Fan Mail to Boss Hogg

I've previously mentioned that my brother and I frequently wrote letters to our favorite celebrities when we were young and amassed a decent collection of autographs we received in return -- some authentic, some not. The only ones I've shared here so far have been the black and white photograph I recieved in reply from Ralph Macchio and the various items I got from the A-Team cast members. But make no mistake about it, most of our autograph seeking was in correspondence with the cast of the greatest TV show ever created -- The Dukes of Hazzard.

Among other replies, one of the first that I ever recieved came from Sorrell Booke -- Hazzard County's Boss Hogg.

 
No, this is not an authentic autograph on this photo. In fact, the only thing actually written on the photo is "To Tim" which quickly faded and was traced over with a Sharpie somewhere around 1982. Real or not, still very cool.

Just as cool is something I came across in a box of old papers a few days ago. Our letter writing started at an early age -- I was maybe four years old in 1980 when we really latched on to the Dukes. Imagine my surprise to find a fan letter to Sorrell Booke from around that time that was never sent -- written in my own 4 year old handwriting. Apparently, I was young enough that I had not firmly grasped the different purposes for an envelope and a piece of paper as the letter is written on the envelope and Mr. Booke's address on the paper inside.

God bless these folks for responding to such a mess.

Easy Reader Says...

Watching an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba with one of my daughters this morning, I noticed something subtle that I'm sure has gone unnoticed by thousands upon thousands of viewers before me. We were watching an episode from the show's first season and got to the story of "Super Martian Robot Girl."


The "cover" of the story flashes on the screen for just a few seconds before the story begins. But wait...what is that in the lower corner of the cover? That looks very familiar.

Pausing Yo Gabba Gabba, I went to my other daughter's room to retrieve a couple of books from my childhood that now sit on her bookshelf.

 

There on the front cover of these Electric Company books is the Easy Reader logo -- strikingly similar to the DJ Lance Rock logo on the cover of Super Martian Robot Girl.

 
Easy Reader was a character on the original Electric Company program played by none other than Morgan Freeman. As you can see from these book covers, Easy Reader was a cool cat around to help kids find books that they could read and enjoy.

 

While DJ Lance Rock is certainly no Easy Reader, I have a true appreciation for the bizarre nature of Yo Gabba Gabba. I applaud DJ Lance for encouraging young readers while giving a nod to those who came before him.


A few side notes on Easy Reader...

Back in the day, I was more of a baseball card kid while my brother was a comic book kid. One of the first comics he ever owned (if not the first) was an issue of Spidey Super Stories. Take a close look at the cover and you'll see that these Marvel comics, published in cooperation with the folks at the Electric Company, were endorsed by Easy Reader.


[Image courtesy of comicvine.com]
Apparently, according to comicvine.com, Easy Reader himself makes a quick cameo in an issue of Earth X from 1999.

Then there's the merchandise. What would a children's television program character be without proper merchandising? Add one more thing to my Holy Grail list.

Last but not least, for those of you who may not remember Easy Reader at all, here's a look at Morgan Freeman in action.

Top to bottom, left to right. Reading stuff is outta sight!

Middle Brother

He's done it again. My brother has given me a CD that I love that I never would have listened to otherwise...

To spite my brother, I've resisted becoming a Deer Tick fan thus far...but Middle Brother is a push in that direction.

Country Cooking, Cheap Wine, & an eBay Jackpot.

Let's consider the signs of a great day. Looking back over the past 12-14 hours, I certainly can't complain. I sit here with a full stomach compliments of a nearby restaurant that my family definitely does not visit enough. It's a place just up the road that specializes in country home cooking -- and I'm talking real country cooking. This isn't Cracker Barrel -- Cracker Barrel is about as much authentic country cooking as the Olive Garden is authentic Italian.

With a stomach full of chicken and homemade noodles with real mashed potatoes and a quick stop at the store on the corner for a cheap bottle of wine, I sit here this evening enjoying the sounds of some wonderful music on this week's Music City Roots live stream.

Incidentally, with Father's Day upon us, one of the bands featured tonight was Daddy -- one of my absolute favorites. I'd make a recommendation to check out this song or that by Daddy but that could take all night to whittle the list down to just a few. I recommend listening to anything and everything Tommy and Will have ever put out.

But a hefty dinner with my family, a bottle of crappy merlot, and some good tunes are not what make this a great day. What turned it from good to great is the package that arrived in the mail today.

I may have mentioned on this blog before that one of the greatest forms of entertainment for my brother and I while we were growing up was using a tape recorder to capture everything from us playing in one of our bedrooms to hours upon hours of television commercials. While we both eventually had our own tape recorders, my brother's was the primary one that we used to record the dozens of cassettes full of nonsense that still fill a large box today.

Both tape recorders are long gone -- victims of time and overuse, tossed into the garbage years ago. My mission over the past few years has been to find a duplicate -- another recorder of the exact model we used to use back in the early 80s. Unfortunately, I had no idea where to start looking as there was no documentation anywhere of the tape recorder's model number or even its brand. The only thing I had to go on was my memory and one photograph from either 1981 or 1982 that showed the tape recorder itself (that's me on the left, fresh off opening up a new set of Fisher Price Adventure People).

I browsed eBay here and there when I had some extra time to see if I could come up with anything that looked remotely like our tape recorder. Then one day, looking at this picture a little more closely, I saw something. How had I missed this before?!!? This picture was taken at Christmas time and right there in the bottom right corner of the shot is the tape recorder's original box!

There's the model number -- 6534. And there in the corner, although the scan is a bit blurry, is the brand -- JcPenney. Now it was time to sit back and wait for someone to clean out their garage and get rid of one of these babies.

So I waited.

And I waited.

