Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Review: Bambi, or, The Circle of Life pt. 1

After the relative success of Dumbo, Disney decided to stick with cute animals with 1943's Bambi and, in the process, broke the hearts of several generations of children.

Based on the novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian Felix Salten, Disney began work on this project after the completion of Snow White. The project was postponed for several reasons; at first, Walt's insistence that the animation be more realistic pushed production back, and then he pulled animators off the project to work on Fantasia. But the project remained in progress from 1938 onward. When Dumbo was completed the studio turned their attention back to Bambi with earnest. Character animators spent days studying live forest animals so they could accurately capture their movements (which slowed the animation process down considerably) while background artists traveled to the forests of Maine and Vermont to help fully realize the setting.

The film was released at a terrible time, though. The European markets were all but closed due to the war, and many viewers were put off by the realistic animation and the depiction of man within the film. This, of course, meant that as far as financially successful films go, only two of the first five Disney Animated Features qualified after their original release. In 1947, Bambi was re-released, and turned a tidy profit. Critics have shown general praise for it, as well. And children everywhere cry about it all the time.

The original book, of course, as more to it than we get in the film, but the differences are actually fairly minor so I won't go into them. Let's just jump right on into the rest of the review.

The visuals in this film are stunning; the multiplane camera work on the backgrounds is astounding while the animals look amazingly realistic when compared to what had been seen in the past. And the story has its cute moments for sure; Bambi learning to walk, to talk, to slide around on ice, exploring the world around him, it's all fun. I can remember as a child watching the "Hey ma! What's all of that white stuff?" scene over and over.

I'm o.k., I'm all write: Charlie Sheen Free Since About Two Seconds Ago

But let me get down to my real gut feeling of this film; there is a sleeper villain nobody ever talks about and it bothers me.

The villain is "Man," I totally get it. Man is in the forest, which makes it dangerous for Bambi and his mother to be on the meadow. Man even (spoiler alert) kills Bambi's mother in the middle of winter, leaving poor Bambi frightened and alone. Man employs these really evil looking dogs to go after the forest animals and then burns the entire forest down. Man is evil.

Actually, let's talk about how effective this villain is. You never see any men. They are represented by the cawing of crows, gunshots, smoke, fire, and a pack of dogs. The dogs are probably the scariest of all; we've spent the entire movie feeling an emotional connection to these incredibly realistic animals and then they're being attacked by dogs, which is an animal we as a species have a generally pleasant feeling about. This is how this film gets you: the forest animals are very accurately detailed with the exception of their eyes. Their eyes are very human looking, all of them. The dogs, on the other hand (which we are used to seeing in animated films as friendly characters with anthropomorphic traits and human-like eyes) have scary, black and white beady animal eyes. It only would have been worse if the eyes had been blood red. The effect you get is that here is graphic animal-on-animal violence, and these dogs have clearly been brainwashed by evil man to do their evil bidding in an evil manner.

There is a great disturbance in the Forest

So we can all agree man creepy, dogs creepier. Good.

The sleeper villain of which I speak is none other than the good Prince of the Forest, AKA Bambi's absentee father. Look, I get that authentically, White Tail Deer bucks do not stick around and help raise the kids. I get it. But he could have at least shown some interest, yeah? He basically watched from on high while Bambi came into the world, then disappeared until one day Bambi saw him on the meadow. He doesn't even know it's his father, he just sees him and everybody else gets silent and reverent. His own mother doesn't even tell him, presumably on the orders of the Prince himself I guess. He didn't want it to be known. And then, when mom gets capped, Dad's all of a sudden got to take charge. And talk about a lack of tact. "Your mother can't be with you anymore," he says. "Come with me." Really? No further explanation. That bodes real well for your parenting skills, buddy. Your child definitely won't turn out to be conflicted or a drug addict or anything.

...good, Charlie Sheen didn't pop up again.

Especially now that I am a father, I have a hard time getting over this whole father-son relationship that happens in this movie. From what we see, they have four interactions; once on the meadow, once when Mom dies, at the very end when the two of them overlook the birth of Bambi's two children, and then once before this when Bambi has been shot. Again, no sympathy, his father just says, "Get up, Bambi." Like, come on dad, I've kind of been shot here? Also, why weren't you there, huh? When I was born? You could have stopped mom from naming me Bambi. Seriously, I feel like the Boy Named Sue here.

