Monthly Archives: July 2013

Maine vacation is vastly approaching

Greetings, readers. (Keekee says, “Meow.”) The meow Keekee just gave us, I am sure, is for: Feed Me, Daddy. You see, readers, Keekee has us well-trained that as soon as we get down to work it is d-i-n-n-e-r time. Sometimes I think Keekee can spell too. {Keekee just won. Joe is off to feed her. He will be right back.}

On to the topic of the day. This coming Wednesday or Thursday morning will mark the beginning of my annual Maine trek. I’m planning on making a little side trip on the way up to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This was a stop Mom, Dad, Grandma and I made when I was a little boy. I wanted to do it last year, but went right past the exits both on the way up and coming home. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. This year I am going to program it directly into the GPS. I also might go to our library and print out the directions just in case from Google maps.

Now the big question is: am I ready? The answer is: not by a long shot. Supplies were purchased for Keekee and some laundry will be done tomorrow. The rental car, however, will not be obtained until early Wednesday, so I really can’t pack the car until Wednesday afternoon. Rebecca is coming early that day just in case I want to get an early start on the road. I will probably pack my suitcase Tuesday night.

I can’t wait to see all my family and friends at Bear Spring. We always have such a good time getting caught up; at bonfires in the evenings, at mealtimes, and on the pontoon boat while fishing. The week always seems like three days. Much too fast.

At this very moment 15 copies of my new book are being produced and made ready to ship directly to Bear Spring Camps, so that anyone who wants one can purchase one. My last two books were about Bear Spring and I want to show my loved ones that I can actually write something other than camp stories. I am proud of all three of my books.

When my week is over, I will stop in a hotel in Southington which I have stopped at twice before and found comfortable. It has three things that I love about a road-trip stop. One, easy to get to from the interstate exit. Number two, equally easy to get back on the interstate. And number three, a Dunkin’ Donuts within a block for breakfast.

Gee, in a little over 350 words, I’ve just gone to Maine and come home already. Haha. Seriously though, as someone who was used to going to Maine for two weeks and now can only stay for one, I actually live out of my suitcase. I only really unpack my toiletries and my medication. The person who cleans and makes fresh the cabin each day, known as the cabin girl, doesn’t seem to mind the suitcase on the extra bed. And in my 40-some years of going I have not had one article stolen from any of the staff. That is one of the reasons I consider Bear Spring Camps my second home. It feels just as safe as my home here does.

While I’m gone, Rebecca will chime in a few times. So until I get back, take care, enjoy the summer, and happy reading. P.S. I’ll catch a fish for you.

New book is officially for sale!

Greetings, readers. My third book, published through, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger is for sale. We worked very hard on this book and it was a pleasure for Rebecca and I to go through and find the best entries from my first year. While the creation process was different for this book than my previous two, in that we were simply compiling and then editing pieces I wrote over the course of a year for the blog. I did write new material for a select number of articles to add information needed for a new reader to understand the context or to update.

Both Rebecca and I are proud of this new book. It’s 146 pages filled with fun and interesting blog posts from late December 2011 to December 2012. Also, as a side note, this is my first book with pictures in it. One from my book signing and three of how I decorated my place for Christmas time. It will take about a week for the book to be on the Amazon site, so for now it is only available in my eStore. The url is: and the price is $8.99 plus shipping.

After we ordered the first proof, we noticed some problems with about seven of the entries. The print looked very faded, as if CreateSpace had toner issues when they printed it. We emailed their customer service department, and they sent a free copy of the proof. We saw that the second copy had the same problems as the first, so the problem was on our end. We arranged for CreateSpace to call us, and they gave us some suggestions, but they didn’t really solve the problem. I was facing a deadline to get books before my trip to Maine, so I approved the proof and put the book on sale last Friday, but at a lower price until we could solve the problem. Then yesterday, Rebecca changed from where she cut and pasted the entries in question, and it seemed to solve the problem. I resubmitted the interior file to CreateSpace, they approved it today, and we looked at the (free) digital proof together. We noticed that it solved the problem for some of the entries, but not for all. Three or four entries still appear fainter on the page than all the others. That is better than last week, so I approved the proof again, and the book is for sale, still at the lower price.

As I wrote in earlier posts, the blog entry that gets the most views is Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, from March 23, 2012. As of today, the total number of views for it is 291. Absolutely, that entry is in the book.

Until next time, have a great day, take care and happy reading.

Coffee fixes everything!

Greetings, readers. Ever have one of those good days that had a few bad things mixed in? Well, I had one yesterday. It all began when my alarm failed to go off … because I forgot to set it. I guess I needed to sleep; no big deal.

Over to Panera Cafe I went for a much-needed cup or two of light roast coffee. A friend met me and we chatted. This was also unexpected but enjoyable. We discussed issues she was having that morning. I like to think that I am always here for my friends when they need me.

In the afternoon I went to my massage therapist and ended up in more of a back spasm than when I went in. Not his fault. Alan is simply wonderful. Feeling worse when the session is over only happens on very rare occasions. After a short nap when I got home, I back felt fine again and my legs were limber. My legs and hips always tighten up during the two-week period between visits. On days that I go to see him, I usually waddle into his house because I am so stiff.

