Nick's Notes header Nick's Notes

  • Where’s the outrage?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    After “Back to the Future,” I had a massive crush on Lea Thompson, so I was ecstatic when “Howard the Duck” came to theaters a year later.  And in fact, I was kind of a big fan of the flick.  Hey, cut me some slack, I was like 8.  Talking ducks and rock and roll and Lea Thompson…what was not to like at 8?

    There’s one scene in the movie that I cannot believe did not generate more controversy back in the day.  Today, advocacy groups of every cause imaginable would be climbing over one another to voice their displeasure with the film.  And though I thought nothing of it at the time - it’s funny what you will accept as normal or logical when you are a kid, before your innocence has been sucked out by the real world – I have to admit that it’s wildly inappropriate.

    Albeit a critical scene, providing a glimpse into the true nature of Howard’s character, exposing his macho front as just that, a front…a false façade, perhaps a defense mechanism for the humanoid duck struggling to be accepted, I’m certain that this scene never would make the big screen in 2013:

  • I’m just misunderstood

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    The position of my chair in the studio is right by the window that looks out into the main hallway artery of the programming floor of our building.  There’s a lot of human traffic that flows once normal business hours commence.  It’s not human trafficking, as far as I know - but sometimes there are boxes brought by on a dolly, so maybe there are people inside…I don’t know - but a lot of folks walk by, and as is human nature when one passes by a window, they look in. 

    I made an unfortunate realization today when a co-worker asked me why I was in a bad mood.

    “I’m not in a bad mood,” I replied.

    “Then why did you make that face at me through the window when I walked by this morning?” he further inquired.

    So, here’s the deal, the outside windows of the studio are directly across from the hallway window, so perfectly aligned that the outside window (and all of its projective glory) completely obscures my ability to see anything through the hallway window once the sun rises.  When I look out into the hallway, all I see is the sun bursting through the outside window behind it.  I can see general shadowing, so I know someone is passing by or peeking in, but that’s it.  Evidently, as I strain to see the individual through the reflection, I make a squinty, kind of sour face. 

    No wonder no one talks to me after the show.    

  • I have scorpions!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    While plugging in my laptop to the outlet behind the couch, a small, dark little speck caught my eye on Sunday afternoon.  The light was just right and my vantage point perfect to notice the about 2mm thingy that, upon first glance, I thought was just one of those tiny little, fast moving spider fellas.  But when I got the tissue to squash it, two long arms extended and sent me into full-on panic mode. 

    I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I tend to overreact to things…but this was crazy lookin’.  It was like a spider but it had scorpion arms.  I didn’t know if it was a tick or a louse or some exotic thing that had hitched a ride on my produce and was now primed to attach itself to my 11 month old daughter as host and slowly devour her – yeah that’s the kind of stuff that goes through my mind.  So, I grabbed a Tupperware and sealed it in there and then began a Google search. 

    Turns out it kind of is a spider – same arachnid class – and it’s actually quite common and quite beneficial.  They eat beetle and fly larvae and ants and mites, and you probably have them in your home too.  They’re simply so small that they are rarely ever noticed.  Meet my new pseudoscorpion pal:

    I feel like I need to put a stick and a leaf in there with him, you know, to mimic his natural environment.  And though I’m not concerned at all about my family’s well being with these guys crawling around, I am starting to doubt the effectiveness of my storage container.   This thing has been sealed up since Sunday and the pseudoscorpion is still goin’ strong.   Not exactly air tight.

  • The best and worst of my TV purchases

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Since Ron Popeil first teased me with the Pocket Fisherman, I have been hooked by the television infomercial.

    In taking the time to jot down all of my “as seen on TV” purchases over the years, I have compiled what I believe to be an exhaustive list, totaling 23 items.  However, in taking various mental walks through the bowels of my home, that list seems to be growing by the moment.  Oh…Oxyclean…forgot about that one!  See what I mean?  Make that 24.  Darn you, Billy Mays!

    I don’t know what’s a greater indictment of my weakness as a man – the fact that I have purchased 24 things off of television, or the fact that I have so many things cluttering my home that I have purchased off of television that I cannot immediately recall them all from memory.  When I was a kid, every few months, my mom would go on a (what seemed to me at the time) “crazy” cleaning spree in which things were loaded into bags and a timer was set.  We were permitted to keep anything we could remove from the bag and put away in the time allotted.  It taught many lessons, but mostly it was an education in hoarding.  “If you don’t use it, get rid of it,” she used to say.

