Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Moment of Syracuse Nostalgia

As I think I've admitted before on this blog, I've become a bit of a Tumblr addict. In case you haven't heard, Tumblr is the latest and greatest in social media/blogging sites. Think of a cross between Blogger, Wordpress and Facebook, only with more pictures, and populated almost entirely by teenage girls. That's pretty much what Tumblr is like. President Obama is on Tumblr now, so you know it's cool.

I've started cross-posting most of my Outpost bits, or at least excerpts thereof, on my Tumblr blog. I have no idea what the Tumblr kids make of these. They probably skip over them, because those posts have no Doctor Who, Harry Potter or Sherlock content, or teen angst about not being in love and flirtations with the idea of suicide. Oh, it's an emotion-fraught world, Tumblr! It's full of extravagent, animated gif-filled posts about One True Pairings of characters whose romances the kids wish to experience vicariously!

But last night, in a Halloween mood, I went looking for postings related to Baron Daemon, the Syracuse horror host of my youth. I wrote about him here at the Outpost back in 2008. Baron Daemon, a corny comedy vampire, was played by  local features reporter Mike Price when I was a kid. I remember the show, but I don't remember his 45 record, The Transylvania Twist, which was a big hit locally, according to what I've read. Last night I found several recordings of this 45 on YouTube, along with clips from the Baron's tv capers of long ago. I thought I'd post them here too, because I can, and because I tend to get more feedback over the years from my Halloween and Syracuse-related posts than from everything else I write about here. So here we go:

Monster Movie Matinee opening credits:

The silly locally-produced stuff at the beginning of the Sunday afternoon creature feature was much more interesting to my child-self than any of the movies were.

More fun with Dr. Witty and Epal.

For Baron Daemon we have:

The Transylvania Twist. This has just a still image of the original 45, but good sound. Not a bad song, either.

The B-side, introduced by the Baron on a local oldies station in the 1980s.

This is my favorite of several Baron Daemon outtakes on YouTube. Search for Baron Daemon and you'll find several more, plus a Syracuse house whose Halloween display lights up in time to the Transylvania Twist.

That's all for now!


EMPS: Pepper's Earth Tones

When Carly asked to see Earth Tones for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, I immediately thought of my dog Pepper. Here's why:

Pepper is a digger, especially when she's got a bone or rawhide she can bury, or when she's just been groomed. And there's nothing more earth toned than dirt! Above is John's attempt at a flowerbed. He's added bricks to discourage Pepper's digging and protect the flowers, but that doesn't stop her. At all.

See what I mean? She's incorrigible!

This is the fence between us and one of our neighbors. John added the rattan or whatever it is to help hold back the dust Pepper kicks up when the dogs are running back and forth, barking wildly. This happens pretty much every night and every morning, and who knows how many times during the day when we're not here. There! I just heard Pepper out there howling!

Here's the Trouble Dog herself, considering her options. Notice the cement blocks John has placed next to the rattan. I'm not sure whether that's to hold the rattan up or fill in holes that Pepper dug. Probably both!

We have a few theories. One is that Pepper is trying to keep bones and such away from Cayenne, so she can have them later. She's been known to carry the things around for days on end, and even try to bury them in the couch or the bedclothes. Sometimes she gets so anxious about the buried treasure that he asks to go out in the middle of the night to guard it.

The other theory is that, as a furry dog intended to herd reindeer, she likes to make a nest of cool dirt. Both are true, I think.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

EMPS: foregrounds and backgrounds on the grounds

For Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #146: Foregrounds And Backgrounds, Carly wants to see "an image that shows one or the other in fine detail, while keeping the other in enough focus to tell what it is." I was at St. Michael's today to get photos of the walkway to the church door, which we need for an event flyer or a brochure or something. (I'm not the one doing it, only providing the picture.) I love photographing the church grounds, which can be quite a challenge because it's hard to get the right lighting, and the trees tend to block views of the building. It occurred to me that it was a good subject for this foreground-background thing.

Oh, and for the extra credit, Carly wanted the same subject with the "opposite effect." I'm interpreting that to mean that neither the foreground nor the background is particularly in focus! With a little fudging, I came up with this:


Round Robin: Boxes of Ticky Tacky?

When I announced the topic "Little Boxes" for this week's Round Robin Photo Challenge, I inevitably thought of two things. One was the song popularized by Pete Seeger:

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

I used to live in a little box like that, more than once in my life. The house I lived in as a young child was so small that my brother's room was only accessible through mine. He didn't allow me in his room, and of course I couldn't keep him out of mine. Once in revenge I locked his door from the inside and closed it, creating quite a fuss as my parents (and, if memory serves, a neighbor or two) tried to get it open again.

Many years later, in the early 1990s, John and I lived in a miserably small house with concrete block walls that I dubbed The Shoebox. I was going to photograph that for you, but I never got over there with the camera. Some other time.