Now, at 7:30, I’m back here at Panera Cafe enjoying more light roast and writing the first draft of this blog entry long-hand. (I am typing this in the next day.) I got inspired by an embarrassing mistake. I have a friend here at Panera named Justin. I got so flustered about something else going on in my day that when I asked him what was new I said, “So what’s news, Dear?” Dear???! He knew it was a slip of the tongue and we laughed about it.

Well, until next time, when I hope my day will be a little more normal, take care, enjoy life, and happy reading.

Top ten things I love about summertime

Greetings, readers. Finally … here is this past weekend’s top ten list for you. As usual, these selections are in no particular order though number one is my favorite.

#10. Seeing green again. [I always hate during wintertime when there is snow on the grass and no leaves on the trees. Everything looks dead.]

#9. Seeing people drive around in their convertibles.

#8. Baseball season.

#7. Watching students at Penn State play frisbee or ball toss on the lawns of campus.

#6. The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and the People’s Choice Festival.

#5. The late spring/early summer carnival. [I believe it came in late May or early June and sadly it no longer comes back.]

#4. Being outdoors more. [I was never one for taking a walk in the cold.]

#3. Hamburgers and watermelon at a summertime cook-out.

#2. Enjoying a Hires root beer float.

#1. My annual trip to Bear Spring Camps every early August.

Well, there you have it. Chime in with your list if you want to and Rebecca and I will reply. Until next time, take care, have a great day and happy reading. P.S. Stay cool if you are in the heat wave. 92 degrees here.

Where was that top ten list you ask???

Greetings, readers. Due to the fact that I was slightly under the weather and had other pressing issues with family, the top ten list I promised did not happen this last weekend. It will come out tomorrow, for certain. The title will be the Top ten things I love about summertime.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Top ten list will come over the weekend

Greetings, readers. With Rebecca and I on such a hellish roll on proofreading, we have decided not to put the top ten list up today. With our weekday being over at 3pm, we are going to keep on trucking. I will post it Sunday evening or Monday, as Monday is my completely free day. On a slight side note, by then I will be 48 years old. Whoo-hoot.

Take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

New book proof # 1 news

Greetings, readers. Let us tell you about Greetings, Readers. As many of my regular readers know, the new book about the first year of my blogging experience is due to come out quite soon., where I get my books published, requires one proof, either physical or digital. Today in the mail, almost on cue while Rebecca and I were discussing it, come physical proof #1. Well…

Rebecca and I found a few mistakes with it, mostly spacing issues and oddly enough toning difficulties of which I have alerted CreateSpace. While I expected to order at least one extra proof before clicking the “ok for sale” tab, the low toner issue was a concern to me. I’m hoping that they give me a satisfactory answer to this question. Something that CreateSpace wanted me to look at were my four photographs – the first of my three books that has pictures in it – because of low resolution or pixel problems would make them grainy. While not as sharp as a bell, they are satisfactory to both of us. When the book is ready for purchase, we shall let you know. I just wanted you all to have a quick update.

Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger is thicker than my other two books at 149 pages. It is so thick in fact, that we were actually able to get the title on the spine this time. Keekee has the cover photo and is the same shot that you see above this blog at this time.

With my annual Maine retreat coming up here in half a month, Rebecca again will be handling the new blog entries from approximately August 1st through the 12th. That’s all my big news. Very exciting day here.

I will have a new entry for you here on Friday, more than likely a top ten list. So until then, enjoy the weather if you aren’t being rained on, take care and happy reading.

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July

Greetings, readers. As the title says, I hope everyone in the U.S. had a great holiday. While at Panera Cafe, I watched the 4th of July parade go by and saw one of my friends on her motorcycle. All of the riders were decked out in red, white, and blue tee-shirts. Very patriotic.

That night, I was treated to my usual fireworks display over at Beaver Stadium, which is approximately a half mile from my apartment window. Both kitty cat Keekee and I enjoyed the 45 minutes of festivities very much. Keekee is always fascinated by the flashing lights in the sky and, as daddy puts it, the occasional “boom boom.” The show began at approximately 9:15 and ended around 10:00. After the thunderous minute-long finale I could faintly hear applause coming from the crowd. After everything went silent, I turned on the lights in my apartment, and went back to my evening routine.

To other news, we got a positive response to the blog entry with our local newspaper article about my show. With the show now in the past, it is time to move on to other things. Later on today, I’m going to begin what will either be a writing project or maybe just a writing exercise. I already have the beginnings of Bear Spring Camps 3 on the front burner. I’m taking my laptop to Maine in a month and will be doing a little bit of work on the book on rainy days or in the evenings.

Finally, with the nice warm weather and sunny days that have returned, I am as happy as a clam. Central PA received more than its share of rain in the last couple of weeks, due to a low pressure system which stalled. I was thinking that I was going to have to build Joe’s ark. Lol.

