Category Archives: Wayback wednesday

WayBack Wednesday: If I Were An Evil Warlord…

 

In response to my trifextra entry/rule that Empires should ally with harmless creatures,  Annabelle feels that:

“Somebody needs to write a guide. The things these evil emperors forget…”

That reminded me of an email I received waaay back in the day – the Roarin’ 90’s of the netwebs, when you every time you logged in with your 56K modem and opened your AOL 4.0 email, there were hundreds of enlightening bits of information, virtually delivered to you and the 500 other people on that email list, and the 5000 before that if you scrolled down. They answered many of life’s questions and, if you forwarded it to 25 people in the next 3 minutes, could alter your fate positively (i.e. your crush making out with you).

The extensive and well thought-out list (which makes many movie references) below was one of those emails. And yes I still have it – I have a huge archive of jokes and humor on an external drive 😉

So what better way to bring back this theme, revisit an idea, just in case you, yes YOU! noticed an opening for a Evil Warlord, or again, were creating your own startup. Thank you, Ms. Fancy.

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face-concealing, vision impairing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3. My noble half-brother, whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. The artifact, which is the source of my power, will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object, which is my one weakness.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.

7. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?” I’ll say, “No.” and shoot him. No, on second thought I’ll shoot him then say “No.”

8. I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard sized. While elaborate 60 foot high double doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.

9. When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, “Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?” my reply will be, “No, just sensible.”

10. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks’ time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

11. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled “Danger: Do Not Push”. The big red button marked “Do Not Push” will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labeled as such.

12. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me — I’ll do it myself.

13. I will not waste time making my enemy’s death look like an accident. I’m not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn’t believe it anyway.

14. I will make it clear that I do, in fact, know the meaning of the word “mercy”; I simply choose not show any.

15. My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.

16. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum-a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

17. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

18. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

19. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

20. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

21. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

22. I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage that he has caused.

23. I will never utter the sentence “But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know.”

24. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

25. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail; it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

26. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.

27. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

28. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-off that make them look like Nazi storm troopers, Roman foot soldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

29. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

30. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless-my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

31. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line “No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!” (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

32. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery, which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

33. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

34. I will not rely entirely upon “totally reliable” spells that can be neutralized by a relatively inconspicuous talisman.

35. Even though I don’t really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress designed such that, if I am slain, it will tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.

36. Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.

37. I will offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for me or being executed.

38. I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall regularly climb some monument in the main square of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.

39. I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero’s party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.

40. I will never build only one of anything important. All-important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

41. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

42. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

43. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

44. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

45. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

46. I won’t require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

47. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

48. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

49. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cellblock, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

50. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he’s my trusted lieutenant.

51. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.

52. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

53. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable super weapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

54. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

55. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

56. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

57. I will only employ bounty hunters that work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

58. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say “And here is the price for failure,” then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

59. If an advisor says to me “My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?” I will reply “This.” and kill the advisor.

60. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

61. I will treat any beast, which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

62. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact, which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want Ad in the local paper.

63. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh PowerBook’s.

64. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess’ cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

65. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

66. If the beautiful princess that I capture says “I’ll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!” I will say “Oh well” and kill her.

67. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

68. The deformed mutants and oddball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.

69. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

70. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner’s manual.

71. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

72. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.

73. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in less than 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

74. If my advisors ask “Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?” I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

75. I will never accept a challenge from the hero.

76. I will not engage an enemy single-handedly until all my soldiers are dead.

77. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

78. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.

79. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits, which could prove to be a disadvantage.

80. If I must have computer systems with publicly available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

81. My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

82. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

83. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they’d better save my life again.

84. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

85. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in-groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

86. If I decide to test a lieutenant’s loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.

87. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable super weapon on them.

88. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.

89. When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk “Project Overlord” and leave it lying on top of my desk.

90. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

91. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

92. If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutenant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.

93. I will not tell my Legions of Terror “And he must be taken alive! “The command will be “And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical.”

94. If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.

95. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

96. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

97. I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

98. If I’m eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.

99. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

100. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. “Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse.” Instead it will be more along the lines of “Push the button.”

101. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.

102. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.

103. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.

104. After I capture the hero’s super weapon, I will not immediately disband my legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.

105. I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

106. I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.

107. If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him.

108. I shall not return.

109. Legion of Terror rule of thumb: If it drinks heavily, it doesn’t stand guard well.

110. I will never, never, allow arrogance to overcome common sense when in a one to one shape-changing duel with a hero carrying a small bottle.

111. I won’t wear long capes with trains while at work. They snag.

112. If I can’t see the face for a veil, it is probably the hero dressed as a dancing girl. I will shoot the jeweled belly button and worry about after-dinner entertainment later.

113. I will beware men with the blond clean-cut look. They might be rotten apples with corruption in their hearts, but it is probably odds on they are out to get me.

