December 6, 2007
We all go through it. That time in our young lives when suddenly members of the opposite sex aren’t so “icky”, and are actually kinda neat. We develop crushes on those we see around us, and like so many boys my age, many of my first crushes came from television. Inspired by a series of tweets between friends, I give you the confessions of my first infatuations. I’m willing to bet that if you were a boy growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, then at least one of these leading ladies made your heart go pitter-patter too.
Being a geek, I grew up watching lots of sci-fi stuff, and as such, you may notice some running themes. There always seemed to be lots of cute girls who were getting lost in space or saving the universe. Needless to say I was doomed from the get-go. I hope you enjoy this tiny peek inside my psyche and don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who had the courage to take the crush plunge. A list of their favorites follows. Enjoy!
• • •
as Holly Marshall
Those pigtails! That plaid shirt! Who could resist this darling tomboy who fell with her family through a dimensional warp and wound up “In the laaaaand of the lost, lost, lost!”? Kathy Coleman as Holly Marshall was the very first girl I think I fell in love with. She was always getting into trouble with those scary Sleestack but still somehow managed to cook dinner for her lame brother Will and pseudo-scientist father Rick. Holly was just the kind of girl I wished lived next door… if she wasn’t stuck in a parallel dimension. A few years back I bought the season 1 DVD of Land of the Lost and when I grabbed the screen caps for this post, the back of the box even proclaimed Kathy Coleman to be “many a young boy’s first crush”. I guess I was in good, and numerous company.
• • •
as Penny Robinson
Forget Judy, the older, blonder sister that everybody else went ga-ga over. Penny Robinson, played by Angela Cartwright for three seasons on Lost in Space, was the thinking boy’s girl Friday. Penny had it all, an annoying genius brother, a cool pet space-monkey named Debbie and a tendency to wear clothes made out of tinfoil. Unlike Holly Marshall though, Penny seemed to be firmly stuck in the awkward role of “middle child”. Not as young and adventurous as Will, and not as mature and good looking as Judy, Penny often got overlooked in Lost’s story lines. I always looked forward to the rare episodes involving Penny and her inevitable “damsel in distress” moments that were usually caused by Dr. Smith. You may remember Angela Cartwright from her memorable role as Brigitta von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but she’ll always be Penny Robinson to me.
• • •
as Col. Wilma Deering
Holy cow! If ever there was a TV character that jump started boys into puberty, it was Colonel Wilma Deering, played by Erin Gray from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I was just 11 when this show started airing on NBC, but by the time it was cancelled three seasons later, I swear I was 18. Wilma’s infamous satin costumes were an obvious ploy to lure male viewers, and judging from my inability to remember much other than Erin Gray and Twiki, I’d say it worked. You have to give credit to Gray for playing the role with such strength and grace, despite the shiny blue and purple fan service the producers served up week to week. Amazingly enough, Gray’s appeal was even strong enough to lure legions of viewers to the comedic train wreck that was Silver Spoons. She was also in the final running for the role of Captain Janeway on Star Trek Voyager, which had another satin clad beauty you may remember.
• • •
as Barbara Gordon / Batgirl
Brought in to raise sinking ratings, the character of Batgirl, played with enthusiastic crime fighting vigor by Yvonne Craig, stole my heart from the get go. I’m not sure if it was the flowing red hair under that super cool bat cowl, or the secret Batcycle she had stored in her one bedroom apartment, but Barbara Gordon drove me Batcrazy. Craig’s portrayal of the hero gave girls a new, strong role model and gave boys, like myself, heartaches for years to come. Batgirl always seemed to be getting into trouble too, which was just fine with me. I remember watching the episode where Batman and Robin get tied up into a Siamese human knot with Batgirl and thinking “What a great way to die!” Holy “involuntary muscular contractions” Batman!
• • •
as Princess Leia Organa
Don’t try and deny it, you probably had a crush on Princess Leia too. Who didn’t for God’s sake? How could we help it anyway? The character of Leia Organa came bursting off the screen in 1977’s mega-hit Star Wars and young boy’s lives would never be the same. Ask most guys what comes to mind when they think of Princess Leia and they’ll probably say “Bikini Leia!” but Carrie Fisher had me swooning long before ROTJ. You gotta love a woman who orders the likes of Han Solo around and exclaims “Would someone please get this walking carpet out of my way?”. She even somehow managed to project authority while having two cinnamon buns strapped to her noggin. About the only thing wrong with Leia was her tendency to go for scoundrels instead of the squeaky clean farmer type boys. You could say that I fell squarely into the latter category, and so our “love” was doomed from the start. Then again, that’s probably a good thing since I would have turned out to be her brother. Yuck!!
