Friday, March 26, 2010

Hop on the MAGIC CARPET...

Today's nostalgic ride is apparently to the land of black and white tv days, all three channels, no remote. 1-The Andy Griffeth Show: poor Barney Fife who was only allowed to have one bullet, and he had to keep that in his pocket; the town drunk, Otis, who checked himself in and out of jail; Sweet Aunt Bea who dreamed of a pretty pink sweater for her birthday and dropped a few hints about it only to have Andy proudly give her a box of Mason jars instead; the Darlings who came "down from the mountain" to try to line up Andy with their daughter. (What was her name?) 2-Lassie, who was responsible for saving more people than Billy Graham himself. 3-The Lone Ranger, his horse "Hi-Ho" Silver, his silver bullets, and his ever-present helper, Tonto. 4-I Love Lucy; imbedded in our minds even without tv reruns are the episodes of her trying to hawk Vegevetavitamins, stomping the grapes in that big vat and the hilarious chocolate conveyor packaging episode. 5-Rod Serling (du du du du) in the Twilight Zone 6-Red Skeleton's Klem Kadiddlehopper and so many other personalities he played that I've forgotten now 6-Rawhide; little did we know that the young poncho-wearing Rowdy Yates would grow up to be the famous Clint Eastwood! 7-Jack Benny, who wherever he is, is still probably 29; 8-This is Your Life with Ralph Edwards 9-Eugene Gelesnik's Talent Show 10-Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzaaaan scream as he swung on the ropes to save yet someone else (Where is Carol Burnett when you need her?) 11-Queen For A Day, where a woman's wildest dream was a new washing machine 12-WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE (was Jack Palance or Steve Mcqueen in this show?) 13-The Invisible Man...I can still see those mummy bandages unwrapping...14-Gunsmoke, faithful Mr. Dillon, faithful Chester, faithful Miss Kitty, faithful Doc...seems like there's a common thread there 15-Fury, and Sky King, both probably before your time 16-Dragnet, dum da dum dum dummmm; Hello, my name is Friday, Joe Friday. 17-the scarey Mr. Hitchcock, master of suspense, who spoke almost speech-impaired like and faded out to a large silhouette after each episode. What sentence did he close his show with each time? I was too scared to watch a whole episode. 18-Perry Mason (Mr. Eyebrows), Miss Della Street (who would still be beautiful even by today's standards), the snazzy-dressed Paul Drake, the surly Mr. Hamilton Burger, Lt. Tragg who surprisingly never lost his job even though his cases always fell through, and the only one you could be sure was not the killer, Mr. Mason's client. 19-Good old Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Tom & Jerry, Tweety & Sylvester, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam and the poor Roadrunner whose eyes always reflected the knowledge he was about to face yet another imminent death. 20-My personal favorite show, The Millionaire, where a rich benefactor would hand over a cashier's check each week for his assistant to deliver to some deserving recipient whose life would be forever changed. The catch was that the person could never know who the benefactor was. We never found out either, but oh what a warm-fuzzy show! 21-Disney movies: Lady & the Tramp (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot); Cinderelly Cinderelly; Sleeping Beauty; Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs, all of whom nobody can cite at the same time; Robin Hood; Bambi; The Shaggy Dog & That Darn Cat; Parent Trap; and the Disney Sunday movie, (7:00 p.m.) when Every American was glued to their tv sets. Oh, and let's not forget The Beverly Hillbillies: Granny, with her cures and spells, her fancy eatin' table and big cement pond out back; the shy-but-wise Miss Hathaway; the selfish-but-somehow-still-likeable Mr. Drysdale and his neurotic wife; the beautiful animal-loving Miss Elly Mae; and poor Jethro who is probably still in sixth grade and looking for "them pretty bells" he can never find because every time he goes to check them out, somebody comes to the door!...(Cue the banjos): "Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed, poor mountaineer, barely kep' his family fed and then one day he was shootin' at some food, and up through the ground came a bubbling crude, OIL that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea..."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FOR ONLY $19.95...

My son, Jared, bought his wife, Dayna, an I Touch for her birthday today. They were over here trying to get it figured out this afternoon. Nothing is more annoying than a new toy you don't know how to play with yet. All the gizmos these days have so many options, almost no one has them all mastered. Give me a basic cell phone with the texting option, calendaring option and an alarm option and I'm good to go. Two or three years ago I held my breath and cancelled the home phone. It was hard to let it go (what if we missed an important call??), but it dawned on us that for months the only calls we got were telemarketers or wrong numbers. Kyle had a cell phone by then, so no longer did we need to make the mad dash to the phone to hear: "Is Kyle there?"

