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What I Learned This Week – 9/21/14

I have ALWAYS wondered who sings the songs during the chase scenes on the TV series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

Many years ago, I bought a CD called Scooby Snacks, which included all the great chase songs, such as “Daydreamin'”, “Love The World”, “Recipe for Love”, and my personal favorite, “Seven Days a Week”. But the liner notes never listed who actually sang the songs. I am sure it was never in the dude’s original contract to be compensated for any further release of the songs. He never could have known in 1969 that people in 2014 would want to listen to his music on CD, mp3, DVD, etc.

Scooby Snacks CD

Scooby Snacks CD

The magic of Google always impresses me.

I just typed in the song title+Scooby Doo, and within a minute, I learned this week that the guy who sang all the songs above is actually Austin Roberts.

According to Wikipedia, Roberts also sings the THEME SONG to Scooby Doo, Where are You?. [Note: If you are not an expert Scooby-phile, I will let you know that there are many, many versions of the Scooby Doo theme song. But “Where are You?” is the first, and one of the best.

Roberts has worked steadily all these years, primarily as a songwriter, and is almost as old as my mom.

Here is a video of “7 Days a Week” in action:

This week I also met Teddy Roosevelt. Wow, in the last three weeks I have had my picture taken with two past presidents (the other was a Lincoln statue in Gettysburg).  President Roosevelt even gave my son the “teddy” bear he is holding in the picture.

President Theodore Roosevelt, M, and me

President Theodore Roosevelt, M, and me

I have been just a little obsessed with the 7-part documentary that PBS aired last week, The Roosevelts. You can still watch it now at http://video.pbs.org/program/roosevelts/ [Expires 8 days from now].

My Love of Lighthouses – Part 1

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Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle, Michigan

Me at Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle, Michigan.  See how excited I am!?

I had never given much thought to lighthouses. I had never seen one, and had no desire to.

Then when I was eight my mom took us on a trip Up North (that is how people from southern Michigan refer to any point north of Grayling). Our destinations included Mackinaw City, Sault Ste. Marie, and Tahquamenon Falls. But we also were stopping anywhere along the way that caught our eye. We were heading north at a leisurely pace on US 23, which hugs the Lake Huron shoreline.

We had just passed through Alpena (a town whose name still makes me giggle) and were headed up to Rogers City. (How nice. Roger has a whole city all to himself.) On the way, we saw an old, weather-beaten billboard alongside the road that boasted tours of a real lighthouse. We made the quick decision to check it out.

We drove on a tiny winding road through the woods for what seemed like forever. Every turn did not bring us to a great lake or tall light, only more trees. It felt we were in an episode of Scooby Doo. I expected a green monster in ratty clothes to step out of the thick woods in front of us at any minute. Except we were not in a multi-color van, but a silver Chevrolet Chevette 2 door hatchback. If we had hit one of those monsters, it would have destroyed our tiny car.

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

There were a few turns that were not well marked, but we must have gone the right way because we eventually came to a parking lot. Instead of yellow lines marking out the spaces, there were trees between the cars. You had to park just right, so that you could still get your doors open. The cool day must have warmed by that point, because I changed out of my jeans and into my shorts while we were still in the car. There were other cars there, but no people at the moment. My mom acted as a look-out. We were still under the dark cloak of the forest. But the sun could be seen to the south of us.

We walked toward the light. We found ourselves in a big grassy clearing, with Lake Huron stretching out to the east. Between us and the great lake, lay a brick house painted white. Next to it, a white stone tower. That would be the first time I would ever lay eyes on a lighthouse.

Inside there was an elderly man and woman who seemed to be running the show. They had a few souvenirs for purchase, and collected any money required to go up into the tower, details that I cannot remember. The man was also giving out rocks from the beach. He stamped them all so that they said “Old Presque Isle Lighthouse”. The rocks were free. I found him a little scary at the time. I grew up with very few males in my life. Even though he looked old and grizzled, he kindly showed me where my rock had a tiny fossil on the corner (If rocks can have corners).

Then I went up in the tower. It was a relatively short lighthouse, standing only 30 feet tall, but one of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes. And it was plenty tall enough for the view to be impressive to an eight year old.

View in the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, return visit 2003.

View in the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, return visit 2003.

While not a big fan of history, from that day on I was hooked on lighthouses. I wanted to see all of them that I could, but I also wanted to climb as many as I could. I didn’t even know at that time that I could do better than that.

Only after we got back home, did we discover there was an even taller New Presque Isle Lighthouse just a mile down the road. Although I would take many more trips Up North, it would take me almost 20 years to get back and climb the 113 foot tower of New Presque Isle Lighthouse, tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes that can be climbed by the public.

