Naming Rights (and Wrongs)


When my son was born in November of 1986, and his mother and I gave him the name Dashiell, it wasn’t “trending.” In fact, the word “trending” wasn’t trending 28-1/2 years ago. A lot has changed.

The list of the world’s top 100 baby names for both boys and girls has been released, and MY boy’s name appears at #69. So, he’ll likely run into a few other Dashiells at some point down the road.

However, this list generated by the folks at Nameberry is based only on Internet SEARCHES of names. It takes true creativity and intestinal fortitude (and maybe a few extra cocktails) to actually GIVE your kid a name like Dashiell. (And, our son has lived up to his unique name, with his kind soul, sharp wit and musical talent.)

However, when you do choose a name like this, you’ve got to hope people pronounce it correctly. (It’s DASH-ull, by the way, not dash-EEL, although there’s always the fallback “Dash,” for short.)

The other top name searches so far this year, according to Nameberry, are Charlotte (due to the Royal baby) and Atticus, thanks to the character in the new Harper Lee novel published this year as a follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird. Anyone who actually names their son Atticus should have their head examined.

In our house, my stepson Jack has the most popular name, coming in at #15 on the Nameberry list for 2015. It’s simple and cool.

And that should really be the guideline for naming your child. Does the name sound good, whether you’re cheering him on at an ice hockey game or scolding him for sitting in front of a big screen too long, playing gory video games?

Some of the others on the list that just don’t meet those basic guidelines are Harlow (#34), which is too close to harlot, Beatrice (#30) and Theodore (#17), which both sound like names that are definitely going to increase your chances of getting beaten up at school.

Of course I’m the last one who should be criticizing anyone’s name. I use a shortened version of my middle name, Davis, because my given first name of Layton was already being used by my father AND my father’s father. No one is searching THAT name on Nameberry or anywhere else.

I’d love to hear stories about YOUR names via email or in the Comments section below. The most interesting ones could end up on my new radio show, available soon on FM dials, computers, and phone apps.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host whose favorite name belongs to former Vikings’ defensive back Earsell Mackbee, although current 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt is giving him a good run!

Running Around

2015 Boilermaker-blues bros

The 2015 Boilermaker 15K road race in Utica featured everything from ballerinas to Blues Brothers to a finish-line wedding proposal. Spoiler alert: she said “yes” and the Kenyans won again.

The best parts about driving around in a car instead of running: I got to to see the start, the finish, and catch a few different vantage points of the race in between. And I wasn’t tired at all.

Despite failing to train properly for weeks in advance, my wife still managed to turn in an excellent time. Mostly because she “drafted” behind maybe the biggest bun in the history of hair. Beth’s Garmin GPS runner’s watch factored her drag coefficient at roughly 27% better than normal, thanks to the woman’s coif in front of her.

2015 Boilermaker-bun

And the girl on Beth’s other flank won the 2015 Boilermaker award for Best Usage of Kinesiology Tape. (Even though it’s designed to enhance athletic performance on things like knees, I’m thinking about applying KT to my intimate parts to see what that does. For research purposes only!)

There were some other standout award winners along the race route. The folks from KISS FM did a great job with the music and energy. And these gals had some great signs at the turn from the Parkway onto Genesee Street:

2015 Boilermaker-signs

Anyone who is actually running away from someone else’s angry spouse in real life, please send me a private note; I’d love to incorporate you into a funny reality segment called Infidelity Survivor that I’m developing for my new radio show. (True identities will be kept anonymous to protect the innocent…and the guilty.)

The thematic runners are always fun, and did not disappoint this year. The ballerinas in my shot below were the only females (but apparently not the only humans) wearing tutus. The Blues Brothers clones pictured in black suits at the top of this post could not have been very comfortable in the heat.

2015 Boilermaker-ballerinas

My stepdaughter Katie is planning a theme for next year with her equestrian pals, running in full attire. If they’re really ambitious, they’ll convince some boys to run in front of them, dressed as horses. And they’ll deploy some riding crops.

The finish line at Saranac Brewery, with beer and food, is of course the promised land for the runners. And also for a lot of freeloaders looking to save on groceries for the week. This shot captured my wife right before she hit the tape:

2015 Boilermaker-finish line

Beth’s the one with the bright yellow shirt in the lower left corner, finishing just behind the Kenyans.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host. His car runs just fine.

CoupleTake: Flip Flops

fish flip flops

Beth writes…

There are parts on men that are (I think we can all agree) not attractive. Entertaining? Yes. Nice to look at? Maybe. Does that extend to feet? Furthermore, does ‘unattractive’ trump ‘comfort’? I don’t mean pajamas at Wal-Mart, I mean flip flops.

