Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

This is Me in ’83 – Movie Mix-Up

National Lampoon’s Vacation came out in July, 1983.

I’d heard about its hilarity – possibly from my parents – so when my friend Mike H. invited me to go see a weekend matinee showing (the school year had already started), I was excited – and a little nervous to ask my parents for permission to go see an R-rated movie. I was surprised at their immediate approval, but in retrospect, Vacation is pretty tame. Not PG-13 territory, for sure, but only brief nudity, and certainly no language I wasn’t hearing every day in junior high.

It was sunny on the Saturday that Mike and his mom picked me up, and we headed to the Belden Village Twin Cinemas.

I saw a lot of movies there growing up: E.T. and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century come to mind, and I feel like saw Star Wars at Belden Village at least once, maybe during one of its re-releases.

The “Twin Cinemas” may have once been a pair, but I remember the business as a quartet of theatres – two houses each in a pair of adjacent strip mall buildings. They don’t exist as theatres anymore – the buildings are now home to things like Panera, Cici’s Pizza, and dental offices. You wouldn’t be criticized for wondering how the hell they ever had movie theatres in there, and it was only when I was older that I realized how relatively small the theatres were.

So Mike’s mom drops us off at the theatre. It has become clear during the drive that she is not attending the movie with us, but up to this point, I was figuring she was going to come along and buy our tickets. Now, though, I’m wondering how the heck a couple 12-year-olds are going to get away with purchasing admission to an R movie, and I’m silently freaking out.

Mike and I get out of the car and start walking toward the building where Vacation is showing. Before we get inside, we hear his mom calling after us. She has pulled the car up to the curb and calls from the window, “Where are you guys going?”

“To see Vacation,” Mike answers kind of sheepishly – he’s failing at nonchalance – while gesturing at the theatre.

And then the light bulb goes on: Mike has either lied outright or played a little misdirection/obfuscation with his mom, who clearly has no idea she was aiding and abetting a couple of would-be R-rated movie-crashing pre-teens.

“That’s rated R,” she responds. “I thought you were going to see Eddie and the Cruisers.” And now she’s pointing to the building next door.

“Oh,” Mike responds. What choice did he have? “Yeah. OK.”

I had no idea what the heck Eddie and the Cruisers was, but I admit I felt a little relief that I wasn’t going to have to pretend to be 17 years old to see it.

Eddie and the Cruisers was released on Sept. 23, 1983. (Which means Vacation was still running after nearly two months – I think that was kind of ordinary for the era, although that kind of theatrical run seems unheard of now, unless you count dollar-cinema runs.)

I barely remember anything other than disinterest from that viewing, and the movie became a punchline to Mike and me.

I didn’t see Vacation until it hit cable.

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September 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is Me in ’83 – More Bee

When last we left our intrepid sixth-grade speller, he had landed among the 14 qualifiers for The Repository Regional Spelling Bee. Judging from the picture in the newspaper’s April 3 bee preview section, he was as shocked as anyone else by this turn of events:

April3RegionalBeePreview

A few things jump out at me from the full page Repository bee preview:

  • This is page 48. FORTY-EIGHT. Granted, it’s a Sunday paper, so it would have been big anyway, but seriously, kids, Sunday newspapers used to be fat.
  • Another sign of changing times: Each speller’s profile includes their name, parents’ names, grade, school, and home address.
  • The seven-paragraph story – “National title is goal of 44 spellers” – was written by M.L. Schultze, who went on to become the paper’s managing editor and oversaw a lot of impressive investigative projects. I still hear her work several times a week on WKSU. Her husband, also a former Repository editor, once interviewed me for a reporting job and later recommended me to the Independent over in Massillon.
  • Recognizing that not everyone would be thrilled to find their middle-school selves on the internet, I chose not to scan the entire page. Laugh at me all you want, but know this: I am far from the only guy in this bunch sporting plastic-rimmed glasses and a not-quite-mop of barely-controlled hair.
  • There is also a fair amount of hair feathering by both genders. I would not attempt the middle-parted ‘do for at least another year.

A few weeks had passed since the Stark County bee, and I had continued to study and obsess with as much focus as a sixth-grade nerd could muster when there was Atari to play and Dungeons & Dragons to learn. (One concrete memory: Dad reviewing my study guide with me, and making up a mnemonic device for remembering “abundance” which I have never forgotten. “Remember,” he said, sticking his butt out behind him, “it’s A BUN DANCE,” throwing his rear from side-to-side stressing each syllable – and cracking me the heck up. And now you need never wonder where my cheesy sense of humor comes from.)

The Thirty-Seventh Regional Grand Final Spelling Bee sponsored by The Repository was thirty years ago today, at 1:30 p.m., in the auditorium of the former GlenOak High School East Campus. My parents went to their seats while I got a number to hang around my neck – I was speller number 30 – and stood nervously in line with the few dozen other spellers. And man, were those eighth-graders intimidating. They were the oldest kids allowed to compete, and they occupied 28 of the 44 spelling spots. (Although I will confess that middle school is where my “Smart Girls Are Hot” crush tendencies really took hold, and about two-thirds of the field here was female. So, there was that.)

