Clay Guys

Philadelphia, PA – The early 70s

I had lots of toys as a kid. Cars, trucks, games, action figures, and comic books. I loved all of my toys. But one of my favorite toys was modeling clay.

Modeling Clay | Childhood memories, My childhood memories, Childhood

I owned several of these packs of clay as a kid. The problem with store-bought toys was they come in very specific shapes and sizes. The plastic army men or spacemen figures are rigid and are stuck in their cast positions. But clay can be shaped into anything you want. The things you can make out of clay are limited only to the skill of your hands and your imagination.

So your choices are unlimited as to what you can create with clay. It was my favorite toy as a kid. A simple shapeless lump of modeling clay.

It was great when you first opened the packet because you had a few colors to work with. But in time they all eventually blended and all of your clay was one color. Brown.

This didn’t matter because it wasn’t about the color of the things you made, it was the shape and what you did with them.

Unlike Play-Doh, clay never dried out. It stayed in its natural form no matter what you did with it. If you left Play-Doh out and didn’t seal it up in an airtight container, it dried out. It turned hard as a rock.

I remember Play-Doh had a salty taste to it and I do remember eating a bit of it as a kid. Children learn early by putting things in their mouths. It’s a primitive learning skill. Play-Doh, like Elmers Glue, was both non-toxic and didn’t taste that bad. Even if it was just an experimental exercise.

Photos: Vintage Play-Doh Cans and Playsets | Mental Floss

But Play-Doh just didn’t hold the same eternal magic and durability as modeling clay. If you made something out of Play-Doe and it was good, you wanted to give it to your mom or just leave it out. It then turned to stone and became a permanent artifact. You couldn’t play with it anymore. But with clay, if you needed more clay or were tired of your sculpture, you could simply squish it and make something new.

I remember watching the 1933 classic film, King Kong. I immediately grabbed my clay and sculpted the great ape fighting with a giant snake from a scene in the film. My father was impressed with my creation, and how I captured the moment in the film. But at some point, I either moved it or changed the positioning of the figures and my dad said I messed it up. This hurt my feelings so I squished it. I thought…it’s my clay and I’ll make what I want. You can’t create the things that I can.

Modeling clay is such a wonderful toy for children. The highest form of intelligence on the planet is creation. Remembering or memorizing facts and figures already created and thought of by others is just a memory exercise. That’s a decent skill and it is needed. But taking a lump of shapeless clay and turning it into something that never existed before is a real talent.

Isn’t creating something our greatest homage to our creator? To emulate our creator is the best compliment we can give to that entity. Real or not. Why settle for someone else’s vision of what a toy should look like. Clay gave me the ability to create my toys and characters to make my adventures.

I once sculpted a little brown bunny rabbit for my mother. It was maybe two inches long. My mother loved it so much she placed it on a shelf in our kitchen and it stayed there for years. My mother passed away a few years ago but always kept the little rabbit. A couple of years ago my older sister found that sculpture and gave it to my daughter to give to me. After half a century in existence, the bunny was still intact. After 50 years he was a bit dried out but that’s how durable modeling clay was back then. (Sadly, he crumbled a few years ago and I had to toss him.)

My friend RJ and I spent hours and hours making things out of clay. I remember he once sculpted the nativity scene out of clay and presented it to his mother for Christmas. It was a great work of art for a child. He was very talented as a boy.

One of our favorite things to make was a thing we called “Clay Guys”.  They were little men about an inch tall. We occasionally made little clay girls. The only difference between these simple figures was the female clay people had a little swatch of clay hair on their heads and two tiny balls of clay on their chests. These were covered with another thing swatch of clay around the figure to form a dress. There was nothing sexual about it because we were just children, but that’s how we defined the gender of our characters in simple child terms. But 99% of our characters were guys. Clay guys!

Sometimes we’d find little things they could use as tools. Like a pin or needle from a sewing kit. These became swords in the hands of our characters. Sometimes, instead of the little bump on the top of their shoulders that represented the head, we would replace that bump with a marble. Two little oval clay eyes were affixed to the marble, which made that figure into an alien.  Cat’s eye marbles looked the coolest because it was as if you could see inside the alien’s head and his thoughts were swirling around in there. Hence making him a brilliant alien.

Here you can see us with an army of alien clay guys!

