T is for Toy Trucks

As it turns out, Hess trucks have been coming out since the mid-1960s, and some of them are quite collectible.

I’d been married to Carol for about a year and a half in the late fall of 2000. She was trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas. I made some passing mention that there was a really cool toy fire truck being sold at the local Hess station. I might have even seen an ad on TV for it.

Still, I was quite surprised when, on Christmas morning, she (or Santa, I forget which) actually got it for me. I must say that I really loved it. It has a couple of different sirens, and flashing lights, and a workable ladder.

So before Christmas 2001, I subtly hinted that I wouldn’t mind getting that year’s model, which was actually a helicopter with a motorcycle and a cruiser. This too was a hit with me; the helicopter features, among other things, rotors that really spin!

Thus a tradition was born, with me getting all of the items through 2010. Along the way, I also picked up a 1998 model.

This does not include the mini-trucks, only one of which I own, and that by happenstance.

I have this friend, Mary, who had a husband named Tom, who I was very fond of. Unfortunately, he died in November 2004 at the age of 49. He had started collecting Hess trucks long before I had. Just this month, Mary sold me Tom’s 1997 and 1999 editions, because she thought he’d want me to have them.

As it turns out, Hess trucks have been coming out since the mid-1960s, and some of them are quite collectible. Check out the lists HERE and HERE

At least in recent times, they’ve been running TV around Thanksgiving for the current year’s models. Here are the ads for 2006 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010 TV ads, all to the unlikely tune of “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

Someone put together a video of all the trucks.

ABC Wednesday – Round 8

Decoration Day

Sometimes, looking at discussion boards about the Civil War, I get the impresssion that we in the United States are STILL fighting it.

I’m old enough to remember when Memorial Day was on the 30th of May, not the last Monday in May, which was a change that took place in 1971. I’m not sure when the holiday changed from being called Decoration Day to Memorial Day, though I recently saw a 1902 Library Journal making reference to the former name.

The holiday was designed to remember the dead from the American Civil War (or however it was called by others) on both sides of the battle. According to Wikipedia, “General John A. Logan, who helped bring attention to the event nationwide, was likely a factor in the holiday’s growth. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic – the organization for Northern Civil War veterans – Logan issued a proclamation that ‘Decoration Day’ should be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle.” (Emphasis mine.)

This year, of course, is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Sometimes, looking at discussion boards about the war, I get the impression that we in the United States are STILL fighting it.

One can surely question the wisdom of wars, which, after all, are generally instigated by the civilian leaders who don’t actually FIGHT in the wars and still appreciate the ultimate sacrifice many have made over the years fighting them.

May Rambling

Susannah Spencer is somehow an ancestor of Diana Spencer, who married Prince Charles, who had two sons, William and Harry.

When Blogger was down for about 24 hours earlier this month, it really threw off my blogging rhythm. For reasons mundane (I’m used to it) and functional (it’s a backup system), I still compose my blog in Blogger, THEN copy and paste into this WordPress format. And the day it was down was a Thursday, which meant I actually HAD time to post for an hour between work and choir. Or go to other people’s blogs, or leave comments on other people’s blogs, but I couldn’t do that either. Then when Blogger finally came back up, I realized that none of the blogposts that I had Scheduled actually saw the light of day, so I had to repost them. Oh, well. Arthur, and others whose primary blogs are on Blogger, had it worse than I.
Went to see HAIR this month.
The eldest niece’s website.
Gordon at Blog This, Pal! has been blogging for seven years, which is amazing. He’s the only out-of-area blogger I’ve met through blogging, when we went to a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field in 2008. Naturally, the home team lost.
Who hit the most home runs during the 1960s? More than Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, or Willie McCovey. That would be Harmon Killebrew, whose goodbye note to his fans was very touching, and who died this month of cancer at the age of 74. He was probably my father-in-law’s favorite player. Incidentally, my father-in-law’s 75th birthday was this week.
Samoa will lose a day! And willingly, no less. Gotta mess up birthdays, astrological charts…
A Berlioz Requiem sampler of the Albany Pro Musica concert. The “Dies irae” and the “Lacrymosa” are only fragmentary parts of the longer originals, due to uploading limits.
The National Jukebox, from your Library of Congress.

