Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Eddie, I Hardly Knew Ye


The above picture is the only one I have of my father -- Edwin Lawrence Lynch -- that was taken before the day he married my mother on September 28th, 1940. (Actually, there is one that I'll hopefully be able to find, which shows him as a young adult, but that one may or may not have been taken before the wedding.) My current plan is to contact my Dad's sister Irene to see if she has any, and I'll report my findings here, sooner or later... but this is it for now.

My dad was raised in Auburn, Massachusetts, a town on the border of Worcester. His birth-date was variously reported as being September fourth, fifth, or sixth, 1916. There was a fire in the Auburn town hall that destroyed the actual records. We -- "we" being my parents, my elder sister Kathy (Kathleen), and myself -- always split the difference, so to speak, and celebrated on the 5th... although his headstone reads September 4th.

My father died when I was not quite twelve. He died in a work-related accident on September 26th, 1968. Therefore, interestingly enough (to me, anyway), the three most important dates in his life -- birth, marriage, and death -- all took place in September.

I know next to nothing about his childhood -- for that matter, I never knew him all that well growing up, due to his work schedule -- with the exception of three all-too-brief anecdotes which I'll share with you today.

But first, I want to make quick references to my previous "Sepia Saturday" post and my next one (which may or may not be next Saturday).

Because there's so little info from my father's side of the family pre-1940, my Sepia Saturday excursions will be heavy on my mom's relatives, the Hartman/Stremekes/Korsak side of the family. (And wait until you "meet" Joe Korsak, Sr., the uncle I regrettably never knew. The guy's kind of a hero in my mind, for reasons you'll learn about soon!)

Anyway, as I stated above, my knowledge of my father's youth is severely limited. I only have three actual stories, as well as a couple of cool facts which I'll tell you about first.

My father said he was acquainted with Dr. Robert Goddard, one of the "fathers of modern rocketry," who launched his first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, in 1926.

If I recall correctly, my father claimed he'd had a paper route as an adolescent, and that one of his customers was Warner Oland, the first star of Hollywood's Charlie Chan films. However, my research shows that Oland and his wife made their primary residence in Southborough, Massachusetts, which is a good distance from Auburn and the adjoining city of Worcester.

So... Who knows? Maybe Dr. Goddard was the customer on his paper route. Which makes me wonder where Warner Oland fit in... but I oh-so-characteristically digress.

Here are the three "stories" I promised, such as they are:

1. My mother's side of the family was very musical, but until yesterday, the only thing I knew connecting my father to music was that he'd owned a banjo when he was a boy... a banjo which his younger brother, George, put his foot through. And I don't even know if that was an accident, or on purpose.

(Funny thing is, I recently contacted some of my cousins on my mom's side of the family, as I began the project of writing down my family history, and my cousin Joe -- son of the Aunt Josie whom I mentioned in last Saturday's post -- told me that my father played the piano occasionally. My dad couldn't read music; he played by ear. Interesting, thought I, remembering two years I spent learning (of all things) the glockenspiel in grammar school. I could read music, note by note, but as soon as I learned the notes to a particular song, I played the song from memory. I couldn't "sight read" music like my mom -- an accomplished pianist and organist -- could.)

2. When my father was in grammar school -- this was in the days when just about anyone had the right to dish out corporal punishment to other people's children -- he was spanked by the principal for some unnamed offense. Upon his arrival home, my father told his dad about it. As it happened, my grandfather had known and respected this old principal when he'd been in school. Figuring that my father must indeed have earned his punishment, my grandfather's response was to give my father a second spanking.

3. My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Gamble Lynch -- she once told me that she was very distantly related to the Gambles who started the Procter & Gamble Company -- once related a story about how my father had come home one day after it had rained, his feet soaking wet despite the rubber boots he'd been wearing. She sent him back outside wearing some sort of wet-suit, and he still came home drenched. She assumed he must have actually lain down in a puddle. When I repeated this story for my father sometime later, he defensively replied, "I was pushed!"

Doesn't sound like he was raised with an awful lot of understanding or sympathy, does it? Times were different then, I guess...

It'll be a while before I write about my father again, since I'll be doing this ongoing history more-or-less chronologically. Next time, fellow babies, I'll be showing you the earliest existing photo of my mother.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ I've noticed that some of the Sepia Saturday "players" are wondering if a certain photo or two of theirs would qualify, and even though the "rules" laid out in The Sepia Saturday Manifesto are very lenient, it's possible to work wonders with PhotoShop or (in my case) Picasa, as follows:

Or, if you prefer something that looks more like a "period" piece...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Very Personal "Flash 55"


A "Flash 55" is a story told in exactly 55 words. Several Blogger-bloggers -- VE, for example -- use this format on a regular basis. I'm the wordy type, as you doubtlessly have noticed, but I've decided to try my hand -- and I mean "my hand" literally, since I'm not supposed to be using my left arm, if at all possible -- at one of these Flash 55 stories. Yeah, me! Who'da thunk it? Although it is the perfect format for someone experiencing my current medical conditions...

Anyway, here's an autobiographical work of fiction, appropriately entitled "A Very Personal Flash 55."

* * * * *

The Silver Fox sat down to write Friday's "Flash 55" post, to prove that he could be that brief. He thought, If I can just set my mind to it...

Unfortunately, there was one major, unanticipated stumbling block. His story remained unwritten. He couldn't decide whether the word count should include... "Thanks for your time."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Talkin' 'Bout My Mom's G-g-g-generation


My mother, who passed away shortly before Christmas of 2009, gave birth to me a bit "late" in life. (She was 39, older than most women were who were having children back in 1956.) And as that parenthetical reference should tell you, I myself passed the half-century mark slightly over three years ago.

That means that although the earliest family photo I can find is of my mother's two eldest siblings, the photo above is still over 100 years old.

