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Tag Archives: nostalgia

Recorded History

30 Aug

August 30, 2016

I grew up in the days before VCR’s were common. And that really dates me since a lot of my younger readers who have TiVo or any kind of digital recorders may never have had a VCR. But at one point it just wasn’t common to have any kind of home television recording device. They existed in the 70’s but they weren’t cheap or in every home.

As a kid, I had a black + white TV in my bedroom, and that dates me too. Even then B+W TV’s were on the way out and color sets were soon all you’d find. It was an old set.

This was around 1979 or so. I was young and I was just becoming a Star Trek fan. (How did that happen? Read here.) Problem was, the show aired on WPIX channel 11 late at night. I’m not sure, but it aired at 11:00 or even later, and for a kid like me, that was past my bedtime. Even though there was a  TV right near my bed, I knew Mom or Dad would see the light under my door or hear the sound so watching the show wasn’t an option. But I came up with a work around.

Dad had a portable cassette recorder and I put it next to the TV speaker, turned down the sound, and adjusted the picture so the screen was all black. That way I recorded the Trek audio and eventually I had three or four shows in my meager collection, audio only. I’d listen to them late at night.

See how old it is? It has a leather case and a carry strap!

See how old it is? It has a leather case and a carry strap!

Flash forward to today. DVD, Netflix, Hulu, and more. If you want to see (let alone hear) an episode of Star Trek it is at your fingertips. And the other night I put on Netflix and found a particular episode of Star Trek, one I haven’t seen in a few years, at least.

Kirk, Spock and Co. beam down to a planet where Spock gets infected by alien spores and his emotions are released. He falls in love and refuses to leave the planet. It’s not a bad episode but certainly not one of the best. Middle of the road, I’d say. It’s memorable for Spock falling in love but also for McCoy speaking in a slow Southern drawl.

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But it is very special to me since it was one of the shows I taped on that old recorder of Dad’s. Both the recorder and the tape are long, long gone. So just for the heck of it, to relive some of my youth, late at night I after I got into bed the other night I took out my tablet and played This Side of Paradise. Without the picture. Just the audio. The same way I listened to this episode back in the late 70’s.

It isn’t a great line, and not a memorable piece of dialogue, but I would be lying if I didn’t get a thrill hearing the head of the planet’s lost colony introduce himself to Jim Kirk.

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I have a clear and distinct memory of lying in my childhood bed in my family’s old apartment listening to that scene. And for the next 50 minutes or so, while I may have been lying in my 2016 bed, I was also lying in my 1979 bed, in my 1979 home, and I felt every bit the kid I was then.

I suppose there’s a point here about technology, or childhood, or whatever you may have read into this. For me, the only point is that it’s a damn shame I had to grow up.

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A Tale of My Father: Macy’s Santa

3 Dec

December 3, 2013

A love of tradition and a lot of time on your hands can be a bad thing. Case in point: my father.

In his later years, Dad wasn’t working and spent a lot time at home. It could get very boring but he managed to find ways to pass the time. Oh, I don’t mean fixing things around the house, or hobbies (although he had a killer model train layout), or even anything productive, I mean things like scamming Nigerian scammers.

Yes, I typed that correctly. He get an email from a “Nigerian Prince” promising him untold wealth if only he’d give him his social security number, bank account number, blood type, etc, and instead of doing what you and I would do (i.e.: delete it) he’d write back, or better, he’d call them. He’d call the number in the email and claim to be interested but he had a few questions. He’d ask them if he needed a checking or a savings account, he’d ask them about the political situation in Nigeria, he’d ask them about his tax implications of accepting the fortune, he’d ask them the best time to call back with more questions, etc. You’d be surprised how long a Nigerian Prince will stay on the line. One email could keep Dad entertained with the back and forth for weeks.

He didn’t always get satisfaction (nor did he get the Nigerian fortune.) For example, one year he was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV and stayed with it all the way through to the end, not an easy thing to do, depending on how you feel about 3 hours of Al Roker. Anyway, Dad watched it to the end and got very upset because it ended with Santa pulling up in front of Macy’s and waving. Roll credits, fade to black, go to commercials, cue football.

This was not good.

Because when Dad was a kid, the parade ended with Santa getting off his sled and walking into Macy’s (where he and the elves presumably did all their shopping). After some more waving, he’d sit in his chair in Santa’s cardboard workshop and await all the little kiddies on his lap. (Good thing he’s Santa. Guys end up on the sex offender list for a lot less.)

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So this particular year, Santa did not get off his sled and walk into Macy’s. He just sat there and waved and the show ended. That was not right. Something had to be done. And Dad was the one to do it.

He called Macy’s and complained.

God love my father, and God knows I loved him, even I had to pause at that. Wouldn’t the TV network be the one to call? I’m sure Santa went into Macy’s (though how would I know? It wasn’t shown on TV and I wasn’t there) but the network cut away before he got off the sled. Anyway, Dad called Macy’s where he registered his complaint. Who did the operator direct him to? Who did he speak to? I have no clue. I am sure that Dad let loose his anger on whoever was the first to pick up, and I feel sorry for the low-level Macy’s operator who had to take that call.

Dad never forgot the insult. He wasn’t one to take a slight like that laying down. He had a grudge against both Macy’s and the parade for a long time.

The parade has never been the same.

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