Did you know Jack Kirby had an alternate design for Captain America, created for some purpose he couldn’t remember, that never appeared in a comic book?
I feel as though I really need to see the movie Thor. It got a 70%+ positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes, but a real negative one from Roger Ebert. Something about his take, though, 1) compelled him to respond to his critics and 2) makes me think that I might like it anyway.
Addresses of Marvel Superheroes in New York City.
Fight the Rebellion! Darth Vader is countng on you!
This is an interesting video. I’ve subsequently found more people doing this on other videos, but this pair seem to be the best.

I Can’t SAY That Word QUESTION

There are a number of words I could say, but never having seen them in print, I was shocked to find that they were spelled THAT way.

There was a 1980 hit song by a group called the Barracudas called Summer Fun, from an album I happen to own; in fact, a mail-order customer at FantaCo sent it to me in gratitude. The introduction to the song comes from an ad c. 1967; the storyline was that a Plymouth car dealer couldn’t say the word Barracuda, problematic because the hot Plymouth car that year was supposedly the Barracuda. (The whole ad can be heard, after the 27-second mark, here.

What reminded me of this was the fact that I was working on a reference question last month and realized I could not say the word ‘aesthetician’, though I can say the root word ‘aesthetic’; it’s the two middle syllables. Arthur noted on a podcast that he cannot say ‘vitiligo’, a condition I have.

On the other hand, some words that I just LOVE to say. They tend to be French or Italian, and often end in a vowel, such as Rigoletto or Giovanni. But last month at work, I was really getting off saying the Japanese word ‘yakitori’, which means skewered chicken.

Also, there are a number of words I could say, but never having seen them in print, I was shocked to find that they were spelled THAT way. Two that come to mind are ‘epitome’ or ‘facetious’.

What words do you have difficulty pronouncing?
What words do you love pronouncing?
What words surprised you by how they were spelled?


The Top 100 Canadian Albums, part 2

had a roommate named Mark in the early 1980s who was in desperate need of money. So I bought about 50 albums off him at $2 a pop; at least five of them were Bruce Cockburn LPs.

Continuing with the book The Top 100 Canadian Albums by Bob Mersereau. Not only did I own a fair number of these albums, but many of them also played a significant part in my life, often in a relationship with my significant other (S.O.) at the time.

