A generation raised by TV

Family Watching TV 1968.
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Can’t say this is completely true of me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that television played a central role in all of our lives growing up in the sixties and seventies.

I mean, you could always tell what day it was and what time it was by what was on tv!  It’s not like this Netflix generation with their DVRs and downloads that watch their shows when they want!  PFT!  We never had that opportunity.  In a way were were ruled by that little box.  If we wanted to see our favorite shows, we had to have our butts in the chair, on time and on the right channel.  And, God forbid, if the tv goes out!  You may never get to see that episode again unless you get lucky and catch it in reruns!

Or so we thought.

We had no idea that decades later we would be able to watch that episode anytime we wanted.  Heck, VCRs hadn’t even been invented yet!

And this generation will never know the JOY of relying on four channels for your entertainment.  We got very lucky and still gained a good bit of quality broadcasting, but still it was limited.  And, if you lived in the ridges of Tennessee like I did, you were lucky to get all four.  I usually always had one channel that the hills forbade me to watch.  And USUALLY it was upon THAT channel that the coolest show ever that EVERYBODY was talking about was on.

And the good Lord help you if YOUR show was scheduled against another show that your parents just couldn’t live without!  I remember never being able to watch Buck Rogers in the 25th Century because of that.

BuckTV

And, unlike the several starting times for new shows and seasons today (along with the binge watching at any time), SEPTEMBER (My birth month) became the most glorious time of year for me, because that was when the new shows and seasons ALWAYS started.  I would always grab the season premiere issue of TV GUIDE (If you don’t know know what that is just google it or something) put out that time of year and pour through the pages at shows I was looking forward to returning to, but, more importantly, I would be looking to discover new shows.  The ads sent my young heart a flutter with the possibilities.

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It also fed my imagination.  A lot of my play time was spent along so I learned to adapt the images and ideas in the guide to my own version in my own world.  I don’t know what happened to them, but I used to draw mock tv ads for shows I ‘made up’ which looked strangely like the ones in the ads.  From the westerns to the cop shows to the comedies and sitcoms, I took ALL of them in.  And, for good or ill, they were a part of my vastly complicated and unpredictable imagination.

I could whine about how things are not as footloose and fancy free with entertainment as they are today until the end of time.  But I can’t deny the effect these shows had on my life, mind and the end product, my own myriad of imaginative worlds to explore…

More to come…

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Ode to the weird kid

00aacd65fba817fc93135ac052c3fada(How people of my childhood saw comic book readers)

In pondering the many influences in my life, I find it hard, at first, to dig up the past.  Not that I had an awful childhood; nothing of the sort.  I grew up in the idealistic nuclear family with both a mom and a dad (I know right?) and two kids counting my sister who came along 7 years after me.  Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that my parents were perfect.  But, despite their issues with each other and the world surrounding them,  I grew up in a rather normal home.

So what happened to me?

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I laugh when I write this, but I often wonder.  You see, when I was growing up, it wasn’t normal for older kids and, especially, teens to read comic books.  And I didn’t just read them, I caught Saturday morning cartoons about them, the live action tv shows about heroes like Spider-Man and the Hulk and, once they started hitting the theaters, I gladly watched movies about them.  There were others out there, obviously, but most of the older fans covered their tracks better than I did mine.

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It was also not normal to obsess over ‘true’ stories about ghosts and aliens.  I remember fawning over my dogeared copy of CHARIOTS OF THE GODS.  As I became further and further entrenched in my Christian faith, I began to question my fascination for those things more and more.  But I can’t deny that I had my ‘faze’.

Most normal kids didn’t stay up late on Friday night to catch the weird movies.  You know them;  the wild and woolly horror and scifi movies of the time.  Everything from Godzilla to Frankenstein to THE BIRDS to giant Japanese robots fighting to save all of Tokyo were my obsession after midnight every weekend night.

Normal kids also didn’t read the dictionary.

You heard me right.  I scoured the sea of words for some sign of cool names to call comic book characters.  You see, I not only wanted to read comics.  I wanted to write them.  And I will soon, I promise you (as soon as I find an artist).  And between the World-book and its dictionary, I found no better source for character names.  Yeah, encyclopedias; LONG before the internet.

So, I still find myself wondering where it was I took a detour from the mindset the rest of the world.  During my teenage and college years, once I wondered among my supposed peers, I really wondered what was wrong with me.  I’m sure my parents did just that day after day as I grew up.  But now, looking back, I realize it wasn’t a matter of what was wrong with me but was what was different about me and how I got there.

I’m not even sure that matters anymore.  In this day and age, I’m not sure kids wonder so much about that.  Today, weird and strange is the matter of everyday life.  In fact, the different is celebrated more and more and those who chastise the weird and unusual are chastised themselves.  I’m oversimplifying things of course.  For, as long as man is on this planet, they will find ways to ostracize the different.

But, I digress.

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Yeah, I was weird and I struggled with it through the 70s and 80s and, yeah, even to adulthood.  But, looking back, it was just the building blocks of who I was to become for good of for ill.  And those days of reading comics, idolizing writers and peering through dictionaries were just part of the journey.

 

THINGS COMIC BOOK READERS HATE HEARING

Young, eager ears and wise words

mother and child baby daughter reading magic book in dark
family mother and child baby daughter reading magic book in the dark

Welcome to my inter-most thoughts and discoveries as I journey here in the dirt like all of you.  The only leg up I have over a great many of you out there is that I know who speaks the wise WORDS of life!  Besides that, I’m just like you.  I’m just trying to keep my path as straight as possible.

In trying to reach back into the dark recesses of my memory for some coherent beginning, I find myself in my bed ready for sleep.  I’m not sure how old I was.  I know I was young.  As I fight the weight of slumber,  my mother would read to me.  It was a simple thing.  Doesn’t take a great deal of talent or training, but we parents miss the simple power of our position, some times.

It was during this transitional time between the running around and dreaming up adventures to the winding down and fading off to sleep, that, as much as I wanted to fight it, my young ears were eager for the words my mother spoke so softly to me.  Probably the first stories that pumped life into my adventurous imagination were from a set of books that she would read to me religiously.  Odd that I would use that word.  For the books were stories from the Bible itself.

stock-photo-70518427-father-and-daughter-reading-book-at-bedtime(Fathers can do it too!)

I’m not sure if understood even a tidbit of the significance of the good Book where these stories came from.  All I remember was my awe at the illustrations and my wonder at the amazing stories of arks and giants, prophets and priests and of men and God.  Before I gained my fascination for Greek mythology or mythology of any type, for that matter, I learned as a foundation about the all powerful, ever present, completely knowing God of the Old and New Testaments.

Was it here I gained my amazement for the power kept in the words and pages of this mysterious book?  Could this be where my gift for discernment and my thirst for the very real stories that I’ve come to know and respect in adulthood?

I’m not sure.

All I know is that I would not be who I am and would not feel how I feel about the scriptures if those stories were never read to me.  So, I salute all parents who take the time to open the Word to their little ones.  Those of you who take the time to pour the love from the Bible onto these little ones lives are now among my personal heroes.  I’m afraid of the many things that I failed at in my short time here on earth, my failure to pass on my love for the WORD of GOD is, sadly, high on the list.

So, my admiration for those who take the time is coupled with a warning to those who don’t.  It’s never too late.  Don’t waste the time.

And to my mother who so faithfully read to me, I am in deep appreciation.

Thank you, Mom.