Last winter, we all went on a cruise that included stops at some gorgeous Caribbean beaches. My husband, Dave, wore sneakers. On the beach. In the ocean! Pretty much everywhere. He is a conscientious objector to flip flops. In his words, “men should not wear flip flops.” For me, the day the weather finally becomes warm enough to wear flip flops, I get a pedicure, do a happy dance, and pop those babies right on my feet. What other item of footwear can be gotten for $1? The bargain price is obviously a sign that we are all meant to wear flip flops when summer rolls around.

Granted, women spend a little more time on foot maintenance, in general, than men. I thought maybe this was the problem for Dave. Years of professional soccer have left him with some questionable looking toes. I lovingly refer to them as wombat feet. To make matters worse, he has a tendency to trim his toenails into weapons – his little piggies are carrying shivs!

I dragged him for his very first pedicure. I think he enjoyed it. His tootsies came out of it looking pretty damn good, I thought. I offered to shop with him for some masculine man-sandals. His answer was an emphatic “no!”

In spite of this, I think a man in flops is perfectly acceptable – especially in a beach scenario.

Just not with socks.

Dave writes…

Flip flops are the fashion equivalent of chopsticks. Shoes and forks function much better for their assigned tasks. And humans look better in public with more updated gear.

Flip flops and chopsticks are both vestiges of pre-Christian history. If you want to use chopsticks as a nod to traditional cultures, whose people utilized the crude sticks to shovel food into their pieholes, that’s cool. And it’s also okay if you want to wear old-fashioned sandals because they’re comfortable. But let’s not pretend either item functions better than today’s footwear and utensils. Embrace the technology, people. Progress is not a bad thing.

On the topic of appearance, have you seen how bad most of us look while attempting to use chopsticks? It’s so challenging, it should be an Olympic sport. (In case you’re tempted, don’t bother. The Chinese would dominate, just as they do in ping pong.) And feet are the ugliest feature for many humans. Why show them off any more than necessary. Barefoot is bad enough. Stick some sandals on Fred Flintstone (or your next-door neighbor Wally), and observe how the horror is framed and accentuated.

Then there’s the annoying sound flip flops make when you’re in motion. The noise is like your soles are being softly spanked by a wet noodle. Foot fetishists: stay out of this discussion!

The very names of the items even have bad connotations. Chopsticks is the most rudimentary song on the piano. Flip flops are what bad politicians perform when they’re not consistent on the issues.

Girls do look good in flip flops, but there’s no upside for men to wear ‘em. They don’t look good. You can’t run well in them. The rubber strap irritates the webbing between your toes. There’s just no point. Unless you’re dressing up for a Halloween party. In fact, this year I think I’ll go as a male douche. I’ll wear flip flops and carry my own chopsticks to eat the hors d’oeuvres. And I’ll top it all off with one of those porkpie hats. I can see Beth keeping her distance from me right now.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host. His wife Beth is a longtime flip flop wearer.

(Almost) Lost in the Woods!


(Credit: Obvious Plant)

My family and I got lost briefly in the woods today. Visions of Deliverance, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Alive danced through our heads.

We feared hillbilly attacks, thought about how many bug bites recent New York State prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat endured during their 21 days on the lam in the Adirondacks, considered what natural berries and barks we could subsist on, and pondered which one of us we might have to eat to survive. (At 6’2″ and 240 pounds, I’m sure I would have come up the loser there.)

Thank God our new best friend Mark rescued us from nature…and from ourselves.

The exaggerated real-life Survivor tale began at about 1:00 PM Wednesday afternoon and ended at roughly 3:00 PM.

Our flirtation with Hell started as an innocent walk in the park. Two adults, three kids, and two well-fed Chocolate Labs. The sunlight pierced the canopy of the trees and sent an ominous glare off of the fully-charged cell phones we carried on our persons.

And then it happened…

We did the unthinkable. We ignored the GPS signal that was tracking our precise location vis-à-vis our nearby SUV where we entered the park. We continued going in THE OTHER DIRECTION! Can you imagine the horror?

Individuals in our party all had different ideas about the best course to return to the park.

“We need to go left to get back.”

“No, no, I think it’s to the right over there.”

“I recognize this stump from before.”

Soon, we were off the grid! Outside of the well-marked trails of the park! Traversing dangerous, heavily wooded private property. For about 30 minutes!

