Countdown 365: #361- Growing Up in the Age of Technology

(Editor’s Note: As I approach age 60, I am “Counting My Many Blessings” by doing a daily countdown from 365. These are in no particular order, but, as you will see in days following, there is a method to the madness.)

Check out the 70s threads

Check out the 70s threads

I am a child of the late 50s, 60s and 70s (I know, its obvious right?).  I grew up in my youth with black and white TV (with three channels – ABC, NBC and CBS) and we needed “rabbit ears” on the TV or an antenna on the house for reception, 45 RPM records and players, telephones with dials on them (also called rotary phones), cars with roll down windows (not electric) and a bright headlamp switch on the floor, non-electric typewriters and Kodak Brownie cameras that used flashbulbs, to name a few of the things. We enjoyed listening to our Top 40 hits on wonderful new pocket sized transistor radios…AM only. There was no such thing as a Drive-thru restaurant.

 

Black and White TV

Black and White TV

Rabbit Ears antenna

Rabbit Ears antenna

Pocket Transistor Radio and earphone

Pocket Transistor Radio and earphone

Kodak Brownie

Kodak Brownie

An red rotary phone from the 1960's or 1970's.

A red rotary phone from the 1960s

A car window handle from the 1960s

A car window handle from the 1960s

Old Type Writer

Old Type Writer

45 RPM record player

45 RPM record player

Color TV Console

Color TV Console

 

Then life got exciting as I grew a bit older…technology was in action! We got a color TV Console with a STEREO record player. We got a station wagon with air conditioning and electric window openers! Kodak came out with Instamatic cameras – even little portable ones (which I actually used when I was on my LDS mission in Japan)!

 

A Ford Country Squire similar to the one we had (see the photo above with me in it)

A Ford Country Squire similar to the one we had (see the photo above with me in it)

Kodak Instamatic portable camera

Kodak Instamatic portable camera with 110mm film

Kodak Instamatic w/ 126mm film and a flashcube

Kodak Instamatic w/ 126mm film and a flashcube

Polaroid SX-70 Camera

Polaroid SX-70 Camera

With the late 1960s we saw the birth of the 8 track tape…no longer did we have to turn our records over. And we could listen to our music in the car instead of the radio. And the Polaroid SX-70 Camera was to die for! Instant high quality photos. Soon the 8 track was being replaced by cassette tapes that cold be plugged into portable units and eventually, by the early 1980s we could listen to them in stereo on a Sony Walkman.  We had wonderful FM radio stations that played full album sides in a luscious sound. And the IBM Selectric was the thing to write papers on instead of a pen and paper.

8 Track Tape version of Pink Floyd

8 Track Tape version of Pink Floyd’s “Animals

An 8 track player in Car

An 8 track player in Car

Folding 8 track player combo

Folding 8 track player combo

IBM Selectric

IBM Selectric

Computer Punch Card

Computer Punch Card

When I first registered for college computers were in use…by the schools.  We would fill out computer punch cards.  It was so cool to see technology in action.  My first two years of college saw the advent of a typewriter with memory and a built in eraser.  I could type and go back a few lines to erase if I needed to.

 

The good old floppy disk

The good old floppy disk

By the time I was in my 3rd year of college we had connectivity to the mainframe and could write our papers on a computer using Wordstar and storing them on a floppy disk. Color TVs were everywhere and rarely would we see a black and white TV.  And, I forgot to mention that we had video tapes to both watch movies or even record our own. Typewriters were still around but they too were fading away.  The 8 track tape was vintage but no longer available in stores.

When I began my Master’s program at Arizona State University in the mid-1980s we now had portable PCs to use.  Still no such thing as email.  I had a part time job with a Real Estate Auctioneer and he had a brand new cell phone that looked like and felt heavy as a brick. But I could call my wife while I was driving…so cool!  And I also worked at a call center for pagers.  People from all over the country would call in and leave messages that we would type in on pagers.

Taking a Selfie with iPhone in San Francisco in 2015

Taking a Selfie with iPhone in San Francisco in 2015

Back then I was really grateful for technology.  But, little did I know that almost everything would be on my iPhone…my 8 track player is now an music player (and can store hundreds of songs that can shuffle), my black and white TV is now a streaming device for my satellite TV at home, my typewriter is a voice activated writer with a name (Siri).  I don’t need floppies.  My device at 64 GB has more memory than the entire mainframe had when I was in college.  Don’t need a camera either.  I can now take real selfies, thank you. I now talk to my grandkids over the internet while looking at them. My mobile device also measures my steps, keeps my calendar, lets me look at the internet, takes my heart rate, keeps my phone directory and contact list.  And don’t get me started on social media like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn…and yes, I not only use them, but they are what I do to make a living!!  I don’t even need a printed boarding pass at the airport or card or cash at Starbucks…all done on my mobile device.

iPhone 6s Plus - will have one of these soon

iPhone 6s Plus

Needless to say, everything I need is on my device…my LDS Scriptures (and a gazillion other things), my photo albums, my credit cards, my email, my contact list, my to do list, my calendar, I can check the weather wherever I am, my phone can tell WHERE I am and even automatically “geotag” my photos, Twitter posts, Instagram photos, etc.