    But here’s the thing…I use pretty much all of the things that I have purchased from TV.  With rare exception, I have been an overwhelmingly successful TV shopper.  There have been some pretty monumental busts, however.  So…here we go…the best and worst of the 24:

    BEST 3:

    The Showtime Rotisserie Oven – Where Ron Popeil failed with the Pocket Fisherman and Spray-On Hair (GLH-9 is its actual product name), he knocked it out of the park with the Showtime Rotisserie Oven.  Based on repetition of use, quality of product produced, and the fantastic free toss-ins (the solid and liquid flavor injectors, the grill gloves, the roaster basket), this baby is a can’t miss.  Best Thanksgiving turkey ever! 

    The Sobakawa Pillow – What is a good night’s rest cost these days?  Not $100, not $75, not $50, not even $30 like you may be thinking.  For one easy payment of $19.99, you can rest your weary dome on a pillow of buckwheat hulls.  I use it ever night – have for over a decade – and it’s glorious.

    Space Bags – Triple your storage space with these easy to use plastic storage bags.  These things are outstanding, especially if you have kids or limited closet space.  Suck all of your sweaters into a flat rectangle come spring and store them until next season.  Suck up comforters, T-shirts, blankets, anything.  Store up all of the clothes that your kids outgrow in 1/3 the space.  Caution, however, the travel bags are great for packing a ton into your suitcase for that big vacation, but remember there are weight limits.

    WORST 3:

    The Lazy Man’s Car Wax – The theory is that you can clean and wax your vehicle in one step without having to wait for the application to dry.  Wipe it on, apply a little elbow grease, wipe it off while still wet.  Unfortunately it only proves a theory.  Very streaky and leaves behind a tough to remove film.

    The Simoniz Car Wash Kit – This baby is equipped with an extension rod topped with a rotating head of shammy strips, like you would find in the old-school drive-through car washes.  This is great…if the water pressure from your hose was actually enough to spin the head.  While dry – fantastic.  The second the shammies get wet, they become too heavy to spin.  The soap dispenser frequently clogs and the bug scrubber is too weak-bristled to have any real impact.  On the positive side, the pressure nozzle does blast out the gutters pretty well.

    The Pet Brush – Designed with rubber bristles to get deep down into the fibers of your carpet to draw up that tough to vacuum pet hair and dirt particles, the pet brush (can’t recall if it had a cooler name than that) delivers on none of its promises.  It simply kicks up the old hair and dander that has electromagnetically stuck to the bristle from the first time it was used.  Fail.

    So there you go.  If you have any questions on any products, let me know.  From the Weider Crossbow to Mr. Misty, I’ve got an eclectic collection.  And please, if there’s something out there that I simply must try, let me know!

  • Guido breaks his silence

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    In a media exclusive, the formerly missing Miller Park Italian racing sausage, Guido, spoke this morning with my brother Vince Vitrano and his partner Susan Kim on WTMJ.  How did it all go down?  Check it out.  It’s pretty compelling stuff:

    I guess it's true about Italians...we speak with our hands.

  • The night starts now…

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Growing up, I always put a lot of pressure on myself when it came time to give gifts.  Even when I was young enough that none was expected, I still put in a lot of thought and always came up with something to give my loved ones, usually wrapping up an item that was already in use by my parents or siblings.  My brother once received a Dick Clark Gold album that we listened to all the time.  My dad got his stapler from his desk.  My mom was gifted her own slippers one Christmas.  

    More than just an item for unwrap, I liked (I still like) for the gifts I give to demonstrate some measure of thought.  That’s a lot of heat for a kid, though, so I always appreciated when my target logged a thematic obsession of sorts.  My mom, for example, was obsessed with Michael Bolton.  A lot of moms can boast that, I’m sure.  For about two years, for every occasion, I knew that I could get my mom a Michael Bolton album and she would love it.  I was fortunate that very soon after I had exhausted all of those options, including his first ever album released under his given name Michael Bolotin (yeah, that’s true), our home made the switch to CDs.  Here they come again, momma!  J

    Having grown up in that environment, I came to fancy Bolton, as well.  By the way, some of his early stuff has a much harder rock edge that you would recognize from his softer, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” days.

    Anyway, I am not ashamed to admit that I own multiple Bolton tracks, including one of his most recent (Warning: the audio is clean, but if you can read lips, you might see something you don’t like):

    Happy birthday, Michael.  How can you not love this guy?