Check out these blogger’s childhood crushes:
Don’t forget to Digg It!
November 7, 2007
My long-time friend from college, David Miller, has written a wonderful post about Twitter, the internet and blogging in general. His post goes to the heart of why so many people enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences online. I’ve often read that some people don’t “get” why individuals blog or why someone would express themselves on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Dave hits the nail on the head with this bit:
“I think that it helps us not feel alone in the situations whether they are good times or not so good. That there are others out there who have had these experiences that make us human. It’s also cathartic for me to help express whatever feelings I’m having at the time.”
In a world when people can sometimes go days or weeks without talking or interacting with friends and family face to face, it’s comforting to know that you can reach out via the “tubes” and feel connected instantly. Blogging allows people to express themselves to those who might never have ever met in real life. Twitter goes one step further and distills these expressions down to ultra-concise nuggets of internet gold. It parses whole conversations into manageable chunks that we can either pay attention to or completely ignore.
I liken it to when I was in college, hanging out in the dormitory lounge for hours on end. People would come and go, things were happening all around me. I could either choose to participate in the discussion by throwing out my own occasional 2 cents, or I could sit back, watch TV, and eavesdrop on those over my shoulder. I knew friends like Dave were only an arm’s length away and would be there for me if I needed them. In a very small, and important way, Twitter is a lot like that. Think of it as a social, technical and professional support system for the digital generation. What’s not to “get”?
October 25, 2007
… 8 days of rest are bad for professional baseball teams.
… I never want to have to choose between fires, mudslides or earthquakes.
Bigoot Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster & the theory of Atlantis.
… Apple is the most valuable computer maker in the world.
… Scott Moritz couldn’t “analyze” his way out of a paper bag.
… there is only one OCTOBER!
… Halo 3 is overrated.
… Digg is a double-edged sword.
… Hiro is his own father.
… chemists know their puns.
… people regret re-electing George W. Bush.
… watering golf courses during a historic drought is a mistake.
… “Deal with it!” is my new favorite TV catch phrase.
… Kirk > Picard.
October 15, 2007
I had never really known how much something as simple as a phone call could change one’s life. In the early morning hours of September 29th, 2005, I picked up the phone and got news that no one should ever have to hear. My wife and I huddled around the speakerphone to listen to my doctor tell me the results of my biopsy were in. The growth I had felt on my right clavicle, was in fact, a malignant lymphoma. Mindy and I had been bargaining our fears away for a week leading up to the results. We thought it was an abscess, a fatty deposit or Cat Scratch Disease. When the doctor told us that instead I had Hodgkin’s Disease, my world quite literally crumbled all around me.
“Then the rainstorm came, over me and I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see and realized my mistake.”
Tears came as we spoke to the doctor as he recommended I meet my new oncologist as soon as possible. The call to my mother that morning to inform her was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Her only son had developed cancer, and I could feel the pain in her voice as we spoke. Fighting back sobs, mom, dad and Mindy all comforted me, and I did my best to assure them that I would fight this thing. I would make it through with their help. The more I learned about Hodgkin’s, and the support system I had in place to help me beat the disease, the more my fears turned to hope and resolve.
“But time threw a prayer, to me and all around me became still.”
Everywhere I turned, from the gang at work, to prayers offered up in my name by those in my home town of Laconia, N.H., to the supportive and loving words of Mindy’s family, I knew I wasn’t alone in this fight. Mindy’s mom, Ann, had battled against a far worse form of ovarian cancer and won. My own mother had won her fight against breast cancer, as had my Aunt Lucile. I was turning out to be just the latest member of our family to come up against this disease and damned if I was going to be the one to kick it in. Any lingering fears and doubts vanished after I met my oncologist. From the moment I met Dr. Kahn, I knew I was blessed. She explained to Min and I what Hodgkin’s was, how she was going to treat me, and what I could expect from chemo and radiation. From my PET and CT scans, Kahn was able to diagnose me with stage 2A Hodgkin’s. While serious, it was still a highly treatable form of lymphoma. When she told me that she was going to “cure me” of the cancer, I could hardly believe it. Over the course of the next year, I learned Dr. Kahn was a woman of her word.
“Through the rainstorm came sanctuary and I felt my spirit fly. I had found all of my reality. I realized what it takes.”