I understand that this all has to do with realism; Bucks don't take part in child rearing, that's fine, but you have some creative license here; it's an animated film in which animals speak English. And I mean, across species lines. That's pretty intense stepping outside the reality box. Why can't we have a little more fatherly involvement, hmm?

Also, Disney writers seemed to have forgotten this film existed for a time. What do I mean, you may ask? I'll tell you: this film opens with all the animals in a "kingdom" rushing to see the newborn prince. They get there and pay their respects. The prince then begins having childhood adventures, but before he can grow up and lead a normal royal animal life, he endures the loss of a parent and has to deal with those emotions. He then, in the course of growing up and finding himself, falls in love with a childhood friend, confronts a danger that threatens the very existence of his Kingdom, and then at the end, he takes his rightful place and watches over all the Kingdom's animals pay their respects to his newborn child.

It's the Circle of Life, and it Moves us All.

But that's a review for another day.


Once again, I visited the Wikipedia Entry for this film. And, once again, their reputation isn't always solid as a rock.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A Group of Peers

My writing group met tonight at our dive bar. It's interesting to go there for a couple reasons; first off, I'm not using hyperbole when I tell you it's a dive bar; it's kind of a dive. It's moodily lit and there are regulars who languish at the bar and they've had the same wait staff for years and years. I've been going semi-regularly since about 2007, when I started going with a group of classmates from college. And that's why I've been going with recently. The difference is that we used to have a writing workshop and then go to our dive bar to relax, and now we go to our dive bar to have our workshop.

It's great to be doing this; once a month we meet up and workshop a short story (or last month, we workshopped the first twenty pages and a summary of the rest of my novel) and catch up. It keeps us all motivated to continue writing and reading and thinking critically.

Only, tonight, I got home from work late and Kathy had a wonderful dinner on the table. I had enough time to say hello, grab some stuff, and say goodbye before workshop. Life's sometimes like that, I guess.

This post is so unfocused because my brain hurts.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Short Story March: Day Four

A Children's Story about Ribs

Little Junior Colin Tibbs was very good at telling fibs.
His father, Senior Colin Tibbs, was very good at cooking ribs.
Cooked in sauce, cooked with smoke, rubbed with spice, and it's no joke;
Everyone for miles and miles came to Senior Tibbs' with smiles.

One day, Junior Colin Tibbs told the fibbiest of fibs;
The older Senior Colin's Ribs, were central to this massive fib.
"My father's cooking up some beans, the likes of which, you've never seens,
And ribs, of course, he's cooking, too, enough for you and you and you."

And people all throughout the town, got in their cars and drove on down
In front of Tibbs' house they planned to meet, to head 'round back and start to eat.
When Senior Tibbs saw the growing crowd, he looked and looked and looked around
For Junior Tibbs, who at that time, was hiding silent as a mime.

Tibbs went out front to address the crowd (who by this time had grown quite loud)
"My friends," he cried, "you've been deceived, there are no ribs you will receive."
Then one by one, the crowd grew mad, and shouted at the Junior's Dad
"Your son made promises, now, Tibbs; you'd better feed us all those ribs!"

From where he hid, the Junior one, laughed at this game, and thought it fun!
But the older Tibbs, on his front stoop, stood and let his shoulders droop;
In his garage, in his deep freeze, he had the meat to meet their needs
But not for a mob with appetites hardy; they were for next month's big block party!

"Make with the ribs!" some folks did cry, "It's almost noon, the sun is high!"
"It's dinner time," another said, a man with a knit cap on his head.
"We've come prepared," a neighbor chimed in, "to do otherwise would be a sin!"
"I've brought some slaw, I've brought some beans! And frank has got a new machine!"

"A device," said Frank, "that is supreme; it makes four kinds of cold ice cream!"
"And I've brought games!" said Mister Cruz. "Bocce ball, Frisbees, and horse shoes!"
And Senior Tibbs was quite impressed, he was no longer in distress!
"I've got the ribs, so come on back! I'll start by cooking up a rack!"