41.Not Fragile, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1974)
42.The Best of the Guess Who, The Guess Who (1971) – One of the very few singles – i.e, 45s – I ever bought was Laughing b/w Undun. And then I really got into the group when it started with his heavier sound. And they endeared me forever when the group was invited to sing at the Nixon White House, but requested, apparently by Pat Nixon, not to sing American Woman. But the most intriguing song on the album was one I did not know previously, Hang On to Your Life whose lyrics end with stark spoken text from Psalm 22:
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:
my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my
jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Didn’t quite know what to make of it, but, in my period of questioning my whole belief system at the time, it was quite significant to me.
43.Let it Die, Feist (2004)
44.The Last Waltz, The Band (1978) – Always made me a little sad, this soundtrack of the end of the band. Though they would re-form in part, it was never the same.
45.Night Train, Oscar Peterson Trio (1963) – my father was really into Oscar Peterson, a black jazz pianist. I never knew he was Canadian until I read the book.
46.Down at the Khyber, Joel Plaskett Emergency (2001)
47.Harvest Moon, Neil Young (1992) – The title track was “our song” for the S.O. and me. Remember dancing around the living room to the video. Still makes me cry. And there are other great songs here, such From Hank to Hendrix and One of These Days. Actually, I enjoy this album more than Harvest.
48.Cuts Like a Knife, Bryan Adams (1983)
49.L’Heptade, Harmonium (1976)
50.Teenage Head, Teenage Head (1979)
51.High Class in Borrowed Shoes, Max Webster (1977)
52.Hejira, Joni Mitchell (1976) – Joni getting all jazzy. I was still with her, too, but it didn’t sound like her old stuff, and her fan base was peeved.
53.Bach: The Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould (1955 and 1982) – I got this only about a decade ago, after I was told, “You MUST own this record.” So I do. But I’m not all that familiar with the 1982 iteration, except what I know from a recent PBS-TV special about Gould’s life.
54.Fogarty’s Cove, Stan Rogers (1977)
55.Wheatfield Soul, The Guess Who (1968) – #2 on the coolest title list.
56.Si on avait besoin d’une cinquième saison, Harmonium (1974)- the author notes that a lot of the French-language albums appeared on the list between #101 and #125.
57.Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, Bruce Cockburn (1979) – I had a roommate named Mark in the early 1980s who was in desperate need of money. So I bought about 50 albums off him at $2 a pop; at least five of them were Bruce Cockburn LPs. As the author of the book noted, 13 different Cockburn albums got votes, but this is the only one that reached the top 100. It probably made it because it has the hit, Wondering Where the Lions Are. #9 on the coolest title list.
58.Frantic City, Teenage Head (1980)
59.Hymns of the 49th Parallel, k.d. lang (2004) – A wonderful concept: lang performing the songs of her fellow Canadians, including Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Cockburn. Here’s Cohen’s Hallelujah.
60.Hot Shots, Trooper (1979)
61.Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson (1987) – My good friend in the record business told me this story. She was trying to promote this album to a radio station manager. She says, “It’s Robbie Robertson from The Band, you know The Last Waltz.” No recognition. “Used to back Dylan.” He’d heard of Dylan, but it was still a tough sell. The problem was that he was only about 24 and only knew the music that came out the previous 8-10 years. Very sad commentary on the state of commercial radio at the time. Great album, especially American Roulette.
62.The Trinity Session, Cowboy Junkies (1988) – A well-crafted mix of new and cover songs, such as Lou Reed’s Sweet Jane. I do have to be in the mood to listen to it; otherwise, it’ll put me to sleep.
63.Ron Sexsmith, Ron Sexsmith (1995)
64.Nothingface, Voivod (1989)
65.Come on Over, Shania Twain (1997)
66.Everything I Long For, Hayden (1995)
67.Outskirts, Blue Rodeo (1987)
68.Joyful Rebellion, k-os (2004)
69.Sit Down Young Stranger/If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot (1970)
70.Love Junk, Pursuit of Happiness (1988)
71.Jaune, Jean-Pierre Ferland (1970)
72.Somewhere Outside, The Ugly Ducklings (1966)
73.Electric Jewels, April Wine (1973)
74.Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot (1973) – when some of my friends got rid of their vinyl, they offered them up to me. This is one of them.
75.Left and Leaving, The Weakerthans (2000)
76.Clumsy, Our Lady Peace (1997)
77.Harmonium, Harmonium (1974)
78.Share the Land, The Guess Who (1970)
79.Greatest Hits, Ian & Sylvia (1970)
80.Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf (1968) – First and best Steppenwolf album. Not only does it have Born to Be Wild and The Pusher, but it also contains my favorite political rant, The Ostrich. I discussed this album more fully here.
81.Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell (1970) – When I was preparing to be in a production of Boys in the Band in Binghamton in 1975, I went to a party with most of the cast. Someone played Side 1 of the LP, and when it was over, another cast member declared it to be “boring,” an assessment I did not share; I mean it has the beautiful For Free on it. Still, I think playing side 2 first might have been more strategic, since it included, in order, Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock, and The Circle Game.
82.Bud the Spud and Other Favourites, Stompin’ Tom Connors (1969)
83.Shine a Light, The Constantines (2003)
84.Shakespeare My Butt, The Lowest of the Low (1991) – #2 on funniest album title list.
85.Clayton Park, Thrush Hermit (1999)
86.Smeared, Sloan (1992)
87.Living Under June, Jann Arden (1994)
88.The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell (1975) – This was the transitional album between the commercial Court and Spark and the jazzy Hejira. I was visiting my friend Jon and his S.O. Debby. She was a big fan of Joni but was very disappointed in this album. I said, “Well, then give it to me. I like it.” I think my enthusiasm for her made her keep it to give it another chance. The first song, In France They Kiss on Main Street, might have fit on the previous album. But the next song, The Jungle Line, heavy with African drums – here’s just a snippet – would definitely not. #4 on the coolest album title list.
89.Bad Manors, Crowbar (1971)
90.Official Music, King Biscuit Boy with Crowbar (1970)
91.Lightfoot!, Gordon Lightfoot (1966)
92.Mad Mad World, Tom Cochrane (1991)
93.Rufus Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright (1998)
94.Face to the Gale, Ron Hynes (1997)
95.Hobo’s Taunt, Willie P. Bennett (1977)
96.Cowboyography, Ian Tyson (1986) – #1 on coolest album title list.
97.Favourite Colours, The Sadies (2004)
98.The Way I Feel, Gordon Lightfoot (1967)
99.A Farewell to Kings, Rush (1977)
100.We Were Born in a Flame, Sam Roberts (2004)