114. I won’t keep a diary.

115. If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.

116. Escape pod tip: they aren’t worth it. Face the music like the tyrant you are! It will only plummet into the sun or something.

117. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Email, Humor, Lists, Wayback wednesday, Writing

WayBack Wednesday – Richer for Knowing

This installation of Wayback Wednesday (yes it’s back!) is another look back at times/places/people from my past.

You may remember the band Sixpence None the Richer. “There She Goes”, “Kiss Me”, the cover of “Don’t Dream it’s Over.” Ah yes I think that’s the light bulb flickering in your mind.

Well, I am a fan, which surprises many people, since SNTR have no direct ties to Star Wars, or zombies. I think one of them likes bunnies (but not zombunnies).

As  you know, liking one band, then seeing them tour with someone else, or when members work with other projects, you follow them, which leads you to more exposure (their plan works perfectly). So in one form or another, I have seen them whenever they come to NYC, going back at least 12 years.

About a month ago I found out, after looking around for bands that I used to follow, but have fallen out of touch with (pretty much every single one of them – Fear Factory, Aphex Twin, Joe Satriani, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam) and noticed that they pretty much all have new CD’s, tours and news which I missed out on. All except SNTR, who were coming to the Mercury Lounge two weeks from that very moment, the same day their new CD came out. Talk about perfect timing! So I snagged a ticket, barely wincing at the 25% in surcharges from fucking TicketBastard (Yes I paid $20.50 for a $15.00 ticket), and last Tuesday, headed to the show.

Mercury Lounge is a small, cozy space, one block from Katz’ Deli, and some other LES venues that I catch shows at from time to time; especially and including some friends and locals. The show was lively and people were really into it. It wasn’t a show you stumbled upon; everyone there was a fan.

Another great part about non-arena bands is that the chances to meet the musicians afterwards is pretty good. The singer for SNTR, Leigh Nash, is particularly accessible. I’ve actually met her several times after shows. So after this show, I did the same as usual, waiting a few moments and finding out she was signing CD’s and taking photos by the front area. So after a bit more waiting, I met Leigh once again.

Hurray! She recognized me immediately! I mentioned some early shows they have played, congratulated them on the new CD and thanked them for coming back to NYC for a show. I got my fan experience and all was well with the evening.

So I started thinking, where are the other pics I have with her. There was one signing where I met all the members but no pics of that one.

Well I found them and decided to post!


Leigh and I, February 2003. There’s my chubby mid 20’s clean shaven face (back then I would have never considered beard-dom). I am wearing my winter coat and have a couple extra lbs on me. It was a snowy winter (the show was a day after a big snowstorm, so maybe I was getting my hibernation gut together).


October 2008. BB Kings. She was singing with Delerium and Conjure One on this tour. Sixpence had broken up and she was doing side/solo work, so the chance at meeting again was there.


And finally Leigh and me 2012. She signed the CD for me, also a picture that I had taken of her during the ’08 show, and was genuinely grateful for my continued fandom.

All in all, a good night of music, that took me back to how I enjoyed music, and the reminder that great experiences don’t have to just be memories.

4 Comments

Filed under Concerts, Life, Music, Reviews, Wayback wednesday

WayBack Wednesday – Nuuttinnn?

This week’s installment of WbW is one of the reasons I started this information skit project dealie in the foist place.


Ok. Where do I begin?

Seriously. Holy crap, this is the goldmine of 80’s commercials. I am going to have to categorize this.

Setting: Pizzeria. Let’s look at the signs posted around: Week old pizza, half price. No Screaming. Be Patient, Meatball! Yeah Jimmy’s running on fumes as it is, but hey he makes the pizzas to order.

That brings me to the next part: The cast. Two old Italian guys. That in itself is a lost art around here. Back in the day it almost seemed as though pizzaguys were mentored into the trade, like locksmiths, tailors, or Jedi Knights. Closely monitored during their earliest years, and if there was something that the Masters could sense about the young lad, he was taken away to an isolated compound (not a Hut!), far away, complete with wood firing stoves. There they learned even saucing, flipping the dough, and how much cheese actually qualifies as ‘extra’.

These days, I walk into a pizza joint and it’s a bunch of guys doing specialized or non-skilled labor: one makes pizzas, one tosses em in/pulls em out of the oven, another slices and hands ‘em out to you, another rings you up, oh yeah and one guy slinging sodas. Consider also that you’ll most often see that scenario in the .99 cents pizza places (pizza usually runs 2.50 -2.75 a slice) which are popping up all over NYC, Adam Smith would shit his knickers if he saw this. The worst economic model you’ve likely ever seen, which makes me wonder (being the advocate of lower profits on individual sales vs. higher volume) where they are cutting corners.

