Marvin's Magic Drawing Stuff

I did not have the Marvin's Magic Drawing Board, so I can't tell you how the thing worked (I'm still trying to figure it out), but I did watch the commercial a good thousand times, enough to have those bright colorful swivels burned somewhere into the back of my brain. Apparently you'd swish around a little plastic scalpel and make the colorful underlay appear in the black. I didn't have that, but I did have the color changing pens...and yes, those were 100% legit, including the part about them being magical.

The only thing is the "invisible ink" one would start getting dirty with the ink of the other pens and that would make it less magical...

The Great Webelo Day Camp Event

Proud Webelo!
Sometime during the wet season back yonder in my lore, my entire Cub Scout council was invited to go on this "day camp experience." It was going to be a whole day of fun activities in the great outdoors, and we'd be the proud owners of a pretty big badge if we went, so naturally I went (for the badge mostly). I also wanted to get my feet wet in the whole "camp experience" thing since I dreaded going on an "overnight" (there were some things I just didn't want to see). So my dad and I set off in the wee hours of the morning to get hammered by the uber-scouting pack leader (who scared me on a daily basis a la Bushwhacked) for being "out of uniform" without my neckerchief.

So, once again, my dad and I set off in the later wee hours of the morning after the uniform dysfunction (which didn't even matter because nobody could see it under the coat anyways), and a couple hours later we finally arrived at the destination way, way, waaay the hell out in the sticks. Even just the bungly road out to the camp was designed to really give off that whole "rustic" experience, being about three miles of twisty, turny, bouncy dirt, rocks, and general woodsy "initiation turbulence" through the middle of the forest. At a speed limit of 2 miles per hour, no drink in any cup-holder was safe, and we both emerged in a state of involuntary spasm. Welcome to "Camp Norse"... a camp hardcore enough for the Norsemen, as I understood it. It's not anywhere near where I live (or anyone else for that matter) so don't even try to track me down.

The actual cabin.
From there on the trip quickly went downhill. First of all, of all the scouts in the entire council  only like four or five of us showed up to "represent," which means we were severely, severely outmatched by the other councils who had upwards of tens and twenties of scouts. Secondly, we learned that we were going to be lugging around a giant sled like a pack of Iditarod dog teams, in what was supposed to have been the fluffy snow which turned out to be mush and pine needles. Thirdly, it was damp, muddy, and damn cold. 

So here we were, all four of us sturdy-bodied nine-year-olds, dragging this giant heavy-ass snow sled with all our equipment on it from activity station to activity station, across wet pine needles, rocks, and downed tree branches which had to be frequently moved, falling down on our faces in the cold hard mud, as the other councils zipped around with twenty or so older and stronger guys in tow. We quickly became known by all the other competing councils as "the losers." One team even had wheels on their sled! All the while our drill sergeant pack leader would crack his metaphorical whip, shouting at us to "pick up the pace" and to "put our [you-know-whats] into it" (whatever that meant), but taking time to assure us that if there had been snow, that team with the wheels would've been screwed. I suppose that made me stop and ignore the pain in my shoulders, the humiliation of being in last place, and the cold mud on my drenched pants for a half-second. It was still fun in a "we're all in this together" kind of way. 

The activities included things like climbing trees, building a fire, walking a tight-rope, archery, javelin throw, and our personal worst, tying knots. By the time we made it to any of the activity areas though, we were so grateful just to have made it that we didn't really care about doing what was set out at these stops, so we basically failed at everything. That's not even some cynical joke either, we really did fail at everything. And you'd be surprised how many bathroom stops boys need in a ten hour period of strenuous labor, for which we literally had the trees. "No pain, no gain," he said.

Picture Credit: Scouting Magazine
But through it all, at least we got outside, got to stretch our legs (and then some!), and got enough combined "pull my finger" and "number one, number two? Go find a tree!" jokes out of our systems to satiate our humor palettes for at least a couple days. And we got serious, serious props at the next council meeting for at least showing up and braving the wilds, the battles, and each other's bodily functions, to represent the council. And each of us came home with a sweet, well-deserved badge commemorating the valiant "effort," which we could lord over all the "no-show wusses." 

Still a proud heart! (Not in reality, because that would be weird).

