Black and White In Color

Watched the colorized Dick Van Dyke show on CBS last night. It took me a few minutes to stop checking out the color scheme of the Petrie’s home, but once I stopped paying attention to that, the show was enjoyable. I’ve seen those episodes dozens of times over the years and they hold up well. That is fairly typical of good writing. It is timeless. Using that criteria this blog has a shelf life of about 30 seconds. Oh well.

I am fairly ambivalent with regards to the colorization of black and white movies and television programs. I don’t find it necessary, but if it might expose some of this content to a new audience, that could be a good thing. I’d rather see a show like Dick Van Dyke colorized than updated. Imagine when Rob Petrie walks into the living room and trips over the ottoman during the opening credits. The modern  version would have him suffer tragic head trauma and only a team of the most specialized surgeons could save him. Meanwhile, the crime lab’s forensic team proves that Buddy Sorrell deliberately moved the ottoman to kill Rob, because he coveted both Rob’s job and beautiful wife Laura.

Wait. I’ve got to pitch this to some TV execs. Don’t any of you steal my idea. Fortunately it’s on my blog where no one will ever see it.

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Black Friday Or Black Eye?

I hope all that braved the Black Friday madness yesterday survived. Now, that you have gotten the big box store experience over with, how about shopping the old fashioned way?

Take a stroll down your local main street, if you still have one, and see what you may find. If you are within striking distance of Blast From The Past, we’d love to see you today on Small Business Saturday. Heck, we’d love to see you on any day. We’re so lonely.

Don’t forget, we create the world we live in and if you appreciate a vibrant diverse downtown shopping district in your community, get out there and keep it alive. Consider the purchases you make as a sort of quality of life expense. I believe we would all rather have an eclectic blend of mom and pop stores sprinkled throughout our cities and towns as opposed to boarded up store fronts or an endless supply of homogenized chain stores.

So, get out there and invest in the quality of your own lives. And remember, your main street is for more than jogging, dog walking, baby carriage pushing and whatever else it is you do as you stream past the shops without ever giving them a second look.

No one owes the small business owner a living, but you do owe yourself a better life. Consider it a partnership from which we can all benefit. End of self serving post.


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Cue The Laugh Track

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I thought this would be a good time for a little introspection. The period from Thanksgiving until Christmas is of course a special time for many, but it has been extra special for me since 1983. I first met my wife just before Thanksgiving that year and we started officially dating mid December. So, I am very thankful for my lovely wife, Beth. Just how thankful? Well, bear with me and I will try to illuminate.

We had quite a long courtship, it took six years for us to finally walk down the aisle.  It took me awhile to pop the question even though she dropped subtle hints. By subtle hints, I mean she described what she wanted for an engagement ring within the first month of dating. No pressure there.

Well, we did finally get engaged and even bought a condo together. Beth really enjoyed playing house and started buying all kinds of kitchen gadgets. The only problem was that she didn’t know how to cook. In fact, I used to joke that she needed to call her mother to get the recipe for ice cubes. I did all the cooking. When we started dating I never took Beth to restaurants, instead I prepared home cooked meals for her. She thought I was being romantic. Truth to tell, I was just really very cheap. Let’s keep that our little secret.

As per the standard custom, we decided that our parents should meet once we became engaged. So, Beth invited her mother and my parents over for dinner. I would handle the bulk of the meal preparation, but Beth was determined to make a special dessert for the occasion. She decided upon a brownie torte which was a quite complicated recipe. Gotta give her credit, she was really swinging for the fences on that one. I think she wanted to impress my mother.

On the big day, we were about an hour out from the arrival of our guests. Everything was ready to go. Well, almost everything. Beth had just completed her hair and makeup and only needed to finish preparing the brownie torte. One of the ingredients was tofu, which needed to be pureed in a blender. You know that feeling you get when you are preparing for something important and it is very stressful, but you finally come into the home stretch and begin to relax a little? Yeah, that part got skipped over by us.

I was in the other room doing I don’t know what, when all of a sudden I hear this horrific shriek from the kitchen. In a panic I ran in to find Beth unharmed, but mysteriously covered in tofu. It was on her clothes, in her hair, on her face, all over the wall and ceiling. Apparently she had inadvertently let a spatula slip into the blender while it was spinning and thus created the tofu eruption. Cue the laugh track, except no one was laughing. Okay, maybe I laughed a little, but that was short lived when I saw the look on poor Beth’s face. She was moments away from bursting into tears when I gently nudged her out of the kitchen and told her  not to worry, I would take care of this. So, while she went to completely redo her hair and makeup, I cleaned up the kitchen and made a brownie torte from scratch.

Crisis averted. Dinner went well and I got to be the hero. It seemed right then and there that life was going to be easy. Just like a sitcom. Except it wasn’t.

