Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Likes, Dislikes, and Trivia

In no particular order . . .
  • When I was in grammar school, my father taught me how to watch boxing: what to look for, how to score fights, and so forth. There were Wednesday Night Fights on TV ("What'll you have? Pabst Blue Ribbon." "To look sharp . . . " from Gillette Razor Blades) and Saturday Night Fights.

    I grew up watching Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio, Rocky Marciano, Kid Gavilan, Joe Louis (past his prime) Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, and a host of others, but my boxing hero was Archie Moore, long time Light Heavyweight Champion. He was an early (and less spectacular) version of Muhammad Ali when it came to hype, and I remember that he returned from a trip to Australia saying that the aborigines had taught him a secret punch that would add "the weight of the world" to its power.

    But I have grown tired of boxing now. It's always been a dirty game, and with the cable TV money it's only gotten dirtier. The beginning of the end for me was seeing Riddick Bowe get away with deliberately punching Buster Mathis, who was down on one knee. Referee Arthur Mercante ruled the fight "no contest" instead of disqualifying Bowe, which is what he should have done. The "no contest" ruling allowed Bowe to keep his title.

    The best fights I ever saw? All on TV except the last:
    • Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Lampkin, lightweights
    • All three Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier fights, heavyweights
    • Salvador Sanchez vs. Azumah Nelson, featherweights
    • The first Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns fight, welterweights
    • Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, middleweights

  • My first 45 RPM record purchase was Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins (Sun Records). When I was a teenager our record player had four speeds: 78 RPM, 45 RPM, 33 1/3 RPM, and 16 2/3 RPM. My parents owned some single-sided 78's, pre-vinyl. I don't know what they were made of but they were heavy.

  • I was a picky eater. The only way I would eat eggs was soft boiled. When I joined the Army we would be double-timed to the mess hall for breakfast. There you ate what they cooked or you didn't eat, and the Army didn't much care which. In no time at all I was eating eggs any way I could get them.

    We were a typical meat-and-potatoes New England family: fish and fairly bland foods such as hamburger, potatoes, string beans, etc. were standard fare. Before I joined the Army I had never tasted soured cream, Mexican food, any European foods, or any Asian foods other than what passes for "Chinese food" in the US.

  • I was a voracious reader and never got the TV habit. We got the second TV in our neighborhood, and along with the other kids I watched shows such as Howdy Doody and Pinhead and Foodini. I remember that the adults watched Perry Como and other shows immediately following the kids' late afternoon shows. This was at a time when shows were fifteen minutes long.

    In later years, when others were watching TV I would usually be reading.

    Today I watch little TV. Occasionally I'll watch some sports contest, or some educational show. I'm hooked on national elections and am up all night as the results come in. I have little patience with the pratfall shows, the bloopers and practical jokes shows. Pardon me, but those shows will turn your brain into puppy shit. And I have friends who are actually hooked on them.

  • When I went to Germany in 1959, American TV advertising already had some humor and some animated bits. John Cameron Swayze was dropping wristwatches into water, and things were slowly becoming more sophisticated.

    Sponsor advertising for the first German TV show I saw consisted of a few minutes at the end of the show. When the main show ended, a man in a business suit walked out onto an empty stage and addressed the camera. Trusting the audience to fulfill its implied obligation to stay put and listen, with a sober face he simply told them why they should buy the product the sponsor was selling.

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