Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hey Vern, knowwhatimean?


Jim Varney's Ernest character is one of the great comic characters, but the movies were of the poorly scripted B movie variety.  Ernest was in a series of movies and had his own television specials as well as a children's television show called 'Hey Vern, it's Ernest'.  But all those productions were subpar.  Ernest deserved better. 

We all first met Ernest in a series of hilarious regional commercials in the early eighties.  I always looked forward to what Ernest was selling in Vern's window next.  It's a shame they couldn't take Varney's character in better vehicles.

I put the Ernest P. Worrell character on the same level as Don Knott's Barney Fife.  Both Varney and Knott's had their character down, and comedic timing down pat.  Knott's had Mayberry, and I wish that Varney had found his Mayberry.  For me, Don Knott's never had a good vehicle after Mayberry.  Jim Varney, I feel, never saw his full potential before he died.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Garrison's Gorillas

ABC replaced Combat! with another WWII action series called Garrison's Gorillas.  The pilot was originally shot as the last episode of Combat!.  Of course the Combat! cast were not told that they were being relieved of command during the production of the spin-off.  The pilot never aired as the last combat episode.  The parts with Rick Jason (Lt. Hanley) were edited out and the show was aired as Episode 1 called 'The Big Con'.

Somewhere along the way the network had decided they didn't want two wartime shows on the air simultaneously. I am pretty sure they knew what they were doing all along.  Garrison's Gorillas was going to be cheaper to produce because the network didn't have to pay the actors of the greatly successful Combat! the money they were demanding - at least that was the scuttlebutt.  Another reason for ABC to move away from the idea of having two WWII series is because of sentiments regarding the ongoing Vietnam War.

Garrison's Gorilla's was nothing like Combat!, it was meant to be a television version of the hit movie The Dirty Dozen.  The producers even secured Telly Savalas to portray the same type of demented character in the pilot that he did in The Dirty Dozen.  Not only did Garrison's Gorillas mimic The Dirty Dozen, but there was a Mission Impossible flavor to the show.  The show had a good cast, and well written, just not that original.  The sets were the same as Combat!, and the sounds were Combat!'s. To me, the show wasn't able to grow out of the shadow of it's predecessor.  Combat! would always be the better, the more original, the more authentic series. Garrison's Gorilla's ran only 26 episodes - almost a full season.  ABC replaced it with The Mod Squad.  As a kid, I didn't give the show much of a chance because it replaced Combat!  Tonight I watched the pilot of Garrison's Gorillas on YouTube.  I enjoyed the show, but it wasn't...well...you know.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

on an unclear day I could see forever


The Etowah Theater is located in Attalla, AL.  I don't recall much about it other than mother loading us in the station wagon to go see The Sound of Music there.  I was very impressed by the movie.  At the time, this theater was a second run theater, but in 1965, the owners managed to outbid the first run theater's in Gadsden for exclusive rights for this cinematic blockbuster.  It was this theater's most successful showing.

I was seven years old in 1965.  I remember seeing the movie, but not much about the theater itself.  I had never been in there before or ever since.  I do remember how colorful and the brilliance of those grand hills and songs.  I also remember the contrast of stepping from such a brilliant and grand cinematic experience into a most un-brilliant and un-grand overcast day.  Before heading home, mother pulled the pale blue Galaxy into the Attalla Piggly Wiggly and left us kids in the car as she picked up a few items.  The songs still reverberated in my head as the sky darken a little more.  A brief shower arrived at the parking lot as I gazed through the glass The rain tapped on the hood, beaded and streamed down the window.  There we were, having left a world of living color into a muggy black and white day.

It was the first time in my life that I experienced that contrast from cinema to reality.  It was a very stark moment for me, stepping down from the lush mountains of Switzerland, onto 5th Street of Attalla Alabama.

The skies did brighten up after we drove up the mountain to our home on Scenic Hwy.  We had our own lively hills at the Finlayson house.  The dark clouds were no more and I remember climbing the hill in our backyard and personally recreated Julie Andrews twirling and singing 'The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music'.  Those nine words were all the lyrics I knew of the song, so I just kept twirling and singing what I knew over and over again until I got dizzy doing it, and the afterglow of it gone.

...don't tell anyone I told you this.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Welcome to Paradise

Randy Stonehill gets down to Millbrook, AL on April Fools 2016.
Last stop and almost home.
I'll write about Jesus Music from time to time here at Boomerville because I was part of the Jesus Movement.  I wasn't much into the stuff a lot of my classmates were into back then.  I didn't go to the ball games, the proms, whatever.  I merely showed up, payed my dues in class and dusted my feet off of it all when the school bell rang. My joy was hanging out with other young Christians like myself at Christian Brothers Coffeehouse.  I loved the gatherings, the prayer meetings, the small and large concerts.  I'd roadie for my brother, for my friends as they'd go places to sing.  I was messing with his guitar on the side, trying to learn to play so I could write songs and sing and go too.  It's what I was all about.

I purchased a cassette player for my ride back in '76.  I had three Jesus Music tapes that I wore out. Randy Stonehill's 'Welcome to Paradise' was among those three cassettes.  Christian Brother's Association hosted concerts, festivals, and provided sound for other concerts and festivals.  I got to see almost everyone LIVE back then, but never Stonehill...until last Friday evening.

My old friend Jack Jackson had posted on facebook that he was having Randy Stonehill play at Grace Community Church down in Millbrook, AL.  Like I said, I had never got the opportunity to hear Randy perform.  On top of that, I had not seen my friend Jack in decades.  My oldest daughter Katie had to stay back and study, but my youngest, Kelsey, was free and willing to go.  Gina, Kelsey and I drove down and walked in after Randy had taken the mic. 

It was a fun concert.  Millbrook was his last gig before he and his wife Leslie head back in South Carolina.  Stonehill looked a little tired.  He admitted right off the bat that he was a bit punchy, but what a show! He played a lot of familiar songs in the first set and then returned with songs from his new CD.  It wasn't a large audience, but Randy gave it his all.  I enjoyed the songs, his energy and his spirit.  I think though, the best thing about the guy, is he took time after the concert to talk to anyone who wanted to talk to him, a very pleasant and approachable fellow.

Jack asked us if we'd like to go out and eat afterwards.  We settled at Applebees in Prattville around midnight.  Stonehill was at the opposite end of the table still entertaining.  Jack and Debbie were on my end, so nice to just catch up on life after all these years.  Jack asked if we could hook up for breakfast before we left town.  So we continued out conversation the next day at Cracker Barrel for a couple more hours before parting. I had a great time.

This is the first activity outside of home since my hospital stay.  The trip wore me down, but I had the rest of the weekend to rest.  I don't regret it a bit.  The girls had fun too.

Randy is interested in coming back next year.  The talk at the table Friday night was a return visit for an 'all request concert'.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it down for that one too.


Friday, April 1, 2016

wood console to the vast wasteland

I had the task of clearing and cleaning my mother in-law's house after she passed away a few years ago.  One of the items I had taken away was Betty's old Curtis Mathis wood console television set.  I remember it being in use when Gina and I were dating.  When it broke, the television sat in the same corner of the den with another television sitting on it.  It was used in that capacity for almost a decade.  Eventually the old console was moved to her garage and sat there until she died. I offered on several occasions if she needed me to haul it off for her.  She always politely declined.

A wood television console is kind of like catching a mermaid, too much fish to kiss and too much woman to throw back in.  The wood console television was too much furniture for Betty to have hauled off as junk.  Even though the old wood grained units were crafted to look like furniture, they were still just too much electronics to re-purpose (though some have tried). Most of these units eventually were kicked to the curb.