Showing posts from July, 2014

Father's Day without Dad

This is the first Father's Day without Dad. That conscious part tells me that it's just a fact, nothing else. It's just rational thought which consumes most of my days. The subconscious thinking hits me at those unexpected moments - those gaps in time between scheduling my daughter's driving lessons, getting the roof repaired and grocery shopping. Those moments, those brief gaps in time wash over me, especially on occasions when I say to myself, "Wow, Dad's not here. How long has it been? Over six months, already? How did that happen?" Sometimes I'll have a dream and Dad's in the dream. It wasn't the more recent version of Dad, but a dream that I'm in the old house in which I grew up in suburban Northeast Ohio. In the dream, there was the 1970s Dad standing in the kitchen, leaning up against a blue Formica counter top with his polyester get-up drinking orange juice logically explaining why he didn't take better care of himself.

Rediscovering the Mid-Ohio Valley

It's been 25 years since I was last here. The occasion was my college graduation from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Athens was my adopted home for four years as a student in this Southeastern Ohio hamlet.Life for me and thousands of others was in a bubble in what is known as the Mid-Ohio Valley region of the state. As students, we buckled down within those hills to study for our own fields of dreams. For me, it was about exploring my interests in the media world which to me, was wide open at the time. Sure, I wanted to become a filmmaker, but I had many other interests. So, I didn't go to school to become a huge film director or even a TV anchor likefellow alum Matt Lauer or even a slick politico like another fellow alum Roger Ailes, who by the way, spoke at my graduation. I just wanted to be me.   After witnessing Mr. Ailes' speech in June 1989, I received my diploma on that warm afternoon, went to an after party at a local house with my family and then headed out of th

Shock and Ouch

"Attention shoppers, get your electroshock therapy! Electroshock therapy will be available in aisle nine by 2015! Preorder your electroshock therapy device today!" "What? Electroshock therapy devices will be available at my local retail store? You must be crazy!" one might shout. Well the device that will be offered is not exactly electroshock therapy, but the gadget coming to market in 2015 performs a task similar to electroshock therapy. Pavlok is a fitness wristband with a twist. Unlike the Fitbit and other wearable bands out there, Pavlok shocks its owner when he or she is not reaching fitness goals. Similar to the classical conditioning performed in Pavlov's dog experiment, Pavlok conditions humans to get off their behinds and hit the gym, or in my case, road. I enjoy cycling and running. I thought about Pavlok for a while and it could be a good thing, but do I seriously need something like electroshock therapy for discipline on those days when I just d

Flashback: Camp Jam (September 2007)

Not terribly long ago, families could safely wait until early March to book a  spring break  trip to Florida. How times have changed. Today, spring break is planned in December and the first week of March is reserved for signing the kids up for summer camp. If your child is more into picking up a guitar than a soccer ball, you may want to consider Camp Jam for Kidz. Every summer, some of rock 'n' roll's most talented performers gather for a five-day camp to pass their years of music experience along to aspiring young musicians. These gifted professionals help up-and-coming singers, guitarists, bassists and keyboardists gain the confidence they need to potentially reach their rock 'n' roll fantasies. Camp Jam for Kidz is designed for kids in two separate age groups: 7-10 and 11-17. Children in the older age group have to have at least six months or more of musical experience to attend the camp, while the sessions for the younger group are geared toward kids with

Flashback: Kids and Handheld Devices (July 2007)

It was another camp pick-up day for me. I was sitting in a line of vehicles that were idling in the hot Georgia sun when I noticed a disturbing trend: children addicted to electronics. "This is camp!" I screamed to myself as I witnessed kids between the ages of 5 and 12 playing Game Boys, listening to iPods and texting their friends. "There's no safe refuge anymore!" It was on this day that I officially became my father, who 30 years ago, complained that I was playing too much Pong on our Odyssey 300 gaming system located in our basement. But, there is a huge difference between my "Pong Passion" on the family's 25-inch Zenith TV and what kids are doing today. These electronic wonders are strapped to today's kids. Who said, "You can't take it with you?" You can take it all with you and then some. Don't get me wrong, I love modern inventions and in many ways they have improved and even saved our lives. When I was stuck on the

