item 1 >>> Financial note to Baby Boomers…if you remember when $3000 would buy you a ridiculously opulent dream-car, and today you shake your head when what seems like fairly average transportation is pushing 30-grand, think of this: There was a time in your lifetime when $10,000 a year was an excellent salary. $100-grand, and you were a millionaire. The most Ted Williams ever made in one year…Ted freakin’ Williams!…was $125,000. And people bought $10,000 houses, and paid them off in 30 years.
item 2 >>> I’m not sure if my Dad actually said it, but it sounds like something he would say: “If something’s important enough, you’ll find the time to do it.” And this is certainly true, but like most everything else in life, only up to a point. There really can come a time when there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I find myself at that point now…just so many ideas and projects and plans knocking around in my head…mind you, things I want to do, not burdens or drudgery, so in that sense it’s the proverbial “problem you like to have,” like the manager who finds himself, somehow, with 3 excellent shortstops. I mean, I’ll get up a good head of steam, and I won’t eat all day…not because I “forget” to, but I’m just not hungry. This blog takes a lot of work, and that’s entirely on me. Would I curtail it or even stop it? For now, the answer is an adamant NO! I simply need to be better organized and keep things more succinct (Good luck, Paisan!)
item 3 >>> BTW, “Good luck, Paisan!” is one of those obscure catch phrases that has always stuck with me. It comes from an episode of “The Odd Couple,” and here’s how I remember it: Jack Klugman is trying to write a week’s worth of sports columns so he can take some time off. He’s camped out on his bed, with his trusty typewriter, and he’s sent his secretary, Myrna Tuner played by Penny Marshall, out to get him a pizza. She returns with the box, and he asks: Did you get everything on it? She says: Yeah. He says: Even the fried eggs? She says: Yeah, and there’s note from the pizza chef. He reads it: “Good Luck, Paisan.” And he tosses it away with a typical Oscar Madison ehhhhhh! Priceless.
item 4 >>> Not for nothing, but this also calls to mind one of my all-time favorite names, a name Fred Flintstone adopted when he was racing an Indy-type car: Goggles Paisano, altho I remembered it as Goggles Paisan. Apparently I’m not the only one, as there is a Goggles Paisano on FaceBook. ‘atsa nice…
item 5 >>> But lo and behold, it turns out I’m not the only one with obscure and beloved catch-phrases (thank you, internet!) Read once about a guy who would puzzle his friends and relations on hot days by saying “Miklos shvet!” This came from a hilarious Ernie Kovacs character, a rowdy Hungarian TV host named Miklos Molnar. His “Howdy Deedy” send-up of The Howdy Doody Show” is a scream. (Its on YouTube, Howdy has a mustache…) But he would always be bothered by the hot TV lights, and would complain about sweating…”Miklos shvet!” Funny thing, if I met this guy, he’d probability be knocked on this keister to find someone who knew what the hell he was talking about.
item 6 >>> And talk about how everything connects together…there is an outstanding series of 30-minute interviews on YouTube with Buffalo Bob Smith, well worth checking out. They were done sometime after Howdy’s 50th anniversary, which took place in 1996, and he died in 1998. In one of them, Bob mentions that in 1954-55, when he was out for a year after a severe heart-attack, he had guest hosts on the show, which at that time was 5 days a week. Eventually, a New York City DJ named Ted Brown was installed as permanent substitute, christened “Bison Bill.” But before that happened, several of Bob’s friends took a turn at hosting Howdy Doody for a week or 2…and yes, according to the man who should know, one of them was Ernie Kovacs!
item 7 >>> Over the last year or so, several movies have come on TV that (1) made a big impression on me when I first saw them, and (b) I haven’t seen since, we’re talking say 1969-1976. In fact, this happened just the other day, I turned on TCM, and they were a half hour into “The Last Wave,” a spooky Australian movie about Aboriginal juju starring Richard Chamberlain. So what’d I think some 35 years later? It was OK, but no great shakes…I had the same reaction to “The Other”…I could see why it got to me back in the day, but now, not so much. One that did live up to my memories of it was “Putney Swope,” an Madison Avenue spoof done thru the metaphor of the Black Power movement. Others like that still on my list include “Looker,” “Sleuth,” “El Topo,” “The Stuff,” and a TV-movie about space aliens called “The People.” And there are a whole slew of sci-fi flicks I haven’t seen in probably 50 years, like “The Gamma People,” “The Magnetic Monster,” “Caltiki, the Immortal Monster,” and lots more. Over the years, I have revisited some of my old time favorites, and several that still worked for me included “The Tingler,” “Gog,” and “Invaders from Mars.” But others were disappointments, especially some that I had never seen but always wanted to, like “Varan the Unbelievable” and “The H-Man.”
item 8 >>> I was never one for board games…played Monopoly as a kid…when a little older, Stratego, Risk, maybe a few others. Chess doesn’t count as a board-game, it’s a hobby. Never big on Scrabble…I liked Othello for a while…and I personally took all the fun out of Trivial Pursuit for everybody else, I tried to hold back, but what can you do? The one old game I really did like, and would play today at the drop of a hat, was called Formula 1. You can still find old sets on eBay. What made it interesting was, the number of squares you moved your racing car wasn’t determined by dice or a spinner…you chose how many you would move, but the rules included “mechanical” constraints to your car’s performance, making the balance of skill and luck in this game rather unique. But what got me thinking about it was seeing an ad in the paper for Jenga, the wood-block game, which I used to like playing. Well, maybe it isn’t really a board-game, but more like, I dunno, darts or horse-shoes, especially the way I played it! Ka-boom!
item 9 >>> Yeah, I gave backgammon a try in the 1980s, mostly I think cuz a woman I liked played it. Reminds me of the time in college I tried to “like” tea for a girl, but it wouldn’t take…”You want something in it?”…“Could I have some coffee in it?” …
item 10 >>> And naturaly I remember Parker Brothers. Every time my family visited my Mother’s parents in Salem, on the way home we’d pass the factory on Bridge Street. Board game manufacturing in the Witch City ended in 1991, and the factory was torn down in 1994. Parker Brothers today is a subsidiary of Hasbro, based in Pawtucket.
Today is November 22, and in 3 years, it’ll be the 50th anniversary, can you believe it? Anniversary of what? Of the first time (and one of the very few times, ever) that my Mother cried openly in front of her children. I was 12, and it was something I can never forget. The above article tells of an interesting side to the tragedy. I have no date for it, but in the 3rd from last paragraph, it speaks of “the current moratorium on partisan politics.” National leaders had declared a month of mourning, technically until Dec 22, but since that was practically the holidays, it meant that political “business as usual” didn’t resume until after the first of the year. And that year was of course 1964, meaning the eventual Republican Presidential nominee wouldn’t have yet made up his mind a mere 10 months before the election. Quite a difference from today, I don’t care who you are.
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi