I’m a big believer in a fair and nonpartisan approach to all things in life, especially with regards to any topic or issue that is especially contentious, so with that thought in mind here’s an FYI for all my readers that are NRA supporters and more to the “right” than I am…the 1950 movie “Gun Crazy”, starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins, is showing on TCM at 8:00pm on Tuesday, 4/17.

1950…the year before I was born; much as I hate to face up to it, that was a long, loooong time ago.

To quote Rodney Dangerfield, I’m so old, when I was in school they didn’t even HAVE History.

Recently I’ve gotten caught up in this nostalgia thing…it started the other day when I saw one of those “lists” of things you see all the time on the Internet; you know, like “The 50 Foods Doctors Say To Avoid” or “25 Items Everyone Should Have In Their Medicine Cabinet” or “10 Effective Ways To Remove Snot From Suede” or “Fifty Great Uses For Personal Lubricant”, so when I saw this one, ”15 Funniest Sketches Starring SNL’s Original Cast”, I clicked on it without hesitation (see link below). And that seemed to start the ball rolling.


Ah, the 60’s and 70’s…not to get maudlin to the point of being sickening, but despite the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon, inflation, the Russians, “the Bomb”, my mother, Beatle boots, cheap little Japanese cars, horrible pop music (“MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris) and Twiggy, I managed to have a pretty good time back then. Yeah, nostalgia being that file and all.

High school was the typical roller-coaster that it was for most people…at times things were so cool that life looked like an infinite highway, stretching off into the distant horizon, eight lanes wide, full blast and top down. The dips in the road were cavernous but I never seemed to mind back then. And it’s funny how many of the little things I remember…

I had World History last period when I was a freshman, and although it was a subject I liked (as opposed to Algebra, which might as well been in Swahili for as much of it as I understood), being the last class of the day, sometimes the mind tended to drift, and on those warm May days, in a school with no A/C, well, let’s just say that the setting was conducive to slumber.

So it was no great surprise when I fell asleep during class one day, late in the year…I used to prop my head up with both hands, the heels against my cheekbones, looking (I hoped) like I was staring down at the open book on the desk in front of me. I sat way back in the room, so I figured (hoped) I wouldn’t be noticed. We had a young teacher who was a bit of a smart-aleck, so when he noticed me sawing away (probably snoring) late in the period, just before the 3:00 o’clock bell to go home, he made the whole class, or so I was told afterwards since I was thoroughly zoned at the time, tip-toe out of the classroom as quietly as they could, leaving me asleep at my desk.

I woke up about 10 minutes after 3:00, with a bunch of my fellow freshmen standing outside the door looking in through the window at me, laughing their butts off at the 15-year old Rip Van Winkle.


I had already established myself as a bit of a “class clown” throughout that year, with incidents like the time in Spanish class, back in the fall, when we were being taught real basic words and phrases like “Hola! Que tal!” or “vamos a la biblioteca” or “hay un gloton en mi sopa”. We learned words like “la casa”, “la puerta” and “el bano”. (There’s supposed to be one of those squigly things over the “n” in that word so it’s pronounced “banyo”, but I’ll dipped in batter and rolled in oats if I know how to insert one.) So it was pretty much the height of improvisational humor when, after learning that Juan was at the library (la biblioteca), that I replied in a loud voice, in response to Mr. Hernandez’ question “Donde es Juan?”…“Juan esta in el bano.” At least my grammar and use of the second person singular was correct. (I got “jugged” for that one, the school name for detention…I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was a disciplinary problem, because I wasn’t, but they did have a sign on one of the desks in the room where we served our punishment that said “Reserved For Cap’n John”.)

Like most 15-year olds, suffering from a severe case of rampant hormones, I had girls on my mind back then as well. A lot. (The adult equivalent to teenage “rampant hormones” is sclerosis of the blowhole. I think.) Since I wasn’t one of the cool kids, a “jock” (although I was a decent shortstop, playing in what was referred to then as “Pony League” or the next step up from Little League; I had good hands, a great arm and a batting average was typically less than my weight), or one of the “brains”, I was relegated to dating girls of my “peerage”…I remember one poor kid I went out with who was so ugly her favorite snack was Milkbones. When I wasn’t thinking of baseball or playing the drums, it was girls. And girls.

Nostalgia is okay but believe me, I wouldn’t go back for a truckload of money and lifetime season’s tickets to see the Dodgers, who by the way, despite getting all the way to the World Series last year, are really stinking it up so far this season. Like everyone else, I survived pooberty, pimples, 10th grade English Comp, girls, learning to drive (on my mother’s 1960 Rambler American, with a three-speed stick on the column), girls, my first job (flipping burgers at an A&W…remember those? The A&W I mean, not burgers), my mother, various teenage indignities, girls and in general, the life of a teenager in America in the 60’s.

Everything I’ve just described above should explain, at least in part, how I turned out the way I did. Paul Simon summed it up beautifully in the song “Kodachrome”…

“When I think back to all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”

“Hay un gloton en mi sopa” translates to “there’s a wolverine in my soup.”

Just an FYI, in case you’re ever in a restaurant in Tiajuana.

You guys have probably heard the old joke about the guy who was having dinner one evening in a quaint little bistro and, to his dismay, found a fly in his soup. He calls the waiter over and says, “Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?”

The waiter peers down into the man’s soup-bowl for a moment, looks up and says, “Looks like the backstroke to me.”

Love and lavalamps,

Cap’n John


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