Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tempus Fugit

And then 2 1/2 years went by. Today I had a phone call from an old friend and as we shared the stories of our last 2-3 years I remembered this blog. I passed on the link because I still think some of those stories are funny,

Coincidentally, while looking for something else I found copies of some posts from another long defunct blog which died when WordPress became too complicated for an aging mind. And it got hacked.

If the same spirit still moves me, I may edit and repost some of those old entries.  Hey I''m almost 72 and I have the attention span of a rock so don't expect much.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thrilling TV Tales #2

My sons Tom and Bill are in their 40s now but in 1968-1969 they were precocious pre-schoolers. I worked long hours early in the week and finished up around Noon on Thursday. Their mother worked Thursday and Friday evenings and we had family days on Saturday and Sunday. It was a nice schedule for a couple of years. At some point the boys had become fans of Dark Shadows with a bit of a twist. In the show, just before Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins made an appearance, a certain theme music played. When the music started the boys hid behind the couch until he was off screen again. This was all explained to me the first Thursday after they became fans. 

Later that day, the boys were playing in the "toy room" and I was reading. Then it started, "Dad, can we watch Dark Shadows?" "No, you'll just hide behind the couch." "No, we'll watch, we promise." So, of course old Dad relented and turned on the TV. The boys sat on the couch and I sat back in my reading chair and the show started. 

The boys were acting a little nervous and I said, "You're going to hide!" They answered, "No, we promise." 

Things were fine for a few minutes until that music started. There was a rustling sound and before the 4th note there was the sound of two bodies hitting the floor. I looked around at the couch and they were gone. I don't think they ever did see Jonathan Frid. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Words mean things

I wont post rants all the time but it IS my blog so here's one:

I love words. I consider my vocabulary to be way above the average but now and then I run into a word that irritates me for some reason. Usually it is a "new" word, some made up piece of useless jargon that some group of "eLiTeZ" have decided is "de rigeur" for the moment. Usually, the word is unnecessary as it replaces a perfectly good word for no valuable reason.

An example of this is the (usually incorrect) usage of "sourced" to replace "supplied."  "Supplied" has worked just fine for years. What is the added value of mis-using the word "sourced"? None that I can see. Let's look at a concrete example before moving on. Back a few years when I was still "gainfully employed" (wouldn't "working" have been better? More concise for sure.) Anyway, back when I was working I got a memo addressed to "All those sourced from 01."  Obviously 01 was a location, but where was a mystery. My boss didn't know what or where 01 was. Eventually I discovered it refered to a particular warehouse. Then I was in a "quandry," (See:  Large vocabulary. Puzzled or confused would have been better communication.) I was almost certain that despite the fact that the warehouse in question supplied us with more than 25,000 items, NOT ONE of them was sourced there. They only passed through. Unloaded from one truck which may or may not have come from the source, those products lived a transient existance (There he goes again. Those products were only in the warehouse temporarily) and then they were shipped out to one or more of 128 stores. So here is a guy whose mom still buys his groceries looking cool (to himself) because he failed to communicate. (I had 5 phone calls that day asking me what "sourced from 01" meant.) Sadly, the word "sourced" has remained in use with clever youngsters everywhere and now the most incompetent of those have risen to higher positions.

Anyway, that's not the word that irritated me today. Nor was it "quirky" a word used exclusively by the ever so "precious" food and travel writers of the world.

Today's winner is "unreconstructed" which apparently means "not reconciled to some political, economic, or social change" I'd love to see the etymology of that. So, how often do you use that word in a sentence? Maybe I am wrong, but wouldn't "old-fashioned" do the job without the need to find a dictionary?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thrilling TV Tales

Sometime in January 1954, homework finished and dinner over, my brother Dick & I settled down for our daily ration of TV. Often that meant the evening news but we didn't care. We were watching the one-eyed monster. That was all that mattered. We were hooked. The beginning of the TV generation. Since it was a school night, we had to go to bed way too early and in order to cut down on bathroom fist fights, Dick who was 18 months younger had to head upstairs a half hour before me. This had been a minor problem before Christmas when the TV arrived but in the week after school had started up again it reached a crisis. Dick staged a whine-in at the top of the stairs. The stairwell acted as a megaphone and filled the living room with the screech of a 9-year old's whine:  "IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV..."

Finally, unable to ignore it any longer my father yelled, "Go to bed! There's nothing on but Eddie Fisher and he stinks!"
Immediately and without a pause, the whine changed to "I wanna watch Eddie Fisher stink..." We really didn't care what was on. We just wanted to watch it.

Through the even more addictive magic of the internet, you can watch Eddie Fisher stink too.

A Christmas Story

This is the city. Bangor, Maine. I live here. I'm a kid. December 24, 1953. 5pm. I was working the day watch out of the living room when a big white truck pulled up in front of the house. A tall man with sculpted bronze hair and glasses held together with what looked like a band-aid got out and opened the back.

"Swede's here," my mother said and my dad was out the front door like a flash. Together they wrestled a large box from the truck to the front porch where they peeled off all the cardboard and packing material revealing a beautiful Bendix Television Set about the size of a kitchen stove. Dad and 'Swede' Nelson eased the new TV through the front door and into a corner of the living room that had been cleared to make room. That explained why the Christmas Tree was not in it's usual corner this year.

