Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Here he is again, my favorite Creepy Kid (see earlier blog). I looked up "creepy kid" on Google and found this list of "Xmas Gifts for Creepy Kids." I especially like the knitted digestive tract.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
1 - Old Radios can pick up old broadcasts.
2 - Time capsules are cool, even if you dig them up after a couple of months, and marvel at the enclosed newspaper from two months ago.
3 - If I could just get enough wood, my parents would let me build a huge clubhouse complex in the backyard.
4 - If you get a cut on the skin between your fingers, you will die.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Considered by the British Film Institute to be one of the 10 greatest British films of all time, Ken Loach's first film, 1969's "Kes," is virtually unknown in the USA. "Kes" is the story of a boy growing up in a working class community in northern England, as the coal mines were dying in the 1960's. As his family struggles through strikes and desperation, Billy finds a small bit of solace training a wild hawk. It is said to be a gritty commentary on the social upheavals that were beginning to sweep across England at the time. It's intense, emotional, and deeply effecting. It feels painfully authentic.
Unless you can find custom dubs on Ebay or in specialty video stores, "Kes" is not currently available here in the United States. PAL (European) format DVD's are available overseas. Like several other Ken Loach films, "Kes" also presents another challenge for the American audience: the thick northern English accents may be virtually impossible to understand at times. When I first saw this film on VHS, I had to view the film two or three times to really get a sense of what was going on. The DVD version offers English subtitles, which would be helpful (if you have a multi-region DVD player).
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Unfortunately, any cool toy just begs to be made cooler. Since it pushed out such a torrent of air, I theorized, then surely it could push out something ON that torrent of air. My first experiment was to pour a handful of dirt down the front of the bazooka. I pumped it up, excited about what could possibly happen. I imagined a cloud of smoke as the dirt flew into the air. How cool would it be to have a bazooka that smoked like the real thing (as seen on TV)? I already was thinking another step ahead, and speculating on the first actual projectile to send out through my bazooka.
Dirt and Air Bazookas do not mix, I discovered. I also discovered that a big air bazooka that could only wheeze just isn't a cool toy anymore, particularly when you might have to explain to your friends how you killed it.
Have you ever heard of how some kids seem to lose interest in a brand new toy after only a little while? I don't think it's always an issue of a short attention span. I think they busted it.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
1 - This was our house, at 143 Country Village Lane. Yes, it overlooked the pond, seperated only by a chain-link fence.
2 - Ridder's Pond, so named for the owner of the estate on which the entire development was built (the same family that operates the Knight-Ridder publishing empire today). If the winter got cold enough, the pond would freeze over and ice skating was allowed. The view out my bedroom window was something out of a Norman Rockwell Painting (though I had no appreciation of that at the time).
3 - The location at which my beautiful blue Stingray bike was stolen from a bike rack, circa 1971. The first and only time I ever left my bike unlocked....
4 - This is where I likely was WHEN my Stingray was stolen. I was with my friend Larry, who insisted he saw the culprits (though he was with me). Alas, they were never caught.
As time goes on, I'll add more historical notations to this map and other photos, in the event you should be inspired to take a walking tour of my early life.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
This was the President Hotel in the Catskill Mountains in New York. During the 1930's my great uncle, who was known by one and all as "Uncle Pete," ran the place with a partner. My father and uncle spent their summers working there. Though not as well remembered today as other landmark hotels in the region, it was a major destination in those days, and featured performers including Danny Kaye (before he hit Hollywood) and the dancing duo, the Nicholas Brothers. The Nicholas brothers were a pair of young, African-American kids who were already beginning to make it big in the mid-late 30's. Racist attitudes, of course, still impacted their lives, despite their success. My father told me a story of witnessing a clerk at the hotel attempting to refuse the Nicholas Brothers a room at the hotel - which they were promised and which was expected. My father and his friend, offer their own workers' quarters to the Nicholas Brothers. One of the brothers explained to my father the importance of standing up to the clerk and obtaining the accomadations they were promised. Ultimately, Uncle Pete's partner came onto the scene and straightened things out. About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Fayard Nicholas, who remembered the incident, an experience which was highly unusual at the usually more open-minded Catkill Mountains resorts. I had the chance to meet Uncle Pete once in 1971, in Florida, where he's relocated to run the Atlantis hotel:
On an April afternoon in 1890, an infant was born somewhere in New York City. At birth, the child’s mother and father took one look at the boy and shook their heads sadly.
“I’m very disappointed,” his mother said.
The groundskeeper at the park was quite offended by the odd naked child with the long matted hair, and chased Boy back to the street. Boy was soon walking along a great boulevard, crowded with thousands of horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians – darkly clad adults who didn’t see him at all, knocking him over and over again to the pavement as they hurried on their way.
Before long, he reached a gate behind which children played. He wondered if this, too, was an orphanage, and stared at the four story building beyond the playground.
Having never been asked a question, Boy was too startled to answer.
The newsboy pulled his cap down further over his eyes, tilting his head back, “Who do you work for?” He looked over Boy with scorn, “They can’t pay very well.”
In less than two weeks, Boy became one of the most successful newsboys at the Herald, though nobody cared to tell him. The other newsies, ignored him, and the clerk who sold him his papers made a concerted effort never to acknowledge him.
As soon as he stepped into the marble-floored lobby, the man behind the reception desk stood up and looked upon the boy with the scorn Boy had always attracted.
Another woman asked, “Purpose of your visit?”