A September, 2013 photograph of the Harriet Irving Library at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Many a university essay of mine was researched within this enormous repository of accumulated knowledge.
The fourth era of my life began in the summer of 1982, almost five years after my move from Douglastown to Fredericton that commenced Era 3. If Era 2 were to be called my life's Golden Age, Era 4 might be deemed the Silver Age. However, it would be wrong to subordinate Era 4 to Era 2 in such a way, for a highly substantial amount of experiences in Era 4, and especially in the first few years of it, rank as some of the best of my entire life, and the summers of 1982, 1983, and 1984 truly have developed quite a yellow-metallic glow to them. My summers in Douglastown were all excellent indeed, though none tremendously "stand out" from the "pack", as it were; they were all of the same very high quality. But the summer of 1983 in particular is so very outstanding, so much gratifying acquisitions and successful and fun times had therein, that I regard it as the best summer- and 1983 indeed the best whole year- of my entire life. For certain, the years comprising Era 4 would be, in the main, my most enjoyable and fulfilling in Fredericton. In Era 4, most notably the first half of it, I was more physically active and capable at sports than before or since, yearning to have Space: 1999 on videocassette was realised, with me in the company of prized persons with whom to share the amazing acquisitions in between many a fun baseball game, and friendships were pleasurable and eventful. There was not a summer's day when I was bored.
Although during the summer of 1982, I viewed several cinema movies by my lonesome self, among them Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Firefox, and The Cannonball Run, it was nevertheless the first thoroughly enjoyable summer in more than three years. Joey and I became much closer during July and August, and he would be my closest and best buddy for the next five years. Closest and best in terms of the amount of time spent together, frequency of telephone calls and visits, degree of support, and variety of activities- relative to my relationships with others at the time.
Additionally, I had started playing street baseball with a new assembly of Linden Crescent youngsters led by Craig, baseball enthusiast extraordinaire and 4 years my junior. And several of us enjoyed many a badminton contest in my backyard. Tony, my best friend of Era 3, and I diverged somewhat as I spent more and more of my time with Joey and with Craig's group, but Tony and I remained conversational partners for many years hence. He and I collected videotapes together and often combined our videocassette recorders to copy off-television videotape recordings for our mutual videocassette libraries, which in my case also included bought-from-store, prerecorded and expensive videotapes. This, too, commenced in the summer of 1982.
The process of Joey coming to prominent buddy role was complete in the summer of 1982. Tony and I were turned aside enough from each other to allow me to concentrate more of my time and attention on Joey- and also on the baseball games started by Craig (which only occasionally included Tony). I cannot say for sure that it was a mutual decision to diverge. Tony was not apt to openly pledge a commitment of best friendship; that much is certain. He never did; that is true. In fact, I believe that him even privately regarding me as his best friend was not his inclination, appreciative though he may have been of my favouring of him as a collaborator in various initiatives. It was that appreciation of my favouring of him in past ventures that would perhaps (or probably) have made him somewhat less than delighted to be party to a change of my foremost allegiance from him to Joey. And others in the neighbourhood, those in Joey's peer group, would have had an unfavourable view of such change, were I to have made an announcement of it. They would have viewed me as betraying Tony, whom they had regarded for many years as being my closest and best friend. On their insistence, Tony very likely would have developed resentment where I and my connection with Joey was concerned. I understand that, and I believe that instinctively at least, I understood it then also.
And Tony remained a quite valuable friend in his own right. He was the only person other than myself in our neighbourhood to be collecting videotaped movies and television series. Though much less a perfectionist than I in the technical aspects of collecting recordings on videocassette, he desired to own many of the same enjoyed works of entertainment. Tony was therefore an excellent comrade with whom to compare collections and sometimes combine equipment to do copying of videotapes so that we both could have in our home videocassette depositories something that we wanted. Although we had exhausted much of our conversation then on technical and aesthetic aspects of our mutual favourite movies and television shows, Tony still was the most knowledgeable person in my surroundings about most, if not all, of the televised and theatrically-shown favourite entertainment of my life, and most likely to be appreciative of news that some item of my lofty esteem (e.g. Space: 1999) might soon be had on videotape. As regards Space: 1999, Joey had no prior experience of it, Craig disliked it, and Steven was rather positively inclined toward it while nearly all of his friends either were without much or any cognition of it or were to some extent dismissive of it. Tony was familiar with it and with a sizable amount of my history connected to it, and would understand more than anybody else the extent of my joy at the prospect of having it on videotape.
Thus, I strove to keep a healthy relationship with Tony while being most responsive, attentive, and appreciative toward Joey. Such was not easy. My friendship with Joey was supported by practically nobody around us. My parents, commenting gingerly that Joey was filling something of a younger brother role, did in any case always leave to me all responsibility for the building and sustaining of friendship. Joey's sister hated me, I think I can say with some amount of authority. Going to Joey's door in search of him was almost always futile in that he would not be at home, while his sister would subject me to scowl and rebuff. Calling upon friends at their doors without invitation to do so still made me skittish, though I did find enough self-confidence to do it sometimes. To be sure, a disdaining treatment at the doorstep of my best buddy was not positive encouragement to improve myself in approaching my friends, although I did still attempt such improvement. Kelly, the girl a couple of houses across the street from me, did a few times speak highly of Joey's loyalty to me but seldom, if ever, tried to promote occasions for Joey and I to come together. And Joey was turned away from Tony and Steven's door if he came there looking for me whilst I was in Tony and Steven's house copying videotapes with Tony's videocassette recorder combined with mine. The doorbell would ring, and Steven would go to the door, because any visitors were usually there to see him, while I remained with Tony in Tony's living room. Thirty seconds later, Steven would come into the living room and say that Joey had been the person at the door and had been promptly sent away by Steven. And later when I returned to my home, my parents would inform me that Joey had called upon me and had been told by them that I was at Tony's place. I put two and two together and was deeply heartened by Joey's initiative, frustrated at how he had been rebuffed at the door of Tony and Steven, and wanting to go in search of Joey but knowing that I was unlikely to find him at home, and rather certain to be brusquely spoken-to by his sister.
Steven and his neighbourhood peer group comprised just about every potential attendee for my videotape shows, which I persisted in having in series at various times of the year until early spring of 1985. From Steven and the others, I needed good will and some amount of interest in the entertainment offered, for success of the videotape shows. They had in 1982 scant patience for me on most days and would complain if I came onto the scene while they were playing in Tony and Steven's Woodmount Drive backyard- until a Friday evening in June of 1982 when I, short of temper after a difficult day, gave to them quite a righteous ear-bashing, which evidently fostered in them some respect for me, at least enough to stanch their griping at my every appearance. During the summer of 1982, they increasingly saw me with Joey and were, I think, prepared to tolerate it, for as long as I was not too obviously and constantly preferential toward Joey in situations in which Tony had traditionally been favoured. My instinct told me that apart from an occasional nod to Joey as a videotape show helper, I should not conduct myself contrary what was expected of me by the attendees of the videotape shows. And so, Tony remained my assistant in those, while Joey was with me as my closest buddy in games, informal television-watching, money-earning labours, on-the-doorstep prolonged conversation, jaunts to the downtown core of Fredericton North and South, innovative basement projects, and overall affinity.
Tolerance by the other boys in Joey's age bracket never equated with approval or with helping to bring Joey and me together, or with positive reinforcement of our friendship. Most of the time, if Joey and I were already together and persons of his age happened to cross our path, Joey and I would soon be separated, with Joey going with those others (they were by 1982 onward, inclined most of the time to include him in their games) and me being alone. I understand how the pull of one's same-age peers can be powerfully strong, and much to Joey's credit, he did sometimes offer to rejoin me later as he was parting from me. Fact was that I had to be ready to be separated from Joey at any time. It should be said that this was less likely to happen in 1983, when Joey was most clearly preferential to me and my varied summer endeavours mostly involved him first and foremost.
Rather than be alone while Joey was playing for the remainder of a day and possibly for the next day with his same-age buddies, I would sometimes choose to seek the companionship of Tony, or perhaps that of Craig and his baseball group. Joey could be displeased by such a move, and turn chilly toward me for some days thereafter. Until such time, perhaps a week or two later- maybe longer, as he would venture to my door to reestablish amiable relations, we would be out of each other's social life. Joey accepted my time spent with Craig as long as I was clearly less generous to Craig with my time and friendship than I was to Joey- and as long as baseball, or some other popular sport in the neighbourhood, was the obvious, expedient reason for me to be with Craig. And Joey would join me in Craig's baseball games, almost always as my teammate, if I asked him to do so. My decision to retain Tony as routine videotape shows assistant was rather more difficult for Joey to accommodate, though.
I do not think that Joey did forget the rebuffs that he had received from the other nearby boys of his age group, or for that matter the regrettable turn-away from me in favour of Tony in 1979. He always looked to expand his base of possible pals so as to always have a bountiful supply of people for when he needed friendly company and a sympathetic ear. I could be rather witless on occasion, engrossed in selfish pursuits, and thereby a disappointment to Joey. And I sense that there was one or two people who would be keen to portray my shortcomings to Joey in the most negative manner possible. But for most of the warmer weather months of each year in Era 4, Joey was a most enthusiastic buddy, spending more time by my side than did anybody else, and being more outgoing, more extroverted in his appreciation for my friendship than was anyone else. Where Craig and his pals and Steven and his group could still on the odd instance turn against me, over-competitively berating me in the middle of a baseball game, for example, with Tony standing silently during such attacks and not even accompanying me off the baseball field if I opted to quit the game, Joey would leap to my defence whenever he was present, and stay with me while I was clearly upset.
Such was the dynamic of my social existence in Fredericton in the early-to-mid-1980s. Complicated, yes. But apart from three, maybe four, one-or-two-week-long spans per year when my social situation was in some way below par, Era 4 comprised on the whole the best of times for me in Fredericton. I had arrived at a degree of meshing with my immediate neighbourhood that gave to me the confidence to build at last upon progress made in Douglastown. Yes, there were moments when reactions to me were of something less than respectful tack, but moments like that had become exception rather than norm. I still was not as outgoing a person as others were. But I was becoming better at relating to people's feelings, occasionally at least, and at asserting myself, at approaching others while they were out of doors, and at expressing opinions, insights, and general knowledge with confidence- not diffidence. I became, if I must say so myself, a quite effective player of baseball, winning a vast majority of games, in addition to being a champion of badminton. And with all of this there came a return to my life of many of my favourite childhood entertainment productions, which emerged from their late-1970s-early-1980s banishment from the televisual airwaves of Atlantic Canada and resumed broadcast in a highly regarded way. It was a second time for me to savour what it was like to have quite a variety of fun times, amid acquisitions, this time on videotape, of television programmes that had been dear to my heart and mind, with mostly positive social contact enhancing my reunion with those beloved creations- much like my friendships in Douglastown had so splendidly coincided with my initial experience with imaginative works. With tact, diplomacy, and discreetness, the conditions for me of this time period were indeed workable and had stability however tenuous. Tony and other neighbourhood fellows kept good will toward me the lion's share of the time, and I was permitted to hold something of a leading role in neighbourhood games and other events- as long as I soft-peddled my best friendship with Joey as much as possible. Joey was irritated by my reluctance to openly express the degree of my esteem and fondness for him, and he was by times diverted from me by the others of his age group; however, on many a bright and warm summer's day, Joey could be relied upon to telephone me in the morning, remain with me for most of the daylight hours of the clock, and sit with me into the dusk of the evening, talking with me on my doorstep or in my basement, about the future, atomic warfare, dreams, and a variety of other subjects. 1983 was our best year, for sure.
Better conditions at school were a part of the improvement that came with the beginning of this era. In Grades 11 (1982-3) and 12 (1983-4), I was never again teased, pestered, bullied, or even nicknamed by anyone in my classes. I was left to complete my passage through the public education system with nary a disagreeable incident. Though still quite thin-framed, I was starting to finally elevate in size from the short in stature appearance that had been my most obvious characteristic for my entire life until then, and this change may have had something to do with the marked reduction in unpleasant treatment received at school. I sleepwalked, more or less, through my last two years at Fredericton High School, especially Grade 11, of which I remember little. My mind that year was usually focused on life around home with my friends, our probable activities of each day, and what fun we had enjoyed on the prior day or weekend, and on the Spiderman episodes and the videotaped movies that I was intending to obtain after school.
As long as my social existence stayed stable (which it was, most of the time, in the early years of this era), I had Tony with whom to collect and copy videotapes, Craig for the provision of baseball games and the like, Steven and several of his friends also for gaming purposes (when they chose to include me in their activities) in addition to their attendance at my videotape showings, and Joey for the best buddy role, which, when he was not diverted from me by his same-age associates, was filled admirably by him. It was an ensemble cast, each person providing something of importance to the quality production that was my life in the early-to-mid-1980s. Though still by nature an introvert, I became more outgoing in the 1980s than I had ever been before. Joey encouraged me to be more relaxed at speaking friends' names and to renounce a number of nonchalant tendencies that had been acquired in years of closest friendship with Tony. Although seeking to be the pitcher of decision in any winning baseball effort, I did become a team player in spirit more than I had ever been before. Most importantly, I was at last developing ability to, at least some of the time, relate to the feelings of others. Such ability was still significantly behind that of most people of my age bracket, and could be clouded completely by selfish considerations- and did usually require a clear statement to me that I was not being sufficiently considerate of another person's feelings. But I was improving, gradually, in all of these regards in Era 4.
Summer of 1982, the time of backyard badminton when a net was positioned behind my house for friends and I to play the glorious, old game of windblown shuttlecocks, easily-broken, wooden-rimmed rackets, and frustrating "clicks" as the birdies hit badminton racket rims. Tremendous fun, despite the drawbacks. Virtual tournaments were possible as the majority of the neighbourhood youth flocked to the games! Though I won more than twice as often as I lost, and in a practice "volley" with Joey kept a birdie in the air for a combined 111 racket hits, when I lost a game, I lost humiliatingly, "skunked" by Kelly, the girl from across the street. The sun and the wind were against me. Excuses. Excuses. And on Monday, June 28, 1982, Joey and I started a lawn-cutting business as we both wanted to earn money, for bicycle parts and other items in his case, and for videotapes in mine, and we became day-long companions, together for hours at work and at play. That was also the year of the Great Army Worm Invasion. They were everywhere!!! And the weather was so nice during that summer! I can only recall two or three rainy days.
Monday, June 28 was one of those many sunny and warm days in the summer of 1982. After waking to witness the pouring of golden dawn sunlight through the top and sides of my closed bedroom window curtains, I ate breakfast as I examined the television listings in the morning Telegraph Journal, hoping to see Spiderman slated for CHSJ-TV 4:30 P.M. broadcast. After Rocket Robin Hood episodes had inexplicably aired on CHSJ in Spidey's stead on the Thursday and Friday of the previous week, I had more than sufficient cause for concern that the web-swinger's days on CHSJ and in New Brunswick were to be in short supply. And the Telegraph Journal's printed television schedules for the day contained for 4:30 P.M. on CHSJ something called The Marvel Superheroes. Baffling, to say the least. I had never heard of the existence of a television series of such a name. I knew, however, that Spidey's super-heroics were part of the printed oeuvre that was Marvel Comics. So, perhaps, I thought, Marvel Superheroes might be a newfangled way of CHSJ presenting Spiderman, under the umbrella of a wide array of super-hero cartoon television shows. I still had cause that morning to be hopeful that I would again see and videotape Spiderman.
Tony was with me in my television room at approximately 10 o'clock that morning.An unusual occurrence by 1982, for Tony being at my house in the mornings in the summer had not been the norm for two years. My father was in my backyard and called me to my television room window, and he then pointed in the direction of the right-side corner of the backyard, and there stood Joey, dressed in grey sweat pants and a matching grey pull-over jacket and holding in one hand a pair of grass clippers and in the other hand a container of gasoline. Joey and I, on the Sunday evening before that Monday morning, had planned to mow lawns together, and he was calling upon me that morning to begin our business partnership. I nodded my understanding of his summons and said that I would be outside within seconds, and with Joey's lawn mower and other gear such as the clippers and gasoline, we embarked that morning upon a search for lawns in our neighbourhood that needed cutting. Tony accompanied us to the first house that Joey and I believed would be a likely prospect for our lawn mowing operation. It was on the corner of Longwood Drive and Juniper Court. The woman answering the door of that house was indeed quite impressed with Joey's and my initiative and our thorough selection of the necessary gear for the work that we wanted to do. She was happy to hire us to mow her lawn for that one occasion, and looking at Tony, who was standing a short distance behind Joey and myself, she said, "Who's he? Your business manager?" While Joey primed the lawn mower for start of its motor and I surveyed the yard for the first clipper-inviting, elongated tufts of grass surrounding plant or tree, Tony opted to leave us, saying to me that he would see me later. And Joey and I commenced our work on the lawn, alternating at the controls of the lawn mower and at the trimming performed by the clippers. When the job was completed more than an hour later, the woman's yard had grass of a consistent shortness, and she invited Joey and I to sit and talk with her on her upstairs backdoor patio for awhile, as, in addition to the agreed-upon eight-dollar payment for our grass-cutting service, she provided for me an ice-cool glass of soda pop (7-Up, I recall) and for Joey a slice of watermelon. It was a most encouraging morning for Joey and I, giving to us understandable optimism that we would find many, many more lawn-cutting jobs in quick succession. As noon hour was closely upon us, Joey doubled me on the back of his bicycle down Linden Crescent from his house to the foot of my driveway, and we agreed to meet after lunch to continue our money-earning labours. I ate Chef Boyardee Beefaroni provided by my father and rejoined Joey at his place at 1 o'clock.
Variety being thought essential for the success of our summer labours, Joey and I decided early that afternoon upon an alternative way of cultivating greenbacks for spending purposes, intermixing our grass-cutting with the washing of cars. It was an idea that was never to proceed into the actual work stages. Joey and I filled a large, plastic bucket with plenty of soapy water, intending to move out into our community, the bucket passed back and forth between us as we walked, in our quest for customers with automobiles for us to clean. But on our way out of Joey's front door, Joey caught his foot on the inside of his door's arch and tripped, the bucket that was then in his hands discharging its sudsy liquid content. I frantically dodged the deluge, as the soapy water flew in many directions onto the brick of Joey's house nearest his front door, the blue-grey of his house's paved walkway, and the green of his lawn. It was quite a hilarious sight, and Joey and I laughed good-naturedly at the spic-and-span splatter that had been accidentally created at the front of Joey's house. Joey and I were neither very wet nor at all hurt, but we had lost a bucket of precious fluid commodity. We opted to forget about scrubbing the structures of motor vehicles (which we never again considered doing), and also mowing of grass, for the remainder of the day and to instead enjoy the sunny, early summer afternoon together by wandering into our neighbourhood, talking as we strolled the streets in our vicinity. Until nearly 4:30 that afternoon, Joey and I were a buddy twosome, and we parted company a short while before 4:30, at which time I was indoors with my videocassette recorder at the ready, as CHSJ-TV was about to reveal just what had been meant by the morning newspaper's listing for The Marvel Superheroes.
To my deep disappointment, it was not a different way of presenting Spiderman. My favourite web-swinger was not to be seen as the first images of The Marvel Superheroes' opening sequence flashed on my television screen. Trumpets sounded, and with cartoon animation more limited than that in the most under-funded, rushed-to-production episodes of Spiderman, five heroes with super-abilities were introduced with a song. The only one of them with which I had any extensive familiarity- via live-action television- was the Incredible Hulk. Of the other four potently capable characters, shield-flinging Captain America I had heard mentioned before, while the remaining three, which I was soon to learn were named the Mighty Thor, the Sub-Mariner, and Iron Man, were totally new to me. Presented for my viewing and videotape-recording option was an Incredible Hulk story in three segments, a format akin to that of Rocket Robin Hood, and entitled, "Brawn Against Brain". At least I had knowledge of the nature of the green Goliath and the woeful predicament of his alter-ego, Dr. Banner- named Bruce in this case instead of David. Had one of the other four denizens of Marvel Superheroes been featured that first day on CHSJ, I might not ever have bothered watching CHSJ's cartoon television series replacement for Spiderman. My sole experience with the not-so-jolly green giant had been the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno live-action television show. Dr. David Banner in that had been regrettably itinerant, fleeing each locale after his hulking, second-self outgrowth had made a furious appearance. The army base at which Bruce Banner was working in "Brawn Against Brain" seemed to me to be the latest in the travelling scientist's temporary surroundings. I did not yet know that in the Incredible Hulk comic books, Banner was stationed at the army base prior to becoming exposed to the gamma radiation causing his metamorphoses, and remained at that site, where he was in love with the Command Officer's daughter, despite his transformational affliction.
In "Brawn Against Brain", Banner and the Hulk are pitted in battle with a robot of Banner's manufacture that has been commandeered by an enemy agent. Back and forth from Banner to Hulk the protagonist went, as his colleagues and his foes were absolutely without suspicion of the Hulk being an outgrowth of Banner. The transformations were quite competently rendered, even if the movements of the characters were little more than sliding static-drawing panels. I videotaped the entirety of "Brawn Against Brain" and thought it worth retaining for my collection. But I still mourned the apparently permanent removal of Spiderman from CHSJ's transmission inventory. It looked highly doubtful that I would ever arrive at a complete videotape-recorded catalogue of Spidey television show episodes.
The next day, Tuesday, June 29, was overcast and, in the morning, periodically drizzly. An unlikely day for mowing grass, but I yet hoped that Joey and I would be together again. At approximately 9:30 A.M., I ventured outdoors in search of him. I soon found him with most of the neighbourhood boys of his age in Tony and Steven's backyard and joined the youthful unit that was playing five-hundreds with baseball bat, ball, and gloves. Dressed in the same grey clothing as on the previous day, Joey was especially pleased at my presence and, to my profound satisfaction, was particularly keen to compliment me by name whenever I caught a baseball propelled into the air by him. As cloud cover opened and we became showered by an increasingly copious fall of rain water, the group in Tony's backyard dispersed, Steven leading several of his same-age buddies indoors and Tony, Joey, and myself remaining outside. We three crawled inside Tony's tent that was located to the side of Tony's backyard, but as usual three was a crowd where Tony, Joey, and I were concerned, and conversation was strained. Within minutes, Tony decided to retire to inside his house, and Joey and I crossed backyards to that of Joey's homestead, and sat within Joey's backyard tent, eventually deciding to go to my house and watch some of my videotaped episodes of Spiderman, which Joey and I did for the balance of the morning. The episodes selected for viewing were "Criminals in the Clouds" (which Joey enjoyed mainly for the football aspect to the story) and "The Spider and the Fly"/"The Slippery Dr. Von Schlick". Joey adored the episodes and the opportunity to experience them in my television room at my house not as an attendee at a formal videotape show but as a visiting friend, us being two buddies watching together a videotape-recorded television programme of shared interest. It was the first time that Joey and I were together at my house in such capacity, and for so many years previous, I had not felt as so very pleased as I did then to have an appreciative guest in my company at home. Although my history with the Spiderman television series dates far back into the 1970s in Douglastown, it is definitely most significant and memorable as the entertainment coinciding with, highlighting, and forming the basis of many of my memories of my friendship with Joey in that friendship's most successful time period. Watching an episode of Spiderman is largely evocative of reminiscences of Joey and of my time together with him.
