Even though I’m not a big devotee of child actors I’d cast the two kids in the above photo in one of my pretend motion picture projects…though modesty dictates that I reveal their identities to be my niece Rachel and nephew Davis. (Okay, so there’s a lot of nepotism at my studio. Just call me Carl Laemmle.) The picture was snapped during Rach’s spring break visit a couple of weeks ago, and we had, as the younger folks used to say, the keenest time. I regret that my evil scheme to indoctrinate Rachel into the joys of falling anvils and explosions was stymied by my arch-nemesis Mom-Lady…but that’s only because my niece doesn’t “travel well” as some folks—whenever she’s away from her home base and eats foods different from her normal menu she gets an oopsy tummy and so Mom thought it would be prudent if she stayed away from Rancho Yesteryear and its admittedly unhealthy cuisine. (I believe that much of Rachel’s maladies are brought upon by stress, however—and you can trust my expert opinion on this because…well, I did grow up with her mother. I just hope she’s not reading this. D’oh!) I feel kind of sheepish admitting all this—like a movie villain who explains in meticulous detail just how he plans on vanquishing the hero…and then it all blows up in his face.
So the sleepover was a no-go, but that didn’t prevent me from moseying over to the Double K Ranch where I spent a night or two…and before Rachel had to leave on St. Patrick’s Day (her parents were flying back from their Puerto Rico vacation to Atlanta; the family then spent the night there and completed their journey back to Iowa the next morning) Mom, Dad and I took her to the happiest place on Earth. Oh, sure—in Anaheim and Orlando it’s Disneyland and Walt Disney World (respectively)…but ‘round these parts it’s the one-and-only Varsity, the Mecca of decadent drive-in grub. Kudos to the ‘rents for agreeing to spring for lunch there for the four of us (especially since my mother remarked after our last sojourn there: “That food is going to kill me for the next three days”); the idea for the Varsity excursion came about because Rachel told Mom that there was nothing that compared to McDonald’s and when I asked her what her opinion was of the Varsity she stopped to weigh her words before replying: “Well, Uncle Ivan…the Varsity is in an entirely different category…can we go there again?”
While we were in the restaurant Dad and Rachel went to find us a seat while Mom and I went to order our food and when I located where my niece and father were sitting (carrying a tray of grub) she crooked a thumb toward a room that had a big screen TV showing cartoons…and I recognized Yogi Bear from a sideward glance. “That’s where I wanted to sit,” she explained, slightly annoyed at Dad. “They’re showing the cartoons you like.” I mention this only for two reasons: first, my previous efforts to treat Rachel to the finer things of life (classic cartoons) have often been for naught because she’s a 21st century kid (she told me in the car that she liked the Johnny Deep version of Willy Wonka better than the 1971 original) who’ll look at me when I suggest we switch over from Nickelodeon to Boomerang as if I’ve grown an additional head. Secondly, yesterday was the centennial natal anniversary of animation legend Joseph Barbera and as tribute to him I wrote up a little essay on his behalf which you can read at Ed Copeland’s blog.
This sort of brings me to the subject of this blog. I really do regret the inescapable conclusion that a great deal of the formerly prolific activity here has sort of went South—in fact, I think I posted more during my convalescence. There have been a few outside factors of a personal nature (I’ll spare you the details ‘cause they’re a bit on the frowny face side) that have been distracting me of late, but I’m seriously working on trying to step up to the plate and hitting a few more doubles again. (And who knows…I may be successful one of these days in applying the paddles to Mayberry Mondays.) I had a checkup at the doc’s on Wednesday and he’s continuing to monitor my vitals in an effort to make sure that nasty old tumor doesn’t poke its ugly head again—he did, however, suggest that I look into some outpatient surgery to restore my voice, which never did make a full recovery after last April’s surgery and has left me sounding like Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. (“My my my!”) So for those of you still with the blog I just want to say thanks for encouraging my behavior and I’m going to do my darndest to get things back into full-speed-ahead mode soon.