Saturday, August 30, 2008

a boy and his gun

What red blooded American boy in the 1950's and 60's didn't want to have his itchy little trigger fingers wrapped around a Daisy BB Gun? Man-a-live what a toy! Earlier today I heard my cousin Gene Chunn talk about shooting his little brother Eric and myself with his B-B gun. I remember the night well. Brooky and Gene had positioned themselves behind our garbage cans on Cliff Road. There were no BB's in the chamber, but Brook and Gene had secured a bountiful supply of lady-finger firecrackers that worked nicely. They would then cock the rifle and light the firecracker, and take aim at either little brother running up the hill. It was excellent target practice. Eric and I had a great time running up and getting hit in the chest with an explosive. POW! We'd then roll to the bottom of the hill laughing. I don't recall our older brothers giving us a crack at shooting at them that evening. I do recall both Eric and I going into the house that night with countless black burn holes in our coats. It looked as if we had been tortured by a gang of chain-smokers - used as human ashtrays.

Here's something else we'd do with our BB guns. Tack a ketchup packet to a tree and shoot at it from a distance. The packets would burst into a bloody mess when hit. Every time I see a ketchup packet - I want to kill it.

Yes, I did shoot at animals with it - but only in self defence. We had dogs all in our neighborhood and some weren't very nice. If a dog in the neighborhood got a little too aggressive - it was a boy's right to sting a furry ass with a little dose of respect. Dogs would yelp and head for a hole to hide. Hopefully the beast would be nicer the next time you were in their neighborhood. If someone came out upset about my brand of BB Gun justice - it was the boy's right to yelp and head for a hole to hide.

My cousin Gene told me that he got in a little trouble when he was a youngster by target practicing with his little sister's plastic tea party set. He lined up the pretty pink plastic china on his dad's barbecue rig out back and commenced to hone his rifling skills.

I never shot another kid with my rifle - at least not intentional. I did hear about kids in other neighborhoods that would have BB Gun battles. That kind of play was a little too rough for me. My friend "One Eyed McGee" said that he and his pals had BB Gun battles all the time. I declined his kind offer seeing how I didn't want to acquire a like nickname.

Friday, August 29, 2008

rev your fake engines

Mattel made the V-RROOM engine that you could strap to your tricycle or bicycle. There was a control on that was strapped to the handlebars to allow the user to rev or adjust the engine noise volume. I didn't have one of these toys - but I had friends that did. It was pretty swooft accessory for a kid to have.

I had a friend, Dan Parrish, that actually had a bicycle with a molded plastic exterior that looked like a motorcycle. It wasn't a real motorcycle mind you - it was just a regular kid's bike enclosed in plastic motorcycle facade. It took the V-RROOM engine idea to another level. Dan had a bike that not only sounded like a real motorcycle but looked like one too. Now if they'd only figure out a way that a kid didn't have to pedal the thing - you'd really have something there. Dan let me ride his faux motorcycle of his once. The big plastic exterior made the bike kind of hard to pedal around but it looked cool as hell.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the texico fire helmet

Here's a toy that wasn't found in toy departments. This fire helmet could be purchased at your friendly local Texaco filling station. It was a very sturdy piece of head gear that was pretty hefty in weight when worn. It had a built in microphone that allowed a kid to amplify commands through out the neighborhood. I wore this toy out.

The only bad thing about playing fireman is the fact that there were never any fires to put out. That's why I learned to play with matches and lighter fluid - to give me an opportunity to save the day with my Texaco Fire Chief helmet and a garden hose.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

of Terminators

It's been well over twenty years since the first James Cameron's The Terminator movie was released. Back in 1984, The Terminator instantly became on of my all time favorite SciFi movies. There have been three movies to date with a fourth, SALVATION, on it's way to theaters.

Earlier this month I ran across The Sarah Conner Chronicles on Fox. The entire first season had passed by without my noticing. I was expecting to be disappointed with the show, doubting that it would measure up to the original big screen stories. I wasn't disappointed - I am hooked. Through out the month I've had my DVR busy recording all the episodes of the first season so I could catch up. It is a great show - the first made for television science fiction to capture my attention in a very long time.

The second season starts this September. I'll be off at school most evenings but will wearing out my DVR feature on a very regular basis now that I've got a favorite television show. I think the last time I had a favorite show was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Before that, it was The Rockford Files.

Friday, August 22, 2008

do you know the count and the amount?

Tom York of Birmingham's WBRC Channel 6 hosted DIALING FOR DOLLARS. This show was one of my favorites. No, he never called our house but he showed all the old classic 30's-40's horror, cold war atomic creature features, and mystery movies sandwiched in between his telephone calls. By the way, did he ever call anyone outside of the Birmingham area? Probably not.