In the years since, I found out that the elderly gentleman, George Parris died in 1991, and is said to haunt the Old Presque Isle lighthouse. I saw the story on a PBS special. It is kind of cool to have met someone who is now a ghost. Maybe I was on to something with my earlier Scooby Doo analogy.

Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio

Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio.  The most beautiful lighthouse I have ever laid eyes on.

My mom and I also went with my grandma to Marblehead, Ohio to see the lighthouse there. Marblehead Lighthouse looks the most like the idyllic lighthouse you will ever see. When you are in a souvenir shop and see light switch covers or hand towels with a generic lighthouse on them, I guarantee you that they will bear some resemblance to Marblehead. It has very classic dimensions. It is a white tower, with green doors and a red roof and railing. It is is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.

Photo of Marblehead Lighthouse from 1885.  Later, they would add another 10 feet to its height.

Photo of Marblehead Lighthouse from 1885. Later, they would add another 10 feet to its height.

It was a very dreary day when we visited. The sky was the same gray as the sheets of marble that the lighthouse rests on. I enjoyed climbing on the uneven stone. It really frustrated me that the lighthouse was unmanned and locked up. I was like a reverse Rupunzel. I desperately wanted to get INSIDE the tower. But it would be years later before the State of Ohio would realize its full tourism potential and started offering visitors a chance to go inside of it.

Return visit to Marblehead, 2002

Return visit to Marblehead, 2002

It turns out my lighthouse memories are very long-winded. For more stories on the lights of the Great Lakes and a complete list of lighthouses that I have personally visited, come back by on Thursday.

Casey Kasem (1932-2014)

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CASEY KASEM-shaggy meme

Caboose Cake

Last year I made my son, M, a rather complex Thomas the Tank Engine cake for his birthday. You can get more info and instruction for Thomas here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/27/beginners-luck-the-post-with-the-thomas-cake/

My finished Thomas The Tank Engine cake

My finished Thomas The Tank Engine cake

I did a month of preparation for it (planning, shopping, baking, freezing, studying Cake Boss episodes). My son still remembers the cake because pictures of it keep circulating on my digital picture frame.

I started asking him a couple of months ago what kind of cake he wanted this year. First he told me “a Creeper cake” (from Scooby-Doo).

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

The Creeper from Scooby-Doo

I told him no. Beyond my skill level and too scary.

Then he fell in love with the story “The Little Red Caboose” by Marian Potter. Then all he wanted was a caboose cake. Last year was the beginning of the train, this year the end. A caboose is pretty much a rectangle. I could handle that.

My inspiration: The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter

My inspiration: The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter

I had two goals with this cake, which greatly affected the outcome:

1. Make it taste better than the Thomas cake.

Thomas was all about the looks. I used fondant and butter cream frosting to make him look awesome. I wasn’t crazy about the taste of either of them. This year I vowed to use regular old in-the-can Duncan Hines frosting, no matter what the impact on my finished creation would be.

Thomas was made with two boxes of cake mix. The caboose is only made from one box. I used yummy strawberry cake and layered it with chocolate frosting. I covered the outside with colored vanilla frosting.

2. Do not be stressed out.

Well, I was a little. I only had like 2 1/2 hours to assemble the cake on the morning of my son’s birthday. But that was only like one day’s worth of stress compared to last year’s weeks worth of so much anxiety I couldn’t sleep. When I made the Thomas cake, I wasn’t working. I had plenty of time to plan cakes and worry last year. Not so much this year.

So, when you judge the result of my efforts, take those two things into consideration.

I present to you, my caboose cake!

My Caboose Cake!

My Caboose Cake!

It could put a diabetic in a coma!

It is complete with smoke stack, buffers, and a brake wheel (the brake wheel is important in the story).

It…looks a little like a houseboat???

I was way too far into my hasty assembly and decorating before I realized that I had forgotten to make another lower level for the back.

But look at the fine details of the railing! The door! The windows!

I think I should at least get credit for trying. My asbestos friend said she would not even attempt such a thing. (Which is silly, because I have seen her make an adorable Stitch costume in one night. Creativity flows from one medium to another. Except music. I can’t make music to save my life.)

The ultimate test for me is if my son can tell what the cake is supposed to be. And he could!

Then he pointed out that there were only buffers on on end. And he wanted me to make the rest of the train cars :/

I pretty much used the knowledge I gained from Thomas to make this cake.