Speaking of social media, I didn’t mention that I first started using something called America Online in 1993…had my own email address. HA! Email!! (It was eventually sumoman@aol.com)  Then they came out with something called the internet…I could connect my computer via my phone and wait and maybe find something useful on the World Wide Web over AOL after hearing a man say “You’ve Got Mail” (which by the way was voiced by a guy named Elwood Edwards – see article)

A flat screen TV

A flat screen TV

Oh, and nowadays we have these wonderful flat screen color TVs with internet access, 100s of channels of programming.

Ultimately, I am grateful to have grown up through the age of technology.  I have seen men walk on the moon.  I have personally produced 100s of live broadcasts from football fields and gyms across the country over the internet.

And what does the current present hold in terms of technology?  Cars that back themselves up, driverless cars, remote control smart houses where devices can be turned on and off through a mobile device from 1000s of miles away.

It has been an amazing 59 years and I am so grateful to have lived through it all and seen so much.  I can’t even begin to imagine what more I may see in the next few years.  Will the iPhone Mobile Device (or the Samsung Android Device) become an antiquated thing of the past that my children will be saying “I can remember when?”

Over the next year I may focus on few of the technologies that have had profound impact on my life.  But, the massively overwhelming changes – (records –> 8 track –> cassette –> CD –> DVD –> MP3 player –> Mobile devices  for instance) have made life amazing.  And certainly worth counting my blessings.

minority_report

#TBT – Asahi Solar TV Commercial in Japan – 1990

DavidAsahiSolarHappy Throwback Thursday!  This is the first of my #TBT looks back on my work with me in Japan and around the US over the years.

Perhaps the most viewed item in my career, the following video includes the original Asahi Solar TV commercial from Japan, which aired all over the country for nearly half of 1990.

I have not written much about this video, though it has had extensive viewing since I posted it on YouTube a number of years ago.

Basically, at the time it was taken, I was the Director of International Business for Asahi Solar Corporation, which was Japan’s largest marketer of rooftop installed solar water heaters.  In the 1990s it was a big business.

Bunta Sugawara in one of his mob boss roles

Bunta Sugawara in one of his mob boss roles.  He died in November 2014

We had a famous actor from Japan, named Bunta Sugawara (8/16/1933 to 11/28/2014), who did most of our TV commercials.  He was (and still is) famous and was like a mix between the Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood of Japan.  The producers of the commercial didn’t feel that he was a fit for the theme of this particular commercial, though he was included in a bit part on it.

This particular commercial included a little doll called “Solar Bo” and was a bit too goofy for his liking.  So, they chose a big “gaijin” (foreigner) to do the part (that was me!).  I was to go to the Dentsu Advertising Agency’s recording studios in Tokyo and spent over 8 hours in a fake bathtub that was heated with an electric prod every hour, while they filmed the two 30 second spots.  We did a number of takes.  It was fun, but it was also grueling.  The video below contains the commercial as well as a collection of outtakes by Dentsu synched to the music of the Ghostbusters theme.  Yes, I am in a bathtub flying over Tucson!!

AsahiSolarClipAfter the commercial began to air, I had some minor celebrity as I traveled the country for Asahi on business.  People at airports and train stations would come to me and ask if I was the guy in the commercial.  It was fun and was an amazing ride!  Without further adieu, here is the video of the commercial and also the outtakes.  Enjoy!!

Coming Soon to Sumoflam Singlewide Blog – 2015

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

As 2015 has already come on strong, I already have plans in the works for new blog posts and, honestly, I can’t wait, so I thought I would pop in a little teaser of what to expect over the next few weeks:

#TBT Posts

Cartoon2

Cartoon from Oita Godo Shinbun (Oita Daily News – Japan)

The #TBT (Throwback Thursday) movement is getting bigger and I have already boarded that train on my Less Beaten Paths Travel Blog as I look back at old travel journal entries that are now going to be integrated into the blog.  For this particular blog in 2015 my #TBT Theme will be “Sumoflam in the Media” and I will resurrect magazine articles, newspaper articles, television shows and commercials that I have been in over the years.

 

 

 

Second Mesa, AZ

Cover article for the Asahi Solar Magazine – Me with Hopi Indians, providing a Solar Water Heater to them in 1990.

In this I will include my short-lived TV documentaries from Japan, translated versions of my newspaper column while living in Japan, more recent publications in American Magazines and Newspapers. And, there may be a few other fun surprises.  Watch for these every Thursday (or at least every other Thursday).

A TV Food Competition Primer

FN-ShowLogo-Chopped-1920x1080I have become an avid viewer of great Food Competition programming on television, including Food Network shows such as “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “The Great Food Truck Race,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and more. While listening to judges, I have learned all sorts of interesting things from cooking styles, food names and, most interestingly, terminology such as “flavor profile” and others.  I will introduce you to some of these and try to explain them away. Appearance and taste aren’t the only winning things with these shows as many culinary experts are becoming TV stars.  I’ll introduce some of them as well.