Being thirty spellers in was a relief. Even in the first round, by that point a few kids had already bowed out, and the bee had settled into its rhythm.

I don’t remember what my first-round word was, but I can easily recall the stomach butterflies that took flight when it was my turn to step up to the microphone, and the sense of relief when The Pronouncer spoke my word … and I knew it.

For me, there was a very particular sense of hellish anticipation standing at the front of the stage, and a crazy relief that washed over me each time I was given a word that I knew. And though it came with its own little razor-edged “Okay-now-don’t-rush-and-don’t-screw-it-up” moment, and there was still that eternity to wait after completing the word to see whether the judges would tap their tiny, soul-crushing desktop bell signaling an error, hearing a word I knew was a glorious, near-tear-inducing thing. I was never one of those kids who could think through word origins and usage  to make a highly-educated guess if I didn’t know a word. Either I knew it or I didn’t. I was either solid, or full-on guessing.

And then it was back to my seat to stare out into the darkness of the auditorium and look for mom and dad and wonder how many more rounds I could last.

Mom kept score in the bee program, noting in ballpoint pen the order and competitive round of each spellers’ exit.

Unlike the county bee, of course, with its 14 qualifiers, here at the regional, There Could Be (Bee? Nah. Too easy. – jb) Only One.

Fourteen kids dropped out in the first two rounds, and another eleven over the next two. After six rounds, there were less than a dozen of us left, and the competition had gotten tougher: The field only contracted by one in round seven.

Round Eight: “Balletomane.”

Well, dang. Never heard that one. Got the first half right, swung wildly at the second, and went down as the seventh-place finisher.

April9RegionalBeeResults

Four spots off the podium, as they say in the Olympics. (Instead of silver and bronze medals, second- and third-place regional finishers got, respectively, an electric typewriter and Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus; and The World Almanac.  And if I couldn’t go to D.C., I really wanted that electric typewriter.) And although I don’t think I realized it at the time, if mom’s scorecard is correct (there’s a little confusion in spots – looks like dad handled scoring at a few points), I was the last speller standing below seventh grade. Of the six kids who beat me, four were eighth-graders – the highest grade allowed. And the fourth-place finisher was a fellow Lake Middle Schooler, making ours the only school with two top-ten finishes. Go us.

But no prize for me, other than this:

dictionary

I have never bought another dictionary, nor felt like I needed to.

And so ended my ’83 Bee Season. The kid who had won the previous year’s regional repeated his feat, went to D.C., and dropped out on a word I knew – either “kudzu” or “menorah.”

I competed three more seasons, accumulating something like five or six of the “younger reader”-type dictionaries awarded at the middle school and county level (one of which is still around), and two Repository-presented American Heritage dictionaries. I think the other one may be at my mom’s house, or belongs to one of my brothers, or was maybe given away during college.

My seventh-grade year I was an alternate for the regional, having slipped up on “taupe” at the county level. I’d never heard of it. In my final year of eligibility, I placed sixth at the regional, missing “restauratrice” because again, I had never heard the word, and also because it makes no freaking sense at all that there’s not an “n” in a word with “restaurant” at its core. I  mean, really.

(Another of dad’s annual bee suggestions: “Hey, if you miss a word, instead of leaving the stage immediately, you should grab the mike and holler, “Anesthetist! A-N-E-S-T-H-E-T-I-S-T!” Because that was his job, and he knew I loved telling other kids that was his job, because it almost always led to, “He’s a what?” “An anesthetist. He puts people to sleep.” “What?!? Like you put a dog to sleep?!?”)

As a pretty skinny kid with state-mandated-minimum athletic talent and little real competitive sports drive beyond the backyard, I really enjoyed my bee seasons, despite what my mom may tell you about how much I complained about studying for them. I liked being good at spelling, and I liked that for a few weeks every year, it was “my thing,” the way some kids were talented in sports, or others built models or drew cartoons or solved Rubik’s Cubes.

Also, if there are any spelling errors in this entry, I made them on purpose. As a test.

April 9, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, Family history, geek, Ohio | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eighteen Saturdays: Five Things the Canton Marathon Got Right

As a follow-up to writing about my Canton Marathon run, I also did a post for the North Canton Patch site noting several things I felt the race organizers did well: Five Things the Canton Marathon Got Right. There’s already a little bit of discussion about the race over there, and I’d love to hear more. (I’m shutting off comments to this entry, so if you have feedback to share, the Patch post is the place for it this time.)

 

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I have an existential map …”

… it has ‘You are here’ written all over it.” (Stephen Wright)

Maybe that’s what Google Maps needs to shoot for, seeing as how a search for Canton, Ohio – while correctly labeled itself – once  again leads to Massillon.

You are here. Or not.

It’s also been brought to my attention in the comments on a previous post about this that at least the error is balanced somewhat:

Click to enlarge.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back on the map: Canton, Ohio

Canton’s finally banished the Spectre of Colesville:

(Mostly) fixed. Click to embiggen.

