April 30, 2009

A Boy's Toy Joy: The Fisher-Price Movie Viewer

There is probably only a handful of toys that I can fondly remember playing with as a child growing up in the 1970s. I plan to feature them one at a time, so as to give them the attention I feel they deserve.

The first toy that I would like to "focus" on is the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer. Its design was suggestive of an old movie camera and it even hand-cranked like one. The main difference, of course, was that you used it to watch movies, not film them. The movies that I can remember viewing with it were all animated cartoon shorts. And there were only two of those that I used to watch again and again.

Walt Disney's 'Lonesome Ghosts' was my all-time favorite. It starred Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as ghostbuster/private eye types investigating an old haunted house. They even had on hats like Sherlock Holmes wore, and a magnifying glass, I think...

My favorite sequence was when they were already inside the old house and Mickey opens a door, only to be nearly drowned by a HUGE wave of water that comes rushing in! And four "spooky" ghosts come-a-floating on that very tidal wave. One of the neatest things about the viewer was that, because you powered it by hand-cranking the red dial, you could make it go as fast or slow as you wanted. Even frame by frame or BACKWARDS! So, the whole water sequence alone had a myriad of possibilities and could keep me fascinated for hours. The tale concludes when the three bumbling "detectives" are being chased by the ghosts and crash into a stack of flour barrels. They are then covered head-to-toe in white powder and end up scaring the ghosts away!
The End.

This was my 'Blade Runner'
at the tender age of 4!

My second favorite was Walt Disney's 'Three Little Pigs'. Now, I don't have to tell the story of that one, do I? Again, the thing that I loved to do was watch it in slo-mo or throw it in reverse when the Big Bad Wolf blew down the pigs' houses. I also enjoyed all the happy pig dancing and laughing in this one!

Their houses would get blown
down, then rebuilt again and again...

Thanks to a retro toy seller, I can now crank-up these gems whenever I feel like remembering some of the simpler joys of my youth. There ARE others, but I'll save those for another time!

April 27, 2009

Show & Tell: Mr. Scoots

My dog is soooo cute and lovable that I just had to share! His name is Mr. Scoots, but we did NOT name him that because he drags his behind across the floor. No, he does NOT even do that! Tommy and I were thinking of the American Heritage College dictionary's definition of the word, as in "To go suddenly and speedily; hurry". He WOULD go suddenly, too, when we first brought him home from the pound! In fact, when we first got him home, he escaped out our front door and onto the busy street running toward certain death. And if it weren't for two selfless neighborhood kids that were able to outrun him, we might never have known the joy he's added to our life these last 8 years.

Our vet says that he is most likely a Terrier/Chihuahua mix and you can see the Chihuahua part whenever he gets nervous or emotional, as he will shake like a leaf! I tend to think that the Terrier part is a touch of Jack Russell. He looks a lot like the 'Wishbone' dog on the television show.

The famous book-loving dog and possible
cousin to Mr. Scoots, Wishbone.

A lot of the time he'll just sit and stare at me for what seems like an eternity. I like to think that it is just an adoring gaze, but he looks so expectant that I KNOW he wants something. It sure would be nice if he talked like Wishbone does. Then I wouldn't have to wonder what he's longing for. We could also talk about celebrities and their latest fashion faux pas (or in this case, faux "paws").

Of course, we have nicknames for him. Among my favorites are: Scooty-licious and Licky Licardo. The latter is used whenever he's administering kisses!

There is nothing quite like having a dog for a pet. They are just so loyal and completely trusting. I never will understand how some people can abuse them. They love us so unconditionally and I feel that they embody the true meaning of innocence. Dog IS man's best friend!

Yes, we let Mr. Scoots jump on the furniture.
Cesar Millan would not be happy...

April 24, 2009

Billy Barty, Billy Barty, SEE Billy Barty!

(Above title should be sung to the 'Circus Vargas' theme.)

