Monthly Archives: March 2010

Time Machine Trip

Yes, I paid $10 to see “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and it was worth every penny.

It was a little strange at first to see that all the songs and other stuff from my high school days are now considered ancient enough to be cool once again.

Once I got over that, it was pretty fun to go back to 1986. I was 17 and a junior at Oakdale High.

Hey, I had a cassette Walkman. I remember Poison and New Order. And yes, I was around when it was OK for girls to wear leg warmers.

I never would have guessed at the time that there would be any kind of nostalgia for that, but this flick is funny.

I went to see it with two friends — we were all in high school in the 80s — and we all dug the funny tidbits from that peculiar time.

Paranoia about the Russkies plays a key role in the story line, and it left me a little embarrassed how much I liked “Red Dawn” back then.

The great thing is that it looks like we’re in for more blasts from the past.

“The A-Team” is due out in June, and I can’t wait. It won’t be the same without Mr. T, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.

And “Tron Legacy” is coming in December. Aw, man. I hope they don’t mess it up.

Either way, I’m there.


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Out, Damn’d Spiky Balls!

Most of the time, we call them spiky balls.

When I step on one by accident in the dark while walking barefoot in the yard, I call them a string of expletives that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

They’re the seed pods of the liquid amber tree, also known as Liquidambar styraciflua.

The trees, which seem to have hatched a diabolical plan to drive us out of our place and take over the world, have a never-ending supply of these things.

The bulk of the pods rain down in the fall, but I think the trees hold back a little, saving some to release from high branches all year round.

The other day, little C. and I raked up a batch off the back lawn, leaving a green-waste can about two-thirds full.

“Bye, bye, spiky balls!” she said as after I tossed a scoop in the trash can.

The balls, which measure about an inch across, are covered in sharp, protruding spikes. They look innoncent enough. But they’re surprisingly tough, easily penetrating the leathery sole of my foot.

I despise these pods, and I know I’m not alone. Liquid amber trees grow all over the Pocket, and probably seemed like a good idea back in the early 70s our neighborhood was built.

The trees do make some pretty nice shade, especially when it’s broiling at 105 degrees on a summer afternoon.

It’s just that the pods drive us nuts. If there was some kind of industry that needed them as fuel, we would be rich.

But for now, we just keep raking. And cussing.

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Star Wars Theater

I never get tired of watching the old-school “Star Wars” flicks, and it’s even more fun when most of the audience is under age 8.

Our front room became a theater the other day, with “Return of the Jedi” as the main attraction.

Seven-year-old A., his 8-year-old amigo L. and little 2-year-old C. lined up on the coach to check out of frozen Hoth and the swamp of Dagobah.

The trio chomped through three bags of microwave popcorn (yikes!) as the battle scenes played out and Yoda tried to teach the ways of the Force to Luke.

The boys took it all pretty seriously. What ship would you fly in? The Millenium Falcon, they both agreed. What character would you be? Both said Luke.

As for C., she was just taking it all in.

“Who’s that?” she would ask when someone or something new showed up.

Fuzzy little Yoda caught her attention.

“A doggy!” she said, trying to make sense of this wise creature.

The boys asked themselves what they would do if they had the Force at their disposal.

A. said he would lift up a chair.

L. said he would use the Force on his teacher.

I didn’t ask why.

I just sat back and listened Yoda’s deep advice.

“Clear your mind of questions,” he tells Luke.

So true, I thought, vegging out as the movie played on.

“You must unlearn what you have learned,” he says at another point.

Also right on the money, in so many ways. Much can we all learn from this little green critter.

As for the kids, their attention wandered a little toward the end. They were busy making a fort out of the couch cushions. After the credits rolled, A. and L. engaged in a mock lightsaber fight.

Yes, the Force is strong with them.

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