Last week, my older brother Jim turned the big 5-0 — a half century old! When the two of us were discussing this milestone over the phone last year, Jim mentioned that he really didn’t want anyone to make a big scene out of his birthday, or really even mention it to anyone.
With that in mind, I’d like to keep these following thoughts between me and you (the thousands of people who subscribe to this newsletter). Okay, maybe it’s more like hundreds than thousands, but I’m hoping for a big spike any day now.
Jim works as a television news producer on the other side of the state, a little over six hours away. For that reason, we don’t see each other all that often (maybe a couple times a year, usually over holidays). We also don’t talk a whole lot on the phone, in part because weren’t not terribly close, relationship wise.
There aren’t any hard feelings between us, or anything like that. On the contrary, we get along just fine. We just don’t have a whole lot in common, and never really have. Our personalities, interests, life experiences, and personal hygiene practices are just quite a bit different.
Okay, that “hygiene” part was a cheap-shot, but that’s what little brothers are for, right?
My point is that we’re different enough that we don’t always have the most substantive and lengthy of conversations. But that’s okay. I still love the guy.
By the way, the reason I’m posting these cutesy pictures of us as kids (instead of currents ones) is simple: I’ve aged terribly. I’m not kidding. I may be a couple years younger than my brother, but I probably look about ten older. Jim still has all of his hair, and it’s not even graying the way my remaining strands are. Also, I’m not sure there even are recent pictures of us together. I’ll have to fix that, at some point.
Anyway, despite my brother not wanting to broadcast that he’s 50 YEARS OLD, he did allow me to plan something special for him — something I had been thinking about for quite some time: a trip, for just the two of us.
The destination: Vegas, baby!
You see, I’ve long regretted that we aren’t as close as a lot of brothers are, and I figured a long weekend in Vegas to celebrate his oldness would be a good step toward fixing that.
I’ve been to Vegas many times over the years, but Jim had only been there once, on a road trip to California… with our parents. And for a reason I’m still struggling to understand, they never found their way over to the Strip, or even the downtown area. It sounds like the closest they got to the Vegas experience was walking through Circus Circus.
So, I had some big plans to show him the good stuff — the sights, the shows, the spectacles, the mystique!
Unfortunately, someone in China had to go ahead and eat a bad bat.
Our trip was planned and scheduled for last spring… right as everything began shutting down for the pandemic. The shows we had tickets to were cancelled, travel was getting complicated, casinos were starting to close, and frankly we just didn’t feel like getting sick from (and infecting others with) a super-virus. So, we called the thing off.
Our airline vouchers are still good through next March, so we’re hoping to at least get something on the books for next year. We’ll see how things go.
In the meantime, I’d still like to work on achieving a closer relationship with my brother, and I think a good first step is to come clean, and offer up a public admission and apology regarding an incident from our childhood. They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, so it’s time for full transparency.
Jim, when we shared a bedroom as kids, I poured a cup of water on your crotch while you were sleeping, which made you (and Mom and Dad) think you had wet your bed.
I’m not proud of it (though I was sort of impressed with myself at the time for managing to jump back into my bed undetected, and play stupid when all hell broke loose).
Phew, I feel better now for getting that off my chest. Happy Birthday, bro!
Speaking of Vegas…
It’s time for another teaser from Sean Coleman #5, which for now is still an untitled, uncompleted manuscript. Like I said a couple weeks ago, I’m far enough along in the writing that I’m comfortable dropping a few hints about the story. So, here’s another one…
Much of the story takes place in Las Vegas and the barren region outside of the city. Below is a working excerpt (subject to change) from one the early chapters, where Sean and his brother-in-law, Gary Lumbergh, are killing time at a casino.
The men went their separate directions and Sean made his way over to the row of slots. An elderly bald man with a freckled head and droopy eyes was collecting his winnings at a machine in the corner. Once he slowly trucked off, coin cup in hand, Sean took his spot, plopping himself down in the still warm chair in front of it.
Sean glared at the reels for a moment before sliding his first dollar into the bill insert which swallowed it quickly. He sighed and tapped a button. Fruit and sevens spun loudly until they came to a mismatched halt. He hit the button again and let his eyes wander as the reels spun.
Across the room, Lumbergh sat in a cloud of smoke at the blackjack table, his face tense and his eyes wide as he leaned forward clutching his cards. Lumbergh was a confident man when it came to just about everything else, but his gambling face made him look about as relaxed as a suicide bomber. The elderly woman in a loud blouse next to him pinched a cigarette between her shaky fingers. She eyed the dealer’s movements, her smile displaying some missing teeth when the cards were turned over. Lumbergh bit his lip and shook his head in disappointment as the dealer collected his hand.
Sean plugged away at the machine, winning a few spins here and there but mostly losing. It was about what he’d expected, but he didn’t care. His only disappointment was that the activity hadn’t cleared his mind.
I can't imagine I have more pocket lint than the next person, but I never hear of anyone else having to pry it out of their cell phone's dock port with a needle because it's preventing the battery from charging. (I have to do this like once a month).
Playing off of last week’s theme of being introduced to music through movies or televisions shows, I decided to focus this week on television theme music. Some songs from classic shows are so catchy and oozing with nostalgia that they’ll always make me want to sing along.
I’m talking about greats like “Moving on Up” from the The Jeffersons, the fateful tale of the S.S. Minnow from Gilligan’s Island, and “Diff'rent Strokes” from, well… Diff'rent Strokes.
Whatcha talkin bout, Daly Grind readers?
Then, there are show themes derived from (or later extended to) full length, radio-friendly, standalone songs that actually rose to impressive spots on music charts. Joey Scarbury’s “Believe It or Not” from the Greatest American Hero is one of the more noteable examples (I had the 45 record when I was a kid). Others include “Closer to Free” by the BoDeans (from Party of Five), and “I’ll Be There for You,” by The Rembrandts. It was, of course, the theme song for “Friends.”
(By the way, I actually got to interview Phil Solem of The Rembrandts for a piece last year. You can check it out here.)
Another song that falls into this category is “Maybe,” by Thom Pace. You may not recognize it by name, but in 1980, it was a pretty big hit internationally. The John Denver-esque ballad about living in solace among nature was the theme song for The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams. My brother (mentioned earlier) and I used to watch it pretty regularly when we were young.
The song, which was on Pace’s debut album of the same name, started and ended each episode. An instrumental version was used for the closing credits, which included this eternally impressive shot of actor Dan Haggerty (who played Adams) with his on-screen companion, “Ben” the bear, standing on the narrow peak of what looked like an insanely steep mountain:
Those who follow me on social media may have noticed that I use “Maybe” pretty often in my Instagram stories, specifically for shots of the Colorado wilderness. Also (and I think this is kind of cool), Thom Pace actually follows me on Twitter.
The guy doesn’t tweet a whole lot, but he “likes” a fair number of my tweets. I’ll a consider that a mutual admiration of each other’s work. Haha.
Anyway, it’s a great song and a cool, laidback album that is actually pretty difficult to find; I had to turn to eBay for this one.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!