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Showing posts from October, 2015

The Book of Paul

"I heard the Fire Chief say your name earlier, and Gladney isn't a common name. Are you by any chance related to the Gladneys who were in construction?"
The preceding quote is from a white-haired gentleman who introduced himself to me last week after an awards ceremony for Champaign firefighters. He'd worked alongside my dad and uncles doing construction work in the community and around Illinois, and asked after a few of them: Lewis, Joe and Paul. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that Joe and Lewis were both deceased, and that uncle Paul wasn't doing too well. He seemed genuinely sorry to hear that.
The aforementioned encounter is one I have more frequently than you might imagine. It occurred again just this past Sunday, at a dinner party. It was one of those occasions where everyone was wearing a name tag and, early on in the evening, an older man walked-up, read my name tag and asked if I happened to know a Gene Gladney (Gene is uncle Paul's actual first na…

Gone Too Soon

Waking up to an in memoriam piece on a friend's social media page always brings with it a tinge of sadness, if not for the life that was lost, at least for the grief that person's friends and family must be feeling. Discovering that the person who had died was someone you once knew, is quite a different sensation. It brings with it -- at least in this case -- a flurry of memories and emotions, angst, shock and despair. Finally, there is a certain numbness. There have been too many of these premature deaths over the years.
I knew Jared Hoke primarily during the mid-late 1990s. He was attending college here in C-U and, if the memory doesn't cheat, he was studying to be a pharmacist. He was smart, he had a good sense of humor and he was cute, in a nerdy sort of way. Not going to lie: I had an attraction toward Jared, though it wasn't mutual (at least, not in a romantic sense). We were friends, for a time, and he made a lasting impression. No doubt he did the same with ot…

Whither the Walking Dead

I have a little joke with myself that goes something like this:
Q: When are a TV show's ratings in trouble?
A: When the fan updating its Wikipedia page uses both live + time-shifted numbers for its viewership numbers.
That may be a somewhat obtuse private joke, so allow me to explain.
First, television ratings are handled by a company called Nielsen. Many of us have, at one time or another, been part of "Nielsen families," wherein our household television viewing habits were monitored for a period of time. Next, "live" ratings are those based upon who watched the program at the time that it originally aired. "Time shift" viewings are those officially counted on stuff like DVR and iTunes, within a reasonable period of time after the original airing. Finally, "rating" is a bit of a dinosaur term these days, as Nielsen pretty much reports a show's viewership these days, and not its actual rating, which is a different number.
Now that that&…

Into the Doctor

Earlier this year, Doctor Who Magazine had a ranking of all twelve Doctor Whos. Unsurprisingly, 6th Doctor Colin Baker came in last. I've met Colin Baker, some thirty years ago when he and then-producer John Nathan-Turner came to Champaign for a Doctor Who convention, and I can say that he's a very warm, pleasant man. His Doctor, however, sucks. Hammy, shouty, dressed like a clown, the character just doesn't work.
Alas, Colin Baker is only human, and felt wounded at his Doctor being ranked last, taking it somewhat personally. I feel for the man on a certain level, but can't say that I disagree with the rankings. In fact, seeing as how Doctor Who is my favorite television show of all-time (mostly due to the 1963-1989 run), I thought it only proper that I provide my own, definitive rankings. Fair warning: What you are about to read is truth.
Here we go:

Mirror, Mirror

Earlier this year, a full, complete picture of our Earth was taken and released by NASA. It is the second such photo in our history, the first having been taken some forty-three years ago in 1972. Both pictures have been dubbed "blue marble," a name affectionately given to our planet, and they are breathtaking.
While some have, understandably, paid close attention to the visual condition of our atmosphere, both photos have evoked within me another kind of comparison. I think of my own life, and that of my friends and family, of what has changed during the time between photographs. The thoughts are both sad and humbling.