Tag Archives: Tom Bodett

One Side of Me Says


First, I wanted to tell all of you to go read my last post.  It’s all there now, and, I think, much better than the way “WordPress” thought it should be posted originally.  You don’t have to, but I wish you would.  If you have the time.

I’m on a writing “roll” tonight, and I don’t feel like  quitting.  Maybe because it’s Friday night and I’ve had a few drinks…or no.  One side of me says, “You shouldn’t drink so much.”  The other side of me says, “Don’t listen to him, he’s drunk.”  Just kidding, and I have to admit that I borrowed that.  I’ll give it back some day.

Don’t you wish you were clever and talented and, well, like, say, Michael Landon?  Here’s a guy that wrote scripts, directed, produced, starred, wrote some of the music, and collected Emmy’s for a TV show called “Little House on the Prairie.”   Well, in truth, the Emmy’s went to Ted Voightlander for cinematography in 1978 and 1979 and David Rose for music composition in 1982, but still, what kind of a talent was Michael Landon?  Just for the record, I never watched the show…Right.

I remember watching an interview with Lionel Richie once.  He said that he wrote most of his songs in the shower.  For god’s sake, he started singing in the shower and wrote number one songs!  Can’t be true.  I’ve heard other recording artists say the same thing.  One singer/songwriter broke up with a boyfriend and ran into him one day on the way to the recording studio and within a few minutes she had  put together a song that ended up being in the top ten on the country charts.  Okay, the country charts, yeah, I like country music.  Because I think country music today  is most like the music I liked in the 70’s that was called “pop” way back then.  The term “bubblegum music” comes to mind as well.  But country music isn’t the “monkey shit” music my brother thinks it is.  (I just had to throw that in, and he’s lucky I called him my brother.) 

Where am I going with this?  Nowhere really.  I was just thinking about how talented some people seem to be.  More talented than the rest of us.  And they are paid…there I go again, thinking about money…handsomely for that talent.  I wish I was like them.  I think we all, secretly or otherwise, wish we were like them.  That we could write a poem, or a story, or a song, or a script, or a play that would propel us into the entertainment stratosphere.

That we had an idea, a wonderful, imaginative, unreal, fantastic, idea, like “Harry Potter” that would turn into a world-wide phenomenon and make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.  (There I go again.)  But it’s not all about the money.  My idol, Mark Twain, died broke.  Probably the most respected writer and orator in American history, and he didn’t leave a lot of money in his wake.  In fact, he didn’t leave any.

Don’t you want to be like Stephen King, or Peter Benchley, or Richard Bradford, or John Grisham, or Tom Bodett?  Yeah, Tom would probably be embarrassed to be put in the same company as those writers, but I love Tom Bodett.  Here’s the thing.  In order to be like Tom Bodett, you have to WORK at it.  I’ll say it again.  You have to work at it.  Tom Bodett didn’t unknowingly come up with “We’ll leave the lights on for you.”

Writing is a craft.  Do some of us find it easier to do than others?  Sure.  But in order to become a writer the caliber of J.K. Rowling, you need more than a legal pad and a good idea, you need to be able to write it down, well.  She made it look easy, but it wasn’t.  She would probably be the first one to admit it.

And I am certainly not one to preach about writing, or anything else for that matter.  I have a friend that told me I should force myself to write at least an hour a day.  Seems easy.  The problem is, it isn’t.  It’s liks finding time to exercise, or read a book, or spend some time with your family.  There’s always something else that seems more important to do.

So I want to thank Vanessa for reminding me to take the time to look out my dish-washing window.  A lot goes on out there.

One side of me says, “I think I need another drink.”  The other side of me says, “Yeah, I think you do.”

 

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So, Was Motel 6 Ever $6?


Motel 6 Number 1 still in operation in Santa Barbara, California. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Photographed on April 1, 2006 by user Coolcaesar.

I stay at Motel 6.  I like Tom Bodett, and he leaves the light on for me, as I often pull into a motel well after the sun has given up for the day, mostly after 10 pm when I get too tired to drive anymore.  Motel 6 is the choice, not for price as they want you to think by their name, but because they are “pet friendly” and in fact have rooms now that have vinyl floors instead of carpet, which I think is a wonderful idea.