After our viewing together of two of my videotaped episodes of Spiderman, Joey and I had lunch in our own homes, with plans to rejoin one another for the afternoon and resume cutting of lawns as the fall of rain abated. We missed each other en route to our respective places (Joey walking the street, me traversing some of the Linden Crescent backyards), and I was approaching Joey's house when he called to me from down the street. We assembled lawn mower, clippers, and gasoline and marched into the neighbourhood on that overcast afternoon of June 29, surveying the grassy yards along such streets as Maple, Melvin, and, finally, Longwood, unable to find anyone with lawn needing cutting who would agree to our doing the job. We were becoming distinctly discouraged at the lack of work that afternoon as I pushed the lawn mower on Longwood Drive with Joey seated on the lawn mower's engine. We arrived back at Joey's place and decided to "call it a day" where the quest for grass-shearing labour was concerned. The boys playing in Tony and Steven's backyard heard Joey and myself talking and summoned us to their location, but as Joey and I evidently would not be together one-on-one for the rest of the day and I did not feel the least bit keen to lose Joey's attention within a large group, I discreetly slipped away from the pack a few minutes later to go to my home to watch the addictive daytime serial, The Edge of Night (then transmitted on CBC and CHSJ-TV at 3 P.M.), and, at 4:30 P.M., The Marvel Superheroes, the episode on which featured the Mighty Thor and was entitled, "The Absorbing Man". My ears heard with delightful recognition at the start of said episode a particular piece of music from Spiderman, that which accompanied the commencement of "The Birth of Micro Man" and "Rhino" and played as incidental music during several web-swinging sequences in Spiderman's second and third seasons. I wondered. Would some of the music, utilised in episodes of The Marvel Superheroes, be all that I would ever again experience of Spiderman on CHSJ? As for Thor and "The Absorbing Man", I found what was being presented to be rather appealing in its imaginative premises, most notably the concept of Earth element control by the wielding of the hammer of the hero versus elemental force-syphoning by the titled villain of the episode.
"The Absorbing Man" would be one of the more frequently shown Marvel Superheroes episodes on CHSJ-TV, appearing at least two more times in the summer of 1982.
On Wednesday, June 30, Joey and I were not together, to my disappointment. That was the day on which I ventured across Fredericton via public transit to Medjuck's Department Store on Prospect Street to buy A Shot in the Dark, Peter Sellers' second Inspector Clouseau movie. On The Marvel Superheroes in the afternoon was an episode with Captain America that totally failed to capture my interest, and I opted to stop my watching of it somewhere part of the way through it.
On an overcast but not rainy Thursday, July 1 (Canada Day), I saw Joey and one of his friends enter into the across-the-street house of Kelly and her younger brother late in the morning. Thinking that I therefore would not be with Joey that day either, I, after lunch, went to Tony's place on Woodmount Drive. Tony was not quite finished with his midday meal, and I went to his backyard to wait for him, and to my most pleasant surprise, I found Joey there, walking around all by himself, dressed in dark blue corduroy garments. I never did learn what had brought him to Tony's backyard at that precise time on that day, and I was so very pleased that he was there and happy to see me. When Tony came outside, he found Joey and I together, sitting on his backyard wooden swing. We were a trio for just five minutes. Joey said that he wanted to go to the Pic N' Puff store (one of the few places open for business on the Canada Day holiday) and asked me to accompany him. We then left Tony and went to the downtown area of Nashwaaksis. There, at the Pic N' Puff store at the York Plaza, Joey and I bought an orange Popsicle, and, using the window sill of another York Plaza store, Joey divided the Popsicle in two, and we shared it. We slowly came back to our home street, where we talked together on the huge wooden swing of my next-door neighbours and then on my front lawn. We parted at 4:30 as I went into my house to check on what was on CHSJ-TV; The Marvel Superheroes was scheduled to be preempted for special programming, and I found that it indeed was preempted for such.
On Friday, July 2, on The Marvel Superheroes on CHSJ was another episode to feature the Incredible Hulk. Called "A Titan Rides the Train!", it seemed to continue directly from the events of "Brawn Against Brain" and dealt with the persistent plotting of the Leader, a super-genius with a gamma-radiated brain, to gain control over the army base at which Bruce Banner was employed. For some reason, Fredericton Cablevision was desisting temporarily from the imposition of noisy lines on the screen of all television channels, and most of the days in that particular week were free of those televisual annoyances.
On the weekend that followed, Joey went to his family's summer camp for a couple of weeks. During the time that he was away, I had a videotape show of A Shot in the Dark, combined with the Spiderman episode, "Up From Nowhere", that I had videotape-recorded from CHSJ in June. All who were in attendance at that videotape show found both items presented to be disappointing. One of the boys was fretting over some of the background people not having cartoon-animated movement in "Up From Nowhere", and everybody opined that A Shot in the Dark was insufficiently hilarious as a Clouseau movie.
Another Thor episode was transmitted on The Marvel Superheroes on Tuesday, July 6, bookended on Monday and Wednesday by episodes with Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. I found the second Thor episode seen to be less engaging than "The Absorbing Man" had been on Tuesday prior. "Terror of the T-Gun" was the third Incredible Hulk episode of The Marvel Superheroes shown on CHSJ-TV, and the fourth such was "Origin of the Hulk".
I wondered why I had not yet been treated by CHSJ to a Marvel Superheroes adventure with the other two super-heroic personages, the Sub-Mariner and Iron Man, seen in the introductory sequence and interstitial character descriptions of the television programme.
In the weeks of early July, I augmented my videotape collection with two exquisite acquisitions. I had come across at Muntz Stereo on Fredericton's Prospect Street a rental videotape, released by MCA Home Video, of Spiderman episodes, they being the first five entries in Season 2 ("The Origin of Spiderman", "King Pinned", "Swing City", "Criminals in the Clouds", and "Menace From the Bottom of the World"). I petitioned the Muntz Stereo store manager to allow me to purchase the SPIDERMAN videotape one sun-shiny weekday and had said videotape in my possession, delighting in the amazingly pristine film prints utilised for film-to-videotape transfer. Granted, only the first episode on the videotape had full opening titles; all of the others had a couple of seconds of the Spiderman logo advancing to and receding from television screen fore and then a jump to episode title. And I now had a redundant "Criminals in the Clouds" videotape recording from CHSJ in June. But I did not decry these things in the slightest bit. I adored my professionally edited and packaged SPIDERMAN videotape, and it even had a number one on its sleeve spine, suggesting that the entire television series might eventually become available to purchase in the same quality aspect.
Some days after buying the SPIDERMAN videotape from Muntz Stereo, my parents and I travelled to the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, where I acquired from a videocassette rental and sales store an Earthquake videotape. That evening, we were back at home, and I was thrilled to be able at last to view on my initiative, whenever I wanted to, the characters played by Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, etc. contending with the worst natural disaster ever to strike the western coastline of the United States of America, that movie which I had so very strikingly first seen in its presentation at the Uptown Theatre in Newcastle in 1975.
Thus, the first four pre-recorded videotapes that I bought were Battlestar Galactica (the theatrical movie version of that television series' inaugural episode), A Shot in the Dark, SPIDERMAN, and Earthquake. A space fantasy epic, a comedy movie, episodes of an animated cartoon television show, and a disaster film. Quite an eclectic mix of material. However, friends and videotape show attendees were rather less than enthused by much of it. Earthquake had never been a popular movie among Fredericton's young crowd, most people in my midst, apart from Joey and Tony, had little inclination to watch Spiderman under my auspices, and, again, A Shot in the Dark was quite a flop when I offered it in a videotape show, despite The Pink Panther and Return of the Pink Panther having been successes when presented by me via RCA VideoDisc.
By mid-July, Joey had returned to our neighbourhood following a couple of weeks at his family summer camp, and apart from a couple of weekends in August, he was present in my vicinity for the balance of the summer. Meanwhile, Tony was gone for the usual month or more, from mid-July to mid-August, this time journeying with Steven and his parents to Nova Scotia. My badminton net had been installed in my backyard by the time that Joey was back from camp, and one evening, Joey and one of the neighbourhood boys, Ray, came to my yard to find my mother and I playing the game of hand-wielded rackets and lightweight shuttlecock. My mother ceded to Joey and Ray as my badminton playmates, and the three of us played some games of badminton, and volleyball also, using my backyard net.
For the next couple of days, Joey, Ray, and I were together, playing more badminton and going to the Pic N' Puff store for some snack foods. Ray then bowed out of the situation, and Joey and I were two, becoming partners in badminton doubles matches against Kelly and some other person, and challenging each other to a marathon game that Joey eventually won, though I was leading over him for upwards of the first fifty score points.
The Marvel Superheroes kept running on CHSJ, but my interest in it was flagging substantially. When I had occasion to see Sub-Mariner and Iron Man episodes, I found them lacking in personal appeal, their scenarios and settings as uninspiring and downright dull as their cartoon animation was stilted. Captain America never captured my fancy, and even Thor and the Incredible Hulk were spotty in my estimation. Some of Thor's stories were based entirely upon intrigue in the rarefied and rather disengaging cloud city where Thor's obscure Norse god family lived, and the saga of Bruce Banner and the raging, green muscle creature was wildly inconsistent, for, in some episodes, it was stress or anger that triggered Banner's transformations; in others it was nightfall; and in others still, it was Banner voluntarily stepping in front of the emissions from a gamma ray machine.
One of the Thor episodes of The Marvel Superheroes had Thor and his alter-ego, Dr. Blake, tangling with a villain named Mr. Hyde, a Marvel Comics rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson's personification of evil, here, too, the result of an administered chemical compound causing physical and behavioural retrogression. By the time, in early August of 1982, that I saw "The Mysterious Mister Hyde" on The Marvel Superheroes, I had already been in possession of an Amazing Spider-Man comic book in which Spidey was confronted by an odious Mr. Hyde, along with another reprobate, the Cobra. While first reading the comic book (purchased from the Pic N' Puff store in mid-summer of 1982), I did not know that both Hyde and the Cobra were originally Mighty Thor villains. "The Mysterious Mister Hyde", on its appearance on CHSJ-TV one sunny afternoon, had my immediate and keen attention. One of the few Marvel Superheroes episodes to be so-esteemed in the latter half of summer, 1982.
Although there was some noticeable and understandable wariness about becoming attached to me again in mid-summer after I had spent several summer days with him only to then favour Tony over him in 1979, Joey gradually became confident that history was not going to repeat itself. A sometimes austere personality trait gave way more and more to the personable quality that had been evident in him during the first weeks that I had known him. He became trusting enough of me to share some of his frustration over the snobbish, preferring-of-others actions of certain of his same-age fellow neighbourhood dwellers- and I kept Joey's confidence, telling none of the specific people about whom he spoke (or anyone else), how he was feeling about them and their actions. In July, Joey bicycled from his house to mine on an almost daily basis to play badminton in my backyard. After organised baseball games that Joey played on Monday nights, Joey would come home and, still dressed in his baseball team uniform (in 1982 his team was the Angels, with emblem and uniform colours alike to those of the California Angels Major League baseball team), he would bicycle to my place and play badminton with me until sundown, after which we would sit on my house's front or back steps and talk. On one of those evenings, when Kelly was with us, a gust of wind sent one of the badminton birdies onto my house's roof, and Joey insisted upon his risking a climb up to the roof to retrieve the errant object. I remember Kelly commenting about Joey being clumsy, which sent pulses of acute anxiety up my spine as I watched Joey's ascension to the top of my house. He completed his mission without harming himself, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
At the same time as badminton was becoming the sport of first choice on Linden Crescent, baseball games on the section of the street where Craig and his junior buddy, Adam, lived were becoming quite frequent. Although it was gratifying to be asked and thus to be able to play many baseball games, the outcome of the games that year was rarely to my liking. Craig and Adam were difficult to defeat, and I was usually paired with Kelly, with her pitching and me in the "outfield", which was neither my preferred nor my most efficient baseball game position. Plus, we were seldom able to bat the ball with sufficient force to enable each other to reach "home plate" (a Frisbee on the street) all of the way from first base, and achieving a two-base or three-base hit to start with, was next to impossible because second base was too far into the "outfield"- and Craig and Adam were both relentlessly capable of speedily scooping into their bulky leather gloves a hit ball and of throwing the ball to each other with precision. Happily, I was better able to win against Craig or Adam at badminton, and at doubles games of that sport, Joey and I were a very admirable team, as Joey would be heard to remark.
Craig would fret about the badminton birdies striking racket rims instead of the cat-gut racket strings, and the click sound that shuttlecock-to-racket-rim impact would make gave inspiration to Craig to compose a song along the lines of, "One click, two click, three click, four..." The breezes usually blowing from west to east would tend to give an "edge" to the person on the western side of the badminton net, and the effect could be exacerbated if the evening sun in the west were to be in the west-facing player's eyes. Kelly was able to "skunk" me by having the advantageous half of the badminton playing area. Joey and my father even played a game or two. By the time that Tony was back in Fredericton after his vacation, he discovered the whole badminton phenomenon that was occurring; on his departure from our neighbourhood early in July, there had been not the slightest indication that the neighbourhood was on the verge of "badminton fever".
All the while, witty response to CHSJ's weekday telecasts of The Marvel Superheroes was being provided by the inhabitants of our neighbourhood, Craig being highly amused by the song for Iron Man, Ray insisting that I, "Sing Doc," i.e. the song for the Incredible Hulk segments on The Marvel Superheroes, and some of the more irreverent persons in our midst maintaining that the song for the Mighty Thor was a metaphor for flatulence. And what of Spidey? Outside of Joey and I, there was scant sentiment for the missing Spiderman on CHSJ. I had a videotape show for my SPIDERMAN pre-recorded videocassette, and my television room was almost empty on that day, with two viewers maximum for the first five episodes of Spiderman's second season. Joey did not attend that videotape showing, but he did watch said videotape's first three episodes when he came to my house for a one-on-one visit on the afternoon of Friday, July 30. A memorable day, definitely. Joey saw "The Origin of Spiderman" for the first time and was enthralled by it. Likewise did he appreciate "King Pinned". After we together viewed "Swing City", with Joey commenting that he was distinctly reminded, by the events of Spidey's tussle with the radiation specialist, of the indeed similar episode, "Up From Nowhere", that he had seen on CHSJ-TV, the two of us walked to my house's front door, where Joey asked me to lift him up several inches so that he could see out of the tiny eye-glass that had been installed in the door. The two of us then went outdoors on that beautiful, sunny afternoon, meandering into my next-door neighbours' (the LeBlancs') backyard and then into the wooded area behind my home. In that arboreal zone, Joey and I examined the remains of Mike J.'s tree house that had been built in the late 1970s. Rather prophetic we two were in choosing to do this, for Mike J. was very soon to reappear in the neighbourhood after two years of living in Arizona. It would only be for a week, as Mike J. and his mother were being accommodated at Craig's house during their stay in their former home city.
On the weekend of July 31-August 1, 1982, Joey went to Montreal with his parents and sister. To pass some time on the Sunday of that weekend, I went to see Firefox, the Clint Eastwood Cold War thriller about a super-advanced Russian fighter aircraft that the United States and its allies must steal. I have vivid memories of my father conveying me by car to the Plaza Cinemas on that bright, sunny Sunday and of me by myself sitting within the largest of the four theatres as I beheld on the expansive screen Eastwood's portrayal of Mitchell Gant, assigned to penetrate Russia under a series of assumed identities and elude the K.G.B., sneak into a Soviet technological facility, filch the aeroplane, and fly said aeroplane through the Ural Mountains and over the Arctic to safety on American high-latitude territory. The scope of the movie's story and the lavish visual presentation of conference rooms, simulated Moscow locations, and the landscapes below the titled aircraft as it flew, were altogether very impressive. I was transported to home by my father after my viewing of Firefox, had dinner, and was soon joined outdoors by several of the neighbourhood youth for an evening badminton tournament. Joey returned from his Montreal journey later in the evening, at about 8:30 and came to my place to find a badminton game between myself and Kelly to be in progress. The group in my backyard dispersed at close to 9 o'clock, for I was intent upon viewing the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, that was due to begin at 9:30 on the ABC television network and Bangor, Maine television station WVII, following a 90-minute episode of Code Red (a firefighter television series with Lorne Greene as the leading character) at 8 P.M.. I had never before seen On Her Majesty's Secret Service and thus had no inkling, really, of what a treat I was to experience!
The pre-movie preview offered by ABC revealed nocturnal ski chases, cars crashing into one another on a snowy race track, a violent fight on a bobsled, and an explosion obliterating a mountain-top edifice. And then, the standard Bond firing a gunshot movie opening commenced. Regular characters, M, Q, and Moneypenny, played by the same talent with which I was by this time quite familiar, surrounded the strange non-Connery, non-Moore lead actor, George Lazenby, who had an intensity and yet a vulnerability that proved quite the effective mixture for a rare dramatic James Bond storyline, consisting of nuptials for the licenced-to-kill super-sleuth and a romantic song ("We Have All the Time in the World") crooned by Louis Armstrong. I knew that I was unlikely to be able to stay awake until 12:20 A.M., which was how long On Her Majesty's Secret Service was scheduled to run on the American ABC television network received on our cable television dial. Thus, I opted to videotape the broadcast, using the 4-hour mode of my videocassette recorder to enable me to contain the whole of the long movie on one videotape. My parents offered to monitor the videotape-recording until the movie's telecast had concluded. Though dubious about the edits conforming to my perfectionist standard, I did choose to pause my videocassette recorder at every commercial interruption in the movie. And I discovered that many, though sadly not all, of the edits looked rather good. At least the ones that I performed before retiring to bed. There was little, if any, of the unacceptable colour multi-burst (what I called the "rainbow" effect) on the edits. Alas, my parents were not quite as fast on the pause button as I was, and the commercial deletions for the latter parts of the movie were not fully excluding of unwanted material. But I enjoyed the movie so very much, and was edified to have it on videotape to watch as many times and whenever I wanted to do so, and perhaps the day might come when I could arrive at a flawlessly edited videotape of that wonderful James Bond movie. On Her Majesty's Secret Service had rather a slow build of tension and suspense before almost non-stop action dominated its final hour, and I went to bed just as Bond's Alpine undercover mission was on the verge of being discovered by his nemesis, the arch-criminal Blofeld (Telly Savalas), heralding the start of the most exciting parts of this fabulous, outstanding James Bond film.
On the next morning, that of Monday, August 2, I arose at 7 o'clock and promptly watched the videotape-recording of the previous night's televised James Bond escapade. I was thrilling to the ski chase sequences and the pursuit of Bond and his fiancee, Tracy (Diana Rigg), on the stock car race track, when the doorbell rang between 8:30 and 9 A.M.. It was Joey on my home's front steps, having come to see me to share his appraisal of the James Bond movie that he had watched also, on his television set, during the previous evening's hours. Joey spoke about having stayed awake to watch the entirety of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I had yet to see the last half-hour or so of the movie, and Joey kept his comments on the events near the end of it as vague as possible. The pair of us quietly talked in my basement because my parents were not awake as yet, and we two soon went to Joey's house, where we again went to basement and conversed in low voice as his family, too, was still in bed. Joey and I stayed together that bright, sunny day until nearly noon hour, at which time I returned to my television and videocassette recording of On Her Majesty's Secret Service to complete my viewing of the 1969 James Bond opus. It fired on all thrusters. With the sublimely energetic and rousing music, the splendid locales, the stupendous fight and chase scenes- with some of the most frenetic film editing that I had ever regarded, and the riveting, tear-jerking emotion in its denouement, On Her Majesty's Secret Service topped Moonraker as my favourite James Bond movie. Of course, the circumstances of my first-ever viewing of the George Lazenby James Bond film might have favourably coloured my assessment of it somewhat, but I believe that whatever embellishing my surrounding experiences might have yielded, it underscored an objective fact, that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was already a serious contender for one's highest esteem in the James Bond series of movies. In any case, when I think of George Lazenby's one and only performance as Ian Fleming's spy, and whenever I watch that superlative movie, I naturally think of the summer of 1982 and of Joey. Of the days when Joey's appearances at my door could be relied upon on the morning after a television presentation of shared enjoyment. Of the times when my chosen best friend and I were together, the skies were blue, the sun was shining bright, and life was great. Strange that a movie with so tragic an ending (the murder of Tracy by Blofeld on Bond's wedding day) would be so very much associated with such fond feelings, but sometimes a movie's internal outcome does not alter the effect of its overall appeal during a positive time in one's life.
During the week that followed On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the badminton games in my backyard continued with popular vigour. Mike J. was in Fredericton, him and his mother staying at Craig's house, and he was with me and the other Linden Crescent area youth in my yard, sitting with me beneath the shade of my back porch as others present were propelling badminton birdies in each other's direction. Mike called me Kirk because I was wearing my short-sleeved Captain Kirk Star Trek tunic (bought from a Fredericton children's clothing store). He spoke about his life in Phoenix, Arizona as being not much different from his days living in Fredericton, apart from the weather, of course. And that appeared to be corroborated by the fact that he did not appear to have changed in personality in the two intervening years in his new surroundings. He was the same Mike J. that I knew in the late 1970s: hyperactive, cheerful, and not one to harbour a grudge. In addition to badminton, Mike joined Craig, Adam, Kelly, and myself in some street baseball games on Linden Crescent West in front of Craig and Adam's homes. With Mike as my teammate, I came close to winning against Craig and Adam. Close, but still no victory. I was proving myself capable of winning against Craig in badminton- and also in bowling, during a Sunday afternoon that summer with Craig- on Craig's invitation- at the Nashwaaksis Bowl-a-Drome. But baseball remained a sport at which defeating Craig even once, had yet to be accomplished.
Later during that first week in August, Tony and Steven returned to Fredericton after their several weeks in Nova Scotia. I actually saw Steven first. One sunny afternoon as I was walking up the street in the direction of Joey's house, I encountered a bicycle-riding Steven, whose first words were a question as to whether I had seen On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He and Tony saw said James Bond movie, on the ABC television network and WVII also, while they were in Nova Scotia, whose hotels had cable television.
On the sunny and quite warm morning of Sunday, August 8, Joey and I were together, playing badminton in my backyard before separating for the afternoon. I recall playing a baseball game later that day with Craig, Adam, Mike J., and Kelly, during which Joey appeared on his bicycle and asked if he could join us in the game, but Craig was vehemently against the idea, much to my disappointment and irritation.
On an overcast Monday, August 9, Mike J. left for his south-western U.S.A. home and Joey came to Tony's backyard after he heard Tony and I there talking about Tony's travels in Nova Scotia. Sometime later that day, when I was not accompanying Joey, he was hit in the eye at close range with a baseball, and he was bruised in that facial area for several days. Joey summoned me to his house to tell me about the mishap that he had experienced. And that day, I had an accident of my own, falling on the street in one of Craig's baseball games that utilised a Frisbee as home base. I fell as I was touching "home plate" and it and my foot went a-sliding and down I went. My arch-enemy, Andre, and some of his friends, while in Andre's driveway, observed my fall and laughed at my misfortune. My right knee and right wrist were sore for awhile because of my tumble onto the pavement. So, Joey and I were both the walking wounded for days to follow. But that did not deter us from reviving our lawn-mowing enterprise, which we did on Tuesday, August 10.
Morning after morning in mid-August of 1982, including the sunny A.M.s of Tuesday, August 10, Wednesday, August, 11, and Thursday, August 12, I would walk to Tony's place at around 9:30 in the morning, and Tony and I would seat ourselves on the large wooden swing in his backyard and talk, and during the conversation I would hope that Joey would be awake, hear us from his house, and come outdoors, cross the barrier of branch and foliage separating a portion of his backyard from Tony's property, and join Tony and me, which Joey did on each of those mornings. He emerged from the trees and sat between Tony and I on the swing. There was no doubt that Joey was there for me- and I was happy to see him, while Tony was somewhat unenthusiastic but, as was true to his ways of that time, elaborated minimal (if any) disapproval of Joey's presence. Within minutes, Tony would bid leave of us and go inside his house, and Joey and I would depart Tony's yard, our course set for Joey's place or mine (usually mine) to plan our day together.
And Joey and I would watch my videotapes, play some games (including Chinese checkers on the game cube I then had in my television room), or plan a day of lawn cutting. I knew that when I walked to Tony's house each morning that I would soon be leaving Tony's place with Joey by my side. Such was the best indication that change for me of best buddy was complete. The circumstances of 1979 where Tony, Joey, and I were concerned, Tony and I being together and Joey leaving us, had now been turned inside-out. Joey and I were now the twosome, with Tony the receding party. Such was an integral aspect of what was, for me to be sure, a pleasing, new reality. One that would see me into 1983, my best year ever in Fredericton.
