Saturday, September 06, 2008

Going Out In Style

I have always said sometimes that I wanted to go out on the air with the very first perfect break I have ever done. I have yet to do a break on the air that was perfect, all of them I have done could have been better. It would be like the thunderstorm scene in "Caddyshack" when the priest is playing his last round. One big bolt of lightning and "zammo"! I'm sitting next to Jesus and we're talking baseball with my grandfather. The next obituary goes hand in hand with that thought.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AFP) – A motorcyclist was killed after losing control of his bike at 385 kilometers (239 miles) per hour and crashing on Utah’s famous Bonneville Salt Flats, authorities and reports said Thursday. The American Motorcyclist Association said in a statement on its website that 49-year-old Cliff Gullett of Montana was killed in an accident during a time trial at the location, around 185 kilometers (115 miles) west of Salt Lake City.
The AMA said Gullett was competing in the 500cc class during a time trial speed racing event when his bike crashed. Reports said Gullett was aiming to set a record for the fastest two-stroke, two-cylinder motorcycle. The Salt Lake Tribune cited police investigators as saying Gullett was travelling at 239 miles per hour before the crash. The Bonneville Salt Flats have been used as a speed testing ground since 1896 and became famous in 1935 when British motorsport legend Malcolm Campbell broke the world land speed record at the site.
I could not imagine riding a motorcycle at 139 miles per hour, let alone THAT speed. It's a bummer that he leaves a wife and two kids (10 and 15) behind. I can only imagine what went through his mind in the split second between realizing you are about to crash and then crashing.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Voice

I have been known to use my voice to make a living, but this guy has always kicked my ass. So long, Don LaFontaine.. you are now travelling .."in a world far away".

my friend Jay sends this:

Here are a couple of emails that explain Don's situation just before his death. The first is written by Don himself and he sounded hopeful and upbeat about his condition, and issues his warning about smoking to the rest of us. The second is an appeal to the industry for prayers and thoughts and was written by his wife, Nita shortly before his death.


Update from Don

I thought it was about time that I brought everybody up to speed with what's been happening in my world.

You haven't been hearing a lot from me lately, and that's because I have been fairly seriously ill for the last several months.

In order to give you the complete picture, I need to go back over some material of which many of you are already aware, but this thing needs to be seen in its full context.

Last fall, I began to notice that I was having trouble catching my breath during exercise. Subsequent tests revealed a suspicious growth on my lymph nodes and left lung. This required an exploratory surgery called a Media Stenoscopy, which was performed At Cedars Sinai Hospital in late November of '07. The biopsy ultimately proved negative for any tumor, but there was a spot on the lung that still needed to be checked. Unfortunately, sometime during the operation, one of my lungs was nicked, and I developed Pneumothorax, which basically means that the lung collapsed, releasing all the air into my upper body, causing a condition called Subcutaneous Emphysema - Which blew me up like a balloon from the ribs up to my eyebrows. This happened three times over the next six days. The "cure" for this condition is to place chest tubes and small catheters under the skin to drain off the excess air.

Unfortunately, all that air also accumulated around my vocal cords, causing me to sound like an ambassador from Munchkinland. This condition, I was told, could last for a number of weeks.

We decided to put off a Bronchoscopy to determine the status of the spot on my lung until after the new year, by which time, my breathing had become even more labored.

Again, the test failed to reveal anything more than a few "suspicious" cells - but no cancer. I had also scheduled, months before, a standard Colonoscopy, which I had in January. This revealed a growth on my colon.

Are we having fun, yet?

So - I go back to Cedars to discuss laparoscopic surgery to get rid of that growth, after first undergoing CAT and PET scans. During my consultation with the surgeon, my Oncologist came in with another doctor to tell me that I had a tumor growing under my lung and threatening to encircle my Aortic Valve to my heart.

Suddenly, the surgery was put on hold, and I was scheduled for thirty-seven sessions of intense radiation and four sessions of Chemotherapy, which stretched over the next seven weeks. This included four blood transfusions.

During this time, the effects of the Subcutaneous Emphysema had worn off, and I was able to work again.

After treatment, I was told that it was completely successful, and the growth had been completely eradicated! I was also told that the radiation therapy would continue to work in my system for a number of weeks.

Well, it did.

In rare cases - like mine - it spreads into the lungs and causes a very persistent condition called radiation pnuemonitis. This reduces the lungs capacity to about a quarter, making it almost impossible to walk ten paces without having to stop for air.

The treatment for this condition is massive doses of steroids, which balloons the face and body, and it also settles on the vocal cords in a major way, creating a good deal of gravel and hoarseness. In short - it has brought my career to a near stand-still.

Steroids can also have a major effect on one's heart rate, and blood sugar count - each of which sent me back to Cedars on two separate occasions for four and three day stays within a week of each other. Because of the blood sugar influence, I now have a temporary form of diabetes, and need to take insulin.