Scampering with squirrels – a Photo-Essay

DSC_5838Over the last couple of years I have become enamored with squirrels!  Through all of my wildlife photography, I have captured some great squirrel shots.  At the same time, as I look out by back deck door I have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing shows that squirrels present including their leaping, their frolicking with others and their foraging.  My fascination is seemingly endless.

How to be “Awesome, but getting better”

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

I have become known for replying “I’m awesome, but getting better” when asked how I’m doing.  I am a firm believer in trying to take a positive vent on things and be resilient.

Life may be hard, but the attitude one takes can really be life changing. I enjoy every day of life despite the stresses, challenges and obstacles thrown at me. I hope to share some of this positivity in an upcoming blog post.

The Joys of Being a Grandparent

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

My nickname is “Grampz” to my Grandkidz.  We are all hip…we use the letter Z at the end.

I never dreamed of having 9 (and maybe more) grandchildren.

I may have been an OK parent, but I like to believe I am a Helluva grandparent!

The Selfie King – The Art of the Selfie

The Ultimate Selfie

The Ultimate Selfie – Alligator, Mississippi, June 2014

This is all about “The Art of the Selfie.” I have taken hundreds of them and love doing so.  In 2013 the Oxford Dictionaries announced their word of the year to be “selfie”, which they define as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” As most of us know, the “selfie” has become a very popular form of sharing one’s activities, travels and a photograph with one’s friends, family and the world.  Though taking self-portraits has been around since the birth of photography (Robert Cornelius, a pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839), since the mid 2000s, and especially since 2010, the genre has exploded, thanks to the proliferation of social media.

Clowning Around (Sumoelton)

Clowning Around (Sumoelton) – taken at home, Halloween 2012

I have always been one that wanted to have my picture taken wherever I went, more as a record, but in the past couple of years, with the new technologies that smart devices provide us, I’ve been very active in taking selfies without having to have other people interact with me. Honestly, with the posting of all these selfies, one might think that I am self absorbed. But that is not really the truth. I enjoy sharing the joy and excitement of the places that I have been and the activities that I have participated in.

Selfie with a HUGE potato at a drive-in theater in Driggs, Idaho

Selfie with a HUGE potato at a drive-in theater in Driggs, Idaho – March 2013

Even as a young boy I was always fascinated with being in front of the camera. Over the years I’ve had numerous “goofy” pictures taken of me and I’ve even taken a few “selfies” on my own. Here are a few “non-selfies” from years gone by.

My first "selfie" using a mirror.  I was at a barber shop in Japan when this bird landed on my shoulder.  I took it from an angle

My first “selfie” using a mirror. I was at a barber shop in Japan when this bird landed on my shoulder. I took it from an angle.  Taken in 1977 in Ogaki, Japan

I took this "selfie" in Jemez Springs, NM in Dec. 1978 - Turned the camera towards me and "point and shoot"

I took this “selfie” in Jemez Springs, NM in Dec. 1978 – Turned the camera towards me and “point and shoot”

Mirror image - used my cell phone to take a mirrored selfie at Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton National Park, March 2013

Mirror image – used my cell phone to take a mirrored selfie at Colter Bay Village in Grand Tetons National Park, March 2013

Kewpie Hair - took this after a nap with wet hair - taken in the mirror with my cell phone

Kewpie Hair – took this after a nap with wet hair – taken in the mirror with my cell phone – July 2014

Nowadays, it seems like I take them wherever I’m at, whether I’m traveling across the country or whether I’m with my grandchildren. Taking selfies is fun for me and fun for those around me (I hope).  But they also have become a great way of documenting trips and events.

Real Quiet Lane, Lexington, KY - October 2013

Real Quiet Lane, Lexington, KY -November 2013

In May and June I took two trips across the United States. The first trip was north to Michigan and across four states to Montana to see my daughter and her family. From there I returned south into Wyoming and across Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri to return home. On the second trip I drove south through Tennessee Mississippi and Texas and then back home through Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Friendship, Arkansas - July 2014

Friendship, Arkansas – July 2014

On both of these trips I took close to 100 selfies each. Many of these were posted in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and some of my travel blog posts at lessbeatenpaths.com. As I moved across the states, friends and family were able to follow me (probably to the point of overkill). Of course, anyone that follows my adventures knows that I also like to ham it up in many of my selfies.  Always more fun.

Bison and Sumobison, Havre, Montana - May 2014

Bison and Sumobison, Havre, Montana – May 2014

In this post, I have no intention of posting all 150 or 200 of my selfies from those trips, but I am going to post a selection of them that I found fun and interesting. I will include the location and, if there is a back story, I’ll include a little of that as well. At the end of the post, I am also going to include a few of my other favorites from past trips.