Perhaps it was not quite the honourable thing for me to do, going to visit one friend in hope that another friend might happen along, but I knew that Tony was, by his own choice, not going to be with me for very long on any given day in any case, whereas Joey would be my day-long companion. Tony filling whole days with me was already a figment of the past. Tony was in point of fact more inclined by this time to spend many of a day's hours with his brother, Steven, and Steven's friends, in his and Steven's house or backyard. This was most definitely in evidence in the summer of 1982 and had been a growing trend, the beginning of which dating back nearly a year and a half to early 1981. Besides, by the third week of August, I needed no longer go this roundabout way of connecting with Joey, because Joey had started telephoning me in the mornings as early as 9 o'clock with invitation to come to his house or was, that same hour, seated astride a wooden beam of my back porch at the window of my den, asking me to come outdoors or to grant permit for him to come indoors.
The circumstances being what they were, I was following what could be said was the natural direction for all of our paths. Tony's. Mine. Joey's. And that of Steven's group. Vexation about me and Joey was not Tony's style. Not at this stage of his life, anyway. Definitely not for him to speak to any extent about me and Joey. And certainly not with a repetition of that "brush Joey off" directive that Tony had given to me in 1979. But if Tony acquiesced to my being with Joey, it might have been with some unspoken provisos, and it does not follow that others in our midst would be so accommodating of it. I followed my instinct and soft-peddled as much as I could my enjoyment of my new-found best friendship.
The Marvel Superheroes remained the only regularly aired item of interest on television in the latter half of the summer of 1982, and I recall coming into my house between lawn cutting or badminton or baseball games or chumming with Joey, and suppertime, and preparing to watch at 4:30 P.M. the super-powered protagonists of storylines within the Marvel Comics universe, but always, it seemed, to be disappointed to find a Captain America episode, or one with the Sub-Mariner, neither of whom- or their adventures- grabbed my imagination. Further, cable television reception was marred by the persisting lines of noise on the television screen from morning to nearly 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and I found those lines to be more than a little distracting of my attention.
For the second week of August, 1982, Joey and I were back to cutting of lawns, determined not to be discouraged by the refusals of our services that we might receive at people's doors. Joey's lawn mower was non-operational; so, we used mine. First for a cutting of the lawn of Joey's next-door neighbours in the afternoon of Tuesday, August 10. And then, on Wednesday, August 11, Joey and I cut the grass in my neighbours' (the LeBlanc's) yard, and we were relieved and gratified to receive an affirmative response to our request for work because for two hours of the afternoon of that day, we had been denied hire by the persons occupying every other tall-grass-surrounded dwelling that we approached. Joey and I were together straining to push the lawn mower up the steep hill along the LeBlancs' driveway. We shared the arduous task of clipping the grass all around the large shed in the LeBlanc backyard, and had to add for ourselves a rest and refreshment interval part of our way through the job. As we were finishing our work, Joey and I were asked by Craig to play baseball on Craig's part of our street. Saying yes to Craig, Joey and I were teammates, along with Kelly, in yet another losing contest against Craig and Adam. Even with a three-against-two player advantage, Joey, myself, and Kelly were soundly defeated. Joey tried to stretch a single-base hit into a double, became caught in what in baseball terms is called a pickle, fell onto the pavement, and tried to avoid Craig's tag of glove and ball by calling a time-out. Craig would not accept that and declared Joey retired to end our half of an inning. Joey rose to his feet, pulled up his Sears Toughskins blue jeans, and walked to me and Kelly. Joey and I then quit the game in frustration, and soon we parted company with the approach of dinnertime. In the evening, we two were together again, and Joey invited me to his house for a sleep-over that night, but I was unsure of how our age difference would be perceived in this instance, and of how many questions might be asked of my friendship with Joey becoming of so obviously high a calibre and being so clearly favoured over that with Tony, with whom sleep-overs at his place had always been non-existent (his choice and not mine, it must be said), and very regretfully had to decline Joey's kind invitation.
On the following day, Thursday, August 12, after the then usual brief time at Tony's place in the morning, Joey and I again earned money in our labours with the green growth of people's yards. We had two lawn jobs, for our most lucrative day yet in our chosen "field" of business. Both of those lawn-cutting employs were on Longwood Drive, one of them across from the street from Joey's and my first ever grass-cut job together (the one of June 28), and the other being in the large yard of an apartment building across Longwood Drive from MacDonald Avenue. Joey was upbeat that afternoon as he and I walked together to the Pic N' Puff store to obtain my father's newspaper. Joey was very close to having money enough to buy bicycle accessories which he had been wishing to have. I was likewise in superb spirits, for, in addition to being with my cheerful best buddy, I was nearing the occasion for acquiring another pre-recorded videotape.
On Saturday, August 14, I had a yard sale, at which I sold, it shames me to say, the movie camera that my parents had bought for me for the Christmas of 1981. Sale of that and a number of other things, combined with lawn-cutting income, enabled me to go to a videocassette lease business on the Hanwell Road in Fredericton and buy Superman, which I for a number of weeks had been itching to acquire. It had been a rental videotape, certainly not of brand-new condition, but transacted for full retail price of close to $100. There was a faint line of continuous video noise in the lower sector of the picture, most noticeable during intense colour saturation, like the Krypton destruction scenes. The movie was time-compressed (i.e. of increased speed for minimising the running time) and its ending credits truncated so that it could fit snugly on a T-127 videocassette. Throughout was a warble sound that was inherent, I think, in the film-to-videotape transfer. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic to have a real blockbuster movie in my videotape collection.
I shall never forget coming home later in the afternoon that Saturday with the Superman videotape in my exuberant clutches, loading that videotape into my prized piece of Panasonic hardware, and being almost unable to pull my eyes away from the spectacle when I was called to the kitchen and dining area for supper. Word that I owned Superman spread faster than speeding bullet. By midday on Sunday, I was being asked when I was going to have a formal showing of my latest, awesome videotape. Having arrived back in Fredericton after a weekend at his family camp, Joey suggested on Sunday evening that I show Superman as soon as possible, with him as my assistant. He had never actually asked to be such before, and I was definitely very pleased with his expression of interest in the role as my helper, my right-hand, at a videotape show. I was determined that, for this particular event certainly, Joey would receive fulfilment of his wish to be at my side in the assistant-partner capacity.
Superman was planned for a highly unusual evening performance in my television room on Monday, August 16, 1982, with Joey and I in collaboration to yield a successful Linden Crescent area engagement for the Man of Steel. I provided for Joey in the morning an advance screening of the movie, as we two planned the evening with precision. We intended to offer Kool-Aid as the refreshment beverage, and did so. I put a makeshift poster on my door and prepared to utilise some of the movie theatre tickets that my parents bought for me from Paul Burden Limited on the 1981 Yuletide, while Joey went forth and "rounded up" attendees. He did fabulous work at bringing the viewers into the showing, for my room was filled with virtually every possible viewer for the seminal and most essential super-hero movie. Despite a rather ponderous story structure, the anticipated action in Metropolis not starting until half of the way through the movie, the Superman videotape show was a thorough success and remains one of my top five best remembered audiotape or videotape presentations. Everybody, including Joey, left my house a few minutes past 9 o'clock in a satisfied state of mind, and Joey telephoned me a few minutes after returning to his house, to ask if I was happy with the evening, and I said yes. Absolutely, positively yes! The two of us split the proceeds from sale of the Kool-Aid refreshment, and we had a super-duper evening to look back upon in the years to come.
Everybody who had come to see Superman enjoyed the evening, as did I enormously. Nobody verbally challenged or questioned my decision for Joey to be assistant at this videotape show, at least not during the evening itself. I was exceedingly grateful for everyone's positive attitude toward the movie, the evening, and Joey and I together organising the presentation. Although Joey had volunteered, with my enthusiastic agreement, to go around our neighbourhood to announce the showing of Superman and bring as many people as possible to my door, I went to see Tony myself in mid-afternoon to ask him if he wanted to attend, and in so doing I said that Joey would be helping me on that particular show. Tony did not ask if this was the start of something permanent, and I was careful not to intimate that. He agreed to come to view the movie. Indeed, he was eager to do so as he had not seen the first of the Superman films in its original theatrical cut since 1979. There was one tense moment between Tony and Joey prior to start of videotape play of the movie, but that, I think, passed quickly. Everyone had good will for the videotape performance and for my teamwork with Joey in bringing that performance to such quick fruition after my having obtained the movie on the weekend previous.
Joey was on cloud nine not only because the evening with Superman had been such a success but also because his share of the Kool-Aid proceeds completed his savings to buy the bicycle accessories that he had been craving for many a 1982 summer day. I accompanied him, on his invitation, on a journey by bus to the downtown Fredericton business district on a sunny mid-week morning, and he purchased at Savage's Bicycle Shop some spiffy bicycle peddles and handles, plus a Norco-emblazoned soft rubber pad to wrap around his bicycle's middle metal beam. At Westminster Books, I spent a couple of dollars on a Video magazine issue that had an image of Dick Tracy on its cover and amongst the release listings for videotape were Star Wars and the RCA "skip-fest" dud VideoDisc for the as yet not on videotape James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. Joey and I then boarded the bus that would transport us to Maple Street near our Linden Crescent homes in Fredericton's North. Joey was rather rambunctious and did not sit still. Nor did he sit beside me but chose a seat behind mine. When the bus arrived at one of its designated stops on Maple Street near to the foot path to Linden Crescent, Joey and I exited the Fredericton Transit conveyance mechanism via one of its side doors. The bus began to pull away from us when Joey became suddenly frantic and started chasing the accelerating bus with pleas to no avail that it stop, and it was then that I saw that Joey did not have anything in his hands. He had left the bicycle accessories on the bus. I walked with my distraught friend up the Maple-Street-to-Linden-Crescent foot path and to the inside of my house, where Joey and I, alone together while my father was away grocery shopping, glumly stood in my living room as Joey was understandably giving way to his mounting feelings of sadness. The product of his labours that summer, seemingly gone because of one absent-minded moment during disembarking of a public transportation vehicle. I was surprisingly quite empathetic and comforting to my buddy as his voice became broken with his suppressed impulses to cry. My father then drove his car into our driveway, and I was seized with quite an excellent inspiration as I turned away from the window and looked into Joey's eyes and said that all hope may not yet be lost. He might have a chance of regaining his lost materials. My father did in fact work at Fredericton Transit, and he would know the likelihood of the bicycle accessories being found by a passenger, handed by passenger to bus driver, and carried by driver to the Fredericton Transit garage's lost and found department. I asked my father if such an event sequence was a hopeful possibility, and he conceded that yes, it was. It depended, of course, on the person finding Joey's items being public-spirited enough to not keep or discard them but to "turn them in" to the bus driver. I offered to telephone Fredericton Transit on Joey's behalf and did so, giving the description of the bicycle accessories and Joey's telephone number to the bus dispatcher on duty, and my father and I suggested that Joey wait at his home for a telephone call from Fredericton Transit. I offered to stay with Joey at his place in the afternoon, but he said that he wanted to be by himself during the excruciating wait for a telephone call that may or may not come. At 5:30 P.M., as my father was about to leave for his work shift at the Fredericton Transit garage, Joey telephoned me to report that he had not been contacted by Fredericton Transit, and he asked if my father could search the buses and the Fredericton Transit garage's offices. My answer and that of my father was affirmative. Joey had a baseball game that evening and immediately on his return to his home from that game, he telephoned me again to ask if I had any news, but I had not. Joey was quite calm about the whole matter by that time. Resigned, I guess, to Murphy's Law prevailing as the conclusion to his early-life experience with the rough-and-tumble vagaries of fortune.
On the next morning, I awoke and came to the kitchen to see on the counter-table Joey's bicycle accessories. Unscathed and still in their packaging. My father had found them. I was profoundly happy for my friend, and it was one of the most precious moments of my life that glorious sunny morning at the window to my den, to present the bicycle accessories to Joey, who was overcome with joy at the surprise recovery of what he thought when he arose that morning to be forever gone. I went with Joey to his backyard, where he applied his acquisitions to his personal transporter, and so ended one of the most cogent and memorable events of the summer of 1982.
In the remainder of the 1982 summer, Joey and I played more badminton and participated in a quite large, all-neighbourhood baseball game (that included my enemy, Andre, and my estranged friend and former associate, David B.) at Park Street School field. I maintained a manner of quiet confidence in that game, helped I am sure by Joey's presence. And I was unscathed by an occasional abrasive remark by Andre and members of his hoard. And Tony, Kelly, and I were challenged by Steven and a group of Steven's friends to a baseball game that was eventually played on a sunny morning in front of Craig's house on Linden Crescent West, following an abortive start on the section of street on Linden Crescent South near the front of my yard. Tony, Kelly, and I were outnumbered, and Tony was the only person among the three of us who was somewhat of a power hitter. I felt sure that we would lose. But we won! In fact, at no time in the game were we ever behind in the score. We had an early rally while Steven and his group were overconfident. Once ahead, Tony, Kelly, and I stayed ahead. Kelly pitched, I was "infielder", and Tony was in the "outfield". Joey was not a part of that game, and nor, until the last inning or two, was Craig, though both of them happened to individually come into our midst as the baseball game of the year was in its finishing stages. It was one of the very few games that year in which I was on the winning side, and it boded promisingly for the future. Also, I had two more videotape shows that August, for neither of which Joey was present for his assistance, and neither of them (of Earthquake and On Her Majesty's Secret Service) came close to equalling the excellent evening showing of Superman. And Joey and I one sunny morning went to Nashwaaksis McDonald's, Joey bicycling beside me as I walked. Joey had a Big Mac, and I feasted upon a McChicken.
En route back to Linden Crescent, Joey and I stopped at a Main Street pinball arcade and then at the Video Home Entertainment Centre two doors away from the Pic N' Puff store in the York Plaza, and in that videotape rental place was being played Star Wars, the images thereof registering on a large-screen television. I was more than a little vexed at Star Wars then only being available to the pre-recorded videotape rental market. The videocassette box on the shelf had "Video Rental Library" in bold lettering on its Twentieth Century Fox sleeve. But I was told on this visit with Joey to the York Plaza videotape lender that in early September, Star Wars would become available for sale. And that was news that sent my acquisitive impulse, especially that concerning outer space movie and television spectacles, soaring, to such an extent that my better-late-than-never-to-develop empathy was completely overcome. My father was at the York Plaza, doing some grocery shopping, and completely by happenstance Joey and I encountered him there immediately after we two departed the videotape rental outlet. My father invited us to complete our return to Linden Crescent with him in his car. But Joey had his bicycle, and it would not fit in the car. Rather than decline to go with my father and remain with Joey as I should have done, I boarded my father's automobile, leaving Joey to bicycle the rest of the distance back to Linden Crescent. There was no protest by Joey at the critical moment of my parting from him. But the fact that he did not reconnect with me on his return to our street ought to have told me something. Alas, it did not, for I was preoccupied with strategising on the best way of purchasing Star Wars as soon as it became a saleable videotape product. Joey and I did sit on my front doorstep in the evening, talking past sunset about a variety of subjects, and our relationship seemed as amiable as it had been at commencement of the day. But on the drizzly afternoon of the morrow, Joey found me chatting with Tony about the pending videocassette availability of Star Wars for purchase as Tony and I stood in light rainfall in Tony's backyard. As now usual, Tony soon went indoors, and Joey and I walked off of Tony's property, this day going to Joey's backyard, where Joey pulled his go-cart from storage, sat in the go-cart, and asked me to act as his go-cart's engine, pushing it to the top of Linden Crescent East. There, Joey's mood became volatile and, within minutes, confrontational. There was intense anger in his eyes as he grabbed my collar and pushed me back against the wooden fence surrounding a house across the street from his place. The reason for his alarming outburst of fury was unstated, and I was mystified by Joey's actions. I ought to have put two and two together, tying my departure from him at York Plaza on the preceding afternoon with his rage this day. Indeed, by leaving him behind, not only had I been inconsiderate of him at that moment, but I was recalling him to those times of old when I parted from him in order to be one-on-one with Tony. And finding me with Tony in Tony's backyard this day could only have exacerbated Joey's displeasure with me. But I thought that Joey was in a nasty mood for some reason unconnected to my conduct, and that I just happened to be the hapless person against whom he was acting out his anger. My utter failure to understand Joey on that particular week (consisting of the final days of August of 1982) goes to show that I yet had a long way to go before having a sufficiently developed and reliable capacity for relating to others' feelings and judging my own actions accordingly.
Temporally at least, the disquieting incidents were behind us, as we played hide-and-seek with Kelly and others around Joey's house in the evening, and as I visited Joey at his house by his invitation on the next, quite rainy morning, the two of us sitting on Joey's sofa to watch reruns of One Day at a Time and Alice by the CBS television network via Presque Isle, Maine's WAGM-TV on Fredericton Cablevision.
The waning days of the summer of 1982 were defined by me hastening to assemble all of my pennies for purchase of Star Wars on videotape at earliest opportunity, recreational baseball games moving to a location at Park Street School on the pavement near the building, Joey making a concerted effort to counter my rather apprehensive demeanour toward him, and questions put to me by neighbourhood boys of Joey's age bracket regarding my increasingly evident close association with him, questions which contributed to a feeling of unease or anxiety where Joey was concerned. Muntz Stereo offered to me the best deal on a former rental videotape of George Lucas' 1977 movie of spaceship combat, provided that I guaranteed that I would effect purchase of said videocassette on the Tuesday after Labour Day weekend. My father would help me with the necessary funds, on the condition that I contributed to the purchase a maximum portion of the monies, i.e. every cent of what I had saved in my piggy bank. I therefore had to reluctantly decline an invitation by Joey on the Sunday of Labour Day weekend to go with him to a matinee performance of E.T.. I had already, unaccompanied, seen E.T. in early July and did not think much of it, but I would have been happy to view it again, with Joey seated beside me this occasion, if I had been in possession of a couple of uncommitted dollars. I suppose that I could have chosen to let pass the opportunity to buy the pre-recorded videotape of Star Wars- and hindsight tells me that I absolutely should have waited- for quite some time until Star Wars could be had on videotape from Columbia House Video Club for one dollar as part of an introductory membership offer, or even until its release 22 years hence onto digital videodisc (DVD). But on the day of Joey's invitation, I did not see myself as having a second option. I absolutely had to buy Star Wars on Tuesday, September 7 and needed every little token of exchange in my possession for that transaction. So, I answered no to Joey. My forthright explanation for the negative response may or may not have been satisfactory. I doubt that it was, for Joey was never again to invite me to attend a cinema movie with him.
Plus, I was becoming antsy over how the time and favour that I had been devoting to him that summer was being observed by our fellow area youth. One of the neighbourhood boys, an attendee of the Superman videotape show that Joey and I teamed to have and an occasional co-player in games of baseball and badminton in which both Joey and I were involved and increasingly chummy, had furthermore seen Joey and I going together to the McDonald's restaurant and approached me on the street and asked me point-blank why I was now with Joey for so much of the time. I responded that it was because Joey was a good friend and I like him. My questioner did not press for me to quantify my response (i.e. as to how much of a good friend Joey was and how much I liked Joey). But questions continued, from one or two others. I likewise answered with quite deftly reserved tact. But I was certainly aware that people were wondering what all of the time and attention that I was allocating to Joey meant for the future of our neighbourhood social cluster and the shared relationships therein. There was an impression of discomfort among people of our neighbourhood with hint of a shift in my primary loyalty. I guess that this combined with events of the week prior did create in me an unfortunate impulse to step back where Joey was concerned.
Perhaps in an admirable attempt to restore fully amicable and confident feeling after his anger of the week previous, Joey strived to be extra-kind to me, recommending that I use his bicycle to go to and from my house while we were in the midst of one baseball game at Park Street School and I needed to leave the game for a minute to attend to something at home. But still, some element of uncertainty had crept into our friendship. It may indeed have passed quickly, had the start of the new school year not brought a time period of near constant separation, even on most post-school afternoons, most evenings, and most weekends, from my new best buddy. Joey and I were apart on the majority of days in the last four months of 1982. Which cast rather a significant pall over an otherwise gratifying autumn.
The Marvel Superheroes was broadcast weekday afternoons on CHSJ until Friday, September 10. I remember videotaping an Incredible Hulk story, "Terror of the Toadmen", which, on Labour Day, a group of the Linden-Crescent-Woodmount-Drive boys (not including Joey, who was away to somewhere- the Fredericton Exhibition and its carnival rides, perhaps) watched with me via my videocassette recording of it. It was quite a bizarre Hulk encounter with aliens from space, and Banner turning into the Hulk due to nightfall rather than anger or stress. Of particular note was the narrator using the sentence-starting clause, "From Bangor to Bangkok...," in describing extent of alarm or outright panic around planet Earth to the accompaniment of facial expressions on assembled members of the terran populace. My young associates and I found the reference to a city (Bangor, Maine) of our acquaintance to be rather amusing, and the croaking voices of the titled alien creatures to be, frankly, laughter-inducing. Of all Marvel Superheroes episodes, "Terror of the Toadmen" was quite probably the most economised in terms of cartoon animation and the most, to our minds, apocryphal on the nature of the titanic green super-hero as we knew him (i.e. Banner's transformations being triggered in this story by the night phase in Earth's rotation and not by anger or intense emotion).
The summer of 1982 was better than any such season in my Fredericton years until then. No contest on that. True, baseball games had yet to demonstrate a consistent improvement in the winning column, but the outcomes of games of badminton were most always very satisfying- and my times with Joey were, apart from a rough-edged occasion or two, what made 1982's summer so very pleasing. Yes, it was a fun-filled two months all in all, although on the whole rather barren when it came to compelling and videotape-recording-worthy television. Apart from On Her Majesty's Secret Service and a rare few episodes of The Marvel Superheroes, television that summer left much to be desired. But my exciting purchases of pre-recorded videotapes, and at least one of my presentation-showings of them, compensated indeed more than sufficiently for a dearth of interesting television, and, again, it was Joey who made many of my memories of that summer so special.
Conversely, the autumn of 1982 would see a substantial improvement in television's appeal to me, primarily because CHSJ brought Spidey back to the 4:30 P.M. weekday time slot, but a drastic reduction in my hours with my new best pal. Conditions for a backward shift in my friendship with Joey had already been unwittingly put into effect by me before the end of summer vacation. Declining Joey's sleep-over and E.T. theatre-movie-experience-together invitations and a sort of inadvertent, by-him-noticeable pull-back from him following his anger, whose causing by me I failed to comprehend, sealed my fate for the last months of 1982. That and the start of a new school year, Joey being surrounded by same-age buddies in classroom and playground for most of each weekday, with me being out of sight and, I surmise, out of mind as I was several school grades ahead of him, toiling my way through my penultimate year at Fredericton High School.
In September, 1982, my friendship with Joey was entering something of a recession. To my dismay. At the same time, I was much delighted at being able to add Star Wars to my videotape collection, and profoundly happy to find Spiderman listed for CHSJ-TV every afternoon when I perused TV Guide magazine at the Pic N' Puff store on the evening of Wednesday, September 8. The Marvel Superheroes was bumped to Saturday mornings, before Rocket Robin Hood, which was also returned for another year on CHSJ. Furthermore, the NBC television network, through its affiliate, WLBZ-TV in Bangor, Maine, was transmitting a new Incredible Hulk cartoon television series, to share the noon hour on Saturdays with Spiderman and His Amazing Friends. I was not much of an enthusiast for Spidey's latter-day television show, in which he shared his crime-fighting action with Iceman and Firestar, but the new The Incredible Hulk left its 1960s cartoon television counterpart in the dust. It, too, had Bruce Banner working at an army base, determined to find a cure for his hulking transfigurations while continuing his work as a foremost gamma radiation experimenter, but it was much better cartoon-animated and consistent in its portrayal of Banner's predicament- though how his clothes magically reappeared fully intact after each change from Hulk back to himself was never explained. The autumn of 1982, then, was defined by somewhat less than happy social life, Star Wars on videocassette in my possession, Spiderman broadcasted and videotape-recorded on weekdays after school, with Marvel Superheroes, Rocket Robin Hood, and The Incredible Hulk viewed and sometimes videotaped on Saturdays. Plus, the ABC television network periodically offered some James Bond movies (especially Moonraker sometime in October), and I did also became a regular follower of Dallas on Friday nights, becoming "hooked" by the fight for control of Ewing Oil in the 1982-3 season of said television drama serial.
