Browsing "Toys"

My Didj

Most of you know that I received a didjeridoo of the highest order
from Australia when I was at the Cape.
(thank you Maureen and Mark)
(especially Mark, for the packaging . . .  thanks, mate)
I have, in all honesty, devoted myself to playing it.
Although I’ve yet to master the art of circular breathing, I can play the didj now.
When I first blew into the beeswax mouthpiece the first thing I thought was, “Wow, this thing tastes funny.”
It was the beeswax.
No worries.
No more chapped lips either.
The first sound I got was something similar to what would come out of my ass after 13 bowls of kidney beans.
Yup. It was shit.
Sounded like a blunder under water.
Since I’ve been reading and practicing, I can get the fundamental drone (sweet spot) and actually make this sucker growl.
I do promise to put up a YouTube video when I feel proficient enough to
not look like a total American asshole trying to play an authentic instrument from another country.
I’ve so much of Australia in my blood right now (Vegemite, too)
that it’s only a matter of time.
Stay tuned folks.
This is going to get interesting.
Promise.
The short video below is an aboriginal playing the didj.
Pretty amazing in my opinion.
The dude can blow.
Don’t look for me wearing the makeup though . . .
As far as the hair? I might get a wig just to be funny.
Stay tuned.
Check it out, y’all

Roy Rogers is riding tonight

The first guitar I ever received was in 1964.
It was Christmas and I was five years old.
It was one of those Roy Rogers guitars made out of some unknown kind of wood with shitty nylon strings.
It came with a rope strap as well which gave me some pretty serious neck burns after wearing the guitar for more than 5 minutes and trying to act like Elvis Presley.
The guitar itself didn’t last very long though because supposedly they don’t like being stepped on or dropped.
I ended up doing one or the other. Ooops.
I destroyed the thing.
I‘m thinking it must have sounded like crap even though I didn‘t even play guitar back then.
It was six or seven years later that a song on the radio would ultimately change my pre-pubescent musical life.
I can remember the first time I heard, Vincent, by Don McLean and how I heard every single note he played on his guitar.
I was going to teach myself how to play that song no matter how hard I tried.
Problem was, I had no guitar.
The internet now has webpages of the actual tablature. Click here.
But Sears & Roebucks sold guitars at the time (a scary proposition, knowing what I know now) and had one for 30 bucks, and I loved everything about it . . .  well, from what I could see in the catalog anyway.
It looked just like the guitar that McLean actually played (in my mind) though it wasn’t even close.
Sometimes if you wish hard enough the universe co-operates.
And co-operate it did.
New England was covered in 8″ of snow the very next morning and I had no school.
I put on my snow boots, grabbed a shovel and entered the working world of shoveling driveways.
Jesus Krispies, it was hard work.
Shoveling driveways didn’t pay too well either, maybe four or five bucks per.
Looking back on it, I should have made more, for cripes sake.
Maybe the neighbors were just cheap bastards, I don’t know.
I shoveled all morning and went home at noon to eat lunch before heading back out for the afternoon.
By the time the sun was dripping into the lavender and salmon horizon, I trudged back home, physically and mentally beat.
It felt like I’d shoveled 500 driveways when in reality I probably shoveled 6.
I sat in the dining room and counted my money.

“27 bucks?”  I muttered.

I hung my head in disgust and sheer exhaustion.
My shoulders hurt.
And my feet were wet.
I hate wet feet.

“That’s great, Michael! How much is the guitar?” My mother asked.

“Thirty, I’m almost there,” I said, still pissed.

A few days later she took me to Sears & Roebucks and paid the balance I couldn’t afford.
The one thing I’ll always remember about my mother was her uncanny understanding of my intense love for music.
Little did she know she’d lit a fire that still glows, though not as brightly as when I was 13, but it’s still there burning inside me.
Her lasting gift to me, perhaps.
If you’re curious, I did learn Vincent, note by blessed note and can still play it to this day.
I went through two 45′s to learn it but it’s amazing how much it taught my ears.
Maybe it’s not so ironic why the starry, starry night sky reminds me so much of my mother.
And sorry about the mishap with my Roy Rogers guitar, Mom.
I really didn’t mean to do it . . .

