The effortlessly funny Duck Dynasty (all the fuss appears to be legitimate) sparked one from the memory banks and put The Sci-Fi Fanatic in a nostalgic mood.
The massive Robertson family has a comedic gift. Just about everything they say is amusing on sheer gift of delivery and timing (or editing) alone. The group seemingly ad libs most of its footage and I suspect the mostly unscripted dialogue within the established script is simply edited together to abundantly clever effect. However it's achieved the family is funny and filled with some real characters.
Old Uncle Si and Willie visit a family fun park and Si insists on winning a giant, purple stuffed animal. He won't leave without it. To do this, and we have all had our battles with these machines, he must play games within the arcade and win and amass tickets by the bucket load. Ultimately he delivers a bountiful windfall of tickets. Thousands of tickets are placed on the counter to win that crazy stuffed giant. It is no doubt scripted, but it's still damn funny and in a point of true wisdom Uncle Si essentially tells Willie there's nothing you can't do if you set your mind to it. Done! Prize won. It's true.
Well, when I was a youngster we frequented the now closed amusement park by the sea Rocky Point Park (1847-1995). Like any great park they had one building filled with these video game machines and ticket pushers.
What was always amazing to me is that you could virtually play for an hour, acquire a seemingly unruly mass of tickets, bring them to the front desk to claim a gift prize and essentially be told that your options were wither a plastic whistle, a toy watch or a rubber ball. I mean what the heck?! The sheer disappointment for all of the effort was massive.
Now mind you, today, I'm not really much of a Spider-Man fan. I still haven't seen the last rebooted, Tobey Maguire-less film and have virtually no interest (I really should have stuck to my gut on The Avengers, but I would have missed Pacific Rim had I done that). But, as a kid, visiting the amusement park, they had a wall of sparkling, seemingly unattainable prizes. Those prizes seemed to smile down upon you and whisper to us, You got no chance kid. They were like the evasive brass ring on the carousel. It seemed they were merely there to taunt our poor, fragile heads full of dreams and wish fulfillment. It was like the lights of heaven were shining down upon the one item you desired. Even the glass cases were filled with shining gems. Of course, it was always that damn bottom row of plastic baskets and bins filled with baubles and junk trinkets like whistles and silly toys that we were always pointed to and forced to draw from. It was like the teenage attendant was an outtake from A Christmas Story speaking in slow motion to you. You get to pick one item from the green baskets kid. Ugh! Oh no. Not again. Rarely, did it seem we had the opportunity to pull or pick from the cream of the crop toy prizes. In fact, it seemed like an exercise in futility. More often than not we were generally sent packing home with the lesson you can't always get what you want in life. It was disheartening. I remember piling into our blue recreation bus and sort of gazing out at the window with a sense of loss while kids jumped around from seat to seat, yelling, screaming, singing, throwing paper airplanes. It was all going on and yet my world seemed in slow motion (sometimes).
Well, every summer we used to pay that local Little Red School House for a series of field trips. Their blue rec bus would take all the kids to a given place of fun. It was a ticket to freedom for some. It was also a great baby-sitting service for others. Every year we were carted off to Rocky Point Park by the sea.
The journey down this long steep hill in through the arched entrance way was like entering heaven as a kid. The firs thing you saw was kids on floating logs on their Flume ride. The park always tantalized the young easily persuadable mind with The Flume. That ride screamed to us to get off the bus and get there. For awhile, of course, one had to contend with that little wooden figure at the entrance of each ride that determined whether you were tall enough. When it was close the fate of your happiness rested in the hands of a teenage attendant. When they made the determination on whether you passed or not it sometimes seemed like an eternity. The clock ticked. Your lips smacked. Your mouth grimaced. When the okay came it was pure, unbridled relief. They also had a giant salt water community pool. That always looked like a dodgy proposition.
Back to the point of this story. One day the lure of the haunted house (my favorite ride) and other madness like the dreadful Sky Diver (money always fell out of my pockets when we got to the top and they stopped it while you were upside down) simply could not sway me from my intended mission.
Note the wee little penny slot.
While all of my friends hit the rides I remained committed in the game house to win the plum prize of the summer - a certified mold of gold in the form of a plastic green The Amazing Spider-Man bank. For whatever reason the bank was like the coolest thing I had ever seen and I simply had to have that bank to dump my spare change into at the end of a school day. It was imperative that the green Spider-Man bank adorn my childhood bedroom. Folks I spent almost all of my day in that arcade room. But by God, as Uncle Si noted in Duck Dynasty, I achieved greatness that very day. I had won (but did I really win?) the Spider-Man bank dumping everything I had into that arcade to win the tickets necessary to take that sparkling green gem of a bank home. What probably cost about two dollars to make went for a whole lot more that day.
Spider-Man himself was already painted but the webbing he sat against was not and I had big plans to paint the words The Amazing Spider-Man and the web he was set against. With paintbrush and paint in hand - oh what a joyful day.
In the end, I still have that bank. To this very day it sits on my dresser. The One To Be Pitied never makes mention of it or pays it any mind despite the obvious fact it is a hideous eyesore. It is really kind of odd sitting in the room - a strange oddity - but a beautiful one. I just can't throw it out. It is connected and tied to one of the great days of my youth. Winning that thing was no easy task and in the grand land of kiddom something of a minor miracle, a true achievement, was yielded that day. That Spider-Man bank represents perseverance and persistence and a belief that you can have anything you want if you just set your mind to it. I believe that and that Spider-Man bank is a reminder of that philosophy along with some great memories of simpler days gone by.
To think that bank was held in my hands as a much younger dreamer, and the lives and loves that have come and gone since and yet my plastic Spidey bank remains. I know. It's a geek moment, but gosh, I remember that like it was yesterday.
Well, gotta run, my spider-sense is tingling.