1. Draw picture.

Rough drawing  (Click on any picture to make it larger)

Rough drawing (Click on any picture to make it larger)

2. I used paper to create a template.

3. I baked and froze my cakes, wrapping them in wax paper and foil to prevent freezer burn. I used one box of cake mix and split it between 2 loaf pans. Note to Self: Level the cakes at this step next time.

Frozen cakes

Frozen cakes

4. I took them out of the freezer and cut them according to the templates.

Frozen cakes with templates

Frozen cakes with templates

5. I stacked them using frosting. (This is where I should have consulted my original drawing again. Whoops. You know what they say: Live and learn and eat a houseboat.) I slid two wooden dowels through the high part.

Stacked cakes with dowels

Stacked cakes with dowels

6. Frosted the outside.

Covered in red frosting

Covered in red frosting

7. Applied decorations. I used Hershey’s kisses for the wheels, fruit roll-ups for the windows, cinnamon discs for the lights, Rice Krispie treats for the back end, and a huge-ass Hershey bar for the roof. Most of the rest of the details are made out of licorice. Which you could not pay me to eat, but it proved to be a very versatile decorating tool. The railing was made with the help of paper sucker sticks and toothpicks (DO NOT EAT TOOTHPICKS!).

Constructing caboose details

Constructing caboose details

8. I used chocolate frosting for the ground, brown sugar for the gravel/dirt, and licorice for the rails and ties. I wanted to have green frosting for grass, but I forgot and dyed all my frosting red.

*Moral of the story: Take your time! Do not rush!

Cake showing all details and tracks

Cake showing all details and tracks

9. Apply dinosaur candles to instantly convert the caboose into one of my son’s other favorite entertainment franchises: Dinosaur Train!

Caboose with dinosaur candles inserted

Caboose with dinosaur candles inserted

10. Light candles.

CABOOSE-11

11. Make wish.

12. Blow out flame.

13. Cut cake, removing all non-edible objects.

14. EAT!

Destruction: The tastiest part of cake-baking

Destruction: The tastiest part of cake-baking

15. Re-light candles. Make more wishes.

Remember what my Thomas Cake post was titled?

“Beginner’s Luck”

Yep. This is what happens when beginner’s luck runs out.

The dashing birthday boy!

The dashing birthday boy!

What I Learned This Week – 7/21/13

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This week I found two new obsessions.

IN THE SAME WEEK!

Which makes it very difficult to fully obsess about either. And finish my novel. But I am trying my hardest 😉

First is Divergent, a dystopian Young Adult book series by Veronica Roth. And, I must say, if I had seen the word “dystopian” first in relation to this book, I probably wouldn’t have read it, because that is not my thing. But instead, these actors are the first thing I saw in relation to the book:

Photo: Entertainment Weekly

Photo: Entertainment Weekly

I am a loyal, long-time Entertainment Weekly subscriber. It is like my weekly bible of new happenings in the entertainment world. And sure, they miss quite a bit. But they also introduce me to things like Divergent and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis that I would probably never find on my own. (And EW has WAY less ads than other magazines, including People.)

So, I read the article about the movie adaption of the book in EW, because I usually read every story, whether I am actually interested in it or not. One part of the article described a scene they were shooting on a Ferris wheel, and it gave me the rush of romantic excitement that is the reason I read Young Adult books. I crave that first spark of a new relationship in books, movies, TV. (i.e. The first time Edward actually talks to Bella in Science class in Twilight.) I figured if the magazine article could give me that rush, maybe the book would be worth reading as well. Plus, I really don’t like Shailene Woodley, who stars in the movie adaption. I don’t know why, I just haven’t liked her since she was the first Kaitlin Cooper on The O.C.

I also wanted to read the book because Theo James, the guy who plays the male lead Four in the Divergent movie, is seriously hot. I figured if I could picture him in my head while I read it, I would totally enjoy the book.

Shailene Woodley and Theo James Photo: Entertainment Weekly

Shailene Woodley and Theo James
Photo: Entertainment Weekly

And I did enjoy the book.  So much, that I had to run out and buy book two, titled Insurgent.   (I read both books in about 48hrs time.)  This led my friend to inquire if the 3rd book was to be titled Detergent.  Actually, it will be Allegiant, coming out 10/22/2013.

Many people on the Internet seem to compare Divergent to The Hunger Games.  I did not read Hunger Games.  But I do see similarities to Twilight & The Host.  The Host was a terrible book I hated, but the underground setting and the “world has gone to crap” vibe of Divergent reminds me of it.  Except stuff ACTUALLY HAPPENS in Divergent, unlike in The Host.  I feel like there could have been more description (of everything) in the books, but there was enough to keep me interested.  And Roth spent way too much time telling me about how the light made shadows under the hollows of people’s eyes.  (The editor really should have removed a few of those).  I do not relate to Tris as well as I did to Bella.