If my phone rings at night, I know it'll be a dire emergency, but kid's phones and texts are beeping all the time. I've actually heard Kyle's phone beep...he twitches and reaches out in his sleep, responds to it, and rolls back over without even hitting consciousness. Nik cannot get enough options on his phone. He can tell who is calling and texting without moving a muscle, because he's assigned and recognizes 200 different tunes he's downloaded. There is a setting where it goes on silence while you know you'll be at Church or in a meeting, then it comes back on automatically, almost psychic-like. The craziest thing is, he used to set an alarm to go off about 9 p.m. each day...just so he would know it was 9 p.m. The only reason I'd ever want a home phone any more is to call my cell phone when I've mislaid it. (Now THERE is an option I'd pay for.) I was raised with a party-line system. You and three other people in town shared one phone line. Mrs. Powell was 4 rings, ours was 3, Grandma Rice's was 2, and Someone-I-Forget was the single ring. If you picked it up and someone was talking, you just had to wait. It was considered bad form, even rude, to call someone just to "chat."

Last year I qualified for a new phone and picked out a cute red one. Nik was excited because it had a "qwerty" keyboard. I got rid of it after a couple of weeks, because who wants a keyboard with the letters all in a different place and keys so small you have to use a q-tip to type on them? And the fonts! Do they think no one over 50 uses these things? My current phone is set to a "large" font and I all but have to carry a magnifying glass around in my back pocket. As for being able to download a movie to watch on your phone, are you kidding? (Remember those pin's heads that had the entire Lord's Prayer etched on them?) If I want to watch a movie, a 32" screen suits me way better than a 1 1/2 inch one. There aren't enough pixels in the world, nor enough high def, to make that a fun idea. (I can hear that on the farm: "I'm borrrred. I'm going to download a movie on my phone." Response: "If you have time to be bored, there's a field out there thick with thistles. Here's a shovel!"

And speaking about gizmos, how about those tv ads? For $19.95!!, YOU can have in your own little fat hand: 1-a magical pen in a kit that will remove scratches from your car INSTANTLY; 2-a tool that holds an egg and has a prong that will reach down inside the egg BEFORE you crack it and scramble the yoke so you don't have to waste time doing that in a pan; 3-a pet brush/tool that will magically remove ALL loose hair, "like the professionals use", and as an added extra, a pad that will make your cat want to scratch his own claws off! 4-a kitchen knife that will cut through bones like BUTTER then slice through a fresh tomato, cut through a steel bolt and a one-inch rubber shoe! Does that not scare you out of your mind? What if you accidently dropped this thing on your toe or forgot to remove your finger in time while chopping the salad? Keep it away from me! BUT, you will have to admit that for 20 seconds you know you need each of these items and ought to order it before they rescind the offer. To seal the deal, the voice says "BUT if you order within the next 20 minutes, you will get not just one, but TWO of these wonderful items you cannot live without!" Let me run and find a pen and paper...be right back.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sugar High Anyone?

Yesterday after work, I decided to go to the store and get some groceries. Not on the list, but purchased anyway, were the following items: one regular bag of Oreos, a big bag of Wint O Green lifesavers, a large bag of M&Ms, a triple chocolate cake, 2 boxes of 4 Pillsbury turnovers (couldn't decide between cherry and apple so bought both) and, while waiting at the checkout, threw in one of those big boxes of Jr Mints they place in a vulnerable spot. To my credit, I also purchased two bananas, a bag of oranges and some applesauce. Today after work, I got thinking about candy bars, etc. Do you remember: everlasting gobstoppers, jolly ranchers, wax bottlecaps and wax lips, pixie sticks, fizzies, colored dots on strips of papers, gummy bears, atomic fireballs, Slo Pokes, taffy, Now n Laters, chocolate candy wafers sold only at the movies, sugar-covered orange slices, brown licorice (hollow-barreled inside for filling with pixie stick stuff if you preferred), Snaps with that little box you used for a whistle after it was empty, red candy ball in the middle of black licorice rolled up around it, Bazooka bubble gum with the comic strip inside, cracker jacks with the prize, runts, neccos, real all-day suckers, root beer barrels, Bit o Honey, sixlets, Payday bars, Almond Joys, Mounds, Peppermint Patties, Big Hunks, Pez, chic o stick, Sugar babies, Charleston Chews, lemon drops, jaw breakers, tootsie rolls and my mother's favorite which always made me shudder, Idaho Spud? Oh, I just remembered the toothpicks soaked in cinnamon oil that burned your eyeball out if it happened to get loose somehow. It's interesting to see how many of these are still manufactured. Anybody remember any others?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mrs. Hansen