This condition will pass as soon as I get the pnuemonitis under control, but it's a balancing act between doses of steroids and insulin.

As I mentioned earlier, this lung thing is incredibly resistant, and to this date, I am still looking for some improvement.

I do work from time to time, but my voice is nowhere close to where I need it to be. Fortunately, I have incredibly faithful friends and clients who have shown me what loyalty really means by working with me, even in my diminished capacity.

I am now recovering from the recovery. When this is cleared up, I still am facing the laparoscopic stomach surgery, but that will be a cakewalk.

But the real point of all this is the Genisis of the condition. I was a smoker, on and off, for thirty years. I quit nearly twenty years ago, but that crap has a tendency to lie doggo in your system. It finally caught up with me, and as you've just read - it ain't pretty. For those of you who are in the Voice Over business, and you think that smoking is adding some wonderful quality to your instrument - WAKE UP! Quit! Today! Whoever you are - if you smoke - Stop! All you are adding is garbage to your vocal cords, and a nice deep layer of tar and poison on the linings of your lungs.

I tell you all this, because I need to clear the air, because there has been a lot of speculation out there, and because it should serve as a cautionary tale. Even though the growth on my lungs has been erased, there are still a few miles to go before I'm back to 100%.

But that, I can assure you - is going to happen!



The Lafontaine family needs our help. Don Lafontaine, the TOP Voice Talent of today, Famous for his signatory line in many movie trailers, “IN A WORLD….”, Is not doing well and is in the hospital at this time.

Don’s wife Nita has put out this plea sent to us via VO Universe, Beau Weaver & George Whittman.

The letter reads...

Dear friends and family,

I need your help and I'm reaching out to all of you. My wonderful husband is in critical condition at Cedar Sinai hospital; a blood clot is lodged in his lung and he is fighting for his life. This happened on Saturday after I'd taken him in for shortness of breath on Friday. He was doing very well and I left him talking and being funny on Friday evening. Without all the details, I got a call on Saturday morning as I was heading there to visit. There has been some lovely improvement yesterday but he is very sick right now. We need your concentrated prayers! And save a little for the girls and me. We have had small miracles already and, I know how powerful that can be. He is fighting and we all are fighting with him. He is strong and is a warrior so I thank you in advance for your prayers, good wishes and kindness on behalf of my family.

With a hopeful heart,

Nita and family

Don has blessed us with his powerful voice, so let’s bless him with ours!

I can not think of any stronger energy than THOUSANDS of voice talents, actors, directors, producers and entertainment colleagues. If we all stick together and put out positive energy, prayers or whatever your belief, we can collectively make Don well.

Please join with us and help bring Don back home to his loving family.

Thank you so much
All our best
Deb Munro & The Chanti Team

If you’d like to leave a note to pass along, join our discussion board at:

All my best
Debbie Munro

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

RIP Jerry Reed

One of the true innocence of the age for me was right about the time I moved away from Ava. Things had not been going well, I think I had used up my welcome. So, the days and months preceding the move were filled with thoughts on how I was going to get out of there. I even wanted to move with my cousins to California and talked to them about it. Of course they thought I was deranged. Right about that time, the radio was so important to me and a place where literally, I could find my only friend. You have to remember, I was only 15 and music was music, it didn't matter. Jerry Reed brought "Amos Moses" into my life and Amos stayed a while. Sure, it was corn pone country crud but there was a certain thing about the song. It had a swagger to it. And that little "chunka chunka" guitar was played with precision. "When You're Hot, You're Hot" came along right after my parents decided to move away from the farm. What a joyous noise and celebration that song was to me. I also noticed that this guy was a great guitar player, tutored by Chet Atkins and later, we found out that as an actor, he was a heck of a guitar player. "Smokey and the Bandit" was a fun movie and two of the reasons to watch it were a young Sally Field and Jerry Reed with his stupid dog in the cab. He made me laugh and in those dark and dreary hours, he made me smile, so if for no other reason, thanks Jerry. He was a regular on the Glen Campell Goodtime Hour. He wrote "Guitar Man" and "US Male" for Elvis.
Jerry died yesterday in Nashville from complications of emphysema. He was 71.