The picture probably dates from 1906. The lad on the left is my Uncle Peter (named after his dad), born in 1904. On the right of the photo stands his impish-looking older sister Josephine (named after her mom, my maternal grandmother), my "Aunt Josie," whom I unfortunately never met. Peter would have been about two years old, while Josie -- born in 1902, I believe -- was about four in this photo.

As for my mother herself... well... she wasn't due to show up for ten years or so! And since not a lot of photos were taken in the 20th century's first decade (I'm referring to my mom's family, of course, and not the world in general), the third Sepia Saturday in which I participate will probably show the earliest known photo of my mother!

All told, my maternal grandparents -- immigrants from Lithuania sometime around the turn of the century -- had seven children, two girls and five boys. (Well, as the saying goes, everybody needs a hobby!) Aunt Josie was the oldest, and my mom was the youngest, so the two girls provided the Alpha and the Omega to their little family group.

I'm not sure when and why, but at some point after his entry into the USA, Peter Streimekis -- or Stremekes, or Streimekes, or Streimikis! -- became Peter Hartman, and that's the name all of his American-born children were raised as. Family lore has it that the change was actually made by a brother of his.

But why "Hartman," I often wonder.

Now, I can understand when some impatient dork at Ellis Island lopped a syllable or two or three off of an immigrant's name -- a switch from "Kantrowitz" to "Kanter" comes to mind, as does an eventual progression from "Lafayette" to "Fayette" to "Fay" -- but how on earth do you get Hartman from Streimekis?

There's too darned much about these people -- my grandparents, that is -- that I will never know. I don't know if they came over from Lithuania as a married couple, or if they met here in America. And I have no idea when the name change became legal... but my grandparents' 1923 divorce decree lists their surname as Stremekes.


The above document -- right-click on it if you want to see it in a (hopefully) slightly larger form in a new tab or window -- is the official "Stremekes" divorce decree, listing the cause of divorce as being "adultery and desertion." Said adultery and desertion was committed by my very own "grammy," who left her husband and six minor children roughly four years before the above document was issued... when my mother was approximately two years old.

Family legend has it that Grammy Josephine, who walked away from it all to cohabit and canoodle with her boyfriend, became a bootlegger of sorts during Prohibition. I came along many years later, of course, years after things had been somewhat patched up between Grammy and her children. Not being one of the children she abandoned, therefore, I never harbored any feelings of resentment toward her... although as a very young child, I often wondered why my father's parents were "Grampy" and "Grammy" Lynch, and my mother's mother was "Grammy" as well... but her husband was simply referred to as... "Dominic."

And to this day, I still think it's kinda cool that my Grammy was a bootlegger!

Next time, whenever that "next time" may be... I'll introduce you to my dad!

And speaking of "time," thanks for your time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

FYI, Fellow Babies

To begin with, here's some necessary but probably not too interesting information for y'all:

For the past week, I've been experiencing various types of pain in my left arm and shoulder, along with some numbness on the edge of my left hand, from my little finger to slightly beyond my wrist. This has made blogging a real chore, not to mention a pain in the... arm.

And for those who say "Uh-oh, left arm? That's a heart attack warning!"... calm down. please. Someone with my medical history is well aware of that, and these weren't "those kinds" of pain.

Besides, it's been over a week. I would have had the freakin' heart attack by now.

At first, I was thinking carpal tunnel syndrome, or perhaps a pinched nerve, or even thoracic outlet syndrome (and you can thank the internet search I did for the inclusion of that third one). And since my medical degree is non-existent, I did the sensible thing for a change, and made an appointment with my doctor.

He decided I have three different things going on, as follows:

1. Rotator cuff tendonitis... or tendinitis, depending on your preferred spelling. (I prefer "tendonitis," cuz thar ain't no sech thang as a "tendin." But that's just me.) That means that my recent replacement of my computer chair was causing me to look down too much, causing an unnatural bend of my neck. I have since corrected that problem.

2. Ulnar neuritis. This problem with my ulnar nerve, colloquially known as the "funny bone," is causing the numbness I mentioned. Also, it causes occasional, intense pain all along my arm. Try to think of Derek Jeter hitting your so-called "funny bone" with a baseball bat.

3. My doctor added that my trapezius muscles are "tight." I think this means that I can give up hopes of someday running away from home and joining the circus.

What this means for you, fellow babies -- and Lord knows, I feel like such an effin' wimp for even mentioning all of this after yesterday's post! -- is that there will be a lot less blogging from Ye Olde Silver Fox while these ailments are correcting themselves. Unlike internet porn addicts, I'm not really good at typing with one hand, y'see...

I'm signed up to contribute to tomorrow's Sepia Saturday entries, and I should manage that entry well enough, but after that... I dunno. And I'm still struggling -- typing-wise, not creatively -- with my share of the "duties" on the Simpson/Lynch Studios: Pleasantview site.

Oh, crap. The arm's acting up again, and I'm just getting to the lighter side of this post. See how I sacrifice for my loyal readers?

(Pay me.)

In my life, I have been flattered by being the occasional inspiration for others to write things -- usually poems -- expressly with me in mind. The last time such was done publicly was when "Dreamhaven" of the Tangled Webs blog posted a poem which was about me, although not specifically labelled as such.

Well, Thursday night, I received yet another compliment when Betsy of My Five Men fame sent the following acrostic to me:

Decades of comic books he has collected.
Articles, poems, and tales he has written. A
Very nice rock-n-roll voice...
In fact, you'd bet your bottom
Dollar it was

Meatloaf!

Loves Rom's Pizza. Not as icy as
You may think...'cause when he's
Not ranting or
Cracking a joke, you may get a glimpse of his big, soft
Heart!

To say I was impressed would be putting it mildly. Betsy certainly did her research, too, and I know where she got some of that lesser-known stuff. That'll teach me to be late with the hush money I send Skip Simpson each month so he'll keep his big flappin' mouth shut!

Due to her acrostic's construction, it wouldn't fit comfortably in my sidebar on the left -- the effect would be lost, pretty much -- so I've opted instead to place it at the top of the stuff I place immediately after the post or posts you see when you view this page... if that makes any sense. Scroll down, and you'll see what I mean.