Got thinking today about a wonderful teacher, not sure if it was junior high or senior high and maybe both, but she was a gem. Her name was Anne Hansen and she taught English. Prior to taking one of her classes, I had heard the rumors, the unspoken rumors, that she was MEAN and that she probably had one of those ball and chain devices with sharp pokey things on them (Bill Cosby described them in one of his tapes) hidden somewhere in her desk, though no one had actually seen it. Innuendo was effective enough. She was a sturdy woman who almost always had her arms crossed and wandered amongst the nervous students rather than sitting during class. No one I knew ever heard her laugh, but once you got to know her better, her little upturned smile was as good as anyone's laugh. She was a master of subtlety and as good as E.F.Hutton's motto: When Mrs. Hansen spoke, everybody listened.

One of her favorite stories to demonstrate how sometimes we just use the same old phrases without ever thinking about them was the one about the two missionaries who went to perform a service at the prison. One missionary was asked to pick a hymn and his selection was "Bless This House...Oh Lord We Pray; Make it safe by night and day. Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out. Bless the roof and chimneys tall. Let Thy peace lie over all. Bless this door that it may prove ever open to joy and love. Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God's Heavenly light. Bless this hearth ablazing there with smoke ascending like a prayer! Bless the people here within; keep them pure and free from sin. Bless us all that we may be, fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . . Bless us all that one day we may dwell, O Lord with Thee" The other missionary was assigned to give the closing prayer...he prayed "and please bless those who aren't here today to be here next time."

To demonstrate the importance of punctuation marks, this time the semi-colon, Mrs. Hansen told of a man in prison seeking a pardon. The governor decided to grant the pardon and stay the execution by having the following message sent "NO; pardon." Problem was the person sending the message left out the semi-colon so the message said "NO pardon". Pretty good point for the teacher, huh? My favorite lesson she taught was about the importance of one little word. She wrote the following on the blackboard in her beautiful cursive handwriting: I HIT HIM IN THE EYE. Then she had us use the word "only" before each word. Therefore, we got: Only I hit him in the eye; I only hit him in the eye. I hit only him in the eye; I hit him only in the eye; I hit him in only the eye; I hit him in the only eye (OUCH); I hit him in the eye only. Kind of makes ya think, doesn't it?

Mrs. Anne Hansen, one of the good ones. Thank you, Maam!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hey, Grandma


Marty (16) and Talon (8), two youngest sons of my second son, called last night to see if they could come sleep over because "we're so bored." Since it was just me and Swirl here, their level of boredom must have been well into the negative, but I said SURE. This morning I was awake but not yet up when Talon came in with a drawing he'd made and told me I had three guesses to tell what it was. He's very creative and artistic--and doesn't quit until you participate--so I made my 3 guesses: (Me)-Dragon? Dinosaur? A maze? (Him)-Nope! It's eels and escalators! (wrong again). I told him I'd be up in a few but just couldn't get out of my wonderful waveless waterbed just yet. He said: "I know you really like your bed, Grandma, but how do you get the water in it?" I told him it's like a big water balloon; there's a hole where you remove a plug and put the water in and plug it back up. He said: "Well, what if there were accidently fish in there?" I said "They'd all die and smell awful." He said: "Well, fish live in the water, so they'd be alive." (duh) I said: "Well, fish actually need fresh oxygen in the water to live." He just said: "Well, if there were fish in there, you'd have to make sure you didn't roll over and squish them all." He is a wise child. This is the same child who several months ago was discussing everybody's age. He thought Kyle was pretty old at 21, of course. Then he asked me how old I was. I said: "Sixty." His eyes got big and there was a 10-second silence while he thought about that; then he gave me a look like I was maybe a bit senile and asked very sweetly, "Are you SURE?" Jared and I both laughed out loud. I told him that my parents were both 92 and he said: "THAT'S ALMOST ONE HUNDRED!!" I said: "Yep, get used to it." When he was five, somebody asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said: "I don't know. I don't have those instructions yet."