I don’t want to take too much credit for coming to the rescue, but I was pretty awesome. I guess it would only be fair to tell you about the time Beth saved the day for me. Well actually, she saved more than just a day. Let me explain…

Our five year anniversary was a little more than a month old when we had a life altering experience. While working in my Attleboro comic book store late July, a customer had decided he wished to get a refund on some purchases. Unfortunately, rather than simply  ask, he waited until I turned my back and attempted to bludgeon me to death with a hammer. Sorry about the gruesome part, but the story needs this for context. If you are squeamish, close your eyes until we get to the good stuff again. Spoiler alert: I lived.

It was very scary for a bit. I thought I was going to die. Now, this is the truth, as blow after blow struck my skull and I felt myself fading, I thought only of Beth. I was not so much afraid of dying as I was afraid of never seeing her beautiful face again. Fortunately, a neighbor heard the disturbance and came over causing the assailant to flee. To this day, I don’t believe my body would have survived that assault if I were not so determined to stay around for Beth. A less romantic notion would be that I had a head like cement and that was the real reason I survived. I’ll stick with the first option. Oh, make no mistake, my skull is like a piece of cement, but my love for Beth is immense.

I was in and out of consciousness during the ambulance ride, but I  was eventually fully awake at the hospital. Strangely, the first person I saw was my aunt who was working as a nurse in another wing when she heard the news. The first words out of my mouth were, “where’s Beth?” She was standing beside me, but I had failed to see her right away. Now, Beth is a very emotional person. She is the type to cry at a Hallmark card commercial and yet, at that moment, she did not shed a tear. Over the years, I have often teased her about this. I mean c’mon, someone tried to kill your husband, cry a little.

Actually, I think I was the one that cried and I even apologized to her. I knew this was probably an inconvenience, much worse than leaving the toilet seat up. She just looked down at me and told me everything was okay and I believed her. She knew a frightened tearful wife wouldn’t help me. She needed to be strong to make me strong. She needed to be… no, I needed her to be the hero. And she was.

This would be a fine place to end the story. I know some are thinking my stories should end before they begin, but I digress. I’m sure thus far you get the general impression that Beth is wonderful, but you can’t understand how wonderful without this next part.

It really was amazing how well Beth held it together especially considering what she saw when I first arrived at the hospital. I did not see myself in a mirror until two days after the incident and even then I gasped. Again, some may want to close their eyes for this part. I was bloodied, missing teeth, my eye was actually partially dislocated from the socket, you know, the standard stuff when your face meets a hammer. I basically looked like Quasimodo. Look, I was no matinee idol prior to that, but I was in the not half bad looking category. I found it hard to look at myself without grimacing and the thought of losing my looks and having to depend upon my wit, grace and charm for the rest of my life was even more terrifying than the attack.  I really didn’t have that much going for me on the inside. At least that’s what I thought. Beth thought differently.

I don’t intend to be maudlin, but I was a mess inside and out on my first morning at home. I felt broken and helpless and my anger was clearly visible. Beth tried to calm me, but I really didn’t want her to be near me. I felt so guilty that she had to endure this and fearful that the sight of me would be disturbing to her. Then she did the most wonderful thing. At least for me, at that moment, it was the most wonderful and important thing. She hugged me and kissed me. Not a, “you poor pitiful thing” kiss, but a “you’re my man and I want you kiss”. The kind of kiss when you see it in the movies, you know something’s about to happen. Honestly, I never doubted that Beth loved me, but often wondered why. At that moment I figured there must be something about me that only she could see. Something way beyond the physical, some special quality that we all would want someone to find in us. I was at my worst and she could still only see the best in me.

It is easy to love. The real trick is being worthy of love.

So, in the end, I guess we both sort of saved each other. I averted the great tofu disaster of 1988 and she gave me a reason for living, the will to survive a near tragic event and a love that was boundless. I’d say we are pretty much even. Okay, maybe one is a little more impressive than the other. After all,  a great brownie torte can really make a dinner party!

Now, excuse me, I think I’ll  go see what Dessert Beth has planned for tomorrow.

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A Twisted Reality

Well, for the two individuals that read this blog, I’m back! Obviously blogging is not my forte, but I will try to update a bit more frequently.

I try to avoid two things on this blog, politics and shamelessly shilling for my store, Blast From The Past. Well the times being what they are, I can no longer avoid those two subjects. One, I need to increase my revenues and two, the whole world is talking about the election. So, with that being said, I have decided to create a new political party, the Republicrats.

Basically Republicrats entertain all points of view and avoid protracted debates on policy by deciding every issue with a rousing game of Twister. No one can stay mad while playing Twister. See, all the country’s problems will be solved and the only drawback will be that politicians may end up looking a bit childish. Oh, I guess it won’t be so different after all.