Just before we stumbled back into civilization, we heard the yelping of dogs and the banshee screams of small children. Obviously it could only be the plaintive cries of distress from poor souls being chained against their will by evil kidnappers and suffering cruel torture at the hands of sadistic backwoods miscreants living in dilapidated shotgun shacks!

Nope. Just a brother and sister playing with their doggy outside an idyllic middle class American home.

“It’s all about context,” said my wife, as we viewed the truth behind the noises, and stomped the mud off our shoes onto a well-paved suburban road.

A friendly neighbor named Mark smiled at us and offered to give us a ride back to our SUV.

“You must get this ALL the time,” I said. “People emerging from the woods at your house…”

“Oh yeah,” he said, “kids running up to me, sobbing, and giving me hugs…’WE THOUGHT WE’D NEVER SEE HUMAN BEINGS AGAIN.'”

Turns out Mark is a flight instructor, who recently launched a local online co-op business specializing in connecting companies with customers. He’s off to a good start, because he definitely connected us with our car.

If you have any harrowing tales of getting lost in the woods, I’d love to hear ’em.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who loves long walks in the woods, followed by a cold beer on the couch.

Think Macro, Not Micro

Micronesia Minnows Soccer

(Credit: Twitter)

We’ve all been on the short end of the stick in sports. Playing for and/or coaching teams that had no chance, or vying against opponents so superior that the match-up really wasn’t fair. But 114 goals to zero?

That was the aggregate score in three recent soccer matches against the team from Micronesia in a competition called the Pacific Games (which has a great website for you fans). Micronesia lost 30-0 to Tahiti, 38-0 to Fiji, and 46-0 against Vanuatu. So, they’re definitely not improving.

Maybe next year Micronesia should consider wearing shoes. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but seriously: in the team photo above it looks like one of the goalies is wearing jean shorts! Can’t the people at Nike just step in and fix that?

Perhaps switching coaches is the recipe for positive change? Easier said than done. The current boss, Stan Foster, claims he’s the only certified coach in Micronesia. Maybe he meant certifiable, because you’d have to be a bit nuts to put yourself through this much pain.

And it’s possible no one else wants the job. It comes with, um, challenges. Micronesia’s population of 104,000 is spread out across 7.4 million square kilometers of the Western Pacific Ocean and comprised of 607 islands. Finding, organizing and training a competent soccer team can’t be an easy task.

The Cleveland Browns may never win a Super Bowl. But at least their players don’t have to take boats to get together and practice.

The Federated States of Micronesia also face other challenges. Its four geographic states include ones named Chuuk and Yap. Let’s face it: I could’ve told you these were locales in a Dr. Seuss book and you would’ve bought it. But, breeding grounds for top midfielders and strikers–forgettaboutit.

Micronesia obviously needs to start THINKING bigger. When your soccer team gets skunked 114-0, maybe you should give them another name besides Minnows. Come on! There’s lots of fish in the sea. Minnows? Really? Change that, folks!

Or maybe it’s time to just give soccer a rest and dedicate your energies in a different direction. Micronesia has excelled at other sports in these 2015 Pacific Games. Weightlifter Manuel Minginfel won a gold medal in the Snatch and a silver in the Clean and Jerk. And certainly Micronesia has SOMEONE who can swim, right?

Now, we’re not saying there’s NO hope for Micronesia soccer. After all, if Jamaica can field a bobsled team, anything’s possible. But, it would take a miracle. Until then, Micronesia may have to hang its straw hat on offering some of the best SCUBA diving sites on the planet.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who is wagering on Micronesia’s Va’a (canoeing) team.

Another 4th Down

front door

It was quite an Independence Day weekend at my house. To sum it up: red, white (black) and blue.

Red, from the cuts and abrasions I suffered. Black and blue, from the bruises on my back and side. White, because I’m just an ordinary average white guy trying to survive another suburban 4th.

I didn’t blow off any fingers. I didn’t try to launch fireworks off the top of my melon. I didn’t challenge any alligators by diving into their natural habitats. However, I did suffer a personal injury. My attacker is pictured above. You have to look REALLY close to make an identification.

Here’s the story…

Lugging overstuffed garbage bags and recyclables from the house to the garage, I fell down the front stairs. If any of our neighbors witnessed the incident from across the street, they must have laughed.

The fall was one of those slow-motion deals that seemed to take FOR. EV. ER.

Due to the garbage bags in front of me, I could not see anything below my waist, including the crucial stairs in the picture. At some point, one of my feet became twisted and I started to go down.

Let me get an important fact out of the way: I had NOT been drinking. Which actually kind of makes my lack of balance even more pathetic.