A picnic day, the neighbors had, hosted by young Junior's dad!
They played some games, they cooked the ribs, prepared by Senior Colin Tibbs!
But Junior Tibbs was not around, and none knew where he could be found.
When Senior Tibbs announced the feast, Junior felt an awful beast.

He knew his father had been saving (all the while the neighbors craving)
The ribs for that big special day, the one which comes at end of May.
And Junior knew his father's mood was likely soon to come to brood.
So Junior hid in his bedroom, and settled into quite a gloom.

At his door there came a knock, at quite precisely six o'clock.
It was his father, Senior Tibbs, with a heaping plate of slaw and ribs
And beans and chips and cookies, too; and Junior knew not what to do.
"I made this plate for you," dad said, "What are you doing there in bed?"

"Oh Daddy!" Junior Tibbs cried out, "I've been so bad!" he began to pout.
"I lied and told them all to come, I thought it would be such great fun!"
"And now," he said, "your big big plans have all come to such tragic ends!"
"I'm sorry, Dad, that's how I feel; you must think that I'm quite a heel."

"But Son," said dad, "while it is true this is not what I planned to do,
We're having fun, we're playing games! The new neighbors are learning names!"
He hugged his son and hugged him tight and said to him "It's quite all right."
"You should not lie, please know this, son. But really, this is lots of fun!"

"Come down and out, please join the crowd! Run and play and shout out loud!"
"And eat some ribs?" asked Junior Tibbs. "Of course," said Senior, "eat some ribs!"
"And eat some slaw! And chips and cake! There are a dozen mom did bake,
Plus all the others neighbors brought, come have a look, there's quite a lot!"

And so the two Tibbs boys went down to join the rest of the happy town.
They talked, and ate, and had a blast, like none had seen in days gone past!
And Junior Tibbs, well, he learned a lot about what he should say, and what he should not.
And punishment? Well, when all had supped...Junior Tibbs was there to clean it all up.


Yeah, okay, so, I don't know how well I can keep this up. Maybe a short story a day is a little ambitious when I am writing for three blogs, trying to complete a first draft of a novel by the end of the month, working full time, and being a husband/father. So maybe Short Story March lasted all of four days...

But I promise to try and blog every week day, even if it's just a little bit.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Short Story March: Day Three

The Sewer Lien: An Epistolary Tale


The Municipal Wastewater Board
23 Water Street

Dear Occupant,

Your account shows an unpaid balance for calender years 2001-2005. As of this time, we are owed $475 for services rendered. If this matter remains unsettled past January 31st of this year, a lien will be placed on your property for the unpaid amount plus late penalties.

If you feel our records are in error, please contact us immediately at the number on your quarterly bill. You can also reach us on the web at www.municipalwaterboardspringfield.org. Have your seven digit account number ready when contacting our offices.

Thank You,

Alan Durst
Vice Executive Director
Municipal Wastewater Board


427 Paper Street

Dear Mr. Durst,

I am writing in response to your letter of 1/16/2006. I have made repeated attempts to contact your offices to clear up this matter, but nobody has returned my numerous phone calls. Your website shows it has not been updated since November 21st of 1999, as evidenced by the animated construction worker .gif. I can only assume this will find you, as you have had no trouble receiving and processing the checks I have sent you on a quarterly basis since the second quarter of 1994, when I purchased this home.

Attached, you will find photocopies of several bank statements and cancelled checks. I have taken the liberty of highlighting the pertinent information on these documents, including highlighting the lines on the bank statements which correspond to the attached cancelled checks, on which I have also highlighted the payee information (The Municipal Wastewater Board of Springfield), the dates, the amounts, and the account number printed on the memo line. Also attached you can see the back sides of the cancelled checks, which show they have been stamped by the Municipal Wastewater Board of Springfield.

I hope this clears this matter up. As for your obvious breakdown in communication between the office of accounts receivable and billing, I leave that to your organization to rectify.

Thank you,

Frederick Burton


The Municipal Wastewater Board
23 Water Street


Dear Mr. Burton,

Thank you for your letter of 1/20/2006. Please be assured we take all concerns seriously and are looking into your matter with the utmost care.

If you have any questions, please refer to the telephone number on your quarterly bill. You can also reach us at our new website, www.springfieldwastewater.org. Have your seven digit account number ready when contacting our offices.