Well, let’s skip trying to solve any problems and just try to bring families and friends together with a game of Twister, available at Blast From The Past.

Wow, will you look at that, I combined politics and shamelessly shilling for my store into a single post. Ain’t I quite the politician?



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The Winter Blogs

I haven’t posted much lately. I think the depression of winter has really gotten to me this year. I guess that is a sign of getting older. I don’t think that I have ever known or met a kid that didn’t love winter time.

Snow was so versatile. You could build a man, a fort or a mini jump for your sled. If you avoided the yellow stuff, it was quite edible as I recall. You could lie down in it and make snow angels or write a message in it. Some might have been inclined to roll it up into a ball and pummel their siblings with the frosty arsenal.

If your parents were really clever, they would buy you and your brothers snow shovels for Christmas so you would think it was a toy and eagerly clear the drive way for dear old dad. (yup, my parents did that. And the trick worked.)

To the best of my knowledge, very few things equalled the joy of listening to the radio anxiously waiting for your school on the cancellation list due to snow and finally hearing it. Grab your coat and hat and get out there!

So tell me, why can’t we adults embrace the winter the same as children? Probably because some of us don’t have kids or kids naive enough to fall for the toy shovel ploy…

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Not Quite A Chip Off The Old Block

Occasionally, my wife will tell me I am just like my father and I will always respond with “thank you” even if she didn’t mean it as a compliment. Don’t get me wrong, she loves my dad, but the men in our family have a tendency to be a  little thick-headed.

It often got me wondering just how much I was really like my dad. It turns out, not very…

My dad is 6′ tall and I top out at 5’8″ if I stand very straight. He was quite popular in high school and was on the football team all four years. I played one year of freshmen football and though I was fairly good, decided not to continue. I was more shy and reserved than he was. I did an excellent Claude Rains impression for most of my high school years.(For the younger set that are reading this, Claude Rains was famous for playing the “Invisible Man” in the movie of the same name.)

He was a fairly average student, while I was one of those “smart” kids. When I was younger my dad would get annoyed at my extensive vocabulary and ask, “can’t you talk like a normal person?” I think there was a bit of pride mixed in with the annoyance.

To hear my father tell it, he was quite a ladies man in his youth and dated many girls. I couldn’t have been any further from being a ladies man without having actually joined a monastery. Despite having been a “serial dater”, my father finally hit the jackpot when he met and married my mom. She was beautiful, kind, caring and easy to get along with.

Well, now, when I think about my wife, maybe I am just like my dad–at least where it really counts. So, while he may have tested the waters frequently before finding the perfect one and I waited and waited for miss right to come along, in the end we both ended up with women far better than either of our ugly mugs deserved.

So, thank you to my mom, Nancy and my wife, Beth for being the best things that ever happened to two very lucky Juaire men.

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The End of an Era

Well, it’s official, I’m a grown up. I managed to avoid it for 52 years, but somehow it happened. I’m just not sure when. Of course there were subtle signs over the years, getting married, running a small business and paying a mortgage, yet I thought I did a pretty good job of convincing myself and others that I was just a kid in an adult’s body.

Charlie Brown, my alter ego.

I became fully aware of my adulthood the other night. I sat down to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for the umpteenth time. It had always been a perennial favorite and signaled the beginning of the Christmas season. When I was a kid, nothing got me in the mood for the holiday more than that cartoon. The “Grinch” was a close second.

Half way through the program the unthinkable happened. I lost interest and switched the channel. I don’t know if it was the stress of modern life or that the program had become all too familiar. Either way, it was a bit of a downer. I felt I had changed and not for the better.

Much introspection has followed and I think I have come to a simple conclusion. I haven’t changed. It is all Santa’s fault. That guy hasn’t left me a toy in like 40 years. He never even left a note. I think if someone is going to cut you off like that, he should at least send a memo.

So, here’s the deal, Mr. Claus. I’m sure you can spare one elf to make a toy for Kevin. I promise I have been good this year. I’ll be looking for something the morning of December 25. Don’t let me down. My entire perpetual childhood is riding on this.


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Jimi Hendrix Owes My Friend 65 Cents For a Pack Of Cigarettes


Jimi Hendrix poster

The greatest guitarist in rock history


Usually my blog titles involve misdirection or some sort of play on words. This time the title is to be taken quite literally. More on that in  a moment.

This month PBS is featuring an American Masters special on the much revered guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix. I found it quite interesting to watch. I was too young to appreciate Jimi Hendrix when he  burst upon the music scene. He had already tragically passed away when I first became aware of his music.

