's he going for, the Yoko Ono/Elvis/Johnny Cash/Cosmo Kramer look?

Dig the shades.

Can't we send Jack Bauer over there to take this guy out? All Jack would have to do is get to North Korea, pull the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head, knock out a guard or two, and he'd be face-to-face with this thing.

He'd corner Kim Jong Il, throw him a few "WHERE ARE THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS?!?!", or "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?!?!", or as he leans closer to K.J.I., "You're going to disarm those missles, and you're going to disarm them NOW!"

After a few minutes, the CTU torture guy would emerge carrying the suitcase full of goodies.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

There's probably one guy that doesn't mind all of the nuclear testing news coming out of North Korea -- Mark Foley. At least for a day or two, he goes from the front page to the back page.

On the back of a page is where he would like to be anyway.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bugs update

Just want to give you an update on my quest for more Bugs Bunny.

How silly of me to scan the television looking for these cartoons. My wife was able to find some old time favorites at this Looney Tunes site.

It's certainly not all of the classics, but it's a pretty good start.

For Daffy Duck fans, "Robin Hood Daffy" is one of the all-time greats.

For some reason, I had a hard time getting this site to load properly on my browser. I use Avant, but if you use Internet Explorer, it should work fine.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Long live ACME

Does anyone know if there is a cable network out there somewhere that is showing old Bugs Bunny, or Road Runner cartoons? These are classics that should never be taken off the television. I can't seem to find them anywhere, so this is yet another endorsement for YouTube, which at least has a few of these legendary cartoons available for viewing.

How many kids out there have no idea who Bugs, Daffy, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester and Tweety, and Foghorn Leghorn are?

Hmmmm, too many hands raised. Sad times.

I was watching TV with Megan the other day, trying to explain to her about Bugs and the gang. She sounded interested, so I found a few cartoons for her to watch online. She really liked Bugs -- I found her the Bugs, Daffy, Elmer Fudd "Jack and the Beanstalk" parody -- but she REALLY liked the Road Runner cartoon that I made available for you at the top of this post.

She watched it five or six times, bookmarked the page, and was watching it this past weekend, too. Good to hear the giggles.

I know there are plenty of entertaining shows out there for the kids these days, both animated, and live action. But there will always be a place in my heart for the Merrie Melodies that gave me so many laughs on Saturday mornings as I was growing up.

And some laughs shared with my daughter, too. Enjoy the clip.