Posts Tagged ‘albert’

Bill and Noah and Albert and Me

April 21, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

The fact that I could memorize just about anything that interested me became evident at a very early age.  While I couldn’t learn science to save my life (and still can’t!), I could eventually recite half-hour sitcoms with the greatest of ease.  One major accomplishment was that by the age of six, I had committed to memory every skit on my parents’ The Best of Bill Cosby album.  It never occurred to me that I could simply recite the routines, but I did enjoy making friends and family laugh by lip-synching and acting out Mr. Cosby’s stories of Noah’s conversations with his next-door neighbor and God, as well as humorous tales of The Lone Ranger, Fat Albert, and Adam and Eve.

Then, I had an idea.  If my best friend Dave laughed so much at my pantomimes, maybe the entire class would like them, too!  With my mom’s and my teacher’s permissions, I took the record to school one day, stood in front of the class, and pretended to tell them stories.  It was a hit!  First-graders were giggling at every desk, and even my teacher laughed.  About a year later, I realized that I had a brand-new audience in the second grade, and I repeated my one-boy show.  By the sixth grade and the end of my elementary school run, I had performed the entire LP of routines a total of seven times (including a repeat performance in the fourth grade, due to a family move to a whole new school districtful of fresh listeners).

In retrospect, I’m not quite sure how I got up in front of those students.  I had awful stage fright throughout my childhood.  I guess it was the fact that someone else really did the performing, and I just went along with him, that relaxed me.  I mean, I couldn’t really forget a line, now, could I?  They were spoken for me.  And as history proved, the routines were pretty much guaranteed to get laughs.  Those first years, I had to sweat through mouthing one “damn” and one “hell,” but no teacher so much as raised an eyebrow, so I relaxed about that.

It’s sort of a shame that I deemed junior high too sophisticated for the Cosby/Pender show, but I know I made the right choice.  In a way, it would have helped me during the seventh grade, during my nervous first weeks of wandering the halls looking for classrooms (which I now had to switch every hour), remembering locker numbers and combinations, and surviving a new crop of bullies.  I did slowly learn that making the bigger, tougher boys laugh was a smart move, and I always attempted to entertain the roughest kids I could find during the early days of each new school year.

It was just a bit tougher, since I had to do it on my own.  Leaving Bill and his characters behind was quite a rite of passage.

Archaic Century Fox

March 2, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

When I was less than nine years old, I thought the “76” gas stations I saw were soooooooo futuristic!  It wasn’t 1976 yet, so they must be way cool.  Cutting edge.  Space age, even!  So imagine my anticipation all during the Bicentennial year, watching the company closely, waiting for a veiling, a downtime, and an unveiling.  What would it be called at the end of 1976?  Would New Year’s Day 1977 see a new chain of . . . “98” gas stations emerge???


“76” they were, and “76” they stayed.  I was rather disappointed.  I mean, who can respect a place named for a year that we’ve already conquered?  Sheesh.

Flash forward 20 years.  The famous ominous science fiction year of 2000 is drawing near, and the 20th Century is drawing to a close.  With the 20th Century, I figured Hollywood titan 20th Century Fox would be affected.  You can’t very well draw in hordes of anticipatory crowds, waiting to see what amazing new images you have to offer, when your name denoted a bygone age, can you?

For a brief shining moment, I thought that Hollywood was listening to my brainwaves.  In 1996, a few pictures emerged from “Fox 2000 Pictures”!  Films like One Fine Day and Courage Under Fire bore the name of a company ready to transition.  I thought that thirty or so films a year would bear the “2000” brand, then the first film to be released after 1/1/01 would boldly and proudly bear the brand-new “21st Century Fox” logo.  I figured there would be no radical changes from the “20th.”  The same tall numbers, the same searching sweeping spotlights . . . possibly a tiny change in font, but mainly the only noticeable change would be the new and tremendous “1st” where the old-hat “0th” used to sit.


A hatful of “Fox 2000” movies came out and then, back to familiarity.  Stuck in the mire.  Trapped in the tarpits of the 1900s.

Did they not see the close of the century coming?  Did they not know the numbers would click over?  Did they assume the ticket-buying public didn’t see or know?  Or did those Hollywood moneybaggers simply not care about this thing we call Time?  A wise man named Albert Einstein once said that “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”  Time is generally accepted by all countries and species of the world.  It exists.  It’s a thing we have to deal with.

Wake up, Fox.  Come on along with the rest of us.  Shake off the old century and jazz up your number, would you please?

I don’t want to make you feel self-conscious, but . . . the other studios are laughing at you.

Running Out Of Relationship Icons

February 9, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

When all my friends were marrying off in their twenties and thirties, I wasn’t worried about finding my soulmate.  Originally, I figured that my parents did things right: meet in your teens, get engaged around age twenty, marry two years later, have children and stay together until death do you part.  When I graduated college at the age of 23, and had yet to have a long-term relationship – let alone an engagement! – I needed a new romantic symbol of patience to keep me positive during my long dry spell.

My next relationship icon was Jimmy Stewart.  A vastly popular Hollywood star throughout his career, he would often be seen out on the town with one of many stars or starlets, yet he never married until he was 41, after he sought out and met the love of his life.  James and Gloria Stewart were married for over 44 years, until they were parted by her passing.  Throughout my twenties and thirties, I would think to myself, “Jimmy didn’t get married until he was over 40, and he found his Ms. Right!”

When I turned 42, I had to abandon Jimmy.  I also had to do quite a bit of research to find someone who had a first wedding beyond the age of 40, but eventually found Albert Brooks.  The comic actor/writer/director took his first (and so far, only) walk down the aisle in 1997, at the age of 49.  Not only was this age over 40, but it gave me seven years of elbow room!

Seriously, though, regardless of when I personally travel the aisle, I was quite impressed with these two celebrities.  Wealth and fame typically come with an array of strangers, approaching and latching onto the star, attempting to become his or her spouse.  (Male stars may have more pressure to marry, as most male fans of female celebs may have more “short-term” goals in mind, which will go unmentioned, but that is mere speculation.)

If the “Albert factor” lets me down, I’ll have to resort to drastic measures and begin competing with James Buchanan.  Buchanan, who served from 1857 to 1861, was not just our only bachelor President, he was a lifelong bachelor!

So, who knows?  I may be well on my way to being the President of the United States!