Sumoflam with Hiawatha, the largest statue of a native American in the U.S. This was taken in Ironwood, MI in May 2014

Sumoflam with Hiawatha, the largest statue of a native American in the U.S. This was taken in Ironwood, MI in May 2014

I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Lew in Austin, TX in June 2014.  This is the famous Welcome to Austin mural

I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Lew in Austin, TX in June 2014. This is the famous Greetings from Austin mural

Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota. Taken in May 2014

Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota. Taken in May 2014

Pink Elephant in DeForest, Wisconsin - May 2014

Pink Elephant in DeForest, Wisconsin – May 2014

Not only do I find pink elephants with glasses, I can find big cows with PINK glasses - this was in Russellville, KY in June 2014

Not only do I find pink elephants with glasses, I can find big cows with PINK glasses – this was in Russellville, KY in June 2014

Bucksnort, Tennessee in June 2014

Bucksnort, Tennessee in June 2014

With Chief Washakie in Cody, Wyoming - May 2014

With Chief Washakie in Cody, Wyoming – May 2014

At Mammy's Cupboard Cafe in Natchez, Mississippi in June 2014.  Yes, I ate in that place too...unique looking place

At Mammy’s Cupboard Cafe in Natchez, Mississippi in June 2014. Yes, I ate in that place too…unique looking place

A star shining brightly at Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska in May 2014

A star shining brightly at Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska in May 2014

Sumoflam visits the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX in June 2014

Sumoflam visits the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX in June 2014

Personally, I think that the selfie has become a great form of “journal keeping.” These are things that will allow family and friends to look back and see what we have done. I think that too many people don’t document the things that they have done and then we lose that personal history.

At the corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, Texas - June 2014

At the corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, Texas – June 2014

Wyoming's Wildlife - yes, probably me...  taken at a rest area on US Highway 20 about 40 miles west of Casper, WY in May 2014

Wyoming’s Wildlife – yes, probably me… taken at a rest area on US Highway 20 about 40 miles west of Casper, WY in May 2014

Visiting Rock City near Valier, Montana in May 2014

Visiting Rock City near Valier, Montana in May 2014

I always endeavor to find unique places for selfies and just for a visit.  This was Endeavor, WI in May 2014

I always endeavor to find unique places for selfies and just for a visit. This was Endeavor, WI in May 2014

Sumoflamalope (a mix between a Sumoflam and a Jackalope.  Taken in Douglas, WY in May 2014

Sumoflamalope (a mix between a Sumoflam and a Jackalope. Taken in Douglas, WY in May 2014

Some gator teeth and me at P'maws Bait Shop in Pierre Part, Louisiana - June 2014

Some gator teeth and me at P’maws Bait Shop in Pierre Part, Louisiana – June 2014

With the old Paul Bunyan statue (built in 1937) in Bemidji, MN in May 2014

With the old Paul Bunyan statue (built in 1937) in Bemidji, MN in May 2014

Visiting the giant pyramid in Nekoma, ND in May 2014

Visiting the giant pyramid in Nekoma, ND in May 2014

With Sam Houston's head in Huntsville, Texas in June 2014

With Sam Houston’s head in Huntsville, Texas in June 2014

Naturally, when I travel, no matter when it is, I have my cameras on the ready.  In the past couple of years I try to also get photos with state signs and unique town signs. Here are a few from trips over the past couple of years.

Welcome to Winner, South Dakota.  Always great to be a Winner (and they had a major lottery winner in that town too!!) Taken in June 2013

Welcome to Winner, South Dakota. Always great to be a Winner (and they had a major lottery winner in that town too!!) Taken in June 2013

I meandered into Okay, Oklahoma in November 2012

I meandered into Okay, Oklahoma in November 2012

A visit to North Carolina in April 2013.  We actually took a trip to South Carolina and Georgia as well.

A visit to North Carolina in April 2013. We actually took a trip to South Carolina and Georgia as well.

Smile, you are in Pennsylvania...so I smiled in July 2013

Smile, you are in Pennsylvania…so I smiled in July 2013

Went through Nebraska on my to see Carhenge in May 2014

Went through Nebraska on my to see Carhenge in May 2014

Arriving in Texas on my way from Colorado and heading to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo in June 2013

Arriving in Texas on my way from Colorado and heading to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo in June 2013

Rudyard, Montana - and no, I am not the Old Sore Head...  May 2014

Rudyard, Montana – and no, I am not the Old Sore Head… May 2014

Welcome to Louisiana in June 2014

Welcome to Louisiana in June 2014

In Lost Springs, Wyoming (Population 4) in May 2014.

In Lost Springs, Wyoming (Population 4) in May 2014.

Had to visit the town of Cut and Shoot, Texas north of Conroe, just for a photo op with their City Hall and the town name - taken in June 2014

Had to visit the town of Cut and Shoot, Texas north of Conroe, just for a photo op with their City Hall and the town name – taken in June 2014

Naturally, I had to visit the birthplace of one of my favorite characters, Kermit the Frog, in Leland, Mississippi in June 2014

Naturally, I had to visit the birthplace of one of my favorite characters, Kermit the Frog, in Leland, Mississippi in June 2014

Route 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi in May 2014

Route 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi in June 2014

Heading to Carhenge in May 2014

Heading to Carhenge in May 2014

Welcome to Arkansas in June 2014

Welcome to Arkansas in June 2014

Then there are my ham it up, goofy and whimsical selfies that I love to take.  Here are a few from previous road trips and at home, around movie theaters, and other odds and ends for fun.

