Sesame Street Clips that scared me as a kid

Courtesy of Boing Boing, where they felt the same way. This first one with the orange singing was really scary:

This one was more funny, but it still bugged me.

I swore up and down that Mahna Mahna was from Sesame Street, while friends of mine insisted it was from the Muppet Show. Turns out we both were right. This first clip is the one I remember from childhood:

This one came much later:

Continue ReadingSesame Street Clips that scared me as a kid

Scary Kid Stuff (with pictures!)

Paul the Spud at Shakespeare’s Sister asks the question “What creeped you out as a kid?” Here are my answers, many of which were from TV shows that I probably shouldn’t have been watching.

1. The Star Trek episode “Miri” where the crew beams down to a planet that at first seems deserted. But they soon find out it’s occupied only by children, because a strange leprosy-like disease attacks adults and kills them. The crew gets the disease, and has to find a cure. I still vividly remember the disease was like a strange blue-green mold growing on the crew — gross!

Star Trek Episode: Miri
Star Trek Episode: Miri

I couldn’t find the image that sticks out in my head – Kirk pulls back his sleeve and he’s got blue mold on his forearm. Ugh.

2. The Space 1999 episode “The Dragon’s Domain” – There’s a creepy-ass octopus-like monster with a glowing eye that sucks the characters in and spits back out their mutilated corpses. Until I started searching for it just now, I had no idea what the show or episode was. I found it by searching for “space creature glowing eye tentacles.”

Space 1999 Monster
Space 1999 Monster

Shudder. I’m going to have dreams about that. I had nightmares about this thing for YEARS.

2. The Towering Inferno — which we weren’t supposed to watch on TV, because we were too young, but the babysitter let us stay up. I don’t remember a thing about the movie, but I’ve hated disaster movies ever since.

Towering Inferno
Towering Inferno

Hmm. Why do I suspect this is a movie that will never get a remake?

3. The Wicked Witch popping into Munchkinland. (Although this was also my favorite part, because Dorothy backs up and Glinda puts her arms around her to protect her from the witch. “Rubbish. You have no power here! Begone, before someone drops a house on you, too!” Sigh.) Unlike some of the comments from other people, I was never scared of the flying monkeys, cause I thought they were prisoners. I was afraid of the castle guards. Apparently the witch surprise is pretty universal — my aunt Rosemary ran out of the theater and refused to see the rest of the movie.

The Wicked Witch of the West
The Wicked Witch of the West
Dorothy and Glinda
Dorothy and Glinda

Completely an excuse to post another picture of Glinda.

4. The original Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” – the creepy kid who can make any of his wishes come true — I vividly remember the image of his sister, who had no mouth.

Twilight Zone - It's A Good Life
Twilight Zone – It’s A Good Life

I looked for a picture of that, but couldn’t find one, so here’s a picture of a flying monkey instead. I love their little cape/jackets. (2021 Update – found a pic. Still creepy.)

Flying Monkey
Flying Monkey
Continue ReadingScary Kid Stuff (with pictures!)

Childhood Memories

Passed along from my friend Matt. Typically I add these to the big fat list I’ve compiled of quizzes about me, but right now I don’t have time to merge the two. I should also link a bunch of the answers below to pages on the site, but no time for that either.

1. What was the first car your family had?
A 1957 Chevy. It was blue, and I barely remember it. Then we had a succession of volkswagens which my dad drove, and my mom hauled us around in a Pontiac Bonneville. Then my dad drove a VW Rabbit, and my mom had a Ford Country Squire station wagon, brown with wood panel sides.

My own first car was a 1977 Audi Fox station wagon I bought in 1988 from my girlfriend Peg’s dad for $300.00. It was a stick and was a pretty good car for that amount of money. Nothing worked on it except the engine, the brakes, the steering wheel and the headlights. But it had tons of room that let me haul all my crap around, and I think I actually was stupid enough to drive the thing to Dayton, Ohio (to go to 1470 west) a time or two as well.

2. What was the name of your first pet and why?
We had a poodle named Puddles that I got when I was five or six.

3. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A knight in shining armor. Yeah. I read King Arthur stories when I was really, really little and I didn’t understand that all that was in the middle ages. And that all the knights were boys.

