Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Half Full

The events of the day, and their resulting wear and tear, left me slouching on the couch in a way that only I can.  I'd even use the phrase "world-weary" if I'd seen the world, which I certainly have not. 

Then, she came up to me, all smiles.  "Let's go to the kitchen and get an ice cream sandwich!"

I shouldn't be buying those for a myriad of reasons, and I rarely go into the supermarket for 2-3 things.  But it's Memorial Day weekend, and the hot dog buns were moldy.  Damn it, I want my money back.  And...well, I do have a coupon, and they are M&M cookie ice cream sandwiches, and it's just about "summer" and...

"OK," I said, and just getting up seemed to keep the machine in motion.

"The first thing you do is open the freezer and get them."  She was "helping," and this was all part of the plan.  I cut it in half, which seemed to confuse and disappoint her.  I told her she was getting the bigger half, which wasn't true at all, but I was managing sugar in the late hours.

Sitting down, she suspected a ruse: "Can I have a bite of yours, too?"  No.  This way we both have some, right?  "Yes.  I got the biggest piece!" 

Well, this worked out perfectly.  Eating, both of us all smiles, she looked at me and said "I'm so lucky!"  No, sweetie.  I'm lucky.  Despite the large lack of good luck in my life, I'm lucky.  Right here and now, there's no doubt I'm lucky.


Monday, May 15, 2017

I've got living to do

Stacy, are you ready for cheer practice?

YES, mom.  God, why can't we get a Betamax?

A what?

A Betamax.  I'm missing this new show I like.  OH - LOOK! 

Ugh.  Stupid Mrs. Conover moving it to the night.  If it was after school--

Stacy, watch your language.  

Fine, I'm going.

(One week later)
Stacy, isn't your show on now?

Oh my god!  OK, Linda, I'll call you after.  Bye. (pause)  Mom, if you're gonna be in here, you have to be quiet.

(sigh)  Fine, I'll fold the laundry in the kitchen.

WHAT?!  Crap!  Why are they doing this?

Stacy!  Your language!

I'm calling channel 2.  Oh - sorry, Dad.  Let me know when you're off the phone. 

What happened to your show?

It's not on.  Some cartoon thing on instead.

Oh, can help me fold the sheets.

Why do they have to ruin all the good shows?

I don't know, honey.  I don't know.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Going Under

Days go fast, in the "blink or you'll miss it" mode.  Weeks, next thing you know, are over.  People excite themselves over the weekend.  Myself?  It's just another day.

The "process" (such as it is) to land somewhere else is not a swift one, so each day only yields so much news.  It might be also described as a "trickle" and all the applying in the world to jobs that actually fit whatever one might call a skill wait.

One of those currently in play is, believe it or not, a job with the city's library department.  My background fit much of what they are looking for, and I was pleased to hear I've made what I thought was "the cut."

This "cut" occurred at, of all places, a fire department training center.  I reiterated that I was not trying to be a fire fighter, but go I went...and before I knew it, I was in a cattle call.  Some were dressed to the 9's, some in what we call "The Summer of George."  But once inside, I sat down and took what can best be described as an "adult SAT test."  Just before I began, I was told that the large group I was in were all there for that job.

40 people can do this job?  The guy in line who said he used to work for LA Metro trains and now "works for his dad, outside" - he can do it?  The lady who said "I just go for everything now" - her too?  Was there any cut at all?

I left more confused than ever, and wondered...just what is the threshold?  Damned if I ever know.  HR departments are no help: it all "went great" and "we'll be in touch."  I hang up the phone, I reply with another thank you and...well, how do you tell someone you can only waste away the day watching old After School Specials until the bills are due?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No more "stuff"

Maybe the cue card guy wasn't there.  Maybe Chuck couldn't see it.  Maybe he couldn't remember.  But he looked in the camera and said "We'll be back with...more STUFF...right after these messages."

Chuck Barris' production career might have been labeled as such now, but then, when the shows were on?  Oh, he heard it all...almost all negative.  He soldered on: the shows (by and large) were hits.  When it all got to be too much (some of which his own doing, he'd later admit) he retired to south France, just as he promised himself he would.

Two books came from that time, one about "himself" and another about himself.  When he returned from France to write even more, he often did the rounds on book tours.  For the book The Big Question (a fiction goof that, in my opinion, was a bit of a letdown) he spoke at Book Soup in an event that turned out-of-control by the end with surprise visits from Milton DeLugg and Rip Taylor.  Answering his own questions at the start, he again pleaded that he did not do drugs during The Gong Show.  He also wanted to be remembered as a great writer, but resigned himself that he'll probably be remembered as the wacky host who finally got gonged.

(And, in an interview 6 years before The Big Question, he said to himself: "My epitaph in real life would be ‘The Man Who Thought of The Gong Show .’ What a horrible thing! But when I was in the hospital, what bothered me was that I had to do something, that the years left in me were going to be a big zero …. I mean, what’s going to happen? Do you take a slow American Flyer ride out? That seems boring as shit!”")

So, Chuck, while your memory is being celebrated as this:

 I'll indulge you, and instead present this:

I do this not as a fan, but out of respect.  Respect for an innovative producer, a fine writer, and giver of advice to me.

Back in my early college days, I searched for career advice low and high, high and low.  I found what was reported to be Chuck's address, so I went for it.  I told him I was toiling away in general classes, waiting to take the fun stuff.  I purposely peppered my letter with phrases from "The Game Show King" such as "star-fucker" and "hero worshiper" while blending the advice demand with a heavy helping of praise.

