Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Grapefruit scene

As the proud owner of a new Home Theatre PC you can imagine that I've been playing with my new toy. Already it's becoming obvious that I don't have enough time to record everything I'd like. Well, I have the time to record it; I just don't have the time to watch it. I've done well so far in catching up with Becker[^] but at 5 episodes (2 and a half hours) a day here in Phoenix it's an uphill battle.

Add that I'm a fan of Married... with Children[^] and you can see that I have a real problem on my hands.

In June of 1970 I persuaded my step father to drop me off, very early one Saturday morning, at the Myers warehouse sale. This was at, surprisingly enough, their warehouse. I say surprisingly because these days the word 'warehouse' seems to get attached to any old sale. Back in 1970 in Melbourne it really was at their warehouse; right next to the crematorium.

It was, as I remember it, a cold but dry day as I milled with the masses outside the door waiting for 8 AM to roll around so we could all rush inside and claim our bargains. The bargain I was after was a TV set for 5 bucks! Unheard of cheapness but there it was advertised in the Sun.

I got my 5 buck TV set too! It was a Precedent (36 years after the event I can't remember the exact model), built around 1959. Almost working too, if you discounted the lack of a picture. It wasn't hard to see why; the connector on the TV tube (incidentally, the only usage of tube for thermionic valve found in Australian English) had detached itself from the tube itself and was languishing at the bottom of the chassis.

In those days they brought the wires from the internals of the CRT to the outside world via flexible wires; the wires were in turn run through pins on a connector, soldered to the pins and the connector itself was glued to the glass at the neck of the CRT. These days I imagine it's much the same as it was in 1975; the internals are brought out through the glass via VERY stiff pins and there's no separate connector.

I spent an afternoon cleaning up the connector and getting all the old solder out of it. Then I lined up each wire emerging from the glass so that I could thread them all through the pins. Painstaking work but after a couple of tries I had each wire emerging through the end of the pins and it was time to Araldite (epoxy glue sold in Australia) the connector back onto the CRT. Half an hour later I had a working TV set. Not bad for 5 bucks and an afternoons work I enjoyed.

I watched a lot of old movies on that Telly. How Green was my Valley[^]. Golddiggers of 1933[^]. A lot of ancient British comedy too. Hancocks Half Hour[^]. Curry and Chips[^]. I could go on but I'd get carpal tunnel syndrome from all the cutting and pasting; you'd get it from clicking on the links.

There are many movies I saw then that I'd like to see again; and now, as the proud owner aforesaid of a Home Theatre PC connected to cable TV I can catch some of them. They run at odd hours; what matter when you have recording capacity? Actually I blame my love of old movies for my preferred hours; that and the wine :-)

A week or so ago TCM ran Angels with Dirty Faces[^]. A 'bad good' movie to misquote George Orwell (he was writing about 'good bad' books.) I'd set the PC to record. It was waiting for me when I returned from Dallas.

I watched it tonight. Enjoyed it; though the enjoyment felt somewhat guilty; rather like the enjoyment you feel when eating pink coconut icing; there's something not quite adult about it but you're going to enjoy it anyway. (I'm misquoting George Orwell again).

As I've already mentioned[^] I was sharing a house with some friends at the end of 1974. One night we sat down to watch a movie[^] together. For some reason Helbe seemed particularly taken with one scene in the movie; it's the one where James Cagney picks up a grapefruit and squashes it into a girls face. I don't know why either!

When I reached the end of 'Angels with Dirty Faces' I turned to live TV, knowing that 'The Public Enemy' was being recorded. By sheerest chance it was at the scene where James Cagney picks up a grapefruit and... well we've done that.

Ok, it's a pretty thin, though true, premise upon which to base a blog entry but think about it; you've been dragged through a discussion of the difference between 1959 Australian TV technology and the technology in 1975; along the way you had an insight into my shopping habits in 1970 and then we had a discussion about ancient movies on Australian TV. You couldn't pay to get such an assortment of rubbish :-)

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