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June 19, 2007

Play What We Want

Playing what they want is what JACK-FM does.  It's the other reason the station amuses me.  In fact, it's the main reason I haven't touched the other preset buttons on my car radio since my previous morning show went off-air in January.

Belying the station's classic rock roots, they have been known to play Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, the Stones, Steppenwolf, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Lynryd Skynyrd, Elton John, Billy Joel, David Bowie, AC/DC and even The Knack.  I've heard some Santana, some Boston and some Free for good measure.  Clapton has made a few appearances, along with Don MacLean, Tom Petty and the Steve Miller Band.  Hey, they've even played ZZ Top and Aerosmith (in the last hour).

I have also heard them play Van Halen, Violent Femmes, 'The' Bangles, Police, Cure, Clash, Eurythmics, Doors, Wallflowers, Eagles and Fixx.  They've spun U2, Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Human League, Baltimora, Duran Duran, Falco, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Soft Cell and Peter Schilling.  There's been some Scorpions, some Tone Loc, a few Goo Goo Dolls, Pearl Jam, Billy Idol, Billy Squier, Rush, Sir Mix-A-Lot, No Doubt, Nirvana, Kim Wilde, Queen, Skid Row, Concrete Blonde, Guns N' Roses, INXS, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Motley Crue, Journey and Queensryche.

Before you think they only go through the early 90's, let me point out they've also slung some Gnarls Barkley, John Mayer, Gorillaz and Coldplay.  There's not much in the way of gaps, as they play Dave Mathews, Live, Evanescence, Smash Mouth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi, Collective Soul, Lemonheads, J. Geils Band, Matchbox Twenty, 3 Doors Down, Lenny Kravitz, Everlast and Sugar Ray.  Plus, once again showing devotion to classic rock, they've thrown out some Beastie Boys now and again.

Some of these I mention just to see if you're paying attention, much the same as I suspect they play them.  I've listed 88 bands, and they've played 88 Lines About 44 Women, by The Nails, which wasn't one of them.  These guys can put the 'ech' in eclectic.  They can also put a spring in your step and a wiggle in your hip, if you'll just give 'em a chance.

I'll give you another example:  How many stations would segue from Dire Straits to Peter Frampton?  Could be a bunch, I'm sure.  How many of them would use Primitive Radio Gods as the segue?  JACK-FM.  Don't believe me?  Look up 6.21.2007 10:20 AM on their Previously Played list.

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June 18, 2007


When I moved to Southern California lo these many years ago, one of the (many, many) things that I loved about the area was the plethora of radio station options.  This, after all, is the land of KROQ.  We have Smooth Jazz, and regular ol' jazz (and blues); we have alternative and adult alternative; we have classical, country, top 40, hip-hop, Mexican and even easy listening.  We also, like any other market anywhere, have classic rock.

Back in the day, I had examples of most of these on my radio presets in my home tuner and in whatever car I happened to own.  I would flip through them by mood or to avoid commercial breaks.  Granted, I usually did my own DJing with the help of CD changers and then iPod, but the problem with those is that once you've heard all those songs...well, you find yourself reaching for the 'skip' button way too often.

My favorite classic rock station was on 93.1 FM; "Arrow 93" they called it, and I didn't know the call letters 'cause ARRO wasn't the call sign even though it was the slogan (All Rock-n-Roll Oldies).  I typically had the radio on for my morning commute, and typically had it on another station 'cause I liked their morning show.  But what I liked about Arrow 93 was that they had no morning show -- they played music, and being oldies it was usually music I knew and liked.  If I was tired of the morning show or they were on hiatus or something, I had an alternative without trying to figure out some other morning show's schtick.

Imagine my surprise when it was gone.  My outrage, even; what the hell is this replacing it?  Fortunately, I gave it a listen.  Gone was Arrow 93, sure, but in its place was JACK FM.  93.1 had a new format -- We Play What We Want.  I was surprised or possibly baffled that What They Want was often to be found on my iPod as well.