I would be remiss not to recount the day that I bought my Star Wars videotape. It was the first day of the new school year. A sunny, warm Tuesday, September 7. My father met me at Burger King at lunch hour, he had brought all of my money with him in combination with some of his cash, and we went to Muntz Stereo and bought Star Wars for a price of upwards of $100. A former rental videotape, its sleeve bearing the "Video Rental Library" description, the Muntz Stereo Star Wars was, though no doubt having received a considerable amount of rental usage, in an excellent condition. It did have Muntz engraved on it, however. But I did not care about that. I went back to school for the afternoon, on pins and needles in anticipation of my arrival at home at approximately 3:45 P.M. to watch my Star Wars videocassette. I was in awe at the quality of the film-to-videotape transfer and the near flawless playback. Craig, Kelly, and a few others came to my door after dinner to ask me to play baseball at Park Street School's near-the-building concrete area, and I had tremendous difficulty in pulling myself away from my Star Wars videotape. But I did, and I remember playing that game of baseball with impatience for its conclusion so that I could return to my television room for the Star Wars universe now in my videocassette ownership. For that whole first week of the school year, and the weekend after it, Star Wars was an awesome, highly pleasurable experience. And I did not as yet suspect (though I should have done) that I was about to enter a decline in relations with Joey.
Looking upon the autumn of 1982 with the knowledge of many splendid times that were soon to come, it is difficult to accurately describe the extent of angst then over my new best buddy no longer seeming to want me in his life in anything of a significant way. My angst was felt. Very deeply so. I remember having to watch from a distance while Joey was playing with his same-age friends in his yard, in some Linden Crescent backyards other than mine, or on our street and the surrounding ones. Or when he bicycled past me with a fleeting hello as he was going to the Pic N' Puff store with a friend or friends. One evening later in September (I believe that it was the evening of Thursday, September 23- the day that "The Evil Sorcerer" was the Spidey episode on CHSJ), a group of the neighbourhood boys were once more treating him as an unwanted outsider, provoking him to anger and aggressive action and then ordering him to leave a backyard two houses away from mine. This time, I went after Joey to try to comfort him, but he sought the companionship of Ray (who had not been a part of the assembly of boys to reject Joey on that evening) and did not respond to my sincere showing of interest toward him. Feeling stung by Joey's repudiation of my friendly overture, I partook in a game of hide-and-seek with Kelly and some others. This game Joey eventually joined, but he was still not inclined to amiable relation with me. My friendship with Joey looked to be in very poor state, and I lacked the social wherewithal to effectively bring about the desired reversal in the downturned friendship. And I felt that, unless I wanted to henceforth pine away feeling sorry for myself, I ought to re-strengthen other friendships to compensate for Joey's absence. It must be said that I went back to Tony as a most-of-the-time companion in those autumn months. I wanted to be with Joey, but he was not accessible. I could only watch as he played games of football (a growing interest- exclusive of me for I loathed football- in our neighbourhood after backyard badminton fizzled near summer's end). Tony may have been somewhat disconcerted by the amount of time that I was with Joey in the summer- and by Joey being my assistant for the Superman videotape show, but he was not resistant to renewed extensive communications and time together between himself and me, as far as I could perceive. And we two did have some things about which to talk, for instance Star Wars being on pre-recorded videotape. My going back to Tony could have and probably did disaffect Joey still more. I also found that Steven and some of his friends, in jarring contrast to their fretful reactions to my appearances of a few months earlier, were happy to step forward and sit with me in my yard or come to my place for casual watching of my videotaped Spiderman episodes or my Star Wars videocassette in Joey's stead. In hindsight, I can see that word of this probably did reach and irritate Joey, who felt less special than he had in the preceding summer grown accustomed to rightly sensing himself to be, and our crisis persisted and deepened.
Spidey was back on CHSJ. I primed my videocassette-recording device to capture every web-spinning action of "Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman", alas having to contend with some poor film prints, redundant episodes (especially as there was no topping the picture quality of the five Spidey stories that were on the SPIDERMAN videotape bought from Muntz Stereo), and, still very galling, the continuing unwelcome incursion onto cable television of the noisy lines ascending the television picture at one-second intervals accompanied by resolution of slightly grainy aspect. I would pray for rain, as that would tend to mean no such lines. Likewise, holidays like Thanksgiving Monday were line-free. CHSJ launched Spidey's autumn, 1982 run on Monday, September 13 with "Neptune's Nose Cone", which I already had on videotape from the spring previous. Same film print, too. And then, on Tuesday, September 14, "Horn of the Rhino", marred by the accursed lines. Next, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon and thus clear of those God-awful lines was "Knight Must Fall"/"The Devious Dr. Dumpty", the first non-redundant and acceptable audio-visual quality videotape-recording that I had of Spiderman that autumn. The lines were back (gosh darn it all!) for "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime" and then gone again (yay!) on Friday, September 17's broadcast of "Diamond Dust".
Following on the next week were two first season instalments, "The Night of the Villains"/"Here Comes Trubble" and "To Catch a Spider"/"Double Identity", on Monday and Tuesday, riddled with the damnable lines, and then gloriously line-free "pier" Spidey television series offerings, "Spiderman Meets Skyboy", "The Evil Sorcerer", and "Super Swami"/"The Birth of Micro Man". Tony was with me as I was videotaping "The Evil Sorcerer", and that was the only time in the 1982-3 school year that Tony would be with me at my house for the Spiderman television experience, in contrast to what had been rather routine a year earlier. And it is curious that Tony's sole time with me for viewing CHSJ's Spiderman telecast that autumn was on one of Joey's most un-welcoming and dismissive days regarding me. Coincidence, perhaps. Then again, maybe not.
The situation with Joey that autumn stayed nebulous, though I was receiving some very positive indications from him of interest in me. Joey came to my place to see me one evening late in September and found Ray there with me for an informal viewing of the Marvel Superheroes Thor episode, "The Absorbing Man", which I had acquired on videotape from a second broadcast of it on CHSJ sometime in August. Joey did not seem to be perturbed that occasion by my spending of friendly, one-on-one social time (of the sort that to which he had become accustomed) with one of his peers, and he joined us to make a threesome. Vibes from him were chilly on subsequent autumn of 1982 encounters, eventually thawing after a number of days. It may be clear as day to me now why he was turning frosty toward me, but at the time, I lacked the ability to glean such precise and pertinent insight regarding downturns or dips in my social existence, my hurt feelings impairing my still rather novel capacity for empathy from fully operating. To my profound pleasure, Joey visited me early one Saturday evening in October, and the two of us were having fun at playing television tag in my backyard. In very little time, though, we were seen by a group of boys led by Steven, who all converged upon us and asked us to join them in a game of street baseball lasting not even two innings, and after which Joey and myself were no longer together as he was enticed away from me by one of his same-age friends who participated in the very brief contest of baseball.
That autumn, I was approached enthusiastically by some of the neighbourhood youth of Joey's age bracket. They asked me to entertain them with a videotaped episode or two of Spiderman (I remember one such being "Thunder Rumble") or of the new Incredible Hulk cartoon television show (I recall the "Bruce Banner Unmasked" episode in particular) while Joey was not with me or with them. I wished that he was, but I still was uncomfortable with initiating contact via the telephone, and I was in any case in a state of puzzlement concerning Joey's seemingly fluctuating regard for me in those autumn, 1982 days. Telephoning to ask him to join us did not seem to be a doable option. But I was not one to reject the overtures of anyone to entertain them with my videocassettes, particularly during what seemed to me to be a very uncertain time in my friendship with Joey. So, I showed to my visitors whatever I had recently attained on my videocassette spools. Retrospection allows me to see how my open door to companionship as friends and not only as formal videotape show attendees, toward neighbourhood boys of his age, could have been interpreted by Joey as a diminishing of his special place with me. And he was then, I think, frustrated already by the sense of malaise that had crept into our relationship. My being with Tony again for sizable amounts of time especially had to be rather a thorn in Joey's side, considering the early history between the three of us, i.e. how I favoured Tony in that former era when Tony was my best friend. But I thought Joey's choosing to be with others, crusty moods, and sometimes sharp words to mean that he was just not favourable toward me and that he did not like me on those specific days. I do now believe that Joey was reacting a day or more after, to what he regarded as unacceptable conduct on my part, or an overall dissatisfaction with the way of things at that precise time and at my frustrating lack of appropriate initiative (due largely to a persisting weakness of mine in the social skill department) to effect improvement.
Also, there was an unfortunate incident every so often contributing to our diverging that autumn. On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 20, I was having an early supper before 4:30 P.M.'s Spiderman broadcast (that of the episode, "Down to Earth"), when Joey rang my doorbell. He was peering through the stained-glass window adjacent to the front door of my house; that was how I saw that he was the person who had come for a visit. My father was in rather uncompromisingly stern disposition and would not let me go to the door. Joey could see through the tinted window that there were people at home, and doubtless he could hear muffled voices. Nobody inside coming to greet him must have been distinctly aggravating and downright infuriating- and I was exceedingly unhappy at my father's prohibiting of contact between Joey and I at that time. A couple of our planet's rotations hence, Joey and I both were participants in a Friday after-dusk hide-and-seek game in Joey's part of the neighbourhood, around his house and that of his next-door neighbour. I do not know if asking me to play said game was Joey's idea, because he was at my doorstep with Kelly and one or two others to invite me to join the fun, but it was a quite positive time in Joey's presence that evening. There was no evidence at all of any bitterness on Joey's part about the incident at my door on the Wednesday prior. However, on Saturday, I was rebuffed by Joey through much of the day, though in the evening at sundown as Joey, myself, and many others were in the midst of a game of tag and I fell, my hand landing in some stones with the force of my tumbling body as that hand was instinctively extended to "break" the fall, Joey was most concerned for me, straining to thoroughly examine my hand in the near darkness. There were no lesions. I was quite heartened at Joey's indeed quite sincere interest in my well-being. I remember him, possibly on that evening, saying to me that The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie was being shown on television. And sometime thereafter, I watched the last fifteen minutes of said televised movie, nearly all of which consisting of Road Runner cartoon extracts edited together in a protracted montage.
Joey telephoned me on the Sunday morning after the Saturday evening of tag, to suggest we spend the day together. We arranged to join each other at an appointed place and time, but for some reason he aborted the meeting, and I did not see him until Halloween night when he was trick-or-treating with one of his friends with whom he was becoming increasingly close. A cordial hello was all that occurred for Joey and myself that night as I, at my door, handed some candy to him and his friend.
Yet, for each disappointing failure to capitalise on an opportunity to be together, there was a return of hopeful sentiment on a subsequent meeting. For instance, one Tuesday afternoon as I was arriving onto Linden Crescent on my walk to home from the school bus stop, my directional path linked with that of Joey, who was walking by himself (unusual at that time) on his way to his house after school, and he asked if he could see my Star Wars videotape, and the two of us sat in my television room and began viewing the exciting action in a far-far-away galaxy, as we shared a cache of Kraft caramel squares. When time came at half-past-4-o'clock for Spidey, I ceased playback of my Star Wars videocassette and prepared for a videotaping of the New York-City-based cartoon television super-hero's excursions or inter-city battles against crime. Joey was rather disappointed with my decision to cut short his experience with Star Wars that day on account of a potential videotape-recording of Spiderman and said, "Aw, c'mon." And he was quite right to express protest, for Spidey did not appear at his appointed 4:30 P.M. airtime. The Price is Right did. We did not then go back to watching Star Wars, instead talking for a half-hour before we had to part company at 5 o'clock for dinner at our respective homes. All in all, it had been an encouraging afternoon, but it was followed by some rather frosty encounters on days to follow, caused maybe by Joey learning of my being with Tony at some time or another. Street hockey on a Saturday late in November in front of Craig's house was joined by me (despite my ineffectual performance and scant interest in the sport of wooden sticks and nets), and Joey was already present in the game along with one or two of his friends (along with Craig, who was not Joey's friend). Joey was ice-cold at the sight of me and said nothing remotely friendly for as long as I was there. And he and I were again on uncertain terms until after Christmas.
The setback in my friendship with Joey happened because of lapses on my part later in the summer of 1982, an inadvertent pulling back somewhat from him after his indeed natural reaction to those lapses, some observant and troubling questioning by others in our neighbourhood of my increasingly evident, closest affinity for Joey, an abject failure by me to correctly read the reason or the motivation behind Joey's actions on several days in the autumn, and very probably my perplexing willingness to revert to some pre-1982 procedures, like spending some substantial time again with Tony. Plus, as was highlighted by his being induced by his same-age pals to leave me in order to join them to participate in games or activities in which I was either not welcome or incapable (due to age difference or insufficient skill) of having a part, there was a particular reality to my friendship with Joey with which I had to come to terms. There was a six-year age gap between us, and Joey's instinctive, or reflexive, tendency for socialising was almost always with people with whom he went to school or partook in organised sports. People his own age or very near to it. I cannot blame him for this, for it is in his nature, indeed in the nature of people in general, to favour persons as like to oneself as possible- and identical year of birth and parallel upbringing is perhaps the most compelling similarity in forming lasting friendships. Unlike the multitude of people, I was not accepted by anyone in my age bracket in Fredericton and had no brothers or sisters and therefore was dependent on younger friends for close companionship and for developing my "older kinsman instinct". But most people have rather much different social and friendship orientations, and Joey was not an exception to that. Same-age friends would hold sway for him, much of the time. I could not compete with friends of his who asked him to join them in conversing about people they knew at school, or in playing sports and games that were only inclusive of people of their age bracket. It would yet still be possible for me to be Joey's preferred buddy, as such was, I believe, the case for most of 1983. But it depended on circumstances, among them ongoing pastimes or projects of mine that had Joey's keen interest and key participation. And I could always hope for a resumption of Joey's focus of attention on me, even at times when I knew that same-age social directives were paramount, by devoting my time and effort to something, some endeavour, that would appeal to him, or by being as generous and helpful as possible to him when he sought my assistance or joining happily with him when he proposed our teamwork.
In autumn of 1982, I continued to add to my videotape collection. After the purchase of Star Wars, I had my acquisitive eyes trained upon several other pre-recorded videocassettes. Muntz Stereo announced to me via telephone that Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan would be coming to pre-recorded videotape at an unprecedented low price of $49.95. I noted this accordingly, and did eventually add the U.S.S. Enterprise's second theatrical film space voyage to my rows of cherished videotaped entertainment material. By November of 1982, I had found a medium for possessing desired movies on previously utilised videotapes for much less expense than full retail price. And thus, next after Star Wars were some James Bond movies, beginning with the then most recent entry in the film series of the British secret agent, For Your Eyes Only, attained in November. After that there quickly followed Dr. No and Goldfinger. I asked only for videotape-purchase money for a Christmas present, and with the funding received from my parents that Yuletide, I proceeded to incorporate into my videotape collection such diverse items as The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Peter Sellers' fourth Inspector Clouseau movie), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (the theatrical film version of the television series' opening episode), Flash Gordon (1980s version with Sam J. Jones as Flash and Max Von Sydow as Emperor Ming), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (fifth in the run of Clouseau movies), the latter two being unacceptably lumbered with periodic loss of picture. I was in 1983 able to improve upon my videotape of Revenge of the Pink Panther, but an acceptable videocassette of Flash Gordon would elude me for almost ten years.
And in early January of 1983, around the time of my birthday, I was proud possessor of videotapes of the highly enjoyable James Bond movies, Diamonds Are Forever (it joined my videotape collection on one of the last days of 1982) and The Spy Who Loved Me (attained by me on the day after my seventeenth birthday). And a further James Bond movie, the second-to-be-produced one, From Russia, With Love, was added to my collection sometime in February, after a couple of unsuccessful previous attempts to acquire an acceptable-quality videotape of same.
Between September and November, I had been looking into the process of videotape duplication and enquiring around Fredericton as to whether anyone offered services, or if videocassette-recording machines affordably existed, for achieving consistently seamless editing, so that I could arrive at polished videotape-recordings of the whole Spiderman television series and other entertainments (e.g. On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Marvel Superheroes and new Incredible Hulk episodes) gained on my videocassettes from television broadcasts. I was as yet unsuccessful in this quest, but persevered with my videotaping nonetheless, capitalising as best as sound and picture reception on cable television would allow, with the delightful progress of the new television season that autumn, i.e. by doing first-generation, "raw" videotape-recordings of Spiderman or of an occasional Rocket Robin Hood episode (e.g. "The Incredible Gem of Cosmo Khan") or of some of the new Incredible Hulk cartoon television show's offerings ("Origin of the Hulk", "Bruce Banner Unmasked", "The Cyclops Project", "The Incredible Shrinking Hulk", "When Monsters Meet"), whilst bringing into ownership the coveted contents of some pre-recorded videotapes.
I also made a habit of leafing through the magazines pertaining to the burgeoning "home video" phenomenon, on the shelves of Fredericton's book and variety shops. A variety store in the Brookside Mall in Fredericton's Nashwaaksis district had an impressive inventory of British periodicals, including one which was exclusively oriented around pre-recorded videotapes of movies and television programmes. To my grandest possible jubilation, I discovered in November, 1982 in that magazine that the Space: 1999 "movie", Alien Attack, compiled from two episodes, "Breakaway" and "War Games", of Season 1 of my favourite television series, was available in Great Britain on pre-recorded videotape. Hallelujah! Seizing the opportunity to possess some portion of Space: 1999 in my collection of videocassettes, I wrote a letter to one of the prominent videotape dealers advertising in that magazine, asking if I might from said dealer purchase Alien Attack by mail. The prompt, courteous reply provided to me my first-ever lesson in the differences between television screen formats around the world. European television sets had an entirely different number and configuration to their lines of resolution, what was called the PAL system, from ours in North America, what was known as NTSC. I was told that I would not be able to watch any videocassette from Europe unless I had a PAL-output videocassette recorder and a PAL television. So much for that, then. Thwarted again. That oh, so elusive Space: 1999 remained for me unattainable.
One overcast Sunday afternoon in early 1983, I was walking back to home after a visit to the Pic N' Puff store to look at a TV Guide magazine on the shelf there, and as I ascended Nashwaaksis' hilly Fulton Avenue, I encountered Joey and another boy, name of John, who were bicycling down Fulton Avenue on their way to same store. On another day, a school day, on which I came across Joey while he was with one of his friends, there was some discussion of James Bond movies and some of the ones that I expected would be released to pre-recorded videotape in coming months.
By and by, I persisted in my Spiderman videocassette-recording endeavour, tending to acquire two, maybe three, out of every five broadcasts each week without the noisy lines imposed for some reason by my cable television provider. But it was frustrating that episodes of which I was most desirous, among them "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension", "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado", "Sky Harbour"/"The Big Brainwasher", and "Blotto" (with its title card) came on days that autumn of 1982 with the lines, while less craved Spidey instalments such as "Sting of the Scorpion"/"Trick or Treachery" (a particularly poor film print shown on Thanksgiving Monday; I recall racing to home that day at the appointed 4:30 P.M. time following an afternoon of baseball with Craig and others at Park Street School field) and a completely superfluous transmission of "King Pinned" were aired on the "non-line afternoons". Occasionally, I would arrive at home after school on a sunny day with grim expectation of the lines, to be instead delighted to find the lines absent from the telecasting of Spiderman (such as for "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus"/"Magic Malice" on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). During the autumn of 1982, two episodes that had been utterly devoid of screening on CHSJ in the 1981-2 broadcast year entered the jumbled circulation. "To Cage a Spider" was on CHSJ on a Monday late in October, and "Diet of Destruction"/"The Witching Hour" appeared toward the end of November, by which time Spidey had been moved on CHSJ to a noon airtime. The former's premiere engagement on CHSJ was line-marred, whereas the latter's was clear of the quality-compromising lines. After a line-infested "Rollarama" on Halloween Friday, CHSJ was hit by a labour dispute, a walking off of the job by its technical staff. Management operated the television station for several weeks thereafter, and, to my mystification, Spidey (and whatever was usually shown at 5 P.M.) had been replaced at 4:30 P.M. by Bob Barker and The Price is Right. Television listings did not herald this change, and I remember sitting with Joey in my television room and puzzling over what had happened. Was Spidey gone again? Or might he have been assigned a different time for transmission? It was not until two Fridays later, when I was at home for a long-weekend vacation that included Remembrance Day, that I came across a 12 P.M. listing for Spiderman in the morning newspaper, and thus was ready to watch and acquire "The Vanishing Doctor Vespasian"/"The Scourge of the Scarf", a videotape-recording thereof superior to that of the previous June. Standard procedure for the following weeks was to set automatic-record-timer for 12 P.M. for my trusty machine to videotape Spiderman for me to watch with excited, acquisitive anticipation each afternoon on my arrival at home from school. Chilly weather in November had practically banished those diabolical lines to the inferno from which they had come to plague me, and I had unblemished-by-the-lines videotape-recordings of nearly every Spidey story shown by CHSJ through the remainder of November and practically all of December.
Spiderman was returned by CHSJ to 4:30 P.M. in mid-December at the conclusion of the technicians' work stoppage. I recall being desperately unhappy to see the lines coming back while I was at home during a Wednesday in the midst of the three-week pre-Christmas examination period at school, but the lines were gone by the 4:30 P.M. Spidey television series entry, "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension", which I, this occasion, videotaped in all of its psychedelic glory!
For the winter months to come, a near complete disappearance of the lines enabled me to amass a videotape collection (albeit still not edited together to my satisfaction, i.e. to be without commercials, CHSJ television station identifications, or major film glitches) of almost three-quarters of the fifty-two Spiderman instalments, although I needed to use the less-than-optimum-quality four-hour LP mode of videotape-recording to minimise cost of purchase of blank videocassettes, which were rather pricey, at between 20 and 30 dollars' cost. I feared a return of the lines with the coming of 1983's warm, spring weather and was anxious to complete my videotaped catalogue of Spiderman episodes before then. Unfortunately, a dozen or so of the episodes had gone out of circulation on CHSJ since early November, a handful of which I had not been successful at satisfactorily (i.e. without the lines) bringing into my possession when they aired in the autumn. "Home", "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado", "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime", and "Rollarama" were some such. The remainder of them likely had been telecast during that close to two weeks in early November when, unbeknown to me, Spidey was web-swinging at the top of the clock instead of at his usual 4:30 P.M. time, such episodes being "Specialists and Slaves", "Spiderman Meets Dr. Noah Boddy"/"The Fantastic Fakir", "Fountain of Terror"/"Fiddler On the Loose", "Spiderman Battles the Molemen", and "Up From Nowhere" (of which I already had a videotape capture from its June, 1982 broadcast but still would not sneer at a superior film print). As fate had decreed, I was at Tony's house on Thursday, March 24, 1983, engaged in a videotape copying session using his videocassette recorder combined with mine, when "Home" finally was shown again on CHSJ. I was in my house on the day thereafter, Friday, March 25, and ready to videotape-record the next episode on CHSJ- and to my stunned surprise, it had a Marvel Comics Animation Presentation card and a stylish "in colour" notation before start of its opening sequence. I had only ever seen those on the SPIDERMAN pre-recorded videotape that I had bought in the previous summer. The celluloid print was remarkably free of defects. It looked as though CHSJ was now receiving a better calibre of Spiderman film elements. The episode was "Rollarama", another of the for-many-months-missing episodes.
But now the lines were back, with a vengeance. Even on some rainy days, there they were, flashing every second on my television screen. And of course, it was the worst possible time for them, for now not only was CHSJ broadcasting much improved Spiderman film prints, but episodes that I was lacking on my videotapes were being transmitted in quite rapid succession. In the week that followed "Rollarama", "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado" and a very nice-looking film print of "Up From Nowhere" were shown on CHSJ, but tarnished by those spawns of Satan, those lines of noise. But I videotaped these Spidey instalments anyway. Why not? I might never have occasion to videotape them again. Happily, I did at least secure "To Catch a Spider"/"Double Identity" and "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime" without the lines and quite sharp resolution. Again, both were from more of those vastly better Spidey film spools. On the rainy evening of Friday, April 1, a couple of hours after I videotaped "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime" from CHSJ, Joey came to my house for a visit, and we two sat on the floor in front of my television as Joey watched my videotape-recordings of "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado", "To Catch a Spider"/"Double Identity" and "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime", gushing with praise for all of these and for my taste and good judgement in having them on my videocassettes. I always think of that splendid April evening with Joey whenever I watch these Spidey instalments.
