Tag: TV

A Farewell To Davy Jones

I never met Davy Jones. Never even saw him perform in concert for that matter. And yet somehow I still felt a sense of loss when word of his death reached me yesterday.

Quite frankly, before The Monkees I used to think that Davy Jones was just the guy who owned the locker everyone from Popeye to Captain Jack Sparrow talked about. Little did I know he could sing, dance and act with the best of them.

I still remember watching his antics on the show and longed to be like him. The guy with the good looks and boyish charm who could sing anything and woo any woman. Someone who was immortal to me. Until yesterday.

But rather than just post a blurb remembering the show, his records and just saying “goodbye” I’d rather write about Davy from a bit of a different angle. Specifically, from his role as himself on the Brady Bunch forty years ago.

When I first saw the episode with Davy and Marsha Brady it really struck a nerve. In the episode, Marsha had promised her friends that she would get Davy Jones to sing at her prom. She eventually tracks him down to the recording studio and actually manages to get inside and watch him record.

Girl. Look What You’ve Done To Me.
Me, And My Whole World.

As the producer begins scolding her Marsha makes her plea that Davy had promised her he would perform if ever he was in town. Davy, who over hears the conversation, later shows up at Marsha’s house and promises to perform at her prom. He even goes so far as asking her to be his date and gets a kiss for his efforts. And what boy wouldn’t want a kiss from Marsha Brady?

Although fictitious, the storyline of celebrities helping “normal” folks still resonates even today.

Just recently a young man who has been suffering from leukemia asked country music star Taylor Swift to be his date for the prom. Swift was unable to make the date so instead asked him to accompany her to the Academy of Country Music Awards.

We could sure use more people using their celebrity status for noble causes. The world would be a much better place.

I believe Davy Jones was much more than just a singer, a locker or a Monkee. In an odd sort of way I think he may also have been a trendsetter as well.

Godspeed Davy Jones.

Henry Winkler – Still Cool

I was reading Parade magazine a few Sundays ago and came across an interesting article about a new book Henry Winkler had written called “I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River: Reflections on Family, Fishing, and Photography”. Henry Winkler. Now there was a name I haven’t heard in a long time.

As I read about his new book and passion for fly fishing in Montana it suddenly occurred to me that this man had a profound impact on me growing up. But Henry Winkler is no ordinary man. He was; well let me rephrase that, IS the coolest person I ever knew while growing up.

I’m sure by now he is tired of hearing about it but to me and to thousands of others Henry Winkler will forever be remembered as Arthur Fonzarelli aka The Fonz. Quite possibly the greatest character to ever appear on a fictional television sitcom (and also another reason how influential television can be and why we as parents need to always be conscious of what our children are watching).

Some where in the 1970’s is where my story begins. A time when “Happy Days” was the reason for my existence. I couldn’t really tell you all of the story lines or dialogue and quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter. All I knew was that Fonzie was my hero.

From the moment I saw that 45″ record spinning and the ”Sunday, Monday… Happy Days”  theme begin playing I was hooked. And when they showed the Fonz giving me the thumbs-up as he appeared in the middle of that record I knew all was right in the world. Because whenever Richie, Ralph and Potsie got into trouble, The Fonz was always there to help bail them out.

No matter how tough their assailants may have been when The Fonz showed up they all turned to mush. The bigger they were the harder they’d fall. My personal favorite episode was the one where the dude with the iron claw hand came at him. The Fonz just grabbed him by that metal hand and bent it straight back, fingers and all. I don’t even think Superman could have done that. Just the presence of The Fonz was powerful enough to instill fear into even the meanest of people, my own family included.

As most young siblings do, my brother Bones and I used to fight like cats and dogs. Bones was one tough cookie back then. In fact, Bones was even considered one of the most feared kids in the entire neighborhood.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Who could possibly be afraid of someone named Bones”? Trust me, we all were. Most of the time me and the other kids on our block would be afraid to even approach him out of fear of what he might do to us.

