Monday, June 18, 2012
Happy Father's Day to my father-in-law, Rick. I first met Rick and Essie long before even the smallest grain of thought had sprouted in Bethany's mind that she and I were meant to be together (although I was quite certain of it even then... :-D).
I walked away from meeting her parents thinking, "Gee, I hope my in-laws end up being like them..."
Lo and behold...
Some of my favorite times each week are when he and Essie stop by to chat or help their inept son-in-law fix something around the house, when we grab dinner, when we watch a movie or go to a play, or when we just hang out.
I'm coming off a weekend when all of those things happened. Lady B and I are preparing to go to Connecticut for roughly five weeks, and I'm going to miss these times the most.
Rick is incredibly easygoing, but incredibly honest and wise. He's a role model who has gained my utmost respect.
He's also a hoot when it comes to playing games. Somehow he always manages to win...
Most of the time, anyway...
Sunday, June 17, 2012
My thoughts following my Dad's death on March 8 are not fully formed or realized yet. Not sure if they will ever be. I alternate between questioning God and thanking God. It's not a rollercoaster of emotion; it's a tsunami.
In the absence of anything profound, I thought I'd offer this transcription of my remarks from his funeral. They're a tad rambly. Ironically, I didn't know what to say that day either. I couldn't put anything on paper. Prewritten words just wouldn't come. So these remarks are from the heart, unedited and unvarnished.
Later tonight, I'll add the eulogies from my brothers and brother-in-law, if only to give you a three-dimensional perspective on who my Dad was and why we are still grieving his passing.
In the meantime, Happy Father's Day. Celebrate...no...Cherish the fathers in your lives, my friends, especially if they're living. When they've passed, whatever your religious beliefs may be, however you manage to deal with it, they are gone, and you will never know them as you knew them here in that way again.
And that's the toughest part...
I filled in for my Dad back when he was sick, and I can preach, which basically is a divine form of ranting. I can do that very well, but I never felt worthy to stand behind his pulpit, not because he was anything that should go on a stained-glass window, because he loathed that, but just because of his example, and I haven't attained to that example yet. Yesterday, at the viewing, I heard a lot of things about Dad. I heard that he was coach. I never went to any of the games. I always told them I'd be there in spirit. I'm not sure I even regret that now, because I really didn't like any of the basketball or baseball games they did. But it was very touching to see what people thought of him as coach, or about him as a referee, and of course, as a pastor. And I just want to take a few minutes to tell you what he was like as a Dad, because there were only five of us who were honored by God to have that privilege to be raised by him. And at times we didn't always think that was a privilege.
In your bulletins, you'll see that on one page it says the first reading was from John 11, and on the other page, it was from John 15. John 11's right. But you see, you gotta understand, that was my mistake, and I could pass it off as doing something in memory of Dad there, because in every sermon he preached, there was always at least one reference that he'd write down incorrectly, and you'd hear the audience flipping through their Bibles, trying to figure out where he was, and he was just rolling with it. He'd just go with it.
At home, a lot of people thought we were an incredibly strict family. We didn't have a TV for the first 13 years of my life. Oh, I'm so twisted and messed up because I didn't get to see that stuff. Let me just tell you. I'm going to therapy because of it. We went to a Christian school. Mom and Dad never made more than $30,000 a year, if that. That was a good year. But somehow, they scraped together enough money to send us to a private Christian school. It wasn't an elite school. They wanted us to have Bible-based values. And sometimes the way the schools taught the Bible wasn't always the way they cared for, but they wanted us to get that faith.
And that was what was central at our home. Every morning, and we complained about this every morning, we'd have to get up a little earlier than other kids got up, because we would sit around the family altar and we would read the Bible and pray. And every day he'd have a different way of teaching the Bible. One day, he'd read a story, and then it would relate a passage; one day, he just would talk about a passage of Scripture; we'd learn memory verses; we'd do all that stuff. Some people call it brainwashing. This was instruction.
And we were certainly instructed, but it wasn't just word of mouth. I've known so many...and this is the main thing I want to get across today. I've known so many kids who are troubled because their parents are one thing when they're out in public like this, and they're another thing behind closed doors.
And the man you knew as pastor and as coach, as referee, was the same man behind closed doors.
A few years ago, my Dad and I had the worst fight of our lives. I was about to throw my plate at him, and he was about to throw his plate at me. It was the worst dinner. We just were passionate, and we were disagreeing, and it was a matter of family importance, and I stormed out that night, swearing I'd never speak to him again. And I went to work, and I came home late, and everyone was in bed. I was still determined not to speak to him in the morning, and that soon dissolved the next morning, because Dad came to me with tears in his eyes, and he said, "I am so sorry I behaved that way. I am asking you to forgive me. I want you to forgive me. It was wrong. It was not Christlike."