For the first third of 1983, I was adding to my videotape collection more James Bond movies, they being From Russia, With Love, Moonraker (to my enormous pleasure), and The Man With the Golden Gun (which I re-appraised after having been less than lukewarm toward it when I had seen it on television and at Fredericton's Gaiety Theatre on a January, 1981 Saturday matinee performance), along with Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan (the day after my acquisition thereof I was sketching the exterior of the U.S.S. Enterprise spaceship on my Mathematics notebook at school) and The Black Hole, plus THE BEST OF MARVEL COMICS, a compilation videotape of cartoon television series episodes including "Diamond Dust" from Spiderman. A further perfect Spiderman episode to add to the five that I owned via the SPIDERMAN pre-recorded videocassette purchased in July of 1982.
The dates of two of those videotape acquisitions. Thursday, March 24, 1983 for Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan. Thursday, April 7, 1983 for The Black Hole.
In February and March, I had a series of Sunday afternoon James Bond movie videotape shows, consisting of Diamonds Are Forever (whose assault-on-the-oil-rig climax sparked spoken ridicule by one of my videotape show attendees for the way that a SPECTRE operative on the oil rig counted down the seconds to a planned laser satellite firing upon Washington, D.C.), Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, Diamonds Are Forever repeated, and Moonraker. My attempt to offer on the week after Moonraker a showing of my newly obtained The Man With the Golden Gun videotape met with zero interest by all available potential comers, and the weekly Sunday James Bond videotape shows thus ceased.
In those early months of 1983, Joey and I were definitely on the upswing, and Spiderman was integral to that. Spidey together with a certain British spy whose movies I was formally showing from my videotape collection in February and March. Joey was particularly excited about the opportunity to view Moonraker, on the afternoon of March 13. Roger Moore had become Joey's preferred actor in the James Bond role, and Joey, with two others, thrilled to the extravagant action of Moonraker- and memorably burst into laughter as the steel-toothed Jaws went over a waterfall. Tony not being present as assistant for that and for the Diamonds Are Forever videotape show on the immediate preceding Sunday, which Joey also attended, evidently gave to Joey cause for good cheer toward me. The Monday following my presentation of Moonraker, I encountered Joey (him dressed in a black jacket and beige and on that day beltless corduroy pants) in Tony's backyard a short while after school, and Joey ran toward me, grabbed me, and swung me around affectionately. The two of us were soon at my house in my television room, beholding the Spiderman episode, "Blotto", as it was being shown on CHSJ. Joey began a series of visits with me, as a buddy and not as a videotape show "customer", to view Spiderman episodes by way of my videotapes as the two of us sat together on my television room's carpet. One warm and mild weekday evening in April, he was with me to watch my videotaped "Sting of a Scorpion"/"Trick or Treachery" Spidey instalment. He also visited on a rainy and cool Sunday evening in April while I was viewing a Boston Red Sox baseball game, and we watched some of that, followed by a couple of Flintstones episodes that I had on videotape from ATV noontime telecasts in March. Those episodes were "The Great Gazoo" and "Rip Van Flintstone".
It was during Joey's watching-of-recordings-on-videotape session with me on the evening of April 1 that he told to me that he wished that my parents could adopt him so that he and I could be brothers. I can still visualise him laying on the floor with one of his dark-blue-corduroy-covered legs running upward along the left side of my television, as he spoke of his wish for brotherhood.
Joey and I continued improving through the spring of 1983, and our best summer together glowed on the horizon as the 1982-3 school year reached its conclusion. Apart from a couple of very rare troughs in our radar as the memorable middle months of 1983 proceeded, from mid-March to September inclusive, Joey and I were in the prime of best friendship. If ever there was a time when I was undoubtedly Joey's favourite pal, that was it. Joey would dismiss overtures from fellows of his age group, in order to be with me- and stay with me, for morning, afternoon, evening. In spring of 1983, Joey and I had a practice volley of a badminton birdie, keeping the birdie in the air for a combined total of 110 strikes with badminton rackets. That was a neighbourhood achievement never close to being matched by anyone else. It was testimony to the quality of teamwork and the excellent rapport between Joey and I. The summer of 1982, aside from baseball game frustration and a rough, disagreeable time or two, had been on the whole very fulfilling, profoundly superior to what had been experienced in the few years before it, but it was merely a rehearsal for what was to be the most stellar summer in my experience, that of 1983. In 1983, I was somewhat more comfortable at being observed by others with Joey at my side, and I was determined not to recoil again from him if I was questioned or challenged by someone regarding my close association with Joey. I strived to be encouraging to Joey and to respond to him as a best buddy should do, but sometimes was cagey where others were present. Announcing him as best friend was still too volatile a course of choice. I was nevertheless more than willing to push the boundaries of time spent together, expressions of affinity, and range of activities as far as I possibly could within the configuration of my social life at the time. I did all that I could do to assure Joey of my utmost interest in and dedication to his more and more outgoing, chummy, and appealing personality.
On the first week of May in 1983, my parents and I journeyed by car to Canada's capital city, Ottawa, Ontario. My mother had a Victorian Order of Nurses conference to attend there, and our expenses for accommodation, meals, and transport were paid in full by her employer. I recall that the first two-hour part of V- The Original Miniseries was shown on the NBC and CTV television networks on the Sunday evening before start of our travel, and that part two of V- The Original Miniseries aired on the Monday to follow while my parents and I were at a motel in Edmundston, New Brunswick after completing the first portion of our journey.
I went to school on Monday, May 2 and, immediately after the afternoon dismissal school intercom bleep, rendez-voused with my mother and father at the K-Mart Plaza. They had already loaded our car with all of our luggage so that we did not need to go back home but could embark at once upon our odyssey to Ottawa from the Fredericton South mall area where Fredericton High School and the K-Mart Plaza were situated. By 3:30 P.M., we were on the Trans-Canada Highway, on our way westward to our destination, at which we would arrive by late afternoon on the next day. In Ottawa, we stayed at the highly elegant Chateau Laurier Hotel, which was near the Parliament Buildings. We never toured the House of Commons or any adjacent government structures, though we did see a number of politicians at breakfast time in the restaurant area of the Chateau Laurier.
Being in Ottawa was a beautiful, glorious experience, very probably my best time ever spent visiting another city. The spring sun warmly shone upon us on all but half of one of the days that we were there. Trees were starting to grow leaves, the expansive grasses surrounding the edifices of Parliament were already a vibrant green, and I was rather smitten by the classy, historically graceful ethos of the city, while the commercial district of the fairly large metropolitan centre of Canada's place of national governance proved to be very advantageous in my search for pre-recorded videotapes that were not to be found in Fredericton, most especially those of the Star Trek television series, and- indeed quite surprisingly- in a replenishing of my disintegrating collection of long-out-of-print Space: 1999 books. I did not think it possible that by 1983 I would find Space: 1999 books to be readily available anywhere, not even on the shelves of vendors of previously used printed material. Yet, in downtown Ottawa, I was able to buy in very good condition virtually all of Orbit Books' first season novelisation paperback book series, from Breakaway to Astral Quest inclusive. Moon Odyssey was the most of a challenge to find, but I managed to procure a slightly worn at its spine copy of Moon Odyssey from Ottawa's Bookstore of Speculative Fiction. The Space Guardians had been in New Brunswick the least available book in the Orbit Books' Space: 1999 range, and providence led me right to it on a rotating shelf in a modest-sized store for resalable books near to the downtown Ottawa Burger King restaurant where my father and I ate our lunch on each of our days there in that delightful city. Orbit Books' version of The Space Guardians had never been seen by me in stores in Fredericton, and I had been fortunate before in Toronto, and again this time in Ottawa, to acquire it during my travels. In our room at the Chateau Laurier, I gradually piled on a table a complete first season set of Space: 1999 novelisation books. And, to my stunned amazement on my last full day in Ottawa, a cigarette shop quite close to the Chateau Laurier had Space: 1999 bubble gum cards along with abundant amounts of all of Star Publications' second season Space: 1999 paperback books. I only had enough money available to me to buy a few packets of the cards and Planets of Peril to The Space-Jackers inclusive. I meant to return to said store to transact for The Psychomorph and The Time Fighters but was unable to coax any more cash out of my parents.
It had been a tremendously successful stay in Ottawa that glorious May week. I had two Star Trek videotapes in my hands, also. I bought them in a used condition from a place in the Ottawa commercial core. They contained "Balance of Terror", "The City On the Edge of Forever", "Mirror, Mirror", and "The Tholian Web". I had brought my videocassette machine with me for the purpose of watching whatever videotapes that I might gain, and it was indeed useful in this respect with my Star Trek purchases. However, I was overjoyed to discover that I had another use for my Panasonic videocassette recording deck, for the CTV television station in Ottawa, CJOH, was airing Spiderman at noontime on Wednesday. The episode was "Spiderman Meets Skyboy", one with which I was excessively familiar by way of CHSJ-TV. But CJOH's broadcast of said episode was virtually perfect. The film print was completely clear of any blemishes and gorgeously coloured. I felt supremely fortunate to have been able to videotape this telecast of Spidey on CJOH. Even CHSJ's best film elements of Spiderman of late could not hope to compare to what had been presented on CJOH, and picture reception, courtesy of Ottawa Cable, was impeccable.
So, my mother and father and I proceeded with our return to Fredericton on the late afternoon of Friday and almost all of Saturday, sunny days both, with me in the back seat of our car proudly looking from time to time at some of my newly acquired treasures piled sequentially (books in numbered order, then videotapes- the Star Trek ones likewise in order, and bubble gum cards) beside me. We somehow found ourselves on the northern side of the St. Lawrence River after passing through Montreal, Quebec, and so was this the first time that I saw such Quebecois communities as Berthierville and Trois Rivieres. At Quebec City, we crossed the St. Lawrence River and were on the Trans-Canada Highway again for completion of our conveyance to home province. We stayed on Friday night at a hotel in Montmagny, Quebec, approximately half of the way between Quebec City and the Quebec-New Brunswick border. And I remember watching on our hotel room's television part of Stanley Kubrick's eerily creepy movie, The Shining, and the 1982-3 season finale ("The Ewing Inferno") of Dallas.
We arrived back in Fredericton early Saturday evening and encountered a walk-a-thon on the Trans-Canada Highway. Joey told me a day later that he had participated in that walk-a-thon, but we did not see him as we were passing all of the people partaking in the event. A mere minute after entering our house, I had my videocassette recorder placed atop my television set and was connecting cables to enable me to view my videotape collection's latest additions. To my displeasure, I found that both Star Trek videotapes exhibited a pronounced skewing effect at top of my television screen, although no such phenomenon had been in evidence when I watched those videocassettes in Ottawa. On the morning of Monday next, I brought both Star Trek videotapes with me on a visit to Tony's place, and tried playing them on his equipment, i.e. RCA videocassette recorder and Electrohome-brand television. No skew. Lovely picture quality. And as Star Trek had not been shown on any television station received in Fredericton since 1977, Tony, Steven, and some of Steven's pals were indeed very much interested in the episodes on those videocassettes that I had obtained in the capital city of our country. "The Tholian Web" and especially "Mirror, Mirror" were greatly appreciated by all who had occasion to see them as I was surveying the entirety of the videotapes at Tony's house, and the bearded Spock, the parallel universe, the Agony Booth, Kirk's discussions with "Captain's woman" Marlena Moreau (played by luscious Barbara Luna) and the deviously calculating alternative Spock talking about the way of things in the savage, imperial counterpart to Starfleet fast became popular in spring of 1983 amongst many of the young inhabitants of our neighbourhood.
For the second week of May in 1983, all but one day (Tuesday) of which was a holiday from school while teachers were having their annual Professional Development, Joey and I became quite an inseparable duo, culminating on Saturday, May 14 in our teamwork in operating a yard sale, the first of many for which Joey and I combined efforts and dispensable paraphernalia. The week commenced on an overcast Monday, the morning of which was spent watching with Tony, Steven, and a few of Steven's friends the Star Trek videotapes I had bought in Ottawa. We all joined with Joey in early afternoon to play a game of baseball in the side yard of an Epworth Circle home. Tony, Joey, and I were one team, and Steven and his entourage constituted the opposing unit. I put aside my then usual wish to be pitcher, ceding that baseball game position to Joey, who, I remember, was dressed in his blue Adidas gymnasium pants. I played first base very close to Joey, while Tony was stationed in the outer territory of our ad hoc baseball field. I remember assuring Joey that I would catch a fly ball right above us, and I did so, my tendency to do a Charlie Brown in such instances now evidently a thing of the past. I also swung rather an impressive bat, delivering at least a couple of home runs, as Joey, Tony, and I routed the competition on that overcast and increasingly drizzly but ideal May Monday afternoon, the CHSJ-at-4:30 Spiderman transmission of which was the "The One-Eyed Idol"/"Fifth Avenue Phantom" instalment, on another of the improved film prints then being televised by New Brunswick's only outlet for the intrepid web-swinger's 1967-70 television show.
On the evening of the next day, Tuesday, Joey telephoned to ask if I wanted to play another baseball game as teammate to him, and I agreed most enthusiastically. Alas, the game that we eventually played, with Joey and I against Craig and Philip, on Linden Crescent in front of my house, did not yield the outcome that Joey and I desired. We were both quite proficient players at "infield" positions, but I was not particularly adept at manning the "outfield", and Craig and Philip were able to exploit such weakness. Although Joey's pronouncement that, "Kevin and I make a good team," prior to that baseball game added a galvanising effect to the evening, Joey and I were trounced resoundingly by Craig and Philip, both of whom (on the same team for the first time ever, I do believe) were manning their best baseball game positions and swung their bats to maximum power and contact. It was, however, becoming uncommon by this time for me to lose at baseball. And next day, Wednesday, Joey and I were again together as comrades in a baseball contest, us being players on a larger team that day in a game at Park Street School, and we won, with Joey doing his part for the cause by sliding safely into home base and while doing so ripping open the left knee of his grey sweat pants. After the game, Joey and I went to the Pic N' Puff shop to buy my father's newspaper and then browsed the Video Home Entertainment Centre a few York Plaza doors away from the variety store. I discovered the then-recently-released-to-videotape James Bond movie, Thunderball, and was intent upon bringing that into my possession as soon as I could. Joey and I returned to my home and watched the afternoon Spidey instalment on CHSJ at 4:30, which was "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey". We were a few minutes late for my 4:30 deadline, and although that day's Spidey episode was found to be redundant where my videotape collection was concerned, my father did not know that and, thinking he was doing a favour for me, put one of my videotapes in my videocassette machine and pressed the record button at 4:30 P.M., inadvertently erasing part of my videotape-recording of CHSJ's two weeks previous telecast of a near excellent film print of "Sky Harbour"/"The Big Brainwasher". I was at the moment of discovery of what had happened quite upset about the loss of what I thought was an unlikely to be topped Spiderman videotape-recording. Joey did his best to reassure me that I would eventually reacquire the particular instalment, and with superior quality in every respect- and he was many years hence to be proven right. I did, however, mutter irately and despairingly about what had happened at 4:30 P.M. for what was left of that day, my father exercising the better part of valour and saying as little as possible to me. It had been my fault, really, that I had not record-inhibited the videotape in question by removing the accidental erasure prevention tab from the videotape's spine. I failed to anticipate a contingency such as what did occur. By the morning of the day to follow, I had resigned myself to my situation and looked ahead to a future opportunity for videotaping the particular Spidey instalment with the fighter-aircraft-commanding German Baron and the devious mind-manipulation scheme of the Kingpin.
Thursday and Friday of that week were overcast but quite warm, as Joey and I continued to be same-team players in neighbourhood baseball, were buddies in a games of "freeze tag" and regular tag with Kelly and others of Linden Crescent's troupe of youngsters, and brought our planned yard sale to reality.
I exploited the record-timer of my videocassette machine to capture on videotape CHSJ's late-night showing of Fahrenheit 451, the movie, on Friday. I had seen the 1966 motion picture version of Ray Bradbury's famous novel at school in English class in one of the waning months of 1982 and was rather intrigued by the Space: 1999-first-season-like style of characterisation (e.g. wives or girl-friends referring to significant other by surname) and storytelling, some Space: 1999 sound effects, and Bernard Herrmann's expressively sombre music mated with the aesthetically correspondent autumnal look of the movie's outdoor scenes. Enough so to want Fahrenheit 451 in my videotape collection. On Saturday morning, while hurrying to have breakfast and join with Joey in my driveway at the appointed time to together bring the many shelves and tables on which our yard sale merchandise was piled, out of my garage and basement, I forward-scanned through what my videotape-recording device had magnetically inscribed and saw CHSJ's trademark blotches of black tape in advance of every pause of the movie for commercials.
An overcast May 14, 1983 Saturday morning unfortunately resulted in yard sale business being less brisk than anticipated. Our earnings, and especially Joey's, were below expectation, and I bought Joey's old tennis racket to help him to come marginally closer to meeting his targeted dollar gain. Cloud cover dissipated in the afternoon, during which I used my yard sale profit monies to achieve videotape collection representation for the James Bond movie, Thunderball, via pre-recorded videotape. I recall the Sean Connery James Bond's battle in Nassau with the sinister extortionist forces of SPECTRE to be my primary focus of television-monitor-viewing attention in the second half of May in 1983. With it and the other James Bond movies in my possession, I combined videocassette recorders with Tony to piece together (with surprisingly good edit transitions) a "Best of James Bond" montage for an afternoon videotape showing on Victoria Day. The successful editing results on this item emboldened me to try to arrive at a commercial-free rendition of the Spiderman episode that I had videotape-recorded from CJOH in Ottawa. So, my and Tony's respective machinery became one again as I sought to edit my "Spiderman Meets Skyboy" videotape-recording hailing from Ottawa, and had the desired results on the very first attempt. Two perfect edits. Tony remarked that I now had an additional perfect Spidey episode to go with those via the pre-recorded SPIDERMAN and BEST OF MARVEL COMICS videotapes. Feeling very pleased indeed with latest outcomes where my videotape collecting hobby was concerned, I then played a winning evening baseball game on Linden Crescent in front of my house with Tony, Steven, Craig, and others.
In the first half of May in 1983, with my Ottawa excursion of May's week one and with the teachers' Professional Development Days of said month's week two, I had only spent two days in school. I had experienced so much fun during those two weeks that reorienting, reapplying myself to resume work at school for the two remaining weeks of classes and then examinations to follow, proved to be essentially impossible, especially as the weather was so very nice in the latter half of May and almost the whole of June and as so much was happening in my life outside of the wearisome (by this time of the long school year) classrooms and corridors of high school. I could not concentrate on what was being taught on those waning days of the school annum, instead gazing out the Fredericton High School windows at the blue skies and thinking about what enjoyable times I already had and would have in my neighbourhood with my younger friends in the afternoon after school and in the evenings and on the weekends. Outside of school, everything in my life was going so very right! My videotape collection was at a height of expansion, as I eyed more and more pre-recorded videocassettes and was edging closer and closer to a complete though as yet mostly unrefined Spiderman episode assemblage, and a day of immense discovery on the quest for Space: 1999 was very close. The last items that could possibly be of even the most dispassionate interest to me in those weeks were the Queen Maab speech in Romeo and Juliet, calculation of moles and joules in chemical compounds, trigonometry, conjugating French verbs in the Imparfait versus the Passe Compose, or resource-based economies in world countries. I had in the first three of the four terms of Grade 11 attained an average of near 75 percent, which for me in high school was a rather un-shabby accomplishment. Unable to re-immerse myself in the routines and drudgery of school in the second half of May, I allowed myself to slacken my way through what was left of the school year. And where the year's final examinations were concerned, I was likewise disinclined to invest attention and commitment of effort, or even to care very much. How could I? The sun was shining, my neighbourhood was teeming with activity beckoning for my participation, Joey and others were calling upon me at my door to come outside and play for hours on every evening, combining videocassette recorders with Tony was enabling me to move gradually further in having edited Spiderman episodes to meet my standards, and opportunity to procure yet more pre-recorded videotape offerings was before me. My mother would always ask me when I planned to study for my examinations, and each evening as I was on my way out of our door to join Joey and/or Craig in a game of baseball, I would reply to her that I would bury myself in school books after sunset when I would arrive back at home, only to give a cursory glance over my notebooks at 9:30 P.M. as a newly obtained videotape was being played in my videocassette machine.
During the week of June 6-10, I added no less than three items on pre-recorded videocassette to my videotape collection: Star Trek's "Space Seed" episode, available on commercial videotape because it featured Ricardo Montalban's Khan character, a role reprised in the second Star Trek movie (which I then also had in my collection of videotapes); the original Planet of the Apes theatrical film; and Meteor. The day of my acquisition of Charlton Heston's ordeal in the "upside down" world ruled by intelligent simians, was sunny and warm. That morning, I had to go to school to write an examination and en route to the school bus stop on MacDonald Avenue, I encountered Joey on his way to Park Street School, and the two of us talked until he was at his destination, and we then wished each other a good day. After completing my examination, I treaded sidewalk and grasses in the vibrant sunshine from Fredericton High School to Muntz Stereo along Prospect Street, obtained the Planet of the Apes videotape, and carried it in a plastic bag on my Prospect Street walk toward the Fredericton Mall, where I ate lunch at Orange Julius before boarding a bus for transit to home. Late on that memorable June day, after the then customary evening game of baseball, I was sitting on the floor before my television, watching Planet of the Apes and thinking occasionally, most notably during the last third of the movie, about the events of the past 16 hours, and especially about my encounter with Joey in the morning. On the next day, with Meteor the newest movie to become McCorry property by means of videotape, I had Joey as my television room guest after we had been on the victorious side of an evening street baseball game, and we were joined by my mother to watch Meteor. Joey smiled at recognition of an older-than-usually-seen Sean Connery sporting a moustache as the leading character in the movie, and my mother was curious as to Martin Landau's involvement in the 1979 disaster film after seeing his name in the opening credits. Joey had to leave for his home a half-hour into the watching of my videocassette of Meteor, and my mother and I, just us two, watched the remainder of the movie.
On the June 11-12 weekend, I coopted The Return of the Pink Panther into my ever enlarging quantity of entertainments on videocassette, attempted a first-time turn at the steering wheel and pedals of our car on my father's instructions in the almost wholly vacant parking lot of the building where my mother's V.O.N. office was located, and went with my father to Nashwaaksis' Dairy Queen for sunny Saturday supper, and there stood alongside Joey at the fast food restaurant's counter as he was there with his mother for identical purpose to mine and my father's.
Lawn cutting was again this year a likely procedure for earning funding toward videocassette procurements of opuses, and in addition to titles aforementioned, in June I would incorporate onto my shelves and stacks of videotapes Superman II and THE LOONEY TUNES VIDEO SHOW 1, fetched together from Video Home Entertainment Centre in Nashwaaksis' York Plaza on Wednesday, June 22. I vividly recall walking up Moss Avenue toward my immediate neighbourhood environs in blistering heat that afternoon, my new acquisitions in hand. My floor fan running at full power, I sat with my mother in my television room after dinner that evening, as we watched the son of Jor-El combating Kryptonian renegades above and on the thoroughfares of Metropolis.
In June, 1983, nearly everything that had firm hold upon my imagination since the years of Era 2 of my life had come to be represented in my videotape collection. But Space: 1999 was my most highly yearned-for and as yet most frustratingly beyond-reach item. However, almost as if on cue, in mid-June opportunity was upon me for having Space: 1999 on videotape. But it was not going to be a simple matter of going to a store and buying readily available videotapes of Moonbase Alpha's cosmic odyssey, or of selecting a cable television channel on my videocassette machine's dial, inserting into said apparatus a videotape, and pressing the record button. I would need to do considerably more than that, determination being absolutely essential, if I was to have any hope of capitalising on the extraordinary circumstances of Space: 1999's triumphant return.
Around 2 P.M. on Wednesday, June 15, 1983, I was at the Pic N' Puff variety shoppe in Nashwaaksis. After exchanging greetings with Joey, who I found there with some of his friends, I started flipping through the pages of the current edition of TV Guide magazine. And I thought I saw three nines. "What????? Nah! It couldn't be! Or could it???" I went backwards amongst the leaves of said periodical's television listings, and, lo and behold, under Sunday at noon, there was Space: 1999! Big as life!