Basically, you had to be watching the show in order to know the count and the amount. Tom would be standing by the phone cold-calling unsuspecting home dwellers just before commercial break.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the avengers

Long before Aeon Flux, Laura Croft, or Electra - there was Emma Peel. She was just as lethal as she was good-look'n. Aeon, Laura, and Electra are so one-dimensional. Emma had personality, humorous and could kick butt. See…three dimensional! Karate CHOP, keeeYah!
Emma Peel & John Steed were special agents that preceded Fox Mulder & Dana Scully of The X-Files. Emma & John solved quirky cases with daring-do and dry British banter and charm. They'd usually end each solved case with a glass of brandy and a bit of dry wit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Clutch Cargo

CLUTCH CARGO was a strange kind of cartoon. This is budget animation at it's best...or should I say worst. Human mouths were integrated into the cartoons to complete the overall wierdness effect. In spite of the poor quality of the animation, the cartoons were actually pretty good as far as story and characters go. There was also another show by the same studio called SPACE ANGEL! Maybe I can dig something up on that as well.

Superman - Secret Agent

This Superman cartoon made in 1942 proceeds the Babyboomer generation. These Max Fleischer cartoons were, like Warner Brothers, Disney, and MGM cartoons were originally made for theater audiences. But all these great old cartoons were reintroduced when television came into being. I love these old Fleischer animations. I picked this particular show because of the cars, the action, the Nazi's and the dame with the nice gams.

The old Fleischer Superman cartoons are every bit as exciting to watch as the new action movies being released today.

The Batman Animated Series that was introduced by Warner Brothers back in the early to mid-nineties had a lot of the old Fleischer influences. I am a fan of that series as well.

Superman Cartoon - Eleventh Hour - WWII Era

This Superman cartoon made in 1942 precedes the Babyboomer generation. These Max Fleischer cartoons were, like Warner Brothers, Disney, and MGM cartoons were originally made for theater audiences. But all these great old cartoons were reintroduced when television came into being. I love these old Fleischer animations. I picked this particular show because of the cars, the action, the Nazi's and the dame with the nice gams.

The old Fleischer Superman cartoons are every bit as exciting to watch as the new action movies being released today.

The Batman Animated Series that was introduced by Warner Brothers back in the early to mid-nineties had a lot of the old Fleischer influences. I am a fan of that series as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dr. Suess and his wicked story

We didn't have many Dr. Seuss books on our family book shelves. We did have a collection of his work entitled The Sneetches & Other Stories. The very last story in the book was called What Was I Scared Of? It was about a little Seuss creature walking home and discovered that he was being followed by a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them. I don't know why, but as a kid that story, the images drawn creeped me out to no end. Now the story had a happy ending but it was unsettling to a little imaginative boy that never cared to look back down the dirt road when walking home as daylight dissipated. I must admit there were many times I would break out and run for home as my thoughts ran wild - unknown, unseen, creatures in the woods surrounding the road. Mysterious being just over the hill behind me - staying just out of eyesight - yet bearing down nevertheless. I wouldn't be completely safe until my sneakers touched down on my own home turf. Maybe images of that story played upon pre-existing fears of that boy named David

I don't care if the pants ended up being of the friendly sort, - I still don't like the idea of being stalked by a possessed pair of Dickies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

early reading

Aside from Dr. Suess books, this book to the best of my recollection was my first book to read. There were two Homer Price books and I can't tell you a thing about the plot. I do remember why I read the book. It was upon seeing the cover with a kid and a doughnut machine that gave me courage and the appetite to read a bonafide big book..well...big for a little kid. I remember being proud that I had taken on a book filled with pages of words rather than pictures. The only thing that I remember about it is that the author, Robert McCloskey, might have been inspired somewhat by O'Henry's work. The "Ransom of Little Red Chief" comes to mind. There was an episode in the book where Homer took on a bunch of criminals with his pet skunk. That rings of O'Henry. Then again, after reading the Wikipedia bio on Mr. McCloskey, he might well have based Homer Price on his own youth. Who knows.

The cover art of the book does take me back to my boomer youth - the kind of reading wholesome reading and adventure that I enjoyed as a kid. By the way, what book or books come to mind from you're childhood?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the dark roads of Boomerville

There have been several times that I've wanted to post about the negative aspects of being a Baby-boomer. I have plenty of fond memories but do not wish to glorify a generation that was all so self-indulgent. We were from the same genes of our parents, (survivors of depression & a world war) but we were not cut from the same cloth.

The linked article relates to the infantile aspect of the Me-Generation. No, I didn't forget that moniker. The motto of the era was Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. This is a NeoZine article is a long read yet explains a lot about what happened yesterday and what is happening today within the family unit and among the Millennials. The self indulgent old hippies have produced off-spring with their own strange selfish bent - and it's coming around to bite us in the butt.

Though I enjoy revisiting places of my past, our shared boomer experience, I am not proud of everything in which my generation is responsible. You can still hear people in the media talk about the good old days - glamorizing the stupidity of the mid to late 60's. I will write about it but this article I stumbled across expresses much of my negative thoughts regarding my generation.

