You Say Football, I Call It Soccer

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As we continue our semi-isolation, we are ever vigilant for some new, engaging television shows on which to binge.  My wife and I just recently finished the six episode mini-series from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. It’s called The English Game and it is currently streaming on Netflix.  It is an excellent depiction of the early years of the game the English call football. For some reason we, in the United States, call it soccer.

Based very loosely on historical events, the series follows the lives of its two main characters: Arthur Kinnard, an upper class gentleman and founding member of the Football Association (FA) which sought to provide rules and structure to a fledgling sport; and Fergus Suter, a working-class man who made his living as a stone mason who dared dream of a life playing the game he grew to love. These two individuals, who actually existed, did more than most to build the game of football/soccer into a global obsession.

Excellent character development, interesting historical elements, and dramatic pacing and flow make this a must-see show for those of us starved for entertainment diversions.  I heartily recommend it.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY TWENTY-NINE

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May 1, 2020

If you’re a baby boomer like me, there’s something strangely familiar and comfortable about the Zoom teleconferencing platform. Let’s face it, at some point didn’t we all envision ourselves as part of that Brady Bunch?

In most of my Zoom conferences, I seem to always get seated in the Carol Brady spot.

Here’s a little Brady Bunch trivia, courtesy of IMDb:

Even though Greg dated a lot, we never actually see him kiss anyone of the dates he went out with. The only Brady kid that had a kissing scene was Bobby, kissing Melissa Sue Anderson in The Brady Bunch: Never Too Young (1973).

Show creator Sherwood Schwartz originally wanted Gene Hackman for the role of Mike Brady, but Hackman wasn’t considered well-known enough at the time.

The family dog “Tiger” was killed by a car in season one of the show before the filming of episode five was completed. A replacement dog proved to be unworkable. Tiger’s doghouse remained on the set, though, because one of the studio lights fell and burned a hole through the astroturf, and the doghouse was used to hide the burned spot.

When Florence Henderson arrived to do her screen test, there was no one on staff to do her make-up, so she went over to the adjoining studio where Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) was filmed, and she found herself seated in a make-up chair between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, being made up for their day’s work on one of the last episodes of “Trek”. Henderson recalls that both actors completely ignored her.

Every day since September 1975 (the start of its syndication), an episode has aired somewhere in the world.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Two

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April 23, 2020

While many businesses and industries are struggling to hold on during the pandemic that has shuttered so many doors, there are a few success stories. Certainly the popularity of Zoom has never been higher. The teleconferencing platform has risen to become the method of choice to connect the disconnected.

But I am reminded that people were Zooming long before the coronavirus. In the early 70s, kids in the US were invited to “Come on and zoom, zoom, zoom-a-zoom” as they turned on their televisions to the local PBS station. Zoom was touted as being a show for kids, made by kids. Airing in 1972 and lasting for six seasons, it featured a rotating cast of kid hosts, offered regular and random activities such as comedy sketches, science experiments, interviews of other kids, jokes, songs, and just general silliness.

Part of its success was found in its premise that all content came from its young audience who would be encouraged to mail in their ideas and suggestions. Some 20,000 letters poured in each week and from those a show would be crafted as the young hosts would act them out.

Never an overly polished series, it was nonetheless refreshingly authentic and filled with a youthful energy that attracted a wide and devoted fan base.  The series was remade in 1999 and ran for an additional seven seasons.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Up In Smoke

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One of our clients told us the saddest story yesterday. A friend of theirs was taking a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and while gone, they received a message from a neighbor saying that their home had burnt to the ground overnight. There was a problem with the home’s electrical wiring.

I can certainly relate on multiple levels. Bad news seems inevitably to follow me on vacations. I’ve had two companies sold out from under me while I was off sightseeing other lands. I returned home only to find I’d been downsized by the new management. And still my wife wonders why I don’t much care for vacations…

But my experiences can’t compare to hearing the news that everything you once owned is now in ashes. While it was a blessing that everyone, including their pets, were away when the fire broke out, and so no lives were at risk, it is heartbreaking to face the reality that all of one’s possessions – including the recorded memories taken over a lifetime – were now gone… just like that.

It is one reason we are passionate about the business we are in. By updating family memories to a digital form, it is easier to make a back up copy of all your family memories (film, videotape, photos, slides, audio recordings, etc) and store that copy in an off-site safe deposit box in the case that, should a tragedy occur, the memories will not be irretrievably lost.

Our prayer is that no one ever face the devastating loss that fire, flood, hurricanes, etc can bring. But while we continue to believe for the best, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Insurance can help you replace things. Memories cannot be insured – but they can be protected. Call us and ask us how.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Go Tell It On The Mountain

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Good night John-Boy.

That phrase still brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it… and I’ve been hearing it quite a bit of late.