Thanks, Betsy!

Now I'm going to post this and go medicate myself.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Four Bells! -- A "Theme Thursday" Post

This week's Theme Thursday topic is "bell," and although there will be the usual creative approaches to the subject from the many Blogger-bloggers who've signed up, there's one thing which probably all of us will have in common besides (obviously) the "bell" theme itself.

More on that shortly.

My own slant on the subject is to give you some background info on one of the television kiddie show hosts I grew up watching in the early 1960s. And for once, I'll be relatively and mercifully brief.




I grew up in southern Massachusetts, and the majority of TV stations we of that era tuned to were based in Boston. One of the local personalities was a gentleman known as Captain Bob Cottle. When I watched him, Captain Bob worked for channel five, WHDH-TV, which was then a CBS affiliate... although in the early 1960s he also played host to Hanna-Barbera's Ruff & Reddy Show on NBC, somehow...

I collect whatever late 1950s & early 1960s New England kiddie show memorabilia I can get my hands on, and I have a few mementos from Captain Bob, including the two magazines shown above and a "Jasper" squeaky toy based on Captain Bob's puppet sidekick.


Oh, and I did manage to pick up one other item, a store display for a Captain Bob product...


Which brings us back to "bell." Like the bell in the upper left-hand corner of my sidebar. (Feel free to click on that, by the way.)

One of the Blogger-bloggers whom I'm acquainted with is a Canadian gent named Barry, who writes a blog called An Explorer's View of Life. Today, at two p.m., EST, Barry will be ringing a bell in accordance with... Well, let me quote from an earlier post on Barry's own blog:

High on the wall next to the exit from the Chemo Day Care Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital a bell is waiting for me. As I mentioned in my post a week ago Friday, there is a ritual at PMH that those patients completing their last treatment of chemotherapy, ring the bell as they leave.

Today is Barry's last treatment. But he won't be ringing that bell alone. Not exactly. Bloggers from literally all over the world have latched onto this idea, and in honor of Barry (and every other person who's ever battled some form of cancer), there will be hundreds of people ringing some sort of bell -- dinner bells, bicycle bells, bells supplied via YouTube videos, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! -- or making some sort of noise, to show their solidarity.

Kind of inspiring.

And as for me? Well, if you know me at all, you know I wasn't satisfied with just the display for that "Ship's Bell" of Captain Bob's.

Yep, I tracked down one of those Captain Bob brass bells, in its original box, no less. And that's the bell that I'll be ringing at 2 p.m. EST.

That's right, this land-lubber will be ringing a ship's bell! Just for Barry. And if you read this post before 2 p.m., feel free to join us.

(And in case you're wondering, the "four bells" mentioned in my title -- if I understand the way these things work -- is how they used to mark the hour of 2 p.m. at sea.)

Now let's make those bells ring... and the ground shake!

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The SEVENTH (and Final) "Best of David'Z RantZ" Entry


This week marks the second anniversary of David'Z RantZ, my first blog on Blogger, and the blog I "retired" in March of last year. Today's post wraps up my week-long salute to... myself!

* * * * *

During the two years I've been a "Blogger-blogger," I've changed my profile icon several times. My very first profile picture looked like it was swiped from an episode of South Park. Not quite. Actually, I created my South Park doppelgänger on this website, and it's only one illustration in the following story, a story [he intoned oh-so-dramatically] "...of my beginning... and my probable end!" (Quote freely "borrowed" from "There Is No Hope in Crime Alley," Detective Comics #457, written by Denny O'Neil.)

Here it is:

The Saga of David in South Park

David as a boy, before anyone ever really knew him...
including himself. (That's a toy gun, of course!)

David in his early twenties, fighting
a pre-emptive war against the world.

David as he is today, older and... wiser?

The Spirit of David-Yet-to-Come, older, befuddled, and
drinking a sissy drink with a freakin' parasol in it, no less!

A gravy-stained David. Even older. Even more
befuddled. No longer allowed even sissy drinks
with freakin' parasols in them. One last hurrah,
as he tries to recapture his happy childhood.
(That's a toy gun, of course!)

Oops. Damn. Guess it wasn't a toy gun,
this time around... !

"One last hurrah," indeed!


Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: Back to relative normality around here, with a very special new post about a very serious subject.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My SIXTH "Best of David'Z RantZ" Post



Hey, whattya know? These things aren't new!

This week marks the second anniversary of David'Z RantZ, the blog I "retired" in March of last year. I often feel that a lot of my current "Foxyblog" readers missed out on some really good RantZ, so I've been posting "The Best of David'Z RantZ" since the 11th, and will do so until tomorrow. Where necessary, I've done the most minor of edits.

Today's post has an unfortunate "profanity alert" attached, fellow babies. Couldn't be helped, really.

* * * * *

This time around, boys'n'girls, we're going to talk about two of my favorite subjects:

Breasts.

Actually, I'm going to talk -- or write -- because this whole "blogging thing" has yet to be made interactive.

But I digress.

One of the places I frequent for late-night suppers is a nearby sports pub. I generally hate so-called "sports pubs" because I'm not a huge fan of sports in general. But this place offers really good food, and perhaps the best boneless buffalo wings in this general area, so it's pretty easy to tune out the forty-seven televisions playing whatever that evening's Big Game (or Big Games) is (or are). Plus, it doesn't hurt that 90% of their wall decorations feature old-time Red Sox memorabilia, and when I follow sports at all, it's generally the Sox.

I was dining there recently, and couldn't help overhearing a conversation taking place at the booth behind mine. A young woman was telling a male friend (who was, apparently, not her boyfriend) that she wished men would stop looking at her breasts.

Needless to say, I soon found an excuse... that is... I mean... I decided to turn around to face the kitchen as if I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of my meal.