The Five Biggest Presidential Bad Asses of All Time

Pretty complete list if you ask me

Monday, September 01, 2008

Another Top 100 Pick

Another John Denver wanna be? Maybe. Although, there were times when I dug the hell out of John Denver. This was on my stereo when it needed to be. I had just got out of a precarious situation in a place and a time far way. I was looking for a break in my personal and musical life. This came across to me as just plain sweet. I loved "Wildfire", maybe because I had horses once and knew how attached you could get to them . "Carolina In The Pines" remains as one of my all time favorite songs, ranking in the top 25 no matter when I make the list. "Desert Rat" reminded me of my grandfather, ..."success is survival and you toughed it out, yes, we'll all tough it out". Nothing appeals to me more than a well played Hammond B3 or a well played banjo. "Wild Bird" does the trick for me. Bob Johnston's production pulled this higher than any John Denver release and I must say this LP had a lot to do with me accepting a job in Denver. I had to be where these songs talked about. "Blue Sky Riding Song" is a song that reminds me of cold weather for some reason. "Medicine Man" is my third favorite MM song. Great stuff. "Secret Mountain Hide Out"..."that's where I want to stay." Still dreaming about it. "Without My Lady There" could be a Dan Fogelberg song, again, transporting me away to about 10,000 feet with a fire a bottle of wine, and my lady there. "Night Thunder".."love me like thunder". "Rings of Fire" is Michael stripped. A great way to end a great album. Pretentious? Maybe. I still dig this release after all these years, it's like an old friend. I believe this was a Columbia House purchase. Sounded great tonight on this Labor Day weekend as we head to fall, then winter. He's the perfect companion for a cold winter's night and a blazing fire. Although at the time, the critics were a bit less kind than me.

Blue Sky - Night Thunder Michael Murphey
Released: January 1975
Chart Peak: #18
Weeks Charted: 38
Certified Gold: 11/17/75
Reviews from the day..."I must admit that Murphey's melodies don't really do anything for me although they are pleasant. His lyrics are just over the line of pretension, except when he's being cosmic, when they are plain embarrassing. What makes Blue Sky - Night Thunder listenable at all is the picking and the production, both of which are excellent. All that's lacking is good, solid content.
- Ed Ward, Rolling Stone, 7/31/75.
Bonus Reviews!
Murphey has been lumped in a number of categories, including progressive country, Texas rock, country/rock and other areas. Basically, the man is simply a fine singer/songwriter with a soothing voice and a penchant for singing acoustic oriented tunes that deal with the people and things of the outdoors. Most of the songs do have an acoustic sound, and country stations should play certain cuts. Expect biggest action to come from FM, however. Highlight is "Goodbye Old Desert Rat," which characterizes perfectly the feeling of any younger person who has had the joy of knowing and talking to a wiser, older person. Like Dan Fogelberg, who is hitting big now, an easy to listen to artist who has a lot to say. Best cuts: "Carolina In The Pines," "Goodbye Old Desert Rat," "Blue Sky Riding Song," "Without My Lady There," "Rings Of Life."
- Billboard, 1975.

Another One Hit Wonder

After a tempestuous dustup with my woman at the time, I was driving home late one night and this song came on the radio. I remember it had a chilling effect on me. While out running yeaterday, this song popped up on the Ipod. I had to stop and collect my thoughts and remember how it was 28 years ago. It was all so clear, it seemed like yesterday and a flood of memories rushed over me. This was about all the Korgis did, but to me, it was enough. It's amazing how we see things long ago through rose colored glasses. If they ever make a movie of my life out of the book I am writing, I know exactly where this song will fit.

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine....

The homily at church yesterday was about carrying crosses to bear through life. How some have giant, heavy ones and others have light ones. I have carried heavy crosses, I know what they feel like, I've been there when I feel beaten down, old and tired of the weight. Thank God my crosses are lighter now, a little less stress on the shoulders and the heart. I can't say I have everything I want, but I do have most things I need. There by the grace of God go I...

The long lasting feel I get from Bruce Springsteen's "Magic" is that it's his tribute to Roy Orbison. Don't know why but he seems to conjure Roy's spirit and tone on the release. Maybe it's just me making up stuff.

Labor Day 2008. Not sure what happened to the worker's rights in this country but I just read a story in the St. Louis newspaper about Western Union closing the St. Louis office and shipping those jobs overseas. So, where is anyone going to work in this country if all the jobs are gone? Does ANYONE care? Obama SAYS he does, but we'll see.

With that note, I am not sure what to make of a guy who's 72 years old, running for president and picking someone with very little experience to be his running mate. I know all the right wingers are saying, "well he just scored with the women in the country who are disillusioned with Obamas' treatment of Hillary". I think once Hillary's supporters get wind of her political stance, they won't want to jump on that bandwagon. She's about as right wing as it gets.

Tha Cardinals are DONE. Toast. It all boils down to standing pat during the trade deadline. The Cubs get a quality starting pitcher. The Brewers get a quality starting pitcher and the Cardinals get...I'm not sure. Too bad, they could have has a nice run in them. Oh well, gives me a chance to go work out every night instead of watching these guys. It's the Scott Spiezio effect.

The Mizzou/Illini game was fun. IF Mizzou wants a shot at the National title, it had better fix the secordary. Wait till the quarterbacks from the state of Texas get ahold of that defense, they'll run up 500 yards on them. There's enough time to fix it.

Laboring very hard not to labor, that's me.

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