Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scattered Childhood Memories - #1: Blue Lake Shenanigans

I am 3 or 4 years old and we're at Blue Lake Park. I'm playing on one of the playgrounds -- for reference, it's the one that used to have the swings that looked like they were recycled from the swing ride at the fair, a double metal slide (stairs up the middle, slides on either side) and a metal jungle gym in the shape of a train engine. The floor of the playground is comprised of sand.

My parents are nearby, though they are not watching me directly. Maybe they're chatting with the extended family or with friends, whoever else is there. My brother is probably in his porto-playpen, too young to join in my adventures.

There's a boy about my age who is throwing sand. He's claimed ownership of the train engine, and won't let anybody get near it. Should any child attempt it, her eyes will sting from the impact of projectile sand. I have experienced this first-hand. No parents seem to be watching this unfold. The adults are all too preoccupied. Perhaps I even ask for help... but if so, none is given.

I decide to take matters into my own hands.

Anyone can fight with sand, but I can do one step better. I gather sand and grass in my hands, then meander over toward the boy, looking like I couldn't care less about his dumb old choo-choo train. When I get close enough, sashaaa! -- I get him, right in the face.

He gets upset. In fact, I think he tattles on me. But his mother takes one look at little innocent ol' me and does not give her son the benefit of the doubt. Either that or she chooses not to bother with me. She does not know my parents, what can she do?

I walk away, go over to my parents. I tell them nothing, though I am quite proud of my efforts. Proud of how I've stood up for myself and the other kids. I want to tell them all about how I thought to mix the natural elements for added effect! But something tells me it might not be best to share what I have done with grown-ups. They have strange, strange ideas about right and wrong, about justice.

No, this one will be my little secret.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Put All The Blame On VCRs

I was thinking the other day about how my parents didn't take me to very many movies when I was a kid.  I don't know why.  I know they went to movies without us sometimes, so it couldn't have been that we were too poor.  I also know that they wouldn't let me see the Back To The Future sequels in the theaters because, ohmygosh, they were rated PG and might be too intense for us!  (Nevermind that the original BTTF was one of my favorite films, which I watched repeatedly on tape.)  So, I mean, maybe they were just way overprotective ... only prone to letting us see the G-est of the G-rated.

Here are the movies I remember seeing in the theater as a kid:

101 Dalmatians
Batteries Not Included
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Home Alone
An American Tail (possibly?)
Cool Runnings

That's between the ages of 0-13.  And you might think I saw more, but that I just don't remember them...  yeah, well, I doubt it.  I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies.

Meanwhile, we did have a VCR when I was growing up.  My dad purchased the first one in 1985.  I remember the night we first got it, how he tried to explain to me that I couldn't watch Dumbo NOW, but I would be able to watch it the next day.  Madness, I thought.  Man, you're crazy!  But sure enough, there Dumbo was the next day... and the next... and the next....

Thanks to the magic of TV and that VCR, I spent my childhood watching (and rewatching) Dumbo, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Heidi's Song, Garfield In Paradise, A Garfield Halloween, A Garfield Christmas, Garfield In The Rough, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Race For Your Life Charlie Brown, What A Nightmare Charlie Brown (and about a dozen more CB specials) Mary Poppins, Peter Pan (with Mary Martin), The Care Bears Movie, The Secret Garden, Robin Hood, Flight Of The Navigator, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, multiple Looney Tunes cartoon specials, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, the Claymation Christmas Special, Alice In Wonderland, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, Pollyanna, and many more.

However, just because things were edited for television didn't mean my parents always approved of what they had taped for us....

Once, the movie The Adventures of Mark Twain aired, and my family watched it together.  My brother and I really enjoyed it, but my parents were not pleased.  There's a storyline involving Adam and Eve that is, well, not exactly Biblical.  And my parents were all about things being correct, satire be darned.  They decided the movie was just too scandalous.  And so, after explaining their reasonings to my brother and I, they did the unthinkable:

The taped over the movie.

So of course, because of this, The Adventures Of Mark Twain took on a whole new life in my brain as That movie we loved but that my parents stole from us.  For years I yearned to see it again.  As soon as I could, I bought myself a copy on VHS.  I've watched it several times since.  The funny thing is, the Adam & Eve parts are probably the lamest of the whole movie.  But the rest is really creepy and cool.  Silly parental censorship!

Another time, my dad decided to tape Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for us.  This may have been the second time it had aired on network television, because my dad was ready with the VCR remote during the scene where Walter Donovan turns to dust and bones (read: he chose poooorly).  My dad actually paused the tape during the recording so that Walter's progression of deterioration was almost entirely omitted.  Why he thought this scene, out of all the scenes in the movie, was the one thing that needed to be censored, I will never know.  As it stands now, I don't find that scene -- the full version -- scary at all, and never have.  I think it's actually kind of cool!   My brother and I both chuckle at this memory of my dad's over-protectiveness.

My parents weren't the only ones trying to look out for us.  A lot of those taped-off-TV-movies I watched repeatedly as a kid had already been censored quite a bit by the networks.  Back To The Future, for example, had most of its "bad" language replaced with somewhat less-objectionable wording... but otherwise, the film remained the same.  Not so with the network TV version of The Goonies back in the 80's.  That was the version I always watched as a kid.  As an adult, I got the DVD and was stunned to see a bunch of scenes I'd never laid eyes on before.  The kids shaking the pipes and disrupting the plumbing in the country club?  Mouth talking to Rosalita about drugs?  Andi kissing Mikey and commenting on his braces?  Where did all these scenes come from?  To this day, I find them foreign, as if the version on the DVD is some bizarre director's cut or something.

And now it's 2010 and VCRs are practically obsolete.  Tivos and Blu-Ray players reign.  But I don't understand how people can get rid of their VCRs.  Don't they, too, have tapes full of old memories?  Or is that just my family?  I guess most people can just update their movie collection when a new format comes along, but I'll never be able to.  I mean, yeah, I have Pollyanna on DVD now, and I have to admit it looks a whole lot better than the tape -- but sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to pull out the old taped-off-channel-12 recording of it and watch it alongside those goofy 80s commercials that accompanied it back in the day.

Because that's the way I used to watch it.

And sometimes... that's just the way I want it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Partnership For A Slackerful Existence

 This is my brain...

This is school...

This is my brain on school...

Any questions?

I mean, besides asking me why I'm using mixed metaphors and yoinking egg images from Google?

No?  Okay, carry on, then.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If You Build It... (aka Lego Projects: "Made In Oregon" (2010))

I built a Lego thing for the state fair.  I called it "Made In Oregon."  AND IT WON THIRD PLACE!

Well, it won third place in the "Original design, LEGO bricks only - adults - over 5 years experience" Lego category.  There are about eight categories, I should mention that.  It wasn't, like, the third best Lego design of ALL or anything.

Okay, it was.  Actually it was the ultimate awesomest for realz!

Listen to me, acting like a proud beauty pageant mommy!

The thing was, that was not easy to build!  I have ultimate respect for Lego builders, now, because wow... I mean, Lego bricks are great, but if you press too hard, your whole structure can go kablooey in a hurry, and then you have to start all over and... yeah, it's totally an exercise in patience.  This took me more than a week to build.

More photos...

Also, two of my scrapbook pages won ribbons!  This was my first year entering anything in the fair.  (I almost did last year, but then the date for delivering your entries coincided with my trip to Nebraska, so it didn't happen.)

My Little Sister and I are already talking about what we will make to enter next year.  Decorated cakes, perhaps, because with cakes you can eat your mistakes!  (Okay, what is UP with me and the dorky rhyming?)

The Oregon State Fair runs through September 6th!