Thank you,

Alison Franklin
Customer Service
The Municipal Wastewater Board


The Municipal Wastewater Board
23 Water Street

Dear Mr. Burton or Current Occupant,

On January 16th of this month, we sent you a letter regarding payment due to your account. As of today we have not received contact from you. We are left with no recourse but to place a lien on your property in the amount of $475 plus a 5% annual interest rate until the balance is paid in full.

If you feel our records are in error, please contact us immediately at the number on your quarterly bill. You can also reach us on the web at www.municipalwaterboardspringfield.org. Have your seven digit account number ready when contacting our offices.

Thank You,

Alan Durst
Vice Executive Director
Municipal Wastewater Board


427 Paper Street

Dear Mr. Durst,

Attached you will find more photocopies of the cancelled checks and bank statements I have already sent to you. Also, you will find a letter from Alison Franklin of the Municipal Wastewater Board's customer service department explaining that the matter was being looked into.

Incidentally, you may want to update the standard form letter you've have saved on your computer's desktop for the past few years; as you can see in Alison's letter, your web address has changed since last you proofread. The new website is better than the old; instead of an animated picture telling me the site is coming soon, the new site has a flash slideshow of city parks and waterways with men wearing hardhats and kids playing. While it is an improvement, it still lacks any kind of tools for your customers to manage their accounts. My guess is that since you are the only game in town, you've gotten lazy. That's not good business.

If you feel my records are in error, you can contact my bank and explain to them how somebody else is impersonating you and cashing checks for sewer service bills. I'll bet they'd be interested in knowing about it.

Thanks you,

Frederick Burton
Enraged Occupant


The Municipal Wastewater Board
23 Water Street

Dear Mr. Burton,

Our records indicate that we have not received the payments you insist have been paid to us. The fact that you have cancelled checks and bank statements claiming otherwise does not match the records in our accounting, billing, or service departments. Our customer service department has these records, but inquiries indicate that they received them via mail from you. As these are not originals, we can not accept them as proof.

We have contacted our lawyers and will begin the lien process forthwith.

If you feel our records are in error, please contact us immediately at the number on your quarterly bill. You can also reach us on the web at www.municipalwaterboardspringfield.org. Have your seven digit account number ready when contacting our offices.

Thank You,

Alan Durst
Vice Executive Director
Municipal Wastewater Board


The Law Offices of Shank, Thurman, Thurman & Shank, LLC
922 High Street Suite 1322

Dear Mr. Burton,

This letter is to inform you of a lien being placed on your property in the amount of $475. This lien covers unpaid sewer service balances from 2002 until the most recent billing period.

A copy of the lien is on file at the County Recorder of Deeds Office at 100 High Street, Suite 210. A release will be filed once the full payment is received by the Accounts Receivable department of the Municipal Wastewater Board at 23 Water Street.

Your prompt attention to this matter is appreciated.

Yours Truly,
Richard Shank Thurman
Junior Partner, The Law Offices of Shank, Thurman, Thurman & Shank, LLC


427 Paper Street

Dear Mr. Durst,

Your continued lack of comprehension on this matter confuses me. Attached this time, I have included notarized copies of my bank statements and cancelled checks. If you check your records, I am sure you will see that the same date my bank statements say the money was debited from my account, your account will likely reflect a credit of the exact same amount. Put two and two together and please manage to arrive at an answer that is more than zero.

Frederick Burton
Befuddled Occupant


427 Paper Street

Richard Shank Thurman, Junior Partner;

I do not hold any ill will against you, as you are just a pawn in this game. I am sending you copies of all of my correspondence with the Municipal Wastewater Board as well as copies of my cancelled checks and bank statements. Maybe you can talk some sense into that idiot Alan Durst. I will thank you to release the lien immediately.

Frederick Burton


The Law Offices of Shank, Thurman, Thurman & Shank, LLC
922 High Street Suite 1322

Dear Mr. Burton,

Our apologies. In reviewing your records and consulting with the various departments of the Municipal Wastewater Board, we have concluded that your account is in good standing. It appears a clerical error occurred in a recent system upgrade, causing information for your account and several others to be reset. This error has been corrected. The release of lien has been filed and this should be the last you need worry about this matter.


