Summertime. Awesome.

If you follow me on Twitter, expect to see #summer a lot over the next two months.

While I enjoy the many rewards that come with my career in public education, there's not much that I enjoy more than summer break. Today is my first full day of the 2012 summer break so let me tell you year-round workers what's so awesome about summertime.

1. The call.
Every year when I finish my last day of work, as soon as I pull out of the parking lot I call a good friend of mine from college. The first words from my mouth are always: "Guess what time I have to be at work tomorrow." For the first year or two, he'd authentically contribute to my conversation and play perfectly into my punchline: "August." It's been almost ten years now and I still call every year. It's still funny to me. Not so sure about my friend.

2. The drive home.
Once I've made my annual phone call to my friend, I enjoy the commute home after that last day of work like no other throughout the year. My drive is about 20 minutes each way. There is no 20 minute commute that is more satisfying than the one where you know you don't have to do it again for two months.

3. Naps.
In the summertime, I can stay up late if I want. I can get up early if I want. My kids nap in the afternoon. So can I.

4. Family.
During the school year, I leave for work about the time my kids get out of bed. By the time I get home, there's usually enough time for dinner and about an hour or so of hanging out with my wife and kiddos (mixed in among all of the other things I need to do around the house). During the summer months, there's nothing but spare time.

5. Pretending I'm going to get something accomplished.
Every summer I have a huge laundry list of things to get done. I'm going to work in my yard more. I'm going to exercise more. Usually none of that happens and the end result of my summer is something like me watching the entire series of Silver Spoons (yeah...summer of 2005).

6. No socks.
I put my socks away during the summer and don't get them out again until I return to work. If I don't have on flip-flops, I've got bare feet. Sure my feet are hard and caloused as a result -- but there's nothing like walking barefoot in the grass.

7. Songs about summer.
Much like Christmas music, there are certain songs that can only be properly listened to during the summertime. Try putting on Boys of Summer in the middle of a snowstorm. It just doesn't work. There's a chance that I might enjoy the next several weeks and a future blog post may have to detail a list of these songs that are only appropriate during the summer. In the meantime, please realize I am listening to Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party as I type this.

8. Baseball.
Usually I'm all about baseball season. I'm a Cubs fan and go into every season with the mindset of every other Cubs fan in the world: "I know we're supposed to be crappy this year, but maybe. Just maybe." This year I knew they'd be awful. And guess what. They've been awful.

9. Losing track of time.
This one is my absolute favorite (okay, second favorite to the wife and kids and stuff). After a few weeks of summer break, you could ask me what day of the week it is and chances are, I'll have no clue. I'd probably be able to come up with it but initially, I'd have no idea. I completely lose track of time during the summer and couldn't care less if it's Monday or Friday.

Educators may not make but a fraction of what those in the "corporate" world earn in a year, but while you're sitting in your cubicles and the sun is shining, please think of me. I'll be in a lawn chair listening to baseball on the radio.

Basement Junk #007

FASTE Notes

1. Kerry Wood is done.

On one hand, I'm happy because he was certainly not helping the Cubs this year by any means (not that I truly expected them to be worth a crap in the first place). It clearly seemed that his best days were far behind him.

That being said, I wanted nothing more than for him to retire as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Take a look at his final appearance from this afternoon. Like him and the Cubs or not, this is something special.


2. Quite honestly, I'm surprised by the number of folks who read this blog who have no recollection of the New Monkees.

3. I've got my old NES set up in my basement and tend to play the same two games over and over -- RBI Baseball and RC Pro Am. Earlier this week, I opened the box of games that I'd gotten from my brother over the Christmas holiday and was surprised to find a fully functional Super Nintendo console.

Cool.


I guess I need to start looking for some games.

4. Anyone have an 'E'?


Seriously. I need an 'E' that fits this Fisher Price set and don't want to pay ridiculous eBay prices.

Turn It Up: The New Monkees

The League has asked: "What is your deepest, darkest geek confession?"

While this would definitely be an ideal time for me to talk about my childhood Teen Beat magazine collection, that topic has been touched on already. So what's something I love that most (normal) people might scoff at in mockery? Just like anyone, I have my share of guilty pleasures.

Near the top of that list?

The New Monkees.


In 1987, the original Monkees were on the comeback trail. Someone somewhere got a bright idea to bring a similar zaniness to a new generation and the New Monkees were born -- Larry, Marty, Dino, and Jared.


Their show was quirky...but fun. It aired in my area on Channel 11 out of St. Louis on Saturday afternoons and there was very little that could keep me from tuning in. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after a quick run of 13 episodes.

But my real excitement over the New Monkees came with their music which consisted of a pure 80's pop-rock style similar to what you'd hear from Kidd Video. I bought the album on cassette at the Evansville (IN) mall not long after it was released -- and I wore that thing out! Eventually I bought a CD copy which has continued to be a regular part of my music listening rotation for the past 25 years.


I've picked up other New Monkees items over the years like a vinyl copy of the album and a 45 record of the single What I Want. One of these days I'll get around to grabbing one of the model cars that were produced.


Several years ago, I stumbled upon a Yahoo group put together for fans of the New Monkees and quickly joined. One very generous member of the group was kind enough to provide me with copies of all 13 episodes as well as a full tape of unreleased New Monkees demos. I don't remember the name of the guy who sent this stuff to me, but I'm forever grateful!

This group is actually responsible for one of the most exciting things in New Monkees fandom since the band's original run. You see, back in 2007, several members of the Yahoo group apparently pooled their funds and brought all four of the original New Monkees together for a reunion at a hotel in California.


They played, they sang, they laughed, they had a great time. The reunion performance was filmed and photographed by several of those in attendance -- but for the rest (the majority) who were unable to attend, we were left in the dark. To my knowledge, other than one or two short videos on YouTube, this footage has never seen the light of day outside of those few lucky enough to be there first-hand.

I suppose I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll never see the reunion video, but I'm still holding out hope that someday it'll surface in its entirety.

But in the meantime...I'll continue to play their music often and play it loud.

If you're not familiar with the New Monkees and have a special place in your heart for 80's pop rock, I urge you to check them out. Here's a sample of one of my favorites from the album...


TURN IT UP!

Basement Junk #005

Back with the Adventure Club!

Uh oh.

Look who's back on the Adventure Club Podcast.


Kill an hour.

Do it.

Record Sale 2012

Another record sale is in the books and I've got some hightlights...


1. I saw a guy shopping today that looks exactly like my dad.

2. There was a girl who paid for records in the line I was working and she was wearing a button. The button read "Candy is dandy. But sex won't rot your teeth."

3. A guy and his wife bought about 20 records including a few by Wham and Debbie Gibson. No shame in that.

4. With a room full of records donated from around the community, one shopper commented that the place smelled like "every basement in town." Indeed.

5. I didn't just take people's money. I bought some records myself. For a buck each, I just couldn't say no. Here's my haul from this year's sale...

Remembering Adam Yauch

It's a well-known fact that I'm a huge Beastie Boys fan -- have been for as long as I can remember.

I'm not going to write a tribute to Adam Yauch as though I knew him personally. I'm not going to pretend that my daily life will be altered in any way by his death.

But this sucks.


As a friend of mine is known to say: f*cking cancer.