Any attempt to invade his space on a bad day might result in a head lock, noogie session, punch in the arm or some combination of the three. Yeah, I knew my bro was a bad ass but the only thing that really got to him was The Fonz. Because when Happy Days was on his eyes didn’t move from the TV. He was in awe just like I was. Oh I’m sure he would like you to believe that he was on the same level of cool as The Fonz but I knew the truth. Yes sir, Bones was scared of The Fonz and really, who could blame him?

Fonzie had these awe-inspiring powers. He could just snap his fingers and all the girls would be drawn to him like a moth to a flame. In retrospect, I sure wish I had that ability in high school. I might have gotten out more.

And then there were the times that The Fonz would be in the bathroom preparing to comb his hair and then realize, every time of course, that there would be no need. It was always perfect.

And I can’t even count the number of times I hurt my hand trying to pound the jukebox and get it to start playing a tune like he did. C’mon, now tell me that’s not cool! And only The Fonz had that ability.

But of all the powers The Fonz possessed there was only one that I still desire. I mean, who wouldn’t want to walk into a room and hear nothing but hand clapping, whistles, cheers and girls screaming while welcoming your arrival? I’m still not sure how he pulled it off but on every episode, when he walked on set that’s exactly what happened. Coolness sure has it’s advantages.

The Fonz was not only cool but he also had the ability to ward off evil. Growing up, I used to have to sleep in the scary attic of my grandparent’s house. A real turn of the century type house with creaky steps. More than enough to scare the crap out of a young boy. But I was not afraid.

Me in the 70's in a feeble attempt to imitate the master

For as I ascended the stairs each night to climb into bed a huge poster of The Fonz greeted me. Dressed in his trademark leather jacket, wearing a smile and giving me a big thumbs up. HEY!

It was all I needed to protect me from any monsters that might be lurking under my bed. As far as I was concerned,  if Bones was afraid of him there was no way the Boogie Man would mess with The Fonz either.

Fonzie and the gang ended their run in 1984 just as I was starting high school. It was bittersweet to say goodbye but I knew that it was time for me to take care of myself and find my own cool. Something I think we all have to do on our own.

 

But if there’s one thing The Fonz has taught me it’s that there are actually many different ways to be cool.

Living our lives to the best of our ability and raising our children right tops my cool to-do list. I’m sure Fonzie would agree and give me a thumbs up for the way I turned out.

After reading the Parade magazine article I decided right then and there that I’m going to buy Mr. Winkler’s latest book and get a glimpse into his human side as well. I know it will be a good read. I’m looking forward to the adventures he has with his family.

And even better, I really can’t wait to tell Bones how cool it was to go fly fishing with The Fonz.

Ultraman

Here’s a story worth re-telling. Last year while paying a visit to a local Best Buy I took notice of a “Bargain Bin” of DVDs they had set up in the middle of the store. The bin contained piles of DVDs they were trying to unload and every DVD in the bin was $5 each.

I curiously perused the piles of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Vin Diesel throw aways not really knowing what I was looking for. Anything but the aforementioned ones might have peaked my interest.

As I reached the bottom of the pile my eye caught something that took me back to my childhood. It was if a huge vacuum had just sucked all the sound out of the area I was standing in. My heart began to race and I swore a tear started to run down my cheek.

No way. It couldn’t possibly be… but it was…the HOLY GRAIL.

The Complete Collection of Ultraman on DVD. The swirling clay introduction, the orange suits and motorcycle helmets, the 1966 Corvairs they used to drive and of course, Ultraman himself.

I think we as a society have grown soft when it comes to our super heroes. Oh sure, we still want the hero in the tights to rescue the beautiful girl and save mankind from the forces of evil. But the truth is, we’ve become accustomed to watching CGI animated superheroes saving the world from these baddies. Like Tobey Mcguire as Spiderman hanging from a rope with a green screen behind him that will later become the city of New York.