This no-format station also has no DJ.  They have two on-air personalities, to be sure; Tami Heide is in a way both of them.  She was on KROQ from before I moved here until 2004, and her next radio gig was plugging the erstwhile Jack-tivities for 93.1.  Their other personality is "the voice of JACK-FM", Howard Cogan, who is promo for the various stations across Canada and the USA.  Ms. Heide and Kent Voss (from Crank Yankers) write the liners that are put in Jack's voice, one of which is the reason I currently know the station's call letters:

Putting the 'BS' in KCBS-FM.

JACK-FM wants to inform you that Father's Day is now named Larry Birkhead Day.

Sorry, but listening to JACK FM doesn't qualify you to use the handicapped space.

It's Friday:  How many pieces of flair are you wearing?

This bunch of songs in a row is only slightly less resentful to be here than Kobe Bryant.

Thanks for listening to JACK FM; take a hundred out of petty cash.

You like it when we play what we want, don't you...you sexy little minx. 

Plus, if the above hasn't convinced you this is some funny shit, maybe hearing some actual liners will change your mind.

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June 15, 2007

Two For Tea

I didn't call my father today (chatted with Mom after leaving her voicemail last night), but I didn't blog yesterday either, so I'm doubly delinquent.  Yesterday the decision was to try removing the line from his neck, letting the fungus heal, and then presumably reattaching a line.  If I'd called today, I'd know whether that was done yet or if they'd gone a different direction.

He's still on the liquid diet, but was vomiting again yesterday.  For breakfast, they gave him a (styrofoam) cup of hot water, but no tea bags.  For lunch, they fixed that by giving him a tea bag and no hot water.  For dinner, they got him another tea bag, and still no hot water.  They say tea settles the stomach, but he didn't get to find out yesterday...

He's hoping he'll be out by July.  I concur.

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Blatantly Stolen from "Overheard in New York" (6)

Mom: Are you okay in there, sweetie?
Little girl in stall: I can't button my pants.
Mom: It's alright. Just come on out.
Little girl in stall: And I pooped on the floor.
The original entry.
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Blatantly Stolen From "Overheard in New York" (5)

Bus driver on intercom as it starts to rain: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey... C'mon, everybody!
Entire bus, singing: You'll never know, dear, how much I love you -- please don't take my sunshine away.
Chick: I think that was the least-New York moment of my entire life. The original entry.

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June 13, 2007

Even in the Hospitals...

In her primary blog, my lovely and talented wife once posted an item on the evils of high fructose corn syrup.  Now, regular readers (my lovely and talented wife, anyway) know that my father is in the hospital.  He's being treated for a couple of infections and the cancer that led to the surgery that led to the infections, and he's in the part of the treatment where they're monitoring everything closely and giving him a liquid diet.

Liquid diet in this case amounts to broth (beef, chicken, see the variety?) and juice (apple, grape, see the variety?), although they have upped the ante and are including tea and coffee.  They're leaving out the Gel-Treat that is frankly no treat (and is on the short list of foods he is NOT dreaming about).  Today's lunch included cranberry juice which, as he noted, had corn syrup as its first listed ingredient.  After today's lunch they noticed his blood sugar was high; he pointed out the juice, and they countered that all the juices have sugar.  Today's dinner came with apple juice, which he pointed out had ingredients listed of apple and water.

He had gotten one unit of blood and was waiting for a second.  Let's hope those are low in HFCS... 

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June 12, 2007


Age has a way of putting things into perspective.  I'm not talking about misspent youth or anything as noble as a global understanding.  I mean that those things that you'd roll your eyes at and still somehow retain (perhaps from all that time spent mocking them) start to make sense, or worse, come out of your own mouth.

'At least you have your health.'  'If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything.'  Health can be hard to define, but its opposite -- sickness, if you believe traditional wedding vows -- is pretty straightforward.  Of course, disease can take many forms.

Take, for instance, conjunctivitis. 

My youngest has a case brought on by a sinus infection.  Treatment for that will be eye drops and antibiotics.  He should be better in a few days.

Take, for instance, Crohn's disease.

