Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Great Wall of Raytown

I've been promising photo coverage of my recent remodeling project here at the ol' homestead, and have finally gotten around to it.

The room in question was once a garage that was converted into a rec. room I'm guessing sometime in the '70s.  However, the Gomer and Jethro who did the remodeling then were hardly Bob Vilas (or even Tim Taylors), as you can see by this pic.  This is what I found after I peeled off two layers of paneling—yes, paneling OVER paneling!  Evidently, they slapped this wall together with whatever scraps they could find, and the result was quite FEMA-like—I'm amazed this wall lasted 30 years!

Here's a look at my temporarily-expanded laundry room!

It was a bit of a challenge lining up the studs for the new framework for the drywall by myself, but I was fairly pleased with how it turned out.

Here would be the newly-installed drywall on the day of the April Surprise snowfall.

Add a splash of color and some trim work and voilà!  I love the color, but wasn't totally happy with the paint job—I used the wrong roller for the first coat and the finish is a bit dodgy, but it's close enough.

And here's yours truly at the opposite end of the computer/stereo chamber in amongst my CD and record collection, or as I affectionately call it, the "Wall of Sound".  That brick structure behind it is the infamous fireplace/barbecue pit that I had to chase Rocky Raccoon out of a couple months back.  It occupies the space where the garage door once existed.  I may get ambitious and rip the whole thing out someday and replace it with a regular wall and a bay window to overlook my driveway.  All in good time...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4, 1979

Much to my surprise, there was nary a mention of this in (what's left of) The Kansas City Star today, but it was 30 years ago tonight that the Kemper Arena roof collapsed during a violent thunderstorm in K.C.'s West Bottoms area.  This photo was taken the next afternoon, and it was later determined that heavy rainfall and a poorly-designed drainage system led to the roof's catastrophic failure.  Thankfully, it all happened on a Monday night when the building was vacant instead of 24 hours earlier when it was full of people (for a concert, as I recall)—the carnage would've made the 1981 Hyatt Skywalks tragedy pale in comparison.

The next nine months were a surreal period in K.C. sports, while Kemper was closed down for repairs.  The NBA's Kansas City Kings were forced to temporarily relocate back to their former home, Municipal Auditorium downtown, and no one knew it at the time, but the Kemper calamity also triggered the absence of professional hockey in K.C. for over a decade.  Since the Auditorium wasn't a viable option with no permanent ice surface, the minor league Kansas City Red Wings of the old Central Hockey League had no place to play, thus they left town and never returned.  We wouldn't see pro hockey here again until the advent of the International Hockey League's K.C. Blades in 1990.  By extension, I also wound up attending my first-ever Kiss concert at the "Aud" instead of Kemper on the Dynasty tour in September.

Kemper Arena re-opened on February 20, 1980 with a Kings game vs. the Seattle SuperSonics (I was there!) and I believe it was either Z.Z. Top or Rush who played the first concert under the new roof a few days later.  I attended my first Kemper concert a couple months later, which was also my first Who concert—not a bad way to start.  The new roof has lasted five times longer than the first one did, and what's the bet when they implode Kemper Arena in the not-so-distant future, the roof will be the LAST thing to fall this time!

If you're interested, here's my original blog tribute to our beloved "Dump With A Hump."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Clichés! Get yer clichés here!

Haven’t done any of these in a while, so I thought I’d catch up voluminously with a few more that leapt to mind today…

Here’s one that was particularly common to ‘70s and ‘80s TV sitcoms:  the fertile male who doesn't want any more children, but who’s paranoid about getting a vasectomy.  I have a little news flash for all you guys out there—it’s not that bad!  I had it done about ten years ago so I could forego using condoms with my girl Stacy during our rendezvous in Las Vegas, and never regretted it.  Wished I’d done it sooner, actually, but the timing was perfect—thanks to my medical benefits at the time, it didn’t cost me a damn thing!  I have no desire to have children, and it was a load off our minds knowing I wouldn’t get Stacy pregnant (or at least was highly unlikely to), thus making the sex that much more enjoyable.  Yes, there was some discomfort for about a day-and-a-half or so—it felt like someone jabbed a ball bat in my crotch about a dozen times—but the L’il General was fully-operational and rarin’ to go a couple days afterward.  And all that crap about your voice getting higher is pure hooey!  I would, however, suggest that if you have this procedure done, drive home in a smooth-riding vehicle.  Even the slightest bump in the road was an adventure in pain on the way home in my old Honda Prelude, which had all the ground clearance of a cockroach!

A little poetry, courtesy of the late Redd Foxx:
Paternal suits don't bother me
To the doctor, I owe my thanks
Because since my operation
I'm only shooting blanks!