And that was my father. Never one to pull punches with you. Never one to pull punches with himself.
So, that was the kind of father he was. He was consistent. He was not a hypocrite. And the other thing that I want to leave you with is every day around 11 a.m., around noon, sometimes it'd be around 12:30 because he'd want to hear Rush Limbaugh's opening monologue, and then he'd turn it off, but every day around 12, 12:30, he would go into his study and pray for about an hour. And it wasn't always the kind of prayer where you're praying for Aunt Millie's bunions and all that. It was the kind of prayer where he came out looking more drained than when he went in. He was really fighting a spiritual warfare.
So, that's the two things I want you to know about my Dad. He was consistent, and he was a warrior. Up until the end.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I will be taking several days off from regular blogging in order to attend to other matters, namely the Dwelling on DuckTales series. Join me back here at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on Monday, June 19, 2012 (this coming Monday, kids), for what will be five-day-a-week daily installments of each episode of the series.
See why I need to work in advance?
Check back here Sunday for a special Father's Day post that I'm also working on. Apart from that, though, we'll be relatively silent here as we busily work ahead. Normal blogging on all other matters (music, oddities, other reviews, and "stuff") will resume after 3:30 p.m. on Monday.
Yes...I just set myself a (shudder) deadline. :-o
In the meantime, poke around the rest of the blog. You might find some stuff that you dislike as much as what you've already read. ;-)
See you in a few...
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
As you know, I was excited about Venus transitting earlier this week. Or maybe I was just excited about using the word "transit" in unprecedented tenses and forms. Either way, here in the Ohio Valley, as 6 p.m. (EST) neared, the Time of Transit, I bolted for the front door, excited to see a speck of dust on the sun.
And as is typical of the Ohio Valley/Pittsburgh, it was cloudy. No sun was visible. Furthermore, just to rub salt in the wound, a few seconds later, rain came pouring down.
I went for ice cream instead.
Thus and therefore, I'm a tad bitter about the whole matter, especially since the forecast for June 5, 2117, is predicting clear skies and sunny weather...
The other night, my wife dreamed about the Hatfields and McCoys, only it was set in the 21st-century. True to our times, instead of actually fighting physically, they trash-talked each other.
Apparently, the major tension point of her dream was when the Hatfields' Internet connection was down. This sent Papa Hatfield into a rage, because without the Internet, he couldn't write nasty comments on the McCoys' Facebook wall...
With Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory" still riding high at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending June 12, 1982, let's take a moment to look back at some of the other songs that managed to reach the top slot earlier in the year...before your humble blogger was tracking this stuff.
Our single this week actually ended 1981 as the hit song of the nation and began 1982 the same way.
From the week ending Nov. 21, 1981, through the week ending Jan. 23, 1982, this song was not only No. 1 for 10 weeks, but was also one of the biggest hits of the 80s...
I had never seen that video before. It's...interesting. Some speculate the reason it was set in a gym had to do with diverting the audience away from the overt sexuality of the lyrics, sexuality that had caused some stations to ban it from the airwaves.
Director Brian Grant shouldn't have bothered. The sexuality is still there in droves.
"Physical" was perhaps the most successful single of Olivia Newton-John's career. It spent 26 weeks on the Hot 100, 10 of those weeks being at No. 1 (six in 1981 and four in 1982).
However, it was not as popular on the Adult Contemporary chart, nor was it as popular in the UK as it was here in the States.
The content of the song was surprising for many of Newton-John's long-time fans. She was the Queen of Soft Rock, yes, but not the Queen of Sexual Rock. She had previously been known for more...um...virginal songs like...
...and let's not forget her famous role from this pivotal 70s movie, opposite John Travolta (back when people still believed he was straight)...
The song has since found eternal life in popular culture...
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Just finished watching the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries that aired last week on the (Sometimes) History Channel. It was outstanding. Here's the theme song. Beautiful, yet haunting and the perfect way to end this Wednesday...
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Today's installment features another hysterical clip from Abbott and Costello's television show. One of the beauties of that show was A&C's supporting cast, one of whom, character actor Gordon Jones, is featured in this segment. Folks, I can't say it enough. The timing is exquisite...
Here's a fun factoid for you. Jones was playing this superhero long before Van Williams or Seth Rogen were...
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Yesterday, you saw Abbott and Costello's impeccable comedic timing on display, even without an audience. Today, here's an example of their impeccable wordplay...with an audience or a laugh track, I'm not sure which. Either way, it's a study in expert timing and chemistry...
In the blogosphere, we scratch each other's backs, in case you're wondering why I've started this series, Circling the Blogs. It's designed to highlight the best blog posts out of the dozens I read in a week's time. It also gives me a chance to do some fisking. (Gosh, I love that word.)
