Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: 30 years and onward

November 24, 1983.

Very heavy wind and rain going on outside that dark Thanksgiving morning. The trees were blowing at some scary angles, and it was a sure bet that the power would be going out at any given moment. Not the best time to do that, as Dad was just starting up Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen. This day was going to be a little different, as this was the first major holiday since the divorce in the family had occurred some eight months before; my mom and sister weren't there, and weren't going to be. I was just sitting in the living room, listening to the radio, waiting for "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" to be played when the next thing we know....POFF! The power went out. Completely. And it wasn't going to come back on anytime soon.

A couple of neighbors came by to see if ours had gone out as well (and were at the ready to ask if they could cook their stuff in our oven if it was working). Grandma was supposed to come over that day for Thanksgiving, but we ended up having to box up everything and take it over there to finish cooking.

Oh, and did I mention that I was sick that morning? Something I'd eaten for lunch the day before at school did not agree with me, I woke up with a mild case of food poisoning, and I was busy spewing out of both ends, ever since I'd woken up. I didn't eat much that day for dinner, and everyone else probably thought that I was just being a pain in the ass.

Later on that afternoon, after it was all over and we finally got home, I went upstairs to my room and snapped on Sesame Street, just for something to watch as I lay there in not such a great shape. This was the now-legendary episode where Mr. Hooper had died, and the gang is trying to explain the concept of death to Big Bird. Very, very depressing, and not quite the way to end an already trying day.

Thanksgiving seemed to be under a sort of unspoken curse for us after that, with each one worst than the last one. In 1985, we had a major snowstorm that threatened to knock out the power again, but (mercifully) nothing happened. The year after that, our little dog Pepper got out of the backyard, dashed into traffic onto J Street, got hit by a car, and that was the end of her. And then, the following year in 1987, two weeks before the holiday itself, my uncle Pat committed suicide by jumping off of the 34th Street bridge.

Well, after that happened, Thanksgiving was just another go-through-the-motions sort of holiday that we merely tolerated until it was out of sight and out of mind. Dad once said as much one year, and I was glad that it wasn't just me who felt that way about it. He was tired of turkey, after years of cooking them on a daily basis at such restaurants as the Hob-Nob and Knapp's, and so we'd have roast beef, ham, or chicken for dinner.

For the longest time, nothing bad had happened until the day was over and done with for another year. But then on November 22nd of 2010, four days before Thanksgiving came, Dad went into cardiac arrythmia, and had to be rushed to the hospital. It had snowed that day, making things that little more difficult, and also reminding me of that long-ago Thanksgiving with the snow on the ground. Despite some initial hope that he would pull through, he never did, and he left this world 15 days later.

But, it's not really all that bad. I remember throughout the 1980s, KSTW-11 used to show The Muppet Movie on Thanksgiving Day, and the day never felt complete without watching it. It held a special place for me, as it was the first movie I ever saw on the big screen in 1979 at the Roxy Theater (later to be the Pantages Theater), something I remember with fondness. So, by putting this on, all the other stuff gets forgotten about, and the day seems so much brighter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rod Stewart

Dad had this one out one summer morning, and it was quite a sight to see...a glass-shaped album with gigantic ice cubes, and some guy grinning whilst behind them. Very interesting! What was this going to sound like? I got to hear "Maggie May", and I thought the song was great! He also did a version of "Pinball Wizard" as well, but the accompanying music (at the time) reminded me out of something from Damien: Omen II, which I had just recently seen.
The song was also on this one as well, but the other songs on it such as "Hot Legs" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" didn't have the same effect on me. Still, I liked Rod's voice, although it would be a few years before I dug a little deeper into his earlier works, this was a starting point for me, and where I still remember him fron.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Ramones

Rock & Roll High School. This was another movie that happened to be on, and I saw it one afternoon while Angie was at school, and my mom was in another part of the house doing something. I had no idea who the Ramones were, and for the longest time, I thought that they were some fictional--but very cool--band that only existed in the movie, since no-one around us seemed to be into them, or had any of their albums (though there was one cut by them on the K-Tel compilation Rock 80). In fact, I only ever saw it just that once, and it disappeared for the longest time, not to be seen anywhere. I wondered if it was a one-time-only "After School Special", or if maybe I dreamed it. Flash forward to fall of 2001 on Turner Classic Movies, and they showed it on there after Joey Ramone's passing, and I saw the movie again for the first time in over twenty years. It was great to see again, and I became a Ramones fan for a few years to come.

The Who (ii)

One great thing about having cable back then was being able to watch movies all the way through with no commercial interruptions. I didn't read TV Guide or anything like that, so I never really knew what was going to be on, and it was always kind of a surprise as to what was going to be watched at any given evening. It could be a comedy-drama like Foul Play, or something scary, like The Amityville Horror, something funny, like High Anxiety, or even a kids' movie, like Dot And The Kangaroo. Something that turned up was the 1975 film of The Who's Tommy, which I got to see a number of times. The original album was not in the house, although I was familiar with "Pinball Wizard", and I was delighted to see Elton John in his outlandish boots, singing the song while on the pinball machine with the wee keyboard mounted on the front. For some reason, he reminded me of Paul Williams in his cameo appearance in The Muppet Movie...
The rest of the movie was quite an adventure. I didn't know who Tina Turner was just then, but her role as The Acid Queen was pretty frightening. I had seen The Wizard Of Oz sometime that past Halloween, but the Wicked Witch had nothing on her...all I knew was that I did not want to be in that room with her!
I remember after the movie was over, and with a little time to fill before the next one, HBO would show the promotional film for the Who song "Who Are You" from The Kids Are Alright, which was not only a great song, but also a lot of fun to watch...the sight of Keith Moon cracking up the other guys while doing overdubs was a joy, and they looked like they were having a good time recording. But it was also a bit sad, because I knew that Keith was gone, and there was no-one else like him.