Yes, I looked. Of course I looked. I looked at her, in toto, and I looked at "them" immediately thereafter, objectively (perhaps arrogantly?) judging whether or not she and her breasts were legitimately "lookworthy," from an arguably average male's point of view. She was very attractive in her way, and they were attractive in theirs. Just what Gurney Norman would call -- if I remember the exact quote correctly -- "just a couple of nice-looking boobs on a nice-looking girl."

I should add that the blouse she was wearing was what I'd call "stylishly revealing," meaning that it was low-cut enough to show a good amount of what we call "cleavage," but not showing so much that she was in danger of falling out of her clothing.

If memory serves, necklines plunged drastically in the year 2006. Suddenly, the average woman -- and not just those on television, or in the movies, or otherwise in the public eye -- was wearing outfits that drew attention to her breasts.

And men -- "men" being defined as "post-pubescent heterosexual males" for the remainder of this article, okay? -- appreciated this new fashion statement, and looked upon it with favor. Let me stressed "looked upon it." Or perhaps, "looked upon them" would be more appropriate.

And that's because, yes, ladies, we are going to look. Men like women. Hell, men love women. We love being with women, we love "doing the nasty" with women, and whether or not we have any chance of doing the nasty with a specific woman, we still love looking at that woman, or any other. And "looking at women" means looking at the stuff you women want us to see, and the stuff you women don't want us to see.

It's all in how we men look at women. It's a game we ("we" meaning men and women) play, basically. I think I'm safe in saying that it's taken for granted that a man will "check out" a woman. The important thing is that the man be discreet about it, especially where the more "intimate" parts are concerned. If I, being male, look at any part of a woman, and comment on it to the woman in question, her reaction to my comment is in direct proportion to the part or parts of her body upon which I'm commenting, right?

Scenario #1
Man: "Hey, you have really pretty eyes."
Woman: "Thanks."

Scenario #2
Man: "Wow, you've got great legs."
Woman: (doesn't reply; feels slightly uneasy)

Scenario #3
Man: "Whoa! Gorgeous tits!"
Woman: "Pig!"

Keep in mind, the comment and the reaction in Scenario #3 would be the same whether the woman was wearing a low-cut top, or a turtleneck sweater. Unless a woman wears bulky, concealing garments, a man -- or a woman, too, of course -- has a pretty good idea of what the woman's figure looks like.

So, as I said, it's a game we all play. Men "check women out." Women (at least, those whom I've discussed this with) realize that fact, and hope that the men will do it discreetly and quickly. You know, just "get it over with." Like married sex.

Which brings me back to the young woman at the restaurant, the one who said she wanted men to stop looking at her breasts. It would have helped if she'd been more specific with her terminology.

If, by "looking," she'd meant "staring," well, yeah, that's understandable. Every woman -- even one who's flat-chested -- is familiar with the type of guy who can't make eye contact with a woman while he's talking to one. Nope. He's staring at the Devil's Pom-Poms, and that's regardless of whether the woman he's talking to is wearing the above-mentioned turtleneck sweater, or something she's practically falling out of. And that's just rude.

However, if by "looking," she'd meant "glancing," well, that's different. That's definitely going to happen. Even polite, discreet guys will do it, and that's still regardless of whether the woman is wearing a turtleneck sweater, or something she's practically falling out of. (Although, in this case, the more skin the woman shows, the longer the guy is likely to "glance.") Nevertheless... Get over it. It's going to happen.

And while I am most emphatically not one to advance the theory that women "ask" for & deserve poor treatment of any kind, I would like to add this: If you really don't want me to look at part or parts of you for too very long, please don't go out of your way to call attention to it or them, either with over-exposure or (especially) attention-drawing signage!

You know what I mean. If the seat of your pants has a word like "princess" or "precious" or "expen$ive" emblazoned across it, guess what? As you're walking away from me, that word will catch my eye, and I'll take time to read it. If you turn back and "catch" me, sucks to be you. It's your own fault. You made the decision to have everyone -- male and female, from kindergarten on up -- read the little sign on your ass when you put those pants on. So don't say or even imply that I'm a pig, because that would make a pig out of everybody else who sees you walk by as well.

Several years ago, I was standing in one of two lines at the local post office. In the line next to mine was a young lady of (IIRC) average looks. Her t-shirt had a rather longish expression written on it, which read:

Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But whips and chains excite me.

As soon as I finished reading it, I looked up and saw that the woman wearing the shirt was staring at me, and not looking very pleased. Did she think I was checking out her chest? "I was reading your shirt," I explained, although unnecessarily, I thought. She still looked upset. I suddenly felt like I was on the defensive, and spoke accordingly. "Well, if you don't want people reading it, don't wear it."

Sometimes you have to wonder what's on people's minds when they get dressed in the morning.

Thirty years ago, when such things were considered much more offensive, I saw a man walking from table to table at an outdoor flea market wearing a t-shirt that said "Harley Riders Eat More Pussy." And this guy was with a woman whom I assumed was his girlfriend or wife. If I were classless enough to wear that shirt in public, I'd like to think that virtually every woman I know -- friend, lover, relative -- would refuse to be seen with me.

A couple of years ago, when I worked in the office of the local cable company, I waited on a young lady -- hmm, make that a young woman -- who was wearing a t-shirt which read, "I have the PUSSY so I make the RULES." Well! That was about as classy as something I'd expect from Courtney Love...

And I can't even limit it to wondering what's on people's minds when they get dressed in the morning. How about when they dress someone else?

By that I mean, what would possess a parent to dress a five-year-old daughter in a t-shirt featuring a drawing of an anthropomorphic, cartoony penis wearing a condom, accompanied by a caption reading "Keep me covered! I'm going in!"

I've often mentioned that I prefer restraint to censorship, which is why I usually write words like "s**t" instead of "shit," when everybody knows I mean "shit" anyway. Maybe I'm the only one who still believes in restraint. I don't know.

What I do know is that this was originally supposed to be a very light-hearted post. Something changed between the top and the bottom, obviously, proving that sometimes, even I don't know where I'm headed with these things.