Bull headed at the Frontier Steak House in Dunkirk, Montana in March 2013

Bull headed at the Frontier Steak House in Dunkirk, Montana in March 2013

The Hodag and Sumoflam in Rhinelander, WI in August 2012

The Hodag and Sumoflam in Rhinelander, WI in August 2012

Home of the Hamburger - with the Charles Nagreen Statue in Seymour, Wisconsin, August 2012

Home of the Hamburger – with the Charles Nagreen Statue in Seymour, Wisconsin, August 2012

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas in June 2014

Being chomped by a Transformer Dinosaur at the movie theater in Lexington - July 2014

Being chomped by a Transformer Dinosaur at the movie theater in Lexington – July 2014

Escaping a T-Rex in Choteau, Montana in May 2014

Escaping a T-Rex in Choteau, Montana in May 2014

Within reach of the amazing metal dragon from Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI in August 2012

Within reach of the amazing metal dragon from Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI in August 2012

Being stomped by a giant dinosaur at the Indianapolis Children's Museum in September 2013

Being stomped by a giant dinosaur at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in September 2013

Under a Fire-breathing Dragon in Vandalia, IL in September 2013

Under a Fire-breathing Dragon in Vandalia, IL in September 2013

Cuddling with a troll in Mt. Horeb, WI in August 2012

Cuddling with a troll in Mt. Horeb, WI in August 2012

Almost didn't see the stop sign covered in snow at the "Top of the World Store" in the Beartooth Range at 10,000 feet in May 2014

Almost didn’t see the stop sign covered in snow at the “Top of the World Store” in the Beartooth Range at 10,000 feet in May 2014

Suffering with Flamingo Pink Eye at the former Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville in December 2012

Suffering with Flamingo Pink Eye at the former Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville in December 2012

Took a SumoGothic photo in Eldon, Iowa at the house used in the painting American Gothic in September 2013

Took a SumoGothic photo in Eldon, Iowa at the house used in the painting American Gothic in September 2013

Being corny at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD in April 2013

Being corny at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD in April 2013

Selfie with the Caddies of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX in June 2013

Selfie with the Caddies of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX in June 2013

Peek a Boo from behind an umbrella at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky in June 2013

Peek a Boo from behind an umbrella at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky in June 2013

Then there are my references to Antsy McClain…my good friend and favorite singer/songwriter….

Livin' the Dream - taken at a Hobby Lobby in December 2013 - refers to Antsy's CD of the same name

Livin’ the Dream – taken at a Hobby Lobby in December 2013 – refers to Antsy’s CD of the same name

Juxtaposed Antsy's Living the Dream CD with my face in July 2012

Juxtaposed Antsy’s Living the Dream CD with my face in July 2012

A "dualie" with Antsy McClain taken in 2013

An “usie” with Antsy McClain taken in 2013

Everything's a Dollar - in reference to an Antsy McClain song of the same name

Everything’s a Dollar – in reference to an Antsy McClain song of the same name

Enjoy the Ride - The Aluminum Rule from the Antsy McClain song "Living in Aluminum"

Enjoy the Ride – The Aluminum Rule from the Antsy McClain song “Living in Aluminum”

And just a few more goofball selfies to round out this post…

I get the point at Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin in May 2014

I get the point at Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin in May 2014

Hanging with the Tin Family in North Dakota's Enchanted Highway in June 2013

Hanging with the Tin Family in North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway in June 2013

With a bottle of "Route Beer" at Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL in August 2013

With a bottle of “Route Beer” at Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL in August 2013

And how about some Ice Cream with that "Route Beer"... in Peoria, IL

And how about some Ice Cream with that “Route Beer”… at Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL

I always like to get a selfie at unusual places, like Stoner Drug in Hamburg, Iowa

I always like to get a selfie at unusual places, like Stoner Drug in Hamburg, Iowa

Or with famous things like the car used in American Pickers. This is in LeClaire, Iowa

Or with famous things like the car used in American Pickers. This is in LeClaire, Iowa

Took this at a place that had a bunch of totem poles made with chainsaws, in Wisconsin

Took this at a place that had a bunch of totem poles made with chainsaws, in Wisconsin

The Artsy side of me likes to get selfies where I "kind of" fit in....  This was in Council Bluffs, Iowa in August 2013

The Artsy side of me likes to get selfies where I “kind of” fit in…. This was in Council Bluffs, Iowa in August 2013

I recently read that there are now words being created for group “selfies,” with “usie” being one of the more common names, but other names are used as well.  here are a few “usie” pix I have gotten over the past couple of years….

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

The best “usies” are with my wife Julianne, this one at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

An 'usie" with travel writer and blogger Tui Snider from Texas in June 2014

An “usie” with travel writer and blogger Tui Snider from Texas in June 2014

This "usie" is with Troy Landry, one of the stars of the History Channel's "Swamp People" series.  He hunts gators near Pierre Part, Louisiana.  I got this with him at his Dad's bait shop in Pierre Part in June 2014

This “usie” is with Troy Landry, one of the stars of the History Channel’s “Swamp People” series. He hunts gators near Pierre Part, Louisiana. I got this with him at his Dad’s bait shop in Pierre Part in June 2014

An "usie" with Danielle Colby from American Pickers taken in 2012

An “usie” with Danielle Colby from American Pickers taken in 2012

An "usie" with world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel

An “usie” with world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel

Naturally, as a grandfather of nine, I get a number of “usie” photos with my grandchildren.  My next “selfie” post will include quite a few of them, but, in closing, here are just a couple of my all time favorites to include in this first post.