My elation was short-lived, though, when I glanced at the numerical identifications of the broadcasters, and they were of the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island's CBC television stations (CBHT- Halifax, CBIT- Sydney, CBCT- Charlottetown) only. New Brunswick's CBC affiliate, CHSJ-TV, had the religious talk television programme, The World Tomorrow, and television quiz show Reach For the Top scheduled for Sunday from 12 P.M. to 1 P.M.. After swiftly returning home, I wrote a letter to CHSJ, asking- imploring- it to show Space: 1999 by simply hooking a connector line into its feed with the CBC (with CBHT, to be exact- CHSJ's usual source signal for CBC programming) at the appropriate time, but the CHSJ programme director would not consider doing so. Even my suggestion that CHSJ videotape Space: 1999 from CBHT and run it at some other hour was dismissed. It was so extremely aggravating to think that my favourite television series was being telecast just a Canadian province away and that I would not be able to profit from this staggeringly wondrous development, especially as my letter to CBC Ottawa in 1982 could, just could, have been what led Canada's foremost television network to re-offer Space: 1999 in the eastern-Maritime provinces.
In my correspondence from CHSJ, I was afforded some consolation. CHSJ, I was told, had agreed with a suggestion of mine in one of my 1982 letters to its offices, that Star Trek be returned to the television airwaves in New Brunswick for a full repeat run. In the autumn to come, CHSJ would be showing Star Trek on a weekly basis on Saturdays at 12:30 P.M., and for the first time since 1977, the people of my Canadian province would again have routine occasion to view the voyages of the Starship Enterprise on their television sets. Good news, to be sure, but my heart ached at the notion of Space: 1999 being telecast in provinces neighbouring my own while I would stay deprived of any portion of it in my collection of videocassettes. That must not stand, I resolved. For days, I puzzled and pondered on my predicament.
I was also able to call upon Tony's library of past issues of TV Guide (his family had a subscription to it) to see just how long that Space: 1999 had been offered on Sundays by the CBC television stations of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I found that there had been one episode aired on June 12, and two others telecast in May. There were no synopses for them; therefore, I had no exact knowledge of which ones they were. There was a synopsis for the episode to air on June 19. "Force of Life". But I later discovered with TV Guide's synopsis for "Force of Life" to be shown on June 26 that TV Guide's positing of it to air on June 19 was evidently incorrect. I would eventually determine, some long while later, that "Collision Course" was the episode of June 19- and "Death's Other Dominion" that of June 13, with "Breakaway" and "War Games" having been the two episodes that aired in May.
With regular opportunities now to be pitcher, I became remarkably adept at the number one position on the baseball schematic. I was able to deliver ball to batter with some considerable precision of force, direction, and spin, and was especially proficient at the strike-out pitch where Craig was at bat. This plus the strength, size, and coordination of our neighbourhood's British addition, name of Philip, as my new "outfield" support most of the time, meant that I had by June, 1983 settled into a routine of victory over Craig and Adam, who had been so difficult to vanquish one year previous in the game of pitches, bats, gloves, and bases. Yet, Craig still would not concede to me being a quality baseball player and desirable teammate; rather, he blamed his and Adam's defeats upon Adam and, I guess, upon their floundering team mechanics. No credit was allocated to me for my increasing prowess at both pitching and batting. I was becoming difficult, even for Craig and his garbage pitches, to eliminate at home plate with three strikes. And on one evening's game being played at Park Street School's concrete area I was pitching a no-hitter against Craig's team significantly into the third inning. In 1983, I rarely lost a game, and if I occasionally did, I lost with grace and dignity. I was not teased, jeered, and taunted into ungracefully departing a losing contest as I would be in later years. 1984 was a further outstanding year for play of recreational neighbourhood baseball, though there were some, not many, disagreeable experiences in doing so. It was not exactly as satisfying a year as 1983 had been, though I do recall keeping a running tally of my win and loss decisions, and said tally being 41 and 9 by the middle of August. Toward the end of 1984, I did, however, fall into a slump from which I never really recovered. And my overall situation was remarkably in tandem with my achieved results in neighbourhood baseball. 1983 was the pinnacle, the very best of times, my most winning year; 1982 was the building prelude to it; and 1984 was its echo, not quite as resonant but still of an admirable timbre. After 1984, patchy moments of fondly remembered quality in the midst of general decline, gradual but definitely distinct, leading to the debacle, the social meltdown, the depressingly feeble and friendship-barren time that was mid-to-late 1987. But why sully the excellent reminiscences of 1983 by leaping ahead to refer to the lamentable- and what could have been avoidable- conditions of this era's closure? I shall delve into all of that in due course.
Again, with so many overwhelmingly interesting events occurring in my life in mid-1983, not to mention two-weeks of scant time at school in early May and the beautifully sunny and inviting weather in late May and almost the whole of June, I found it exceedingly difficult to concentrate on finishing my Grade 11 year with impressive, accomplished flair. For my final examinations, I cast little more than a cursory look over my classroom notes for at most 45 minutes late in the evening before each semester-comprehensive course test. I then mainly went the "multiple-guess" route on the objective portion of most of my examinations, and relied on flowery prose to carry me through responses to essay questions. Although my overall average for the first three of the four term components of my annual grade was in the 75-percentile zone, when I received my year's end report card on June 22, I found that I had finished the year with at least a ten percent average drop. I never saw my examinations after they had been evaluated, but clearly for that year, my performance in my examinations must have been significantly below par. My mother wagged her index finger at me when she saw my year's final results. Although I had still passed everything with at least ten percentage points to spare, my mother expressed grave doubt as to my being accepted into university. I answered that she need not worry, assuring her that I would still have entry into university as long as I had completed all of the necessary courses. Besides, at 1983's juncture in my upbringing, I did not know what I wanted to do with regard to career and was in any case content then to live for the moment, enjoying what my life was providing, which was already tremendously fulfilling, and could be even more so with Space: 1999 within a dedicated grasp. My only concerns, really, were my friends, having a vast amount of good times with them, indulging my yen for playing baseball and other games at which I was now winning far more frequently than I had ever thought possible, and amassing a videotape collection of virtually every imaginative entertainment that I craved to own. What was to prove to be my best summer in all of those regards was only just beginning, and I was resolved not to allow school or worry about post-secondary education or future in the work force to spoil the superlative mornings, afternoons, and evenings of that time in my life.
A similar though not as drastic decline in my performance at school happened toward the end of Grade 12 in 1984, too, and for much the same reasons: appealing outside-of-school events in my life, with the school year being too long for me to sustain the commitment of time and thought needed to attain fairly high marks in high school subjects. Even French, which I had aced for many years, saw a distinct slide in my graded performance. Plethora of specific circumstances for using particular verb tenses had me rather tasked to stay anywhere near exhaustively knowledgeable and consistently fluent. And mathematically oriented schoolwork was, sadly, alienating me with increasing effect. Once the pleasant weather was upon us and my younger friends were outdoors in our neighbourhood, playing the games from which I could not bear- by my own decision or otherwise- to be excluded, there was no way that I could cloister myself away, my face buried in textbook facts, equations, or verb tense contingencies. In university, with winter-spring semesters more reasonably ending in early April, and final examinations being completed before start of May, plus the learning environment being less clinical and courses not being the same on every day of each week (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday being different from Tuesday and Thursday) and each student being given more academic freedom to choose fields of study and term paper topics- and apply and pace themselves on their own initiative, I was to prove my mettle as a proficient scholar, with end-of-year grades of which I could be rather proud. My university grades were consistently on the upper side of 75 percent, and I was actually on the Dean's List in senior year. High school, however, a regimented, daily unvarying place of learning, was much, much more difficult to condition myself toward an always highly evaluated performance (even after badgering by my peers was behind me), and the far too long year not helping matters. And, true, I was still on the younger side of the most definitive age (18) of maturity- and quite so in my personality.
Plus, as I say, I had not even the vaguest idea what I profession wished to have in my adult life, and with present non-scholastic activities fully occupying my ardent attention, even the remotest keenness to conceive a cogent plan for my future simply was non-existent. I had in any case been dealt some rather crushing disappointments to some long-held aims for my adult life.
Starting with my intensive interest in outer space in Grade 4 and enduring through all of the oppression of Grades 6 to 9 in Fredericton was my wish to have a career in some way directed toward the galaxies above. But Grade 11 Physics (which I perhaps wrongly opted to study in Grade 10) quashed any such dream. An unreliable calculator, a disagreeable teacher, Miss Richards, peers who somehow excelled where I did not, a distaste for algebra, and a failing grade in the first semester disenchanted me from the practicum needed to be a space scientist. Though I managed to "squeak by" with a 50 percent final grade, I was utterly discouraged. I did undertake Grade 12 Physics in Grade 12, had a far superior teacher, Mr. Demerson, and attained a 78 percent average, but I was no longer as keen on being a scientist as I had been in younger years. I still was fascinated by space, but on a theoretical or speculative level, not a mathematical one. I was also a rather insecure Chemistry student, whose grade marks in that subject, though somewhat better than in Physics, still did not give to me cause to claim mastery with the course material. I was an abysmal failure at Computer Education (a.k.a. Computer Programming) in Grade 12. Of course, computers then (1983-4) were nowhere as user-friendly as they are today. But at the time, my performance in all fields of science left to me no cause for optimism that I could handle them at the university level. I seemed to fare better for most of each school year with languages (English and French) and the humanities (at that time only History). In any event, a lack of a distinct direction toward which for me to combine interests and academic strengths was of a certainty not incentive to immerse myself above all else in schoolwork. I cited that as a major reason for my flagging involvement with my studies, along with the two largely school-less weeks in May and the difficulty in readjusting myself to school for the remainder of the semester.
Hence, my mother prodded me to submit to the supposed expertise of guidance counsellors. My pledge to cooperate fully with anyone with whom she arranged to have me consult and to try better to maintain an at least 70-percent average grading in the coming school year was sufficient for my mother- and my father- not to harangue me any further about my Grade 11 final report card. And thus was I permitted to partake in and enjoy the summer of 1983 to the utmost extent, to seek whatever means I could for benefiting from every promising development, including that concerning Space: 1999, in my by that time highly active and enjoyable life.
The summer of 1983 began with the scorching hot Wednesday that I brought into videotape ownership Superman II and THE LOONEY TUNES VIDEO SHOW 1. Now, practically everything of lofty esteem from my earlier childhood was in some aspect in my personal videocassette library. All but Space: 1999. At the very least, I wanted to possess one episode of my most favourite television programme, and to that end I appealed successfully to my parents for us to spend the weekend of June 25-26, 1983 in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where I believed that I would have access to either CBHT (CBC Halifax) or CBCT (CBC Charlottetown) and thence to Sunday's noontime telecast of Space: 1999, whose episode that TV Guide magazine had synopsised was to be "Force of Life". The synopsis said, "Burned-out equipment and frozen corpses lie in the wake of a technician (Ian McShane) whose body has been invaded by a mysterious force." Exact words. Yes, I remember the exact words.
We ventured by car to Amherst on the intermittently cloudy Saturday and chose our lodging at the Wandlyn Inn situated along the Trans-Canada Highway's passage by Amherst's outskirts. Amherst is a rather modest-sized town a short distance from Nova Scotia's border with New Brunswick. It had not occurred to me that Amherst's cable television service might not be of highest level of quality, to say nothing of that within the Wandlyn Inn whose cable television feeds could be old and unreliable. I was so very desperate for opportunity to videotape Space: 1999 that such considerations did not enter my head, and Amherst was in any case as far into Nova Scotia as my mother and father would agree that weekend to go. Suffice it to say that the McCorry mission to Amherst was a disaster, though the promise on our arrival at the hotel was palpable, for Amherst Cablevision offered not one but two of the CBC television stations, CBHT and CBCT, that were showing Space: 1999. Same programming on the two of them for the most part, as they were fully part of a CBC Maritimes mini-network to which CHSJ was only a peripheral member. To my disappointment, I found that CBHT's picture quality in Amherst was compromised by copious, pronounced ripples of picture interference, while CBCT had an interference-free but grainier reception. But the audio-visual results would be passable, as long as they did not worsen. When I connected the cable television output to my videocassette recorder, however, I found that I had to wrestle with the ropey wire to arrive at a standard of sound and picture that approximated that of direct cable connection into the Wandlyn's television.
We had had to settle for a one-bed room, meaning that I would have to sleep on the floor. I did not sleep comfortably, or sleep much at all, on the hotel room carpet that Saturday night, and a walk around the hotel early in the morning after breakfast did little to help me to relax.
As I nervously sat through a news telecast and the episode of Gunsmoke at 11 A.M. that preceded Space: 1999 at noon, the CBCT signal became snowier and snowier, to my aggrieved distress and sheer panic as I struggled with the cable television R-F connection. CBHT was interference-riddled, and had now become white-noisy too; it was not a suitable alternative option. During Gunsmoke there was an advertisement for Space: 1999, showing a specially assembled montage of scenes from "Force of Life" (including Commander Koenig's alerting of all sections Moonbase Alpha to Anton Zoref's highly dangerous condition and his saying, "Zoref, come away from there," at the climactic confrontation with the heat-draining technician at the Nuclear Generating Area doors), and the CBC announcer even identified the episode title to the exciting Space: 1999 that was "coming up next". Less than five minutes before the moment of truth, I had, I thought, stabilised the picture and sound on CBCT to a grainy but, under these difficult circumstances, tolerable aspect. For its television station identification, CBCT announced coverage in weeks to come of a Royal visit (by Prince Charles and Princess Diana) to Prince Edward Island, before the first images of the "Force of Life" episode flashed before me. I could not muster a sigh of relief, for I was nowhere near "out of the woods" as yet.
Prologue and credit sequence. No deterioration in audio-video signal directed into my videocassette recorder. Two-minute pause of television programme for commercials, including one for Graves apple juices. Start of the first episodic act, the title, "Force of Life", seen in its glory. Entire first act goes past without an intolerable hitch, although I did detect a growing, troubling incidence of sporadic audio flak. Second commercial interval after Anton Zoref has frozen his colleague, Mark Dominix. A promotional 30-second announcement for CBC Radio and for an interview thereon during that Sunday's afternoon with actress Ally Sheedy, "star of this summer's hit movie, War Games" (a motion picture title that had a quite recognisable resemblance to that of a Space: 1999 episode) and a few 30-second product advertisements- throughout which the quality of audio-visual reception declined quite profusely. By the time that the events of "Force of Life" resumed for the second act, there was snow everywhere, and not caused by the frosty, heat-syphoning condition of the Moonbase Alphan technician in the episode. Sound was corrupted by the loud, fizzy hiss known to accompany poorly received video. Even the colour was gone from the picture. Try as I did, I could not rehabilitate the weakening incoming-to-videotape-machine audio-visual electronic impulse. Fretting vehemently in defeated frustration, I consented to my parents' recommendation for an early departure, i.e. in advance of 1 P.M., from the hotel.
We were on the road for home by half-past-twelve o'clock that sunny afternoon, passing along a stretch of land on which was situated a chain of transmitter towers (how ironic, if they had anything to do with CBC broadcast signals!), as I thought about the episode of Space: 1999 that was lost to me. While our car was moving speedily and putting the towers behind us, my mind was recalling me to the heartbeat sound effect accompanying the sensation of coldness experienced by Anton Zoref in "Force of Life" before the alien force within him drains heat from something or someone, while I was ruminating about the likelihood, or the seeming lack thereof, of my ever possessing that "cool" Space: 1999 episode in full, with acceptable picture and sound.
And I dreaded having to report to Tony and others after my arrival back in Fredericton about my failure to procure at least one Space: 1999 episode on videotape. The most that I could do was watch with them the sixteen minutes of "Force of Life" that had been somewhat agreeably enregistered on my videocassette, though even those were of sub-par quality.
But this was 1983. Frustration would not be the ultimate outcome in any pursuit, Space: 1999 included. Dejection over the fruitless journey to Amherst rapidly converted to ever more potent conviction toward achieving my goal of having Space: 1999. Somehow, some way, I would gain a videotape-recording foothold in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island in a large urban centre with superior cable television reception. On one of the last days of June, I was seized with a quite (if I may say so myself) ingenious inspiration. The videotape rental store at the York Plaza, Video Home Entertainment Centre, was part of a chain of same-name businesses, with outlets through Atlantic Canada. I knew this because every location of a Video Home Entertainment Centre was listed on the transaction receipts of my local dealer in that group of enterprises- and I did hence discover that there was a Video Home Entertainment Centre branch on the Wyse Road in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Eureka!
With scarcely a moment's delay, I was at the cashier's desk at the York Plaza Video Home Entertainment Centre, delineating in elaborate, fluent detail what I would like to be done. It was quite remarkable for someone as traditionally diffident and insecure at approaching people as I, to be so assertive, so forthright. But I was desperate. I had to have Space: 1999 on videotape. I just had to! Gesticulating and passionately varying vocal pitch as I spoke, I explained the situation as best I could and offered to buy a Scotch brand blank videotape from the Dartmouth outlet of this expansive Atlantic Canada business, and to pay an employee there for his or her time and effort in videotaping Space: 1999 from CBHT (on Dartmouth Cablevision on Channel 11) on Sundays at noon. The woman in the Fredericton store probably thought I was some kind of neurotic nincompoop going bonkers over some obscure television show about space in a future year that could only be viewed in eastern-Maritime Canada outside of New Brunswick. But she did as I asked and telephoned the Dartmouth Video Home Entertainment Centre and relayed to the assistant manager there the proposal that I had made. To my astonishment, there evidently was agreement, and I was instructed to visit my local Video Home Entertainment Centre on the coming Monday to receive a report on the outcome of the Space: 1999 videotaping attempt. The episode scheduled for the Sunday ahead of us, that of July 3, was, as printed in TV Guide's eastern-Maritime Provinces edition, "Alpha Child". Logical, for it had been shown after "Force of Life" in sequence of CBC English broadcast in 1977 and 1978.
Could this be true? Might I have really secured a means of attaining videotape-recordings of Space: 1999 from CBHT? And if so, was I too late for obtaining my most sought episode of the television series, it being the one with the one-eyed, people-eating, octopod monster? I did not know as yet how long the CBC television stations in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had been again showing the Alpha Lunar scientific colony's deep-spatial odyssey, i.e. how far along in a particular sequence of episodes that these CBC telecasting operations now were, or if "Dragon's Domain" had already been aired on this rerun of the television series.
The warmest weather season of 1983 was being branded "sequel summer" by entertainment commentators on television news programmes, and it was terminology not without foundation, for the third movie in the Star Wars trilogy was in the process of presentation to adoring crowds at the cineplexes of populous municipalities, and in addition to that were Superman III, Jaws III, and rival James Bond movies, Octopussy and Never Say Never Again, the former being the thirteenth in Eon Films' series of movies about the suave but potentially deadly British secret agent. I had little inclination to spend my money on movie theatre tickets by this time, preferring to invest in tangible holdings of cinematic and televised works of imagination, i.e. those on the videotape medium. Still, I splurged enough for an afternoon at the Plaza Cinemas to see the much-hailed third chapter in George Lucas' space saga. For some bizarre reason that continues to escape me, Return of the Jedi did not open in theatres in my part of the North American land mass until more than a month after its May 21 date of release in the United States. In Fredericton, first performance of Lucasfilm's latest spectacle of a galaxy far, far away was a matinee on July 1, 1983. Canada Day holiday. A sunny, warm Friday.
My father transported me by car up the Fredericton South hill to the mall area of our city, where the Plaza Cinemas were located, at 11:30 A.M.. He then returned home, and by myself I had lunch at the Burger King restaurant in the vicinity of the destination movie-viewing place. A chicken sandwich and French fries, with Coca-Cola to drink. As I ate my near-midday meal, I periodically looked out of the fast food establishment's windows to observe the Plaza Cinemas parking lot and main entrance, expecting to witness a rapidly growing queue of eager Star Wars fans. I was surprised, however, to see little, if any, presence on site. Nevertheless, I hurried to devour food and beverage and depart Burger King for the Plaza Cinemas before a large group of people might descend upon the entry way of Fredericton South's then only movie theatres (augmented from two to four cinema screens after extensive renovations to the structure in 1982-3).
For the opening day of the latest Star Wars movie in Fredericton, it seemed inconceivable that on my approach to the cinema building, I would discover so sparse an assemblage of prospective patrons. A mere 30 minutes before the doors were to be opened to admit customers, the Plaza Cinemas had at its glassy, metal-rimmed "gates" just a small number of teenagers, four at the most, seated on the pavement beneath the archway leading to the portals to the palace of imaginative entertainment. They were an uncommonly (for Fredericton) friendly set of associated persons, sharing with me one of the Tim Horton's doughnuts that they had bought to eat during their wait for theatre admittance and talking about their insistent intention to at long last see Return of the Jedi and not any of the other attractions (including Superman III) at the other three theatres in the Plaza Cinema composite. Our theatre customer number had not expanded by much by 12:30, and there was not a line, but a scattering, of people ready to walk into the ticket-selling area. By sheer luck, I happened to be positioned at the particular door, of the total five, that was opened first, and thus was I the initial entrant to the Plaza Cinemas for Return of the Jedi's premiere screening in the city of Fredericton.
However, I was less excited about the pending viewing experience as I sat with popcorn and soft drink in my seat squarely in the centre of the Plaza Cinema 1, than was the slowly increasing number of fellow theatre customers. I would this occasion be without friend by my side. I had not felt comfortable approaching Joey to come to see the movie with me, fearful that he would devastate me by replying in the negative. It was Canada Day, and Joey may have had other plans, if he was in Fredericton on that three-day weekend. Tony had departed Fredericton with his brother and parents for a long-weekend's visit to Fundy National Park in New Brunswick's southeast, and besides, I would not have asked Tony to join me without having first extended invitation to Joey. Also, I knew all about Return of the Jedi from the many printed and televised reviews of it in the past month and all of the publicity surrounding its new, rather bland "teddy bear" heroes. I knew that Han Solo was to be rescued from Jabba the Hutt, that Luke Skywalker would confront Darth Vader again in lightsabre combat and this time be the dominant party, and that the Rebels would emerge victorious over the evil Empire after another battle against a Death Star, with a forest habitat being strategic in the climactic clash of opposing forces. I found the scenario of the movie to be rather less engaging in story and settings than that of The Empire Strikes Back and was not anticipating quite the same fabulous experience. Still, I did enjoy an ample serving of pacey, outer-space "eye candy" and looked forward to a somewhat satisfying resolution to conflicts and mysteries that had been presented in the first two Star Wars films.
The curtain rose to reveal the Star Wars movie series' trademark opening text scroll, followed by a deliciously sinister meeting in the new Death Star's landing bay between Darth Vader and the Emperor. My mind wandered quite promptly in the showing of the movie, almost immediately at the sight of See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo perambulating on the arid landscape of planet Tatooine, and Space: 1999 quite soon and inevitably entered my head. How could it not as I beheld a tentacle grabbing See-Threepio, and Jabba the Hutt, a huge, repulsive creature eating live and sentient beings? Yes, I was thinking again about CBHT, about Dartmouth, about attaining videotaped episodes of my favourite television show, and about whether I may yet have chance of possessing videocassette-recording of the "Dragon's Domain" episode specifically.