The death scene of Captain Miller in the movie Saving Private Ryan comes to mind. When Miller, played by Tom Hanks, tells Private Ryan to "Earn This". Those two words went deep. We've had great generations, selfless generations sacrifice before we came along. It seems that the generations (I'm using my broad paint brush here) that followed have no concept of such sacrifice. We are a generation who reminise about Kennedy but don't heed his most famous words.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

We are generations wanting the country to do for us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

the invasion of the children snatchers

I can't tell you where I was when Kennedy was shot, or Martin Luther King for that matter. I can tell you where I was when I first heard The Beatles. I was standing in Jennie Llew's house on 322 Wateree Avenue in Columbia, SC. It was in the day when the Dad and Mom packed the six kids and luggage on and atop the powder blue Ford Squire wagon and take the long haul to visit the kinfolk. We took about two trips a year to see the Columbia Finlaysons - one during the summer and one at Christmas.

The first Beatles song I heard was not from the mouth of John, Paul, George, or Ringo. I was standing in a room filled with non-rock and roll loving adults when Brooky, Jennie, Irene (along with a neighborhood kid named David Wrisley) came running through the house singing "I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND!" It was a catchy tune and I believe dad asked what they were singing. The children informed Dad that it was a song by The Beatles and then ran on out the back door while continuing to sing "I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND" over and over again. I was so moved in the moment of that hand holding song that I too blurted out a chorus of the song. It was too late for grown-ups everywhere - the invasion came and victory was already sealed by the Brits. Dad, along with most adults of that day didn't take too kindly to that new variety of rock and roll music. It would take time before they would warm up to it - or at least cease trying to deter their children by use their powers of staunch parental disapproval.

The Beatles are the all time best Rock & Roll band that ever was. I know - I know - The Who kicked major butt but The Who didn't take America by storm like The Beatles did. I personally lean more toward The Who as far as my taste goes but I can not deny the brilliant music, the distinct sound, the impact that those fab four made our my generation.

Their earliest music is still fresh and fun to listen to. My favorite of The Beatles came later down the road with the release of Abby Road and The White Album. Never in the history of Rock & Roll music did talent and sound merge into a musical experience of that magnitude. Their music changed the direction of Rock - don't just take my word for it - go ask Elvis.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

saturate before reading

It was Brook that introduced me to Jackson Browne. Most of the music I was introduced to came from listening to Brooky's ever growing LP collection. Out of all the singer songwriters to emerge from the 1970's singer-songwriter era - Jackson Browne was the cream of the crop. I remember Brook transferring the early Jackson Browne music onto to our old reel to reel. There were many times I'd haul the old machine out on to the porch and set it up on a folding table. I'd listen to his music as I worked on the lawn. Doctor My Eyes, Song For Adam, and Rock Me On The Water. Those were great songs and the first four albums (Jackson Brown, For Every Man, Late For The Sky, The Pretender) were flawless works of art. His most upbeat and fun to listen to album was his first live release Running On Empty. I remember that LP being released when I was working at a bonafied sweat shop (Rodco) in Southside, AL churning out t-shirt designs for minimum wage. Running On Empty came out and Q104 played the hell out of it. Every time I hear Load Out or Stay - I think of that crappy miserable job but the soundtrack of that time in my life was pretty cool.

Most of his albums since his first five have been hit or miss but I own every album because there's always some good songs and thought in each. My least favorite album would have to be his sold out Hold Out and Lawyers In Love. The least listened to recording of his that I have is The Naked Ride Home. That album just didn't hit home with me - no big whup. I think I listened to the CD twice and stuck it one the shelf. I couldn't tell you anything memorable about a song on it.

I have never gotten tired of listening to Jackson Browne, though there was that long period that I quit listening to him after hearing that the gentle poet beat the crap out his then girlfriend Daryl Hanna. I was disappointed in the man - I had looked up to him for all those years. It took two or three years before I started listening without thinking of him boot-stomping my favorite mermaid. I guess he'll just have to live with that big hole in his reputation - in the shape of a fist.
moving along-

A few years ago Jackson released a live album entitled Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol 1. It's a great album, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs and the stories told in between. Yesterday while at the mall I noticed that Vol 2 had been released back in March. Anyone who enjoys Browne's early work will enjoy these two cd's. They are the kind of cd's that you'll keep in your player for a very long time. He does get political on each CD. He's a big no-nuke lib and you can tell he can't stand George W. He didn't like Reagan either. Just listen to Lives In The Balance from the eighties and you'll get the idea Republicans are the evil dark forces lurking behind the scenes of everything bad in the world. For all his bent to the left politics and his black and blue love life - I still appreciate his artistic genius. No, I don't care for his political views - but I have enjoyed his work and can not deny that he was an early influence.

I'll put his Acoustic Solo Vol 1 & 2 right up there with his early works. If they ask, tell them I sent you.