SBD/February 14, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Weekend Plans With Jack McCallum: Valentine's Day Dinner And Road Trips

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McCallum frequently visits his grandson Oliver in Pennsylvania
JACK MCCALLUM has spent three decades covering the NBA for SI, but this weekend’s All-Star Game in New Orleans will be one of the first he has missed since he began covering the event in ’85. Since semi-retiring from SI in ’09, McCallum has turned his focus to book writing. He currently is working on a project with Syracuse basketball coach JIM BOEHEIM. McCallum from his home base in Bethlehem, Pa. -- where he has lived for most of the last 40 years -- traveled to Storrs, Conn., on Thursday to speak with former UConn basketball coach JIM CALHOUN, Calhoun, and says he travels to Syracuse to work with Boeheim every 10 days or so. Between working in Syracuse and visiting his two sons -- one in Vermont and one 90 miles away in Pennsylvania -- McCallum has put about 30,000 miles on his car in seven months.

DRIVE TIME: It’s a three hour drive to Syracuse. I had never done books on tape -- I’m probably 20 years behind the trend -- but my wife just bought me my first books on tape. The first one was BILL BRYSON’s book “ONE SUMMER, AMERICA 1927.” It’s about 1927 and what an eventful year that was in American society and culture. I discovered that and Spotify within the last two months so the drive is almost something I look forward to. I have everything from NIRVANA to VAN MORRISON along with 50 versions of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad" for my 4-year-old grandson.

LOVE STORY: Friday is Valentine’s Day, so I’ll spend that with my wife DONNA. Instead of going out, we have this thing where we cook or prepare something for each other out of our comfort zone. And there’s not much out of her comfort zone so what she cooks is usually pretty good, but I have a far vaster lack of comfort zone so mine will be a little more questionable. I usually don’t cook with a cook book, but I’m probably going to have to go to that. Anything that you have to measure, I’m in trouble. Then Friday night we will watch the “HOUSE OF CARDS” rollout. Maybe two episodes. Watching a drama about diabolical activity may sound counter-intuitive for Valentine's Day, but when you've been married for almost 40 years, it's okay.

COUNTRY ROADS: On Saturday we’re going to go and see my son JAMIE up in Middlebury, Vermont. He’s a sociology professor at Middlebury College. We probably go up there once every three or four months. We don't ski, so we basically eat and go over to a couple basketball games. Middlebury has a good Division III basketball team. For restaurants, they’ve got these sort of country places. There’s one that’s impossibly-Vermont sounding called The Bobcat Café. It sounds like it would be sort of onion rings and fries but it’s actually a pretty good restaurant. The problem is there’s about four or five good restaurants but everybody knows about them, so they’re always crowded. I tend to order the basic proteins. I’ll have pork, I’ll have burgers, I’ll have fish or chicken. Both of my sons are vegetarian so I don’t have to share my order ever.

GREAT ESCAPE: We’ll be (in Vermont) Saturday and Sunday, and then I’m going to go down to our place at the Jersey Shore in a town called Stone Harbor. I’m going there to work on the Boeheim book. The only way I can seem to write is to get away. It’s not like anybody bothers me here, it’s just psychological. Without any distractions, without even feeling like it’s that hard, you can write 10 to 12 hours a day. I allow myself one “LAW AND ORDER” rerun around 5:00pm. You can get so much done because the town is completely dead. You can get a slice of pizza somewhere but that’s about it. There’s nothing to do but work.  We got the place there about 10 years ago. We use it in the summer for our grandkids, but when I have a book to write it’s a good place to write in isolation.

GRANDPA JACK: I said I was going to pick up more hobbies after I semi-retired, but between writing the books and babysitting and grandparenting, I don’t really know how I had time to work full time because it just doesn’t seem like there’s much free time. I teach a class every other semester at my alma mater, a course in the media communications department at Muhlenberg College. I also consult with the Muhlenberg magazine, which means I basically write a story every couple of months for that. It really seems like I’m just busy enough.
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