I really read the books to hear about how cute Four is.  And I had my doubts about that name, but it is much better than his real first name.  His real last name, on the other hand, was my grandmother’s maiden name, so that makes it kind of cool to read.  While there is no love triangle, Tris and Four do have other issues come between them predictably in book two.  I found book two less enjoyable, because they were already together and there wasn’t that fun, flirty stuff going on.  But, well, that is just the course of any relationship.  Roth does do a good job at setting up the end of each book to make me crave the next one.

…”I’d ask you to hang out with us, but you’re not supposed to see me this way.”
I am tempted to ask him why he wants me to hang out with him, but I suspect the answer has something to do with the bottle in his hand.
“What way?” I ask. “Drunk?”
“Yeah…well, no.” His voice softens. “Real, I guess.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t.”
“Nice of you.” He puts his lips next to my ear and says, “You look good, Tris.”

–Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Copyright 2011, Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins Publishers

I can’t give an in-depth review, because I have only read each book through once.  I plan to start over again soon, though.  I have their world in my head, and I am not ready to let it go yet.  I was shocked that by the end of the two books, I actually could remember what most of the five factions actually were.  So, stay tuned, I might blog about this again someday.

Now, on to…

SCOOBY-DOO!

(You really didn’t see that one coming, did you?)

I watched Scooby-Doo multiple times a day when I was growing up.  I had a Scooby-Doo poster on my wall in my room (until Kirk Cameron and NKOTB came along).  I still have many Scooby-related items around my house.

Recently, my son has discovered that Scooby-Doo was an actual cartoon he could watch, and we have all become a little hooked around here.  First, watching the DVD I bought of the orignal Scooby Doo, Where Are You? episodes.  My husband and I try to predict who the ghost will be and when they will say all the popular catchphrases.  If it was a drinking game, we would be drunk all the time.

Photo: Cartoon Network

Photo: Cartoon Network

But searching on Netflix yesterday (dang, was that just yesterday?), I found a newer version called Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, from 2010.  I started watching it and was in for a shock:

THEY HAVE VELMA & SHAGGY AS AN ITEM!

I KNOW! (Monica voice)

Growing up, I would have had a crush on Shaggy if I had believed it possible to have a crush on a cartoon character, which I don’t (I know someone who would strongly disagree).  I always wanted to grow up and be beautiful like Daphne, but realized quickly I was more a Velma.

Photo: Cartoon Network

Photo: Cartoon Network

So far, Scooby keeps getting in the way of Velma and Shaggy’s relationship, but DANG!  (Remember what I said earlier about loving to watch the beginnings of relationships blossom?  Imagine that with characters I have known for 35 years!)  I began to obsessively watch episodes, mostly to see how their relationship might play out.  I am shipping for Velma and Shaggy.

I know, I’m weird.  But it just fills me up with a wonderful glow that Castle and Beckett never will, because I believe he could do better than her.

Actually, Velma has some control issues.  Maybe Shaggy could do better as well.  But there is just all that room in the back of the Mystery Machine.  It would be so convenient for them to make out back there, for Shaggy to get up her orange sweater.

Wait…did I just invent Scooby porn?

Don’t blame me.  Blame the creators of this knew version for putting such things into my innocent, Scooby-loving head.

In this version, they all live in a Crystal Cove, and you see them in high school and their parents are a part of their lives.  In the original, while I didn’t mind it, they were kind of just a group of transients.  Who, now that i think about it, if they slept in the Mystery Machine all the time, probably didn’t shower often and smelled bad.

This new version has new voices for the characters.  Shaggy doesn’t quite sound right, but he is voiced by Matthew Lillard, who I don’t really like, but he did play Shaggy very convincingly in the movies, so I am alright with it.  Scooby’s voice is gravelier than it used to be.  But hey, he is a 44 year old dog.  That makes him 308 in dog years.  We gotta cut the pooch some slack.  I do get distracted that Velma is voiced by Mindy Cohn, so that if I don’t look at the screen, I only hear Natalie from the Facts of Life.  But I do like that Casey Kasem from the original series does the voice of Shaggy’s dad.  I love that Patrick Warburton is the voice of the Sheriff who is always annoyed with them for getting in the way and solving mysteries.

The characters’ appearances are updated too, but in a way that is still true to the original.  The tone of the series is a little scarier than the original.  But my son doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

So, ya.  My love for Scooby has been reignited.

This photo doesn’t go with anything, but it is totally bitchin’.

Photo: tumblr.com

Photo: tumblr.com

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