Summer’s over and while we don’t get many houseflies this time of year, the ones that do enter into our home seem quite lethargic. Maybe it’s due to age. Maybe it’s just their perspective on life. I mean, think about it – on a typical day, a common indoor housefly will look at a person and think:
“Okay… that human beast is about 600 times larger than me. It can crush me into oblivion instantly. I think I’ll land on his face.”
They’re not very bright. And they’re even more bold in the beginning of summer. In the middle of the afternoon, in broad daylight, they’ll land on your arm, as if to say:
“Hey there… you look like a friendly guy. Mind if I stand here and lick your skin for a while?”
By the end of summer, they’re like ninja-flies. One second they’re flying around your head, the next they’re licking your arm, then your hand, then your ice cream cone – just to spite you (they don’t even like ice cream).
The key is to smack them when they are mid-flight. When they are standing, they are on guard, anticipating your efforts to squash them. But, if you can nail them in the air and then stomp on them, you can prove how much smarter, more agile, and stealthy you are compared to them.
Or just wait them out until autumn, when they loose their sprightliness.
When I was a little boy, a fly landed on my ear and I quickly smashed it against my head. Within days, I came down with an ear infection. My parents took me into the doctor, and as he peered into his otoscope, he simply giggled and ran out of the exam room. Shortly afterward, he returned with the entire medical office staff behind him.
They could not believe that there was a fully intact, yet dead fly stuck in my ear canal. All I could say was that the fly explained the buzzing that I had been hearing for days.
Next, my buddy Joby Saad calls into the show to talk about his problems updating his cell phone problems. It seems that because he has so many apps, photos and videos on his phone, there isn’t enough space on it for him to update his operating system. Now, after missing so many updates, his phone doesn’t keep proper time. He’s been on the Philippines time zone for four weeks now. He was very upset about it at first – showing up late for appointments every day – but now he’s learned to see the bright side of it. He gets daily updates about local news updates from the Philippines and is developing a keen appreciation for their unique culture and political nuances. For instance, their President Benigno Aquino seems to blame all of the nation’s current problems on their former administration. Come to think about it, the news reports are very similar to those in American news outlets, only the names have been changed in order to protect the guilty.
One nice thing about having his phone in its current state is that Joby has grown closer to God – if for no other reason than his need to look to the heavens and judge the time of day by the position of the sun. Also, from what he can tell, we will probably have a late winter… based on the behavior of Joby’s local birds (since he can only get Philippine weather on his phone). Now, you’d think he could find other reliable methods of discovering the local time, but Joby drives a rental car that has the wrong time on its clock as well. He has tried calling on his friends and loved ones, but all his friends are fellow comedians who live across the country in other time zones.
I guess he could always invest in a new cell phone, but why fork over that much cash just for the time of day? I guess we could all help him out by simply tweeting to him what time it is… just be sure to tell him which time zone you are in along with your “timely” report.
And finally Michael French joins the show.
Now, it was the summer of 2013 when I was standing in line at the Dukes of Hazard Reunion in Nashville – eagerly anticipating my meeting Catherine Bach, the gorgeous actress who played Daisy Duke! We had already been waiting for two hours when we were informed that based on our current position in line, we had another six hours before we could meet Daisy.
Well, during those eight hours, I met my next guest, a remarkable guy who loves all things nostalgia, especially old toys and television shows. He’s the host of the online treasure trove of all things “oldie but goodie” at RetroBlasting.com, Michael French.
Michael especially loves toys. My favorites were the original Kenner Star Wars action figures, especially the fighter ships. They are also number one on Michael’s list. Then there was the famous Stretch Armstrong toy, which was filled with “mystery goo”, which could stretch for miles, then retain its original shape. However, if the toy ever sprung a leak and you touched the goo, you had to be hospitalized immediately! According to Michael, Stretch Armstrong is now one of the most valuable vintage toys because he is a ticking time bomb. All that goo wasn’t meant to be stored in changing environments for decades upon decades, so it is very susceptible to leaking and spreading all sorts of unheard of damage! Also on my favorites list are the oversized G.I. Joe dolls, complete with Kung Foo Grip!
But none of these captured my love and attention more than the Six Million Dollar Man doll! It had the bionic eye you could peer through and removable “bionics” in his limbs.
But, when it came to the most pervasive of toys, nothing beat the Star Wars toys. Toy stores carried all the other toys, but Star Wars toys were everywhere. You’d see them in the tool department at Sears, the shoe department at J.C. Penny’s… everywhere! I think I remember seeing a collection being sold at a water treatment plant, which really confused me!
Now, according the Michael, the most important factor to making a great toy is its versatility – not that it can be used as either a toy or a ball ping hammer – but that it doesn’t inhibit your imagination with too much gimmickry. For example, any toy where if you squeeze the legs then the arms move are frustrating. These figures typically looked really cool, and it was fun to play with for a few minutes, but then you realize that once you let go of the legs, the arms are always stuck in the same position. And the fun ended.
Another key to good toy design is its durability. There’s nothing less memorable than a toy that shattered in your hand five minutes after you began playing with it. We remember the great toys from the 70s and 80s, largely because they are still around today…
With the possible exception of “Broken Vader”, a fifteen-inch posable doll. It was one of the early Star Wars toys, and the toy that Michael has broke while in storage. Somehow, the dry air of the box it was in dried out the rubber bands that held Vader’s arms in place. Fortunately, Michael is also a toy restoration expert. But, instead of simply showing how to fix the toy, “Broken Vader” became a star in its own right on Michael’s show! He’s now the grumpy toy who knows that Michael fixes all the other toys but refuses to fix him.