Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey you's still good

Best $30 bucks I ever spent last week. Who'da thunk it.

We were at Big Box Cost Club, walking through the video aisle, and made one of those roll the dice impulse buys and picked up the DVD box set of The Electric Company.

For the uninitiated, this was the PBS show that took the next step on reading after Sesame Street. It came out in the early 70's and pretty much stayed there through its existence. This was the show for those of us who got bored with Big Bird and couldn't figure out what the hell "ZOOM" was all about (I still can't, so if anyone can enlighten me please do).

For those of us of a certain age, this brings back memories both sentimental yet bizarre. Probably best put by my lovely bride (who is not quite of a certain age) upon seeing the first few moments of one of the episodes on the DVD....

"What kind of halluncinogens were the writers of this show on when they created this?"

Yes, it was a bit random, a bit psychedelic. The idea of two two purple silhouettes facing each other singing "ch...ap....chap" does seem like something that may have come out of an extended peyote session. And some of the jokes did go over our heads. I think I was driving to the post office about 5 years ago when it finally hit me..."Fargo North, Decoder.....Dakoter....Dakota....NOW I get it! Damn, that's funny."

It's interesting to watch it now, realizing the talent that was there. Probably good I didn't realize that Gene Wilder was Letterman....or more accurately, probably better I didn't become a Mel Brooks fan until I outgrew the show. I don't think my young psyche could have handled that the man who was faster than a rolling O and stronger than silent E would also be responsible on film for "Springtime for Hitler."

(Don't get me wrong--I think the man is a comical genius.)

It's interesting to re-experience the show now, in this era of 10 second attention spans, standardized testing, no-child-left-behind, evil purple dinosaurs and a president who thinks Mensa is something on a Chinese take out menu--and watch it still work on my 4-year old son.

He absolutely loves this show, in all its polyester cheesy glory. I watch him sit there sounding out the words with the show, gradually learning how to put together words and phrases into sentences. Not that I think this is a replacement for reading to a child--in fact, we read to him every day. But I think he's starting to connect the dots--an exciting prospect, given that he starts kindergarten in a few months.

What's old is new again. Quality and substance always wins over flash. And Easy Reader wins Oscars now. You gotta love it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Whatever happened to Dirk Benedict anyway?

My lovely bride really dislikes me. Because I've swept her into my geeky world.

I've gotten her hooked on the new version of the show "Battlestar Galactica." So much so that the other night she put off scrapbooking (yes, she put off scrapbooking) to sit through a TiVo'd episode. (And we have two more stacked up; we're now into Olympics figure skating mode.)

For me, being of a certain age, this is a trip down amnesia lane. Because I was hooked on the original version in the late 70's. The one that rode the coattails of the first wave of the "Star Wars" bandwagon. When all we wanted to do was see people argue in the latest issue of "Starlog" about which were cooler, the Cylons or the Stormtroopers. And how did we want to spend our paper route money--on a scale model of a Viper or an X-Wing? Decisions, decisions.

Three things that make watching the show better now that weren't even on the radar screen in 1978:
1) I'm watching the show with a girl.
2) I can have a beer while watching it.
3) I might get lucky later that night.

We are planning a trip to DisneyWorld for this June. This is the grown up trip, the one where we leave the kids home with the grandparents and go do all the fun grownup things to do there. It's our tenth wedding anniversary this summer, so we've got it coming.

Yesterday I'm on the Disney website checking schedules for the days that we are there, and I let out a yell. Nay, more like a Wookie war whoop....

"We're going to DisneyWorld during Star Wars weekend!" I'm giddy. I'm giggling uncontrollably. And she is very unnerved.

"You don't understand!" I tell her. "This is going to be so cool." I was there during Star Wars weekend last year on business (this is the cool part of the job; to be able to say I'm going to Disney World "on business"...). I stood next to a cardboard cut out of Jake Lloyd for 5 minutes, then realized it really was Jake Lloyd.

That's a wooden acting joke, for those who missed it.

"Think of it this way," I tell her. "We'll be the only married people at the park. And the only ones with disposable income that's not tied up in action figures. They'll treat us like royalty."

She's not buying it. And I'm still giddy.

I think I need to remind her who came into this marriage with an authentic Star Wars lunchbox, with the original Thermos. Near mint condition. And we're talking about the first run, original stuff, not after it became Episode IV. The lunchbox that will pay for our sons' textbooks in college someday, if we can stand to part with it.

While I...each time I'm home I venture again into the storage room of my parent's basement. Hoping beyond hope to somehow discover a hidden antichamber and unearth the Holy Grail that I know I once had.