What ever happened to the good ol’ days of watching some dude in a rubber suit kick another dude in a rubber suit’s ass in a miniature city all within thirty minutes? The kind of show that gets the adrenaline of seven-year old boys raging in the 1970’s?

Sadly, those days are gone.

Here’s the premise of the show taken from Wikipedia:

The storyline begins in the near future. Sinister aliens and giant monsters constantly threaten civilization during this period. The only Earth organization equipped to handle these disasters is the Science Patrol, a special worldwide police force equipped with high-tech weapons and vehicles, as well as extensive scientific and engineering facilities.

Led by Captain Mura, the Science Patrol consists of Arashi, Ito, Fuji (the only female member) and Hayata. The patrol is always ready to protect the Earth from rampaging monsters, but sometimes (ahem, MOST of the time) it finds itself outclassed.

When the situation becomes desperate, Hayata, the Patrol’s most capable member, holds the key to salvation in the form of the “beta capsule,” which, when activated, allows him to transform secretly into the super-humanoid-powered giant from space, who becomes known to the people of Earth as Ultraman.

While active as Ultraman, Hayata’s human body goes into a type of deep coma, reviving only after the threat has been neutralized and Ultraman willingly departs.

Victory is never assured, however, as Ultraman’s powers (his very life force) rapidly depletes in Earth’s atmosphere.

At the beginning of each transformation from Hayata-to-Ultraman, the warning light on the giant’s chest begins as just a steady blue color. But as Ultraman exerts himself, the color timer changes to red, then blinks-—slowly at first, then with increasing rapidity—-as his energy reserves get closer to exhaustion.

As the voice-over narrator reminds the viewer, beginning first with episode 2 and for each episode thereafter, if Ultraman ever reaches the point of total energy depletion, he “will never rise again.” How terrible!

So the formula is simple: Every episode a giant monster (aka dude in rubber suit) attacks. The Science Patrol goes into action and tries to defeat it. Of course, they can not. Just as all hell is about to break loose, Hayata raises the beta capsule into the sky, activates it, and becomes Ultraman (aka dude in rubber suit). Ultraman does battle with the giant monster and just before his time on Earth is about to expire he vanquishes the creature using one form of his cosmic powers and then flies off.

I don’t mean to brag about the show but for a seven-year old boy named Jimmy Wood, this was ‘da BOMB!!! I remember the best part was the anticipation for Ultraman to show up and open a can of whoop ass. Whenever Hayata would raise the Beta Capsule and the voice said: “Using the Beta Capsule, Hayata becomes Ultraman!” the whole house could have burned down but I wasn’t moving from the TV.

Ok, stop laughing. Ultraman was the cornerstone of my life as a kid. I remember literally RUNNING home from school to catch his exploits. It didn’t even matter if I missed the beginning of the show either. The story line didn’t concern me. As long as I was there when the Beta Capsule was activated and the can of whoop-ass opened I was a happy boy. Believe me, even now there are days where I could REALLY use that Beta Capsule.

But kids today don’t seem to get it. I tried watching it with my own daughter but I think her interest in it is simply to laugh at me and call me a dork. That’s ok because it’s true. I am a dork.

A dozen years ago Hiroko Sakurai, the woman who played Fuji on the show, actually came all the way from Japan for a Sci-Fi convention in New Jersey. She couldn’t speak a word of English but I stood in a long line to get her autograph and my picture taken with her. It was exciting to do as an adult so I imagine I would’ve been standing in a puddle of my own pee if I went as a seven-year old.

I know, I know. It’s not a show for everyone. “To each his own” and all that crap. But consider this as another reason to own the collection:

Like Kung-Fu movies watched late at night, Ultraman can work better than any sleep aid you’ve ever tried. It’s all natural, more powerful than Ambien and Lunesta combined and has ZERO harmful side effects.

So the next time you can’t sleep, pop in a DVD and enjoy. I recommend Episode 15. It puts me out within ten minutes. You might sleep for days….Trust me, if you’re not a fan and can make it through the first two episodes without falling asleep you should seek professional help for insomnia and sleep apnea immediately.