Mindy and I drew strength from each other, as husbands and wives often do. She made me laugh, helped me take care of myself and led me to her mom & dad. Through their unwavering support and experience I was prepared for what lay ahead. Everyone at the Iconfactory did their part too. As I worked at home on the re-design of the company’s website, they took on my client projects so I could focus on getting better. As chemo progressed, and I watched the tumors melt from my body, the support from those I loved raised me up to a place I had never known before. Friends, family, neighbors and community had all come together for the benefit of me. It was a humbling and remarkable experience that I will never forget, nor be able to fully repay.
“Oh I, don’t bend, don’t break. Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake. ‘Cause love can help me know my name.”
I have been free of cancer now for two years. As I head for my semi-annual PET and CT scans this Thursday, I am proud to be counted as just one of the millions of people who have fought and survived their battle with cancer. I beat Hodgkin’s thanks to the love of my friends and family, the remarkable staff at the Wesley Long Cancer Center and good old fashion faith. Initially, I had never wanted to be defined by my illness. I resisted telling casual acquaintances about it for a long time. I knew that someday I would be able to help others through what had happened to me, but I wasn’t sure if that time was now. Today, I write this to tell you I am a loving husband and son, loyal friend, artist, geek, and now proudly, cancer survivor. Let me help.
UPDATE: I received word from my doctor today that my scan results are still negative. A clean bill of health for another six months. Thanks to all those who wrote or tweeted with words of encouragement. It means a great deal to me.
October 2, 2007
One night when I was five years old (as the story is told to me), I sat at dinner with my parents. Aside from mom’s wonderful cooking, was the typical helping of cigarette smoke from my parents’ ash trays which were perched on the dinner table in their usual spots. That night, out of the blue, I asked mom and dad to quit smoking. I’m not sure if mom had smoked while she carried me, but both her and dad had smoked all through my first years in our home. Right up until that night at the dinner table. One simple plea from their only son did what multiple doctor visits, a modified diet and even a hypnotist could not do… change their behavior for the better. After that small request from me, they got serious, worked hard and threw away the cigarettes forever.
So when I read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how kids are starting to influence their parents in matters related to the environment, I knew exactly what was going on. Our public school system has stepped up and is teaching kids beneficial practices like remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, or how to switch from wasteful incandescents to compact fluorescents to help lower carbon emissions. Children all across the country are mobilizing families to help do their part for the future. Parents now think twice about not recycling or buying that big SUV. According to the article, one boy even convinced his family not to just replace their failing roof, but to upgrade it with solar panels. I say, if it takes your kid to convince you to do the right thing when it comes to how to treat the environment, so much the better.
Parents have always wanted what’s best for their children. It’s the reason why my mom and dad quit smoking when I asked them to, and it’s the reason why so many parents are now re-insulating, recycling and reusing around the house. We want our kids to grow up in a world that is just as good, if not better than the one we got from our parents. We all want to do what’s best, not just for our children, but for our friends and neighbors as well. It makes perfect sense to plant a tree, turn off extra lights or promote alternative energy sources, but all too often things like these are overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge from those we love to make everything crystal clear once again. Call it kid power for the 21st century, and just in time too.
August 15, 2007
The more things change, the more they stay the same. All the familiar sights, sounds and smells of home jumped out to greet me as I got out of my parent’s car and stood in the driveway of my childhood home. “She’ll be 100 years old in just a few years.” dad said as he helped mom out of the car. My grandfather had build our home back in 1917 for the huge sum of $2,000 with help from his family. Complete with a granite walled basement (that floods most every spring), and an old fashion pass-through from the kitchen to what used to be the dining room, my parents have done a remarkable job of keeping the house up, despite being in their late seventies. “I’m home again.” I thought to myself as I settled in for a week of relaxation, visiting relatives and exploring old haunts.
Growing up in the small New England town of Laconia, NH meant beautiful foliage in the fall, endless hours of sledding in the winter and beaches packed with tourists in the summer. Nestled along sprawling Lake Winnipesaukee, Laconia and her surrounding townships, are a classic destination for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Vacationers from Massachusetts to California all come to enjoy good food, the White Mountains and crystal clear lakes. One of the favorite local eateries is the Tamarack Restaurant. Located on Route 3 in Weirs Beach, the drive-up style diner proudly serves its 100% fresh lobster roll each summer, that some say, is the best in the entire lakes region. Lobster roll, YUM!