As I write this, I wonder where this perception of what an alien life form could look like. I’m guessing it was probably inspired by images we’d seen in comic books or old science fiction films we liked to watch. Mad Theater and Horror Theater on channel 17 with host Doctor Shock come to mind.

Sometimes we’d make the occasional giant clay guy or the monster that our little clay guys had to fight to the death. The cool thing about our clay guys was they could be destroyed, but also resurrected. If one of your guys lost an arm or was cut in half during a battle, he could be repaired, or even squished and reborn as a new clay guy!

We would make little search parties of clay guys and send them on journeys through our house. Climbing, jumping, hanging from ropes (strings), and going into battles were all part of the adventure. We knew some of our team wouldn’t come back from the journey, but that was the fun of it. Our toys had mortality. They could die on the adventure. But as I said, you could always bring them back from the dead to live and play with again.

Once we made a bunch of clay guys and stood them all up in a line going across our street. The cars would come, and run over part of our team squishing them horribly. We knew we’d lose a few, but there were always the survivors. If you could pick the cinders, dirt, and stones out of the survivors’ bodies, they’d live again to go on another adventure tomorrow.

The possibilities of making things out of modeling clay were endless. It was the best toy and inspired us to use our hands, our minds, and our imaginations. Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun. I know now there are so many high-tech toys out there and video games are king. But holding a lump of clay in your hand and making something from your imagination was the best.

 

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – 29 Secret Backstories You Don’t Know To Hit Songs You Do

Songs have a way of worming themselves into our brains and lives in subtle ways, without us giving a single thought to how they arrived in our ears. And as it turns out, most songs have really interesting histories.

So we asked our plasticians to come up with fascinating facts about well-known songs, that you can worm into your brain alongside that catchy melody. Here’s what they came up with:

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

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13 Reasons Why The Older You Are, The More You Hate Everyone

Here’s a post a friend of mine on here sent me. She describes herself as a cranky, jaded introvert. 

But I agree with her on many of these points. I ran into a woman I haven’t seen in probably two years. She looked healthy but seemed exactly the same as she was when I met her over five years ago. Fifteen minutes into the conversation I was already bored. Without the distraction of other people at a bar or the excitement of attending an event, she seemed dull. I’ve come to realize how rampant mental illness is in today’s world.

I believe as we age we need to continually evolve to be better. But I think we can all agree that during this pandemic we really found out who our real friends are.

Anyway… Take it away, Donna!

I used to be one of those girls who was absolutely desperate to be popular, have friends, and be around people.

As I get older, I’ve realized that I’ve turned into a grumpy, crotchety lady who really doesn’t want to be around people.

“Generally, people become more emotionally stable, agreeable, and conscientious as they leave their youth behind,” says Jenn Granneman, author of The Secret Lives of Introverts, “They also become quieter and more self-contained, needing less socializing and excitement to be happy.”

To a point, it’s becoming more of an introvert is a natural process that can’t be helped.

Here’s why you become more introverted and start to hate everyone as you get old — and why I’m OK with turning into a misanthrope.

1. The older you get, the more often people have let you down.

All those Disney songs about having friends who never disappoint you or bail on you clearly haven’t taken into account the majority of the human race.

By the time that you’re 20, you’ve probably been dealt major blows by people you never thought would hurt you, and that makes you really jaded toward people.

2. As you age, the fun of being around people begins to disappear.

Popularity stops being cool when you realize how much money it costs to be popular, and how much of a time-waster it is.

3. You learn over time that people ruin the coolest things.

Ever notice how it only takes one stupid person’s actions to ruin a good thing? Ever notice how many good things get ruined this way?

This is why we can’t have awesome things: stupid people!

4. You find that most people you meet are boring as hell.

Their entire lives revolve around things that aren’t important. They don’t really make you think about anything in particular. They are boring, and there’s a certain point where boring becomes a reason not to talk to them.

If I do hang out with people, I want them to have a real spark inside them, and that just doesn’t really happen too often.

5. You discover that ninety-nine percent of the people you meet are fake.

I hate the fact that most people I’ve met can’t talk about how they really feel, what they’re really going through, or what they honestly think about you.

At the end of the day, most people will sugarcoat things that shouldn’t be sugarcoated, and most people won’t tell you the full truth, even if it’s an absolute necessity.

6. You realize that dealing with people’s drama is exhausting.

I’d rather watch TV.

The drama is more entertaining and it won’t negatively affect me.