4. What was the name of your elementary school?
I went to North East Elementary in Ankeny, Iowa for the first few years, and after we moved I went to East Elementary. I think.

5. Who was your first best friend?
Sherri Castle and Kay Kaufman, who lived on either side of us.

6. Are you still friends today, and if not, what happened?
They moved when I was still a kid.

7. What was your favorite board game?
Clue, as you can tell if you look at my board game collection.

8. Did you play house or other make believe games?
Yep, we played house. I had a tiny kitchen with a stove, sink and refrigerator, kitchen table, and even a kitchen cupboard my grandfather made for me. We also played cowboys and Indians and tons of other stuff.

My brother Paul used to dictate what the make believe games were all the time, and he always chose what he thought were the best characters. He had to be Bert, I had to be Ernie. He had to be Kermit, I had to be Grover. He had to be the Lone Ranger, I had to be Tonto. Looking back, I was always the cooler character, and he was the dork, so I guess he picked that pretty accurately.

9. Were you a Dungeons and Dragons geek?
Nope. That was after my time.

10. Did you sleep with stuffed animals as a kid?
Yep. I got a teddy bear for my first birthday, which I still have, and then later I got bud the bear, and mom made this corduroy dog that I loved, too.

11. Do you still sleep with stuffed animals?
Heh. I have an entire monkey collection, people. I don’t sleep with them, though. I occasionally will grab blue flat bear to lean against if my heart surgery pillow isn’t around, but that’s to support my sternum at night.

12. Who was the first person you looked up to when you were younger?
I’d say my mom and dad pretty much equally.

13. Who was your favorite relative?
My aunt Chris, who was young and really loved playing with us. She’s one of those people who is just genuinely good-natured and happy all the time and a lot of fun to be around. And she was hot.

14. Were you short or tall in elementary school?
I was pretty tall, and inconveniently, I was about six inches taller than my older brother, who I think still resents me to this day for it.

15. Were you teased in school?
I had a terrible time in junior high, especially the two years we lived in Ohio.

16. What was the name of your favorite teacher?
My kindergarten teacher Mrs. Forsythe was great, and I loved my fifth-grade teacher Miss Verban. My six-grade teacher Mrs. Wilson was cool, too.

17. What was the name of your least favorite teacher?
My second grade teacher, who’s name I can’t remember, was my least favorite. She yelled at me for reading ahead of the rest of the class in the reading workbooks, and constantly gave me a hard time about daydreaming. I was SO BORED in her class because I was so far ahead of everyone, and she wouldn’t let me move on. I remember she also yelled at me once when I was raising my hand in class, and I was goofing off snapping my fingers, because she thought I was snapping my fingers at her. She also threatened to shove my pen down my throat if I didn’t stop chewing on the cap. I chew on pens to this day. So there.

18. What was your best subject in school?
English, social studies, history.

19. What was your worst subject in school?
Probably math, because I hated it, although I did well.

20. Did you do well in Physical Education?
No. I think it was taught really poorly. I wish they hadn’t emphasized competition so much, because it didn’t allow people like me, who didn’t participate in sports, to find a physical activity that was appropriate. I was always so overwhelmed and dominated by the kids who had more experience competing that I never got in touch with my physical self.

21. Were you clumsy when you were younger?
Nope. I was pretty well coordinated.

22. Who was your favorite band as a kid?
Oh god. Do i got there? I loved Olivia Newton John. And the Bee Gees. And Barbara Mandrell.

23. What was your favorite movie as a kid?
The Wizard of Oz, because I was in love with Glinda. I also loved the Sound of Music, because I had a crush on Julie Andrews. For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a nun, because I didn’t want to marry a man, and that seemed like a good way out. (I know, I wasn’t paying attention to the plot of the movie, people.) Turns out I really wanted to be a lesbian.

24. Did your parents read to you?
All the time. You can see the results. My mom reading to us was one of the best gifts she could have given us, and I am so grateful for that. I love books.

25. Did you have a favorite book?
Way too many to name.

26. What was your favorite restaurant as a kid?
Pizza Hut, or Godfather’s Pizza.

27. What TV or movie star did you have a crush on?
This will take a while. Julie Andrews, Lynda Carter, Olivia Newton John, Carrie Fisher, the bionic woman, the chick who played Isis. Okay, I have to stop, because this will take all day.

