Category Archives: Writing Challenge

Rockets and Robots

Music seems to be center stage to fuel one’s moods.  Everyone seems to know the best music to shake the blues.  Johnny Cash tells us to throw our blues in the Gulf.  Johnny’s music generally frequents my CD player while I’m on the road.  Who needs the blues when you are cruising down the road with a belly full of Corn Nuts?

If you want to beat the blues with brute force, there are numerous bands to choose from, but I like Static-X complete with robot imagery.  Robots like to rock.  They don’t get depressed.  Besides, if you had hair like Wayne Static, could you possibly get depressed?  I think not.

Since we are talking about robots, we cannot ignore Powerman 5000.  Frontman Spider One, with his futuristic getup and wonky stares, must be used for taming robots.  Melancholy moods are obliterated with angry music.  It usually won’t make you David Banner angry, but be forewarned.  Some consumers of this music are those gangster wannabes with their mean face and their intimidating swagger like they have a tricycle wheel for a foot.  You can find them at Circle K wearing their discount leather jackets asking strangers to buy them a pack of smokes.

If you can’t chase the blues off with anger, maybe you can scare it off.  Spider One and his brother, Rob Zombie, grew up on a diet of horror movies.  If you aren’t scared by Rob Zombie, you’ve got to be one of those scary robots he hangs out with.

When I have an especially bad case of the blues, I have to find some music that makes me dance spontaneously.  Dave Matthews Band fits the bill.  Plus, Dave likes to make up words.  It’s like listening to Bill Cosby shill Pudding Pops.

It’s clear.  If you have the blues you need to find some robots.

You may have noticed all of this music is a bit dated.  I’ve been out of radio about five years and I’m not hip and relevant.  It’s been another lifetime since I was concerned with the latest tunes.

Peculiar Hack

I certainly remember reading numerous fiction books as a kid.  I was a voracious reader and I enjoyed the dry as dust nonfiction books because they were retelling events of something that actually occurred.  It was not some absurd story about a nude parrot getting smuggled down to “too damn vivid South America.” Besides, this was maybe a dozen years before Tom Robbins even penned Fierce Invalids…  However, I remember checking out a forgotten Jacques Cousteau book numerous times at the school library.  It appears my obsession with reading books that were fact and not some fantastical adventure stunted my creative nature.  And I don’t even think I was old enough to wear my nerd glasses.  I got those when I was ten.

Around fourth grade, I remember we had creative writing assignments.  I figured I was doing great until the parent-teacher meeting.  “Mr. Luoma, your son is not creative,” was the gist of the conversation.  It was like someone dug my dad’s heart out with a titanium spork, cut it into chunks, and proceeded to catch a thirty-eight pound catfish with his left ventricle as bait.

My dad made it his mission to try to make us well rounded little people.  He referred to parenting children as “an experiment.”  Terrific.  He must have taken food science instead of chemistry where he would have learned that experiments can end badly.  The type of experiment you would find on The Island of Dr. Moreau.

I don’t remember what my dad did to make me creative, but I do remember he made me read the dictionary aloud when I was fourteen in a lame attempt to cure my lisp.  By the way, broadcasting school cured me of that.  I like to imagine his creativity experiment was somewhat creative involving army ants and GI Joe action figures.  I imagine his methods were no less diabolical.  I think army ants were GI Joe’s other half of the battle.

Somewhere between then and my junior year I became unglued.  I had entered a world where I’m the only one who thought I was funny.  My drama teacher in eleventh grade called my dad in for a parent-teacher meeting.  She told my dad I was “peculiar.”  Seriously.  I didn’t know how to take that.

In college, I used to get drunk and write my term papers.  My English professor who also happened to be the Dean of the Humanities department once accused me of plagarism.  He said my typical writing was hackneyed and this one sentence in this one paper on mythology was decent.  Decidedly, I must have stolen it.  I think he forgot the first rule of Fight Club.  Never look for quotable material while drinking.  Make everything up so you can get back to drinking.  After I reminded him of the first rule, he realized that even hacks get lucky sometimes.


This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on reflections.

Nuts and Feet

I remember this radio promotion I was involved with many years ago at this Active Rocker. We had front row tickets to see Tool along with passes to the pre-show party.

This was during Fear Factor’s heyday and we wanted to cash in on that notoriety. A select number of listeners were going to be abused for their big opportunity by playing Nuts and Feet.

The premise was simple. Fill a kiddie pool with mayonnaise, pork and beans, relish, and a few more ingredients. Several boiled pig feet and one boiled pig testicle were buried in this slop. Score a foot and win a free CD. Land the baseball sized pig part and win the grand prize. Oh, and you had to retrieve these items with your mouth.

The smell emanating from that pool was horrendous. I almost vomited. The smell hit a woman and she threw up. We had this stunt in a store parking lot next to a busy street. This commotion even caused a car accident.

I don’t remember who won. I don’t even care. I was too busy laughing at this spectacle.


Pack Your Bags

Names can be like baggage. For better or worse, you drag your name along for a lifetime. However, one occasionally can escape their given name only to get a worse one.

My last name is peculiar, but I like it as it is uncommon. I like to identify with it. It is especially vowel-y that intimidates strangers. It flows like cool water which is fitting as my grandpa told me it meant creek. Luoma. Loo-oh-muh. Just like it’s spelled.

My name was borrowed from my grandpa. It even soan old guy’s name. He went by Ted. That’s normal enough, but my parents insisted on calling me by my initials. TJ is the epitome of uncool. I have actually spent most of my adult life running from it.

I was a disc jockey for many years. It’s a beautiful profession. You can choose any name you want and that name is the key to becoming someone else. When I started work at an active rock station I needed a flashy name. I settled on Naked Jake.

I was around 23. I thought I needed a name that would be remembered. I chose a name that cannot be forgotten. I’m 38 with a wife and three daughters now, and it no longer feels cool. It feels like a name you would give to the creeper that hangs out at the bus stop. It can’t get much worse unless you ARE the creeper at the bus stop.

It now seems that I am saddled with a mélange of monikers. My family calls me TJ. Old radio pals know me as Naked Jake. Then there are the few who call me Theodore or Theo. I’ll answer to anything, but my favorite name is Daddy.



This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on names.