So, to restore this post to its originally-planned uplifting (no boobie pun intended) tone, I'm going to embed a light-hearted YouTube video...



And then provide a link to a fun thing you all may enjoy, here!

Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: The final entry in this self-congratulatory series! It's a quick read, too, and it got a very favorable response when originally posted. It's called "The Saga of David in South Park!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

A "Super" FIFTH Post in My "Best of" Series



This week marks the second anniversary of David'Z RantZ, the blog I "retired" in March of last year. I often feel that a lot of my current "Foxyblog" readers missed out on some really good RantZ, so I've been posting "The Best of David'Z RantZ" since the 11th, and will do so until the 17th. Where necessary, I've done the most minor of edits.

As I trimmed down a list of my favorite two dozen RantZ, trying to decide on the seven -- one week's worth -- which I wanted to share again with my readers, I made it as far as eight before realizing that, since two of them were Superman-themed, I could probably get away with combining them. Plus, it gave me the excuse to add the above photo of Lucy Pinder.

(And before you begin reading this post: Here is the BEST actor who ever played Superman!)

* * * * *

Truth, Justice, and... Name That Tune?!?


During the 1960s, I grew up with Curt Swan's version of Superman, so it's
Curt's version (shown above) that will forevermore be "my" Superman!

Ever see a little kid pretending to be Superman? Chances are, he (It's almost always a "he," since a little girl would probably pretend to be Supergirl.) will be charging back and forth across a backyard, or a living room, or down a hallway, etc., with one fist in the air and a towel (or another, similar rectangular piece of fabric) attached at the neck, singing one word:

"Supe - er - maaannnnn!"

Okay, now. I just wrote that. I certainly didn't sing it for you, right? Right.

But I'll still bet that you "heard" the tune that kids always sing whenever they sing the word "Superman."

I've been reading comic books (and comic strips) since I was about three or four years old. That's almost half a century, folks. I've collected comics as well. I've bought them new, off the rack. I've bought countless back issues that were even older than I am. (They still are. Funny how that works, innit?) I've bought and sold comics as a business (variously employed by others, or self-employed). I've done extensive reading -- one could really say research -- on the subject. I've met quite a few comic book writers and artists. I've even written quite a few comic book scripts myself, some of them eventually published.

In other words, while my knowledge of and familiarity with the subject is not comprehensive by any means, I can safely say that I know a hell of a lot more about comic books and their history than the average person would ever care to.

This includes my having sat through movies, tv shows, documentaries, a reality show -- thanks, Stan Lee! -- and even one freakin' musical about the subject.

That musical, by the way, was about Superman. So were some of the aforementioned movies and tv shows, and more damned comic books than I could ever count.

And you wanna know something?

I have absolutely no freakin' idea where the hell that sung version of "Supe - er - maaannnn" comes from.

Do you?

If you do, please tell me. Just be damned sure of what you're talking about before you gushingly offer an answer, such as "Oh, it must be from the old George Reeves television series. That had a great theme song!"

Well, yeah, it certainly did. But that theme song was comprised of dramatic -- dare I say inspiring? -- music played in the background, sans lyrics, while announcer Bill Kennedy practically went nuts extolling the virtues of the man comic readers in that Mort Weisinger era were used to thinking of as "Clark (Superman) Kent." Nobody sang the word "Supe - er - maaannnnn."

I've given this a lot of thought, obviously. (Characteristically, maybe enough thought to make some of you worry.) And the closest answer I've been able to come up with doesn't involve Superman.

It involves Hercules.

As in "The Mighty Hercules," an animated cartoon series produced in 1962, and broadcast from 1963-1966. (And just for a reference point here, I turned six years old near the end of 1962, placing the airing of "The Mighty Hercules" right smack in the middle of my so-called formative years.)


Its dynamic theme song was sung by Johnny Nash, who may or may not be the same Johnny Nash who had several Top 40 hits in the 1970s, depending on which internet source you believe.

And the way Nash opens the song is by singing "Hercules" in that
"Supe - er - maaannnnn" style. Note for note. See -- well, "hear" -- for yourself.


So, is it possible? Did some nameless kid -- approximately my age -- appropriate the opening bars of the theme from "The Mighty Hercules" and apply it instead to DC Comics' Man of Steel as a soundtrack for his playtime? And did it somehow catch on and spread, to the point where it ultimately became universal?

I hope it's true. Stranger things have happened in terms of how something is absorbed into our culture. There are a lot of people out there who, when receiving change from a cashier, say "Just like McDonald's," but these same people are far too young to have ever seen the commercial that inspired that line.

I've never actually asked anyone my age or younger if he or she knew where the "Supe - er - maaannnnn" thing originated. Nor, more importantly, have I ever asked anyone older than I if he knew. So I don't even know if it goes back to the 1940s or 1950s...

Which would kinda/sorta suck, in a way, because it'd blow the crap out of my own hypothesis if I were to discover that:

1) The "Supe - er - maaannnnn" musical sound bite did originate back in the 1940s or 1950s, and....

2) The producers of "The Mighty Hercules" ripped it off for their theme song!


Thanks for your time.


* * * * *

Up, Up, and... Oh, Sh*t...!

In a New Yorker article written by Michael Chabon, he tells of a "religious-school teacher," Mr. Spector, who told "a fine story about a boy who loved Superman so much that he tied a red towel around his neck, climbed up to the roof of his house, and, with a cry of 'Up, up, and away,' leaped to his death. There was known to have been such a boy, Mr. Spector informed us—at least one verifiable boy, so enraptured and so betrayed by the false dream of Superman that it killed him."

(And I'll bet my bottom dollar that, as he plummeted downward, the poor kid was singing that unofficial "Supe - er - maaannnnn!" tune I wrote about above at the top of his lungs, in case that could provide the power of flight which the makeshift cape hadn't.)

Ah, yes, the towel-necked kid who jumps off the roof... I've always put that particular urban legend one notch above that damned Walt Disney story.