With some of the grandkids in the car on the way to a movie

With some of the grandkids in the car on the way to a movie

Hamming it up with my East Coast grandson Rockwell

Hamming it up with my East Coast grandson Rockwell

A couple of the grandkids with Grandma and Grampz

A couple of the grandkids with Grandma and Grampz

Teaching my granddaughter Lyla to drive

Teaching my granddaughter Lyla to drive

Wnjoying time with my West Coast grandkids in Montana

Enjoying time with my West Coast grandkids in Montana

On that note I will end by noting that I am grateful for the wizardry of technology that allows us to do these “selfies” and “usies” and share them with the world. Photography has become fun and documenting one’s life has become more fun. Wizardry is fun…right Gandalf?

Sumoflam and Gandalf "usie"

Sumoflam and Gandalf “usie”

So, with that being said, I will probably have a couple more posts in the future of other selfies and most certainly of some family “usies.”

The World of Humor and Self Help: I’m Awesome, but Getting Better

Awesome, but Getting Better

I’m Awesome, but Getting Better….

….And here is why…..

Humorists Keep Me Alive
Groucho Marx Swami Beyondanada Antsy McClain

I have always loved humor. It always makes me feel better.  There are studies that argue strongly that happiness and laughter are natural immune boosters (see this one). In fact, before you continue with this post, enjoy the following video from Belgium entitled “Merci!” produced and directed by Christine Rabbette in 2003.  If this doesn’t give you a chuckle and keep you smiling for a while nothing will. The man laughing in the video is Belgian comic Jan Hammeneker. I love this piece!!

Though always one for fun, I have always sought for laugh inducement, whether it be Dr. Demento in the early 1970s to the Blues Brothers or Steve Martin comedies in the movies and TV.  One of my favorite “immune boosters” is the Marx Brothers.  I was first introduced to them in the 1970s and totally embraced the world of Punnishment (using puns…). Then in the 1980s I got to embrace FUNdamentalism via the great Swami Beyondananda. Finally in the 1990s I got to Enjoy the Ride of the Way Cool World of Singer/Songwriter/Humorist/Artist/Author Antsy McClain. I have never looked back since and humor keeps me alive, happy and well.

The Marx Brothers – I’d Never Join a Club That Would Have Me as a Member

The Marx Brothers

The Marx Brothers

I was officially introduced to the Marx Brothers and their antics while I was a senior at Murray High School in Utah. Like many others my age I had grown up watching the Three Stooges on TV and had seen some Laurel and Hardy shows and had even seen some of the Marx Brothers skits (and all about slapstick).  But the real impact happened when I joined my friends at the Blue Mouse Theater in downtown Salt Lake City (which closed around 1987). This arts-centric theater showed a number of old movies, hosted the Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc.  During 1974 they hosted a number of Marx Brothers movies on the big screen.  We went and had a blast.  In fact, though already a good punster, my punning skill level zoomed to new heights after watching Groucho Marx and his verbal antics.  To this day I have been known to repeat many of his famous one-liners such as the following:

  • I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it
  • Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
  • Whatever it is, I’m against it
  • I would never join a club that would have me as a member
  • While in my pajamas I shot an elephant.  What it was doing in my pajamas I’ll never know.

Click here to visit a great page of Groucho’s one-liners.  And even more are here!

Then there is my favorite quote from Chico Marx in “A Night at the Opera.” It’s a scene where they are discussing terms of a contract.  This is one of my all time favorites!!

The contract scene between Driftwood (Groucho) and Fiorello (Chico) (“the party of the first part …”) is telling of my kind of humor (and have used the punch line myriads of times:

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause that’s in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.
Fiorello: Well, I don’t know…
Driftwood: It’s all right. That’s, that’s in every contract. That’s, that’s what they call a sanity clause.
Fiorello: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!

Here is the actual video clip:

Swami Beyondanda – Take Humor Seriously, and Seriousness Humorously

Swami Beyondananda

Swami Beyondananda

In the 1980s I was introduced to a book entitled “Driving Your Own Karma: Swami Beyondananda’s Tour Guide to Enlightenment ” by Swami Beyondanda. My step dad had it and thought I would enjoy it.  This book had me in stitches from the first page, but I was also impressed about the “self-help” content intertwined with it.  The Swami uses puns and humor to actually work towards this self help. It was my first venture into FUN-da-Mentalism where the effort is on more FUN and less mental.  Or, as the Swami says on his site: He has “held forth on topics such as “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sects” (“… unbridled sects can lead to unwanted misconceptions …”), “Teach Your Dog to Heal” (“… being around friendly canines generates healthy hormones called puptides …”), “Tantrum Yoga” (“… the latest rage on the path to ire consciousness”), and “Be There Now, Swami’s ultimate take on bi-location” (“… the first time I stepped outside my body, I was beside myself with excitement …”).