Which is not to say that my July 1, 1983 viewing of Return of the Jedi is not in its own right exquisitely evoking of gratifying sentiment. It was my only movie theatre attendance of that wonderful year, and so much about George Lucas' third contribution in his Star Wars oeuvre recalls me to the experience, the feel, of sitting in that cinema at that excellent time in my life, when best friendship from my chosen best pal could be depended upon quite soon, when I was at probably the peak of physical prowess (becoming at last as high in stature as many of my peers) and proficiency at the sports and other games of my choosing was developing admirably, and when I was about to score a stupendous triumph in my quest for the holiest of Holy Grails. All I need to do is watch Return of the Jedi to recapture the sense of living in those most splendid days, and there were several scenes in the movie that are particularly effective in this respect. Of course, I remember the young people in Plaza Cinema 1 exclaiming, "Awesome!" and "Wicked!" with delighted amazement during the famous speeder bicycle chase in the Endor woodland and me agreeing with them as to the adrenalin-energising effectiveness of that section of the movie. More affecting for me were Yoda's death in his bed and his body disappearing before Luke's eyes and, later, Vader saving Luke's life from the Emperor's emitted bolts of excruciating pain-inducing lightning. Those scenes had me truly goosebumped and misty-eyed, for the music in them stirred my soul. Really, it did. And hearing the music again calls forth the feel of sitting in that theatre on a 1983 afternoon. An afternoon at the start of the best summer that I was ever to have. Return of the Jedi constitutes one of my fondest ever retrospectively regarded times in a movie theatre, despite my seeing said motion picture without a buddy beside me and the overall impression of the flashy clash of diametrically opposing forces- and the people for whom I was rooting having the assistance of those cute, furry Ewoks- being a tad (just a tad) on the disappointing side and there being a something of a "damp squib" aspect to the future of the heroes at the conclusion of their life-or-death struggle- and my mind being somewhat preoccupied with something quite external to the movie-viewing process.
When the climax, denouement, and conclusion of the movie finished on that Canada Day afternoon, I stayed seated in the theatre for a gander at the credit roll. I did not see a single name of Space: 1999 connection anywhere in the cast of supporting characters. Then, as I exited the Plaza Cinemas structure and squinted in the approximate 4 P.M. daylight, I thought to myself, "Well, that's that. That's the end of the Star Wars story and the last new movie that I will ever see with those characters in that universe. Oh, well." Thinking further about Space: 1999's run on Sundays in Nova Scotia and of whether I had found someone in the Dartmouth-Halifax area to videotape episodes- and hopefully eventually "Dragon's Domain"- from CBC Halifax's broadcasts, I walked off of the Plaza Cinema grounds, down the walkway past the nearby K-Mart department store then down the lawn behind K-Mart onto Priestman Street, across Priestman to the top of York Street, and all the way down the lofty incline of York. It being a national holiday with no Fredericton Transit service in operation, I was walking the full distance from the Plaza Cinemas to my Fredericton North home. But I was happy to walk. It was a beautiful summer day. Sunny but not very hot. A slight breeze blew from the west as I walked York Street, down the hill, past the Hartt Shoe building near the base of the hill, beyond the downtown King's Place building, and onto the Westmorland Street bridge. I thought of Space: 1999, of what I could hope for in the weeks to come. And I did spare a mental reference or two toward the redemption that I had seen in Return of the Jedi of one Anakin Skywalker in the midst of some indeed spectacular space battle special effects and emotive acting and symphonic melodies, that I knew would altogether appeal to my friends when they had occasion to see the movie.
If only Joey could have been with me that day! It would have enhanced the experience immensely. I would not have been quite as disposed to a periodic drifting of thought to a television show's return to airwaves in a neighbouring province. Who knows? I might have enjoyed Return of the Jedi as much as I did The Empire Strikes Back. But looking back upon that day as it was, how I envy myself! There I was, seventeen years-old and full of life, with enough energy to walk home from atop the Fredericton South hill no doubt three times, and with the best summer of all time directly ahead of me. The summer of 1983. If only I could go back! Such is the kind of feeling that comes from seeing Return of the Jedi. A very tender reminder of what it was like at the beginning of that quite ideal summer.
On Monday, July 4, Tony and his family returned to Fredericton from their travels in New Brunswick's southeast, and to my astonishment, Tony said while chatting with me in his backyard as a baseball game was in the process of being arranged, that while staying in a cabin at a lodge in Fundy National Park, he and his brother and his parents had been able to view CBHT's Sunday, July 3 broadcast of the "Alpha Child" episode of Space: 1999. I asked what the picture and sound quality was like, and he said that for a rabbit-ear receiver attached to the television set, the audio-visual results had been quite good. "It figures. It figures!" I muttered to myself, my fiasco in Amherst still very fresh in my mind. Steven spoke highly of the episode with "the kid", and Tony, having previously seen "Alpha Child" on its September, 1979 CBC French broadcast, expressed renewed approval of that particular entry in the television series, in particular its concept and techniques of direction in portraying the concept.
So, that was "Force of Life" followed a week later by "Alpha Child". During the full-CBC-Television-network telecast of Space: 1999's first season in 1977-8, "Alpha Child" had come after "Force of Life" twice, i.e. during first run and during rerun. If such was indicative of the same order of transmission for the Season One episodes to be presented on CBHT this time, then I could breathe easy, for "Dragon's Domain" would not as yet have been aired. The next episode after "Alpha Child" would be "Another Time, Another Place", and then "Black Sun" and after that, it would be one-eyed, people-eating tentacled monster time.
However, when I walked to the Pic N' Puff store on the afternoon of Monday, July 4 to see the TV Guide listing for Space: 1999 to be broadcast on Sunday, July 10 in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, I was surprised not to find a printed short summary for "Another Time, Another Place", but rather one for "Guardian of Piri". Now, what, I asked myself, was that about? It meant, of course, that the CBC English episode broadcast sequence of 1977-8 was not now being replicated. CBHT (and the other pertinent CBC television stations) were following some different order for telecasting the component stories of Space: 1999. I felt a deep pit form in my stomach when I came to the realisation, during my walk back to home from the Pic N' Puff, that "Guardian of Piri" came after "Alpha Child" (which itself followed "Force of Life") in the Space: 1999 episode guide in Starlog magazine's second issue. If CBHT was screening the episodes in accordance with what was printed in Starlog (i.e. the order of transmission of Space: 1999 in New York City in 1975-6, which may have been on the directive or recommendation of Space: 1999's distributor, ITC Entertainment), then "Dragon's Domain", the number two episode in that particular sequence, would already have been aired on this regional CBC run of my most preferred television series. In May or in early-to-mid-June. I felt decidedly discouraged by this. But still, I wanted Space: 1999. Whatever episodes remained to be telecast, I was determined to bring them into my videotape collection.
I presume that "Guardian of Piri" was shown as scheduled on the tenth of July. On the Monday thereafter, I was at my local Video Home Entertainment Centre requesting news of the videotaping of Space: 1999 for me. If what I had been led to believe was correct, there should have been a videotape with "Alpha Child" from July 3 and "Guardian of Piri" from July 10 on it, ready for dispatch to me at my request. But when the woman at the Fredericton Video Home Entertainment Centre telephoned her colleague(s) in Dartmouth on the matter of CBHT, Space: 1999, and videotaping of my desired television show, word was that nobody had done the job on either of the two specified Sundays, and that no progress, none whatsoever, had been achieved in my quest. The Fredericton Video Home Entertainment Centre manager gave to me the long-distance telephone number of the Dartmouth facility in that chain of stores, and recommended that I deal directly, on my home telephone, with persons down in Dartmouth.
I found that a British Open golf telecast was going to preempt Space: 1999 on CBHT (and the other relevant CBC television stations) on July 17, which gave to me some additional time with which to work toward bringing about an effective contact with someone in the Halifax-Dartmouth area for videotape-recording Space: 1999 on its resumption of telecast, presumably on Sunday, July 24. The video store clerk idea offered still the only really feasible approach open to me, and the telephone number provided by the lady at Fredericton Video Home Entertainment Centre for said business' Dartmouth location was all that I had, really, with which to proceed. I was extremely tense on the morning that I made that so very essential telephone call. Nervous that I might not be tactful or coherent enough in asking for help. Fearing of a brusque, out and out rebuff. Concerned that I may not sufficiently explain the situation and what was needed to be done. But I absolutely had to go ahead. I dialled the telephone number and outlined to the female store staffer who answered the telephone all of the particulars about CBC Television in the eastern-Maritime provinces, how Space: 1999 was only being broadcast in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, what day and time that it was being aired, and that all episodes were an hour in length. I was encouraged and edified by how understanding and obliging she was, and my offer to buy a blank videotape from her store for use in the videocassette-recording procedure and pay her a few dollars per episode was cheerfully agreed upon. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the telephone conversation had been concluded with evident success.
Plans were for certain established for the videotaping from CBHT on Dartmouth Cablevision Channel 11 of the Space: 1999 episode to be broadcast on Sunday, July 24, 1983 at 12 P.M.. While at the Cigs N' Things newsstand and variety store in Fredericton South's King's Place shopping mall on sunny Monday, July 18, I saw that TV Guide's synopsis for the episode to be shown on July 24 on CBHT was that for "Mission of the Darians". Ah, yes. Starlog's episode guide had "Mission of the Darians" pegged at being in sequence two places after "Guardian of Piri", with "Earthbound" in between them. If CBHT had skipped "Earthbound" as a result of Space: 1999's preemption for the British Open on July 17, then "Mission of the Darians" would be the logical next episode. And from this was it all the more apparent that the printed-in-Starlog order of episodes had somehow been coopted into the run of Space: 1999 on CBHT, 1983, with "Dragon's Domain" having been telecast on CBHT some weeks before I became aware of the return of Space: 1999 to places in Canada's eastern Maritime provinces.
But "Mission of the Darians" was an excellent episode in its own right, and it seemed to me to be more than adequately suitable to be the first sample of Space: 1999 greatness to join my collection of entertainment on videocassette. On my telephone call of Monday, July 25 to Video Home Entertainment Centre in Dartmouth, the Space: 1999 episode that aired on CBHT on Sunday, July 24 was confirmed as having been recorded in full on the Scotch brand videotape that I had pledged to buy, and not wishing to wait until that videotape had been filled with a further episode at Standard Play mode, I asked that it be sent to me as soon as possible, which it was, on the afternoon of that very day. My time period of readiness and expectation was excruciatingly long. So long that I became despairing that fate had interceded against me yet again, to thwart my aim to own on videotape some portion of Space: 1999. The entirety of the last week of July passed with no delivery of the videotape I craved to have and to hold and to watch with utmost zeal.
It helped, definitely, that I had the company of friends, especially Joey, and that so much was happening on my street on many a summer day. The passage of so much time in wait of my acquisition's arrival did not seem quite so gruelling when Joey was with me. On days when he was not, I had baseball games, nearly all of them on the flat part of Linden Crescent where my house was situated, with which to focus attention, and as long as I was pitcher and therefore concentrating constantly on the mechanics of the game, my mind was less inclined to drift to chaffing about my videotape potentially falling into some abyss during transit by Canada Post. I would not have been quite as constantly dedicated mentally to baseball procedure had I been in "outfield" position.
Plus, I now had a challenge to overcome in the playing of baseball, as Linden Crescent had become the temporary (6-month) home of a trio of Australian brothers, who, with their parents, were staying in a Linden Crescent West house while that dwelling's owners were enjoying a half-year sabbatical in the land down-under. The arrival on the Crescent Linden of the "Aussies", named Paul, Nicky, and Lyle, had meant for Craig additional recruits for neighbourhood games of baseball, but for me an unwelcome and irritating problem, in that team configurations and dynamic of play were altered. I now had these Australians, who were of less than reliable ability to effectively connect swinging bat with pitched ball, on my team, and thus were my winning ways subverted for awhile, as I tried, my vexation evident, to adjust to different distribution of game players. Even more annoyingly, the eldest boy in this foreign threesome, Paul, spared little in the way of depreciating comments and general heckling where I was concerned. My dislike for him grew incrementally from one baseball game to the next, peaking with the afternoon in late July when he was retired on three pitches and angrily threw my metal bat as he walked away from manhole-cover-home-plate. The bat skidded along the street pavement and hit a stone- and up it suddenly went over the curb to hit me in the shins. God help me, I loathed Paul. I could not abide his presence. And yet, Craig insisted on including those three Australians in every game, while Kelly (who had emerged back into the baseball game fray by this time) and Paul were infatuated with each other and would not separate under any circumstances. Craig would not have either Kelly or Paul or Paul's brothers on his team (not if he had others with whom to form a team), thus lumbering me with each and every one of them. Nevertheless, I soon arrived at a mastery of these new conditions, and was winning again much more often than not, and it helped that I successfully insisted on the addition to my team of one or more power hitters (Philip or sometimes Tony) to counter the weakness at bat of the "Aussies", and while being pitcher of positive decision (and I would no longer agree to play with Kelly on my team unless I was pitcher), I was impervious to Paul's barbs and taunts. This was especially so for most of August, when I was really "riding high" on a wave of exalted success in all areas of my life.
July of 1983 was a month of near daily playing of baseball and other sports (like badminton, minus my net, which had not been re-installed that summer in my backyard) or fun games. During one of the on-street contests of ball and bat, a former teacher of mine who lived directly across Linden Crescent South from my home, said that he had heard that I had been first theatre customer in the doors for the Fredericton premiere of Return of the Jedi. From whom he had been privy to that information I did not know, but it was really quite pleasing that I was the subject of positive conversation within my neighbourhood. On a rainy Tuesday, July 5, Joey and I spent the afternoon together in my television room, playing a variety of games inspired by television's The Price is Right, including an improvised "shell game" using old magazines with a piece of paper placed underneath one of them. We then watched the Spiderman instalment, "The Sky is Falling"/"Captured By J. Jonah Jameson", on CHSJ-TV at 4:30. I remember thinking of my very enjoyable afternoon with Joey as I by myself viewed part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on television in the evening of the following day. Joey was away to his family summer camp periodically through July; however, his prompt telephone calls or appearances at my door upon his return home from each of his travels to wilderness site, maintained a continuity of close friendship for us. Most memorably, on the weekend of July 23-24, Joey and I went forth into our Nashwaaksis surroundings with lawn mower, additional yard work gear, and hopes for some hiring of our services, sadly attaining no grass cutting work (I had yet to conceive of the superior business strategy of customers coming to us rather than vice versa) but staying together for many hours and planning and proceeding, on Joey's suggestion, with an enacted play in my basement, with me in the role of a Jekyll-and-Hyde, split-personality killer wearing Joey's Halloween mask. Joey was indeed very gratified to be able to join with me as my co-performer on a makeshift stage, rather than merely watching the mise-en-scene from the spectator seating area. We rehearsed and then portrayed our theatrical play for all comers early in the afternoon of Sunday, July 24 (while, a Canadian province away, the first of my Space: 1999 episode videotape-recordings was in process of glorious achievement).
The revival of the idea of a cellar theatre for acting gave to me quite the inspiration. If I had practically no chance of having the "Dragon's Domain" Space: 1999 episode on a videotape- as circumstances then appeared, the least I could do would be to bring a thespian version of the ghastly "Dragon's Domain" story to interested persons of my community. I was one afternoon labouring on cutting from cardboard boxes a model monoid octopus, with movable tentacles, to use as the central prop for the intended dramatic and ghoulish "stage" production when I had a series of basement visitors, all of them enquiring as to what in blazes I was doing. The "Dragon's Domain" basement theatre play never became reality, as providence would eventually decree, for such a means of bringing the latter-day tale of "St. George and the Dragon" to the beholding eyes of friends and cohorts, was to be more than a mite redundant.
The baseball contests and other activities amid the Linden Crescent street and homes. Joey's cherished assistance and boon companionship- including his statement of his esteem for me as a good friend in the immediate wake of our July 24 cellar theatre play. The airing of Carl Sagan's Cosmos science documentary television series on MPBN (PBS television network's Maine affiliate) at noon on Sundays (yes, the same airtime as Space: 1999's in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island)- a documentary television series of which I was videotaping select episodes, including "Who Speaks For Earth?" that had passages of Adagio in G-Minor (music that was known and appreciated by me because of its use in Space: 1999's "Dragon's Domain") and a solemn and quite riveting discussion by Dr. Sagan on man's potential for knowledge-expanding migration into the universe versus our species' inclination toward self-destruction in nuclear war. All of these enjoyed, gratifying, or fascinating experiences were altogether not a full distraction from my acquisitive impulse's chief focus of nervous, prone-to-fretting energy. None of the neighbourhood events of the last week of July and first week of August did keep me from growing intensely anxious about the excessive number of days that were passing with still no arrival at my mailbox of the Dartmouth Video Home Entertainment Centre parcel. And I remained doggedly mindful of my tradition of frustration where Space: 1999 was concerned. The Halifax-Dartmouth area of Nova Scotia was 6 hours away by car- or by Canada Post van. Why should a package mailed in Dartmouth on Monday, July 25 still not be in my clutches nine days later, on Wednesday, August 3? Nobody could furnish any credible explanation other than the most intuitive one from me, that the package was lost. The brutally defeating curse of my love for Space: 1999, yet again.
On Monday, August 1, Tony and Steven were back in Fredericton after a Nova Scotia vacation highlighted by a stay in Halifax. Of course, their vacation destination meant that they had another golden opportunity to see Space: 1999 on CBHT. Preceding an August 1 baseball game on the street in front of my house, Tony, having just returned home that day from Nova Scotia, mentioned having watched "Mission of the Darians" while in Halifax. But on Sunday, July 31, to be precise, not on Sunday, July 24. TV Guide magazine was therefore mistaken in having printed a synopsis for "Black Sun" under listing for Space: 1999 on July 31, and had probably also been incorrect about "Mission of the Darians" being telecast on CBHT on July 24. Whatever that July 24 episode was that had been magnetically imprinted onto the spool of my overdue first videotape from Dartmouth, it could not be "Mission of the Darians", unless CBHT was in practice of doing same-episode broadcast on two consecutive weeks, and that was quite unlikely. "Earthbound", I surmised, was what must have been shown on July 24 and what was on that videotape for whose insertion into my mailbox I was becoming desperately and despondently impatient. Tony spoke with approval of "Mission of the Darians", which he had seen for the first time, though he referred to some rather dubious rippling-line picture reception, which gave to me some cause for concern, as my Dartmouth videotaping contact had told me earlier that very day that the July 31 episode was now on the second Scotch videocassette intended for full Space: 1999 content and then for dispatch to me. I prayed that the visual quality would meet my specifications.
But I had yet to witness the safe delivery of the first videotape. It was utter torment to hear Tony's account of having viewed a second Space: 1999 episode in a month, and my angst about the Space: 1999 videotape pursuit was starting to become socially debilitating. Joey and I met on our street on the evening of Tuesday, August 2, came to my house, and sat in my basement to talk about horror movies and disturbing television shows, among other things, before arranging to join each other on the next morning to tenaciously try again our grass mowing enterprise. We sat in my den/television room watching a 8:30 P.M. WKRP in Cincinnati telecast before parting company for the evening. Next day, August 3, I had a sudden surge of excitement as a white Special-Delivery Canada Post van was seen coming in the direction of my house at about 10 A.M.. This is it, I thought. At long last! But, no. The van passed by McCorry residence and parked in another Linden Crescent driveway to conduct its business there before going up the street and out of sight from my yard. My heart sank a metre as I succumbed fully to despairing disappointment. I was in no condition for rebuff by persons whom Joey and I would approach for lawn work, and would not be able to contain my plaintive and ill-tempered sorrow over the seemingly somewhere mislaid and forever unattainable videotape. In my unpleasant state of mind, I thought that I would be poor company indeed, and declined to meet Joey at his place at the appointed 10:30 A.M.. He came to my house promptly after lunch, insistent upon an explanation for my perplexing conduct. I had calmed by then and was truly sorry for the morning, but was rather inept in stating my reason, truthful though as it was, for my failure to unite with him for lawn cutting. He was distinctly annoyed, and rightfully so, by my less than dependable behaviour and by my feeble account of my morning's lapse. But Joey did not appear to be resentful, and we spent that afternoon in my basement, soon to be joined by Kelly and the Australian boys. Our group proceeded to play a hodge-podge of indoor games before those other people left and Joey and I went to the Pic N' Puff store for me to buy my father's newspaper, and then at 4:30 P.M., Joey and I together watched Spiderman on CHSJ in my television room, and the episode of the day was "To Cage a Spider", the one in which Spidey is imprisoned after being found laying unconscious on a Manhattan street as a result of a fall.
Joey and I seemed to be on quite amiable terms when we separated for the evening, but on the day to follow, Thursday, August 4, 1983, Joey's diminished regard for me was certain, though I was characteristically dense in connecting his disfavour for me with my faltering of the day before. He came to my door at around 10 A.M. that partly cloudy Thursday morning and was in the company of Andrew, one of his same-age chums and one of my most regular videotape show attendees. I will say rather more about Andrew later. Andrew did most of the talking as Joey was cold-shouldering me, saying only a few curt remarks by times and being unresponsive to anything I said, and staying closer to and more heedful of Andrew. I had scant sway in Joey's choice of foremost companion on that particular day (and I cannot say that I blame him for that, for I deserved rebuking for my having disappointed him on the A.M. of August 3). I ceded to Andrew's recommendation that we three watch my videotape of Walt Disney Productions' The Black Hole, and during the process of that, Joey sat close to Andrew, with me relegated to the background. I can see now that Joey was vexed with me for the previous morning rather more than had been apparent the day before. He and Andrew were to be inseparable for the remainder of the day, and I had no realistic hope of being with my best buddy in the afternoon. Andrew had a lock, it seemed, that day on Joey's first loyalty and premiere choice of companion. And therefore, as we were nearing the end of our viewing of Walt Disney's outer space opus of robots, heroic humans, a spaceship-ruling, obsessed scientist, and entries to heaven and hell in a collapsed star, I was puzzling over what was ahead of me for the hours to follow. Craig then telephoned me for the only time ever that he did so, asking me if I would bring my videotape record-and-playback device and my Star Wars videocassette to his house after lunch so that he and his family could view George Lucas' space battle motion picture in the videotape medium. I was quite amenable to the spending of a couple of afternoon hours at Craig's house, for I had never been permitted access therein, and all that I would do otherwise would be to stew at home alone about perpetual frustration regarding Space: 1999, feeling sorry for myself for both that and my now evidently abysmal status in Joey's social circle.
It was a pleasant experience, all in all, in Craig's finished basement, where his television room was located, as I presented Star Wars for him and for anyone (Craig's parents and older brother) who happened to come into that room that thunder-showery afternoon to survey the technological marvel that was my Panasonic videocassette machine and the magnetic-signal-enregistered reproductions of desert planet, creature Cantina, Death Star, and trench fighter spaceship combat images. I did wish throughout that afternoon that Joey could have been with me instead of being who knows where with Andrew. In the evening, our neighbourhood was alive with play of tag and hide-and-seek, and Joey and Andrew joined myself, Kelly, Craig, and the Australian boys for those games, me being still far outside of Joey's attentiveness and feeling all the worse for that as I was left to quietly lament both the seeming loss of my in-transit videotape from Dartmouth and of my best friend's favour. My mind was in turmoil, and my nemesis, Paul, the eldest Australian boy, detected weakness in me and seized the opportunity to manoeuvre me, in my distressed condition, into a zinger of a mortifying moment. Details of the embarrassment are best left unspecified. But suffice it to say that I was laughed at and left behind to alone brood over what had transpired. As Walter Cronkite would say, that was the way it was in the evening on Thursday, August 4, 1983. Kevin McCorry, deprived of his chosen best buddy, his dignity before his associates, and his hope that his fortunes surrounding Space: 1999 would ever improve.
It is always darkest before the dawn. How true that saying is!
On the morning of Friday, August 5, 1983, I was, point of fact, not in much of a glad spirit. I had abandoned hope of receiving the videotape from Dartmouth with Space: 1999 thereon; it must have been lost by Canada Post. Joey's chilly, largely oblivious disposition toward me the day before was sorely and quite deeply felt- and I had been humiliated by that annoying Paul person. All in all, it looked as though I had cause to be more than a little dreary, and the overcast weather only seemed to add to my morose mood. No telephone call from Joey in the morning. No ringing of my doorbell. No sign of any life whatsoever on my segment of Linden Crescent. My father and I watched The Edge of Night on WVII at 10:30 A.M. (the airtime for the crime-drama television serial on WVII in the summer of 1983; and with CBC's cancellation of it in autumn of 1982, mornings on WVII were now the only way to continue to follow the fight waged by the citizens of Monticello against violently lawless elements of their city), as the then-current storyline about the murder of Nicole Drake Cavanaugh was progressing to a suspenseful ending. In that day's episode, the Raven Whitney character was being spooked by a limping man lurking outside a door. A man whom she had called "metal-mouth" because he had a predilection for concealing his voice with some weird metallic apparatus. After The Edge of Night's finish at a minute or two before 11 A.M., my father left the television room for a check on the morning mail. I then heard him shout, "Kevin! There's a package here for you!" It could only be one thing! My eyes bulging, my heartbeat racing, I leaped off of the television room floor and ran down the hallway to top of our stairs, where my father handed to me a parcel clearly marked as coming from Video Home Entertainment Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I tore away the brown wrapping to see a Scotch T-120 videotape labelled, "Space: 1999: July 24, 1983". In seconds I was inserting said videocassette into my trusty piece of electronic hardware, prepared for what I felt certain would be the episode, "Earthbound". The first sights should be of the Moon and then of Commissioner Simmonds looking out of a window. But, wait a minute! That was not what I was seeing.