On the way down, I remember hopping on one foot once or twice and trying in vain to right the ship. Not sure if I did a complete 360 in the process, or just a partial, as I performed my dismount from the concrete staircase.

I do recall bouncing off the table-saw with my shoulder, dislodging a candle in a round glass case that shattered on the garage floor, slamming my spine against the garage doorframe, and landing in a sitting position on my ass–not hard, but in the sad fashion of someone trying and failing to claim the final seat in a game of musical chairs.

I ended up with a cut on my hand, a scrape on my upper arm, and bruises on my back. The drinking began shortly after that.

Next year, I’m sticking to my duties at the propane barbecue grill. Nothing can possibly go wrong there. Hope YOUR 2015 July 4th festivities were smoother than mine and injury-free. If not, I’d love to hear about it.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who can’t wait to be back on the air.

Canada Is Better?



Every July 1st is Canada Day. It’s an annual occasion for our friendly northern neighbors to celebrate their independence as a sovereign kingdom and drink lots of Labatt’s.

Canada Day is full of parades, fun, and fireworks. Just like our Independence Day, except fewer rednecks blowing off digits with M80s or losing eyes with bottle rockets.

“That one’s not shootin’ off, Earl.”

“Okay, Lonnie, I’ll go over there and try and re-light the sucker.”

They’re not quite that dumb in Canada.

So, as we approach another birthday for the USA, it’s useful to realize that the Canucks can teach us a few things. Here, then, is Stuff We Can Learn From Canada:

 Nuclear families are more plentiful and valued than they are here. The divorce rate there is significantly lower than in the United States. Dual-parent families, specifically ones where a dad is present, are better environments for kids. And, let’s face it, we guys are essential to have around; we make great scapegoats and/or laughingstocks for just about every situation. (If you don’t believe me, just watch Inside Out, the great new Pixar movie.)

– They have more great cold-weather cities. Vancouver, Quebec, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, for starters, are all really clean and really cool. We have Minneapolis, which is basically South Canada.

Prime Minister is a way sweeter title than President. Companies and schools and leagues and clubs and organizations and committees have presidents. Only countries have PMs. Let’s be distinctive out there!

– They deal better with headaches up there. Those “222” pills that have codeine? Available over the counter! So…road trip!

– Canada leaves responsibility in the hands of the individual. Like, if you can’t handle the potency of the pills with the narcotic, then don’t use the pills. Or, don’t spend what you don’t have–Canada’s debt on a per capita basis is about HALF that of the U.S.

– Hockey. We’re getting better down here. But up there, it’s a religion. And Canadian hockey players are the best human beings among all professional athletes. Because they grew up in Canada. With fathers and nuclear families and values. And prime ministers. And 222s. And the assumption of their own responsibilities. And the innate sense of humor to realize they’re fortunate for what they have.

Happy Canada Day! Thanks for the tips. Now please take back Justin Bieber. If you have any other Canadian tips, please pass ’em along, eh?

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host whose grandfather was born in Canada.

New York Prison Escape: the Movie?!?


Central casting is calling all lookalikes for the people pictured above!

Writers of the hit Netflix show Orange Is the New Black or TV executives seeking the next big reality hit need look no further for ideas than the recent correctional drama in Northern New York.

The saga of escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat, and Joyce Mitchell, the woman who helped them, along with prison guard Gene Palmer, who may also have played a role, has it all. Love triangles, sex, lies, escape, death, betrayal.

Plus, the upcoming court case promises to be highly entertaining.

Sweat is alive, in captivity again, and already spewing details about Mitchell, the prison tailor who fell in love with one or both of the jailbirds, provided them with tools to break out, and promised (then reneged) to drive them to Mexico, where they’d all live happily ever after.

That part of the story prompted the line of the year from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said that “wasn’t a fairy tale I was read as a child.”

We can’t wait for the movie. And all this unfolding in advance of the trial of Mitchell, which is shaping up to be a doozy.

Try to picture Sweat, the con, all gussied up and testifying for the prosecution against Mitchell, the woman he was going to blissfully spend the rest of his life with, south of the border, wearing sombreros and sipping native tequila.

How quickly the tide turns!

Then imagine the Defendant. Joyce Mitchell will be dressed in some chaste petticoat, with pearls around her neck. She’ll be coached to sweetly bat her eyelashes as she proclaims her innocence. And her team of lawyers will dismiss Matt’s testimony as the insane ravings of a lunatic felon.

We’re rooting for a conviction against Mitchell. Then, sentencing and incarceration at Clinton Correctional, so she and Matt can resume their relationship at the same facility where it all began.