My last stay at a Motel 6 was in Williams, Arizona, on the trip down with the U-Haul and the cargo trailer and the truck and camper.  I wasn’t driving both of them, I had a friend along driving the U-Haul truck.  I didn’t want to rent a U-Haul truck which is why I bought the cargo trailer, but the refrigerator wouldn’t stand up in the cargo trailer, which was tall enough for the refrigerator, which is why I bought it, but, well, it’s a story in itself.  I still marvel that the refrigerator is in the new kitchen and making ice for the much needed drinks.  Anyway, I digress.

I paid $90 for the room for one night for two people!  I don’t see a six in there anywhere.  I don’t see a budget motel price in there for that matter.  Was Motel 6 EVER $6?  The desk clerk said that it was “rodeo weekend” and we did hear a few gunshots coming from main street which I was comforted to be told was a staged Old West gunfight, staged for the tourists.  Tourists who flock here because it is the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”  Williams, Arizona, that is.

“Next week the rate goes to $49,” she said.  “You should have come next week.”

Yeah, I should have.  Still don’t see any six in that regular price either.  Every time I have stopped in Williams in the last two months, something has been going on.  There was a biker rally one weekend.  Some street fair the weekend before that.  The rate was $90 for me, my wife, and our two Boston’s. At least they don’t charge extra for the dogs, like most other “pet friendly” motels.

So, was Motel 6 ever $6?  Motel 6 was started in Santa Barbara, California, in 1962, and, indeed, as the name implies, the room cost six dollars a night for a single.  The developers, William Becker and Paul Green, figured the price would cover their building costs and maintenance.  Their first hotels had coin-operated black and white TVs.  To say they were a “no-frills” motel chain would probably be an understatement.  That was done so that the rooms could be cleaned quickly. The concept, cheap motel rooms, obviously caught on and they were imitated even by existing chains.  The developers sold the chain in 1968 and by the 70s, the coin-op TVs were replaced by free color TVs and prices had to go up I guess.

While I was in college, I worked as a night desk clerk at a “Western 6” in Albuquerque.  In all honesty, they weren’t six dollars either.  I think the rooms were $14.95 for a single, no six in there either.  It was a good job for a returning college student, because the motel would fill up pretty quickly and I had the rest of the night to study and watch late night TV.  Not a real taxing job.  My only responsibility was to monitor the phone and the TV alarm panel.  

If someone disconnected the cable from the back of the TV for any reason, like you used to have to do to attach a video recorder, the alarm would sound and a light corresponding to the room would light up on the panel.  You would call the room and ask if they had disconnected the cable for any reason, and if so, to replace it immediately.  The light would go off and I would go back to my TV program.  The problem was the panel malfunctioned all the time.  Often, if someone turned the TV slightly for better viewing, the alarm would be tripped.  We were supposed to notify the on-site manager if the light did not go out after the perfunctory call to the room, but after several false alarms it was understood not to wake the manager anymore if the light didn’t go off.

During my shift one night, an alarm sounded during a late movie on Channel 13, and the light came on for room 147.  It was a room in the back of the motel.  I called the room.  A sleepy sounding guy asked me what the f… I wanted.  It was a common greeting and one of the reasons I hated making the calls in the first place.  I announced that it was the front desk and asked him if he had disconnected the cable to the TV.  He insisted he hadn’t and that I should let him go the hell back to sleep.  The alarm stayed on the remainder of the night and I told the manager when he relieved me at 7:00 am.

The next night the manager asked me if I remembered the TV alarm on 147.  I said I did.

“They cleaned out the entire room,” he said.  “The mattress, the bed platform, the built-in dressers and end-tables, the drapes, even the carpet.  They took the TV, of course, and I’m surprised they didn’t take the faucets and the sink.”

I couldn’t believe it.  I also couldn’t believe he didn’t hold me responsible.  He told me he knew that I had been told not to wake him, and he guessed that hadn’t been a good idea.  They hired a night watchman after that.  A 70-year-old man that could barely walk ,with a pearl-handled .357 Magnum in a side holster.  My only hope was the gun wasn’t loaded.

Is it a bad omen to have a raven roost on your U-Haul?

Western 6 had won a trademark infringement suit brought by Motel 6 because the court said that “6” couldn’t be trademarked, I guess.  The Western 6 motel chain was bought by Motel 6 when Accor Management took over the Motel 6 chain in 1994.   And Tom Bodett is the one and only spokesperson the chain has ever had.  They hired him “to leave the light on for you” in 1986.  His voice will be on your wake-up call. 

 

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