In our household, we’ve had a bit of a shift in television habits over the last couple of weeks since we cut the cable cord. The most recent development comes from my 90 year old mother-in-law who has decided that she wants to binge watch The Waltons. Every season… every episode…every night… and dang if she hasn’t drawn the rest of us in.

I can remember watching The Waltons back when it first aired. I was in high school when it first began and enjoyed it, but back then I don’t think I fully recognized or appreciated the purity of the family values it espoused. Watching it now, while I’m living in the current cultural climate that we are in… it has brought such a breath of fresh air to what has become a continually poisoned atmosphere.

I actually look forward to our Walton time. Watching a show where family love trumps all?  Seeing that while problems may exist, they can be handled within the context of a loving atmosphere has been so much more edifying than hearing or seeing the problems of this divisive world repeated ad infinitum across multiple TV channels every night with no hope in sight.

Give me some Waltons. Any day. And hand me a Kleenex.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Pardon My Blooper

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I consider myself an intelligent being. I can arrange my thoughts and convey them in a coherent, often poignant manner. I am able to assess a problematic situation and arrive at a workable solution. I am able to present myself to the world as a mature, compassionate, thoughtful adult… but I have a hidden secret.  I possess an immature sense of humor. I laugh at inappropriate times and events. I can’t help myself.

It all started when I bought my first comedy album. It was Kermit Schafer’s collection of radio and TV bloopers. Back when radio and TV shows were broadcast live, all the inadvertent mistakes made by the announcers and performers were broadcast right along with the rest of the show. And I found them uncontrollably hysterical.

The fact that the mistakes were made on live tv or radio and were completely unscripted and unintentional made it all the funnier.  I played that record over and over until my sides hurt so much from laughing that I had to stop.

Thinking back on the some of the malapropisms that I remember from the album, I will admit them to be certainly sophomoric and imbecilic… which I supposed only increased the humor quotient to a young boy.

I remember: The announcer who proudly intoned, “Wonder Bread… for the breast in bed!”  The excited race track announcer who excitedly informed his audience that the favorite was being pulled from the race: “This just in… Harass is not going to run… Harass is not going to run… Remember to scratch Harass.” The formal and distinguished introduction of the 31st US President: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States… Hoobert Heever.”

It slayed me every single time. And even though I grew up, my sense of humor didn’t follow suit. Well intentioned people making mistakes that result in unexpected consequences always make me laugh despite every attempt of mine to stifle it.

I was videotaping a soccer game involving my young son’s team. Our goalie had the ball and decided to clear the zone. He booted the ball in a high arcing trajectory. And as I followed the ball with the camera, I could see it heading to one of the opponent’s mid-fielders. It was a high arcing shot so the young lad had time to plant his feet, bend his knees, and position himself precisely where he wanted to be to block the ball as it descended. Which it did, like a targeted laser, squarely between the unfortunate lad’s legs.

When watching the video footage later, you could clearly hear my chortle as the ball struck. The fact that I was standing next to the father of the poor defender was a bit awkward. What was more awkward was the fact that as I lay in bed, replaying the scene in my head, I started to silently laugh so hard that I shook my wife awake. Her immediate response… “Are you still thinking about that poor boy!?!”

I may have a problem.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Say U.N.C.L.E.

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I had a client in my studio today who made a living out of buying and selling heavy equipment at auction. Sounds like a dream job for any boy who once spent hours on the floor with his trucks and cars. I don’t think I was ever that kid. I don’t remember being as infatuated with big trucks or heavy machines like my sons were or my nephews were at a young age.  Me, I was more into role-playing.

I would spend hours protecting the snow covered neighborhood as Batman… climbing snowplowed mounds pretending they were mountains. My younger sister tagged along as Robin until she got too cold.

Whenever anyone in our neighborhood bought a new appliance and the box it was packed in appeared outside their house, it immediately became a fort or log cabin as I took on the persona of Roy Rogers. The girl next door was an adequate stand-in for Dale Evans.

But one Christmas, I received the coolest gift ever.  I was around 9 years old and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a bit hit for NBC. I was gifted a genuine U.N.C.L.E briefcase with combination locks, agent i.d.s, a plastic gun with a silencer, passports, walkie talkies connected by string, and hidden compartments galore. I went from cartoon crimefighter to cowboy hero to genuine superspy.

For the next year, I was a man from U.N.C.L.E…. I opted to be Napoleon Solo because I didn’t know how to pronounce Ilya Kuryakin. I also believe this was the year that proved to be my last foray into the make believe world of pretending. I can’t remember play-acting after that. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

For the uninitiated, U.N.C.L.E stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (played by David McCallum) were the top agents who took their orders from Alexander Waverly (played by Leo G. Carroll). Their nemesis were the agents of Thrush, whose primary goal was, what else?, to take over the world. In my neighborhood, I and I alone was responsible for stopping them.  At least until my gun broke and I lost my agent id.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

My Favorite Fathers’ Day Song

I came across this song when I was looking to pay tribute to my own dad. Here’s the short video I posted online last year.

