Memory Lane: Our Own Science Fiction Magazine

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When Patty and I were teenagers, there were still science fiction magazines full of cool stories to delight us.

So back in high school, a few of us got together to create and publish our own science fiction magazine, The Diomegan. All original material. The first issue was mimeographed (remember that–purple ink that smelled funny?). For the second, we did some collating work for a printer in return for him printing The Diomegan.

What a staff we had! I was art editor. We had William A. as editor in chief–a genius: you should’ve seen him wipe out the competition on TV, on College Bowl–and Jeffrey T. as science editor: later he became president of the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City. He also built his own computer while still a high school student. In 1966!

We had Marian P., a true eccentric, and a sophomore named Joe M., who wrote weird science fiction/spy stories. And a couple of “regular” kids who helped us out a lot. We went to science fiction conventions in New York, where we met Arthur C. Clark.

We sold our magazines in a local book and stationery store and earned just a few dollars each; but we weren’t in it for the money.

Gee, I’d love to see “Smitty” and Marian again! I wonder how they made out. Last I heard, William A. had grown as rich as Croesus; and that was no surprise.

And yes, I’ve kept my copies of The Diomegan.

Memory Lane: ‘In Search Of’

I had a bad night with my allergies; but it would have to be a very bad night indeed, if this hokey old TV series couldn’t lift my spirits.

In Search Of ran from 1977 to 1982 with Leonard Nimoy as the host. Because he became a major star by playing Mr. Spock on Star Trek, we tend to overlook the rest of his long TV career. This included his stint on In Search Of.

This show had everything! As World War II paratroopers used to say, “It’s foolish but it’s fun.” Missing persons, lost cities, UFOs, cryptozoology… and a neat disclaimer reminding viewers that “this series is based in part on theory and conjecture.” Lots and lots of conjecture! And by no means was it nothing but hooey. After all, for example, Amelia Earhart really did disappear on an attempted flight across the Pacific.

But the thing that really made it go was Nimoy. He had just the right amount of gravitas–no mean feat for an actor best known for pointy ears and the Vulcan nerve pinch. They came out with a remake in 2018, but without Leonard Nimoy it just didn’t work.

And you can watch all the episodes on YouTube! Next time you’ve got insomnia, have a little fun with In Search Of.

Memory Lane: ‘The Girls’

Mike Lynch Cartoons: THE GIRLS by Franklin Folger

This was another gentle and benign cartoon series, this one from the 1960s–The Girls, by Franklin Folger.

“The girls” were middle-aged women going about the blameless business of their everyday lives, making mild blunders guaranteed to raise a smile. Most of us probably had an aunt who would’ve fit right in. We might smile at some of the things she says and does, but we love and treasure her.

I can’t imagine how hard it would be–well, hard for me, at least–to draw The Girls every day (and when it comes to drawing, I’m not that awful). And come up with really funny one-liners to go with it. Mr. Folger must’ve been a genius.

I don’t know how many newspapers, nationwide, carried The Girls. Several paperback collections have been published. If you never saw these cartoons while they were in the paper every day, you can find and enjoy them online.

Memory Lane: ‘The Addams Family’

Addams Family Photo: Addams Family | Addams family tv show, Family tv, Old  tv shows

This show was a big hit when I was a kid in middle school: The Addams Family, based on Charles Addams’ weird cartoons.

The gags come hot and heavy, but always from the same root: what’s normal for the Addams family is bizarre to us; and what’s normal to us seems bizarre to them. The writers and the cast made it work.

But I’ll tell you what really made it work; and it’s not what you might think.

They loved each other.

Every member of the family, even the servants, received affection and respect from all the others. Leave It to Beaver gets mocked for idealizing family life. The Addams family had the Cleaver family beat by miles, but never got mocked because they were all so out to lunch. The critics didn’t understand what made the show tick.

The other night I watched an Addams Family episode on YouTube. I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did in seventh grade. Sure, the jokes are easily predictable. That’s what made them so funny! But even more than that, the family feeling shines over the whole thing like the sun.

TV and movies seldom achieve so much.

Memory Lane: ‘Jambalaya’

I remember my father whistling this, and sometimes singing it, while he cut our hair.

Hank Williams scored a hit with Jambalaya in 1952, and it must have remained popular throughout the Fifties or I wouldn’t have remembered it. Every now and then someone else would record it: the Carpenters spring to mind.

Singing about “big fun on the bayou”–I wonder what would happen if anybody came out with a song like that today? Would we suddenly remember that “blameless” and “wholesome” are good things, after all? Or would the wokies shut it down because it’s cis-intersectional or something?

