Skip to main content

13 to 14

As New Year's Eve approached, I realized that I had learned something over the course of December. My place is really dirty. Cleaning like mad in preparation for a few friends I had coming over for a gathering that night left me with one big question: “Was that big ball of grey fluff dust, cat hair, or both?” I had been slightly coerced into hosting a New Year's Party. It's not that I mind them, I just sometimes feel awkward at them. Everyone around me is sloshed, looking for an acceptable mouth to ram their tongue into at midnight. While I sit in the corner with a diet coke, and try to get a game of “Clue” going.

This was going to be a far more scaled back version of that. The eight friends who were coming would be providing their own booze, there would be party games, and one was bringing a karaoke machine. The sight of booze and a karaoke machine could only mean one thing, that shortly after 12:01, someone would try to get everyone singing a very off key version of “Hey Jude.” I found it silly as I spent most of the early afternoon mopping my kitchen floor to a sparkling shine, knowing that I would have to do it all over again tomorrow.

I made some party mix and set it out. Then I did a quick run to a deli and picked up some party trays I had ordered for the night. I didn't feel like putting too much effort into it. Back home around five I began setting some games out for the night. A small group of our favorites, and this year I had managed to track down a copy of the old “Double Dare” home game. We'd all been talking lately about how awesome that show was, and how we should try to find a copy of the home game. I was excited, even though the idea of a number of moderately intoxicated people playing “Double Dare” in my living room frightened me.

I realized at this juncture some of you might be asking “What is 'Double Dare', and why is it pertinent to this story funny man!?” Glad you asked! “Double Dare” was a game show that used to be on Nickelodeon in the 80s and 90s, it was a show in which kids would answer questions to win money, or they if they couldn't answer the question, they could take a physical challenge to get the money, and make a mess of themselves in the process. Whoever won would go on to the obstacle course, which was a crazy messy thing and gave away Nintendos and sometimes cars. It was awesome, and a lot of the shows from Nickelodeon in the 90s are part of a generational touchstone for people my age.

I'm not saying that “Double Dare” informed my world view, or anything like that, though “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” totally did. What I am saying, is that my generation likes looking back on these shows and the lovely memories they make, yes, we're nostalgic. The hour of watching “Pete and Pete” and “Double Dare” together was a lovely thing, in the same sense that the hour of Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross on PBS was the most zen hour ever in the history of television. OK, back to the party.

As the clock clicked around to seven, folks began to show up. Everyone remarked on how clean my kitchen was, which made me feel awfully good about pondering cat dust fluff earlier in the day. Music was playing, we were eating pizza and sandwiches, it was a lovely time and the games hadn't even been glanced at. After much food had been enjoyed, my friend Casey made his way over towards the stack of games. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and I knew he had found “Double Dare” when I heard him exclaim, “dude!!”

After a short group geek out over “Double Dare” we set the game up, and there was much rejoicing from our inner seven year olds. We divided into two teams of four, with one person sitting out, and Casey taking the role of Marc Summers (host of “Double Dare” for those of you who don't know). My team was losing badly, but if we could pull off just one physical challenge, we were gonna take the lead and have a shot at the obstacle course.

I had twenty seconds to get three foam balls into a cup on the top of the head of one of my team mates, I was anxious to get this one right, as it was the gonna determine if I was gonna get to stick my head up the giant nose or not, metaphorically speaking. It was a true Cinderella story, I missed the first few times, landed one ball in the cup. A few more seconds passed, and I landed a second ball in the cup, ten seconds were left, and just as I tossed my next to last ball, I missed. I took my final ball, heard the music from Chariots of Fire in my brain, and right as the clock ticked down with two seconds left, the third ball went in. We won the fake money, we were going to the low rent obstacle course.

A small celebration broke out. My teammate and I hugged each other, and it was lovely. Casey kept screaming “down to the wire!” he was VERY into it. I leaped up on my couch and began jumping up and down on it. Now I am not the most lightweight person in the world, and what I didn't realize is that my jumping up and down had jostled loose the framed portrait of dogs playing poker that rests above my couch. I jumped back down and sat on the couch, and right as I did so, the portrait came a tumbling down. Tumbling down, directly onto my head.

The glass, thin as it was, shattered right on top of my head. I sat calmly as everyone came to check to see if I was bleeding. I was in pain, but I didn't think I was in harms way. Casey, who by now was well into the wind, freaked out. Casey ran over to me, and in some type of primetime medical drama fantasy, started to shout “You're not gonna die on me, Ross! Live, damn you, live!” Casey then began to very weakly beat on my chest, as if he was administering some type of aid. I was fine, and everyone helped pick the glass off the couch, and we changed to a different game.

 What we hadn't realized, was that it was past midnight. There wasn't the “Hey Jude” sing a long yet, but we did notice that it was highly possible the picture fell on me right at that stroke of midnight. I wasn't a ball dropping, but I did see what looked like time square all a glow for a little bit afterward. It was a gathering that has yet to have been topped, because I'm making it an active practice to not almost knock myself cold while playing “Double Dare.”  


Popular posts from this blog

Convincing Yourself You're Good.

I have Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is that feeling that what you do isn't good enough, and that someone is gonna eventually figure out how woefully unqualified you are and kick you to the curb. One of the traits of my personality that I dislike is that I am way too hard on myself. Seriously, give my mind an inch and I will somehow figure out that I am the sole person responsible for the world's troubles.

Having Imposter Syndrome is kind of like playing the game Werewolf. My friends and I play a version of the game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf, in the game each player picks a card that gives them a specific role, either a villager or a werewolf, and the villagers all have distinct roles that they play on top of that--special abilities and the like. The object of the game is two fold, if you're a werewolf, you don't wanna be caught. If you're a village, you wanna catch the werewolves. Imposter Syndrome makes you feel like you're always in the role…

Where The Blues Are

I come to you again this week with another pair of blu-rays from those master celluloid handlers at Warner Archive. First up we have 1960’s “Where The Boys Are,” a defining teen picture of the era by MGM, and the film largely responsible for kicking off the whole cycle of 1960s beach films. The other is 1955’s “Pete Kelly’s Blues” a film starring, produced, and directed by Jack Webb--TV’s Joe Friday. Part of a deal Webb had made with Warner Brothers when he was setting up the original big screen version of “Dragnet” in the ‘50s. 
“Where The Boys Are” was set for the screen before the book it was based on had been released. Producer Joe Pasternak snatched up the rights to the book by Glendon Swarthout, which was originally titled “Unholy Spring.” Pasternak, strongly feeling “Where The Boys Are” would be the better title, persuaded Swarthout to change the book’s title. Pasternak also felt he could use the film as a starring vehicle for one of the stars of MGM’s record label, Connie Franc…


Picture it! Scilly, 1922! OK, actually Andy Ross’s Childhood Bedroom 1993. I had been given as a gift the dream attachment for my beloved Sega Genesis, the amazing Sega CD. For those of you young children who have only grown up in the era of XBox and Playstation, it may seem strange that there was once a time when the idea of playing a video game off of a compact disc was mind blowing. But it was, and I was fully ready to have my mind blown. To use a slogan of Sega’s ads of the era, I was ready to enter “The Next Level.”

The Sega CD model I had was the second one, the smaller model designed to go with the slimmer Genesis that had been introduced to the market. I had the first Genesis, the larger one, but the Sega CD came with an extension block that allowed it to partner it on the original model. You attached the Sega CD to your Genesis by a special connector on the side of system. The Sega CD came with a game to get you going, as was the norm with gaming systems at the time. The game …