The song, My Dad, was sung by Paul Peterson who played Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show. It reached #6 on the Billboard charts.

The song was written by Barry Mann after the death of his own father. Mann and his wife, Cynthia Weil were among the most prolific songwriters of their day having penned such hits as “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” “On Broadway,” “Somewhere Out There,” and my personal favorite “Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp Bomp Bomp?)

A few years later, the song was covered by none other than Davy Jones of The Monkees. Now I’m a big Monkees fan but the only rendition of this particular song that I want to hear is Petersen’s. Maybe it is because when it was first broadcast on his TV sitcom, with his character singing this song to his TV dad played by Carl Betz, it was such an emotionally powerful and personal statement that the song just seems to belong to them.

If you’ve never seen it, I’ve posted it below.

To all the dads out there… thank you. You know why.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

 

Another iconic figure of my youth who did not live up to expectations

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I never know where the next memory trigger is going to come from. I see and hear so many memories from the clients who come through my door that I typically don’t have a problem coming up with new content for this blog. Today’s memory is courtesy of a woman who came in with a relatively easy order. She needed the photos stored in her phone transferred to a flash drive. I try to do those on a same day basis so my clients don’t have to leave their phone with me.

While the files were being transferred, we made small talk. Turns out, back in the day she was a successful lounge singer in Vegas, and was coached by none other than Wayne Newton (Danke Shoen, anyone?) I asked her to tell me one story about her entertainment days. I couldn’t have been more surprised with her response.

It seems she worked on the NBC show, BJ and the Bear. It was a short-lived series (1979-1981) which featured trucker B.J. McKay (played by Greg Evigan) and his pet chimpanzee, Bear. They travelled the roads in their red and white Kenworth K-100 Aerodyne finding adventure wherever they went.

The show hit the airwaves at the height of the trucker craze when CB radios were the current fad. Convoy was a popular song, Smokey and the Bandit was in the theaters, and everyone in America tried to think of a clever and catchy CB “handle” they could use as their nom de plume. (Mine was “Red Flash”… better to not ask why.)

Her memory:  the Bear was a real bear to work with. Very mean. She hated that chimp and couldn’t stand to be around him.  “But he seemed so cute on the show,” I countered. “Mean,” she repeated, “They just made him look cute.”

I guess you never truly know about the TV personalities you grew up watching. They can seem normal as their character on the show but turn into a real animal when dealing with them in person. 

In case you forgot, here’s the theme song to BJ and the Bear.

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family videos through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Child Stars

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I don’t often get surprised by nostalgic posts and pictures of popular figures from our past. But this one took me aback. One, because I had never seen it before; and two, because I could identify every single kid in the picture.

Starting from the back, from left to right:

  • Billy Mumy played young Will Robinson in Lost in Space. “Danger Will Robinson!” spoken in a robot voice became an iconic phrase back in my day. 
  • Barry Livingston joined the cast of My Three Sons as the adopted Ernie after the oldest son Mike (Tim Constantine) left the show. His real life older brother, Stanley, was already on the show as one of the other three sons. The show had one of the best TV theme songs ever.
  • Ron Howard gained fame as Opie, the son of sheriff Andy Taylor, on The Andy Griffith Show. He went on to star as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. And finally as an A-list Hollywood director of such blockbusters as Apollo 13 and more recently Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Anissa Jones was best known for the popular sitcom Family Affair. She was cast as Buffy, the youngest of three children sent to live with their bachelor Uncle Bill when their parents died in an accident. She usually shared screen time with her character’s doll, Mrs. Beasley. Sadly, Annisa died of a drug overdose at the young age of 18.
  • Stanley Livingston played the third child, Chip, on My Three Sons. He is the real life brother of Barry Livingston who joined the cast in later years, Stanley was the only cast member (other than star Fred MacMurray) who appeared throughout the entire series’ five year run.
  • Johnny Whitaker is best known for playing Jody in Family Affair. He fell prey to drug abuse after the show ended but managed to overcome the addiction to become a certified drug counselor.
  • Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s younger brother, has been seen in multiple shows and in various roles. He had a co-starring role in the TV series Gentle Ben but is probably best known for his cameo appearances in many of his older brother’s film projects.

This picture brought back a lot of memories for me. I spent many an hour in front of the TV watching these kids practice their craft. So it was kind of like I grew up with them. I doubt I would recognize a single child actor who has a recurring role on any of today’s shows.

(PS, I couldn’t help noticing they are all holding up ties. Perhaps it was a promo shot for Father’s Day? It’s coming up. And video gifts make for a great present. A heck of a lot better than another tie. Just saying.)

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.