The jawa sandcrawler playset. With a jawa figure in the cloth cloak, not the cheaper plastic one that came out with the later mass produced versions. And the landspeeder. The Rosebud to my Citizen Kane--injection molded by Kenner and sold at Sears for $19.95, but priceless now on Ebay to the highest software engineer bidder.

Maybe that's why I'm giddy about the Star Wars weekend. Maybe that's why I enjoy being sucked into a new round of Battlestar Galactica--even though Starbuck is a girl now. Maybe it's all just an opportunity to recapture lost youth. Maybe this is just my Rosebud.

Good thing I get to go through it with my best friend this time around.

Oedipus Schmedipus...what's the weather today?

It's been cold here in Denver. Really cold. I mean nasty, sub-zero, this is why we left the Midwest cold. The kind of cold that everyone who doesn't live here thinks we have all the time, along with constant snow.

The weather here is normally great. Rarely these extremes, and usually nothing to worry about. But part of my opinion on the weather might be softened a bit by the existence of WeatherBabe.

I have a long held theory that every television market in the country has one station in the region that has a weathercaster who is rather easy on the eyes. Someone I refer to as a WeatherBabe.

Here in Denver it's the NBC affiliate. But it should be noted that along with the good looks she also happens to be incredibly intelligent and really knows her weather stuff. She also recently got married, much to the dismay of single men in Denver as well as those of us with a pulse. This is a minor obsession that my lovely bride has learned to live with...and it helps that the same NBC affiliate also has WeatherHunk on the weekends. It gives us a nice little compromise--something for both of us, like seeing a movie with Nicole Kidman and Sean Connery. Or Nicole Kidman and Harrison Ford. Or Nicole Kidman and...well, you get the idea.

So we're in this cold snap, and I'm watching WeatherBabe describe how cold it is, and the ever present news scroll at the bottom of the screen reads "If you must go outside, dress warmly and in layers."

What results is this unreal Oedipal moment of "So who is writing these scrolls now, our mothers?"

Which, when I start to think about it, might actually make sense. Think about it.

"Thousands starve in African famine. Eat your peas."
"American Medical Association report: your face really will stick that way."
"Man jumps from cliff, survives. Claims everyone else was doing it."
"United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York diverted due to unruly passenger. Flight crew threatens to turn this plane right around and head back home."

Maybe that's what we need in these days of threat levels, economic instability, and Vice Presidents exercising the right to bear arms. A good old-fashioned dose of mom. I wonder if we can get milk and cookies with that.


OK, so after setting this blog up a month ago, I'm finally getting around to actually writing something on it. Hence the name, "Life on TiVo." My job used to have a busy season of about 3 months per year. Now that three months has expanded to 9 months, with the remaining three months of the year interspersed throughout into brief segments of time that I like to refer to as "weekends." But it beats the alternative.

My lovely bride (who also blogs) said this might be good for me. I used to write in college (the first time around) and actually had a column in the school paper for a time. Until it was decided that I wasn't newsworthy, whatever that meant. But it was fun and mildly theraputic.

So, a bit of background just for perspective...

My lovely bride and I live in the Denver metro area, with our two boys aged almost 5 and 2--which keeps things infinitely interesting and likely to provide a wealth of inspired writing. I work in the travel industry, and that's all I can say without giving away too much. I've been told don't write about work, and since I like my job (at least, on more days than I don't like it) I think I'll just stay away from the subject. Plus, this is supposed to be theraputic release. Before that I taught high school for ten years. I'm originally from the rural Midwest, so this existence has been eye opening to say the least.

Some brief insights into the mind you will be dealing with:
- My literary heroes, in no particular order, are Garrison Keillor, Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein and Dave Barry. What this means is that my writing will at times be reflective and sentimental while finding ways to incorporate the words "rhubarb" and "booger."
- My musical tastes run from classical music to classic rock. Yet I can't stand when a professional orchestra does a program of "symphonic Led Zeppelin." Go figure.
- I'm having a "zero birthday" this year. The first one that you generally dread. I'll give you a hint in case you haven't figured it out yet--I have a theory that the reason I like the Beatles is because I heard a lot of it in utero. Here's the only problem with that--my mother only listens to country music. So the theory needs a little tweaking.
- My favorite television shows, most of which are stacked up on TiVo right now, are--also in no particular order--"West Wing" and "Family Guy". What this means is that I'm a raving liberal but not so much that I don't appreciate a good flatulence joke every now and then. (And I'll try not to rant on the liberal thing too much.... not so much out of concern to offend but mostly because I know that the current administration is watching and reading most of least those members of the administration who can read beyond "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" ...and quite frankly you're not worth the prison time--SO THERE.)

So I hope you find this enjoyable and get a little bit of a chuckle. Happy reading!