DrivingYourKarmaThe Swami is the alter ego of Steve Bhaerman, an internationally known author, humorist, and workshop leader. For the past 23 years, he has written and performed as Swami Beyondananda, the “Cosmic Comic.” Swami’s comedy has been called “irreverently uplifting” and has been described both as “comedy disguised as wisdom” and “wisdom disguised as comedy.” One of his many mantras is “It’s time to take humor seriously, and seriousness humorously.”

Steve Bhaerman

Steve Bhaerman

The Swami teaches the ancient art of “Foo Ling” — where people use laughter as a tool to enlighten up their own lives, and the lives of those around them. And one of the best ways to multiply healing laughter is to celebrate those moments when laughter leads to a breakthrough — what the Swami calls moments of “Fool-Realization“.

DuckSoup In a play on the Marx Brothers’ movie “Duck Soup” (this was the movie with the oft parodied mirror scene and see Lucy and Harpo Marx do it ) coupled with the 1990s “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and other Chicken Soup books (now over 200 titles) by success guru Jack Canfield and Inspirational speaker Mark Victor Hansen, the Swami teaches in “Duck Soup for the Soul” that we can alter our own reality (and the reality of those around us) by Making Fools of ourselves, putting levity over gravity, remembering to Tell-A-Vision, being Esteem-Generators, and Committing Random Acts of Comedy and Beautiful Nonsense.

Antsy McClain – Welcome to the Trailer Park

Antsy McClain

Antsy McClain

I first met Antsy McClain (this is his stage name) in 1993 in Kentucky.  We worked together at an auto parts production plant as Japanese interpreters.  I was away from family, who stayed back in Arizona and Antsy too worked away from family on this limited time contract position. It was during this time that we discovered a shared love of humor and music.  It was soon after that Antsy had left the company and had coupled with a friend to form the “Trailer Park Troubadours,” a musical group with a bit of a goofy “schtick”.  Over the years I have worked with Antsy, managing his website, working concert shows, producing some of his videos, doing some of his photography (like the one above), sometimes touring and even singing with him on stage. (See my “History of the Troubs” for more on the group). Antsy is not only an amazing musician, but is a noted professional artist and has published a number of books.  If I die before he does, I want him singing at my funeral!!! Many of his earlier songs were quite funny, but over the years he has also developed some serious leaning, yet inspiring songs. One of the more humorous videos that I produced for him was that of “The Bathroom Songwriter (clink link below)

I did this for him in 2008 and have a number of his other videos on my YouTube Channel. Antsy’s unique humor and his famed “Antsyisms” have kept thousands of fans happy.  If I ever have a down day, I just need to pull out “Trailercana” or “Way Cool World” and may day is brightened.

Roger McFuddleton's Pet Grudge by Antsy McClain

Roger McFuddleton’s Pet Grudge by Antsy McClain

But music is not his only forte.  He has produced books such as the Pet Grudge picture book above, which is a delightful story of a man with a Pet Grudge that eventually gets too big. Won’t tell the ending…would ruin the story for you.  And then, almost mirroring Swami Beyondanada, in 2012 Antsy published “Resisting Enlightenment in 12 Easy Steps: A Guide to Making Mistakes

Resisting Enlightenment in 12 Easy Steps

Resisting Enlightenment in 12 Easy Steps by Antsy McClain

Between Antsy’s music, art and writing, he helps us to learn about “another code of living – the Aluminum Rule: Thou Shalt Enjoy the Ride”, he helps men learn that the three most important words they can say to their wife are “I Married Up” and teaches us that “a burden is small ’til you feed it” and so we need to “Let the Little Things Go.”  His amazing use of double entendre in his songs mixed with some humor and inspirational thought has endeared him to 1000s who now call themselves “Flamingoheads.”   He always can sing “A Happy Song” to make me happy.

laughter_medicineSo, I try to take my laughter pills every day to keep me smiling, reduce stress and even help others around me have a brighter day. This is what keeps me “Awesome, but getting better”

Jolly Sumoflam

Jolly Sumoflam

If Swami Beyondanda can don a funny colored wig, so can I……

Sumoflam's Alter Ego

Sumoflam’s Alter Ego – always smiling!

I Love Trivia!

I am always in pursuit of trivia…all that useless knowledge makes for great and fun conversation. Trivia is (or are) unimportant (or “trivial”) items, especially of information. Usually these are unimportant facts that everybody has stored somewhere at the back of the brain and are useful in conversation or in games.

Jeopardy!_1974It all started for me in the 1960s when I would catch the television trivia show “Jeopardy“, which got its start in the 1960s and continues as a popular show today.  I loved that the material for the questions covered a wide variety of topics (including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature, and languages),and that there were also pun-laden titles (many of which refer to the standard subjects), wordplay categories, and even entire sets of categories with a common theme.

Trivial Pursuit

Always in pursuit of Trivia!

I have always been a fan of trivia.  I can remember reading the newspaper daily in the 1970s and 1980s…I wanted to see the L.M. Boyd column, which was chock full of trivia.  Here is an example (L.M. Boyd Selections)

“It’s only a coincidence that “nasa” in Hebrew means “to go up.”

