May 05

Relics of a Geek

Earlier today I stumbled across a Facebook conversation regarding those wedding dress shopping shows on TLC and what not. Like my friend, I fail to see the allure of something like Say Yes to the Dress. Beachy, however, is steadily moving away from Disney Channel and towards TLC. That show is one of her favorites.

“I’m pretty sure second-graders are in TLC’s target demographic now,” I commented to uproarious approval.

Then the conversation turned to what sort of things we watched or played with at that age. Some like to play “marriage.” Others liked to play “doctor.” I suppose I had more in common with the latter.

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Although I’ve never been terribly fond of roleplaying.
Image source: crackedmoon

They were my sister’s Barbies. Weirdos.

Anyway, Beachy’s sometimes odd behavior has plenty of precedent. In 1981 my class made Easter Bunny figures out of eggshells. Naturally most of my colleagues went with springy, pastel and/or religious themes. Finding that shit boring as hell, I dressed mine as figures from the then-recent assassination attempt on President Reagan.

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“Chasing Jodie Foster’s tail, up and down the bunny trail ….”

Then as now, not all of my interests revolved around the prurient and/or borderline psychotic. Not even close. My most cherished childhood possession? That’s a no-brainer. It’s my copy of the 1976 World Book Encyclopedia, which I still possess. Every time I sit down to write SB they’re on a shelf less than five feet away, acting as something of a talisman of a simpler time. Or one when Jerry Ford was still president, anyway.

Although I don’t refer to them anymore in this era of Wikipedia, they still rest in a place of honor here in the Command Center, all 22 splendorous volumes. I also have the complete 1945 Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia set originally owned by my grandmother.

So while other kids were reading stuff like Charlotte’s Web and various Judy Blume titles, this was what I was reading. A lot.

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A LOT.

I wasn’t entirely a mutant, though. As a matter of fact, I have an original Optimus Prime from around 1985 in the staff car trunk right now. It’s not in Antiques Roadshow quality to say the least, but I still can’t bear to part with it.

I also can’t figure out where else to put it. It’s been in my trunk for over four years now.

Feb 23

My Saturdays Were Once Animated

It’s 6 pm on a Saturday and I just woke up. Yes, really. I’m not an early riser to begin with. I’m also still shaking off the effects from my fall. My head feels fine, but my side is still a bit sore.

Even though the day is shot to hell, I guess I’ll write something for y’all anyway. My daughter, who never knew a time before the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and such, has no appreciation for the concept of the “Saturday morning cartoon.” Those of us who do know that once upon a time waking up this late on a Saturday would have been sacrilegious.

I remember the routine more than the cartoons themselves. Circa 1981 for me this would begin on Friday night with The Dukes of Hazzard. In my defense, at least this was before they replaced Bo and Luke.

After that it was time for bed. I made a point of setting my alarm to exactly 5:55 am. I had the radio tuned to a frequency between static and a country station for maximum effect. 5:55 am was early enough for me to get up and go downstairs, but it wasn’t so early that I’d have to waste time spinning my wheels.

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Pictured: too early.

As mentioned there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the cartoons themselves. This is probably due to the fact many of them were blatant 30-minute commercials, more so than anything on TV today. Within a couple years my sister joined me in this ritual. She liked watching shows such as The Smurfs, which bored and annoyed the ever-loving crap out of me. There was many a morning I wished Gargamel would catch the little bastards and put me out of my misery.

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“Screw it. It’s breakfast time anyway.”

Then again, at least Gargamel was a somewhat credible antagonist. When it came to The Care Bears or *shudder* Cabbage Patch Kids, when it came to villains I swear they just locked some poor writer in a closet with a tube of airplane glue and hoped for the best.

“But Lane,” you might say, “even then cartoons weren’t just on Saturday. What about after school cartoons and shows like Captain Kangaroo and Hotel Balderdash?” All right, all right, all right. Yes, we had those too. I couldn’t tell you a lot about Captain Kangaroo, as I wasn’t near as gung-ho about waking up on weekdays. He was a bit past his prime by the time I came around anyway.

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Yeah, not really feeling it.

The after school cartoons became important later, around junior high or something like that. I’ll tell you about that some other time. I don’t want to use up all of my good ideas.

By the way, if someone from Kellogg’s is reading this, consider bringing back C-3PO’s. Not everything from the 80s sucked, you know.