Alan has taken to listening to the radio at night. This is deeply suspect, if you ask me; radio is not a nighttime entertainment, unless you’re in the car. Sometimes I listen to talk radio at night, driving home from wherever; after sundown is when the lunatics come out and howl at the radio. Michael Savage, Laura Schlessinger — they used to be the hot thing in radio, and now they’re mostly on at night, and that ought to tell them both something. Not that they are listening.
Alan listens to public radio, so I don’t have to doubt his sanity. After dark, public radio is the Ed Love program on WDET (excellent jazz; sort of the antimatter Leah Tourkow), followed by various earnest chat shows (Can Hillary reposition herself as a moderate? My guests tonight are…), followed by the BBC world service, which must be when everyone but the overnight engineer finally goes home. I love the BBC world service, if only because they run on Greenwich Mean Time, which gives the whole program a certain otherwordly quality. Somewhere in the world, your Auntie Beeb is hard at work all the time.
Another reason to love the BBC: They let you know what’s happening in the world of cricket.
(Which reminds me of one of the thousand minor pleasures of my fellowship year — hearing Vahe, our resident sportswriter, try to explain American sports to the overseas fellows. No one appreciated the NFL.)
Late in his life my dad went through a period where he needed to have KMOX on the bedside radio all night long. If my mother tried to turn it off in the middle of the night, he’d wake up and turn it back on. It drove her insane, which is probably why she eventually moved to the guest room. Sometimes I think men spend the first half of their adult lives trying to lure women into bedrooms and the second half driving them out. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Snorey Pants.
Why KMOX? Who knows? It comes to us from St. Louis, my parents’ hometown (mine too). They had all-night talkers then, local ones I think, and maybe it was some sort of audio security blanket, hearing the hometown through a light layer of AM static. Or maybe my dad just grew another eccentricity in his old age.
He always liked radio, though; he went through a period where his preferred coffee companion was J.P. McCarthy’s show on WJR, the great voice of the Great Lakes, coming to you from the golden tower of the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit.
To give my dad credit: He never listened to Limbaugh, et al. Nor Art Bell (that I knew of).
Anyway, night radio is the voice of loneliness. It reminds me of driving to work last summer at 4:45 a.m., the last few minutes of “Coast to Coast” winding up, too early for even the morning drive-time guys. Just me, the earliest paper carriers, a few cops and the semi drivers idling outside Perfection Bakery. Tuned in.
Bloggage: I missed this when it ran a few days ago, so thanks to Eric Zorn for pointing it out — Leigh Anne Wilson’s account of coping with her intensely hyperactive son, proof, if you needed more, that some parents are simply better than the rest of us. (Even if they sell vibrators, as Leigh Anne does, although I think this fact is simply amusing.) A sample:
After he started walking I spent the next two years trying to get the boy to act right. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get him to stop breaking everything he got his hands on. I couldn’t stop him from coloring on the walls, I couldn’t stop him from unbuckling his carseat, I couldn’t get him to use the potty, I couldn’t get him to stop dumping shampoo onto the floor or plugging the bathroom sinks and flooding the upstairs, and worst of all, I couldn’t get him to acknowledge my cries of “No!,” even when he was darting toward the street or trying to stick his hand in a roaring fire. It ended up being easier to lock all the bathroom and bedroom doors, and remove all the furniture from his bedroom and the playroom. It was easier to buy board books he couldn’t rip up, and easier to let him have a sippy cup longer than he should so he wouldn’t pour whatever he was drinking onto the keyboard. If he was warned in advance not to exhibit a particular behavior, it was like handing him an engraved invitation to do exactly that.
Yes, there’s a happy ending. But you must read.