Readers_Digest_LogoWhen I was young I also loved to read through the Reader’s Digest. The jokes and funny stories were a blast, but the magazine always had a tons of little trivia tidbits.  Even today on their online site you can find trivia quizzes, such as this “Great State Nicknames” quiz (which by the way, I got a 100% correct on!!).  As trivia became more popular, other magazines began using it.

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey

One cannot have a discussion about trivia without including the trivia master of AM Radio…Paul Harvey. Known for his conservative and sometimes opinion-laden news stories on ABC radio for decades, he later produced an interesting Trivia type of radio series known as The Rest of the Story, which can be described as a blend of mystery and history. It premiered on May 10, 1976 and quickly grew to six broadcasts a week, and continued until Harvey’s death in 2009. The Rest of the Story series was written and produced by the broadcaster’s son, Paul Harvey, Jr., from its outset and for its thirty-three year duration. Harvey and his radio network stated that the stories in that series, although entertaining, were completely true. True or not, they were always interesting and his listeners, including me, would wait for his “And now, the rest of the story” portion — this was the trivial meat of the broadcast.

FactoidAlso in the 1970s, media had grasped this trivia concept full force and was including it in news reports. In 1973 the novelist/columnist Norman Mailer was attributed with the creation of a new word from his biography of Marilyn Monroe.  The term was “factoid” and it was defined as a questionable or spurious statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context.  Many magazines and TV news shows now have their little Factoids. (Now there is a piece of Trivia you probably didn’t know!!)

One of many Uncle John's Bathroom Reader titles

One of many Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader titles

Through the years I have enjoyed the “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” books too. The first edition, simply titled Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, was released in 1987 with little fanfare, but to Uncle John’s delight, people loved it…and they wanted more. So the following year the “Bathroom Readers Institute” (BRI) released a second edition, and then one after that, and another, and another. In the early 2000s, when Uncle John decided to expand the line beyond those annual “Big John” editions, the series hit the big time. Now there are Bathroom Readers for kids, plus books that cover single subjects such as horses, hockey, history, Texas, quotations, puzzles, baseball, music, Minnesota, Hollywood, Christmas, cats, dogs, golf, New Jersey, trivia quizzes, and loads more.  I don’t have them all, but I have probably read eight or nine different versions!

DUH! - The Stupid History of the Human Race

DUH! – The Stupid History of the Human Race

There are dozens of Trivia books out there, but they have one thread in common…fun and useless trivia.

Antique Archaeology

Antique Archaeology, home the History Channel’s “American Pickers

Then there are the TV shows that come full of trivia. The History Channel features American Pickers and Pawn Stars, both of which always provide history of the things they are showing and also have some nice Trivia breaks in each show. Many shows have trivia pieces in them now so we can always learn something totally useless if we want.

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit

In 1982 the board game Trivial Pursuit hit stores. If you have lived in a cave and never heard of this game, the object of the game is to move around the board by correctly answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories, with each one having its own color to identify itself; in the classic version of Trivial Pursuit, the Genus edition, these are Geography (blue), Entertainment (pink), History (yellow), Arts & Literature (brown), Science & Nature (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange). Since 1982 there have been dozens of versions of the game, with numerous themes.  The fun for this in my mind has been the thousands of trivia-filled cards that come with the games.  We have taken them on trips and just read through them for fun.  Amazing facts and information have been gathered!!

TriviaWith the widespread growth of the internet in the past couple of decades, there has also been an explosion in Trivia Web Sites and Trivia Apps for mobile devices.  In fact, there are likely trivia sites for every theme imaginable.  A couple of my favorites:

mental_floss – This evolved from the Magazine of the same name (which I believe may have gotten the name from Swami Beyondanda)  Regardless, the magazine has a massive factoid and trivia filled website and blog, has produced its own game called “Split Decision” and has produced a number of books.

Roadside America – My favorite travel site on the web, it is also filled with trivia and useless (but fun) quirkyness. With over 10,000 offbeat sites in the United States featured on their Website, many of them include a brief history of the quirky and strange places, like the Museum of Clean (in Idaho), the Mustard Museum (in Wisconsin), the world’s biggest twine ball (or all five of them), etc.

But there are many more. One person has compiled a list of 100 “Best of Web” Trivia websites. But there are other lists as well.

wikipediaPerhaps my FAVORITE site of choice for all trivial pursuits of both useful and useless knowledge is Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, the site a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia’s 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.3 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. And this is where I have my fun….here are a few examples

  • When in church we may sing a hymn and I am curious about the composer and his/her background.  I pull out the iPhone, look them up in a Google search and click on the Wikipedia link. VOILA! There is now a whole bunch of detail and many links to other documents.
  • Many evenings I watch television for a couple of hours before bed.  As I see the actors I can look them up on Wikipedia and then typically IMDB (a large data base about movies, TV and the industry).  It is here that we can find out about they kinds of jobs an actor may have had before becoming famous or what obscure movie they may have been in early in their career.
  • I may see something interesting on TV, in a magazine or elsewhere.  Wikipedia will most likely have the details (after a Google search of course).

Google and Wikipedia are my friends — they constantly feed my mind.