In the movie and TV universe from the late ‘60s onward, women are rarely seen wearing pantyhose or tights under their skirts.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the woman will undress (or be involuntarily undressed/de-skirted) and be wearing thigh-high stockings and a garter belt, even if said attire is totally inappropriate for the character or the situation.  For instance, how many high school girls (slutty cheerleaders included) wear stockings and garter belts to school?  Or your typical office secretary/receptionist?  And apart from "The Benny Hill Show", how practical would it be for a hospital nurse or a police woman or a waitress in a diner to wear them?  Yes, exposed thighs and/or crotches are generally considered far sexier than pantyhose to most lecherous men "eyeing little girls with bad intent", but realism takes a holiday more often than not in movie land.  A good example would be the Elvira-Mistress of The Dark movie where the divine Miss E is shown disrobing out of her trademark costume just like in this pic, which, as you can see, had a slit up one leg practically all the way up to her pelvis, with which she always wore sheer black pantyhose.  However, as she’s removing her sexy dress in the film, we’re supposed to believe that the sheer black pantyhose were actually sheer black garter stockings the whole time she was in her costume, or that they quickly morphed into stockings as she undressed.

In the movies and on nearly every TV cop drama show, prostitutes who walk the streets are always attractive statuesque babes wearing curly (usually red) wigs, more make-up than Mimi on "Drew Carey Show", tight leopard-print or zebra-striped mini-skirts, fishnets and thigh-high boots with 4" heels.  While I’m no expert on prostitution, nor do I partake of this activity, I’m pretty sure it ain’t quite as glamorous as movies portray those who are "Out on the streets for a living," as the Kiss song goes.  The hookers I've always seen roaming Main St. and Independence Ave. here in K.C. bear more of a resemblance to Joe Torre in drag than to Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places

Funny story:  A white guy I used to work with was out with some friends one night on the Avenue and was accosted at a traffic light by an unattractive black prostitute who said, "You want a date?"  To which he replied, "Hell, no!"  "Why not?" she asked, "Are you prejudiced?"  To which he responded, "No, you're ugly!"  Hey, give him credit for being honest, I say!

Another cliché I’ve never understood usually happens in a bar or at a high school dance or loud party or any large gathering of people when a fight or some sort of disturbance breaks out or even when someone makes a loud embarrassing remark—"But I’m not wearing any panties!" or "But, I'm not GAY!" for example.  It always amazes me how the music abruptly stops (or the band quits playing), the room suddenly gets as silent as that dumb chubby white kid on "The Cosby Show" who never said anything, and then the entire hushed crowd immediately turns to stare at the ensuing scuffle and/or offending party/parties.

The one constant found in nearly every cop drama is the temperamental blowhard Police Sergeant who incessantly berates his men, never mind that they’re the best cops on the force and put their asses on the line all the time, not to mention nab the bad guys every time out.  Examples of this stereotypical character would be Capt. Doby on "Starsky & Hutch", Nick Nolte’s superior in 48 Hrs., Lt. Ryker on "The Rookies" and Eddie Murphy’s boss in the Beverly Hills Cop flicks.  It always gets me how these guys always seem to be at odds with their men, yet most of these donut-eating chumps couldn’t run down some purse-snatching thug or rapist with a 50-yard head start!  Okay, the donut thing is a cliché within a cliché, but you get the idea.  In a similar vein was that annoying cover-my-ass hospital administrator Dr. Astin that Jack Klugman was always embroiled with on "Quincy, M.E.".

Ain’t it amazing how in Westerns, that the horses never shit?  Just once in all those episodes of "Bonanza" or "Gunsmoke", don’t you think there’d be some horsie doody on Main St. in front of the saloon?  I always wondered who did all the poop-scoopin' in these shows?  Hell, even in parade scenes in non-Westerns, there’s never any caca in the streets!  Come to think of it, even in PG- or R-rated cowboy movies, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any piles of excrement anywhere.  Just once, I'd enjoy seeing Trigger or Seabiscuit rare back and take a dump on camera, for realism's sake!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Have you seen Jr.'s blog?!?

Abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered in Wichita (in his own church, no less) by a self-appointed anti-abortion zealot who decided all for himself that this was “justifiable homicide”.  I’ve already made my feelings well-known about this issue here and have no desire to get into this whole fray again—just like the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it’s something that will never be solved in our lifetimes.  But, I do have to ask:  aren’t these the same people who accuse abortion doctors of “playing God”?  Predictably, anti-abortion organizations in Kansas like Operation Rescue, as well as former KS Attorney General Phill Kline (who went after Tiller like a pit bull on steroids), all issued statements condemning what happened yesterday, but I’m not buying it—you can bet your ass they’re all high-fiving each other (or in Kline's case, patting himself on the backside) today.  And just like on “MASH” when Hawkeye removed the healthy appendix of the over-zealous Colonel to keep him off the front lines to ostensibly prevent more casualties, they’re kidding themselves if they think this is going to change anything.  Talk about damning your own cause…

Conservatives like Newt Gingrich, Rush Lamebaugh, et al, are calling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist for the quote, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” which she made in 2001.  Poor choice of words, perhaps, but as a white male, I’m not personally offended by it.  I don’t even know yet whether or not this woman would make a suitable Supreme Court justice, but what I’d like all these Sotomayor bashers to tell me is why they didn’t deem her to be a racist eight years ago when she made that remark in the first place.  Naturally, only now that it’s politically-convenient for Newt, Rush and all the other sour grapes-laden conservatives is the woman officially a bigot, right?

