Mar 31

One of the most delicious things about being a young kid was coming home from school and plopping down in front of the TV for a couple of hours of pre-dinner entertainment. This was often accompanied by a glass of chocolate Quik or a mug of Coco Pops.

Sadly, many of my favourite afternoon TV shows are gone, never to return. One of the classics was Grizzly Adams, the story of a man “accused of a crime he didn’t commit”, who flees to the mountains where he lives with his common-law wife, a large grizzly bear. Adams’ idyllic existence is interrupted each week when he has to help yet another hapless visitor who has stumbled in from the real world with a problem that needs solving.

Here is the title sequence that would precede each episode. Ah, memories.

The TV series was based on a successful 1974 film, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and ran for 39 episodes starting in 1977. I must’ve seen each one about eighteen times. The theme song, “Maybe” by Thom Pace, was apparently a huge hit in Europe.

Dan Haggerty, who played the eponymous hero, has certainly led a colourful life since the show ended. In 1984 he served 90 days in jail for selling cocaine. He is the only person to have his star removed from the Hollywood Walk of Fame (he was mistakenly given a star intended for actor Don Haggerty). He opened a restaurant and produced his own brand of barbecue sauce. And in his spare time he squeezed in some endorsements for a piece of medical equipment later found to be fraudulent.

For more information than you could possibly need or want, see the Grizzly Adams wiki.

Stay tuned for more in the Weekly Retro Classics: Afternoon TV series!

Mar 28

I suffer from frizzy hair. Lately I have tried using a so-called “anti-frizz” shampoo. Ha! This only made my hair even frizzier!

In an attempt to combat the depression brought on by my frizziness, I sought out historical figures who were able to overcome this debilitating illness. I found several famous people who are known for their frizzy hair. Common to all three is a disconcerting advancement in frizziness that comes with age.

Firstly, here is Albert Einstein, young and old. Albert and I are similar in that we are both frizzier on top than at the sides.

 

Next I looked at Bob Dylan. The two photos below are only two years apart! This is a textbook case of early-onset frizziness, much like me.

 

By 2006 poor Bob could barely stand up straight under the massive weight of his own hair. Is this what I have to look forward to?

Certainly the most worrying case I discovered was that of Phil Spector. In the early 1960s Phil was a hip cat, with the world at his feet:

By 2007 he was on trial for murder, and looked like this:

These people are all geniuses. Their stories of battling through frizziness give hope to sufferers like me. Albert, Bob and Phil, I thank you on behalf of frizzy people everywhere.

Mar 27

When I was three I had to go to the hospital to get stitches in my chin. This is perhaps my earliest memory. I had just got out of the bath, and dad was towelling me dry. I can remember slipping over on the wet floor and cracking my chin. Our bathroom floor had lots of small, different coloured tiles. Dad picked me up and was giving the top of my head a rub, thinking that’s where I’d hurt myself. He didn’t notice the blood dripping from the cut in my chin.

Next thing I remember is sitting on mum’s lap in the front seat of the car, driving to the Royal Newcastle Hospital. (Imagine if you saw this now, a kid on someone’s lap in the front seat of a car! How times change.) Mum had put some sort of bandage on my chin and was pressing it down. I don’t recall whether it hurt or if I was crying. I think I was pretty calm as a little kid.

I don’t know what happened when we got to the hospital, but I clearly remember lying on a table and the doctor placing a cloth over my face. The cloth was made of cotton, and I can vividly remember its smell, and how it felt against my skin. My chin was numb of course, but I could feel the tugging of the needle as it went in and out. Afterwards I heard the doctor tell mum that I was a very good little boy.

Mar 26

Welcome to the very first instalment of Weekly Retro Classics, a video segment for the discerning mid-to-late thirty-something. Each week I will select for you a video clip so uncompromising in its nostalgic qualities, so overwhelmingly reminiscent, that it will take you a week to fully recover.

But how was I to choose the first video in this series? Simply, I reverted back to my childhood. Through an intensive course of primal scream therapy I sought to strip away the intervening years, all the detritus of a lifetime, layer by layer, until nothing was left but the absolute core of my being. And what I saw there, what I discovered, was a skinny kid, sitting in a suburban loungeroom, in front of a TV set on a sunny Saturday morning. And on the TV set were two words … Sounds Unlimited.

Some of my earliest experiences of music videos were through watching Sounds Unlimited hosted by Donnie Sutherland. Those of you of a certain age would remember this landmark music programme. You will also remember the Sounds Unlimited theme music, which I have just discovered is “Love’s Theme” by Barry White. In fact, it is performed by Barry White & the Love Unlimited Orchestra. The coincidence of the Love Unlimited/Sounds Unlimited thing had my brain more twisted than a Möbius strip, so I decided that the first Weekly Retro Classic must be Barry White & the Love Unlimited Orchestra performing “Love’s Theme”.

So sit back and enjoy Maestro White, conducting his orchestra before a live audience in Mexico City in 1976. Right on!

