14 October 2008

The Wolfman and me

The Wolfman was my favorite famous monster of filmland, followed by Frankenstein's monster and Dracula and then the Mummy. Basically I'd watch any monster movie, at any time but, for me, the Wolfman was it.
One time, around second or third grade,  I discovered that the late show was showing something called Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and my little heart almost exploded with joy. Immediately I began scheming. The folks had left us in care of a babysitter and with a firm bedtime of 8:30. Negotiations commenced.
I started lobbying early in the morning and kept it up. By noon she was ready to concede, with, however, one proviso: I must eat the prepared lunch.
And what a proviso.
I was, and am, a picky eater and this sitter had had trouble with me before. Canned chili was a particular challenge and that was the menu for the day. When the can was opened and I saw the congealed orange grease I could feel the gorge rise in my throat. It didn't matter to me that it melted; I found it disgusting.
The only way I could deal with chili was with an equal amount of ketchup, and lots of crackers and even then it was dicey.
And we were out of ketchup.
The table was set and the stakes were clear. My brother Mike, the Sitter and I, and three bowls awful chili with Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman as the prize.
Mike could eat anything but he wasn't in this game, too callow to appreciate the finer qualities of cinema and too young to stay up that late anyway. Although he had an iron stomach he would cry like a little girl when he had a haircut so there.
The chili was ladled out and in my bowl the grease puddled. I stared at it and hoped it would somehow vanish. The Sitter restated the rules: "You eat that chili or no staying up late!" As a delaying tactic I crumbled some crackers and asked again if there was any ketchup. No ketchup.
I picked up a spoon and stirred. Mike shoveled his in and the Sitter glared. The moment of truth had arrived.
It was eat or no movie and I just had to see that movie. With a trembling hand I brought a loaded spoon to my face and swallowed.
And paused. There, that's not too bad. Hardly noticed the grease. I can do this. Just a bowl of chili.
I took another bite.
The Babysitter smiled and said "Now, that's not so bad, is it?"
I nodded and then projectile vomited all over the table.
No movie that night, but no more chili either. In fact it would be years before I ever saw Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and I'll have to say that it was ok. Pretty good, but no Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein which had not only Frankenstein and the Wolfman but also Dracula, so there.

10 October 2008

The Golden Age

Randy, a friend of mine in junior high somehow knew that I liked to prop myself up in the school library and read old back copies of Science Digest, particularly Asimov's column where he answered reader's questions. I guess he knew this because for my thirteenth birthday he gave me a paperback copy of Foundation and Empire. Actually, now that I think on it Randy had previously turned me on to an anthology of Asimov's science writing, "Where Do We Go From Here?" so the novel was a natural.
I quickly discovered that this was the second volume in a trilogy, which meant that Randy hadn't read it, so I set out to get the first at the family's next shopping trip to Fred Meyers. I found it, begged the money and scored.
Now the actual reading part made me nervous. This particular edition from the Sixties had surreal, cubist illustrations on the covers and that scared me. I didn't understand Cubism so there was every possibility I wouldn't understand the book.
The table of contents was not exactly descriptive of the action:


And the chapters started out with an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Glactica and I knew I hadn't read that! Daunting for someone still reading Superman.
Funny in retrospect. Who is easier to read than Asimov? I couldn't have found a easier introduction to science fiction.

Foundation And Empire
Second Foundation

Isaac Asimov