Because if nothing else, watching Japanese dudes wrestle in rubber suits and airplanes where you can see the strings controlling them on camera induces sleep faster than tryptophan from the main course on Turkey Day.

But Ultraman is STILL cool. It was the best $5 I ever spent.

My Weekend At Best Buy

The day finally arrived. My wife and I had been so good at paying our bills in a timely manner and living within our means for years that the opportunity finally presented itself.

The chance to make the last mortgage or car payment you ask?

I wish.

No, because of our hard work we were finally able to upgrade the 32″ gigantic tube television that has been sitting in our living room for ten years with a new state of the art high-definition model. Strangely, the television we were looking at (a 51″ plasma) was actually $200 cheaper than what we had paid for the now ancient 32″ model we currently own. You’ve gotta love technology.

An excursion to our local Best Buy was in order and so Saturday night, off we went.

Upon arriving at the store we stared in awe at the enormity and clarity of the televisions that adorned the back wall. LCD, LED, Plasma, Smart TV’s, man this place had them all. I even saw a 75″ unit mounted on the wall with deluxe surround sound. “Wow, Ultraman would sure look good on THAT”, I thought to myself.

The model we were looking at was a 51″ Samsung plasma unit that would not only be an excellent replacement for the old tube model we had but would also look awesome mounted above our fireplace. It seems like hanging a television above the mantel is all the rage these days and who am I to argue?

As is almost always the case when I purchase a big ticketed item, when the Best Buy employee checked his inventory he quickly determined that the model we wanted was not in stock. Fortunately though, there was one available at another store 20 miles away that we could go pick up. Although the hour was late we decided to make the purchase anyway with the intention of going to the other store first thing in the morning.

The next day I got a late start, as is typical for a Sunday, and didn’t get moving until well into the afternoon. I drove the twenty miles to retrieve our new television. It was all boxed up and fit perfectly in my car. The sales associate had informed me to travel with it in an upright position and not flat so I took the necessary steps to ensure this was done.

After arriving home we quickly began dismantling the old beast of a television that had sat there since the turn of the century. Cables and dust flew everywhere but I didn’t mind. The thrill of actually seeing something in high-definition made any mess made well worth it.

Having cleaned up the area we began to un-box the 51″ Samsung Plasma. I started peeling off all of the sticky plastic stuff surrounding the unit and that’s when I noticed something…..

Uh oh.

There seemed to be a scratch on the screen. At first I thought it might have been the way the plastic covering was stretching but as we pulled the television out of the box more my worst fear was confirmed. It wasn’t a scratch at all. Half of the screen was cracked. It looked as if it had been hit by a baseball.

So in addition to having a 51″ television that’s useless I also now have a 32″ disassembled boulder sitting on my living room floor with DVD’s and cables lying all over the place. But come hell or high water there was no way I was putting the old TV system back together. This busted plasma was going back for something else… TODAY!

I packed up the unit as best (haha “best”, get it?) I could, made my way out into the cold winter’s night and took it back to the store nearest my home. The salesman sure got a good laugh at my expense. Apparently, he had never seen a plasma busted like that. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Ironically, it was at this point that fate stepped in.

There happened to be an LG plasma television sitting boxed up right next to the counter where the sales guy had been chuckling at my misfortune. This model by coincidence had just gone on sale and was actually $20 cheaper than the one that had originally given me angina.

Much to the chagrin of the store clerk, before purchasing it I made certain we opened the box first and took a peek inside. I just wanted to make sure that Babe Ruth didn’t use this one for target practice too. No cracks….SOLD!

This morning, in addition to having a new 50″ plasma television sitting in my living room there’s an extra $20 in my wallet for about ten Grande Starbucks. And Ultraman never looked so good. Thanks Best Buy!

So… anyone interested in a humongous 32″ tee-vee?