Mar 24

A few nights ago we were in bed when we heard the Takalua kids walking down the driveway which runs past our bedroom window. The girl was talking quietly to her brother Fubar, who was making a hell of a racket. It sounded like he was dragging a chain along the concrete. His little thongs were slapping on the ground as he ran up and down the driveway.

I wondered what they were doing out there at 10:30 pm. I thought about yelling at them to shut up, but I wanted to see if anything else happened. I soon fell asleep while little Fubar prowled around outside our window, dragging his chain under the full moon.

Mar 18
The Takaluas
icon4 Mar 18th, 2008 | icon2 Neighbours | icon31 Comment »

Next door to us live an islander family. We call them the Takaluas, after Jonah Takalua from Summer Heights High. I don’t believe we are racist, we just like to make ourselves laugh. There are four Takaluas: mum and dad, and a daughter and son. The son is about four years old – it’s difficult to tell – and can often be seen acting strangely. We call him Fubar, which is a name I suggested. Fubar comes from the US Army term FUBAR meaning “fucked up beyond all recognition”. Fubar Takalua.

The other members of the family appear relatively normal for the area in which we live. The mother seems nice and we have nodded to each other once or twice. The father works at night, or at least I suspect this is the case. We share a driveway so when he comes and goes we know about it. He leaves every night at about 9:30 PM. As he drives down our driveway Fubar can be heard yelling “bye! bye! bye!”. He continues to do this even when his father is well out of earshot. “Bye! bye!” Fubar likes to stay up very late for a four-year-old.

The daughter is about ten I think, and she plays with her little brother Fubar. Mostly they play tennis or basketball. There is also another woman I have seen but I don’t know who she is. Maybe an aunty. One time a whole lot of men came in a car and had a small party. They also had the bonnet of the car up and were looking inside. There is a little building, like a granny flat, that I think the Takaluas own, but I don’t know what is inside or who might live there.

Fubar sometimes gets up to mischief. When we were moving in he would run up to our door, yell “Fuck!” and then run away. I tried to be nice to him but it’s difficult to be nice to someone who runs up to the door of your home screaming obscenities. He was also getting under the feet of the removalists while they were trying to carry our fridge into the house. Eventually I got mad and told him to go away.

About a month ago I noticed Fubar walking down the driveway past the front of our house. (He is often seen wandering alone, he is very independent.) I heard him talking to himself, and then I heard noises like things hitting our roof. I suspected Fubar was throwing pebbles at our house which got me angry. When I opened the door to tell him to stop he ran away. I waited at the front window, and when he walked by I yelled out “Hey!” and he jumped about two feet in the air. I don’t like scaring little kids but I think he deserved it. I then told him to stay away from our house and don’t throw things. He muttered something, pointed down the driveway and continued on his merry way.

I worry that one day I will run over Fubar with my car.

Mar 18

Part A

I am sitting on the rim of a large natural amphitheatre, at the very rear of a vast audience. It is some sort of metal concert – I can hear the music but don’t know the name of the band. Hollywood actor John Cusack sits to my left, anonymous. I start a conversation with him, hinting towards the fact that only I among everybody here know his true identity. I think we get along nicely. It must be somewhere in the United States, because I know everyone is American. They are mostly homely, curly-headed female college students. I follow one girl away from the concert, thinking she is leading me to wherever it is I need to go. At one point we stop at a bar, although it is more like a school canteen window. She orders drinks, but when they come they are all milky froth. She then disappears and I am left lost and with a feeling of abandonment.

Part B

During Part A of this dream (above) I had the feeling that I should really be somewhere else. I realise where that somewhere is when I am accosted by an elderly lady who tells me that I am late for the table tennis competition. I then play her (or perhaps a different elderly lady) in a table tennis match, on a large stage before an unseen audience. I am very skilful, but she is good too, for someone of advanced years. There are rules in this game that don’t exist in regular table tennis. At one point I am watching another match featuring a Chinese man. He makes clever use of a rule whereby his shot need not even hit the opponent’s end of the table. That is, he can simply whack the ball off into the air towards his opponent’s end, an almost certain point-winner. But before he does this, he first has a quick look to the referee, as if to get permission for the shot. The referee’s permission must be sought each time this rule is brought into play.

Part C

I am standing at the edge of a wide, shallow sandy stream. There are sand hills on one side, and some walls here and there. There is a young couple having a conversation nearby, they again appear to be young American college student types. A few times I walk up to them to say hello but the girl just sort of looks irritated as if to say, “yes, we know you’re there already”. I head along a trail up into the dunes, and soon find a few interesting looking items half-buried in the sand. They appear to be relics from some ancient civilisation, made of stone and smooth to the touch. I can tell, however, that they are in fact souvenirs from an Eric Clapton concert. (They have “Eric Clapton” printed on them.)

Part D

I am now back in my own school days. The setting is difficult to describe but it is similar to Part C (above), sandy country. A few of my school chums are sitting around a large table, apparently studying (outdoors). I too am studying, but I have a distinct feeling of unease, bordering on fear, about whatever it is I am studying for. I speak with my schoolmates, and although the specifics of the conversation are forgotten I know that there is a lot riding on the exam for which I am studying. Perhaps even my very life.