Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mighty Big Shoes to Fill

I went Bigfoot crazy a few weeks ago. It started when I caught an interview with an author plugging his latest book on NPR about the legendary creature (his shocking conclusion: Bigfoot probably doesn't exist, the 'bigfoot community' is sort of nuts). That sounded pretty cool. Then, within a week, two or three people mentioned Bigfoot or sent me a Sasquatch-related link.

Realizing this was a plate of shrimp moment like the movie Repo Man told us all about, I was powerless to fight fate so I loaded up my Netflix queue with whatever Bigfoot movies they had, checked out the NPR guy's book from work, and would have listened to Bigfoot music, if I could figure out what that was. I have a hunch he would listen to Fu Manchu.

Bigfoot was everywhere when I was a kid. Exploitation filmmakers cranked out films about him, he was on TV, he even had his own line of shoes, which I remember pitching a fit for in Buster Brown. I do not recall if my shitiness was rewarded.

I do, however, remember lots of time spent in the woods looking for the beast. This was back in the late '70s/early '80s when parents didn't really care what their kids did, just as long as they did it somewhere else, or at least did it quietly.

And man, did I love hanging out in the woods. My friends and I used our Bigfoot hunts as an excuse to follow trails for what seemed like miles and to freak each other out with outrageous lies as we got deeper and deeper into the woods. You could also fairly regularly find piles of waterlogged and moldy Penthouse and Playboy magazines out there which was an added bonus and safer than running into Bigfoot.*

There are adults who still do the same thing, although they are completely serious, which is funny, because even as kids we knew we were wasting our time. If you have cable you might have seen those ghost hunters who walk through haunted houses in green light challenging ghosts to fights. I'm serious. Half the running time is guys in Ed Hardy shirts yelling stuff like, "'SUP GHOST?! WHY DON'T YOU SHOW YOURSELF? YOU LIKE SCARING LITTLE KIDS AND WOMEN? WHY DON'T YOU MATERIALIZE RIGHT NOW, GHOST?"

The ghosts never show up.

As with many things I loved as a kid or teenager, Bigfoot tracking is probably the next ridiculous thing to hit the mainstream. Next time you're out on a relaxing walk in the woods looking for old dirty magazines, don't be surprised if you interrupt a camera crew shouting "C'MON, BIGFOOT! WHY YOU GOTTA HIDE, BRA?! I'M RIGHT HERE IN YOUR WOODS, DUDE!"

*Do you remember the thrill of spotting the back cover of a magazine somewhere as a kid, seeing a cigarette ad, getting excited thinking you had found some forest porn only to realize it was just a Newsweek or something? If I could bottle that euphoria and exhilaration I'd put 5 Hour Energy out of business.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cunning Stunts

For nerdy kids, there were few greater feelings than successfully pulling a prank over on someone. Not only did it get you laughs, strengthening your sense of theatricality, but it reinforced a vague sense that you were smarter than the adults.

Of course, looking back, the adults were probably just playing along to not crush your self-esteem. I mean, kids aren't really known for their self-control or patience, so when you suddenly started spouting,
"Hey mom, why don't you sit down? Like, right here? On this cushion? Aren't you tired, huh? Why don't you sit down," they probably knew what was up.

At least my parents played along with my practical jokes, my friends were once chased around the table by their murderous dad after he found a fake fly ice cube in his drink.

The company S.S. Adams (sadly, no relation) made it easy for kids with cheap practical jokes in just about every supermarket. This one-stop shopping area could get you joy buzzers, fake soap, snapping gum, whatever your heart desired.

While the packaging was amazing, the actual mechanics of the toys usually left something to be desired. That joy buzzer looked awesome, with that 1950s businessman jumping out of his shoes with lighting bolts all around him. When you actually used it on someone, it made a pathetic little 'bzzzz' sound as your victim just sort of stared at you. Of course, the joke was pretty much over when a ten year old you offered to shake hands with someone. What kid shakes people's hands? It also didn't help that it looked like you were a little kid wearing a wedding band.

S.S. Adams inspired a brand loyalty that would rival that of the guy at work that's always yapping about the newest Apple whatever, mostly because they were cheap and readily available. They also seemed a bit more realistic than the stuff advertised in comic books.

Although I really, really wanted my own personal 7 foot Frankenstein, my dad explained that it was just a cardboard picture and he couldn't really be used to settle neighborhood scores. Besides, all that stuff had to be mailed away for, which seemed a long, confusing and boring process, possibly involving checks.

Also, who had the patience to wait 4-6 weeks to wait for your X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys or...holy crap! The guy who invented X-Ray Specs and Sea Monkeys was a member of the Klan and the Aryan Nations? Shit, I'm glad I didn't unknowingly finance Hitler by buying those X-Ray Specs I really wanted.
Jesus, I wonder where the money for that 7 foot Frankenstein would have gone? NAMBLA?

Anyway, S.S. Adams is still going strong, and not affiliated with any creepy causes that I could find. Next time you're at the store you should pick up a can of those jumping snake mixed nuts. Looking at the packaging, they haven't changed since like 1962, but that's not the point. Everyone knows that you have to play along with that sort of stuff.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Celebrity Sightings

Security Guard: "I've been thinking all night about who you look like."

Me: "Aw, crap."

Security Guard: "No, no, you look like that dude in The Hangover."

Not sure which one he's talking about, but I guess it's better than Nathan Lane.