Despite all of this, it is a truism that kids seldom appreciate the place where they grew up. Looking back now, I’m a little ashamed to say that I didn’t fully treasure my home and all it had to offer. I think I can chalk this up to simply being a kid who was too wrapped up in school work or playing in the brook to realize what was happening all around me. Visiting my parents this past week brought to mind everything they gave me while I was growing up – a safe place to play and learn, friendly neighbors who looked out for each other and the love and support of our huge family. When I was a kid, it always seemed like my dad would point to someone and say “See him/her? That’s your cousin.” So although I was an only child, I always had plenty of help getting into trouble. One of my notorious side-kicks was my cousin Judy. You always remember the good times it seems, and my memories of her and the rest of the Maheux/Groleau clan bring smiles to my face. Judy has a family of her own now, a loving husband and two sons and I couldn’t be happier for her. Visiting with her reminded me that I have to do a better job of staying in touch.
Things have changed around Laconia now, but thankfully not much. Some businesses have closed, but others have sprung up in their place. Sacred Heart Parish where my family attends mass is alive and well, the beaches are still crowded and the drive-in movie theater at the Weirs manages a double feature every night in the summer. Kids still pump quarters into the video and skee ball games at Funspot (more on this later), older streets are still a wreck from nasty frost heaves, and children still come home to visit their folks from time to time. Some of those children sit and enjoy a Red Sox game with their parents and quietly think to themselves how lucky they’ve been. Lucky to have been raised in a place so wonderful, by people so generous and loving. Thomas Wolfe once said “You can’t go home again.” Thanks to my trip this past week, I know now that nothing could be further from the truth. May we all be so blessed.
June 29, 2007
Growing up in the 70’s in New England meant many things. TV38’s Creature Double Feature weekends, crisp autumn days jumping in huge piles of leaves, building forts in snow banks 25 feet high, and lots of great TV out of Boston. When I was in elementary school, I watched the offerings of WGBH Boston and WPIX New York (PIX! PIX!) almost every day and I still remember them clearly. Naturally there were the classics we all know and love like Sesame Street and The Electric Company. But there were a few others that really stuck in my head. I’ve managed to track them down so I could share them with you and see if they awaken long forgotten memories, as they did for me. Thanks YouTube!
The Magic Garden
My favorite show growing up had to be The Magic Garden, hosted by Carole Demas and Paula Janis. The show was a fun romp for kids that lasted 12 years on WPIX and gave us memorable songs to sing (the “Hello Song“), riddles to pose and costumes to wear. Its hosts were genuine and easy going and I look back on the show with very fond memories. Watching the closing credits makes me sad even now because each time they sang goodbye, I imagined they were singing it to me. Carole and Paula have continued their friendship and working relationship and have starred in touring productions of The Magic Garden to this day. Amazing.
“The following is from a national, instructional television series.” went the narration that started each episode of the critically acclaimed series Inside Out. The series, produced in 1972 and ’73 was different from most in that it dealt with complex social issues like bullies or feeling left out of a group. I remember watching Inside Out many times in school, all on 16mm film! One story told the tale of two boys who played a game of “war” that somehow ended badly. Each episode ended in a cliffhanger, so the teacher could discuss how you would have handled the situation in their place. Amazing the things that stay with us.
All About You
Hosted by Louise McNamara, All About You was an instructional show aimed at 6-8 year olds that taught kids about their bodies and how they worked. The show broached such subjects as where babies came from, what happens to food once you eat it (poo!) and why you keep growing out of your clothes. The opening and closing music is burned in my brain to this day, as is the surreal, wall-less set that was used. I don’t think All About You ever came right out and explained how sex worked, but I do remember it skirted the subject several times. Somehow, Miss McNamara made learning this awkward stuff fun and natural.
“Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun!” Kind of like a low-budget Mickey Mouse Club, Zoom! was a kids show filled with energy and fun games that you could learn to play at home with your friends. I remember Zoom! because it came on right before The Electric Company and I used to watch it to get out of helping my mom set the table. Check out the clip of Zoom! over at YouTube and be sure to watch the “ubbi-dubbi” speak that starts at mark 2:30. Can you speak ubbi-dubbi? I bused tobi be bubble to, bubbi I forgobbi ingubi mybi olbi agbi.
The Great Space Coaster
Of all the shows growing up, The Great Space Coaster was probably the lightest. Coaster didn’t try to teach you your ABC’s, and it wasn’t an after school special, it just wanted to make you laugh. We all remember the show’s classic tag line “No gnews is good gnews, with Gary Gnu!” and the wierd space elephant thing with the guy in the suit had to hold his trunk up with a puppet-erring rod. The Great Space Coaster paved the way for other great puppet shows like Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show, all while giving us one heck of a memorable theme song. Ah, childhood!
So how about it? Remember any of these gems of our youth? What TV shows have stayed with you through to adulthood? Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments thread, I’d love to share in your memories too, so let’s have them people!