Almost two years I waited with this make and model saved as a regular search on eBay. Then last week, there it was. Not just the tape recorder but its original box and manual, too!

JACKPOT!

After watching patiently for seven more days, the auction ended and I won for an amount just slightly more than what I would spend for a meal at McDonalds. Much to my delight...it works perfectly.

Good things come to those who wait? One man's junk is another man's treasure? Yes and yes. With that, I can check one more thing off my list of holy grail items I'm constantly searching for.

Yahoo!'s Ferris Bueller Failure

I used to be a big fan of Yahoo!...even over Google. I liked it because I could get a solid search engine as well as breaking news at the same time. But over the past few years, as you may be aware, Yahoo! has turned into nothing short of a tabloid/blog fit only for fans of E! and Perez Hilton. It's still a quick way for me to check sports scores, however, and last night as I checked in on the day's baseball results, I was intrigued when Yahoo! threw a shot of the Ferris Bueller cast in my face.

"What are the stars of Ferris Bueller up to now?", the headline asks. As quickly as I was interested, I just as quickly rolled my eyes and went about my business. As a life-long Ferris Bueller fan, I take issue with this feature for a variety of reasons.

Clicking on the headline, the first "where are they now" that viewers see is a shot of Mia Sara. Really? She's the primary star that you use to start off this feature? Weak.

Then comes Ferris himself. A shot of Matthew Broderick as Ferris next to a shot of him today looking like he just rolled out of bed. Nothing like creating unnecessary contrast by using one of the most unflattering shots of a person to be found.

Then Alan Ruck. Eh. The "now" picture used by Yahoo! is more flattering than any still that could have been taking from Spin City. Whatever.

Jennifer Grey? Yeah. We all know she's had work done. Let's move on.

We round it out with Charlie Sheen. Really!?! Charlie Sheen!?!

Go figure. Somehow his minute-long cameo in the film makes him a star. More so than Jeffrey Jones and Edie McClurg who are major characters in this movie. Why not include the whereabouts of the maƮtre d' from the restaurant? Maybe the current status of the parking garage attendants?

C'mon, Yahoo!. Way to make one last-ditch effort at capitalizing on Charlie Sheen's self-destruction. You include the addict who makes a cameo but you disregard Edward R. Rooney Dean of Students (yeah, I know his track record isn't the greatest but he's still a bigger star in the movie than Charlie Sheen).

I've sworn off Yahoo! hundreds of times as a result of the horrible writing found on Yahoo Sports...but this Ferris Bueller "feature" may have sealed the deal.

Summer Vacation: A Successful Day 1

Day one of summer vacation was certainly a success. It was city-wide garage sale day in a nearby suburb and a friend of mine directed me towards a sale with records at 25 cents a pop. When I got there, I was somewhat shocked to find hundreds upon hundres of LPs, most in excellent condition.

Due to the recent re-recording of Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow by some of Nashville's finest, I've been on somewhat of a Tom T kick lately. That in combination with my love for Willie Nelson sent me home with about five bucks worth of "new" vinyl.

As I paid for my records, I spotted an Obi-Wan figure in a box marked "50 cents." Having had this figure back in the day, my grand total increased by a half-dollar.
I'm sure I could have easily dropped another twenty bucks on quarter records but I'd rather stay on my wife's good side. She's out of town this weekend though...and tomorrow is garage sale day in our own neighborhood. The kiddos and I will definitely be taking a tour of the surrounding streets in the morning and with mommy not here to stop us, who knows what we'll come home with!

Summer, Hot Sauce, & a Star Wars Watch

As many of you know, I work in public education and working in public education, there are few times of year more joyous than early June. The hallways empty. The parking lots clear. The bells stop ringing. And I don't have to go to work for two months. With every pair of socks that I own stored away for the next nine weeks, it's time to focus my time on family and fun.

There are certain traditions that I follow at the end of each school year. First, I always contact a good friend from college to be sure he knows that I don't have to go to work again until August. Second, I watch one of my favorite movies -- a perfect segue into summer time -- Summer School. Before the opening credits even finish, I can immediately relate to Mr. Shoop as he and his students count down the final seconds of the school year.

On a Summer School side note, I'm still wondering what the hell happened to Gary Riley.

So with the working world out of my view for the near future, how about I tie up a loose end and start the summer off with something cool I stumbled across the other day?

First, the loose end. The new Beastie Boys album that came out last month? You know...the one I counted down for a week prior to its release? Let me wrap that up very simply. I'm proud to say that I held off until release day before I listened to the new album. Even though it was available to stream in its entirety for several weeks in advance, I have a great appreciation for the anticipation that builds before a new album by one of my favorite artists comes out.

So what are my thoughts on the album itself? The packaging sucks. The more-paper-than-cardboard case is packed so tight that I essentially had to unfold the entire thing in order to get to the CD. The music itself, however, is pretty decent. It's nothing that's going to win over any legions of new fans, but for anyone who is an established Beastie Boys fan, it's another solid offering which includes the typical old school feel that makes you want to drop down some cardboard and bust out a wicked back spin.

There. That loose end is now tied. So how about something new?

Last week I was looking through a wooden chest that my dad had made for me back in high school and I came across the first watch I ever owned. A Christmas gift from an aunt and/or uncle back in 1982, I found one snapshot from that holiday season with me sporting my new watch (although I seem to be more interested in my newly opened G.I. Joe RAM and FLAK).

But that watch...I was wearing it as proud as any seven-year-old could. Finding it last week, I was just as proud to pop in a new battery and find that it still works perfectly (even though the scans below do not reflect that).

 
I can't say I'm not seriously considering buying a new watch band and wearing this thing again for the first time in thirty years. Pretty sure my wife will veto.

Summer is here, folks. Here's to looking foward to having more time to dig this stuff out!