One of the more amusing anecdotes, one which I had often read about, was that he had been hired to open for the Monkees early in his career. This mismatch of styles led to a short lived tour for Mr. Hendrix. Imagine all those squeaky clean teeny boppers awaiting the dreamy Davy Jones and company and suddenly they are smack dab in the middle of the psychedelic onslaught of “Purple Haze” or forced to contemplate the question “Are You Experienced?”.

Even though it clearly made no sense to have the Jimi Hendrix Experience on the same bill as The Monkees, he was so amazing that everyone wanted to be associated with him. Although it didn’t work out, it might not have been as ridiculous an idea as one would think at first glance. As I stated earlier, I did not become aware of Jimi Hendrix until after his death. It was only a year or two after he had died and I pretty much thought music was groups like The Monkees, The Jackson Five, The Osmond Brothers and even The Archies and Partridge Family.

Despite this overdose of saccharin with regards to my musical tastes(oh yeah, I forgot to mention I liked Tony Orlando and Dawn quite a bit too), when I heard Jimi Hendrix on the radio I didn’t hate it. I, in fact, liked it very much. That’s part of what makes one an American Master, the ability to transcend all the boundaries of age, race, background and prior experiences to connect with your audience and move them out of their comfort zone. I know I wasn’t sure what I was listening to, but it seemed pretty cool to me.

Which brings us back to our title. We have a friend at Blast From The Past that worked for a sound company back in the 60’s and 70’s. They were well known for providing the sound mixing for many of the large outdoor rock and pop festivals. Our friend was working the New York pop festival in 1970 that featured Jimi Hendrix as one of the headliners. Mr. Hendrix and his manager had arrive by boat to the venue, but unfortunately the tide had gone out by the time the gig had ended an said boat was no longer available. So, they asked my friend and some of the sound crew if they could hitch a ride with them in their beat up station wagon. They, of course, obliged.

They all piled into the crowded vehicle and headed out. Along the way Jimi asked them to stop so he could buy some cigarettes. He  had to climb over my friend to get out of the car and then realizing he had no pockets for cash, asked in a very soft voice, “Hey, man can I borrow some spare change?” My friend handed him the money and Jimi got his smokes. Two months later he died.

Though his career was incredibly short-lived, Jimi Hendrix was and still is one of the most influential artists in rock and roll history. Often true greatness is not recognized until after one’s passing. Jimi Hendrix was instantly recognized as a guitar virtuoso and singularly gifted musician and his reputation continued to grow long after his death.

Some, like myself, will probably not be recognized until long after we have turned to dust. I imagine eons may pass and earth will have colonized new worlds long before people will recognize my blog as  the work of a true genius. It’s okay. I can wait.


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The Smell of Death is in the Air

I know that is a fairly gruesome heading for a blog, but it is not as grim as you might imagine.  I am merely referring to the that particular smell that accompanies the turning of the leaves in fall. Went for a walk yesterday in the woods and remembered how much I liked the entirety of the Autumn experience when I was a child.

Walking along a path carpeted with pine needles and surrounded by the yellow, red and brown colored leaves was one of my favorite solitary activities in my youth. I was fortunate that there were acres of woods behind our house and a pond and river. One could really contemplate the big issues of the world and life in general without any distractions. Of course, for me the big issues were hoping we weren’t having tuna casserole for dinner and trying to budget enough spare change for the next issue of Batman.

So, on yesterday’s walk, I remembered that fondness for brief moments of isolation. A chance to feel like you were the only person on the planet. There was one major difference. I was with my wonderful wife and the feeling was of we being the only two people on the planet. I enjoyed being alone as a kid, but not nearly as much as I enjoy never being alone now.

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Fashion Over Function


So realistic, it's uncanny!


Well, it’s October. Football season is well underway and Hockey just started. Of course, most eyes in the sporting world are watching the Major League Baseball playoffs. These all pale in comparison to the real star of the month which is Halloween.

Pictured at left is the type of costume from my youth which was the staple of every kid’s trick or treating wardrobe. It consisted of a flimsy plastic mask and some type of nylon fabric one piece ensemble.

I don’t think they cost more than $3 and we certainly got our money’s worth in my family. We would use the costume for years at a time and when one part became to beat up to use we would partner the remaining piece with something else to create a whole new outfit.

I was actually quite a costuming innovator at an early age. I recall having a costume similar to the one pictured here. In first grade I wore it to a Halloween party, but I decided to add my own personal touch. I somehow figured that my brown mittens would totally enhance the look making my monster unbelievably realistic. Not wishing to break character, I refused to remove the mittens even to eat potato chips and other snack food. Of course, this is all the more ridiculous when one realizes that I did have to remove the mask to ingest these treats. So much for suffering for my art.



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