To my amazement, less than a month later, I received a letter in return.  It was my own, with a small gem of advice from the "King" himself:

A true original, Chuckie Baby.  You were a true original.  This is me saying bye-bye.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ol Bess hits 100 (thousand)

I had just left the house when a momentous occasion occurred.  I had sensed it coming, and was hoping I wouldn't be stuck in traffic or doing something mundane.  But there it was:

 17 years with ol Bess...and it finally makes the milestone.  I said it early in its life as a goal, later as an excuse, and now as a necessary part of getting by in a perilous time.

In the early days, I remember it being new enough (hell, just from this century) that it occasionally impressed, if for nothing beyond its "new-ness."  I was happy, more so because I didn't have a bad commute.

The first oddity was a unique sound when it idled after the gas was pushed for a while.  It confounded mechanics all over town, changing belts (that didn't do it), changing fluids (a rip-off), or inspecting and leaving confused.  I put up with it, but it wasn't much fun to have a car where everyone can say "here comes Trip" 100 feet away.  That followed with a front mount which seemed to be ever-so-slightly disconnecting, leading to a low-level "hummmmmm" as the car moved along.  Again, I put up with it. 

What I couldn't have possibly known or foreseen was that I'd keep the car in the same condition with same, well, everything, for its first 10 years.  There were a lot of "I should have" moments toward the latter part of last decade, and using my stash for a new car was one of the ideas.  But...what?  And why?  So, I didn't...and Bess didn't meet the "cash for clunkers" threshold, either.  So, we were doing fine, surviving...

Until a morning in the winter of 2010 when, simultaneously, as I was driving, the following happened:
1. The right front tire split
2. The right back tire split
3. The engine frame then got multiple holes in it from...what?  Old age?  Who the fuck knows.

I've never ridden a live bull, so I can't say the comparison is completely accurate, nor have I flown a private plane in a thunderstorm, but it's close.  By the grace of god, I make it to a nearby service station, and it's one of those moments where everyone stops what they're doing to take a look.  All other mechanics pitch in because, well, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment.  I appreciate their technique, but can't help thinking...for this car?!

It's 2nd decade saw trips to the bay area (even sitting in a median while I quickly scanned my phone to figure out what freeway took me into The City, and which one was a direct shot to Mill Valley) and Las Vegas.  The Vegas trip was noted particularly for the shock so many in my family had seeing it.  "Wow, it still works?"

For the next few years, there were large/larger repairs that made me question keeping this going, furthered by the make itself no longer around.  But then, glory be: I get a job 1 mile from home!  Those 2 years bought me more than time, giving Ol Bess plenty of time to rest and store its energy.

Moving over the hill has, for the most part, kept a close commute (back when there was one), but a repair of a giant coolant leak gave me a serious lesson: that's the last time, Bess.  That's the last time I'm forking out that kind of dough to keep you going.  It's too much.  Sorry, but it's true.  When mechanics tell you to just rent a car for the weekend instead of push it to Las Vegas, and you know they're being honest, we have to start to have "that conversation."

But just as that began, I checked the odometer to see 95...then an oil change last October told the truth: the next one will be 100k plus.  Now, it's just a matter of time.  And here we are...

Ol Bess...I don't know how much longer we have, but I hope it's all good.  We hit cruise control, roll down the window forever tainted by apartment building sprinklers, and let you do your thing.  You know these roads as good as I do...where to now?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Face Value

I'm more than willing to admit that I lost interest in the NBA over the past decade.  I'm also willing to admit that, as such, I shouldn't be the one to give advice to a pro team.

All the same, I've seen that they're in the bottom of the Western Conference barrel.  How should they turn it around?

Well, for starters, how about finding players that LOOK like that?

Style cures all in the pros.

Friday, January 20, 2017

More to Come, Part II (The 1960's)

If the analytics on this blog are to be trusted (and it's Google, right?) the most popular individual post here on Pacific Gold is More to Come from April, 2012.  In it, I admired the swank nature of the moved-to LA version of The Tonight Show.  At the time, I only put up 1 bumper card from the New York days.  And, while that era of New York was swank in its own right, what I had as an example doesn't do it any favors.  So why shouldn't that era get its due?

Well, it should...though the further back we go, the harder episodes are to find.  Thankfully, another friendly collector got them from somewhere (who knows if he can't say, won't say, whatever) and I figured this could give another view of the show.

1965.  Middle of the decade, early in John's run, and while not all the famous pieces are in place, it's close.  The show also seems to be an established hit, so the principals are loose as well.  Maybe that's how they were all the time.  Hard to say unless you were there, and I wasn't (as far as I know).

I included this not because it's anything special, but more as a "typical" example for the era.  It didn't have to be anything more than what it said, right?

That's pretty much true, though the show wasn't (or didn't feel) tied to the "more to come" phrase.  View the creativity below:

What's considered the 1960's aesthetic in fashion/design/home furnishing was viable here as well.  Not much art could be done with Johnny or his pictures (especially if he didn't pose for any other photos) but NBC's art department was trying to figure out how to think outside the norm.

Not that the bar was especially high.  See the photo above, which looks like it's already well-worn.  For all we know, this could have been used for Jack Paar, too.  NBC had a vested interest in color programming with RCA as an owner.   CBS and ABC were getting around to broadcasting more shows in color (why, in a round-about way, promote the competition?).

If you had a black and white set, that's how it looks.

With a swing band in the studio and 1 hour and 45 minutes to fill each night, music took up more of the program than usual.  The show also wanted you to stay tuned in case the current guest bored you:

While the bottom photo might seem the kind of art in a jazz club or saloon, the to describe it?  Is it the kind of art that was later in Trivial Pursuit?  Almost early-Trader Joe's?

As we know, the move to Hollywood brought it to another level.  (David Letterman's morning show and then Late Night took it to another, more humorous level)  But in the beginning, the "more to come" cards were as slick and hip as the mid-60s were for Don Draper...and Johnny Carson himself.