My mother has this charming malady.  She will begin a new treatment on Thursday.  This has been going on for years, and the primary goal of treatment is prolonged remission.

Take, for instance, soft tissue sarcoma.

Dad's still in the hospital.  They confirmed that the line in the neck was done right, and by 10:00pm last night had reintroduced the IV.  Today he went back on a liquid diet, after enduring an 'hour-long' 'grueling' 'ordeal' involving two phlebotomists trying to draw blood so they could test and find out (among other things I'm sure) that his white count is improving.  He was last known to be hoping for someone to take his temperature so the chilled mattress could be discontinued, but he was also hoping to be able to shave, since he was catching hair in the phone.  It was nice hearing his animated play-by-play of the Cleveland/San Antonio game (3 of the NBA Finals) as well as his reaction to the commercials (a Western Whopper will give you a moustache?).

He sends his best.  Always.

Apparently I'm the healthy one.  At least I have my health... 

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June 11, 2007


Yeah.  Another day, another infection -- this one yesterday's, apparently.

Dad now has some form of thing going on with his blood.  He's also getting weaker while they work out what it is and what to do about it.  Part of the reason for that is of course that they've popped in a new main line, this time in his neck, but while they make sure they did that right he's not hooked up to the IVs or his pain button.

He's still entirely lucid, though, and their chilled mattress appeared to be doing something towards reducing his temperature.  It's good something they did was having some effect, because it was maddening to overhear the nurses in the background asking questions and taking no action... 

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June 07, 2007

Blatantly Stolen From "Overheard in New York" (4)

Chick #1: What's that? 'Smegma'? That's not a word.
Guy #1: Of course it's a word.
Chick #1: Bullshit. What does it mean?
Guy #1: Haven't you ever heard of dick cheese?
Chick #1: Get the fuck out of here.
Chick #2: It's crud that grows under men's foreskins.
Guy #2: You must date all Jewish guys.
Chick #2: Or Muslims.
Chick #1: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Guy #1: Don't you inspect a cock before you put it in your mouth?
Chick #1: I don't put cocks in my mouth.
Guy #2: Which explains why she's here playing Scrabble on a Saturday night.
Guy #1: You don't give blow jobs? Honestly?
Chick #1: No.
Guy #2: Why not? You're an attractive adult woman.
Chick #1: I think it's gross.
Guy #1: Maybe she tried it once and the guy had smegma.
Chick #2, taking hand of Chick #1: Come with me and I'll explain. [They leave the room, and Chick #2 comes back alone minutes later] Let's go. She doesn't feel like playing any more.
Guy #2: First no blow jobs, now no Scrabble. She's really painting herself into a corner.
Guy #1: Before we get lost in all these other issues, I get 42 points for 'smegma.' The original entry.

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Blatantly Stolen From "Overheard in New York" (3)

Brunette using computer: Have you ever posed naked?
Blonde: Yeah, my ex-boyfriend posted a video of me on the net.
Brunette: Really? What's the URL?
Blonde: Animal boinks dot com*.
Brunette, finding site: Now what?
Blonde: Click 'Tami*.'
Brunette: Oh my god! Is that you?
Blonde: Yeah.
Brunette: You're fucking a dog!
Blonde: My ex-boyfriend begged me for months to do that.
Brunette: I like man dick. I even like pussy... How could you fuck a dog, you sick bitch?
Blonde: Fuck you! At least I'm not a lesbian!
Brunette: At least I stick to my own species!
Blonde: Dyke!
Brunette: Sick bitch! You fuck pigs and horses, too?
Blonde: No, just dogs. It was my ex-boyfriend's idea. And at least I'm not a lesbian.
Brunette: At least I'm not on the net with a pooch eating my cooch!
Chinese nerd-boy at next computer: This is the best conversation I ever heard in my life! The original entry.

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Blatantly Stolen From "Overheard in New York" (2)

Student: If child predators really wanted to find information about a kid, they don't even need to use MySpace. All they'd have to do is go to the local public library and open last year's elementary school year book...
Professor: Or they could just drive by a school and pick some kid up. You know, the old fashioned way. The original entry.