"Leave it to our wonderful mass media—TV news in particular—and public officials to create mass hysteria and paranoia about this swine flu thing coming out of Mexico.  Call me cynical all you want, but I see this as nothing but media-generated panic over nothing...Mark my words, this’ll all be forgotten in a week or two."B. Holland, April 29, 2009

Are ya hearing much about this in the news this week?  Didn’t think so.  Okay, it took a bit more than a week or two, and yes, there have been some Swine Flu-related fatalities in the past month in the U.S., but no more so than what just plain regular flu causes.  You can all take your masks off now…

Not sure about y’all, but I was pretty nonplussed about Jay Leno’s final “Tonight Show” on Friday.  I don’t dislike Leno—his “Headlines” bits always cracked me up, at least—but I’m not quite as moved by his departure as I was when Johnny Carson stepped aside in 1992 after almost 30 years.  This might be in part because he’s not really going away like Carson did, since there are plans for another Leno show in prime-time.  When Johnny left, it was almost like a death in the family.  With Leno passing the torch to Conan O’Brien, it’s more like, “Ehhh, whatever…”

Producer Phil Spector is now the O.J. Simpson of Rock ‘N’ Roll—only difference is O.J. got away with murder—as he was sentenced to 19-years-to-life (which is essentially the rest of his life anyway, since he’s 69) for the 2003 murder of singer/actress Lana Clarkson.  It astounds me that such a brilliant musical mind could be so demented, but evidently PS had quite a violent streak in him when he drank, which no doubt led to him shooting this woman.  I’m also surprised that pacifists like John Lennon and George Harrison worked so closely with Spector back in the ‘70s, but then again, Phil’s rage may not have manifested itself in front of them.  What a pathetic end for a man who produced some of the greatest Top 40 hits in history, esp. his work with the Righteous Brothers—“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, “For Once In My Life” and “(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration” are absolute KILLER recordings—the Ronettes, Ike & Tina Turner and many others.

“Got Me Under Pressure”—Z.Z. TOP (1983)  “She’s about all I can handle…it’s too much for my brain.”  For some reason, I thought Rev. Billy G was singing something like “She’s about all a commando…”

For those of you who are into Old-School baseball cards, I highly recommend the two new card blog whose links I've added at the right.  The 1972 Topps blog is particularly impressive, as its author is going through one-by-one and doing a write-up on each card in the set (all 787 of 'em), providing interesting stories on the players (even the wanna-be's and never-were's) and analysis of the images and graphics as well.  In addition, the guy throws in some neat little sidebar stories about news, pop culture, music and sports that happened in the year of "Sanford & Son", Watergate, "Maude", Munich and "American Pie".  It's a work in progress, as he's only up to card #102 so far, but great fun and great memories if you were into card collecting in the '70s like I was.

I can trace the beginnings of my baseball card collection to the 1972 Topps set, when Mom bought me two packs when I was 7 going on 8.  The first card I ever saw out of the pack was the late pitcher Steve Mingori of the Indians (later of the Royals) and my first Royals card was former first baseman Bob Oliver.  I always thought the 1971 thru 1974 Topps sets were the coolest because of the colors, graphics and photography—and even the amateur-ish air-brushing on the player's caps to erase the team logos of players who had been traded.  Seeing these cards again takes me back to a simpler time...

Here’s another case of separated at birth for you to ponder.  I was watching ‘70s cop drama “The Rookies” on DVD the other day, and late actor Percy Rodrigues appeared in an episode as a hard-assed police officer.  The face and deep voice were familiar, but I had to Google him to refresh my memory.  When I did, I couldn’t help but notice in his mugshot how PR could’ve almost passed for late actor Jonathan Harris—aka “Lost In Space” antagonist Dr. Zachary Smith—with an afro!
Rodrigues played the snooty brother of Fred’s rich, kindhearted girlfriend on the ill-advised TV sequel series “Sanford” in 1980-81, and had guest shots in numerous TV shows throughout his career, including "Star Trek", "Mission: Impossible" and "Good Times", et al. Oddly enough, both he and Harris each appeared in different episodes of the original “Sanford & Son”.

No doubt, Dr. Smith would've uttered his other famous catchphrase if he had to endure William Shatner's interpretation of Elton John's "Rocket Man" during the Sci-Fi Awards telecast in 1977, and for once, the doctor wouldn't be faking!  This thing makes his versions of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy In The Sky" seem almost tolerable in comparison.  What I can't fathom is how lyricist Bernie Taupin actually endorsed having his own work slaughtered like this.  Of course, anything that screams out this loudly to be lampooned couldn't possibly escape the clutches of the "Family Guy" crew.  Go, Stewie, go!