Friday, July 9, 2010

How did Andrea Thomas know?

Which Andrea Thomas you might ask?

The high school teacher/Egyptologist/crime-fighting embodiment of the ancient goddess Isis Andrea Thomas, of course.

A casual comment from The Snark has set me off on a kind of nostalgic Saturday morning revelry. I've transferred the contents of my alt-version cartoon theme song cd onto my iPod. I had already recently purchased a DVD collection of Superfriends episodes in the name of "research".

And now, I find myself wondering about Andrea Thomas, lead character from the CBS show The Secrets of Isis.

Far more than Batgirl to Shazam - the male hero with whom she shared Saturday morning real estate - Isis was a true utility player. Though this was mostly because there were never any real limits put on her powers.

The show's opening monologue gave us some broad backstory:

"O my Queen," said the Royal Sorcerer to Hatshepsut, "with this amulet, you and your descendants are endowed by the Goddess Isis with the powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars, run with the speed of gazelles, and command the elements of sky and earth."

When trouble arose Andrea Thomas would head to a usually not very hidden spot, unbutton a few shirt buttons to reveal the amulet, put her arms out like a scarecrow and then, closing her eyes behind her kicking amber aviator glasses, would say, "Oh mighty Isis."

Cue the synthesizer set to "Ancient Egypt", pan over the dorm room poster of an old mummy hieroglyph and, voila, instant heroine.

But then there were the incantations tand that's what I can't quite figure out. How did Andrea Thomas know?

How did she know to say, "Oh zephyr winds that blow on high, lift me up so I can fly."

Or, "Storm gods of electricity, send a lightening bolt to me."

Or, and really, "Trees of the forest, I need thy aid. Surround these men so they behave. In the front. On the right. Twice again. In the back. On the right. One more time. The front again. To the left. Now complete."

Hey Isis! I want to paint my house but this ladder is broken. Can you help me?


"Oh broken ladder with rungs too few, restore thyself as good as new."


So how is it that Andrea Thomas knew exactly what to do? Was it all dumb luck? I know she always saved the day and got the bad guy but, well, it seems like a pretty half-ass way to save the world.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bright (argyle) ideas.

I am, once again, putting a lot of thought into what it is that I'm going to do with my life.

I blame the birthday. Other things are involved in the muddle in my head but, for now, it's easiest to blame the birthday.

Las night at dinner it became a main topic of conversation.

Artboy: A major part of my planning has now been completely upended and it just doesn't seem smart to continue making some of the assumptions I was making.

Leopold: No, you really can't.

Artboy: And, since it seems like my plans to make my fortune by starting a sock puppet theater aren't going to work out...

Leopold: Well...for that to work you'd really need to make a sock puppet.

Artboy: It's really more of a conceptual sock puppet theater. It's about the idea of sock puppets.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Maybe we can't just get along.

Every Friday, around the corner from the offices of BIG, a group of oddly dressed fundamentalist preachers set up camp.

By "oddly dressed" I mean their costume is most nearly described as being first grade Nativity pageant meets Mad Max meets goth biker gang. There are tunics and head wraps and scraps of lamé involved. Jeans. T-shirts. Gauntlet thingees.

If they were to appear in a B-movie you would find yourself wondering if they were meant to be from the future or from the past.

But they are not in a B-movie. They are in the real world and they spend many hours screaming at the top of their lungs about the greatest evil to walk the earth.

White people.

Doesn't matter if you're serial killer or Sunday School teacher, missionary or KKK member. You're bad. You're horrendous. You're the worst. If you're White, you ain't right.

I'll add here that I've never felt threatened by these guys. From what I've seen no one really does. I've never seen an altercation as those of us working in the vicinity filter past their bare bones stage on the way to the subway. Their rhetoric is general, not specific. They urge no one on to violence or aggression.

They just are.

I thought of them today as Leopold and I were on our way home, passing through the "proper" section of "The Hill". The part that has always been considered "The Hill"...without modifier or disclaimer. The part that once demarcated how far east people would allow their friends or children to rent or purchase.

"If you go one more block from there, I won't visit you after dark."

Sitting on the corner in an assorted collection of lawn furniture - save for the guy running back and forth with a beer in one hand and a flag in the other - was a different sort of pep rally. In a PBR-fueled burst of national pride this collection of boisterous defenders of liberty had crafted a cardboard sign asking drivers to "Honk If You're An American."

If you drove by without honking there was really no reaction.

Drive by while honking and you would be met with cheers and chants of...you guessed it...U!S!A! U!S!A!

Walking Finkelstein back past this crowd later on I couldn't help but wonder which of these street corner evangelists made me more uncomfortable. The easy answer is the first crew, because I immediately fit the profile for their definition of all that is wrong in their lives.

But the other group somehow feels just as discomforting to me. True, they might have only been preaching a six-pack philosophy on this fine Fourth of July...texts will undoubtedly circle about the Prince of Phi Beta Beerpong's flag-waving antics. But at least the first group has really thought about what it is that they're doing. They've put together regalia. They've built a stage. They've got a routine going.

The other crew? They're not giving what they're doing a second thought.

And that's kind of how the real trouble starts.