Next week we hope to go back to our usual two entries a week. Until very soon, have a great holiday weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Chris Rosenblum CDT article about my memorial lip sync show

Greetings, readers. This is the write up by Mr. Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times newspaper concerning my memorial show for my late friend Erin Beish. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience and most rewarding. I’m certain that she would have been pleased. Erin always wanted to see KISS but it just wasn’t to be.

This was the first time ever in my lip syncing air guitar “career” that I went all the way by including make-up and black fingernail polish. What follows is the reporter’s actual article from the on-line late Saturday night CDT. What is included is the two-minute video promo of me talking. The photos did not transfer to this blog entry, so you will have to follow the links to see the work of Nabil K. Mark.

Update: 10/11/13 – We just discovered today that these links to the CDT pages do not go to the video or article. Update: 8/26/16 – We removed the links to the CDT pages since they did not go to the content anymore.

Chris Rosenblum | Tribute sealed with a little Kiss

Published: June 15, 2013/

By Chris Rosenblum —

Joe Kockelmans rocked out, his invisible guitar slung low on his hips.

Black and white makeup covered his face like the members of his favorite band, Kiss. His fingernails shone black, the same color of his Kiss T-shirt.

No longer was he a mild-mannered 48-year-old writer.

He was Ace Frehley, lead guitarist, slamming out the solo to “I Stole Your Love” in the community room of the Arnold Addison Court apartment building in State College.

He was a grieving friend remembering a lost soulmate.

He was the Mimic.

That’s his alter ego, his stage persona for the air guitar, lip-syncing performances he’s been doing since childhood. He loves rock, but mild cerebral palsy keeps him from playing real guitars and drums.

For his latest show, he wore a black M on his face, Kiss-style, not for himself.

He did it for Erin.

Erin Beish, an Arnold Addison Court neighbor of his, died in May from cancer at only 34. Also a diehard Kiss fan, she always wanted to see a concert but never had the chance.

Kockelmans, in her memory, filled in the best he could.

“I’m going to give her spirit a show that she would be proud of,” he said the day before his performance.

He chose 18 songs for two sets and downloaded them to his laptop. Studying Kiss concert videos, he picked up mannerisms of original members Frehley, bassist Gene Simmons, rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and drummer Peter Criss, as well as musicians from later lineups.

In a backroom of Panera Bread downtown, his second home, he rehearsed for weeks. He shaved off his beard.

On the big day, a friend at a salon painted his face. About a dozen friends from the building gathered in the community room. Kockelmans arranged his laptop and two tiny speakers on a table in front.

Then it was showtime.

His audience wasn’t treated to spurting blood or pyrotechnics — just good, clean, rock ’n’ roll theatrics.

Singing sometimes, lip-syncing other tunes, the Mimic furiously strummed as he shifted from Frehley to Stanley in midsong. He shook his shoulders and head, strutted, nodded, grimaced and glared. One minute, he pointed skyward and then the next, he wagged a finger at his audience or, after slashing power chords, raised his fist.

During some numbers, he switched to drums, laying down a crunching back beat, rolling fills and riding a cymbal.

He even showed some tongue, a Kiss staple.

Of course, no concert would be complete without song introductions.

“Some people like to have a little wine. Some people like to have a little beer,” the Mimic said, playing to the arena. “Some people like a little something harder. And some people like a little …”

And he kicked into “Cold Gin.”

Before “Nothin’ to Lose,” he offered a dedication.

“Some of these songs I chose just because I like them. Some of them are just great Kiss songs,” he said before explaining his next selection.

“Because to me, it signified what Erin had to go through to fight her cancer. She had everything to gain, and she just put up one hell of a fight.”

To applause, he added: “She had everything to gain … and nothing to lose.”

Two more songs honored his friend directly.

Opening his second set, the Mimic sat and gently sung his only non-Kiss song, “Yesterday.” Six months before to the day, he had rehearsed it in front of her for a Beatles show he and friends were doing.

“Why she had to go, I don’t know,” he sang.

Then came the classic “Beth,” only with a twist.

“Sister, sweetheart, this is for you,” he said. “It’s called ‘Erin’ today. If they want to sue me, go ahead.”

Rock ’n’ roll is hard work, and the Mimic needed a few breathers. During one, a boy in the audience came up, curious about the middle-aged guy in makeup. Like a pro, the Mimic gave him a few minutes.

“I’m Joe — usually,” he said. “Today, I’m the Mimic. I know I can’t sing. I know I’m all over the place, but, hey, I’m trying.”

Toward the end, the tribute began taking its toll. His solos grew less frenetic. He stalked the stage more slowly.

But he rallied for the anthem “Rock ’n’ Roll All Night,” waving his arms and urging his audience, in true arena fashion, to sing the chorus.

After a rousing “I Love It Loud,” he closed the performance with the showstopper “Detroit Rock City.”

He pulled out all the stops: a hip-shaking, head-tilting, tongue-extending song from the heart to a fan dearly missed.

“We love you, Erin,” the Mimic sang.

He windmilled a chord.

“Thank you so much, Addison Court,” he said.

With a last resounding strum and the time-honored two-fingered rock salute, he said goodnight to State College.

“Thank you.”

Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter@CRosenblumNews.

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