7. You find that most get-togethers quickly become incredibly boring.

Let’s face it: most people don’t want to go to those tired dinner parties thrown by their bosses anyway.

8. As years pass, your tolerance for people judging you and telling you what to do shrinks to zero.

People always love to get angry when you don’t live the way they want you to live.

I’m too old to have people judge me, try to control me, or tell me how to live my life. Shouldn’t others be more worried about their lives instead?

9. The longer you’ve been alive, the worse people treat you in general.

When you’re a kid, everyone coos at you and coddles you. When you’re a teenager, everyone hates you. When you’re an adult, everyone hates you and expects you to do stuff for them.

I don’t recall signing up for this BS.

10. By the time you’re 30, you realize that your pets are more mature than the people you regularly talk to.

That might be why I prefer to drink wine with my cats.

11. There’s a certain point where you can’t deal with people’s shallow behavior.

If I was 300 pounds, I could guarantee that men wouldn’t want anything to do with me and that people, in general, would make mean comments about my weight.

Knowing this made me really worn out when it came to talking to people. I don’t want to bother with people who would discard me based on how much I weigh, what I wear, or how I look.

12. People have really messed up expectations about how others should treat them, versus how they treat others.

With most people, manners have gone the way of the dodo, but they have no problem expecting others to be nice to them.

I’m so over it.

13. When push comes to shove, getting older also means that you realize that most people aren’t worth it.

This makes the few people who are worth talking to all the more precious.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Tales of Rock -The Best Band You Never Heard – Fields of The Nephilim

I have loved this band since the late 80s! Really dark, gothic rock. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_of_the_Nephilim

 

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https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 8

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970’s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

Feelings – Morris Albert – 1975

Thankfully, Morris Albert has no incredibly sad story and famous offspring that will make you regret listening to his song. He’s just the singer of an incredibly, stunningly crappy song. “Feelings” has been mocked and reviled for a good 45 years, largely for the lack of specificity in the lyrics. What kind of feelings is Morris singing about? It’s clearly a love song, but it’s hard to think of a more vague term than “feelings” to describe, um, feelings. Albert maintains a following in his native Brazil, but he hasn’t had much success in America since he shared his “Feelings” with us back in 1975. If you wonder why punk had to happen, listen to this song.

It’s about a noun. It could have been written by a suicidal 14-year-old submitting to her high-school literary magazine in a last-ditch attempt to garner sympathy from the would-be lover who spurned her in front of everyone in the cafeteria. Feelings? Whoa whoa whoa, feelings.

I think we all felt the nausea of this song in 1975. I remember one of the neighbor’s girls said the following words to my sister. “Let’s sing…Feelings.” My sister quietly declined the offer because she had just eaten.

I remember when the song would come on a friend of mine would mock the lyrics. “Fuelings… Mid-Air… Refuelings.”

Aerial refueling - Wikipedia

Excuse me… I have to go throw up in a bucket.

Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks – 1974

I really have it out for mid-1970s soft rock. This one is another song about a tragedy. “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” is about a woman begging her boyfriend to be safe while fighting the Civil War, and Terry Jacks’ 1974 mega-hit is about a dying person saying goodbye to his loved ones. The song was written by poet Rod McKuen in the early 1960s and first made a hit by Belgian singer Jacques Brel in 1961. The version by Terry Jacks hit Number One around the world in 1974, but Jacks largely retired from music just a few years later.

 Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” hit #1 for three weeks in 1974, making 1974 perhaps the worst year ever for popular music. In fact, out of all of the songs on this list, 12 of them peaked in airplay during 1974, 10 of which reached the #1 spot on the Billboard chart. 1974 was such a hideous year for music that popular radio station WLS in Chicago dropped their weekly ranking of their 40 top songs down to a weekly ranking of only 15 records per week. Still, even with only 15 records, most of them were virtually unlistenable, as in this example.

Ugh… this song makes me want to eat a bullet.

The Streak – Ray Stevens – 1974

Ray Stevens was actually a talented songwriter, producer, and music executive with a dark side. In spite of his obvious talent, he insisted on writing and recording distinctly offensive or idiotic low-brow novelty songs for most of his career, including “Ahab the Arab” (“humorously” pronounced “Aay-rabb”—get it?), “Guitarzan,” and “Harry The Hairy Ape.” In 1969, Stevens became a regular on The Andy Williams Show, and in the summer of 1970, he got his own summer replacement show, The Ray Stevens Show. “The Streak” played on the 1970s prank of running naked through a public place. Released in late March 1974, the song hit #1 on the Billboard charts for three weeks in May 1974, and its insidious presence was all but inescapable for most of the American public.