When I was really little (much like Mr. Barty) I saw something on the T.V. that scared the crap out of me! It's one of those visual memories that are permanently burned into your mind, never to be erased by the passing of time. It would have been in the early 1970s because I'm pretty sure that I was just a toddler. And I'm not certain if it was in a movie or on a T.V. show, although my feeling is that it was probably a movie.

O.K., here's the scene: Mr. Barty was playing some kind of deranged scientist or something, in a white lab coat, holding a big syringe menacingly. Before him sat either one or two young girls (I think) that were his victims. The room around them was all dark and it seemed like they were underneath a very bright light. His victim/s were very upset and crying because they didn't want to be injected. Needless to say, it was a VERY intense moment. I can see all of this so clearly in my head that I want to know how accurate it actually is. And if it would still creep me out, today.

I've only just begun to do research in the hopes of finding this "little" gem. No luck, so far... If anyone reading this KNOWS what that scene is from, please, tell me!

Recapturing things like this from my childhood is important to me. Just as meaningful to me are toys that I remember playing with, as well. I have several ongoing missions to acquire such fond nuggets of my past.

He looks ready to conduct my circus.

Another less scary memory of Mr. Barty is his role as Hugo on the Krofft Superstars' T.V. show 'Dr. Shrinker'. Hugo was the Dr.'s evil sidekick, if memory serves, and he assisted in trying to capture the 3 "shrinkee" teenagers that had already been shrunken and since escaped. The show had a catchy theme song, too! But don't ask me to sing it.

The titular Dr. Shrinker!

"Little" Hugo

April 23, 2009

PLAYmobil, not GAYmobil!

One of my favorite toy makers ever, Playmobil, just released a new line which is 'Wedding' themed. Being a gay man who is married to his husband, I zeroed right in on the fact that there are NO same-sex couples being represented. It's all just completely hetero! Now, I don't have a problem with straight people ("Some of my best friends are breeders"), I just think that in this day and age it ought to be more commonplace to see EQUAL representations of marriage. Even when it comes to toys!

In fact, the earlier our children are exposed to ALL "walks of life" the better! Racism and homophobia are learned attitudes, like any form of hatred. So obviously, things can be done to try and avoid more hateful adults, like creating toys that include EVERY example of real life. Not just examples of what conservative society prefers! And I believe when things are presented to children as just facts, without prejudice of any kind, they accept them as such.

Playmobil is based in Germany and I have no idea what their overall climate is in regards to gay people and equal rights. But, I did write them an email to express my viewpoint. I hope that my opinion is taken seriously and that I'm not the only one they hear from.

If you'd like to contact Playmobil and tell them what you think, here's a link:
You'll first get a page asking for age verification, and you'll have to give them a few bits of info. But, after that, you can write and send them your message. Thanks!

Going to the chapel of heterosexual love!

Just LOOK at "Liberace" on his white piano...

Happy Music: 'The Fear' by Lily Allen

I know that Lily Allen has been around a while, but I've only just recently taken notice of her. I guess that's because she got her start doing Ska type music, didn't she? Whatever it was, I didn't like what I had heard and duly "tuned her out". Sorry, Lily!

Pop music is much more to my liking so, of course, when I heard the song 'The Fear', I really sat up and took notice! It's such a fun, upbeat tune that I dare you to listen to it and NOT smile! And the same goes for the music video. She's just so darn CUTE! I mean, look at her in that video capture shot above. Her hair is great, what she's wearing is adorable, and just look at that trailer... so petite! Later in the video, she walks through a big fancy mansion while butlers, gigantic presents, and balloon-people (?) dance around her. It's VERY pleasing!

I haven't heard the rest of the new album, 'It's Not Me, It's You', but my understanding is that the whole thing is just as "poppy" as this first single. If so, count me in! It certainly warrants further investigation...

WARNING - Explicit lyrics!

April 21, 2009

Rigging Up the Tent

Thank you for your interest, everyone! Unfortunately, we are under construction at the present time and the performers are still rehearsing their acts. We expect the show to be ready in the VERY near future. Please, check back periodically as we have some great things in store for you...
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