So. I interrupted my reading of Chabon's article and took a brief time-out to check Snopes.com, the internet's best urban legend debunker (at least, it is in my opinion, which, as you may have noticed, is pretty much the only one that counts here at David'Z RantZ), to see if they could shed any light upon the old "kids-dies-trying-to-fly-like-Superman" tale. Nothing.

There is this, however, taken from a short article in the September 11, 1939 issue of TIME Magazine : "[Y]oungsters have taken to wearing Superman capes and carrying shields. In Milwaukee one enthusiastic young Superman fan jumped off the roof of his house and survived."

(Aside: "Shields?" WTF? These kids couldn't have been confusing Superman with, say, Captain America, because the Captain wasn't created until two years after the TIME article! But I digress.)

Okay, so TIME says the kid didn't actually die. Small consolation, I suppose. But the article doesn't offer any actual substantiation for the story, either. Hell, even Wikipedia doesn't let people get away totally unscathed for that!

But even as I sat there wondering if anyone ever could or would prove the roof-jumper story true or untrue, another thought came to mind: Long before the modern days of political correctness and the tendency to childproof everything in sight, this planet and the people on it operated under the "survival of the fittest" principle. Cars didn't have seat belts. Nobody wore crash helmets just to ride a freakin' bicycle. Anybody who could pull open the door to the cabinet under the sink would have access to ammonia, and bleach, and Pine-Sol, and all sorts of cool stuff! And if somebody wanted to smoke a cigarette, he or she would just light up anywhere and you were pretty much required to suck in the smoky air just like the rest of us! (Possibly the true origin of the phrase, "sucks to be you." Just a thought.)

Anyway, I'm enough of a comic fan not to want to step on anybody's wanting to indulge in a little bit of fantasy, especially a child's, but... It does occur to me that even if you could truly acquire the power of flight by attaching a freakin' towel to your neck, you still needn't jump off a roof to fly. You could either simply jump upwards from a starting spot on the ground, or get a running start and then leap... and with or without that shout of "Up, up, and away!" you'd be... well... up and away. Wouldn't you? I wouldn't climb up on a freakin' roof to try it unless I was... oh... 101% sure it'd work! I mean, were these legendary kids that stupid?

Look, even I'm not so cruel as to actually suggest that the little roof-leapers -- who probably never really existed, anyway -- deserved whatever they got, but... well... come on.

Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: An article about two of my favorite subjects: Breasts. Its title? "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Squirrelly FOURTH "Best of" Entry


Before I give you today's recycled goodie, I wanted to show all of you my male slut side romantic side and include a YouTube video in honor of Valentine's Day. (Now, who says I'm "cold?")

Here 'tis:

Dedicated to someone who broke my heart, and for all the wrong reasons.

And now, back to whatever passes for "normal" around here!

This week marks the second anniversary of David'Z RantZ, the blog I "retired" in March of last year. I often feel that a lot of my current "Foxyblog" readers missed out on some really good RantZ, so I've been posting "The Best of David'Z RantZ" since the 11th, and will do so until the 17th. Where necessary, I've done the most minor of edits.

Today's post is one of my own all-time favorites. Hope you like it even half as much.

* * * * *

Time Scurries On!

"Gimme cookie, damnit!"

One of the online newspapers I subscribe to via email is the British Telegraph.co.uk. Reading a British newspaper gives me an idea of how another country -- a similar country, one which doesn't (yet) hate us, and one which more or less speaks the same language -- views the USA. Sometimes I even learn about things going on in the USA before I read about it in an American paper.

Plus, I'm entertained -- if I may use such an inappropriate word -- by their obituaries. They're generally dedicated to 1. World War II heroes, 2. lords or ladies with hyphenated names, or 3. American celebrities. But I digress.

Anyway, a day or so ago, my eyes were immediately drawn to the headline of an article entitled, "Mutant threatening to wipe out grey squirrel." (Clicking that link will open a new window -- or tab -- featuring the article itself. I'll be using only the briefest of quotes, to stay beneath the umbrella of "fair use." I actually contacted the Telegraph.com.uk to obtain permission to reprint extensive quotes, because I love you that much, dear readers! However, they would have charged me to do that. And frankly, I don't love you that much!)

My first thought was that they'd announced another sequel in the X-Men movie franchise, and that the plot was conceived by some moronic studio exec during the recent writers' strike. [Please note: This was originally posted in late April of 2008, hence the "recent writers' strike" remark.] But no.

The article begins by telling us that the grey squirrel -- and I know that in the USA, "gray" is preferable to "grey," but I like using "grey," so freakin' deal with it -- is being supplanted in various areas of Britain by its "faster, fitter, and more aggressive black counterpart." The grey squirrels were themselves "introduced" to Britain more than 200 years back, and began "forcing out" the native red squirrels.

Well, I think some of us have already figured out what's really going on here, haven't we?

As always, we humans are projecting our prejudices onto these poor furry tree rats. Suddenly, a minority population is increasing, endangering the status quo. "They" are taking over. The humans are pissed, and as for the squirrels themselves?

They probably don't care too much.

But, you wanna know something? If I didn't know better, I'd say that this whole squirrel business was going on here, in the United States. I almost wondered if this was an actual news article, or an allegory dreamed up by a British novelist.

Look at what we have here. The minorities are beginning to outnumber the greys, or "grays." (And in this country, "gray" is right up there with "honky" and "cracker" as an ethnic slur against white people.) And these "greys" had originally taken the land from the "reds?" History does indeed repeat itself, dunnit?

(Okay, let me check again. Yup. This is going on in Great Britain, not North America.)

These uppity black squirrels first showed their dark & furry faces in Britain less than 100 years ago, but now comprise "half of all squirrels in some parts of the country" (emphasis mine), a confusing percentage, at best.

Yup, they're "taking over." Pretty soon all of our -- I mean, Britain's -- squirrel signage will have to be written in red, grey, and black squirrelspeak.