The men tilted the case this way and that while my mother spun the legs on and finally there it sat. Huge, awesome, unbelievable. We finally had TV! Dad plugged it in and Swede played with the knobs in front until finally a ghostly, snow covered John Cameron Swaze appeared extolling the virtues of Camel Cigarettes.
Swede said, "We'll need to do some fine tuning," and stepped behind the TV. He fiddled with something back there and the picture magically cleared to (17" diagonal) glorious black & white and we could hear Swaze reading the news. Exciting stuff but the real  excitement was about to begin.

Swede called to my dad to join him behind the TV and showed him the rod that came out beside the picture tube and explained the fine tuning. Then he pointed to the back end of the picture tube and said, "Whatever you do, don't touch th...BAM! Swede slammed off the wall behind the TV and crumpled to the floor. Before anyone could react he shook his head and climbed unsteadily to his feet. Like Boston Blackie's fedora, Swede's sculpted bronze hair was undisturbed.  "I hate it when I do that. But that was why you never want to touch that." Dad said we would all learn from his experience and be careful. Dad & Swede retired to the kitchen (probably for some lemonade) and we all stared bug-eyed at the new one-eyed monster in the corner. All the wrapped gifts under the tree were totally forgotten.

Swede & dad came back into the living room and Swede reminded us that although there were channels 2-13 on the dial, we only had one channel in Bangor so we wouldn't have to change it. Dad walked Swede to the truck and then we all sat down to dinner, rushing to eat so we could go watch TV.

Finally we settled down and heard the famous "Dum-de-Dum-Dum" sound as Dragnet started. You can watch the very same episode here:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Get your kicks...

Early on a chilly Tuesday morning in October 1963, the 4th day of our adventure, my friend Jerry & I were woken by an Indiana State Trooper pounding on the window of Jerry's old Rambler station wagon.  He informed us that it was illegal to not bother anybody by sleeping in the car in a State Police parking lot along side US 40. We thanked him for the wake-up call and continued our Westward journey, crossing most of Illinois before the sun came up. At about 9 am we stopped for breakfast in East St. Louis, and in an hour we crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri. There, as we made our way through morning traffic in St. Louis, we came upon the famous Route 66. The next three days we got our kicks. Westward through Springfield and Joplin we rode through small towns and farmlands spotted with more fireworks stands than Jerry & I had ever seen. Somewhere along the way we found an all night gas station that let us park and sleep. And then we hit Kansas. Grazed it actually. Route 66 cut through the Southeast corner of Kansas and at 60 miles an hour we were through with just a fading memory of roadside sunflowers and a sign that said Galena. We headed Southwest across Oklahoma past Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and into Texas. It had been a hot and dry Summer everywhere and that area was burned brown. Cactus, scrub brush and oil wells were all that grew along the road. It wasn't long before the countryside started to sprout neon and sleazy looking bars & motels. We stopped in beautiful downtown Amarillo for the night. Sleazy or not, a shower and a real bed felt good.
Thursday morning we headed West into the mountains of New Mexico. We had Buffalo Burgers in Tucumcari and pushed on through Albequerque into Arizona to the Petrified Forest, Winslow and Flagstaff where we stopped for the night. Friday was a long, busy day that began at 5 am. We headed north to the Grand Canyon, about which I will only say, "No picture can capture it. You MUST see it." Way too soon we were back on Route 66 and crossing the Great Divide at 5 mph, pushing the poor old rambler over the crest. (No, I am not kidding.) Then we crossed the Hoover Dam (Incredible!) into Nevada. We stopped for gas and played our first one-armed bandits. The gas station had a dozen five-cent machines. I won 60 cents. It was getting dark as we crossed the Mojave desert through Barstow and into Bakersfield and the end of Route 66. One more night in the car and in the Saturday morning fog we headed North through the San Joaquin Valley lettuce fields to San Francisco. 48 years ago.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

...and More Pizza

In a previous lifetime, when I attended the University of Maine in Orono, I often visited a tavern/pizza joint in the town called Pat’s Pizza. Pat Farnsworth had originally opened a tavern there in the 30′s and it had evolved into a beer and pizza place for the nearby University. Back in those days, alcohol was forbidden on campus so everyone walked the mile or so to the town center and at some point during the evening would end up at Pat’s. The beer was cold, the pizza was hot and the music was loud. One of my fondest memories from that time is of my last beer at Pat’s. I was sitting downstairs in the Tap Room with 2-3 friends and about halfway through a beer when Pat came over to the table and whispered iin my ear, "Tommy, I know you are underaged. Put the beer down, get up and say goodnight to your friends and get out!" By the time I could have gone back, I lived in California.
I mention this because on the 1st, as we do once a month, Don & I went to Pat’s for a pizza. Pat has passed on, but his family keeps it going. The pizza is still the best and I suspect it is because it’s the same oven and the same pans from 50 years ago. Come to think of it, some of the waitresses may be the same too. Not so many students now in this age where University cafeterias have beer on draft, but lots of people my age who just can’t stop eating that pizza.