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Blatantly Stolen From "Overheard in New York" (1)

12-year-old skater kid: Dad, is there such a thing as a friendly kiss?
Dad: I will neither confirm nor deny the veracity of that statement at this time.
12-year-old skater kid: What a nerd. Mom?
Mom: Depends where it was, honey.
12-year-old skater kid, into cell: Dude, where did she kiss you?
The original entry.

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Liquid Lunch

Today was a slightly better day for my dad.  In the words of his doctor, he's getting better inch by inch.  The tube got to stay out, and with the help of some Mylanta his broth-and-apple juice lunch got to stay down.  So did his broth-and-grape juice dinner.  Bit by bit, he'll get to experience denser liquids and eventually soft foods as his stomach gets reacquainted with things other than gas and bile.

On the visitor front, he mentioned seeing someone today he hadn't seen in (a couple of?) years.  I'm still not mentioning names, but the guy dropped off a book.

Dad didn't mention whether he was reading any better -- a while ago, he got through as much of the newspaper as he could by forcing himself to, but his eyes got tired even doing that -- but he did mention he's still got the diarrhea and is still stuck in bed.  It was a short conversation, he had to try to rearrange things and get comfortable in the bed which he felt he was sinking into.  That's hard to do when you're holding a phone, although I am pleased to report it was his cell phone.  This means he's charging it, and is once again allowed to use it, another perk to being in the general population.  (It also means I can call his cell, rather than go through the nurses' station to find out whether he's in yet another new room...)

Of course, if I try and get no answer, I'll take the same route as his approach to the liquid diet -- whatever it takes.  Information, patient directory, nurses' station, hold, transfer to the wrong department or to a line that just rings endlessly, I've gone through all of it and will keep working at it through the unintelligible and the helpful both.  It's just (for today at least) nice to be able to do the speed dial and have him pick up.

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June 06, 2007

It's Better To Be Loved

That's my dad.  He runs a store -- I'm wearing the T-shirt now, and have a pic of the neon logo elsewhere on the site -- that the Downtown News has voted Best Smoke Shop.  He has done so much for so many for so long that the artists he champions are giving back in his time of need.  He doesn't make a lot of money (part of the reason he's being treated at the VA hospital), but he has a lot of friends.

Today was a better day for him.  His old nemesis ("that fucking tube") has been removed, after more typical VA shenanigans, and he's back in the general population again.  This is good, because it means he can have more than two visitors at a time.

More than two visitors he had today.  He once worked for The Second City in Chicago, and migrated west with a number of alums.  He was visited by a bunch of those guys today for about an hour, he says, in their little gowns.  I don't like to mention names, so I won't, but odds are you've seen at least one of them on TV at some point.

During that visit, he got another visitor, from the city council.  This one read a proclamation that I would love to get a copy of; all I have of it is his (paraphrased) description:

It was signed by the mayor (Antonio Villaraigosa) and all 15 council members, the city attorney, on and on, glowing, glowing, glowing.

He cried.  I almost wanted to but it's not a practical thing to do while driving.  He is not traditionally wealthy, but he has wealth beyond measure, and it is at times touching and humbling to witness.  To be rich or to be loved?  That's my dad.  No contest.

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June 05, 2007

Cancer Has My Father

As I've already written on one of my other blogs, my father has cancer.

Why start another blog with this?  Because it's been dominating my thoughts lately and it's about time I explore the reciprocity of the situation.

This time was different.  The first three times, it was a disease that snuck up on him and manifested itself as tumors that could be removed surgically.  Granted, not all of every tumor was excised, but each time the brunt of it was gone, and each time the remaining pain was related to post-operative healing (abdominal surgeries, all).  The first two times it was decided surgery was the only viable option, it was widely held that chemo and radiation treatments would be ineffective.

The third time, after the surgery they opted for radiation treatment.  They had left bits of tumor in after the second surgery, rather than remove a kidney, and those remained after the third as well; they wanted to see if there was another way to treat what was left.