I am so glad I grew up then, and not now.

A Loud Breath of Fresh Air!

(Good grief! Look how young Chuck Connors was when he played the Rifleman! I swear he used to be older than me…)

Don’t you wish, sometimes, that someone would come along to clean out the cobwebs?

Just for fun, try counting the number of shots Chuck gets off in 20 seconds. I know, I know, we’re not allowed to talk about guns, we can protect our freedom just as well by engaging in a meaningful dialogue, blah-blah…

But that makes for a really lousy Western.

‘A Day in the Fall, Long Ago’ (2016)

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There’s not much left of this year’s autumn, so let’s enjoy it while we can.

Before we stack it on the memory shelf with long-past autumns that we thoroughly enjoyed.

A Day in the Fall, Long Ago

True, our high school football team was astoundingly bad, most years; but we enjoyed the games anyway. And kids and dogs dove into piles of raked leaves.

And no leaf-blowers. They hadn’t been invented yet.

 

‘Memory Lane: Soldiers Path’ (2016)

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How I miss places like this!

I grew up next to a woods which is now gone, paved over by Democrats who then go on to prattle about how much they care for the environment… but I digress.

Memory Lane: Soldiers Path

Among the notable–and somewhat mystifying–features of our little forest was a path made of cinders, which we called Soldiers Path. Deep in the woods, past Hangman’s Tree (from which you could see Portugal, if you climbed all the way up), this cinder path started out from nowhere and finished up at nowhere. Time had swallowed up all traces of whatever two destinations the path had once linked together.

I’d like to know why I thought “Hessians” were giant insects–moths too big to fly. But I have since outgrown that belief.

Memory Lane: ‘Free Inside–Money!’

Bolivian Currency High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy

I’d always loved the prizes you got “Free Inside!” cereal boxes. Imagine my delight, sometime back in the 70s, when a certain cereal offered foreign currency. Inside the box with the cereal.

The first time we bought it, we got a nice Bolivian 50-Whatsit bill. When we went to buy it again, we found all those cereal boxes on the shelves already slit open and rifled for the “money”–it wouldn’t buy anything, here in the US–and then put back on the shelves… like no one would notice.

No, I don’t remember what particular kind of cereal it was. Not one that I usually bought. I’ll bet I wake up at 2 a.m. and suddenly remember it. Heck, it was a long time ago. It wasn’t a bad cereal. But our supermarket couldn’t keep carrying it if the shelf-stackers were going to cut the boxes open, so it soon disappeared.

Who got stuck holding the bag? Probably the supermarket; the manufacturer could argue he wasn’t responsible for the store’s dishonest employees.

So you cut open the cereal box and walk away with 40 Bazongas from Upper Kafoozistan. Why steal that? You can’t spend it anywhere. Did they think the manufacturer might slip up and start putting US $20 bills in there? Did they think, “If we open all the boxes, we just might find a dollar”?

Patty remembers! It was Almond Delight. And what made it worse was that in a few boxes, there really would be real American money. Maybe even a $50 bill! Do you need a crystal ball to guess what would happen? I’d forgotten that part, but that’s one of the perks of marriage: you get two memories for the price of one.

It’s hard luck on the manufacturer, who had to pull this promotion in a hurry, and the supermarket ownership, stuck with cereal it can’t sell–but there are times when a few more moments’ forethought and ordinary prudence will hold you back from costly mistakes. Duh! Really–what did they think would happen, if they advertised “Free Money”–any money–inside the cereal box?

They shoulda seen it coming.

Memory Lane: ‘Turok, Son of Stone’

Turok: Son of Stone Covers

Yesterday Elder Mike reminded me of one of my favorite comics that I used to read when I was a boy–Turok, Son of Stone. For 10 cents a pop, you could follow the adventures of two Native Americans, Turok and Andar, in a lost world of prehistoric monsters and cavemen. The first issue came out in 1954.

I remember reading these on Grandma’s porch, enthralled, my imagination vividly responding to the pictures. Turok and Andar blundered into this place and couldn’t find their way out, so they had to learn a lot of new survival skills in a hurry. They called the dinosaurs “honkers,” for the noises they made. My favorite was “Ruuuuunk!”

All right, it was all a bit corny, but you don’t see that when you’re nine or ten years old. I just saw the dinosaurs–and wished we had some in the woods next to my house.  To this day I’m fascinated by dinosaurs. I don’t read comic books anymore, but I might break that rule if someone handed me a stack of Turoks.

Imagination! What would life be like without it?

I hope I never find out.