These black squirrels evidently have higher levels of testosterone, too, which makes them more aggressive and "territorial." Furthermore, the always fashion-conscious female grey squirrels are apparently lured toward the blacks' pigmentation. That makes me think of the looks I see on some people's faces as they pass interracial couples on the street. Some white-bread blonde babe -- and yeah, I prefer the word "blonde" with the final "e," too -- walks by on the arm of an African-American or a Latino, and there's usually some whitey nearby who is giving them a dirty look without even realizing that he or she is doing it.

Geneticists warn that the ever-expanding black squirrel population will probably "overrun most of the eastern counties" within ten or so years. And, horror of horrors, they're genetically able to interbreed with the greys, which would result in fuzzy little black or brown babies!

Blacks and browns? Oh, no! Miscegenation!

And not only that, but the blacks' impending takeover could further impact the dwindling population of red squirrels. One scientist was quoted as saying, "The small pockets of red squirrels that still exist already have to be protected because of the grey's dominance."

(Pockets? Or reservations? Hmm?)

Lindsey Maguire of the National Squirrel Rescue team -- and yes, Virginia, there apparently is a National Squirrel Rescue team -- says that the greys may eventually "get their 'just desserts' [sic]," no doubt meaning that it would serve us right after what we did to the Native Americans.

Wait, wait, wait! Scratch that last crack. I'm thinking of the United States again.

Ms. Maguire also wonders "how long it will be before we see a 'save the grey' campaign," as well she should.

I can see it now. Disgruntled groups of humans and grey squirrels, racists all, uniting to form a society of sorts. And they can come up with some sort of freakin' handbook simply by rewriting some White Supremacist literature.

Well, all I can say is... Nuts to you, you bigots!

Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: Two combined RantZ, both featuring Superman: "Truth, Justice, and... Name That Tune?!?" and "Up, Up, and... Oh, Sh*t...!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The THIRD Installment of "The Best of David'Z RantZ!"




This week marks the second anniversary of David'Z RantZ, the blog I "retired" in March of last year. In David'Z RantZ, I often took the minor annoyances of life and blew them way out of proportion. I had a few regular readers, but once I started my "Foxyblog" and got involved with the Theme Thursday crowd, my readership really increased. Still, I often feel that a lot of my current readers missed out on some really good RantZ.

So, today and for the next four days, I'll be posting "The Best of David'Z RantZ." Where necessary, I've done the most minor of edits.

* * * * *

Take My Wife... and My Wife... and My Wife...

I've seen a lot of articles about fundamentalist Mormons, the ones who practice plural marriage. Personally, I think the Powers That Be were pretty much content to ignore the whole issue in hopes that it would eventually go away -- fat chance -- but with the 2006 debut of HBO's "Big Love," people suddenly realized that stuff like this was still going on.

I'm not going to discuss my views on the morality (or immorality) of polygamy. I've got enough problems of my own. Nope, this time I just want to respond to a few people... Okay, a few guys... that I've talked to about the subject. They all seem to think it'd be great having more than one wife, so you could basically sleep with more than one woman and yet, not be cheating on any of them.

Okay, reality check here, gents: These aren't just multiple sex partners. They're multiple wives. There's a difference.

Old joke: "Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same thing."

You think you'll be getting more in the way of sexual variety, and plenty of it? Dudes, what you'll be getting is married-people sex. Way different. Like, "What's the definition of foreplay once you're married?" "One hour of begging." That kinda different. Between kids and day-to-day stress and the idea of "doing it" with the same person in (generally) the same position, day after day after day... Variety? No. Taking a bad situation and multiplying it times... whatever amount? Yeah, probably.

Okay, some of you are saying, "My marriage is different. My partner and I still have a healthy sex life." Really. Congratulations. You six people can stop reading now. Everybody else? You're stuck with me until the end of the page.

"Marriage is an institution. I'm not ready for an institution." -- Mae West.

Think about it. By that token, having three wives is like serving three concurrent jail terms. In fact, since Mormons frown on divorce, it'd be more like three concurrent life sentences.

Ohhh, yeah. Sign me up.

You guys are picturing orgies. Uh-uh. Try picturing -- for just one quick example -- three times the nagging. "Aarrgh! I just got this one to shut up, and now the other one starts!"

But please don't misunderstand me. I'm not putting down women, here. No, really. Marriage... well... maybe. But women? No.

I actually have a great deal of respect for women, if for no other reason than this:
They're much too smart to want multiple husbands.

Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: We get bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a post entitled "Time Scurries On!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day TWO of "The Best of David'Z RantZ!"




If you read yesterday's "anniversary" post, feel free to skip this italicized introduction, fellow babies!

As I explained yesterday, I started blogging on Blogger two years ago this week, with a blog called David'Z RantZ, the blog I "retired" in March of last year. David'Z RantZ had a different slant than the blog you're reading now. I often wrote with a voice which was not quite my own, one which took the minor annoyances of life and blew them way out of proportion. I had a few regular readers, but it wasn't until I started my "Foxyblog" and got involved with Theme Thursday that my readership really increased. I often feel that a lot of my current readers missed out on some really good RantZ.

So, today and for the next five days, I'll be posting "The Best of David'Z RantZ." Where necessary, I've done the most minor of edits.

* * * * *

Write On, Brother!

Wanna confuse the hell out of someone? I mean, personally, unless I've totally f**ked up someone's mind during the course of a day, I feel that I've wasted that day. Anyway, assuming that your answer is "yes" (or why would you be reading something called "David'Z RantZ?"), here's how I do it:

I tell anyone who asks what I do for a living that I'm a writer. (And I've been saying that ever since I finally got the nerve to kiss my crappy day job good-bye for good.)

No, really. It's that simple. Tell them that you're a writer -- well, if you are one -- and it'll mess 'em up for sure.

Of course, I don't know why this confusion exists, but it does. And I started noticing it with my very first paid writing gig, which was editing a restaurant menu to include cute little jokes among the descriptions of the food that they offered. (This was a Victorian-themed restaurant which wanted to appear fun rather than austere, hence their name, "Tom Foolery's.") Maybe not the kind of thing that would have Spielberg banging down my door, but somebody was giving me money to write!