This one was first published last Monday on my buddy Joe Torcivia's blog, The Issue at Hand...which is always worth reading. Right now, he has a two-part review up of the Herman and Katnip cartoon series DVD collection that is so informative it makes you want to buy the set.
I would...except I've committed myself to not buying anymore DVD sets for the time being, so I can stage a floundering attempt at clearing up my DVR and watching DVDs I already have.
Last I checked, and based on my past attempts at making this commitment, it will have a life span equal to your average fruit fly.
Anyway, in the linked-to post, Joe laments the difficulties of being an expert on anything in our cyberspace age. In short, there's so much to experience, so much to watch, so much to explore, so much to understand, etc. etc. etc., it's almost impossible to be that go-to guy or gal with whom people just need to talk about a subject.
I should clarify that Joe is one of a few go-to guys that I have for all things comics and sixties TV-related, so I think he might be selling himself a tad short. In fact, later in the year, I'll be interviewing him and Chris Barat and others...oh wait...that's top secret right now...so top secret that Joe and Chris aren't even aware that I'll be asking them.
But I hear what Joe is saying. I feel his pain.
Ironically, as a result of these wide-and-varied-ranging interests, I have a hard time focusing. Focus is something I'm always reeling in and trying to discipline. Take it from me. An unfocused mind is like a two-year-old child...
Realizing I could never be an expert, I decided to be well-rounded--reading widely, watching widely, asking widely, searching widely, listening widely, and so on. Not feeling the pressure to be an expert is one reason I enjoy being a trained journalist. I merely have to report on what the experts are saying and have a sense of what is valid and what isn't.
But here's where I'll expand on Joe's original premise.
Not only is it impossible to be an expert nowadays, it's nigh near impossible to be well-rounded!!
This is quite disconcerting for me, because I'm a writer. Not a highly paid one, mind you, but this is my chosen profession. I see it as my responsibility to know or at least be acquainted with "everything."
That's exhausting. One reason why I devote so much time to this blog is not only because I like to and it gives me another opportunity to not get paid for writing, but it also helps me to channel and focus on at least a portion of what I find interesting in life.
I say a portion, because my ambitions for this blog go well beyond the time I have to produce the original material I have envisioned writing for CaC.
I've thought of a list of projects for this blog that would surpass the length of the English Channel if successfully completed, all of them within my interests and curiosities.
Alas and alack, as Joe points out, if you want to have anything resembling a real life, you have to scale back and settle...to a degree.
So, now that I've realized I can't be an expert or as well-rounded or as bloglific (trademark) as I'd like to be (although I'll never give up the ship on fighting to be well-rounded mentally and less-rounded physically), I've adopted another philosophy.
It's an adventure. No need to be lament or be bored.
Having all of these interests makes life so much more interesting. It has been years since I've been bored. And the Internet, the bane of every would-be expert's existence, is a catalyst to keeping life interesting on virtually no or (at least) a low budget.
That's fun. Although I hope to have money enough to travel widely someday (part of the well-rounded ambition), every day I travel widely within the confines (or lack of confines) of my imagination.
It's a neverending whirlwind ride of discovery and pleasure. Trying to channel it and discipline it, is, as previously mentioned, a challenge, but I never go to bed feeling like I haven't learned or experienced something new.
And it's all at my fingertips.
So, yes, this age we live in is overwhelming and unmanageable, but it's unlike anything the human race has ever experienced before. What an honor to be a part of it.
Thank you, Algore! ;-)
Or as I like to call him...Lord Al. B-D
Monday, June 4, 2012
I love Abbott and Costello, especially their TV show from the early fifties. Here is their famous "Jonah and the Whale" routine as performed in their 1940 film debut, One Night in the Tropics. It was later refurbished for their 1945 film, Here Come the Co-Eds.
I prefer the live version, but this one is great, too...
Gregory Weagle over at Gregory's Live Journal was kind enough to not only read my five-part series on Ruby-Spears, but to also fisk it and Ruby-Spears. Here are the links...
I was thrilled to be a part of your 1000th post, Gregory! Congratulations on the milestone.
Even if you've read my stuff, it's worth reading Gregory's insights. He clarified a few aspects of R-S history on which I was unclear, and his knowledge of video games is invaluable for the gamer-based shows R-S produced.
He also laughed at a few of my jokes, so that's enough to make him cool in my book. ;-)
More importantly, though, for a few shows that I really ragged on, he provided a more balanced perspective, and he had kind words to write about Dink the Dinosaur and other latter-day R-S creations.
It should also be noted that Gregory is one of the biggest TaleSpin fans, if not *the* biggest TaleSpin fan, around. He believes that it is the best of the Disney Television/Disney Afternoon productions. Going solely on memory here, I would not be inclined to disagree. If you would hire Jack Bauer to hold a gun to my head and force me to rank The Disney Afternoon productions...