Richard Shank Thurman
Junior Partner, The Law Offices of Shank, Thurman, Thurman & Shank


The Municipal Wastewater Board
23 Water Street

Dear Mr. Burton,

Our collections department has made repeated attempts to collect payment in the amount of $475 for services from 2001-2005. This will be your last warning before serious legal action will be taken.

If you feel our records are in error, please contact us immediately at the number on your quarterly bill. You can also reach us on the web at www.municipalwaterboardspringfield.org. Have your seven digit account number ready when contacting our offices.

Thank You,

Steven Voss
Vice Executive Director
Municipal Wastewater Board


427 Paper Street Wastewater Production, LP
427 Paper Street

Dear Mr. Voss,

It has come to my attention that you have been receiving wastewater from this residence for many years without paying for your usage.

I understand you have sewage treatment plants that would otherwise sit idle without a steady stream of wastewater from producers such as myself. Yet you wantonly consume this wastewater without consideration for the work that has gone in to providing it to you.

Checking our records, it appears you have not paid for the use of this wastewater since the residence at 427 Paper Street was constructed in May of 1954. The total due with penalties and interest comes to $475.

As you have recently claimed that I owe you the same amount for services rendered from 2001-2005, I propose that we call our feud even. Though you should reflect that your rates are much higher than mine, and you may consider lowering your fees in the future.

Thank You,

Frederick Burton
Chief Wastewater Producer, 427 Paper Street Wastewater Production, LP


The Municipal Wastewater Board - Billing Department
23 Water Street Box 2

Dear Mr. Burton,

Thank you for your prompt payment of your Quarter One billing statement.

You can now manage your account online at www.municipalwater.springfield.com/accounts


Amber Stevens
Billing Agent, Municipal Wastewater Board


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wow Plus Ouch Equals Wouch.

Writer's block made my brain hurt on that last one. A lot.

I need some help, readers. Give me suggestions for short stories this month. In the comment section, post me a link to a photo you think is interesting and I'll try and write something inspired by the photo. I think this month long venture will be good for me.

Side note: last night (Tuesday the first) when I got home from work, I very nearly took a picture of myself to post on the blog. Out of habit.

Pretty crazy, I know.

Short Story March: Day Two

American Made Big Block Chevrolet

Pavement under the wheels of the van, humming. Just humming, man. You can hear it from any part of the van.

None of the ones in the back ever know where we're going. We only know that we've been somewhere. The ones in front, they sure know the way. And the ones in the middle, man, they just don't devote any care to the notion of direction, or who's in front or who's in back, or anything. We just care to be in the middle, where it's easy to relax and talk quietly.

Sometimes, someone from the back joins us. And we welcome them, and often times they worry about their cohorts in the back of the van; they try and bring more up, and some follow, but most stay in back.

Sometimes, someone from the front will join us in the middle. We're wary of them, because in front they're in control of our fates, but we try to integrate them. They have a harder time adjusting than those from the back. It's very easier to move backward than it is to move forward, but it's easier on you to move forward than it is to move backward.

Sometimes, one of us will seize on the direction the van is headed, and demand to know why it's so. Inquiries will be made of the people in front, and usually this leads to a large group of us moving forward, to be replaced by people moving back. But those of us who stay in the middle know that it doesn't matter who's driving the van; we're always going in a direction we don't care to know.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Short Story March: Day One

The rules are: Write. Write write. Write write write.

Free write.

Elaborate on something I've already written.



The Sign-Off

Hank looked around the booth which had been his workplace for the last thirty five years. His producer in the adjacent booth was running the news tape over the air. Hank looked at his watch: 6:58 PM. For this night, the station manager and the production staff had pulled one of the studio's old record players from storage and given it a good going-over so it would be ready for airtime; new stylus, rebalanced tonearm. In two minutes, Hank would place a recording of Mahler's Titan symphony on the turntable. He was going to repeat his first night on the job for this, his last. Every single recording, on vinyl. He had three hours until the new format kicked in. The producer knocked on the window and pointed to the clock. Hank took his seat, fumbled in the box of records he had brought from home and got ready to sign on one last time.