The other little boxes I thought of were these jewelry boxes, which are currently a horrible mess. This is because I recently packed up the bits of my mom's jewelry that I could bear to part with, and took it to a local antiques and collectibles store. I got $20 for the ten or so items they deigned to take at all, and even at that the implication was they were doing me a favor. But enough of my whining. Let's see what's left, box-wise!

Here are two of the more interesting boxes, in terms of the boxes themselves. My favorite is this wooden one, given to me by my grandmother when I was a little girl. I've always been under the impression that it was from Morocco, probably because Grandmother gave me a little round camel-hide purse from Morocco at about the same time. As an adult I found a larger version of this same wooden box in an antique shop. Naturally, I bought it.

I should mention that I'm embarrassed to show you my favorite box in this condition, so thick with dust. It settles in the cracks of the carving, and is a bear to get out completely. I usually rinse it off with water, which can't be good for the wood.

The other box, made of cardboard, was my mom's. I find it a little remarkable that something this flimsy has survived so many decades.

As an adult I lined my carved wooden box with red fabric stapled around bits of cardboard, and filled it with some of my better (or at least, my favorite) pieces of jewelry. If you look carefully you can see an IDIC lying upside down in there. I bought this piece of Vulcan jewelry (as in Star Trek) from Lincoln Enterprises circa 1972. I haven't reorganized things properly since the debacle with the second hand store, but sometimes I have a silver Hopi ring in this box, and a Zuni one, and my grandmother's ruby ring, which doesn't fit me properly.

Inside the cardboard box is a letter opener that I thought might be ivory, but which is probably bakelite or some other plastic. My mom also had quite a bit by way of of fake pearls and cultured pearls, but more than once I've gotten them out only to play 52-Pearl Pickup as a string broke on a bracelet or necklace. To be honest, my Mom's jewely has not behaved in a way that encourages me to wear it. It seems that everything either breaks, is missing stones, or is too small for my wrist.

This plastic box dates to the mid-1980s, when I worked at a Columbus, Ohio record store chain called Buzzard's Nest. (I've told that story before, so let me just link to that and move on.) This particular image of John Lennon, based on the picture of in in the 1968 "White Album," was very popular on merchandise in the years after his murder. I found this box recently in a storage box, and have been pondering what to put in it. Paper clips? push pins? It's a little larger than a pack of cigarettes. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that, back in the day, lots of Lennon fans used these little boxes to store their marijuana and/or hash pipe. (I didn't.)

You can tell the size of this little box by what's immediately above and below it. Inside is a sewing kit and a few other odds and ends. I think it came from a gift of candy in my First Magnus days (2005-2007). I kept the box because I like it a lot. The old fashioned winter sceene continues on the inside of the box.

Here are two little boxes that I didn't think of at all in connection with this topic, until I happened to spot them looking for the lid of another box. They contain the ashes of two of our dogs, Tuffy and Noodle. I'm sorry to feature something so depressing, but it didn't seem right to leave these boxes out once I'd noticed them.

But my all-time favorite gift-in-a-little-box came on my birthday in March, 2008. This plush dog was in this little striped box, and for a moment I couldn't understand why John seemed so proud of such a paltry (but cute) gift. Then he said, "Did you look on the inside of the box lid?" There was a piece of paper, which said, "I.O.U. one genuine dog or puppy of your choice." Within a week, we went to an adoption fair at Petsmart and come home with Lady Heather, soon to be known as Pepper. Best birthday present ever.


Now let's check out the other Robins' little boxes!

Linking List
as of 12:23 PM MST, Saturday October 22

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Sherrie - Posted!
Food for Thought

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Tina - Posted!
Tina´s PicStory

Sunday, October 16, 2011

EMPS: Pumpkins and Scarecrows

Carly wants to see autumn decorations for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, and also wants to know whether we think scarecrows are cute or creepy. Well, I'd say that the ones at St. Michael's are definitely on the cute side!

I also get this shot of "heirloom" pumpkins (old fashioned, non hybridized ones) at Trader Joe's. Taking photos there is not allowed, but I snuck in a shot anyway!


Friday, October 14, 2011

I am the 99%.

Despite my accounting degree, I can’t get a permanent job in this economy. I worked for a mortgage company and it went bankrupt. I worked for an RV dealer when gas was $4 a gallon, and it went bankrupt. I worked for a travel agency for 12 years before that, and it later went the way of the buggy whip. Most recently I was part of a massive layoff at a company that had a big downturn in business. Now I work about 8 hours a week at my church, and I’m grateful to have that job. Half of my pay goes to student loans.

I am the 99%.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

EMPS: A House Full of Faces

The topic for this week's Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot was Faces, with extra credit given for a montage of faces. Let's start with that. I was surprised, once I got started, just how many human faces one can photograph here at the Museum of the Weird without photographing even one real person!