...here's how it would break down...
3.) Darkwing Duck
4.) Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
5.) Adventures of the Gummi Bears
7.) Goof Troop
10.) Ehhhh...I stopped watching before I could get to ten...maybe, maybe The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa. Maybe?
I'm pretty firm on Nos. 1 and 2. Right now, as you may have noticed, we're working our way through the DuckTales series. When I complete that, I'm probably going to backtrack to Gummi Bears or go forward with Chip 'n' Dale and pretty much in production order from thereon out.
However, Gregory, when I revisit TaleSpin, I promise you that I will take your assertion seriously with regards to TaleSpin and see whether it deserves to swap places with DuckTales in my list. Chances are, if it does, I'll wimp out and tie it for Number 1. :) It may end up being a tie anyway.
Here's what I'm interested in seeing...will Darkwing and Chip 'n' Dale swap places in the end? I was always a fan of both series, but nowhere near as intrigued by them as I was with DT and TS. As a kid, after experiencing a more realistic take on anthropomorphic cartoons with DT and TS, DW struck me as too cartoony and "out there." That opinion changed over time, but as a kid, I wanted the adventures and the storytelling to be taken as seriously as they were on DT, TS, and even CDRR.
Gummi Bears could be the gamechanger, though. I have never had the chance to watch this series straight through, so Gummi Bears might bump up a few slots, too.
As may Gargoyles, also a show I have an incomplete knowledge of. Although my compadres Chris and Joe aren't fans of Goof Troop and Bonkers, I loved both as a kid. After reading bits of Chris and Joe's intelligent critiques of each series, though, I may change my mind upon revisiting them.
I included Aladdin on here, simply because I've enjoyed what little of it I saw, and I like how Disney handled the franchise. First, there were the two movies, then the TV series, followed by the movie finale.
No. 10 is up for grabs when I start reviewing the "other" series in the Disney Afternoon ouevre. I started to drift away from Disney shows around the age of Quack Pack, and there were some shows I just didn't have the time to watch when I was a kid. I threw Timon and Pumbaa on there simply because I recall seeing a few episodes and finding them to be entertaining. However, I'll be interested to see my adult reaction to shows I first experienced or knew of as a kid, then as a teenager.
I should warn you. This is going to be a comprehensive look at The Disney Afternoon, which means it's going to be slow. We're looking at a good multi-year project here. Hope you enjoy long rides!
Once again, thank you, Gregory, for taking the time to read and comment on my R-S series. I hope that all of you will take the time with The Disney Afternoon series and upcoming Hanna-Barbara series (which sadly, may not materialize as soon as I want it to) to comment, criticize, debate, and most of all, enjoy revisiting and reliving great memories from the past.
Time to get back to seriously blogging this week. Today, I'm feeling rather whipped. The last few weeks have been insane, hence the lengthy absences from this site, and it's like everything has caught up to...
Or maybe I'm just feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted from last night's episode of Mad Men. It was one of those installments that haunts you long after it's over. I'll write more on it as we get closer to next week's season finale.
In the meantime, here's an appropriate song for my unfortunate mood this Monday morn...
Friday, June 1, 2012
For the week ending June 5, 1982, this song was still dominating the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and would continue to claim that spot for an additional three weeks, rounding out the month of June 1982.
Meanwhile, this song was experiencing its own success at No. 2...
Well, that video isn't lacking in the "creep factor." Love the part where he's under the dinner table. Never thought of pulling that stunt when I was single and yearning. One time in elementary school, though...
Anyway, Rick Springfield's "Don't Talk to Strangers" was at No. 2 for a total of four weeks and spent 21 weeks altogether on the Hot 100. You probably know the Australian-born Springfield for this other hit of his from 1981...
You know, after all these years of hearing that song and how desirable Jessie's girl is, now, seeing the music video for the first time, I suddenly realize she's not my type.
Maybe Jessie's girl should never have been seen. Kinda ruins the illusion. Like the time they showed the Little Red-Haired Girl...
or Jack Benny's car...
What one conjures up in one's imagination will always surpass the reality.
Still, this video has a few great moments. There's the punchline at the end, and there's the moment where Springfield takes his guitar and smashes the bathroom mirror. Like "Don't Talk to Strangers," there's a heavy "creep" factor in the vid, and honestly...who is going to buy that Springfield never stole a girl he wanted. Something tells me Jessie's girl always became Bruce's girl after five minutes...
Regardless, "Jessie's Girl" was at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, won Springfield a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, and secured itself endless, eternal, daily replay on Adult-Contemporary radio stations everywhere.
Soap-opera fans will also remember Springfield from his role on this long-running program...
The rest of us probably won't.