In 5 days, my dad will have been gone for two years.
Yeah, we all know how I'm perpetually reminded of the continuity of life and my place in the temporal stream, but it's a lot more pronounced this year. I don't know why.
My stepmom and I went to Kayleigh's school band concert last night, and I was unsurprised and VERY proud to hear her play her clarinet so well. I am signing her up for summer band at West Seattle High, much to her delight. Summer band in the mornings, Oklahoma! in the evenings. Add into that the fact that the kids want to: a) go trail riding (horseback); b) go camping; c) go swimming every day... I wonder when I'll get any work done this summer. Maybe when they fly down to California to stay with Sam's folks for a week.
I'm reminded of my summers as a kid. Occasionally swimming lessons, camp, and spending a week here and there with grandparents or cousins, but mostly what I remember so fondly was just hanging out. Playing superheroes with the neighbor kids or, after we moved to Santa Cruz, walking with my buddy Josh to Deer Park shopping center in Aptos to buy junk food (remember candy cigarettes??). Riding bikes on the vacant school playground, having sleepovers and staying up late watching Creature Features or marveling at Wilma Deering's jumpsuit (which I maintain is a stellar name for a band).
I simultaneously love and hate YouTube specifically for making it possible to rediscover the media of my childhood. In the process of thinking about my formative preteen years, I'm reminded how absolutely goofy the 1970s were. Just look at what passed for entertainment and toys:
Mego Superhero Action Figures
I had almost ALL of these (except the chicks, cause that would be… you know). Notice how progressive the advertising was in 1976. “The Falcon – that great BLACK superhero!” (yeah, like being Captain America’s 2nd tier sidekick was a great move forward for racial equality…) I also like “Conan, the Barbarian – with his Sword of Justice!” (WTF??) and “Thor – using his Viking Power against evil!” (HEYYY! I want Viking Power too!)
Mego Planet of the Apes Action Figures
Mego Star Trek Action Figures
Because much of our television in the early to mid-'70s was syndicated stuff from the '60s, like Star Trek and Batman. Notice that the Klingon's sidearm is just a regular phaser molded in red instead of blue. I was rockin' a pretty complete set of ST figures when I was 6 or 7. Plus G.I. Joe!
Action Jackson is his name! Bold adventure is his game!
OMG, this was totally my first action figure, before I even got my first G.I. Joe - I had the frogman stuff and the "remote control" motorcycle, which really was just a battery pack with 2 buttons and a 3-foot cable connecting it to the vehicle.
Now here's some of the TV that saturated my brain as a young American boy in the '70s. Keep in mind this does not include the sitcoms and guest-star-of-the-week Love Boats and Fantasy Islands. Just the action-adventure fare, and it's by no means complete...
The Six Million Dollar Man
I was RIVETED to the TV when this was on. Best theme horn swell ever. I can't decide if it's pathetic or awesome that they just shot Lee Majors in slow-mo whenever he was supposed to be running super fast... and we totally bought it! When he fought robot bigfoot for 5 minutes in slow motion, it was teh r0Xx0Rz.
Patrol cops in LA, long before The Shield owned my soul. I also watched Ironside, Kojak, The Mod Squad, SWAT and Quincy with my dad. But never when my mom was around.
Randolph Mantooth - 'nuff said.
Lynda Carter totally triggered my puberty early. Waaaaay early. Let's just say that when the TV movie aired in 1975, I knew I was straight.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Erin Gray kept those hormones churning. Dig the disco soundtrack.
David Carradine as Kane. He walks without fear of rhino or tiger.
The Bionic Woman
Lindsay Wagner - smart, sexy and superhuman!
Korg: 70,000 B.C.
Hanna-Barbera show about a family of Neanderthals - loved it!
I caught this whenever I was allowed to stay up late. Came in after Farrah, so I was a big Cheryl Ladd fan.
Again, riveted to the opening narration by Patrick McNee. So cool. I totally thought Apollo's sister was hawt.
Land of the Lost
Dinosaurs, monkey people, sentient lizards and really bad effects (even by 1970s' standards). What's not to love?
The Incredible Hulk
Bill Bixby's performances often gave the show a lot more legitimacy than the cheesy formula was worth.
No occult, cryptozoology or UFO lore was off limits for pop culture.
Disco pants and haircuts - in spaaaaaace! Careful, or Martin Landau will shoot you... with his... industrial stapler.
The aptly-named Dan Haggerty was like Cousin It in dungarees with a fake John Denver theme. I even had the action figure. What was THAT about?? And of course, it co-starred UNCLE JESSE from...
The Dukes of Hazzard
My buddy Josh and I stumbled across this show while on a sleepover - a scene where Bo and Luke are shooting explosive arrows and blowin' stuff up REAL good, and, well, there you go. Explosive arrows, Catherine Bach in those tight shorts. Plus, they had characters named "Enos" and "Cooter", which is genius in and of itself. Done deal.
Perhaps someday I'll go into the cartoons... dear LORD - the cartoons.