Flashback: AJ Croce profile (August 2007)

The author with Croce back in 2005 A.J. Croce is a spontaneous kind of guy. The 35-year-old singer-songwriter from  San Diego  puts that spontaneity on display every time he performs to packed houses on his tours. "I play what I'm feeling at the moment. The rest I leave up to the audience," Croce said from his southern California home in a recent phone interview. "I don't have a set list." That freewheeling attitude doesn't completely dictate Croce's performance. He has a strategy ready just in case the audience doesn't shout out requests or if he, God forbid, draws a blank. "Sometimes I need my prepared short list of songs in those situations. It also comes in handy if I've had too much wine before the show," he joked. "But, the performance is better when I'm playing what I'm feeling. That's what makes every show different." If the last name Croce sounds familiar, that's because it is. Adrian J

Flashback: Dinner with a Former Dittohead (October 2006)

It was a blistering hot June day in Atlanta and Jim Derych is pacing Peachtree Road. He is dressed in a casual button-down shirt which conceals his bright white undershirt - a classic sign of a Southern Gent. "Hi, this is Jim," he answers on cell phone in his modern Southeast US drawl. "Hey Jim. This is Bob Nebel, the freelance writer you are meeting for dinner" I say. "Are you the guy walking north on Peachtree with a backpack?" I could see Derych from about two blocks away. "Yes, that's me!" he says in surprised tone. He turns around. "Oh, there you are!" Such is the day in the life of Jim Derych, a thirtysomething financial advisor from Memphis. But, on this day, I was not meeting Jim for his money-making advice. I was meeting this well-spoken young man to find out how he got his first book "Confessions of a Former Dittohead" - published. The softcover is an independently published tome which takes readers t

Flashback: Billy Joel's Sax Player (Mark Rivera profile-March 2007)

It is 2:30 in the afternoon at Midtown Atlanta's Four Seasons Hotel and Mark Rivera is pacing his hotel suite bursting with ideas. The task of keeping up with Rivera's thoughts is daunting to say the least. The words explode from him like a Fourth of July fireworks show on steroids. From stories of working with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel and most notably -- becoming Billy Joel's ever-conspicuous sax player/backup vocalist, Rivera is on a big, white, puffy cloud every time he conjures up those legendary memories. Who wouldn't be? The challenge for Rivera on this balmy late-February afternoon is to fit those anecdotes and personal thoughts on the future and state of the world into a half-hour conversation which must conclude before he boards a bus to Birmingham for his role in that evening's Billy Joel show. Indeed Rivera will be back in his Atlanta hotel room in about 48 hours, but there will be no time for follow-up questions. He will be handling

Flashback: Master Mimic - An Interview with Darrell Hammond (August 2007)

Here is another entry from the vault: Darrell Hammond has mastered countless impressions over his ten-plus years on "Saturday Night Live," turning in uncanny impersonations of Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and countless others. You're on a hit television show-why tour? I'm getting all of the work that I want and all of the venues that I want. I lost about 15 pounds and have a lot more energy. I love my work. there last summer and this will be my third time. You grew up in Melbourne, Fla. Does growing up in the South make it easier for you to do some impressions like President Clinton? Yes and I have relatives from Tifton and Sylvester, Ga. So I'm familiar with Georgia. I think in general, I am probably a stronger comic in the South because I am from there and have a greater understanding of the people there than in most other parts of the country. When does it hit you that you can do an impression? Every voic

Flashback: Huey Lewis and the News Profile (August 2005)

Since my Yahoo! Voices page is shutting down, I'll be migrating some of the classic material here: It's hard to believe that it's been over 20 years since the Michael J. Fox flick "Back to the Future" enthralled moviegoers across the country and spawned the hit single "Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. "Power of Love" seemed to capture the hope and optimism of the mid-'80s. Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The country was in a relative state of peace. And across America, turntables, tape decks and a new device called a compact disc player blasted Huey Lewis and the News. Now, two decades later, Lewis and his band are heading to Chastain Park Amphitheatre on Wednesday night, where they'll draw from a repertoire that includes hits such as "Heart and Soul," "I Want A New Drug," "The Heart of Rock and Roll," "If This Is It" and, of course, "Power of Love." Lewis, who as a