During that early period in my on-again/off-again writing career, I did a lot of freelance work, mostly for print shops, doing everything from proofreading to what I call "low-grade advertising." (To my date, as we dined out: "See this card on the table, inviting you to 'join us for happy hour?' I wrote that!" And boy, was she impressed. Or not.) And initially, I described myself as a "freelance copywriter," which was evidently far too many syllables for the average person to comprehend. Hence the following exchange, which I endured a handful of times:

Him (or Her): "Oh, you're a copyrighter [sic]? Good, I can use you! I have some really good ideas I need to have copyrighted."

Me: "I think you mean patented, not copyrighted... But anyway, that's not what I do. I don't copyright; they have a whole office in Washington for that kind of thing. I write copy."

"Huh?"

Yeah, I always got the "Huh?" accompanied by a blank stare. So I figured it would be a lot easier for everyone concerned if I simply said "writer."

Wrong.

Early in my freelance career, my writing partner, Skip Simpson, introduced me to a young lady who ran a printshop in her basement. (This was shortly before the computer era had really gotten going, so anyone running a business like that was automatically deemed quite industrious.) When she'd discovered he had a friend who was a writer, she enthusiastically decided she had to meet me. I assumed she had plans to put me to work doing the so-called low-grade advertising jobs I was used to, but no. She thought "writer" meant that I could do things like calligraphy. Taking the word "writing" a bit too literally, I thought...

Okay. In typical "David'Z RantZ" fashion, all of the above was just an introduction. Here's the real story I want to tell:

A few years later -- well after I'd had a few articles and what I call "half a handful" of comic book scripts published -- I received a call from the very same print shop that had given me my first writing assignment. According to the owner of the shop, the former manager of Tom Foolery's was now embarking upon a new venture, a franchise called Croissant du Jour, and was looking for a writer. (A while back I'd polished up the business plan that Tom Foolery's manager, Michael K___, sent to the bank which he hoped would finance this chain. Apparently, his figures and my written organization of same had worked.)

I called Mr. K___, and was a bit disoriented by what he said he wanted. He wanted graffiti painted on the walls of Croissant du Jour's restrooms. Nothing obscene or even suggestive, but rather, little expressions that somehow reflected the overall dining experience.

In the restrooms.

Anyway, he further unnerved me by mentioning twice during the phone call that he also wanted Croissant du Jour's logo painted on an awning in front of the building. I told him both times that I wasn't a painter, or an artist, so logos were not something I did, but it was almost as if he wasn't hearing anything he didn't want to hear.

The site of the new restaurant was about an hour away from my home, which meant I had to deduct a small chunk out of my anticipated profits for gas money. I drove out there with a long list of suggestions for this "tasteful graffiti." He glanced at the list, and then looked at me as if something was missing. Not "Missing" on the list. "Missing" on me.

"Where are your paints?" he asked, all too matter-of-factly.

"My what?"

"Your paints," he repeated, with a tone of voice that implied that he'd actually wanted to say, "Your paints, stupid." He continued. "Your supplies. How are you going to paint these walls without them?"

I couldn't believe I'd driven an hour for this conversation. "I'm not a painter. I'm not an artist. I'm a writer."

He looked at me as if I'd just told him I was a photographer who didn't own or use any kind of camera.

I got a sinking feeling when I realized that here was another person who was taking the word "writing" too literally. I thought he'd hired me on the strength of my work on his original bank proposal. Obviously not.

He wasn't very interested in my written list of suggestions (and I knew he wouldn't like the new suggestion which I was aching to tell him!), so I realized that the only way I was going to get paid for this gig at all was if I myself painted my cute little sayings on Mr. K___'s bathroom walls.

One of his employees gave me directions to a local art supply store so I could buy paints, brushes, etc. Yeah, that's right, more money out of my pocket, and thus, my profits.

It was a long walk. I went there, wondering if I could charge him my hourly rate from the very instant I arrived at his restaurant (which would naturally include this walk). I had several other thoughts on my way to and from the art supply store, but... nothing printable.

Using a combination of brushed-on sayings and a couple of witticisms which were sprayed on with a can of spray-paint, I dutifully defaced his walls.

When I was done, he invited his employees to view my work. "What do you think?" he asked them.

"It looks like the bathroom's been vandalized," said the one person who wasn't afraid to admit that he agreed with what I myself was thinking.

Mr. K___ gave the boy a look that implied "I meant to do that!" or, in his case, "I meant to have that done!" I couldn't believe he really liked my handiwork. I don't think he did; I think he just wanted to save face.

I decided to charge him for every minute I'd spent there since my arrival, including my walk to and from the store. What I should have done was charge him for my travel time to and from home as well, plus the cost of my gasoline and the cost of the freakin' paints and brushes. But I was younger then, and certainly not as arrogant as... well not as arrogant as he struck me as being.

As he wrote my check, I asked him to make sure he included my middle initial, and I then began to spell my last name for him. (My last name is almost never misspelled, but I always tell people how to spell it anyway. Just to be safe.) As I was spelling it aloud, he waved his hand dismissively as if to say "I know how to spell it!"

As I walked to my car, carrying the paints and brushes which, obviously, I would never use again, I looked at the check he'd written.

My middle initial was missing, and my last name was misspelled. But at least he wrote the amount correctly, which, I suppose, is what really matters.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. -- Those of you who remember my post entitled "Just In Case" may recall that I often think of people for no apparent reason, after not having thought of them for ages... And suddenly, I run into them somewhere, or learn that they've recently died, etc.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to do a Google search for "Michael K___."

Mr. K___, whom I'd met only once, back in the late 1980s, and rarely thought of until I began mentally drafting this post, passed away about four months ago.

Maybe I do have The Power.

* * * * *

Tomorrow: "Take My Wife... and My Wife... and My Wife..."

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails