When the world is a monster     Bad to swallow you whole     Kick the clay that holds the teeth in     Throw your trolls out the door    






The One-Legged Sandpiper


   February, 2009   





Sunday, February 1, 2009

Souper Bowl Sunday


The Night Club Name Contest

Response has been immediate and overwhelming!

Check out the new entries below.
Someone couldn't believe these three were missed.
They are kind of obvious aren't they?

Liarz
Cheaterz
Stealerz
I love the next two submissions.
Gumz
Dependz
This one has an African safari kind of sound to it.
The Incontinent Club
Pretty obvious... But every submission counts.
The Christmas Club
Just look around the restaurant. These two wrote themselves.
Thanks for the entry!

Stufferz
Stuffeez
Another great one.
Chapter 11
I can see a neon crawfish and a Cajun theme for this one
Cray Zee's
Just plain funny!
The Turd Burgler
Another three in one email.
Get Any On Ya?
Onyaz
Onya's

Vote For Your Favorite Now!!!

Don't miss The First Batch of great names.

Get in on the fun!

Vote Here!!!

Please Note: This nightclub name contest is not associated or affiliated in any way with The Argyle Rhinoceros at 49 Cottage Street in Danielson, Connecticut. That club already has a great name and local authorities have been assured it is NOT a gay club. Not that there's anything wrong with that -{Seinfeld}, Jerry Seinfeld.





S. D. (Special Delivery) Kluger Mirth and Merriment, Memories and Merchandise
Christmas With the Village People

This was supposed to appear December 14, 2008 for the big December buildup to Christmas. It just didn't happen then... So here it is now.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town... The movie

      I was barely four years old in 1964 when the Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was on TV for the first time. I was five when A Charlie Brown Christmas aired for the first time. The very next year How the Grinch Stole Christmas followed the previous two classics. I saw them all the first year they aired and haven't missed seeing all three every year since. Seeing them each year has been a huge part of all of my Christmases.
      I was getting a little older; all of ten, when Santa Claus is Coming to Town joined the holiday TV lineup. I was very resistant to embrace this newcomer at first. I was older of course... And it was 1970 and the innocence of the 1965 Christmas special was being infused with a little of the 60s culture that was all up in our lives at that point. The Kringles I was part of that decade but not the hippy-dippy Laugh In Mod-a-go-go part of it as much as the Woodstock, Vietnam War, space program, civil rights part of it. Yeah I was probably dressed like I belonged in the Partridge Family, but I was more concerned about the impending threat of being killed in Vietnam. My grade school teachers from second grade on would constantly remind us that if we didn't do well in school that we wouldn't get into college and we'd get drafted and sent to Vietnam and get killed. We saw body bags in the news every day. It was a real threat... so Kris Kringle's trouble with the Burgermeister Meisterburger seemed a little lame. The imprinting at age four, five and six was stronger than at age ten so I didn't warm up to Santa Claus is Coming to Town the way I might have otherwise until years later. Hell... I remember hiding from Bumbles the Abominable Snow Monster the first time I saw him. By ten... I don't think so.
      Shopping for Christmas has become more enjoyable as I grow older. I used to hate it... Even when I had plenty of money and could just buy what I wanted for presents. Nowadays... I haven't a penny to spare but enjoy the Christmas shopping process immensely. I was in my mid thirties when I started feeling the warmth. I started purchasing Christmas S.D.Kluger's half track ornaments and such and grabbing copies of my favorite Christmas specials as I found them. I watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town again about twelve years ago and finally got it. Fred Astaire's voice... The half track... Peter Pine, Willy Willow... "Winter please"... The Burgermeister... Even the psychedelic and wedding scenes with what's-her-face... Jessica. I was hooked so when I found a complete set of figures at Ocean State Joblot or Christmas Tree Shops I had to get it. The Winter Warlock has even become a tree topper. He was pressed into duty for the first time to top "Doug" the Douglas Fir... Probably our best tree so far even though "he" didn't survive being planted at the Train Station. The rest of them are still fastened to their snow drift looking plastic base that held them in place in their box. They look like a choir of Eastern European types or how my class must have looked standing on the bleacher-type choir steps that pulled out from under the stage in the auditorium/gym of Campbell School in Metuchen, New Jersey. I wish I could find one of those half tracks. I'd spend money on that before I'd buy food.
      Models have always been a favorite of mine. Miniature houses and the like as well so... I'm a sucker for those Christmas Village type structures with lights and all that we see everywhere for sale before Christmas. S.D.Kluger's half track I have quite a few... Most from Christmas Tree Shops or even the dollar store. Many of them were set up a few Christmases ago along with a big Christmas Train under the tree and even a dollar store train set around the village of little Christmas houses that were a dollar each from CVS in Ortley, New Jersey. The cast of Santa Claus is Coming to Town was perched on their plastic Snow drift on the bottom shelf of the TV stand behind the village. Pork Chop had issues with the dollar store train running. It usually derailed after a half lap around the tracks or so. At one point Kelly was referring to the characters on their snow drift on the other side of the village and called them the Village People. I loved the name and it stuck. Winter is Winter but the rest of them are the Village People... The reason for this entry after all.
      As long as we're on the subject of Christmas specials... Let me tell you my theory of what can make them a success. It's the voices! Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer had Burl Ives. Charlie Brown had great memorable voices... And don't get me started on the music. The Grinch had Boris Karloff for kripes sake AND... Thurl "Tony the Tiger" Ravenscroft. Santa Claus is coming to Town had Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney. Frosty the Snowman, which came out the year before Santa Claus is Coming to Town, had Jimmy Durante, one of the great voices certainly, but the lead voice was lame. I haven't purchased "Frosty" yet and have no immediate plans. I can't warm up to the character due to the voice... And he's a dumbass. I think Tom "Magnum P.I." Selleck or James Earl "Darth Vader" Jones would make great Christmas character voices but I'm afraid the golden days of the Christmas special are long over.




Death of a Snowman

      This is some more unfinished business from Christmas. December was a little hectic and it just didn't happen.



Monday, February 2, 2009

Ground Hog Day


I bet those things are good on the grill



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By

      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are some more of those... A few at a time. The first installment appeared Thursday, December 4, 2008.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was supposed to appear in the Sandpiper on December 5, 2008... To go along with the over the top Christmas theme. But it was not to be due to all sorts of issues. Here it is now. There's going to be more soon. Favorite toys are important things in life. My favorites now are my computer, kayak and camera... In that order.


Bizzy Buzz Buzz was a great idea... But it sucked!

      Bizzy Buzz Buzz was a motorized pen that looked like a bug... Sort of. The idea was that you could put a pen cartridge in Bizzy and it would move the pen in a circular motion creating a spiral pattern on the paper while making an alarming amount of noise. This pattern would vary with how fast the pen was circling and how fast you moved the thing across the paper. This all seemed like a good idea but like many good ideas was limited by the technology at the time. We were putting men in space regularly getting ready to go to the moon, 747s and SSTs were ready to take to the air and microprocessors were getting ready to find their way into overpriced consumer products but... Do you think we could make a pen that would write worth a hoot? Not a chance.



Is this how Dupont started?
Where is the nitro?

      Chemistry sets were great things. Yeah... ya did some of the "experiments"... But mostly just mixed stuff together to get it to explode. I remember actually achieving that on one occasion. The resulting "reaction" blew the bottom out of the test tube and shot purple foam onto the ceiling of my room. What the heck was "Log Wood" and why was it in there? Azurite was that cool blue/green powder that could make clay men look like they had some kind of anthrax or Andromeda Strain thing going on.
      Can you imagine something like this being sold today? I'm glad I got to play in the sixties before any of this stuff was bad for you. In the big Gilbert Mad Scientist version you even got a Bunsen burner... For heating stuff... With FLAME!!! You'd have to have little Bobo in one of those oil well fire fighting suits to use one of those or you'd be arrested for reckless endangerment or something like that. How did we manage to survive?


See you in court!

      If you survived the explosion from the chemistry set you were ready for these babies. Click Clacks... Two rock hard acrylic spheres, prone to explode into razor sharp shards, mounted on opposite ends of a nylon cord you could strangle a Rhinoceros with and a breakable plastic ring in the middle to hook your finger in. The idea was to get them going so the impact of the spheres sent them hurtling back in the other direction to do it again repeatedly making a hell of a lot of noise before striking you in both temples simultaneously or shattering. Most ended up hanging from phone or electric wires. I'm pretty sure they came with a blank wrongful death lawsuit included.

Cootie was a game?

      Cooties used to be something girls had and seemed best to avoid. That definition seemed to trump the actual game in popularity. I did have some... Or one, depending on how you interpret the concept. It was either a game (not) or a box full of bug parts. My definition was always the later. My grandparents gave me the present and I remember opening it in their house on Grove Avenue in Woodbridge, NJ so that was a very long time ago. I was four or five maybe. I don't think I ever played the game. I just built bugs which was certainly more than enough to justify the existence of the things.




Squalid Splendor Squalid Splendor Life's Simple Pleasures

      Squalid Splendor is all about life's simple pleasures and the appreciation thereof. I created a Life's Simple Pleasures entry in the Sandpiper on Sunday November 9, 2008 intending it to be a regular feature. It will be but it will now be packaged under the Squalid Splendor label since it forms the basis of this concept. That entry was about harvesting the last of the late season vegetables from John Walter's garden in Brick, New Jersey. Adding some fresh herbs from the herb garden at the Church made for some great cooking and eating. This is the latest...
      Sunday was one of those days filled with life's simple pleasures. One of the first, besides a good cup of coffee, was the bright sun and warmer temperatures first thing in the morning. By seven O'clock the blinds on the east side of the apartment were up and sunlight was streaming in and warming things as only sun can. By eight O'clock the outside door was open and the sun was warming the kitchen through the big windows of the storm door. I miss having the outside door open all winter. I checked Email and did a few online chores and decided to indulge a bit and read another article in the Cruising World magazine Kelly got me for Christmas last year. I've been savoring the three mags for a year now, reading an article or two as the opportunity arises. It was a great way to spend a cup of coffee.
      Breakfast was another simple pleasure. I finished the last of the fresh blueberries that were a sample from Joe Ciccanesi of Tourtellot produce wholesalers, in a bowl of mini shredded wheat. No big deal? Of course not... But... That's what simple pleasures are about. I spent some time working on the Sandpiper as well. That was the first session with my new reading glasses. $167.00 worth to be exact. Distance wise I can still see things before they happen. Reading and computer work is another story. The old glasses were so scratched up that the new ones were like entering another world. It's a little more rewarding than normal to spend $167.00 and have it make a profound impact on my quality of life. Usually it's just an insurance bill or something tedious like that.
      The pleasant positive pace of the morning continued with unexpectedly finding the brown glove with the little grippy things on them that Kelly put in my stocking for Christmas. They're great for handling the camera when it's colder than cold. I decided to celebrate the day's successes by taking a break from the upstairs cleanup to head to the Rez to shoot some pictures. There were ice fishermen fishing and skaters skating at the perpetual skating party that seems to happen halfway down the western shore. I got some pictures and headed back to the train station for a late afternoon nap... One of the greatest simple pleasures.
      The rest of the evening was spent cleaning the upstairs apartment, cooking dinner and watching a movie I bought at the Salvation Army store next to Joblot: Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan... Not my favorite James Bond but better than the current guy. I spent about an hour working on this mess and catching up on some emails and such. I had a big Guinness Stout with dinner and settled onto bed for some gourmet sleep... Monday is another free form day with just a few tenant and rent issues to deal with. I hope it turns out as well as today did.


Squalid Splendor

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Señor Porker Worrker Dorker Snorker Don Gato
Second Grade Music Class

Señor Don Gato and Other Ethnic Stereotypes

      From first grade in 1966/1967 through fifth grade in 1970/1971 we had music class once a week. The dreaded flutaphone In third or fourth grade we all got flutaphones, as a class, and had to learn to play them. This didn't even seem like a good idea back then. Once a week this dangerously fat guy named Mr. Bates (possibly of the motel chain fame) came to our class and screamed at us in a purple faced rage trying to get us to play Mary Had a Little Lamb and other favorites. He seemed like he was going to have a massive coronary at any second for the duration of the class. Needless to say it was always a relief when he left. I actually tried practicing a little and was eventually able to play a song or two. I remember my father scoffing at an impromptu concert in the kitchen one day, convinced I was just making the notes with my mouth and that the fingering was not actually doing anything. Fortunately the flutaphone fiasco lasted only half a year as I remember.
      What I do remember enjoying about music class was singing songs as a group to music played on one of those monster educational grade record players or a dulcimer played by our music teacher. She was a cute blonde... At least by second or third grade teacher standards, and was very nice. I bet quite a few of the songs we learned would be considered inappropriate, insensitive or politically incorrect today. That's too bad because it seems to me that learning about racial, cultural and ethnic stereotypes can be a way to sensitize us to the plight of said groups. At the very least they serve to introduce kids to different cultures on a Cow-Says-Moo, Don-Gato-Says-Ay-Caramba level; Something they can easily understand. Remember... even stereotypes CAN be true so... Enough of that blarney begorra! Besides... They're just songs! Kids know that for cripes sake! Here are three of my favorites. Try not to be offended will ya?

Señor Don Gato

O Señor Don Gato was a cat.
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He was there to read a letter,
(meow, meow, meow)
where the reading light was better,
(meow, meow, meow)
'Twas a love-note for Don Gato!

"I adore you," wrote the ladycat,
who was fluffy white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty,
(meow, meow, meow)
in the country or the city
(meow, meow, meow)
and she said she'd wed Don Gato!

O Senor Don Gato jumped with glee!
He fell off the roof and broke his knee,
broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
(meow, meow, meow)
and his little solar plexus
(meow, meow, meow)
"Ay Caramba!!" cried Don Gato.

All the doctors they came on the run,
just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
(meow, meow, meow)
about how to save their patient,
(meow, meow, meow)
how to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
No, it wasn't very merry,
(meow, meow, meow)
going to the cemetary,
(meow, meow, meow)
for the ending of Don Gato.

But as the the funeral passed the market square,
such a smell of fish was in the air,
though the burial was plated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he became reanimated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he came back to life, Don Gato!


Pick a Bale of Cotton

Refrein:
Oh lordy, Pick a bale of cotton
Oh lordy, Pick a bale a day
Oh lordy, Pick a bale of cotton
Oh lordy, Pick a bale a day


Gonna jump down, Turn around, Pick a bale of cotton
Gonna jump down, Turn around, Pick a bale a day.
Gonna jump down, Turn around, Pick a bale of cotton
Gonna jump down, Turn around, Pick a bale a day.

Refrein

Me and my wife, we pick a bale of cotton
Me and my wife, we pick a bale a day
Me and my wife, we pick a bale of cotton
Me and my wife, we pick a bale a day

Refrein

Gonna pick a, pick a, pick a, pick a,
pick a, pick a, pick a bale a day.
Gonna pick a, pick a, pick a, pick a,
pick a, pick a, pick a bale a day.

Refrein


Hill and Gully Rider


Took my horse an' comin' down,
     Hill an' gully
But my horse done stumble down
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
An' the nighttime come an' tumble down
     Hill an' gully

Oh the moon shone bright down,
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
Ain't no place to hide in down,
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
An' a zombie come a ridin' down
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully

Oh, my knees they shake down
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
An' my heart starts quakin' down
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
An' I run 'til daylight breakin' down.
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully

That's the last I set down,
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
Pray the Lord don' let me down.
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully
Ain't nobody goin' to get me down.
     Hill an' gully Hill an' gully

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Ugliness comes to The One-Legged Sandpiper


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Even the Hat Made a Monkey Out of Spinning Chicken


Spinning Chicken has always been big on hate speach.

Hatred comes to the Sandpiper.
The words above are a direct quote from Spinning Chicken in front of numerous witnesses Monday.
It's ugly... but so is Spinning Chicken... From deep inside the rotten foul smelling interior...
To the dermatologist's science project exterior.
Everyone need to know how offensive this pox on life really is and how he treats people.

I apologize to long time Sandpiper readers that don't expect this kind of unpleasantness here.

But... There's no reason one person's character ugliness can't be another person's source of fun. We can beat him at his own miserable game by having a few laughs at his expense. Click here to download or print a Blank Spinning Chicken and have your own fun and stay tuned... For the Chicketron 4000.



Thursday, February 5, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was supposed to appear in the Sandpiper on December 10, 2008... To go along with the over the top Christmas theme. But it was not to be due to all sorts of issues. Here it is now. There's still going to be more. Favorite toys are important things in life.


Creepy Crawlers were the best!!! Creepy Crawlers were the best!!!
      Creepy Crawlers were close to the pinnacle of development for dangerous toys in the sixties. What you did was mix foul smelling colored goop and pour it in a mold. Then comes the good part... You turned on the kiln. Yes... KILN!!! I don't care what they called it... It was a kiln. It heated quickly to hundreds of degrees; hot enough to burn your fingerprints right off your fingers. Then you used the metal tong-like thing to put the metal mold filled with goop into the kiln... Usually spilling plenty of the goop on the hot surface below where it usually burst into flames or at least bubbled until it was black. Either way it released a nasty cloud of acrid fumes that made your eyes water. While the mold filled goop was in the kiln, the curing goop released its own unique and horrible set of smells. You were basically vulcanizing rubber on the kitchen table. After a while you took the mold out, burned yourself a few more times and released brand new soft plastic bugs and spiders and worms from the mold. It was absolutely fantastic.
      Not satisfied with creating the best most dangerous toy ever, the company that produced this chemical-refinery-in-a-box came out with Incredible Edibles. This was different goop that would produce an edible bug, spider or worm... In the same toxic chemical infused mold you used with the other goop. I wonder how many kids ended up eating plastic bugs instead of the edible ones because they all really did look, and taste, alike. They came out with molds for cars bodies and boat hulls that had battery powered chassis and submersible propeller units to make them work. These were way more difficult because you had to have the exact right amount of goop to get the two piece mold filled all the way. I did get a few made successfully. They didn't put much effort into the motorized parts so the product kind of died on the vine after that. I think a few houses burned down as well.


Crystal growing was tedious but cool.

Crystal growing was tedious but cool.       Crystal growing was tedious but cool AND... It came with a real Pyrex beaker... And CHEMICALS!!! You put measure amounts of chemical into water and heated it. Then you put it in the special growing beakers with a string hanging in the solution from a stick. Over what seemed like an ice age crystals would form on the string... or on the bottom if I remember correctly. It took forever but the results were kind of interesting.
      When it comes right down to it, the results of a celery stalk in colored water or carrot top held in a cup of water with toothpicks was just as cool. I think you could do that with a potato as well. Whatever. I'm pretty sure I still have some of the crystals in that compartmented container that has the leftover beads from the Christmas ornament kits.
      Come to think of it... I would probably enjoy one of these more now than when I was ten. Like Chia stuff. The Chia Homer Simpson Kelly gave me lasted two years and grew Chias three feet long and as thick as a pencil. He was definitely scary looking. I scalped him and transplanted the Chias to a pot where they made it through most of another winter.


Triceratops

      The first model I ever built was a triceratops. We were still living on High Street so I was first grade or younger. I painted his lips red (for blood) even though he was a vegetarian. I remember fixating on painting his feet and ankles brown to show he was walking in mud. I don't remember why that was so important. Dinosaurs are still the best. I believe Sinclair had built Dinosaur World at the 1964 World's Fair so dinosaurs were the all the rage... and still are.

Triceratops

Dr. Nim

      Dr. Nim was supposed to be educational but it was just cool. There were some sorts of games you could play against the game. I seem to remember it being a tough competitor. It was basically a simple three or four gate binary computer that ran on marbles. When I got it I was probably just a little too young to fully appreciate it. We called it "Nim Skull the Numb Skull".

Download the original Dr. Nim Manual here for a blast from the past.
Dr. Nim
Dr. Nim

Friday, February 6, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

The Darwin's Leach Field Night Club Name Contest!!!

Join the fun and Vote for your favorite name


or

Submit your own suggestion!

There's dozens already BUT... Yours could be the Winner!!!


Alz
Dimentia
C. Niles McNasty
Rips
Ripperz
Rip Van Winkle's
Stinkerz
Stinkeez
Bogart's
Stalkerz
Strokerz
Spinnerz
The Spinning Chicken
Smelleez
Booperz
The Gas Light
Bubbles
Bubbles in the Tub
Sir Fartsalot
The Pew
Peppe Le Pew's
Oz Qui Pey
Fartalotta's
Ripalotta's
Stalkalotta's
Shopalotta's
Spendalotta's
The Brain Desert
Boonit's
McNasty's
McStalker's
McStinky's
McFarty's
Someone couldn't believe these three were missed.
They are kind of obvious aren't they?

Liarz
Cheaterz
Stealerz
I love the next two submissions.
Gumz
Dependz
This one has an African safari kind of sound to it.
The Incontinent Club
Pretty obvious... But every submission counts.
The Christmas Club
Just look around the restaurant. These two wrote themselves.
Thanks for the entry!

Stufferz
Stuffeez
Another great one.
Chapter 11
I can see a neon crawfish and a Cajun theme for this one
Cray Zee's
Just plain funny!
The Turd Burgler
Another three in one email.
Get Any On Ya?
Onyaz
Onya's
Ginderz
Dick 'n' Chicken
Wiperz
Skid Mark's
Skidz
Mark's
Streakerz
Streaks

Vote For Your Favorite Now!!!

Get in on the fun!

Vote Here!!!

Please Note: This nightclub name contest is not associated or affiliated in any way with The Argyle Rhinoceros at 49 Cottage Street in Danielson, Connecticut. That club already has a great name and local authorities have been assured it is NOT a gay club. Not that there's anything wrong with that -{Seinfeld}, Jerry Seinfeld.



Saturday, February 7, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

A Simple Formula For Success



Spinning Chicken Plus Money Equals Bubbles





Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 12, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


Fireball XL5 Fireball XL5
      Fireball XL-5 was a TV show with puppets. Marionettes to be exact. The series was first produced in Great Britain in 1962 in a basement or something like that. It was primitive but captivating... If you were four or five at the time. It was also a predecessor to Team America: World Police by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park). I was all about this show when I was four or five. After all... Lost in Space wasn't even on TV yet. Then the merchandising started. I had to have one and finally did get one: A deluxe set. I remember finding it under the work bench in the basement on Christol Street after we moved.

Fireball XL5
Fireball XL5

Ech-A-Sketch       If you never had an Etch-a-Sketch I feel bad for you. Mine was a present from my grandparents if I'm not mistaken. I usually never completed any major drawing on mine, but it made a great navigation screen in a space ship or cardboard submarine. I always wanted to crack one open and see inside but it always seemed like sacrilege to do so... Like cutting stuff out of a National Geographic. My cousin or my brother gave me a mini one for Christmas a few years back and it was even more fun than I remember it being. I made a drawing of my church building and haven't played with it since. Remember the Toy Story movie? Woody relied on "Etch" big-time. I hope they never change them.


Fire Chief Helmet

      This was one of the first Christmas presents I remember getting. I don't remember wanting to be a fireman but it's possible. It was just a great thing to have. Oil companies were way more glamorous back then. Every gas station gave away stuff with fill ps and the commercials were slick and cutting edge. I can't remember if the helmet made a siren noise or had a microphone and PA speaker. It didn't even matter when the batteries died... Or leaked and corroded everything like they used to do all the time. Who can forget the bright yellow Eveready battery with the bubbly rust colored ooze around the terminals? Ah the sixties.


Erector Set

      Erector sets have always been the stuff of dreams with girders, gears, chains, pulleys and enough loose hardware to foil even the toughest Electrolux. Let's not forget the sharp edges on all of the metal parts. One thing I do remember is never having all of the pieces needed to make the coolest thing in the instruction book. The last two or three seemed to always need pieces from the set you didn't have. Bastards!!! It was tough to watch cartoons AND build stuff at the same time... Unless they were lame cartoons like Josie and the Pussy Cats or something like that. Johnnie Quest... Forget it. You couldn't count the holes on the girders for proper placement and follow a Johnny Quest plot... Especially that one with the thing that was pure energy and they covered with paint so they could see it and baited a trap with a light bulb to catch it and electrocute it.

Erector Set

Sunday, February 8, 2009


47 Degrees on the Wing Bridge!

The Warmest Weather in Three Months

      The Wing Bridge is the little porch outside the second floor apartment at the Train Station. It's a great place to have "a sit" with a cup of tea or coffee and watch Main Street Danielson (Darwin's Leach Field) go by. It can be a good place to watch freight trains from the Providence Worcester Railroad and I check the outdoor thermometer there every morning. It's sunny in the winter and nicely shaded in the summer and can be a great place to pursue some of life's simple pleasures.





You're a mean one Mr. Grinch
Dr. Seuss'
How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

I can hardly remember Christmas without watching the Grinch. I've watched it every year since it first aired in 1966. Don't try and tell me you don't sing along with the song every time you hear it. You can find it on the Dr. Seuss website... Or here. It's part of my Christmas ritual.


More Unfinished Christmas Business
My mom has a copy of this book

      Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! started as a children's book in 1957. This was followed in 1966 by a popular television special also titled How the Grinch Stole Christmas! produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's MGM Animation/Visual Arts studio, and directed by Chuck Jones. I'm usually not a fan of made-up words in a song for the sake of fitting something else in: "pompitous" in Steve Miller's "The Joker"; "headmen" in Traffic's "40000 Headmen"; etc., But in the case of "super-naus" I'll make an exception... It was 1957 after all. 40,000 headmen speak of the pompitous of super-naus.



You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Author: Dr. Seuss

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.


You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.


You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.


I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.


You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Grinch.


Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crockodile.


You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.


The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."


You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Grinch.


Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.


You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.
You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.
Mr. Grinch.


You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool
sandwich
With arsenic sauce.

Copyright © 1957, Dr. Seuss.

Visit the The Dr. Seuss Web Page.



Squalid Splendor Squalid Splendor Recipes
Potato Egg Breakfast

Living in Squalid Splendor

     This creation can give you a delicious hot and filling breakfast for about five minutes of total preparation time and a cost of about a dollar if you shop carefully. You can make this while you're rushing around getting ready to go to work and reheat it later. If you have a dorm refrigerator, a tiny microwave, a bowl and a fork... You can make these easily and start living in Squalid Splendor. Get a pepper mill and buy whole black pepper corns at the dollar store. It will add a lot of quality to your life. Get the pepper mill at the dollar store as well.

Ingredients

> 1 medium all purpose (white) potato - $.25.
> 2 eggs - $.35.
> 2 slices process American cheese food like substance - $.40.
> Hot Sauce to taste. I like Trappey's Red Devil Sauce.
> Fresh ground black pepper.


Equipment

> Microwave.
> Microwave safe bowl.
> Fork.


How

> Wash the potato and put it in the bowl.
> Microwave on high for four minutes.
> Turn the potato over and microwave for four more minutes.
> Chop/crumble it up with the fork. Leave the skin alone.
> Dose the potato nicely with hot sauce (optional) and mix thoroughly.
> Break the two eggs into the bowl with the potato.
> Grind (or shake) in some pepper.
> Beat the potato/egg mixture carefully to mix thoroughly until smooth and slightly frothy.
> Microwave again for a minute.
> Mix up the potato egg mixture again with the fork until smooth (chunks OK).
> Microwave again for a minute and a half.
> Top with slices of "cheese".
> Microwave again for a minute or reheat later for two minutes.

     This recipe has added immeasurably to my quality of life recently. Especially during the bitter cold spells we've been having. You can eat one of these for lunch or dinner as well. Try one as a side dish with any roast or meatloaf. You can slide one out of the bowl with a fork; invert it on a baking dish, brush with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs before baking for ten minutes to warm through. Make mini ones in greased muffin tins in the oven; dip in beer batter or first in melted butter or beaten egg and then bread crumbs before deep frying.

Options *

> Add or top with crumbled bacon.
> Add sliced or chopped leftover breakfast sausage.
> Add chopped leftover cooked hamburgers or hotdogs.
> Top with grated parmesan cheese.
> Top with or mix in any shredded cheese you have.
> Dredge a third cheese slice in flour, chop finely and mix in with the egg for a richer quiche like consistency.
> Add some half and half, heavy cream or milk to the egg/potato mixture for a richer texture and flavor.
> Add leftover peas to the egg/potato mixture.

Boat/Camp Considerations.

This is perfect for boat or camp. Use a small (5"-6") cast iron frying pan for the purpose if you don't have a microwave.

* Did you think there was a recipe that I wouldn't suggest adding bacon to? You'd be wrong!


Monday, February 9, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 16, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


The Flying Phantom Jet

      The idea here was to fasten a plastic base to the ceiling with thumb tacks. This base had a swiveling spool of strong string on it. You unraveled as much string as you think you had room for and then hooked this Phantom jet model to it. It took four AA batteries I seem to remember. You switched it on and the propeller would cause it to slowly move in circles. Over a minute or two the circles would gradually increase in diameter as the plane gained speed. Before long it was humming around the room at a surprising speed limited in range by how much string you gave it. With fresh batteries it seemed like it would hurtle around the room with such speed that the string would be thirty degrees or even less from the ceiling. Soon afterwards it would hit you in the head or strike something in the room within it's arc or travel and spin out of control like Maverick and Goose in that scene in Top Gun. This thing was great.
      I remember the days when Phantoms flew out of Lakehurst Naval Air Station (site of the Hindenburg explosion) about fifteen miles west of Ocean Beach. You could usually count on at least one low level pass over the water along the beach during a weekend. By low... I mean about a hundred feet. Ah... The good ole sixties.


The Gemini space capsule model

      The space program was almost as significant as dinosaurs and oil companies in the 60s merchandise culture. I watched the Rendezvous of a U.S. and Soviet space capsule on a black and white Magnavox 19" diagonal TV. I got a Gemini capsule model the first Christmas we spent in the house on Christol Street in Metuchen, New Jersey. It seemed way beyond my first grade skill level at the time but was still the coolest thing ever. I distinctly remember looking at the paint schemes and wondering what color khaki was. Turns out it was tan... Those were some zany times those sixties.

The Gemini space capsule model.

      Green Ghost was the Must-Have game of 1965. I got one for Christmas in 1968. I don't remember the rules much but you spun the big ghost and it pointed at who moved next I think. Your playing pieces were these little green plastic ghosts that fit on the end of your fingers. The Tensor Light They glowed in the dark after a tanning session under a strong light. The glow-in-the-dark green pieces probably contained enough radium to X-ray a bug. The dozen little ghost pieces made it easy for everyone playing to have a hand full of green fingertips. The game was played in the dark and at least once during every game the sounds of choking and gasping for breath were heard due to the easy swallow-ability of the little ghosties. There was a haunted house and shipwreck and your "guy" could disappear through a hole in the board and come up any where on the board through another hole. All cool stuff to be sure.
      I still remember the "woga woga woga" noise made by the big green ghost spinner like it was yesterday. The Tensor light I had in my room was used to charge up the radium before and during the game when the board and pieces started to fade to dark. The Tensor light always smelled like melted clay due to the... ah... melted clay on the "shade", left over from facilitating a bad end to a small platoon of clay men that incurred its wrath. The "Shade" as it was called was aluminum and heated to hundreds of degrees in seconds. It was covered with black fuzzy felt-like stuff that gave you a split second chance to pull away before the resulting burn escalated from second to third degree. It sat on my desk next to the wooden duck on a wooden base with the giant metal paper clip behind the duck that was supposed to hold papers but was perpetually torturing the unfortunate clay soldiers that escaped the searing heat of the Tensor light. In 1997 Marx Toys produced a 30th Anniversary edition of the game. This box has "Find Kelly the Ghost... if you DARE" printed on it.


Hugo, the man of a thousand faces.

      Hugo was creepy... And not in a mini-me kind of way... In a serial killer kind of way. I'm not sure why. The idea was simple: A makeover doll for boys, like those heads that girls got to put makeup on and change the hair. Yeah it had scars and beards and all but there was something not quite right about it. After all... It was the sixties and we (boys) spent all of our spare time playing army and stuff like that. Hugo was to makeover dolls what Pretzel Jetzel was to Kenner Easy Bake Ovens. I wanted Pretzel Jetzel. Hugo I never warmed up to. You can see by the box he had glasses. What??? No night vision goggles a la Silence of the Lambs? "It rubs the lotion on itself."




Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Where, When, How, What, Why and Who is Darwin's Leach Field?

      Danielson, Connecticut is a special place. I bought a beautiful old building here four years ago with the intention of breaking into the local commercial real-estate market. I was aware of Danielson's reputation, but the time I spent here at my new building convinced me that the place had potential. The following will be an explanation, from my point of view, of what I think is the problem here. Don't get me wrong... I still think Danielson has potential but... After four years of observation I'm ready to offer a few theories about the place. I'm an anarchist at heart. I think calamity and chaos, turmoil and trouble and doom and disaster bring out the best and worst in people. That makes it easier to separate them into piles... And Danielson is quite the pile. I think the impending economic situation, incubated over the past eight years, will give rise to a post apocalyptic scenario here not unlike the movies The Omega Man, Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome, Road Warrior and Water World. I'm ready... In Darwin's Leach Field.


      Where is the problem?

      Danielson, Connecticut was a prosperous old mill town that went to seed in the thirties and never really recovered. It sits in a great location at the convergence of the Five Mile and Quinnebaug rivers and the junctions or routes 6 and 12 and 395. This should be an ideal location for commerce and commuting but Danielson never seems to live up to its potential. Maybe the physical divisions from all of the features mentioned above have fractured the town into areas similar to the tribal territories that make Iraq so difficult to unite.
      East is separated from west by numerous north/south physical barriers including Maple Street, the Five Mile River, Providence Worcester Railroad, Route 12 (Main Street) and Route 395. Each of these slices town into strips of different demographics and a unique physical character. North/South lines of demarcation are created by Route 6, Cottage Street and Wescott road. Each resulting partition seems virtually cutoff from any positive effects bleeding in from the partitions surrounding it. The negative effects seem to hop boundaries well, but it seems more likely that the real bad areas just cast a shadow over their neighbors and keep forward progress at bay, creating an overall impression of blight to people passing through that don't bother to look closely.
      The real shame is that most of Danielson has some outstanding qualities that should make is as desirable a place to live as Broad street and east to 395. I can step out of the door of the apartment in the Train Station I'm living in and in thirty seconds be standing in the middle of a Currier and Ives looking Main Street. I have convenience store a minute's walk away and George's Galley restaurant, a diner-like breakfast and lunch place at the southern end of Main Street. I can walk to Danielson Surplus a minute up the road for clothes and have a slice of Pizza at Pizza Pizzazz on the way back from the bank. Until just recently I used to be able to walk a minute in the other direction on Furnace Street and listen to live music and have a drink if I wanted at the Rain Desert. It's everything small town U.S.A. should be and more. We even have a new shopping center up the road with a Lowe's, Target, Super Stop & Shop, and a Michaels among others. The Ocean State Joblot and Salvation Army Store just down the road are other lower priced options. It might be possible to live comfortably here without ever leaving town if you were so inclined.
      Close proximity to some excellent nature areas is another benefit of living here. There's the falls behind the post office, the river walk and bike path... All minutes away. Ross Pond and the cliffs and Old Furnace State Park are just on the other side of route 6 is another option. There's Waureegan Reservoir (The Rez). A swim or a kayak paddle at the Rez is one of life's simple pleasures. Danielson would seem to have it all. This may not have been a very good analysis of where the problem is but its kind of hard to put your finger on.

Coming Next

      When is the problem?
      How is the problem?
      What is the problem?
      Why is the problem?
      Who is the problem?



Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Say Cheese

      These lightly styled shots are from a photo shoot I did about a year ago with a Canon 5D. It was my first with the 5D and one of my first food experiences. A few of that batch have appeared in ads and websites so far. Everybody says food is tough. Cheese is not bad... Pastry seems near impossible so far. I just shot more cheese last week... That's what reminded me. Just once I'd like to do swimsuit models. Even swimsuit models that smell like cheese!



Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Just in Case You Noticed

      There's a group of links to the Sandpiper Archives at the top of the page... Above the calendar. You can use these links to check out what was going on in the past. The current page (this one) usually has a month and a day worth of stuff on it but, due to me slacking off quite a bit leading up to Christmas, I have left more than usual here recently. The current page always has the most recent entries on top. I decided that the archive pages needed to be changed so they read in chronological order. It just makes more sense. The December 2008 page is done and the September 2008 page is done. The current calendar has been improved as well with notes that appear when you "mouse" over the days. This gives you a quick idea of what entries appear under that day.






Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 20, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


      Space was the final frontier. Star Trek was the show to watch. We were on our way to the moon. The time was right for the Ionization Nebulizer. It was just a plant mister with a big plastic ray gun around it but... It was pretty cool. There were other things to go with it as well.
      There were space boots: Big plastic blue things that looked like the bottom part of a hovercraft with a ski-binding-like way of strapping them to your feet. They had vents in back so air would rush in and out of them as you walked giving you an odd walking-on-the-moon kind of gait. You sounded like Dart Vader hyperventilating as you walked. You could walk through wet grass and deep puddles but they tended to suck in water if you were in too deep. Each boot would weigh 25 pounds in no time fording a deep puddle so you had to be careful.
      There was a helmet as well. It had a transparent yellow plastic dome and not enough air vents. It tended to fog up quickly and heated up to a stifling temperature in seconds in the sun. Everything smelled like plastic for the rest of the day if you spent even a few minutes wearing it. It' not easy boldly going where no man has gone before.

The Ionization (plant mister) Nebulizer

Jarts... Game of death!!!

      Could there be anything more representative of dangerous products from the sixties than Jarts? I think not. It's not the toy/game itself, but the inevitable way in which it is used. Even without intentional misuse, just a small percentage error during normal "play" and someone was looking at a potentially debilitating injury. The idea was a twist on the game of horseshoes... Only with small harpoons. Each "Jart" was about 18 inches long and ended in a slightly blunted three eighths of an inch diameter metal point about three or four inches long. To make it easier to throw, an eight or ten ounce steel weight was built into the shaft about four inches back from the point. This served as a stop to keep the "Jart" from passing through your skull completely.
      Each player, or team in case you wanted to kill the whole family at one time, had a plastic ring on the ground in front of them. The other team would take turns hurtling their harpoons at the ring in front of the other team. A gust of wind or slight miscalculation and one of your opponents had their knee cap pierced like a toothpick though a cocktail onion. Just a couple of observations about the box in the picture. One: "The Missile Game". MISSILE Game!!! Yep... Missiles are fun for the whole family. Just ask Londoners or Iraqis. Two: Notice the dad rubbing his head from a recent impact. Three: Notice the holes in the box. Four: Notice the "Missile" flying straight at mom. They were kind of cool though. I still have a scar.


Johnny Lightning

      Johnny Quest, Johnny Carson, Johnny Astro and now Johnny Lightning. Wasn't Señor Wences' hand "puppet" Johnny as well? The sixties were a good time to be Johnny. Any way... Johnny Lightning was a race track with two lanes for cars and steeply banked hairpin turns at each end. I think they were Hot Wheels or similar cars. I started with Match Box cars and by time my brother was into it Hot Wheels were the order of the day four years later. As the car came around the track you flicked the lever for your car to boost it around the track again at warp speed. With a little practice you could barely see the cars they moved so fast. If you miscalculated the car would slam to a stop in the "pit area" when it hit the "booster" or whatever it was called. Matchbox cars made an odd scraping sound going around the track a tenth of the speed of Hot Wheels and tended to fly off of the track so this game lead to an early demise for many Matchbox cars that I wish I had now. Some of the rest were melted down to make anchors and such for cardboard ship models. The Galleon still has a load of recast Matchbox ballast 36 years after it first sailed the pond in Roosevelt Park.


Johnny Astro

      Johnny Astro was one of my favorite presents ever. Johnny Astro To the uninitiated it might seem like ridiculous game that didn't, even couldn't, work. You would be wrong if you found yourself in that group. Even before the "modifications" this was a winner. You blew up a balloon and fastened a small plastic "gondola" to the bottom of it. After putting about a dozen D-cells in Johnny, you used the throttle lever to control the speed of the fan in the turbo-prop-looking thing. You used the joy stick to aim the blast of air from the fan at the balloon. The balloon would actually fly around the room... And was controllable. What isn't in the pictures here is the two round pizza sized targets you cold land the balloon on. One was the moon with great craters and rocks and such. The other was mars... and looked like a pizza big-time. This thing was the best except that it ate batteries like nobody's business.
      That is where my uncle Bill came to the rescue. He was in the navy at the time and was a chief electrician on the Skipjack nuclear fast attack sub if I remember correctly. As if that wasn't cool enough, he also had a habit of "modifying" toys for greater "performance" and as luck would have it... Was home on leave the Christmas Johnny Astro showed up. A little soldering and a few parts out of the ever present electrician's toolbox and the fan unit was modified to plug into a train transformer providing almost unlimited perpetual power. It also made it as dangerous as a Cuisinart food processor without the top on but it was the sixties and that didn't matter. I remember keeping my fingers out of the fan after it drew first blood. You could pin the balloon to the ceiling in any far corner of the room with the new power and it was great for teasing the cat as well.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Death of a Pointsettia

I know they all die... It just seems a shame.

      Pointsettias are an enjoyable part of the Christmas holiday. I enjoy having them but... Like cut Christmas trees they all seem to come to a bad end. Rachael "Fists of Fury" Keough (Used to be Paul) always hooks me up with a beauty every year. 2007s was no exception. Kelly took very good care of it at the beach until the summer renters came and it seemed to enjoy its life at the Train Station until two weeks ago. I forgot about it being close to the window in the unheated apartment upstairs when the temperatures plunged below zero for days on end. By time I realized, the poor thing was toast. I feel really bad about it. The cold snap may have done in the last remains of a yucca I bought in Vermont in 1979. I'd hate to lose that one after 30 years. The pointsettia was bad enough after one year.



Friday, February 13, 2009


McFarty's Shamrock "McFarty's" Takes An Early Lead McFarty's Shamrock
in the Name The Night Club contest.

Don't be tardy Marty...
Party hearty with McFarty!!!


Recognize the doorman?

Please Note: This nightclub name contest is not associated or affiliated in any way with The Argyle Rhinoceros at 49 Cottage Street in Danielson, Connecticut. That club already has a great name and local authorities have been assured it is NOT a gay club. Not that there's anything wrong with that -{Seinfeld}, Jerry Seinfeld.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's day



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 21, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


Lectron

      Lectron was one of those educational toys that was still cool. The pieces were small electronic components mounted in plastic blocks that had magnets to connect them together and stick them to the metal project board. There was a power supply and every component had the proper schematic symbol on the top surface. It was a brilliant idea and actually worked well. I think I still have some of the pieces lying around. I seem to remember one fall afternoon down the beach spending time building a Morse code transmitter with my friend Ed Green and we tried sending S.O.S. messages and ran up the beach in the dark to see if anyone responded.


Lego

      What can I say about Lego other than it was and always will be the best. I remember the first set I ever got. It was one of those small square opaque plastic bins with a few simple pieces and some wheels. I remember snapping together the first few bricks in the living room on High Street, sitting on the couch just to the left of the door that lead to the kitchen. The first Lego was a gift from my great grandmother Sloat... My grandfather's mother. It had a profound impact on my life. The Lego collection was built over time a set at a time. Blue doors from the truck kits, Gears and platform pieces and the most highly coveted of all: The motor pack. Lego
      Motor packs were blue (see below) and had a battery pack that held three C-batteries. There were two types and I had one of each. The first one had wheels with a flat on the shaft that mated with a corresponding flat on the inside of the motor pack. This gave a direct connection between the wheel and motor and gave the resulting vehicle the ability to jump like a Willys in four wheel drive. Anything I built, from a printing press to a turbine to a Huggamajigger worked better with the old moor pack. The newer ones relied on a friction fit coupling that allowed the wheels to spin in their sockets under even the slightest load. It sucked. Everything else about Lego was as close to perfect as a present could be.


Lego

Lincoln Logs 2       Lincoln Logs were the Lego of the fifties. Lincoln Logs 3 They were actually invented in 1916 by one of Frank Lloyd Wright's sons. The first time I saw them was in my friend Jim Burns' basement on Rose Street just around the corner. Lincoln Logs 4 They came in a big cardstock barrel with a metal lid like Tinker Toys. Bonanza was one of my favorite shows on TV and I wanted to build a Ponderosa house with Lincoln Logs from the first second I saw them. Lincoln Logs 5 Like most "sets" of this nature, you never had enough pieces to build the best stuff in the instruction booklet. I liked the older sets with the green wood roof pieces. I hope the wood ones are still available. It would be a shame if they're not.


Lite Brite

      My brother got one of these for Christmas when I was eight or nine maybe. I always wished I had received one. They were fun to do and looked great at night when the lights were off. You put a black piece of paper behind the front face and a letter corresponding to what color peg you poked through the paper showed in the hole. When you poked the colored plastic peg though the paper, it lit up brightly... Hence the name. They also had plain black paper sheet so you could make your own designs. It was a great idea, cool thing to play with, and had literally hundreds of small pieces to swallow.


Sunday, February 15, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 23, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


Lost in Spce Game

      Lost in space was the first TV program I ever remember bargaining to watch. It was 1965 and I was four years old when it first aired in black and white. It was on at 8:00 or 8:30 pm Sunday nights If I remember my TV. Whenever it was it was on when I was supposed to go to bed and I remember begging to watch the first one and each episode afterwards. The first episode had the guy in the carrot suit that needed "moisture" and you could see his knee sticking out of the plaster of the costume. It was still a great show and I wanted the game but never got one. I never knew anyone that had one either. I can remember pretending to be in the Chariot when we went to the store in my mom's '64 four-door Chevelle and I always wanted one of those as well. Never got one. I guess there's always EBay. I'd even wrap it for myself to open on Christmas. "Warning Will Robinson!!!"


They were nice... I don't know about MAGIC.

      Magic rocks were some sort of chemicals, no doubt toxic, that you mixed with water and allowed to form crystals of all kinds of bright colors. They worked pretty quickly and produced a glass full of day glow stalagmites. That was about it.


Matchbox Cars

      Matchbox cars were a rite of passage in the sixties. Everyone seemed to have at least some. I think I remember buying them for 35 or 50 cents after selecting the right one from the rotating display unit on the counter in Metuchen Center, the local hobby shop, on Main Street in Metuchen, New Jersey. They were very nice people. There was a woman with a fake arm working there as well. She had a lot of freckles. Any way... I had the cattle trailer and the Greyhound bus and the Combine Harvester and all sorts of other ones. The Unimog with its load of yellow plastic pipes was my favorite. I wish I hadn't melted them all down to make anchors and ballast for ship models.


Microscope

      Microscopes were always fun. They never worked as well as they might have but it was still fun looking at bug guts and playing Andromeda Strain. The slide covers were good for making windows in model buildings and boats. The heat from the plug-in light always cooked whatever was alive in the water I brought back from the stream that ran along the Reading Railroad tracks between my house on Christol Street and the Grove Avenue bridge by the High School. We used to catch salamanders under the rocks beneath the bridge. The underside of the bridge was charred and dripping with creosote from when some kids set it on fire, supposedly in the fifties. The plug-in light was too hot. The mirror was never bright enough so the whole thing was rather disappointing.


That’s Mr. Potato Head to you!

      Mr. Potato Head was originally designed to be used with real potatoes. Mine had the plastic potato but mentioned real potatoes. I guess maybe too many kids were maimed by the real potatoes. I remember Frankie Frank and wanting to use real hotdogs to make him. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy ever advertised on TV. He hit the streets in 1952. Don Rickles was a perfect voice to use for Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story and Toy Story II. Mr. Potato Head is like Etch-A-Sketchs and erector sets and Lincoln Logs. He's a classic. He's Mr. Potato Head.


Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Mysterion... The ultimate custome hotrod!

      The Mysterion was a custom hotrod show car built by Ed Roth in 1963 or 64. I remember being amazed when I tore off the wrapping paper to reveal the model. It was the coolest car ever I thought... And still do. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was a design and marketing genius in a grunge-biker-beatnik package. He was crazy-weird ahead of his time and was just as comfortable behind a drawing table as he was behind a cutting torch. For all of his style and cutting edge ideas, he seemed to turn into his own worst enemy as the sixties turned into the seventies and never turned into the mogul of beatnik chic that I expected him to.
      I've built the model twice. Once in the mid sixties and again in the mid eighties. The sixties kit had a plastic packet of silvery fuzz that you sprinkled on the interior section after you painted it black so it looked like the fuzzy interior of the original car. The newer kit didn't have the bag of fuzz. I was disappointed. The original instructions were narrated by Ratfink, one of Roth's cartoon characters, and were loaded with all kinds of beatnik lingo if I remember correctly. One of the strongest mental images I have is of Ed Roth, in the form of the giant floating head on the box, being the devil... or at least what the devil might have looked like. I was never religious certainly but he did seem a little demonic. Great car! Great Model! Great present!


The goofy game for dopey doctors.

      The goofy game for dopey doctors, as it was called on the commercials, never lived up to expectations. If you screwed up all it did was buzz. I mean... It was the sixties. It should have administered a strong electric shock or at least fired a dart at your eye or something. It was just never much fun.


Feel the mystical power of the universe at your finger tips.

      Ouija Boards were great. The mystical powers of the universe were never demonstrated more effectively than when a Ouija "Wee Gee" board was answering a question, as the tips of our fingers turned white and flattened under the strain of wrestling out an offensive name for one of the other participants. Even with the lights off and a candle burning this was still ridiculous. Bob Green and I spend days rigging a séance we were planning on having with a Ouija board and the rest of the group of beach friends. There was going to be a candle that blew out with a small bellows made out of a doorknob cover and a porch door that opened with fishing line. Ooh scary!


Monday, February 16, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Remember Wordless Workshop in Popular Science Magazine?
This is the Darwin's Leach Field Version.



We've All Heard What Davey Says About Spinning Chicken Behind his Back
And Any One Who Knows Spinning Chicken Knows It's All True But...
Does Davey Know What Spinning Chicken Says About HIM Behind His Back ?
I Bet Not!     I Wonder If That's True?






Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Where, When, How, What, Why and Who is Darwin's Leach Field?

      Danielson, Connecticut is a special place. I bought a beautiful old building here four years ago with the intention of breaking into the local commercial real-estate market. I was aware of Danielson's reputation, but the time I spent here at my new building convinced me that the place had potential. The following will be an explanation, from my point of view, of what I think is the problem here. Don't get me wrong... I still think Danielson has potential but... After four years of observation I'm ready to offer a few theories about the place. I'm an anarchist at heart. I think calamity and chaos, turmoil and trouble and doom and disaster bring out the best and worst in people. That makes it easier to separate them into piles... And Danielson is quite the pile. I think the impending economic situation, incubated over the past eight years, will give rise to a post apocalyptic scenario here not unlike the movies The Omega Man, Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome, Road Warrior and Water World. I'm ready... In Darwin's Leach Field.


      Where is the problem?

      Danielson, Connecticut was a prosperous old mill town that went to seed in the thirties and never really recovered. It sits in a great location at the convergence of the Five Mile and Quinnebaug rivers and the junctions or routes 6 and 12 and 395. This should be an ideal location for commerce and commuting but Danielson never seems to live up to its potential. Maybe the physical divisions from all of the features mentioned above have fractured the town into areas similar to the tribal territories that make Iraq so difficult to unite.
      East is separated from west by numerous north/south physical barriers including Maple Street, the Five Mile River, Providence Worcester Railroad, Route 12 (Main Street) and Route 395. Each of these slices town into strips of different demographics and a unique physical character. North/South lines of demarcation are created by Route 6, Cottage Street and Wescott road. Each resulting partition seems virtually cutoff from any positive effects bleeding in from the partitions surrounding it. The negative effects seem to hop boundaries well, but it seems more likely that the real bad areas just cast a shadow over their neighbors and keep forward progress at bay, creating an overall impression of blight to people passing through that don't bother to look closely.
      The real shame is that most of Danielson has some outstanding qualities that should make is as desirable a place to live as Broad street and east to 395. I can step out of the door of the apartment in the Train Station I'm living in and in thirty seconds be standing in the middle of a Currier and Ives looking Main Street. I have convenience store a minute's walk away and George's Galley restaurant, a diner-like breakfast and lunch place at the southern end of Main Street. I can walk to Danielson Surplus a minute up the road for clothes and have a slice of Pizza at Pizza Pizzazz on the way back from the bank. Until just recently I used to be able to walk a minute in the other direction on Furnace Street and listen to live music and have a drink if I wanted at the Rain Desert. It's everything small town U.S.A. should be and more. We even have a new shopping center up the road with a Lowe's, Target, Super Stop & Shop, and a Michaels among others. The Ocean State Joblot and Salvation Army Store just down the road are other lower priced options. It might be possible to live comfortably here without ever leaving town if you were so inclined.
      Close proximity to some excellent nature areas is another benefit of living here. There's the falls behind the post office, the river walk and bike path... All minutes away. Ross Pond and the cliffs and Old Furnace State Park are just on the other side of route 6 is another option. There's Waureegan Reservoir (The Rez). A swim or a kayak paddle at the Rez is one of life's simple pleasures. Danielson would seem to have it all. This may not have been a very good analysis of where the problem is but its kind of hard to put your finger on.

      When is the problem?

      The problem is now and is only going to get worse... But it didn't just start. The roots of the problem may go back to the thirties when many of the companies operating mills in the area seemed to have moved their businesses south to take advantage of less expensive labor. This may have resulted from mill workers unionizing. Whatever the cause, the exodus seems to have been dramatic leaving huge unemployment problems. The infrastructure of the area remained largely undeveloped as well leaving the new businesses that filled the vacant mills struggling. Some believe that the social blight that casts a cloud over Danielson is the result of subsidized housing programs in the sixties, seventies and eighties... Giving Danielson a disproportionately large population of less than fully productive residents. Others place the blame squarely on Arthur Veilleux, a real-estate investor that may have owned every building in town at one time over his extremely long active career and is claimed to be responsible for building and or owninghundreds and hundreds of subsidized housing units in town. It's hard to picture one person and their business activities being responsible for the problem so I'm sure there are numerous factors that have contributed to the decline in social structure that have brought us to where we are now. The increasing number of vacant storefronts and foreclosed houses in town may contribute to an accelerating rate of decay in the near future and beyond.

Coming Next

      How is the problem?
      What is the problem?
      Why is the problem?
      Who is the problem?



Tuesday, February 17, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 26, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


The Play-Doh Fun Factory

      What a great idea and what a great toy! Play-Doh was good enough by itself and then... There was the fun factory. You would have to be from another planet not to know about the FF. Put some Play-Doh in the hopper, press the handle down and extrude some cool shapes out of Play-Doh. I want to get one and use it to make mashed potato I-beams for some Iron Chef kind of recipe with the overly pretentious plating they tend to do to distract you from the tiny portions. How about beaver tail medallions pan seared with butterfly wings and caramelized slug trails served on potato and abalone I-beams? Does it come with fries?


The Presidents of the United States of America. No... Not the band that did that Peaches song.

      This would seem to be a lame kind of present but... It was a present from my grandparents and so was cool by default. I don't know why I loved it so much but I did. Nixon had just been elected so It came with him. I don't remember having the columns but the Styrofoam bleachers they stand on had a place of honor on the maple bureau that was my mother's when she was young and my Dad stole and told everyone my brother left in an apartment somewhere. The guys in the back row would fall down behind frequently and turn up during the occasional room cleaning covered in lint and dust and looking like little presidential Sasquatches until they were cleaned off. For whatever reason I had enough respect for them never to use them for any sort of target practice. You can see why that might have been tempting can't you? I mean... With them just standing there looking distinguished and all.


   Pretzel Jetzel   
Good ole Pretzel Jetzel
The Whole Magilla

Click here for a larger picture of Pretzil Jetzil
Union Carbide plant?

Click here for a larger version of Picture 02

Nope... Pretzel Jetzel!!!

Click here for a larger version of Picture 03

Maybe heez one of Zsa Zsa's ex huzbandz no?

Click here for a larger version of Picture 04

Even the box lies.

Click here for a larger version of Picture 05

Click here for a larger version of Picture 06

Click here for a larger version of Picture 07

Look at them stacking up!

Click here for a larger version of Picture 08

Click here for a larger version of Picture 09

It was the Jet Age all right.

Cynicism Born of Disillusionment

At Least You Can Believe Everything You Hear On TV Now

     One of my earliest "food" memories is of eating pretzels at my Grandmothers house in Woodbridge, New Jersey. They came out of a Mr. Salty tin stored in the unheated pantry off the kitchen and they were cold, but they were good. Mr. Salty seemed to be dressed like a sailor, and they were served with ginger ale in a brown plastic glass with no ice. The bubbles formed a frothy little geyser in the center of the glass and the whole moment is preserved in my mind to this day. Boy did I like pretzels.

     I always remember being fascinated with cooking. It was like playing with food... only you were allowed to do it. Girls had Kenner Easy Bake Ovens to cook with but boys were discouraged from participating. We wouldn't want them turning out like Little Richard or Liberace now would we... But this was the Jet Age and even boys should be cooking with light.

     Back then you could advertise automobiles on TV with the actors smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor without wearing their seat belts and there wasn't as much of a hint of truth in advertising laws. Enter Pretzel Jetzel! When I first saw it I couldn't believe anything could be so wonderful. A factory... I could have my own pretzel-making factory. I could make enough delicious mouth watering pretzels for me and everyone else for that matter. I could be a pretzel-making industrialist Pretzelmeister with a cheesy Bavarian accent.
All I needed was... Pretzel Jetzel!!!

     It was the first thing I ever remember wanting for Christmas. I saw commercials for it every interminable day until Christmas. It seemed like a lot to ask for... this massive orange industrial facility belching steam and seething with ductwork and pretzel making power. I was sure there wouldn't be enough room in the house for it. I could imagine feeling the ground shake as it huffed out pretzels like machine gun bullets. It was going to be wonderful... if only I could get Pretzel Jetzel for Christmas.

     The first thing that seemed wrong when I came downstairs to open my presents was that there wasn't a box big enough to hold a present as substantial as a pretzel factory. There was a good-sized box under the tree, but not what I expected. Maybe it was just one of the conveyor motors... and the rest was elsewhere. I remember feeling the first pangs of disappointment even before I opened the box. I ripped into the wrapping paper and refused to look at what I knew was the truth until the paper was nearly all off. There it was. The mighty pretzel factory. The picture on the box even made it look lame. The anger over being "had" tempered what excitement I could muster. The moment would have been saved if we could have plugged it in and started it up right away to have it fill a basket with crispy delicious pretzels, but it took what seemed like hours of setup time, what with putting in the light bulb (not included) and all. Mixing the small batch of batter took minutes. Baking the first crispy delicious pretzel took forever. The light bulb seemed to heat the whole thing to a dangerous temperature, to the point where burning plastic was the predominant smell in the kitchen. After the better part of an hour the pretzel had dried, cracked and pulled away from the side of the mold and looked like dried snot. It still had to be dug out of the mold with a knife and tasted like mucilage. The disappointment was overwhelming. The anger was directed mostly at myself. I remember feeling ashamed I had been so gullible. Never Again! Never!!!

     I like seeing things for myself now. I don't trust what I'm told blindly. So when I heard that Darter Snails were in danger... I needed to see for myself. I heard there was a place where you could see them dead and dying in their natural habitat, so I was ready to go to the National Park where the trouble was. Because of the coal smoke obscuring their vision, the giant Sequoia the lumberjacks were felling there hit an oil drilling rig which fell on a Darter Snail that had died from feeding on a spotted owl, covered with oil, caught in a leg-hold trap because people making over two-hundred thousand dollars a year are paying too much tax on dividend income. The evidence I sought was lost, but all in the name of National security.

Pretzel Mr. President?

Rock Tumbler

      Patience was required for this one, even more so than crystal growing or magic rocks, but the wait was well worth it. I remember the little machine humming away in the basement for what seemed like months before giving up its load of beautifully polished stones. You put the rough stones in the barrel with water and some sort of polishing compound and let it tumble forever. I seem to remember only doing one load of rocks but the treasure trove of gems made for great pretending-to-steal-treasure-from-the-art-museum games. If I was older than nine or ten I might have used it more but maybe not. I wish I had one now. I don't know if I could resist the urge to try and make sea glass with it.


They'll knock you block off

      The only one of these I ever got to play with belonged to Diane or Jimmy Hiburger... family friends. I always wanted one but never got one. I don't think it was because it was too violent. I mean, we got army riffles and such all the time. I think a TV show about gladiator type battles with construction equipment might attract a large audience. Picture backhoe fights! They would need to be remote control so nobody got killed but the combatants could certainly be "wounded" and "bleed" hydraulic fluid, fuel or coolant. No matter what this was a great game and it was fun to knock someone's block off.


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
(or at least four)



Bubbles Can Make Spinning Chicken Act Like A Fool
At The Drop Of A Hat



Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

The Darwin's Leach Field Night Club Name Contest!!!

Join the fun and Vote for your favorite name


or

Submit your own suggestion!

There's dozens already BUT... Yours could be the Winner!!!


Alz
Bogart's
The Bogey Man
Boof's
Booferz
Boogeez
Boogerz
Boonit's
Booperz
The Brain Desert
Bubbles
Bubbles in the Tub
Cheaterz
Another great one.
Chapter 11
Pretty obvious... But every submission counts.
The Christmas Club
C. Niles McNasty
I can see a neon crawfish and a Cajun theme for this one
Cray Zee's
Dependz
Dick 'n' Chicken
Dimentia
Fartalotta's
The Gas Light
Another three in one email.
Get Any On Ya?
Ginderz
Gumz
This one has an African safari kind of sound to it.
The Incontinent Club
Liarz
Mark's
McFarty's
McNasty's
McStalker's
McStinky's
Onya's
Onyaz
Oz Qui Pey
Peppe Le Pew's
The Pew
Pick-A-Winner
Pickerz
Rip Van Winkle's
Ripalotta's
Ripperz
Rips
Shopalotta's
Señor Dimentia
Skid Mark's
Skidz
Sir Fartsalot
Smelleez
The Snot Locker
Spendalotta's
Spinnerz
The Spinning Chicken
Stalkalotta's
Stalkerz
Stealerz
Stinkeez
Stinkerz
Streakerz
Streaks
Strokerz
Just look around the restaurant. These two wrote themselves.
Thanks for the entry!

Stuffeez
Stufferz
Just plain funny!
The Turd Burgler
Wiperz

Vote For Your Favorite Now!!!

Get in on the fun!

Vote Here!!!

Please Note: This nightclub name contest is not associated or affiliated in any way with The Argyle Rhinoceros at 49 Cottage Street in Danielson, Connecticut. That club already has a great name and local authorities have been assured it is NOT a gay club. Not that there's anything wrong with that -{Seinfeld}, Jerry Seinfeld.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Death of a Christmas Tree

The Worst Part of Christmas Vacation

      I never liked going to school. After about third grade or so I always felt I learned more on my own. Consequently, summer vacation and Christmas vacations were extremely important. Christmas was the longest time away from school besides summer. It was ten days or thereabouts to have fun and play with my stuff. The vacation seemed infinite at the beginning of the first day off but quickly became finite as the days ticked by. The best ones were the ones where Christmas fell on the first few days off. Those always seemed longer.
      Metuchen is a small town and we never had school buses. You could me two miles from the High School because it was in a far corner of town, but the three grammar schools were spread around a little more evenly and the middle school, which was the old High school, was right in the middle of town. So we walked to school if we didn't get a ride.
      Going back to school when vacation ended was always bad enough. What made it worse were all the Christmas tree casualties laying dead in the gutter with their remaining strands of tinsel shimmering in the breeze. They always looked so sad and abandoned. They would show up every garbage day for weeks after Christmas. Usually the last one was well into February. This was one of the reasons I started buying live Christmas trees to plant after Christmas rather than throw in a gutter some where. More About that soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


We Usually Find Shells

Be Vewy Vewy Qwiet

      Like a trip to the Rez , a trip to Island Beach State Park is always interesting. We see foxes and ospreys and find all kinds of intersting things alive and dead. We were walking along the edge of the water in the winter anchorage on the bay side. We walked out on the first dock and there it was in about a foot of water off the end of the dock. I fished it out with a branch off of a tree and we turned it over to the park police at the gate house at the entrance to the park. One was reported missing by a duck hunter and the park police officers were hoping that this was the gun. If not, they had another issue on their hands. Usually we just find shells.

A Beach Fire
Some unfinished Business

      A trip to the Beach always seems to have infinite possibilities. While there, a trip to Island Beach State Park seems to step it up a notch... Like when we found the Shotgun that afternoon at the park. The Connecticut version of the park is the Rez... A.K.A. Wauregan Reservoir. An event of similar magnitude would be finding and rescuing Crabby at the Rez.
      In any case... The reason for the fire tonight was to celebrate an interesting day at the park. The shotgun was just part of the reason. We also collected about five or six pounds of fresh mussels from the banks of the island that border the clamming area. The mussels grow in the nastiest blackest mud well above the water level but they are always sweet and plump and tasty and never the slightest bit gritty. They are a special treat during times when summer and clamming are months away and an attitude adjustment is necessary. We had a fine mussels Marinara before heading up the beach in the cold and wind to build the fire.



Friday, February 20, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 28, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


      The Saturn V rocket was an amazing vehicle. It produced something like seven and half million pounds of thrust on takeoff and its three stages were used to propel a small collection of vehicles to the moon and back. I remember watching the first moon landing on a Magnavox black and white TV sitting on top of the refrigerator at the beach. The picture was grainy and there was plenty of white noise but it was 1969 and TV wasn't a big deal at the beach back then. That year for Christmas I got the Saturn V rocket model... The biggest most amazing model ever. It stood over four feet tall and was like building five different models in one. You could even separate the stages to have a bunch of different models depending on how you wanted to display it. I still have the first stage engine in a box of model parts. The rest was thrown out in a cellar cleanup while I was at school.

The Saturn V Rocket... Greatest space vehicle to date.

The Savannah... First nuclear powered merchant ship.

      The Savannah is in my opinion one of the most beautiful ships launched since the White Star Line's Big Three. My first encounter with the ship was seeing either a finished model or the box containing the unbuilt model while staying in my Uncle Bills old room in my grandparents' house in Woodbridge, New Jersey. I can't remember if the model was build or not and I can't remember if I ended up building that one or one of my own. I think I still have the reactor containment vessel cover piece in one of my parts boxes. I'd love a chance to build another of these some day. Such a beautiful ship. I here someone is trying to restore and preserve her in California. I do hope that's the case.


The Schwinn Continental. The Toyota Tacoma of bicycles.

      The Schwinn Continental was the Toyota Tacoma of the late sixties and early seventies. It was almost indestructible and infinitely reliable. I remember looking down the lineup of the Metuchen bike shop on Main Street. That was back in the day when the pet shop, hobby shop, hardware store, shoe store and bike shop were all on Main Street. The bikes were arranged by increasing price with the varsity down at the far end and the Paramount closest to the door. It was a direct drive track bike and would be less suited for the road than using a dragster to commute to work but... It was the best (most expensive) bike Schwinn made or at least the top of the heap at the Metutchen Bike Shop. The way they had the bikes arranged just drew you towards the Paramount. But reality was reality even in 1972 and I ended up with a Continental. One step up from a Varsity was good enough for me. I rode it for quite a few years until I got my Sports Tour... Which I still have 33 years later.


Silly Sand

      Lame Sand is more like it. This looked like a great idea. Anyone who has ever made a drip sand castle knows the concept. The sand was colored and it seemed like it would be like a little beach in the middle of winter. It wasn't


How are things on the planet surface?

      These were space boots: Big plastic blue things that looked like the bottom part of a hovercraft with a ski-binding-like way of strapping them to your feet. They had vents in back so air would rush in and out of them as you walked giving you an odd walking-on-the-moon kind of gait. You sounded like Dart Vader hyperventilating as you walked. You could walk through wet grass and deep puddles but they tended to suck in water if you were in too deep. Each boot would weigh 25 pounds in no time fording a deep puddle so you had to be careful.
      There was a helmet as well. It had a transparent yellow plastic dome and not enough air vents. It tended to fog up quickly and heated up to a stifling temperature in seconds in the sun. Everything smelled like plastic for the rest of the day if you spent even a few minutes wearing it. It' not easy boldly going where no man has gone before.


Saturday, February 21, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Wordless (Worthless) Workshop


How Long Will It Take Rich Weasel To Screw
Spinning Chicken Out Of Every Last Cent ???

The best part is... even if it was a million dollars, in a week or two he would still smell like cat urine and need to steal money for cigarettes. I've never seen anyone steal more money and have nothing to show for it. There's only one person that's a bigger idiot with money. See if you can guess who. Who will win this clash of titans? Who will lose? Doesn't matter... they're all losers! Maybe Rich Weasel will lose his dad's building to Spinning Chicken. I bet that's what Spinning Chicken's plan is if I know my Spinning Chickens. I bet they're all stupid enough to trust each other. That's just too funny for words.


How Much More Money Will Bubbles Get Her Hands On???


How Long Until All Three Turn On Davey ???

They've Already Started Trash Talking Him...
It's Only A Matter Of Time


Stay Tuned For More... Here In Darwin's Leach Field




Sunday, February 22, 2009



One-Legged Sandpiper Update

Changes for the Better

The One-Legged Sandpiper

      As of 10:17 am today, www.oneleggedsandpiper.com is a valid URL. There were so many issues with the dreaded hyphen that it seemed a reasonable thing to do. If you're reading this you have gotten over the two "G"s hurdle and are probably convinced that I was either wrong or lying about the hyphen because "I didn't need to put the hyphen in after all!" but look in your browsers address bar and notice that it's there. The one without just points to the one with. So we may be one step closer to answering that eternal question:

Vere is dat Sond Peeper eh?

It's been here all along... right where I left it.



Saturday, February 21, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Wordless (Worthless) Workshop


How Long Will It Take Rich Weasel To Screw
Spinning Chicken Out Of Every Last Cent ???

The best part is... even if it was a million dollars, in a week or two he would still smell like cat urine and need to steal money for cigarettes. I've never seen anyone steal more money and have nothing to show for it. There's only one person that's a bigger idiot with money. See if you can guess who. Who will win this clash of titans? Who will lose? Doesn't matter... they're all losers! Maybe Rich Weasel will lose his dad's building to Spinning Chicken. I bet that's what Spinning Chicken's plan is if I know my Spinning Chickens. I bet they're all stupid enough to trust each other. That's just too funny for words.


How Much More Money Will Bubbles Get Her Hands On???


How Long Until All Three Turn On Davey ???

They've Already Started Trash Talking Him...
It's Only A Matter Of Time


Stay Tuned For More... Here In Darwin's Leach Field




Monday, February 23, 2009


Stories and rumors from Danielson, Connecticut

Where, When, How, What, Why and Who is Darwin's Leach Field?

      Danielson, Connecticut is a special place. I bought a beautiful old building here four years ago with the intention of breaking into the local commercial real-estate market. I was aware of Danielson's reputation, but the time I spent here at my new building convinced me that the place had potential. The following will be an explanation, from my point of view, of what I think is the problem here. Don't get me wrong... I still think Danielson has potential but... After four years of observation I'm ready to offer a few theories about the place. I'm an anarchist at heart. I think calamity and chaos, turmoil and trouble and doom and disaster bring out the best and worst in people. That makes it easier to separate them into piles... And Danielson is quite the pile. I think the impending economic situation, incubated over the past eight years, will give rise to a post apocalyptic scenario here not unlike the movies The Omega Man, Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome, Road Warrior and Water World. I'm ready... In Darwin's Leach Field.


      Where is the problem?

      Danielson, Connecticut was a prosperous old mill town that went to seed in the thirties and never really recovered. It sits in a great location at the convergence of the Five Mile and Quinnebaug rivers and the junctions or routes 6 and 12 and 395. This should be an ideal location for commerce and commuting but Danielson never seems to live up to its potential. Maybe the physical divisions from all of the features mentioned above have fractured the town into areas similar to the tribal territories that make Iraq so difficult to unite.
      East is separated from west by numerous north/south physical barriers including Maple Street, the Five Mile River, Providence Worcester Railroad, Route 12 (Main Street) and Route 395. Each of these slices town into strips of different demographics and a unique physical character. North/South lines of demarcation are created by Route 6, Cottage Street and Wescott road. Each resulting partition seems virtually cutoff from any positive effects bleeding in from the partitions surrounding it. The negative effects seem to hop boundaries well, but it seems more likely that the real bad areas just cast a shadow over their neighbors and keep forward progress at bay, creating an overall impression of blight to people passing through that don't bother to look closely.
      The real shame is that most of Danielson has some outstanding qualities that should make is as desirable a place to live as Broad street and east to 395. I can step out of the door of the apartment in the Train Station I'm living in and in thirty seconds be standing in the middle of a Currier and Ives looking Main Street. I have convenience store a minute's walk away and George's Galley restaurant, a diner-like breakfast and lunch place at the southern end of Main Street. I can walk to Danielson Surplus a minute up the road for clothes and have a slice of Pizza at Pizza Pizzazz on the way back from the bank. Until just recently I used to be able to walk a minute in the other direction on Furnace Street and listen to live music and have a drink if I wanted at the Rain Desert. It's everything small town U.S.A. should be and more. We even have a new shopping center up the road with a Lowe's, Target, Super Stop & Shop, and a Michaels among others. The Ocean State Joblot and Salvation Army Store just down the road are other lower priced options. It might be possible to live comfortably here without ever leaving town if you were so inclined.
      Close proximity to some excellent nature areas is another benefit of living here. There's the falls behind the post office, the river walk and bike path... All minutes away. Ross Pond and the cliffs and Old Furnace State Park are just on the other side of route 6 is another option. There's Waureegan Reservoir (The Rez). A swim or a kayak paddle at the Rez is one of life's simple pleasures. Danielson would seem to have it all. This may not have been a very good analysis of where the problem is but it's kind of hard to put your finger on.

      When is the problem?

      The problem is now and is only going to get worse... But it didn't just start. The roots of the problem may go back to the thirties when many of the companies operating mills in the area seemed to have moved their businesses south to take advantage of less expensive labor. This may have resulted from mill workers unionizing. Whatever the cause, the exodus seems to have been dramatic leaving huge unemployment problems. The infrastructure of the area remained largely undeveloped as well leaving the new businesses that filled the vacant mills struggling. Some believe that the social blight that casts a cloud over Danielson is the result of subsidized housing programs in the sixties, seventies and eighties... Giving Danielson a disproportionately large population of less than fully productive residents. Others place the blame squarely on Arthur Veilleux, a real-estate investor that may have owned every building in town at one time over his extremely long active career and is claimed to be responsible for building and or owning hundreds and hundreds of subsidized housing units in town. It's hard to picture one person and their business activities being responsible for the problem so I'm sure there are numerous factors that have contributed to the decline in social structure that have brought us to where we are now. The increasing number of vacant storefronts and foreclosed houses in town may contribute to an accelerating rate of decay in the near future and beyond.

      How is the problem?

      How is the problem being handled? It's not really being handled at all. Not aggressively any way. They installed speaker on pole along Main Street to play music to soothe the savage beasts on special occasions and there are special fairs and cultural events at the town green during the summer and quite a few other things that are passive improvements. There's a farmers market in the library parking lot twice a week during the warmer months so even people on foot in town have access to seasonal fresh produce. The town improved the upper end of Water Street to the footbridge and installed new curbs and sidewalks all around. All of these are nice improvements but have no real effect on the Danielson Downtown Demographic. As soon as most of the remaining businesses close, the wrong people show up for the wrong reasons and that image sticks in the minds of people who drive through town at that time and wouldn't consider shopping there during the day because of what they see at night. Metaphorically the town is just painting the plywood over the windows of abandoned buildings. While all of their efforts are appreciated, they are mostly ineffective against the real issues troubling, and now destroying, Danielson.

Coming Next

      What is the problem?
      Why is the problem?
      Who is the problem?



S p i n n i n g     C h i c k e n     U p d a t e
Spinning Chicken

Nobody wins with a chicken that spins.
His M.O. is chaos and grief.
He tells nothing but lies...
To all of those guys.
They'll soon realize he's a thief.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Rises in the East

Sets in the West

      The last full day at the beach is a day to catch up on some of the rituals that may have been ignored during the still-plenty-of-time phase of the trip. One of those rituals is taking sunset pictures. This isn't a great sunset... But it's not a bad one. I never get tired of sunset pictures. An observation I've made is that seagulls make more noise as they settle in for the night around the marsh islands if the sunset has a lot of red in it. Anyone know why?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



The Piper Geographic Graphic PIPER
GEOGRAPHIC

... Oh it's the POSH POSH travelin' life, the travelin' life for me. First cabin, Captains table, regal company. Whenever aboard I travel abroad, but ever so stylishly... Port Out, Starboard Home, POSH with a capital P...

     When travelers left Europe for the Orient, before the days of air travel and air conditioning, they could look forward to a long uncomfortable voyage on a sail or steam ship. The sun in the southern seas would beat down on the black hulls of those ships turning the cabins on the sunny side of the ship into ovens. Wealthy travelers could afford to reserve a cabin on the port, or left, side of the ship for the voyage east. This put them on the north, or shaded, side. They would then reserve a cabin on the opposite side of the ship for the trip west, again the cooler north side of the ship. This class of travel became known as Port Out Starboard Home, or POSH, which to this day refers to luxurious accomodations or methods of travel. The only way to go.



Sumatra
A Special Report

Page 1
Stories from around the world
Photos by Ken Muserlian.

( Click on an image to see, save or print a larger version )


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This is a member of the Mentowi tribe with Ken Muserlian,
world traveler and cultural liason. The Mentowi inhabit the
forest deep in the center of Siberut Island. The island is
eighty miles west of Padang, on the west coast of Central
Sumatra. Padang is just a quick flight from Bali, so stop in
next time you're in the neighborhood.


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The oldest member of the tribe didn't mind
posing with an Eastside Marketplace hat
and canvas bag.


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The younger members of the tribe thought the whole thing
amusing, but one would pose with a hat. The tribe consists of
three families, with a total of thirty people. There are many
more tribal groups on the island, some of them more primative,
some of them less, but all of them equally at one with their
surroundings.


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This is the Mentowi long house. It's over a hundred
feet long, and is a beautiful example of primative
achitecture. The whole structure is lashed, notched,
pegged and even contains a few nails. Beautiful, and
functional. My kind of structure.


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Nice day for loungin' around the long house. The house is
raised on stilts, which allows the chickens and pigs the
Mentowi keep to wander around beneath.


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The rafters of the long house are hung with the skulls of
the pigs, deer and monkies the Mentowi hunt for food.
Hundreds, possibly thousand of them. The appears to be a
sign of respect for the animals.


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The Mentowi diet also includes fish
and Sorghum, a paste made from pulp
from the underside of bark peeled from
a certain tree.


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The tribe members wear loin cloths made
from pounded tree bark as well. They adorn
themselves heavily with tatoos, all very
similar to these.


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The Mentowi hunt game with arrows
dipped in poison. The poison kills
quickly in the blood stream, but is
harmless if ingested, allowing them
to consume the game without worry.


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The sun setting on them... Hours before rising on us.


Thursday, February 26, 2009


Warning... Warning... Danger Will Robinson!!!    SECURITY WARNING!!!    Warning... Warning... Danger Will Robinson!!!
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Go for it! Doan be ascared.



Friday, February 27, 2009



Clear and Present Danger

The Most Memorable Presents From Days Gone By


      If you were a product of the sixties you were all about the presents. Yeah... They tried to tell you about the birth-of-Jesus thing sometimes... But it was all about the presents. Some I remember like it was yesterday. These are more of those.
      Just a reminder to anyone reading these "Present" entries that wasn't born in the years 1958 through 1962 or thereabouts. A toy generation, like a cartoon generation, is about four or five years long, not the 25 years typically allotted to a human generation. Things change quickly and nothing seems more foreign or ridiculous than toys or cartoons from another "generation". I'd have no sooner ridden a Big Wheel than wear a dress when I was 8... The year they came out. So you may be alarmed by the primitive caveman-like technology used in some of these toys if you're younger than me, or scoff at the flash-in-the-pan cheesiness of the same if you're older than I am. Either way... They're MY most memorable presents so get over it.

      This "Clear and Present Danger" was due to appear in the Sandpiper on December 29, 2008 but it was not to be due to all sorts of issues and time constraints. Here it is now. There's still quite a few more to go. Favorite toys are very important things in life.


      Voyage to the bottom of the Sea was one of the "must see" TV shows of the mid sixties... Especially if you had an uncle in the navy on a nuclear sub. Admiral Nelson was kind of a scary authority figure and the captain reminded me of my friend Jim Burns' dad a little. Ensign Kowalski always seemed to get the worst of every situation and I sure wanted to build a model of the Seaview. You can't tell me we should build a real submarine like that now. The disappointing thing about the model was painting the whole thing light blue according to the instructions. It looked kind of wussy. That and the fact that I was too young for spray paint at the time and the whole thing was brushed with one of those little Testors model paint brushes and about 12 39-cent jars of sky blue paint. It looked pretty bad.
      I always wanted to build a flying sub model to go with it. Jim and Ruth's (Ruth's) at the bottom of East Rutherford at the beach had one on the shelf for years. I should have saved up and bought it instead of buying gum, punks and smoke bombs. Oh well. I hear there's a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea boxed set or sets available. I loved how they would tilt the camera to make it look like the sub was being trounced by something dangerous as the cast flailed from side to side on the set to complee the effect while sparks shot out of every instrument panel. Good times!

The Seaview was the coolest submarine ever.

      Space was still the final frontier when this was the gear to have. My brother and I both got the boots, Ionization Nebulizer and the helmet. It fogged up at the first breath and god help you if you went out in the sun wearing it. It heated up instantly to dangerous temperatures and everything smelled like plastic for hours afterwards. The boots made you sound like Darth Vader hyperventilating and the ray gun (Ionization Nebulizer) was a plant mister. It was still cool though. It offered some degree of protection in snowball fights.


The Schwinn Continental. The Toyota Tacoma of bicycles.

      Spirograph was a great idea that suffered from the same limitations as Bizzy Buzz Buzz. The pens were the weak link in the chain of fun. You could usually get the first step or two complete without incident but then the inner gear would fly out of the outer gear or the lousy pens would quit midstream and you'd try and go back over it and then the gear would jump a tooth or two or the paper would rip or the pathetic pins that were supposed to hold the outer gear down pulled out of the cardboard. It had a bunch of gears though and that was cool enough. The elaborate complex shapes available with Super Spirograph made it even less likely that you could complete anything in the instructions successfully.


Spudsie... the LAME potato!!!

      So you wind up Spudsie here and he starts to tick... like a BOMB!!! Then you calmly pass him around a circle of players until he goes off in somebody's hands. Kind of like a Mujahedeen training exercise. The problem was, besides the obvious, that as the game progressed towards oblivion, the passing of Spudsie the Roadside Bomb became increasingly frenetic. Inevitably the person holding it (him?) when it (he?) goes off launches him at the face of the nearest player in a convulsive spasm of panic. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!


Squirmles the... ah... lame thing.

      Squirmles was a wormlike thing that you made move with a thin strong nylon line attached to it. You would wind the nearly invisible line around your fingers or neck or wherever you wanted this cute harbinger of paper cuts to glide. When you pulled the nylon line it sliced into you like a cheese slicer into a wheel of cheddar if you weren't careful. Assassins may have used them instead of piano wire to strangle their victims. The eyes fell off.


Squirmles the... ah... lame thing.

      Can computers really be fun? No.
If they feel the need to tell you it's Fun on the box... It most likely isn't.


Saturday, February 28, 2009



The Last Day of February

We made it through another one... Or did we?

The One-Legged Sandpiper

      The end of February always makes it seem like the worst of winter is behind us. In 1985 we put the dock in the water in Lake Pocotopaug for the first time on March 5... Wading into the water in shorts to do it. March is time to plant radishes and you can plant scallions, lettuce and beets if you have a cold frame. But it's not over 'til it's over. I discovered these pictures in the archives yesterday and decided to revisit them to celebrate the end of February. This was the February blizzard of 2003. We were snowed in at the beach for four days until backhoes and payloaders were able to dig out the streets. Four-Wheel drive did nothing against four and five foot drifts. Then there was the April Fools Day blizzard of 1997 or thereabouts. 28 inches of snow in one night. That's why I'm not getting too excited about March being here as much as I'd like to. The temperature was in the fifties today but we're staring down the barrel of a Nor'easter at the moment and it's storming to beat the band even now.

Enjoy the February blizzard of 2003.

There may even be a little hidden political commentary.




From the Sandpiper Archives


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President's Day Blizzard

Cable TV's Out... What a Shame. Start Shoveling!

     Monday morning started with a storm as fierce as it had been Sunday night. The house shook and the snow piled up. By noon the snow was tapering off but the wind was still strong and we were trapped. In a house... in a driveway... on one road. Whatever. Trapped is trapped.

     Snow fell like misplaced flakes of patriotism that concealed a hidden agenda of icy peril. We tried going about our business until the drifts made it impossible and we drifted off to sleep in the relative security of our houses in our little neighborhood. When we finally woke up to the fact that we were trapped it was too late to do anything about it. When you walk on ice covered by snow you eventually fall.

Monday, February 17, 2003





S p i n n i n g     C h i c k e n     U p d a t e
Spinning Chicken

      Reports of Spinning Chicken's behavior have been coming in left and right from all over town. He's known as a demented obnoxious idiot everywhere in Killingly and people love sharing their Spinning Chicken stories. The problem is his behavior is becoming increasingly twisted, perverse and offensive and stories about that behavior don't really belong in the Sandpiper. The Chicken needs its own coop to roost in. AND... As of today... There is such a place:


www.spinningchicken.com

      This new website will become a place to fully explore all of the lying, cheating, stealing and stalking that goes on in the twisted world of Spinning Chicken. We'll all miss Chicken Chimp (above) but he'll have a new home as well. There'll be notices in the Sandpiper about new entries in spinningchicken.com for everyone that's interested in following the idiotic trials and tribulations of the world's biggest fool.



 
 
Did I get any on ya?