Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Truth Will Set You Free (& Keep You Poor)

The Year - 1966.

The Place - the production set of a local television show, "Popcorn Playhouse".

The Premise - Your typical 60's show, with short cartoon segments (Tom & Jerry, Popeye) interspersed with the host interviewing kids on the Klondike/mining-themed set. Those kids who were there on the day of their birthday (give or take a couple of days latitude ) were called up at the end of the show to dig for 'gold' (i.e. gold-wrapped nickels hidden in a boxcar of playbox sand).

The Players - the Baroness (aged 5) and her doofus cousin (aged 8), whose birthday it was.


Without painfully stating the obvious (although I will just in case Doofus ever happens upon this), it is pretty HUGE to be able to not only have your name called on television, but to go up to Ye Olde Fake Mining Car on Popcorn Playhouse ON your BIRTHDAY and potentially find a gold coin.

Yet, my cousin did not grasp the enormity of all of this.

She told me in no uncertain terms, while the cartoons were going on, that when the birthday kids were called, she would not be going up to dig. She would merely pretend that she had not shown up that day.

Can you imagine? What an idiot.

There was no way in hell that I was about to let a fine opportunity like this go wasted. Then and there, I decided that - not unlike the Academy Awards - I would go up and take Brenda's place. But, in true Method Acting, I would not merely accept on her behalf.

Oh no, no, no.

I would BE Brenda.

My heart began to pound as the last cartoon of the day ended. This was my chance.

The host began his usual schtick...'Would all of the birthday boys and girls come down to the Klondike Kart to try out their luck?'

I know that both my mother and my aunt were watching this Kodak moment present itself from the green room. My legs feel like jelly, but I know that this is my 5-year old destiny. I have mentally committed to this - there's no looking back. (because if I did, I would see the slack-jawed look on my cousin's face and potentially turn to a pint-sized pillar of salt).

Down I strode to take my rightful place in line.

The host would ask the child their name as they dug away. We would be allowed 3 shovels' full of sand into the sifter - no poking around. Best of luck, blah, blah, blah.

When it (finally!) became my turn to dig, it was though the host handed me a diamond-encrusted ceptre rather than a dinky little garden spade.

'And what's your name, birthday girl?'

(C'mon Baroness - be the Brenda. Live the Brenda.)

'Brenda vonBloggenschtern'.

(Perfection. Now smile broadly directly into camera one, completely pushing the thought out of your mind that your mother is somewhere nearby dying of embarrassment)

'And how old are you, Brenda?'

(There's no way you look 8 - use the truth, Baroness. OWN the truth.)

'I'm five years old, Eric'

(Ha! He bought it. I am SO freaking there. These nickels are all mine. MINE! MINE!)(Dig, Baroness, dig. Dig like your life depended on it.)

'And when's your birthday, Brenda?'

(C'mon Baroness. Bring the Method. Be the gold miner. Use excellent form - shoulders over, back straight, arms taut. Concentrate. Nothing can stand in your way now. Go. For. The. Gold. Answer his stupid question, but KEEP DIGGING!!)

'November 18th, Eric'

It is here that everything goes completely silent.

Cue crickets chirping. . .

Cue singular tumbleweed rolling lazily across the set. . .

. . . Did I mention that we were there in April?


Patty Cakes said...

I guess it could have been worse if you underpants were tucked up in your skirt.........

baronessvonb said...

Countess PC: Ack. I was a tomboy - no skirts for me.

This scenario DOES sound oddly familiar, though... ;)

Cormac Brown said...

If only they videotaped it, then you would be a YouTube sensation now.

baronessvonb said...

Count Cormac: Videotape? Surely you jest.

I think the most advanced recording device at that time was a Benedictine monk with a hunk of slate...

But yes, I'm sure I would have been bound for the asylum, er, fame like Susan Boyle.

Cormac Brown said...

Videotape was invented by Ampex by then, though I'm not sure if it was used with Canadian TV at the time.

If you watch old TV shows from the forties and fifties that were "live" when they filmed, they used a process that I think was called "kinoscope" (too pooped to Google it right now) to record them for posterity. With that process, they shot it as it played on TV, using a camera with film. Thus the substandard resolution you get with shows such as "The Honeymooners."

"But yes, I'm sure I would have been bound for the asylum, er, fame like Susan Boyle."

I dread the day when one of my four TV appearances will make YouTube, it was an embarassment back then in my childhood and it would be even worse now with the Internet.

Cormac Brown said...

Actually, it was KinEscope and not "kin-o-scope."

baronessvonb said...

Count Cormac: Dude, you know I think the world of you.

But you are such a nerd.

(not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Not Afraid to Use It said...

That is hilarious! I don't blame you one bit! Great story!

Cormac Brown said...

"But you are such a nerd."

Naw, I haven't had the grades since puberty wrecked my GPA. All that info had more to do when I was in screenwriting phase, you have to know what you're talking about at all times with film and TV buffs.

baronessvonb said...

Countess NATUI: I guess I have been a gold digger from an early age...

Count Cormac: You don't need good grades to be a nerd. Just meticulous fanatacism.

I mean, really, how many Trekkers are Mensa members (other than Sharon Stone?).

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