More Astro Boy

The place- Edmonton.

The year- 1983.

The time- 6am.

Everyday before elementary school, I would watch a cartoon called Astro Boy. I had to wake up super early in order to catch the show because it started at 6am every morning. Except on weekends, when I would catch reruns of The Mighty Hercules on Sunday mornings. Two very different styles of animation and story lines.

My daily viewing of Astro Boy started my day off on the right foot. At the end of every episode, Astro would do a recap with mistakes. The Astro voiceover would then ask if you caught his mistakes. It meant the show required undivided attention. Everyday at school, I blathered on about this cartoon constantly. This evolved into other kids also watching it. Eventually the show became the talk of the playground. We would argue over the “mistakes” and talk about that day’s villain or battle.

As I grew up, I took the lessons that Astro- aka Atom– taught and instilled them into my life. Pure kindness and compassion shown from a robot. Who’d of thunk that an anime machine would forge my pathway through life?

As I got older, I received the collection of 1983 Astro Boy on DVD many years ago. I also received the 2003 series. On a few road trips, my children have marathoned through both series.

Because of my children knowing that it was a childhood favorite of mine, they bought me a couple of characters they found. These were discovered in a gas station toy aisle during one of our road trips. The toys may not hold any real value to anyone else but me. I love my family for always thinking of me.

When I was about 18, I really wanted a t-shirt that I had discovered that depicted Astro Boy in a hologram image that would change depending on the view of him. You could see the inside workings or his outer body depending on the angle. The down side was twofold. First, this was the early 1990’s and the shirt cost $80 (approx. $150 in today’s market). Secondly it was one size too small for me.

During our trip to Tokyo last year, I found the shirt again. My wife told me not to buy it because there is no easy way to care for the decal. Turns out she had also found the shirt and knew it would be perfect for me. This past Christmas, I received the shirt. My inner child bounced with joy.

The original Astro Boy that came out January 1,1963 was the first cartoon to introduce Anime to the world. I have loved anime ever since I first saw Astro on tv in my living room when I was 7. I also wrote about Astro Boy last year. I’ve even expressed sadness over the end of an era for a t-shirt that I loved based on another favorite anime- Akira.

What was you first anime show?

Do you have fond memories of cartoons from you childhood?

The Little Psychopaths

When I was a little boy growing up in Edmonton, I had two close friends who lived on my street. I think we were borderline psychopaths at the time. Good thing there was a large empty field behind our homes to do our damage…

My one friend enjoyed playing with fire. He would steal boxes and boxes of matches from his father. We would go out into the field and hide behind some bushes with me on look out- for what I’m not sure, there was never anyone out there but us. But it was a small thrill for a seven year old. Here we were playing with matches lighting small piles of straw and paper on fire. To this day, I can light a fire with minimal effort.

Sometimes we would light small rolls of cap gun powder dots. The smell of sulphur burning still remains strong in my memory banks. Little boy giggles as the flames exploded in small burst filled us with joy. Soon after I moved away, this friend ended up lighting this field on fire. As well as his attic. No one was hurt.

My other friend enjoyed catching frogs, mice, flies and grasshoppers. Tormenting them as little boys do. Pulling the wings off of the insects or poking at the tiny animals with sticks. Never really harming to draw blood, but not sure what happened to the frogs and rodents after each catch. His family never owned any pets, so these creatures became something to play with. We also lived in an area that was constantly filled with mosquitoes in the summer. Much like Dexter’s intro, my friend would wait and watch the blood get sucked out of him. Only to crush the bug’s body squirting his blood everywhere.

Then there was me. Besides being an accomplice to my two friends, I enjoyed breaking stuff. Mostly my Lego creations. I enjoyed building and then causing accidents only to rebuild again. One summer day, my friends and I wandered to an abandoned home that we would pass on our walk to school. As any rambunctious boy would do- I threw rocks at the windows. As a stone flew through the air, the anticipation of the crash as the glass exploded would last an eternity.

This thrill came from the first ever accident I had with my bike earlier in my life. My bike had rolled down the stairs on our back porch and smashed into our basement window. Why my bike was up on the deck is beyond me. Why my father didn’t get angry this time was also beyond me.

All three of us have grown up and have families now. None of us are convicted criminals or psychopaths. It was just another part of childhood- the thrills of doing something forbidden and getting away with it. I wonder if our children did similar activities? Maybe I’ll find out one day.

Indoor Summer

With summer approaching halfway over, my children keep pestering me to go out and do things.  As much as I may think of them as pestering me, it’s really nice that they want to be outside and doing things. When I was a child, going outside felt more like punishment.

Do you know how hard it is to find old logos?


Back in 1983 we had cable tv and a pay movie service called “Superchannel”.  Other kids around had “1st Choice” which was another movie channel.  The two combined in 1984 to become “1st Choice Superchannel”, but that’s not really important here…  When we first got cable tv, it seemed like it was never turned off.  I ate meals in front of it, played with my toys in front of it, I even used to stare at it until my eyes focused on the individual lines on the color tube.  That summer was spent watching a lot of movies.  Many not so appropriate for children.  If I wasn’t watching in my home, I’d head over to a friend’s home and watch.  I saw many films that made me question the world around me or films that scared me so badly that I had to sleep with a light on for many years.

A cult musicals of the 80’s.


However, one film in particular has had a special spot in my youth.  It brought me great joy and a love of musicals.  No, it wasn’t “Annie”, although that was pretty good.  It was “The Pirate Movie”.  It was cheesy, campy and full of fun.  I spent a few hot summer days watching this film.  Superchannel would send out a TV guide of when their movies were on- and I marked every time that “The Pirate Movie” was playing.  But when it would end, the tv never got shut off.  I saw films like “Young Doctors in Love”, “Pink Floyd: The Wall”, & “Alien” that probably shouldn’t have been viewed by a seven year old.  Many more films entered my living room that summer, many more age appropriate mind you, but it kept me indoors most of the time.  This became a regular occurrence for many years to come.  I rarely ventured outside.  I’m not saying I didn’t, but rarely seems about right.

SNES


Then in August of 1991, Super Nintendo entered my life.  This wasn’t my first video game system.  But something about it had me spending more time than ever playing on it that summer.  I played Super Mario World and found every level.  That summer was spent in my bedroom playing video games nonstop.  It was awesome.  I have fond memories of my tv and me together.

My children are pretty much growing up with the opposite of my childhood.  They are constantly outside playing, walking around parks, & generally experiencing life outside of our home.  Oftentimes it’s me that tells them to stay inside and watch a movie with me or play MarioKart.  Because that was how I enjoyed my summers as a child.  Honestly, they are having a healthy balance of inside and outside time this summer.  Our theater room has been used less this summer than in the past.  I don’t see my children ever becoming tech-zombies because they are so full of life and enjoy hanging out with other people.

My life has become a better place having my wife and children in it.  They are opening my eyes to a world that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  Sometimes I feel the need to show them my childhood memories, so I’ll put on an old film from the 80’s and we’ll sit back and enjoy it, no matter how cheesy it may be.  My kids usually love it.  

It’s my wife who questions my taste and why I like certain films.  So I’m off to try and find “The Pirate Movie” now in order to share its beautiful campiness with them.