Yeah, it still says Colesville over there on the left, but hey, the mapping is back in order.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canton v. Colesville: Anagram Challenge

Six days in,  Google Maps v. Reality: The Battle of Canton-Colesville rages on. The day after a few Northeast Ohio media outlets ran with it, the Associated Press picked up and abbreviated the Repository’s piece.

I propose the city’s name be decided through a contest of relative anagram coolness.

In one corner, Canton, Ohio, which, among other permutations, offers us “Hi-Noon Taco.” (To me, “Hi” in this case not being the greeting, but a faux-catchy usage like “krazy” or “nite” or “thru.”)

The challenger: Colesville, Ohio, which can be remixed into “Loose Chili Love.”

Tough call.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canton, Colesville and Google Maps

Updated: Here’s a (Canton) Repository story on it, with not an ‘alleged Canton historian’ in sight.

The news about Canton becoming Colesville is spreading: Fox 8 (WJW) up in Cleveland has a short story about it this afternoon.

It’s kind of a poorly-sourced piece, leaning on one “anonymous Canton resident” for some opinion (note: there’s now an accompanying video with a few more opinions – wow, they actually sent a crew out for this?) and serving up this less-than-authoritative gem:

Finally, some alleged Canton Historians believe it’s correct.

Eddy McLoud, who has no evidence to support his theory, says “That (Colesville) is the township that was here way before they came up with the city name Canton, Ohio.

Still, I remain amused. And so, seemingly, does whoever edited the city’s Wikipedia entry to include: Due to a change in Google Maps, Canton’s name has been changed to Colesville. (Yeah, the change didn’t stick long. Still funny.)



October 26, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, Weblogs | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Google Maps: Dude, Where’s My Canton?

About 10 o’clock this morning, Jenn asked me to grab her a set of directions to someplace in downtown Canton. (Canton, OHIO, just to be clear.)

Clickety-click, typety-type, and Google Maps is being its usual helpful self.

Except that downtown Canton seems to be something other than, well, Canton:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

“Colesville?” Huh. That’s weird. Maybe it’s like one of those outdated neighborhood names or something that just happens to be right where the pinpoint falls on the map, and the “Canton” label will show up as I zoom out.

Nope, still Colesville.

Nope, still "Colesville."

Odd. Let’s pull back more…

Okay, this is getting silly.

Okay, this is getting silly.

Okay, so now I’m really intrigued and wondering where this glitch came from and what the deal is, so I start fiddling about.

I do a Google Maps search for Canton Ohio and get this:

Um... no.

Um... no.

That’s actually Massillon. (And given the century-plus rivalry between the two cities, I think the juxtaposition is pretty damn funny.)

And Colesville’s not something attached to that particular ZIP code, either: Google Maps ZIP code searches for all the Canton-area codes turn up maps with the same Colesville label.

More weirdness: Search for Colesville, with no state name, and Google Maps treats you to Colesville, Ohio at the top of the list, with four other out-of-state possibilities.

I turn to MapQuest. Whew:

Hey, there it is!

Hey, there it is!

Next, I do a MapQuest search for Colesville, OH, 44701. I get this:

Click to enlarge if you want.

Click to enlarge if you want.

Hm. Maybe there IS something to this “Colesville” thing. Of course, I did tell MapQuest to look for Colesville at that ZIP code. I wonder if that generated the label. Let’s try something…

Clickety-click, typety-type:

Weve got the droids youre looking for.

We've got the droids you're looking for.

Huh. “Robot Parade, OH” it is, then. Great.

So, “44701” on MapQuest generates a peachy-keen normal Canton-labeled map, and, in fact, looking on that site for Colesville, Ohio, gets you nothing:

Will the REAL Colesville, Ohio please stand up?

Will the REAL Colesville, Ohio please stand up?

Now, I’ve heard about the fake streets that can be used to red-flag copyright violators, but seriously, this isn’t a cul-de-sac somewhere between wheat fields – it’s a Whole Freaking City.

Or if there is some kind of bizarre historic significance or a link between the seemingly-nonexistent Colesville, Ohio – though it’s mentioned in the 1875 book “The Birds and Seasons of New England” and in a 1855 newspaper article -and Canton, I’d love to hear it.

So, seriously, Google Maps? Where’d Canton go? Jenn’s supposed to be picking up lunch on her way home and I’d hate to think she’s lost in Colesville.

October 23, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, photos, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Akron-Canton Comic Con: Save the Date!

Thanks to West Coast comic book enthusiast Michael Hamersky for this nice weekend mention about the June 28 Akron-Canton Comic Con. I’m looking forward to setting up my table and catching up with Molly Durst (Symphony of the Universe Volumes One and Two now available on Amazon!) and, of course, hanging out with Adam, who’ll be there signing and selling copies of Deus ex Comica.

I’ll have copies of the shiny new edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek on hand.

Jeff Harper does a fantastic job running these local shows and supporting independent creators, and since admission is just $3 (seriously – three bucks!), that leaves plenty of extra cash in your wallet to, you know – buy books and comics and stuff!

Chapparells Community Center is  just off Interstates 77 and 76 in Akron, so it’s ridiculously easy to find from just about anywhere – so come on in and say hello!


June 15, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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