28. Do you now wonder what you were thinking?
Hell, no, they were all hot.

29. Who was your first crush in school?
Jamie Reyhons, who lived down the street, and later her friend Shawn Hoffman, who lived a block over. I also had the inconvenient problem of having crushes on some of the same girls my older brother did. He didn’t get them either.

30. As a child, what kind of car did you want when you grew up?
I didn’t think much about cars as a kid.

31. Did your parents spank you?
Let’s not go there.

32. Did your parents fight a lot when you were a kid?

33. Did your parents get divorced or stay married?
They divorced when I was in college.

34. If they got divorced, how old were you when it happened?
20, 21?

35. Did you ever run away from home?
I wanted to. Growing up as one of six kids can get pretty unbearable at times.

36. How old were you when/if you first got glasses?
Second or third grade.

37. Did you need braces or a retainer?
Yep, in late high school and college.

38. If you’re male, how old were you when you had your first wet dream?

39. Both sexes when did you start shaving?
Who knows.

40. Girls when did you start wearing a bra?
Who knows.

41. What was your first kiss like?
It was icky, and with a boy. I made out with a boy named Rob Fox (?) in my friend Linda Griggy’s basement, in eighth grade, when I lived in Ohio. I was probably 13. Linda would have me stay over, and her mom worked the night shift (my mom did not know this) so we did whatever. I can honestly say it was the most boring make-out session ever. I was totally uninterested.

Linda was the one who later helped me figure out that I was gay (no, not THAT way) by explaining what it felt like to make out with her boyfriend. It dawned on me that what she was describing was the way I felt about girls.

42. What did you do on your first date?
Made out in my friend Linda Griggy’s basement. Yeah, fun.

43. How old were you when you first drank?
13 years old. Again, with Linda. Her boyfriend was 18 (!) and could get liquor, so he bought whiskey, and we’d walk around at night drinking and hanging out.

44. Where was your first house?
810 Belmont Ave, Ankeny Iowa. I visited in 2001 on a vacation and took pictures.

Continue ReadingChildhood Memories

Schwinn Stingray

Schwinn is once again producing, after 25 years, the Sting-Ray bicycle, with a version for kids, and also one for adults.

My first bike when I was a kid was a red Stingray, very similar to this one, and my older brother’s was blue. I had the V-back handle bars and banana seat. We thought they were really cool until 10-speeds and BMX bikes came out, and then the Sting-Rays were dweeby and uncool.

Schwinn Stingray

A year or two ago, I took the two Sting-Rays, along with a bunch of other old bikes from my mom’s garage, to the Bicycle Action Project [link deprecated: no longer in business] in downtown, Indianapolis, which is a no-for-profit group that helps kids repair bikes they can then keep. When we wheeled the Sting-Rays in the building, the kids were nuts about the banana seats, and everybody wanted to use those on their bikes.

Pretty funny how everything comes around again.

Continue ReadingSchwinn Stingray

Dutch letters from the Jaarsma Bakery

When I was a kid, we used to drive from Ankeny, Iowa (where we lived) to Brighton, Iowa, where my Grandma lived. On the drive, we usually went through Pella, Iowa, and if we were lucky, we’d stop at the Jaarsma Bakery and get my favorite dessert of all time… Dutch Letters. Jaarsma Bakery has been open since 1899, when it was founded by Herman Jaarsma who used recipes he brought over as an immigrant from Holland.

Dutch Letters from the Jaarsma Bakery
Originally, the Dutch Letters were made only as a special treat for Sinterklaas Day (the Dutch Santa Claus Day), December 6th. They are typically shaped into an “S” for “Sinterklaas” according to the website.

Now Jaarsma has a website and does online ordering, which quite simply kicks ass.

Jaarsma Bakery

Continue ReadingDutch letters from the Jaarsma Bakery

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I remember when I was a little kid, I read a book about Camelot and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table–and because I was reading pretty far above my age level, I understood what I read, but I didn’t understand the context of it… meaning I didn’t really have a concept of history and timelines and things that happened in the past versus things that were happening presently.

Continue ReadingWhat do you want to be when you grow up?