I’m ashamed of all popular radio in the 70s at this point.

Have You Never Been Mellow – Olivia Newton-John – 1975

I couldn’t decide between this song and her other horrible hits of the ’70s (“I Honestly Love You,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “With a Little More Love”), but in the end, the title question itself is what put it over the top.

Olivia Newton-John | Olivia newton john, Hottest female celebrities, Female singers

I’ve always loved ONJ as a woman and as a songbird. I probably only like the actress Susan George because she reminds me of ONJ. She always had such a lovely light feminine voice. Who can forget her enormous hit, Physical? I bought that album. I loved her then and I love her now. But this stuff from her early career is just so sugary, I need an insulin shot after listening to any of them.

Escape (Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes – 1979

This is the one song on the list that some people might actually appreciate on some level. Holmes was inspired to write “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” when he saw a want ad in the paper. He wondered what would happen if he responded to it, only to discover it had been placed by his own wife. The lyrics originally went “If you like Humphrey Bogart,” at the last minute he changed it to “Pina Coladas,” a drink he didn’t even particularly enjoy. The couple in the song both agree to meet at O’Malleys Bar and don’t seem all that miffed to discover they were both trying to cheat on each other. Instead, they discover they both love Pina Coladas, being caught in the rain, and making love at midnight. It’s like a modern-day, O. Henry story. Maybe those should be called O’Malley stories now.  Holmes had another hit in 1980 with “Him,” but after that, his pop career pretty much went into the trash. He’s had far more success in recent years as a playwright.

I love his wardrobe choice for this video. Really dude? You had nothing else to wear? It looks like you just came from Sunday brunch. His stage presence is awful. I saw better choreography during the Lee Harvey Oswald prison transfer.

But I digress…

It’s also fun to watch him gingerly descend the stairs on set.

You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone- 1977

How many weddings in the late ’70s was this steaming pile of garbage played at? (All of them?)

You don’t hear it much these days, but “You Light Up My Life” was actually the single biggest song of the 1970s. It spent 10 weeks at Number One, a record not beaten until 1991 when Boyz II Men stayed on top for 13 weeks in 1991. The song was written as a love song, but Pat Boone’s daughter Debby always interpreted it as a song about her devotion to God. The song was written by Joe Brooks, who was arrested in 2009 on charges that he lured 11 women to his apartment with the promise of a movie audition, and then sexually assaulted them. He committed suicide before the case went to trial. Around the same time, this was all going down, his son Nicholas was arrested for murdering his girlfriend. The New York tabloids had a field day with the two cases. Knowing all that, it’s hard to listen to the song in quite the same way. It just goes to show that you can write the biggest hit of the 70s and still go out and do some vile stuff.

We already hate the song, and now because of what I wrote above, we can all hate it even more!

The Morning After – Maureen McGovern – 1972

This was featured as a song on the doomed ocean liner in the film The Poseidon Adventure, Maureen McGovern’s schlocktacular effort (penned by 20th Century Fox songwriting hacks Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn) was released a year after the film and climbed to #1 for two weeks in August 1974. The song won best original song Academy Award and led the trio to team up again for another Oscar-winning debacle, “We May Never Love Like This Again,” in 1974’s The Towering Inferno. Few efforts better encapsulate the way that musical expression and creativity were cynically packaged for commercial consumption throughout most of the 1970s.

Kill me now!

Me and You and a dog named Boo – Lobo – 1971

This is the 1971 debut single by Lobo. Written by Lobo under his real name Kent LaVoie, it appears on the Introducing Lobo album.

The single peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and was the first of four of his songs to hit #1 on the Easy Listening chart, where it had a two-week stay at that top spot in May 1971. The song also reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1971 and spent four weeks at #1 in New Zealand. 

Internationally, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was Lobo’s second most successful song among more than 15 single releases, surpassed only by “I’d Love You to Want Me” the following year. (More trash)

Like Bobby Goldsboro, Lobo has the same ridiculous haircut. It’s just awful. Hair helmet! It doesn’t even look real!

I’d knock over an elderly lady in a walker to get to the radio to turn this crap off. England Dan and John Ford Coley, I’m not.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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