  • Are you playing high school ball tonight?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    That dirty, dirty girl Felicia has already disrupted the intellectual development of our future generation today – her nasty arms of snow and wind forcing the cancellation of classes pretty much everywhere.  Interestingly enough, most folks are more concerned with whether or not the WIAA boys basketball regionals will be played as scheduled.  The following is a living, breathing list, that is to say, subject to change, but at the moment, here is the list of games that have been impacted:


    Sectional 2 - Green Bay Preble at De Pere - PPD - Saturday 7 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.

    Sectional 2 - Kimberly at Green Bay Southwest - PPD - Saturday 7 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.


    Sectional 1 - Waupaca at Hortonville - PDD - Saturday 7 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.

    Sectional 1 - New London at Antigo - PPD - Saturday 7:30 p.m.; Regional FInal - Monday 7 p.m.


    Sectional 2 - Winneconne at Peshtigo - PPD - Saturday 7 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.


    Sectional 3 - Wisconsin Heights at Luther - PPD - Saturday 7 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.


    Sectional 4 - Green Lake/Princeton at Potosi - PPD - Saturday 5 p.m.; Regional Final - Monday 7 p.m.

    If you don’t see your team here, you’re still on, but to be safe, keep checking this LINK throughout the day.

  • Two giant nods of support

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This past Saturday, Otis (and other celebs) helped raise funds and awareness for JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  It’s a fantastic night and a fantastic organization, and one dear to Otis’ heart.  Front Row Amy, who’s best recognized from FSN Wisconsin broadcasts of Milwaukee Brewers games (see below) was also there. 

    Not sure why she was there, exactly, but when it comes to charity does it really matter?  It’s just great to see JDRF get two giant nods of support:

  • What happened to this chair?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This morning we had a little impromptu staff brainstorming session in the cubicle area of our building.  When these things happen, it generally begins with a story being told that triggers another story that triggers an idea that results in passers by being pulled into the conversation and before you know it, six people are hanging around, all competing for voice time.  When we realize that the situation is developing, a sort of a musical chairs chaos ensues – everybody grabs the nearest vacant vessel upon which to plop and the banter begins. 

    I guess I drew the short straw just now as I happened to select this chair.  I swear I didn’t do it…I swear…whatever “it” is.  So, I’ve gotta ask: what happened to this chair?


  • From the most romantic guy on Earth...

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This can be a tough day for single types, especially those who wish not to be single.  If that's you...if you feel that you have no one and nowhere to your weary mind, for all is not lost:

  • Worst Valentine’s Day present EVER

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Hey guys, Valentine’s Day is coming up this Thursday.  Most of us are aware of that, but some of us may be struggling with what to do to keep it fresh, make it feel new again.  You’ve been giving the same old thing every year, going to same old restaurant since you started dating, maintaining the same old traditions you always have.  This go 'round, you’d like to do something special for your special someone. 

    Or perhaps you’re not all about the “Hallmark Holidays” and you’re looking to give a gift without having to put in much effort. 

    Or it could be that you want out of your dead end relationship and you’re hoping to present your lady with something certain to prove the last straw and she’ll leave you in disgust. 

    Or maybe you’d completely forgotten and my opening line there is news to you.  Well, here’s the great news…for everybody.  The perfect gift has been right there for ya all along:

    Wow, thanks CBS.  Thanks for caring, and especially for suggesting the WORST GIFT EVER

    “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.  I called the doc and swung in today, and my fellas are good to go.  What’d you get me?”  

  • Nothing says relevant like Richard Marx

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    In an effort cover their rear ends…err…clean up television for the good all of all hard working American families, CBS sent a memo to all Grammy attendees to cover up the old bits and pieces, so to speak.  We talked about this earlier in the week, but in case you missed it (and haven’t turned on the TV all week), basically the network warned against exposure of the buttock and breast regions, the genital regions, and also cautioned against see-through clothing and “thong type costumes.” 

    OK, cool.  Regardless of CBS’ true motivations, I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to try to class it up a little bit.  Of course, acts like Chris Brown are still signed on to perform at the event, and that paints the network in a bit of a hypocritical light…and Richard Marx thinks it’s high time somebody say so publicly.

    On his Twitter account, Marx posted the following:

    "Risque’ clothing banned at Grammys but guys who beat up women? Come ooonnn downnnnn…. #goodcallgrammys"

    AWESOME!  Well played, Mr. Marx. 

    And though I support him entirely in his remarks, I feel it still rings incomplete.  I mean, what?  Was Steve Winwood not available for comment?