The kids:Leader kid in a leather jacket who’s just confident enough, but not quite a hoodlum-check. Girl with teased up hair and knitted sweater in some neon color and light Valley Girl airs– check. Nerdy guy with big glasses that are actually stylin’ for the time-check. Give them a couple more years and they are the cast for the latest Friday the 13th installment. Or Saved by the Bell. Same thing.

Zach Attack!

For some reason these kids want a pizza with extra cheese, but no tomato sauce (‘white pizzas’ do exist) but he flips the script a little more, BAM! No crust. These kids are ahead of their time, since gluten free is all the rage now that they invented an allergy to it, and even a few years ago these young upstarts could have claimed they were doing Atkins. So technically this commercial is still relevant. I wonder if Hollywood will remake this…

The order has been placed, the challenge voiced, the gauntlet thrown down, so Fred want Jimmy to make a cheese with nuttin’. “Nuuttttinnn?” You know you used to repeat it with your friends. Yes you did. Or at least now you will.

The Pitch– Polly-O String Cheese! In sticks! Individually wrapped! Stringy! Less cheese per package than a brick of mozzarella, but the same price! Now THAT would make Mr. Smith happy. I admit I had this packed in my lunch many times, forgoing any cheese in my sammich for this version. Dammit I love my mozz.

How does this turn out? Well Jimmy actually doesn’t make them a cheese wit nuttin; if he had, it would have been a pile of rapidly cooling mozzarella cheese, which does not congeal well when it cools, and not some pre-wrapped brand name cheeses. It really made no sense; where did the box appear from?

By the way, what’s with Jimmy (at about 19 seconds)? Does he go into a catatonic state when hit with this request, or did he reach Zen status? Consider that reaching your *ahem* peak usually involves some making weird faces, Jimmy may have had some Nirvana level big O going on.

Finally we get to ‘the best part of the pizza’ that is this commercial– The comments! “Bellissimo!” “Magnifique!” “Se se Bon” (or whatever). I have a story for this…
Years later: I am in Italian 1, Spring ’97. We are learning how to describe ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things. The professor mentions bella, and if the person/place/thing is even gooder than that, it is…Bellisimo.

Silence from everyone. I look around. Everyone’s eyes are giving it away. They know.

Suddenly hands rise and a student asks, “Aren’t there other words to describe. I mean manifique or something…” the professor moves to intervene, but not fast enough.

“Whatever,” another student blurts out, “I just wanna know what’s SE SE BON!”
The room erupts with laughter as the professor joins in knowingly “Yes, they…they just threw words in there, it’s not Italian at all.” Further proof that the 80’s made an impact that lives on in our hearts and minds, and could be referred to at any time for laughs.

Final Word: The best part of the pizza is the end crust!

1 Comment

Filed under Creative Writing, Humor, Retro, Wayback wednesday

WayBack Wednesday – The Ice Cream Man

Today’s Wayback Wednesday has been pre-empted. Well sort of. I have the blog planned, and it is an 80’s clip preciously dug up from YouTube, but as I was searching around I came across a video clip, and it brought me back to summers while growing up. So inspiration grabbed me and I built on it.

I’m posting it first, but I would recommend reading the story first, then watching. It will be worth it, I promise ;).

When I was younger, I lived in a section of Brooklyn that was a complex of tall apartment buildings. It was large, more populated than some national cities, but there were common place, people and other fixtures of the community. One of those people was “Johnny the Ice Cream Man”. He drove a white pickup with the frayed, faded pictures of various ice creams scattered along the refrigerated truck. You’d hear the ‘jingle jingle jingle’ of the row of small bronze bells on the top of the windshield that he pulled as he parked down the loop I lived near. My mom gave my sister and I enough for an ice cream each when she knew we’d be out when he came around. I varied what I would get each time, but “Bubble-O Bill” was a favorite, as it was ice cream with a big gumball nose. That, or an ‘Italian ice’ in a yellow cardboard box; which you always let soften a bit so you could flip it over and scrape off the settled ‘flavor’ on the bottom.

That's about as close actual fruit will come to those ices.

He always knew, without looking, if he had what you asked for, and where it was. The only openings were two small latched doors, and he would duck his head in, sometimes up to his waist, looking for ice cream, and emerge with your treat.

Johnny was about average height, and skinny, always wearing brown pants and a blue shirt. He was balding with white/gray wisps of hair from a comb-over covering his scalp blowing in the breeze. His exposed skin (arms and face) was dark, the tone that older Italian men get when they spend all day in the sun for years. When you paid him, he’d give you your change ‘chink chink’ from the coin slot machine he had attached to his belt.

If you bought an Italian ice, and wanted one of those flat wood spoons, you’d go to the passenger seat of his car where an old man, undoubtedly his father, would give it to you, as well as these little pink candies wrapped in opaque plastic. They weren’t flavorful, had the consistency somewhere between gum and regular candy, and were always ice cold, but you took one anyway. It was free, and the old man liked doing something.