The Adventures of Pete & Pete

The Adventures of Pete & Pete was like the last couple days of summer or at least the early days of thanksgiving break, and boy did I love it. It went and did all the things you only thought about doing as a kid, or at least, doing what you did to the Nth. Adults want you to stay after school? Stay there forever! Has oppressive bed time got you down? Join the "Nightcrawlers," stay up forever, and break the "International Adult Conspiracy" (governed by those suffering from hemorrhoids). School getting dull? Fake a sickday, or better yet, go for a "double dipper!" Left home alone? Sell the house! Of all things ginger and flannel cap, you couldn't beat this. From the rock band on the front lawn to the cutting of the grass with the approval of the lawn gnome, it was capital-R Radical, and true to what a brother relationship is like. I know, because this was pretty much my life as well.

So let's start out with the "Brothers Pete." Nobody was wiser than that spacey teenager with the denim and curly hair (named Pete) who narrated every "adventure," and nobody was downright cooler than his younger brother (also mysteriously named Pete) who could man his own ham radio station (WART), collect burps in a paper bag, wield a blow torch, and drive a riding mower to Canada. But then there were all their weird friends and enemies, first of all Ellen, older Pete's lifelong girlfriend, who dared to ask "why?" and played french horn in the marching band formations, scoring the "dot spot" in the word "Squids" (in Roman Gothic font, no less). Then there was also young Pete's lanky-armed "personal superhero" Artie The Strongest Man In The World (who was at least the strangest man in the world). After that there was Dad, who dreamed of catching the prize-winning fish named Bob, and Mom, who had something to do with why the drive-in movie phonebooth had been ringing for 27 years (until young Pete saved the town from its endless ringing and finally answer the call). "Mom, it's for you."

This show had a whole cast of surreal characters. Even the metal plate in Mom's head was a character (named "Mom's Plate" in the opening credits), picking up radio transmissions and frequencies that would cause her to break dishware, as was young Pete's hot chick arm tattoo "Petunia," who he could make "dance" by flexing his muscle (but who "never made into movies"). Then there was Ken the smoking crossing guard who had seen one too many spy flicks, Monica the "Kreb Scout of death" who never owned a pet that hadn't died (all 30 of them!), and Mr. Tastee the ice cream cone man who ruled the summer with an edible fist. There was Ray the Meter Man electrician who could see the future based on your house's kilowatt hour usage, Stu the love-crossed psychopathic school bus driver who tried to kill them all, Wayne the "Super Genius," and the British gym class teacher whose tyranny called for the great Dodgeball War after young Pete's insurrection.  Then there was Pit Stain, who really had a way of "picking your scabs," together with his crumby gang of bullies: Hair Net, Drawstring, and Nightbrace. Young Pete even had a personal "guardian angel of underwear" named "Inspector 34."

Watching a show like this for all three of its seasons could teach you some valuable lessons. For example, that the song "Marmalade Cream" was pretty hardcore. That there is nothing strange about cowboy neighbors branding their lawn equipment like cattle. That a hot summer day really can melt road tar and car tires. That kids who eat a lot of ketchup are definitely space aliens. That getting out of being grounded for life is as easy as tunneling through the yard with a string of Christmas lights and a mantle piece Statue of Liberty (symbolizing your freedom!!). That "Roadkill Bingo" can make a road trip more memorable. That pet geckos with a "lust for life" can play mini-Foosball. And that scissors definitely beats Papercut because he only throws paper!

I suppose the big lesson about the show though was just the brother relationship, and how the "Brothers Pete" could live in two totally different worlds and yet still jell (even if young Pete still needed a fresh supply of oxygen at his bedside after sharing a bedroom with his brother). The older Pete would be off doing the stuff teens do like hanging out with "girls" and working summer jobs (at the golf course and swimming pool) while Pete the younger would be doing all the cool stuff like launching the neighborhood "prank war" or traveling back in time on daylight savings (with the power of "Riboflavin") to exact revenge on the bully "Endless Mike Hellstrom."

This was adults vs. kids, kids vs. bullies, and "kids just being kids" stuff at it best, and it made you believe. Watching it now makes you realize just how innocent (and messed up) you were as a kid. More than sheer entertainment, the show has given me a very large collection of insults and minced oaths that I draw on from time to time in my daily life to "lay it down," so to speak. Such phrases as "get a life brain drain!"  "stuff it jerkweed!" "bust my clamps!" "suck my fumes, nimrod!" "oh poke me with a stick!" and "take that, lunch bag!" all really do the trick. And seriously, who can argue with such classics like "choke on it, tool box!" "kill me with a brick!," "cheese plug!," "no chance, wingnut!," and of course: "buckle up, it's not just the law, it feels good!" You said it younger Pete, nothing feels better than total subversiveness, and that's what this show was.

"Bite my scab!" --Paid for by the Committee to Give Pete the Bowling Ball.