Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting back in ‘Touch’ with his TV obsession

It won’t be long now.

Before we get too far into the month of March, I will be setting aside the compulsive side of my personality to indulge in the obsessive side.

This has to do with a new TV series that will be making its debut next month, and I will be watching every Monday night episode until the programs have run their course.

I will not keep you in suspense. The name of the series is “Touch,” and don’t ask me why they call it that. Somebody in production decided it was a good idea.

The pilot program was shown in late January. It stars Kiefer Sutherland, who went through living hell once a week on “24.” That is where the obsessive-compulsive part comes in. I was O-C about watching “24,” to the point that it almost ruled my life.

I am deeply indebted to the person who invented the black box on top of our living room TV set, because when I am unable to watch a show I am O-C about, I record it and watch it later.

There were times I wasn’t able to be home on a Monday evening. Multiple events of varying degrees of importance were always coming up.

So I would record “24,” or anything else approaching that level of intensity, for example, an Indians game. I would hit the “record” button, a little red light would come on and the program would be there for later viewing.

Other that sporting events, there have been very few programs that approached the level of excitement attained every Monday by “24.”

Oh, I was O-C about watching “The Fugitive,” but that was on back in the days of black-and-white TV, before recording buttons were invented.

When I watched the pilot program of “Touch,” I knew I was hooked.

I realize it will never reach the level of madness that “24” attained every Monday, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime show, one that disrupted work schedules every Tuesday as otherwise dedicated workers would take time off at the proverbial water cooler to recount every detail of the previous night’s show.

When I read that Kiefer Sutherland, the man they could never kill off as Jack Bauer in “24,” would be starring in “Touch,” my commitment was sealed.

Instead of watching Jack Bauer in “24” on Monday, I would now be watching Martin Bohm in “Touch.”

Actually, that is a hideous name for a hero in an adventure series, but I am not convinced that Martin will be as heroic as Jack.

It always took a dozen or so guys to rough up Jack, and not until he had knocked the daylights out of half of them.

But on the pilot program of “Touch” some dopey neighbor of Martin’s punched him in the stomach and it really knocked him for a loop.

Of course, in our neighborhood people don’t go around punching people in the stomach, so we don’t have any clear-cut examples of Jack Bauer or Martin Bohm prototypes.

 “24” ran for seven or eight years, or days, in their parlance. So by the time I got caught up in it, I had missed the first two years (days).

But I found a good friend, I believe it was Larry Disbro, who had purchased the DVDs of the early shows, and I borrowed them.

Catching up was disastrous for my sleeping habits. I would watch three or four hours of episodes, and then say “I will take just a peek at the beginning of the next hour to see what is happening.”

That didn’t work at all. I would end up watching the entire hour, then take a peek at the beginning at the beginning of the next hour, and so on, until it got to be 4 a.m. and I was still taking peeks at the next episode.

In the new series, Jack, or rather, Martin, has an 11-year-old son who has never spoken. The lad is emotionally challenged, but he has the ability to predict things before they happen. He is constantly scribbling numbers with magic implications on a pad.

They always seem to happen at 3:18 in the afternoon while the boy, Jake Bohm, whose real name is David Mazouz, is on top of a radio tower, where he has climbed, scaring the daylights out of the entire cast.

I would guess the boy is not mute. In other words, he has an acting part that does not require any speaking, but I presume when they are sitting around the set, having lunch, he says whatever is on his mind.

At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now. I will keep watching to find out for sure.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Camaraderie chief among reasons lunch is fun

Nobody enjoys lunch more than I do. My friends will attest to that.

But mostly it’s not the food I enjoy so much as the people I’m with.

At least two days a week — Mondays and Saturdays — the cast of lunchtime characters is the same.
But one day a month — the first Wednesday — is a special occasion I set aside and mark in my book so I will be sure never to forget it — as if I ever would.

At precisely 11:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday, the Lake County Police Chiefs Association meets for lunch at Dino’s Restaurant on Route 306 in Willoughby.

They are always on time. Fortunately, I don’t have far to drive, being next door at Lakeland Community College when the time approaches.

It is an easy three-minute drive. Maybe two.

I have missed very few chiefs’ luncheons since Aug. 3, 1983. That was the day they made me an honorary lifetime member of their organization because of some help I was able to give them in passing a countywide narcotics levy to fund the bureau that relies on the taxpayers in its battle against the illegal drug establishment.

They gave me more credit than I deserved for passage of the narcotics levy.

Here’s what was unique about the campaign to educate the voters on the need: The News-Herald
published full-page ads, free of charge, containing pictures of every police chief in Lake County — except for one, who refused to take part — along with a quote from each chief on why the issue was important.

Even at that, the vote was a close call. But Lake County got its narcotics bureau, it has done a commendable job over the years of bringing drug dealers and users to justice, and I go on as a happy and contented member of the chiefs association.

I respect them tremendously — individually and collectively — for the work they do and for some of the things they sometimes have to put up with because, let’s face it, not everybody likes cops as much as I do.

The chiefs who recommended me for lifetime membership were Bill Crosier, who was Willoughby chief at the time (he is now retired as chief deputy of the sheriff’s department), the late Bill DePledge, who was chief of the Eastlake department, and Bob Davis, who was chief of the tiny Lakeland department.

But that was a part-time gig. Bob was also a full-time cop for 50 years with Eastlake, and a very good one at that.

The chiefs met for many years at Dino’s before it was Dino’s, when it was East Side Mo’s.
Then we went to the Painesville Elks Club for several years. That was a bit of a drive, but I always went.

Now we are back at Dino’s. Guess where I would rather meet?

It is always a treat when one of the highly respected retired chiefs shows up at an occasional meeting. Such was the case when former Mentor Chief Tom Fracci joined his former colleagues the other day.

The luncheons break up about 12:45 and the chiefs go back to work. Crosier, Willoughby Chief Conrad Straube and I sat around talking for a few minutes when Tom Fracci stopped by.

That guy is a treasure, both personally and in the treasure trove of stories he has to tell.

He loves to talk about crime coverage in The News-Herald. And he loves to reminisce about stories from the past that come back into clear focus with the re-telling.

“You had a girl reporter who worked for you who was so great,” Tom said. “Her name was...”
Bill Crosier interrupted. “Nancy Daniels,” he said.

“Yes,” Tom said. “That’s who it was.”

Excuse me, but old timers in the business are not offended by the term “girl reporter.” Nowadays, I’m not so sure. Nancy Daniels. Brenda Starr. They’re all girl reporters to me. So if you don’t like it, as the song from “Guys and Dolls” goes, sue me.

The four of us chiefs, including three real chiefs, Bill and Conrad and Tom, went on and on for some time about the days of yore when getting the story first and getting it right was uppermost in my mind and the cops were always there to help.

In addition to working together, we also had a lot of good times together. And I didn’t even mention the “pizza, beer and BS” poker games in the basement at Mentor Harbor Yachting Club. Nor will I mention them. It’s top secret.