*On a more personal note, while writing this story, I was trying hard to think of what brand the guitar was and as I listened to my Ipod Nano (thanks, M) ‘Harmony’ by Elton John came on.
Everything clicked.
The guitar I got was a ‘Harmony’.
Truth.
Roy Rogers is riding tonight . . .

14 Days

I waited on a woman today that was in search of a cigar lighter for her husband.
After showing her several lighters she picked a Prometheus Torch for $100.

“My husband is unbelievable! Look at this,” She says.

She proceeded to pull out a long yellow piece of paper from her purse that had scribbles all over it.
She begins reading;

“He wants Titelist 3 golf balls and he wants a new Calloway FT-iQ driver and some golf shirts and a pair of New Balance sneakers, some white sox and on and on . . .  {ad nauseum}. The cigar lighter isn’t even on the list! {snort} But I wanted to get him one because he always uses mine which I use for my crème brulee.”

Well, la-dee-friggin’-da.
That is one French-ass dessert, isn’t it?

I smile and say, “So how old IS your husband? Nine?”

She actually laughed and said, “Oh, the cigar lighter is just a silly stocking stuffer.”

I wanted to tell her that I’m stuffing my wife’s stocking with anthracite coal this year not because she’s been a naughty girl but because we need the black, sooty rocks to heat our house.

Somehow I just don’t think she’d get it.

Only 14 days left.
Wake me up on January 2nd please.

Dec 4, 2006 - Christmas, Life, Memoir, Rants, Toys    16 Comments

Old Toys, old friends

factory

Toys suck these days.

They all seem to have these safety features that basically say, “Hey, we know your kid is a boob so here’s something that won’t mess him up too bad.”

Here are a few toys I’ve seen online:

  • The Dirt Devil Junior (3 AA batteries included! Serious power)
  • Aquadoodle (Ooh, fun with water! Watch out, don’t get too wet!)
  • Software
  • Softerware
  • Softestware (updated version)

Did I mention software?

IMHO, all of it sucks.
Back in sixties we had TOYS.
We had goop cookers that plugged into a wall socket, BB guns, metal that got white-hot, chemistry sets that would make Homeland Security shudder; these were unsafe, exciting and a wee bit scary but we loved them all.
Sure they could burn down your house and kill your dog but hey, look at all the cool stuff you could make.
Adult supervision? Uhhhhhh…nope.

We had toys that were so cool they could actually ‘make’ other toys.
There was the Mattel Fright Factory (similar to Creepy Crawlers) that came with a square-shaped cooker/heating plate that worked on electricity (no batteries, thanks).
If it heated up long enough and you absentmindedly forgot about it and stuck your hand on the plate—BANG!—Edward Scissorhands for you.
The Factory came with cast iron molds that you filled with this stuff called plastigoop.
After cooking the hell out of it, you would notice delicate fingers of smoke rising into the air; a monster was born.
The cooking plastigoop had this really odd, almost toxic scent to it too.
Oh, yeah, this stuff could probably kill brain cells faster than a case of whip-its but we loved it. God, I made some great monsters.
These toys taught us patience (wait until the cast iron cools down *before* you touch it), creativity (who says a monster can’t be 14 colors?) and responsibility (unplug the damn thing when you’re done or you might run the risk of burning the face of your little baby brother who still puts his mouth on everything).

The list goes on but I’m thinking you get my drift.

Girls had a similar toy called “Fun Flowers” or something like that. (thanks to my wife for the name)
It made frilly flowers but still had the awesome capacity to really mess you up if it was misused.

It was toys like the Easy Bake Oven that put me off and made me realize the toy industry was badly tanking.
A low-wattage bulb that cooks brownies? That’s just plain frickin’ stupid.
Maybe that’s the little boy in me.

I would have been interested in something called the ‘Three Mile Island Super Bake 5000’, an oven equivalent to that of a 1,500 watt microwave.
Hey, this thing could blow up a tomato in like 60 seconds. How cool is that?

Granted, the technology wasn’t available back then but if it was, boy, oh boy, we may have seriously screwed some folks up.
But you know what?
We didn’t and I’m living proof.
So the next time you want to reminisce and stumble down Memory Lane, open up a fresh box of Crayola crayons and sniff.
Amazing how it all comes rushing back, huh?
There I go showing my age once again.

~m

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