Now that’s a fairy tale! For morning radio hosts like me and prison drama fans everywhere.

If Governor Cuomo were smart, he’d use this tale to boost the flagging economic fortunes of his state. Field bids from production companies to turn Mitchell’s prison tailor opening into the basis for a reality TV show.

Who says there’s a job crisis in New York? Get your résumé to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Malone, New York ASAP!

You probably don’t even need to display any creativity in your tailoring work; just prove you won’t fall in love with any inmates.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who hasn’t been to jail. Yet.

NASCAR in Sound Bites


Kyle Busch won NASCAR’s Toyota Save Mart 350 this week in Sonoma, California. With an assist from Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured).

The former governator drove the pace car, maybe even using Waze to maneuver around the track. And why not? The popular GPS app now features Arnold’s own voice issuing directions:

Of course, if he WAS listening to himself as he negotiated the banks and turns of the oval NASCAR track on Sunday, it probably sounded more like this:

Busch, who took the checkered flag, chalked up the victory to an unusual dose of male humility:

Schwarzenegger even stuck around until after the race to congratulate Busch:

Kyle’s brother Kurt finished in second place and was all choked up:

The elder Busch didn’t win much for second place, but fared better than Clint Bowyer, who was third:

At least their cars aren’t controversial. Bubba Watson, who won golf’s Travelers Championship, has some explaining to do about his 2012 automobile purchase:

Bubba Watson-Gen Lee

(Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic)

Bubba paid $110,000 for the General Lee from TV’s Dukes of Hazard. In light of current events, Schwarzenegger is not too happy:

Maybe Bubba should just take some of the $1.2 million he won in Connecticut over the weekend, buy some orange paint, cover up that confederate flag, and call it a day.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, and can’t drive anywhere without Waze.

Who Can Still Play?



Former NFL running back Herschel Walker would like a try-out with the Atlanta Falcons at age 53. With a daily regimen of 1,500 push-ups and 2,000 sit-ups, he’s probably in better condition than many younger players.

I wouldn’t bet against Walker. And I’d also bet there are a few other select senior athletes who could compete, at least minimally, in their sport. Thus, the following list…

The Top 10 Athletes Over 50 Who Could Still Play in the Pros:

Steve Carlton. Known as “Lefty” during his playing career, the first ballot Hall of Famer is now 70. With his precision control, weight-lifting and unique martial arts training (like driving his fists into buckets of uncooked rice), he could probably get a few outs in a pinch.


Gary Fencik
. The career interceptions and tackles leader in Chicago Bears’ history is now 61. He used to ride his bicycle all over downtown Chicago and could wear #45 proudly today for the Bears.

Bill Lee. The Spaceman used to jog to and from games at Fenway Park and smoke marijuana. He played minor league ball just three years ago, his wine (Spaceman Red) is a big seller, and he’s forever young at 68.

Dominik Hasek. Always one of the top-conditioned athletes in pro hockey, he just turned 50 and could no doubt still turn in a solid NHL game between the pipes.

Ron Boone

Ron Boone. The one-time NBA and ABA legend (pictured with Miss Utah 2008) held the record for most consecutive pro basketball games played (1,041) until A.C. Green eclipsed that number. I co-hosted a morning show with Boone on the flagship station of the Utah Jazz and played golf with him, and I’m betting he could ball a little bit now–even at 68.

Ray Guy (pictured up top). Still lean at 65, the best punter in NFL history would definitely be able to execute his craft if called upon.

Steve DeBerg. The oldest quarterback to start an NFL game (age 44 in 1993), his training as a top collegiate pole vaulter and his amateur magician’s hands would allow him to manage a modern NFL game under center at 61. He couldn’t be any worse than Geno Smith, right?

floyd little

Floyd Little. Turning 73 July 4th, 2015, but he can’t be a day over 45. The college and pro football Hall of Famer is fit, smart, pleasant, and ever-positive, and there’s not another athlete I’d pick as a teammate, even today. Funny, too:

Phil Niekro
. The 76-year-old’s knuckleball no doubt still dips and darts. He could give you a few solid innings.

Martina Navratilova. She became tennis’ best-conditioned athlete and arguably the sport’s top player. She’d be a tough tournament out at 58.

We’re waiting for one of these senior athletes to make history. And if it’s not one of them, let’s bring Ted Williams’ cryogenically-frozen head out of deep storage. Even if he didn’t make contact at the plate, it would make a great ballpark promotion.

Got any other nominees?

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, and a fading athlete.

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