The top row here is all Disney characters, including an original sketch by legendary Disney artist Marc Davis. Dopey is from the cover of a vintage Disney book called Fantasyland. Quasimodo is a plush toy. Esmerelda, Mulan and Li Shang are all from Mattel, with Mulan and Li Shang packaged together.

The second row features miscellaneous dolls. I have two Chatty Baby dolls because I couldn't remember what color hair my original one had. So I bought one of each. Spunky is a friend of Jan, the Remco Japanese character doll I had as a kid, herself a friend of Heidi, who was probably meant to be Swiss. The best troll dolls from the 1960s were the "DAM" dolls, but Wishniks were the next most popular, and are still being made I think.

On the bottom row are some of my vintage Barbie dolls. The first doll from the Barbie line of products I ever had was Tutti, followed by a straight-legged bubble-cut Barbie I got in trade from my friend Cindy. My favorites at the time were the only other two I got as a child, Casey (left) and Talking Stacey (right). I never had a Skipper, a Midge or a Ken growing up, but they're iconic, aren't they? I got those three over the past 15 years or so, and the ponytail Barbie shown here at a toy show just a few years ago.

Now let's leave the house and check out a much larger character with a face. This giant lumberjack is known locally is Glenn Stone, or even "Glenn Stone, the axe murderer." He stands at the corner of Glenn St. and Stone Ave., and why not! There's also an intersection of Glenn and Campbell nearby! Rumor has it that new beat cops in Tucson are sometimes sent to this intersection to check out a police report of a "large man with an axe." Roadside America calls all such giant figures "Muffler Men" because historically many of them held mufflers instead of axes.

Our Glenn recently got a nice, badly-needed paint job, apparently courtesy of the Coronado Heights Neighborhood Association, judging from his shirt. He's all shiny now.


Round Robin: The Blochers Relax

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge is Relax! That's quite an individual thing, isn't it? I mean, I find formatting spreadsheets relaxing, but that's probably not very common. John's favorite way to relax is downloading old, obscure comics, or playing with his iPad. But I also have one slightly more photogenic way to relax:

This is Mount Lemmon Highway, of course, also known as Catalina Highway or Sky Island Parkway. My favorite way to relax is to drive up this narrow, twisting road, and take in the wonderful, familiar views along the way.

Paradoxically, part of the "relaxation" I get from the 30 mile drive up or down Mount Lemmon (not that I usually get that far up) is the challenge of negotiating all those curves, inclines and switchbacks, sometimes with rain or snow on the road, sometimes with darkness coming on, and almost always with other cars in front and behind that want to go faster or slower than I do. Can something be exciting and relaxing at the same time? Yes!

The dogs, on the other hand, have much simpler requirements for relaxing:

Cayenne generally prefers the couch, and doesn't care if the cover is half off it. In fact, she often pulls the couch cover down as she digs herself a nest on the couch. And she doesn't care if there are a few boxes strewn about as we get ready to bring in an exterminator. (Long story, and I'm not prepared to tell it now.)

Pepper likes the couch, too, and the bed even better if we're in there. But she sometimes prefers the unconfined freedom of the floor of the den.


Now let's check out the other Robins' relaxing photos!

Linking List
as of 12:12 AM MST, Saturday October 8th

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Sweet Memories

Day One

The Smile Spot :)
Healthy, Sexy, You.

CJPhotography Blog

Food for Thought

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

May Rodrigo **Welcome, new participant!**
May Rodrigo

Net On The Net

Kim, USA
A wifey blog

Tina - - Posted!
Tina´s PicStory (Goodies for a Pleasant Life)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

EMPS: Puppy (and Kitty) Love

This week's Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot topic was "Pick an Emotion," and I was almost certain I'd be photographing doggie emotions, mostly because I'm shy about asking people to let me photograph them. But today was the Blessing of the Animals at St. Michael's, and the emotions most on display were on the faces of the pet owners. Check it out!

The emotion is obvious, isn't it? It's love, the love of a human for a pet. Yes, it's mixed with other emotions, mostly pride and joy. But most of what I saw today, despite the dark church and my shaky camera technique while holding two leashes and looking at a dead battery warning light, was clearly Love.

Oh, and the cat photos were taken just before my dogs started barking at them...!

One last shot, and it represents the photo I didn't get. During the Eucharistic Prayer. John (the teenager walking in front here) was kneeling before the altar, and lifting the candle (torch, in ecclesiastic parlance) at specific moments in the ritual. The crucifer (the person who holds the cross on a pole) held the leash meanwhile, but the dachshund was able to reach John's feet, and at one point climbed onto John's calves. Eventually John completed his torch raising duties with one hand while scratching his dog with the other. The calf jump was the cutest thing I've ever seen at church, but I could never have gotten a decent photo from my vantage point, a good twenty feet away! So instead here's a photo of the walk back to the sacristy after Mass was over.