This time, they thought there had been enough advances (and the tumor was in a scary enough state) that chemo and radiation would help, and that the surgery would be on a resultantly smaller tumor.  Chemo, on an intensive in-patient basis, eventually made him completely bald but did not halt the growth of the cancer.  Radiation, for six weeks of outpatient treatment, left him progressively more tired as it had the last time he endured it, but apparently had as much effect as chemotherapy.  Finally, it was time for surgery.

The day of the surgery (May 8, for what that's worth), I caught second-hand that they didn't get the tumor.  My quiet nature had me in the right waiting room but unbeknownst to the doctor, who hence did not visit me immediately after the operation.  I heard from the nurse in the recovery room who had heard from the anesthesiologist that they were unable to remove it.

"They" (this time) were a team of I'm-not-sure-how-many doctors, including the head of surgical oncology (who did eventually speak with me), the doctor who had performed the last successful surgery, and a team of vascular surgeons who were only able to gain control of the blood flow on one end of the vessels the tumor is wrapped around.  It was the last point that prevented a six hour ordeal in resulting in anything more helpful than a follow-up colon infection.

I have not so far mentioned the blood clot.  I don't know that there's any relationship between the clot and the tumor other than the fact that they're both sources of pain.  The clot is in his right leg, and is partially responsible for its swelling.

I have not so far mentioned the indignities.  The NG tube is an old nemesis, and has come, gone, and returned.  Hopefully it got pulled today, but it should have come out yesterday, when he was ostensibly to return to a liquid diet.  The catheter is a necessity when one is essentially bed-ridden in an ICU (he's on his second stint in his second ICU, this time the MICU, first time the HICU post-op) and wired for sound, blood pressure, oxygenation and whatever else.  The diapers are the only way to limit the number of changes of bedding that would otherwise accompany the diarrhea.

I don't know how many treatments, tests, scans and attendant preparations he's undergone.  I know there was a triple enema one day, followed by not getting the scope as expected.  That was followed by two more cleansings and finally a scope and some biopsies.  I know he had a central line left over from chemo, and that he's had another put in so they can get blood samples more easily.  I know he's nearly out of usable veins.  I know he's been on a bunch of antibiotics, has spiked two fevers, has vomited (prompting his second trip to the MICU) despite being on IV drips, and no longer has any trepidation about his "pain button".  After his first surgery, they introduced the pain button -- a grey-cased hand-holdable thumb-pushable button on a wire leading to a morphine dispenser.  Feeling pain, push the button, get morphine, stop feeling pain.  He was worried about morphine addiction after that first surgery, but this time the pain button is his friend.

He is retaining fluids.  Both legs are swollen, though I think the blood clot helps the right leg retain the size advantage.  His testicles are reportedly the size of softballs and make sitting up difficult.  If they do switch him back to a liquid diet (apple juice, broth and the ever-derided Gel-Treat) he is hopeful that they will reduce the IV intake to balance and, of course, eventually pull some of those tubes on out.  He's disconnected enough of them accidentally in attempts to get to the bathroom, before the diapers became part of his routine. 

The first three times it showed up, there were hospital stays followed by convalescent periods followed by gradually returning strength.  He kept his amazing upbeat attitude throughout.  The hospital visits were three weeks or so.  This time, there is no end in sight to the hopsital visit because there is no telling when the infection will be beaten.  It has already been a full four weeks and we are on the second day of his fifth.  His birthday was spent in the ICU.

His attitude has faltered.  Most days it remains.  We enjoy the small victories whenever they appear.  Unfortunately, the elephants in the room are the blood clot, the tumor and the infection.  They are the baby elephants.  The mama is the knowledge that the only hope for treatment is now clinical trials.  Because of that, I think this time the disease has him as much as he has the disease.

I know he'll beat it.  The stubborn my kids have doesn't all come from their mother, and the stubborn I have doesn't all come from my mother.  I just wish I knew how long it would take, and how I could help with anything other than moral support.  I don't want cancer to have my father, or my children's grandpa.  Right now, though, it does.

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