He had a good portion of the ice cream route in our community, and did rounds several times a day from late spring to early fall. I’m positive he was the first ‘owner’ of that route, as the community was built in the 70’s (I grew up in the 80’s), and I can imagine he made a good return on the investment. Even in his old age he wouldn’t quit it; he’d work until he went to his grave, probably just like his old man. I could see it on Johnny’s face already in his late 30’s early 40’s; that tired, non-smiling, but still friendly way in which he worked.

Some years later he got a new truck, a black pickup, but kept the refrigerated section, which now contrasted in color and age. I had stopped getting ice cream for a while by then, but one summer afternoon after I graduated high school, I saw him coming down the loop of the section I had been hanging out in with some friends. He was by himself this time, but physically, he looked the same, just maybe 10 years older. By this time he had sodas as well, so I bought a Clearly Canadian Black Cherry clear soda from him (Damn I still remember that like it just happened). He gave me a nod, I thought maybe I saw the recognition flicker in his eyes, but I didn’t pursue it.

So seeing that video brought me back. It looks like he went bald by that time, and went through yet another truck. You see how he greeted the person taking the video; just remembering names and such brought grown men back to their childhood again, with bragging rights on how long they knew him.

At 26 seconds you see it. When I did, it was like a time warp. Later you’ll see his hand go to his waist for the change dispenser. I’d bet that it was the same one.

I checked around, found out he died in July 2009.

Thanks Johnny, for all that ice cream and for the memories that won’t melt.

3 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing, Day In the Life, Life, Retro, Uncategorized, Wayback wednesday

WayBack Wednesday – O Brittania!

Welcome back to another installment of Wayback Wednesday, a theme that I thunked up all by meselfs.

As you can tell, I was always a good student. Halfway decent even. I enjoyed going to the liberry, and read up on the things I was interested in. (Planets, dinosaurs, etc). Occasionally I even remembered to return the books on time. All of these things and less led me on the path to raising my intellectual hunger and awareness. The product below was not one of those factors.


A couple of things come to mind. Useless facts that is. We might go so far as to say points of discussion, if you are so inclined. Seriously, mention these points over drinks with your peers (as long as you are over 34 years old that is; kids these days have NO idea what ENCYCLOpedias are). Plus it’s an excuse to go out for drinks. I know, I know, who needs an excuse? Well the longer you go between interventions, the better.

Well I guess that is point #1. Kids these days only know WIKIpedia, which is user-generated, not carefully and painstakingly by Brittanicans, who are obviously wise men people who shared the knowledge they have preserved over the years. Maybe not as wise as the guy who keeps editing Justin Bieber’s sex as male whenever someone corrects it, but still, they knew a thing or 18.    

2. It’s totally radical how he mentions computers won’t really help him with his research. For that matter, his leather/iced denim hybrid jacket won’t either (he neglected to mention his pristine white high-tops). To his credit, somehow facts and answers were found and essays were written based on information that came from some source. At the time, books contains objective opinions, research and even a chart or two. Now what lies between thick cardboard covers.

Some things should stay lost. As lost as possible.

3. Before Wikipedia, we had Encarta ’95.  ON A CD. FOR THE COMPUTER! And that was state of the art – we thought “NOW computers can do everything, including help us with our research. There is no other worthwhile use for computers or the internet to make anything else in life easier, including bidding on other people’s crap or looking at nekkid pictures.”

4. On the kids TV game show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”, the grand prize is the complete set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas. No, they did not get a copy of Rockapella’s greatest hits.

Who needs instruments when you have garish colors?

5. In the recycle storage area of my building’s basement, there was a stack of “Encyclopedia Americana.” I wonder if some Brittanicans broke away from the organization because of conflicting ideals, sailing away or stealing away in the night with some information to start their own encyclopedia and undermine the dominant paradigm. Depending on which one of those factions won the war, the logically they would be the ones referencing it.

6. Every year they would update this commercial, and the nameless kid in his pristine white cell progressed with a more rockin’ mullet, flashier duds, and a more cooperative/resigned attitude that he was starring in commercials pitching BOOKS, not NES games or junk food  like all the other child actors. It was like we were watching him grow up, even if we didn’t want to.

They see me rollin', they hatin'...

7. Well not print, apparently. Encyclopedia Brittanica just announced that they will no longer be printing books – digital media is where it’s at.

8. Finally, if you were the average family unit, you likely didn’t have EB gracing your shelves, educating you with the radiant glows of its awesomeness, and fooling people into thinking that you actually read them. Rather you probably had something less formal, but more fun…

There's an entire volume dedicated to the Red Baron.

6 Comments

Filed under Computers, Creative Writing, General Nerdliness, Humor, Life, Retro, Wayback wednesday