A year ago, a company calling itself Caring Creatives started making the rounds of radio stations in the area. There was a lot of chatter in the community about what they were looking for. Word was they wanted a station with a strong signal but a small listener base which they could turn into a contemporary Christian Rock station. They looked at a couple of the local listener supported stations before moving on to the commercial stations. Hank and his cohorts at Classical 103.5 were dismissive of the suits wandering their halls one day in the late summer.

"It's not likely to happen to us," Hank said after the men walked through the break room, "we've been around for over forty years with this format. No other FM station can claim that." He took a bite of his turkey sandwich with lettuce. He frowned at the lack of mayonnaise, but his doctor had told him to watch what he ate, and Babette, his wife, had taken the doctor's word every afternoon while she packed Hank's dinner. First the cheese was gone, then the potato chips on the side were replaced with carrots, and now the mayo was gone.

"I don't know, Hank," Jeremy, one of the station's engineers said between gulps of coffee, "From what I hear in the marketing department, things aren't looking as rosy as they used to."

Hank waved the naysayer off. "Think of what we've got on the dial in Springfield," he said. "One NPR affiliate, two classic rock stations, two alternative stations, two talk radio stations, one oldies station, two contemporary easy listening stations, three top forty stations, a community public station and five, uh, rap, R and B hippy hop stations, and a low power jazz station, and us. We're fine, they'll take one of those rap stations." Hank eyed the tub of yogurt in his lunch bag. He stood up, fished some coins out of his pocket and walked to the vending machines.

"I wish I shared your optimism, Hank," Jeremy said. "You seem pretty sure about it. But our listeners aren't getting younger, and, well, I'm no farmer, but if you've got one old chicken who won't lay any more eggs, and five cows who can still produce milk, and you've got to kill one animal to make room for a sheep or something, uh, you're gonna kill the duck, right?" Jeremy was known for meandering metaphors.

"I suppose," Hank said, compromising with his inner Babette by selecting the pretzels over the saltier rippled chips. "But in five years, three of those rap stations will be gone, half the other stations will have switched formats, and we'll still be here. And it makes more sense to their 'mission' to remove a rap or a rock station than a classical station. Mark my words."

Over the next five months, there had been silence on the buyout front. Hank assumed Caring Creatives had given up their search. But in that sixth month, the rumblings began again. This time, more people came to the station, and this time, there was serious talk about the station being sold. Meredith, the station manager, called a staff meeting one morning.

"Will we all still have our jobs if this goes through?" Jeremy asked her. Others nodded in agreement. Hank sat back and watched. He knew it would not happen.

"Much of the support staff in marketing, sales, and production will be offered comparable positions with the new station under the proposed plan. Offers will be given to senior staff first." Meredith was noticeably shaking, which made Hank sit up.

"What about on-air staff?" somebody called out. Other voices joined.

"Half of the on-air staff will be retained, but the other half will be replaced with the new format." There was a commotion. Meredith raised her arms to quiet the group. "Hey, listen. Those who are retained will not be receiving their current salaries. You'll have to take a pay cut and you won't be broadcast over the air. They plan on moving the classical music to the internet, running from five in the morning until eleven."

This sparked more commotion. Hank stood and the room quieted a little. "Will the on-air staff retention be based on seniority as well?" He met Meredith's eyes and brushed his gray hair back form his temples. She looked to a packet of paper she had in front of her.

"I'm not sure," she said. "I would assume so, but, I don't know. Not off hand."

After the meeting, Jeremy came up to Hank. "I'm screwed," Jeremy said. "If everything is based on seniority like they say, I've been here the second shortest of the engineers. I'm cooked. And in this economy, too."

Hank put a hand on Jeremy's shoulder. "Take it easy; nothing's set in stone yet. The deal will never go through." Hank wanted to get home and do some reading before he came back for his 7-10 weekday shift. "I told you, they're going to buy out one of the other stations. Probably 98.3, they've been struggling for two years."

"Jesus, Hank, didn't you hear Meredith?" The two began walking to the elevator lobby. "Didn't you see the way she was shaking? This deal's probably already done, they're just waiting for FCC approval to announce it. Have you heard from anyone else in town? Are they looking at any of the other stations this time around? I'm telling you, we're fucked." They arrived in the lobby. Hank pressed the down button and Jeremy pressed the up button. "We're up a creek without a radio station, my friend. You, you're probably fine, you were here when Beethoven won the Grammy for best new artist, but me..." The up elevator door opened.

Jeremy had been correct; Caring Creatives had already closed the deal with station ownership. A month later, when the FCC approved the sale, the announcement was made that on July 17th, at the end of Hank's shift, the station would become Life 103.5 Christian Contemporary. A week after the announcement, offers were made to existing staff members. Hank waited patiently for his offer. He planned on saying no and taking the severance package, pithy as it was. He was approaching retirement anyway, and he and Babette had just planted a vegetable garden in the back yard the year before. He looked forward to walking out of there with his head held high and spending his golden years keeping squirrels away from his tomatoes.

After two weeks, his offer still hadn't come. By this time, the pink slips were starting to land on desks. One in each department the first day, the same on the second day, and so on. On the seventh day, a Tuesday, Hank found his slip. He marched with it into the new station manager's office. Meredith was still the manager of the classical side, but she now reported to Seth, a man who had studied to become a Lutheran Minister but who had abandoned that track for, as he had said in his first address to the staff, a "different call of service to the Lord." Hank had been silent about the buyout of the station and had a respect for Seth's work ethic. But he could not stand this. He waved the slip in front of Seth and Meredith.

"What's this?" he asked.

Seth leaned back in his chair and took off his glasses. He set them down on his desk and rubbed his eyes. "Meredith, could you leave us for a moment?" he asked.

Meredith stood, looked at Hank, then sat back down. She looked at her feet. "No," she said, "Hank is one of my employees, I think I should be here for this." She looked at Hank, who smiled at her, and then she looked at Seth.

Seth paused for a second. "Okay, sure," he said. "Look, Hank, we appreciate what you do for us here. But you're getting closer to retirement, and we figured you wouldn't want to work in Internet radio. And we don't have a place for you on air; we need young, hip DJ's to spin our tracks for us. Folks who can connect with the youth of the city, bring them in to hear what they need to hear to, to, to save them from what they are assailed with from the rest of the FM dial. Do you hear what I'm saying?" Seth smiled at Hank.

Hank forced his body to straighten as tall as it could. He agreed with part of Seth's reasoning, but another part inflamed him. "What I hear when I listen to the radio," he said, "is some of what you're talking about. But I also hear the free exchange of ideas. I hear passion and artistry. And right now, I'm hearing you say that the best way to 'save' the youth of the city from some of the filth you find on the radio is to take away one of their existing safe havens and replace it with another? Is that what you do when you fight the good fight? Do you push your allies out of the way? I hear in the music we play on this station some of the most exquisite and beautiful and joyous compositions man has ever produced, much of it by people who attributed their gifts not to themselves but to God himself! They celebrate the beauty of God's creation by adding to it! What could be a better compliment to your mission?"

Hank was shaking. Meredith was wide eyed. Seth was frowning. "Are you done, Hank?" Seth asked at last.

"No," Hank said. "Not until ten PM on July 17th." He turned around and opened Seth's office door. He looked back at Meredith, who winked at him, before stepping into the hall and letting the door shut behind him.

Within a few days, Hank had become a hero of sorts. Those who had been told they were being let go when the format changed stood to applaud him whenever he entered a room. Meredith and some of the other staffers who had accepted retention offers came back and rejected the offers. Some of those who were staying on told Seth they would stay on condition that Hank was allowed to serve until sign-off. The archivists found transcripts of his early shows and gave Hank photocopies, which gave him the idea of reprising his first broadcast. Jeremy had pulled the record player out of storage and integrated it with the digital soundboard in the broadcast booth.

Hank sat at the chair in front of the microphone. One minute to air time. The door opened and Jeremy stepped in. "Hey, Hank," he said.

Hank smiled. "Jeremy. Good luck with Seth here in the future." The shook hands.

"I don't think we got off on the best foot, he and I," Jeremy chuckled. "But I'm sure once you're gone, things will settle down. Troublemaker."

Hank's producer pushed the intercom button. "Fifteen seconds," he said.

"I'll get out of here," Jeremy said. "Just...knock 'em dead tonight."

"Absolutely I will," Hank said, getting the record ready on the turntable.