Indeed not, for Helena Russell was at a typewriter. A visualisation which was, I had come to know, what distinguished the commencement of the episode titled, "Dragon's Domain". This was it. This was the episode that I wanted above all others. The one that I had been so convinced that I had missed on some theoretical, unknown pre-July CBHT telecast. Evidently, I had been wrong about that. Yes! Oh, yes!
I sat there in front of my television screen for more than ten seconds in a state of sheer disbelief. This could not be real. I mean, how could one obtain the episode for which one yearns most, on the very first incoming videotape, of this hitherto ever so evasive television series? It defies probability, especially for a soul like myself who had never won anything by chance in his entire life. I had to be dreaming this. But, no. Much too vivid, much too precise to be a dream, I thought, as every little detail, every delightful little flaw in CBHT's film print of said episode was plain for me to see, whilst my father was admonishing me for my having been so lacking in faith. I was so very thankful, so extremely happy, that I must have then hit the ceiling with celebratory impulse. There was something so very refreshing, not to mention exhilarating, about being able to again experience Space: 1999 in the English language, and this occasion on an obtained videotape, no less. This was also the first time in more than five years that I had seen "Dragon's Domain" in any capacity, and indeed my first time ever to properly see that episode's prologue (on July 16, 1978, I had been rather busy scrambling to start my audiotape recorder to capture the sounds of CHSJ-TV's surprise showing of that most unnerving, most terrifying Space: 1999 television series entry). Tony Cellini was swinging his axe at an ostensible phantom presence in his living quarters, and then the opening title sequence began, with my ecstasy mounting. And despite my immeasurable glee, I sat there in that room, captivated completely, almost unbudging, for the whole episode, including the horrific monster scenes, which I was now courageous enough to watch for the very first time. Thus did I learn some new things about "Dragon's Domain", e.g. that the monster in its ethereal, spinning light aspect fully enters the Ultra Probeship and materialises into ghoulish, people-ingesting-and-regurgitating octopod shape at the back of the Probeship's Ward Room and not at the Probeship boarding hatch, and that the monster's head disappears completely, leaving only some steaming tentacles, after Koenig strikes it in its eye with Cellini's axe. During the spaceship graveyard scene at start of the second act, I did look away from my television to fully read the very nice little note that my benefactor had attached to the inside of the videotape sleeve. She said that she was happy to help me and provided instructions for remuneration by all possible payment methods, and that her name was Fonda MacDonald. On the videotape she had kindly endeavoured to edit out commercials. The edits would have to be redone by me on a second generation copy but they- and their dancing rainbow colour multi-burst effect- did not result in the omission of anything substantial. Everything in the episode, including its title and credits, that had been shown on CBHT was on that videotape. The scene at start of third act with Koenig and Bergman on pre-1999 Moonbase Alpha in private discussion about their respective reactions to Cellini's story of the monster, was missing, but that was a deletion- for commercial time- known to happen on the CBC; that same part of the episode had been gone from the CBC full network "Dragon's Domain" airing of November 12, 1977.
And there was a small amount of video rippling denoting faint interference (odd that, because Halifax where CBHT had its source transmitter, was geographically Dartmouth's neighbouring twin community), but I was not the least bit concerned about any of the flaws to what was on that eminently valued, cherished videocassette, for I had my favourite television show in my collection, represented by its most iconic, most sought-after episode!
After a lunch of Lipton chicken noodle soup, I assembled the needed funds for paying what I had promised to Fonda plus some extra dollars, to send to her post-haste, and walked with the envelope containing both the payment and the most appreciative and complimentary letter I think I had ever written. I remember the exact route of my joyous march to the Pic N' Puff store for purchase of postage stamp and placing of the envelope into a mailbox. Through foot path to Park Street School, past the school and down Park Street to MacDonald Avenue, MacDonald Avenue to Maple Street, Maple Street to Cedar Avenue, bottom of Cedar Avenue to Fulton Avenue via Pugh Street, and Fulton Avenue to Main Street. After my return home for a second start-to-finish watching of "Dragon's Domain" on my videotape, the cloudy skies cleared away to reveal sunshine. On Spiderman on CHSJ at 4:30 that afternoon was a, for my collection, redundant, rather old film print of "Cloud City of Gold". Remove the word, city, from that title and insert day- or morning, and one would have an apropos description of August 5, 1983. Arguably a contender for the best, most memorable day of my life. The import of it cannot be overstated. I remember every detail of that day, and indeed of many of the days to follow it.
My euphoria over this great gain would not have by itself sustained the summer of 1983 for full duration at highest perch of fond satisfaction. And I was not to receive a second videotape of Space: 1999 (with three episodes) until September 2. True, the mounting sense of anticipation over the weeks that further episodes were reported videotaped successfully- and eventually to be in my possession, gave me further cause to be exuberant. But other elements of that summer were mightily significant, too- and Joey was of paramount importance. Somehow, by way of my exalted breakthrough regarding Space: 1999, I had developed an overriding feeling of optimism for all other facets of my life, most especially a firm belief that the disaffected condition of Joey and I was temporary, that in a few days, Joey and I would be again together, and better pals than ever. And we were.
Truly, even the best videotape acquisition ever (and Space: 1999- "Dragon's Domain" arriving completely by surprise in an overdue parcel was the ultimate triumph in that department) would be a hollow victory beyond the immediate thrill of the main event, without the coinciding rapport and companionship of friends and a best friend in the many days succeeding the oh, so beknighting moment. And all of these items present and accounted for, there would be thus no chinks in my armour for foes to penetrate and exploit. I became impervious to defeat for the summer weeks to follow. Space: 1999 could not have, on its own formidable strength, raised the 1983 summer to a level surpassing all five of my Julys, all five of my Augusts in Douglastown. Summer of 1983 was a general package, with many components, and Joey was the glue that kept it so supremely bonded, enhancing everything else- baseball wins, videotape acquisitions, successful videotape editing sessions with Tony's videocassette recorder in combination with mine; the whole nine yards.
After supper on August 5, I watched "Dragon's Domain" a third time, before going to Tony's house to arrange for a next-day connection in his living room of our respective videocassette machines. He did not have any inkling of the enormity of the news that I had come to convey to him. Yes, I now had my long-desired first videotaped Space: 1999 episode, but which episode was it? Tony thought that it would be "Earthbound" or "Mission of the Darians". With a faux, postured dispassion- a nonchalant air that would rival even him (and it did require every ounce of self-control in me not to betray the magnificence of my news with preemptive gratified smiles or laughs), I ever so matter-of-factly said, "But it's not 'Mission of the Darians'; it's not 'Earthbound'; it's 'Dragon's Domain'." I waited for the requisite look of disbelief and then nodded with a growing smile, my feigned sedateness quickly then breaking as I burst into exuberant giggles. Tony had never seen "Dragon's Domain". A few pictures and my oral testimony of its effect upon my delicate, pre-teenaged psyche, plus my audiotape-recording of it from its July, 1978 CHSJ telecast, constituted the full sum of Tony's familiarity with Space: 1999's most prominent episode. He was at last going to experience the full impact of Cellini and the monster. The real thing. A surprise prospect that caused even Tony's reserve to give way. My proposal for a videotape copying session was agreed to with the most enthusiasm that I had noted from Tony since we had together viewed The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.
On the overcast and soon to be drizzly morning of Saturday, August 6, 1983, I carried my heavy videocassette recorder from my Linden Crescent domicile to the right side of Tony's home where his television set and entire assembly of audio and video electronics gear were situated, and hunkered down for what I thought would be a lengthy, arduous, and frustrating editing procedure. There was one place in particular in the episode, where Fonda changed videotape recording speed, that required seamless joining of video frames with a minimum of lost footage- and it was in the middle of important dialogue between Koenig and Dr. Russell. I was expecting to have to attempt the edit multiple times to attain a satisfactory result, but on first try achieved perfect transition, with even a slick one-frame dissolve at the edit junction that had Tony exclaim an impressed chuckle. I was "on a roll", it seemed. Nothing was to go wrong for me now. And nothing did. I had a glitch-free copy of "Dragon's Domain" before noon hour and was then puzzling over what I might put on the second half of the two-hour videotape being utilised. I went home for lunch and returned to Tony's place with my videotape-recording of the "Heaven and Hell" instalment of Carl Sagan's Cosmos (which having been on commercial-free PBS needed no editing whatsoever). It was rather an interesting mate to "Dragon's Domain", the holocaustic monster and the infernal environment of planet Venus as depicted by Dr. Sagan's production staff, both of which capable of near instantaneous cremation of human bodies. If there was truly a hell in space, it would be either on a planet like Venus or in the maw of an alien cephalopod-dragon creature.
Tony articulated a number of times through his watching of "Dragon's Domain" as I was copying it. He was particularly responsive to the montaged images of the "This Episode" rapid-cut section of the main title sequence and, of course, all of the monster scenes, but also the striking interior design of the Ultra Probeship. Steven came into the television room periodically in the middle of his breakfast and his preparations for organised hockey practice (yes, hockey, in the middle of summer), and asked me as he observed the ghoulish tableau of the octopod creature and Cellini's survival flight, if "Dragon's Domain" was one of the first episodes of the television series. For some reason, he seemed to think that it was. I did not as yet have access to a certifiable Season 1 production order listing, but I was confident enough of my knowledge of Space: 1999 to reply that "Dragon's Domain" comes rather late among the television series' first season episodes.
The acquiring of "Dragon's Domain" exceeded the boundaries of realistic conception. It was something that anyone who had been privy to my history of circumstantially stonewalled yearning for Space: 1999 could scarcely believe, which was identical to my feelings about that whole colossal development near the end of that first week of August, 1983. There is an indelibly compelling essence of memory of being in Tony's house, editing without the slightest snag my most sought-after component of my favourite television show. And as I watched the completed polished copy of the episode, several of Steven's pals filtered into that room, having heard that I was now the proud owner of Space: 1999- and that episode of which I had spoke most. I recall Ray commenting on the weird look of the planet Ultra during Helena's statement that said planet had condition similar to Earth.
Space: 1999 and the autumn, 1983 return of Star Trek to broadcast television in our area, had something of a rejuvenating effect upon my flagging friendship with Tony. We two had at last some cherished items whose breadth of possible angles of conversation had not as yet been fully spanned. Tony now had his first-time impressions of many Space: 1999 episodes to share with me, as we chatted at his doorstep, at the school bus stop, on the school bus to and from Fredericton High School in 1983-4 (whilst Tony was in Grade 10, and I in Grade 12), and in the Fredericton Mall at lunch hour as I hastened toward Beegie's Bookstore every Monday to see TV Guide magazine's CBHT listings for the Sunday to come. I brought news of further episodes having been videotape-recorded in Dartmouth- and copied those episodes in Tony's television room as he, his brother, and other persons present enjoyed the opportunity to watch them. And I was now having initial viewing experience of the bulk of the Star Trek episodes, exchanging assessments of those with Tony along with Space: 1999-related observations and insights.
The revivifying of rapport with Tony did not in third quarter of 1983 present evident complication to my best-buddy relationship with Joey, for I was so appreciative, so responsive, so predominantly inclusive of Joey in my summer projects, in my neighbourhood-and-at-home socialising, and my gaming fun that summer, that I would venture to say that Joey had no doubt of his central importance in my life and was happy to allocate to me the same amount of value and affiliation. I was able to spend quality time with both Joey and Tony with no discernible adverse effects on my friendship with the other of the two of them. I had arrived at a sort of balance where those two friends were concerned. But I was quite unprepared to contend with the juggling act that was to be required in 1984, when I could no longer enjoy the simplicity of two mutually satisfied friendships, for a year later, the balance would be nigh impossible to re-attain, as I incurred chilly snubs of Tony in the winter, then a tongue-lashing by Joey in June, and then Tony's frostiness again for much of that summer. In a sizable part of 1983, though, things just seemed to gel.
In the evening of Saturday, August 6, 1983, with my videocassette recorder now back at my home and atop my television set, I watched my Space: 1999- "Dragon's Domain" and Cosmos- "Heaven and Hell" videotape for the first of many, many times that month. On the following morning, that of sunny Sunday, August 7, I did so again, before pulling Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan out of my videotape drawer to give to that a start-to-finish viewing. After lunch, I went outdoors, and Kelly was the only person who was strolling on our street. She told me that she and her younger brother had been able on their television's UHF channel selector to gain access to Canada's First Choice all-movie pay-television service and had from that videotaped (with their recently purchased videocassette-recording machine) Conan the Barbarian. I was dubious about First Choice being available on UHF (it could not be received thereby on my television); so, I was urged to come into their house to watch that movie that they now owned from off-broadcast videotape recording (First Choice being indeed the telecast source). Not wishing to appear unsociable, I endured a sizable chunk of that oh, so boring opus (the sword-and-sorcery fantasy movie genre has almost never appealed to me) before I guess my restlessness was noticed, and I was excused as videotape playback of the movie was halted, and Kelly and her brother prepared to watch something else.
In the evening after dinner and an abortive further viewing by me of "Dragon's Domain", Craig, Kelly, the Australian boys, and I commenced what seemed an interminable baseball game on the street in front of Kelly's house and then along the edge of my yard, Craig this time permitting one or two of the Australians to be on his team as he preferred that to having me or Kelly on his side of the game. The score see-sawed through many innings of play, as I thought near constantly about Joey and where he was, where he had been since I last saw him on Thursday. It was 8:30 P.M., the baseball game having lasted until then and still going, when Joey bicycled down the street from the direction of the pathway to Park Street School. He was still rather short of words for me, but I suppose that my evident pleasure at seeing him endeared myself to him enough to prompt his request for joining the baseball contest on my team- and he was thus included in the game. Minutes later, Kelly was at bat. Craig, pitching, hit her in the leg with the orange, rubber ball. Seconds later, Kelly bellowed an insane cry, threw her baseball bat at Craig, stormed into her house, had loud music play on her stereo system, and threw bottles at the house's big window- from inside of the house. We were all aghast at her sudden change of disposition. After ten minutes of her tirade inside her house, she came outside and advanced toward us. Craig and the Australians frantically bolted for Linden Crescent West and their homes, while Joey and I backed into my driveway to my opened garage door. We waited to see if Kelly would stop when she reached the edge of her driveway. She did not. As she moved ever closer, I was some way inside my garage, pleading with Joey to accompany me inwards so that I could close the garage door, but he remained underneath the garage door arch, resolute with bravado. I scrambled through my basement and upstairs to tell my parents what was happening, that Kelly had turned lunatic and that Joey was downstairs in the garage with her. My father descended the stairs as I, worried about Joey, stepped nervously onto my front step and cast my eyes toward the garage entrance. Kelly violently shook the ladder hanging on the garage wall, and Joey darted up my front steps to my side as I ushered him indoors. By the time that my father was in the garage, Kelly had fled. Fifteen minutes later, Joey and I were on my front steps, trying to come to terms with what had happened when Kelly approached us again. On Joey's insistence, we did not scurry for indoors but very cautiously granted her an audience on the street. She had evidently calmed, and she told to Joey and I that she had a chemical imbalance in her body that triggered crazed behaviour whenever her leg was hit. Few of us gave credence to that explanation when it was discussed next day. Craig was most sceptical about it, preferring his refrain that Kelly was just a "crazy woman", and he coined a song of his own not quite so original invention, and it started with: "Crazy woman, walking down the street..." Quite flippant, considering especially that he was the person toward whom Kelly's fury was initially unleashed.
"Dragon's Domain" and my Saturday polish-duplication effort for the videotape-recording thereof, a Sunday's tedious afternoon with Conan the Barbarian, and Kelly's highly perilous Sunday evening "bender"; three diverse yet somehow not altogether incongruous items that weekend. The shrieking noise of the "Dragon's Domain" monster is in fact that of a screaming woman at a microphone in a Pinewood Studios sound studio. It does rather equate with the deranged female designation that Craig preferred to use with regard to Kelly. Carl Jung would argue an even closer connection between the devouring dragon-beast and the tremendously overwrought female, along with man's most regressive and primal impulses. Elaborate analysis aside, it is nonetheless surreal how such extraordinary events (the first and third of these, anyway) occurred over just a few days, but then, such is one of the factors in 1983's mystique, how teeming with exceptional events that summer was, and how the whole commotion of one given moment fostered the for-the-better development of my social existence. Joey and I bonded all the more as a result of our shared ordeal with Kelly's mania, and we two, Joey and I, would be together even more that we had been the summer before, and with a spirit of cooperation and faith in one another that greatly surpassed our quality of relationship of the prior summer.
The weeks to come would define this second go at a fulfilling childhood (yes, even at age 17). Unlike my first of those, in Douglastown, this time I had videotape, not mere audiotape, as means of owning beloved entertainments, and I was now a capable competitor in sports of my choosing (in Douglastown, not one, not a single sport had been my forte). My agitation over never having Space: 1999- and its most outstanding episode- on videocassette now being overturned in the nicest conceivable way, I could commit full mental and physical energies to social life and strengthening of friendship, delighting fully in the good times that were thus available to me. I developed an assured and incisive humour in my banter, enabling me to contend with the verbal pelting of my then currently most outspoken and brazen detractor (Paul), and I prevailed against any insolent challenges by outsiders to my champion status. I was virtually undefeatable in every baseball game played from August 8 to late September. And I ran with fleetest of foot to my home from Andrew's house as he was doubling Joey on his bicycle as we scrambled toward my place at the commencement of a late-evening downpour, and I reached destination before them, to their incredulous eyes. That was on Monday, August 8. Joey had come to my house after dinner to see me and that Space: 1999 episode about which he had heard so much, and we were together eating Vachon Swiss Rolls (rolled chocolate cake with white cream filling and covered in a chocolate frosting coating) as we started viewing of "Dragon's Domain". Joey and I ate Vachon Swiss Rolls together on a number of Joey's visits to my place that summer. Unfortunately, we were not very far into the Space: 1999 episode (and my explanation to Joey of the Space: 1999 premise and the context of the particular story that we were viewing not very sufficient) when Craig and Philip were at my door, asking for us both to participate in the evening's outdoor fun. We had come to the first appearance of the monster and its first feeding, and I switched off my videotape machine and television. Unbeknown to me that evening, I was not to have occasion to complete Joey's viewing of Space: 1999 most notable episode. Each time that I wanted to do so, there would be some interruption.
Joey and I joined Craig, Philip, and others in a game of baseball at Park Street Field that eventually had the participation of Andrew, which is how he came to be with Joey and me that evening of August 8. After we had hurried to my home in the pouring rain and gone into my basement, Joey became rather impatient for Andrew to leave, so that Joey and I could complete our evening together as a twosome. Quite the change from the Thursday previous when Andrew had Joey's favour and I did not, and I was overjoyed that I had become so singularly esteemed to Joey. But I could not bring myself to dismiss Andrew. Wishing as I was then to be congenial and liked by just about all. In any event, Andrew was soon gone, and Joey and I were starting a reiterated routine of sundown talks between the two of us in or outside of my house that was to last the remainder of the summer.
From its eighth day to its thirty-first, August of 1983 served a fabulous bonanza of pleasurable experiences. As though awakening beneath a four-leaf clover, I was basking in the glow of most favourable fortune. Very much in my element. Winning pitcher, supremely acquisitive collector and fan of Space: 1999, and rather at ease as best friend to my closest pal. I had many winning decisions at baseball (in games played on street and on Park Street School field) and a multitude of full days with Joey, with the two of us watching several television programmes, including, of course, Spiderman, plus the 1980s situation-comedy, Too Close For Comfort, starring Ted Knight as a comic cartoonist, and morning television game shows and reruns of Happy Days (which Joey called "The Cunninghams"), at my house or at his. And we two played, in my basement, charades, hangman or the variant of it on television's Pitfall, and indoor baseball (on rainy days when outdoor partaking in that sport was not possible). We worked on the starting of a Return of the Jedi/Space: 1999 club in my cellar with the two of us as its co-founders. We planned intricately for some days a videotape show for the evening of Monday, August 15 of a "double-feature" of Space: 1999- "Dragon's Domain" and Superman II. But that videotape showing had to be cancelled because of a last-minute recollection by Joey that he had an organised baseball game scheduled for that particular evening and my steadfast refusal to go ahead with the evening's presentation without Joey. I remember Joey telephoning, upon on his return home after the baseball game, to offer most humble apologies for his conflicting commitments, and he then came to my place, where we two played charades in my basement. We were daily going to the Pic N' Puff store for my father's newspaper and enjoying a snack and/or a visit to Video Home Entertainment Centre (in which the store manager thought Joey and I were brothers as we examined the videotape movie boxes on the shelves), and on rainy days I doubled on the front of Joey's bicycle as we hurried back to my place via Pugh and Maple Streets and Oak Avenue. Our most cherished memories would be of we two sitting and talking on my front doorsteps or in my basement as the sun set, and me walking Joey home as completion of our day. I have many fond reminiscences of hearing the doorbell ring when I was downstairs in my cellar and looking out the window to see Joey's distinctive sneakers and blue rugby pants, and then smiling and rushing upstairs to my front door to receive him. On the evening of Monday, August 22, Joey bicycled to my place after an organised baseball game and found me in the backyard waiting to be joined in a net-less dusk badminton game with Adam, my face becoming alight with pleasure at Joey's surprise appearance. Adam did not appear, and Joey and I then had our most memorable evening talk about dreams and nuclear war.
|Friends are the siblings God never gave to us.
Joey chose to be with me above all of his same-age peers. He would return to his home on a Sunday evening from a weekend family expedition, and I would be his choice of first contact. And he was clearly irritated when others would impose on our time together with intent to pull him away from me and from our current game or project. In those excellent 1983 August weeks, Joey would not be enticed away from me by anybody, and particularly not by Andrew, who would on many a morning come to my door while Joey was with me in my basement and strive to reduce me to solitary state as he and Joey would, Andrew hoped, leave my house together. But Joey would not have that and spoke disapprovingly of Andrew's intrusion. Relations between them became distant, with me the beneficiary. It was a phenomenon unique to 1983, though. From 1984 onward, Andrew, and others of Joey's age bracket, were always successful in sooner or later (usually sooner) gaining Joey's companionship while I would retire to my house or eventually seek some alternate company or a baseball game.
On a rare late-summer, 1983 weekday that Joey was away to somewhere, I conceded to the entertaining of Craig and others in my television room, with an informal home theatre presentation of one of my videotaped movies. When it was too hot in the afternoon to play baseball, or when the weather was forecast to be thunder-stormy, and when Joey was absent and I would be outdoors with Craig and some members of Craig's cluster, Craig would say, "We should watch a movie at Kevin's place," and then ask me about my videotape collection's newest additions. It was each time Craig's suggestion, not mine, that I entertain him and his cohorts who were agreeable to joining him- and that tended to include only Philip- for a couple of hours in my house. Certainly, I would never sneer at an opportunity to exhibit precious items from my videotape assemblage, and Craig was not without commendation for some of what I had in my possession. Still, among all of my associates of this era, Craig was the one least likely to want to watch a movie or some other videotaped entertainment of my owning. There was a total of five such occasions, nearly all of them involving James Bond movies; meagre indeed when compared to the many dozens of times that Joey was, or Tony had been, my buddy in viewing of images displayed on my television set. Again, watching a videotape with Craig and his chum(s) was only a contingency for when conditions prevented outside play. For me, it was a time-filling measure more than anything else, as I awaited Joey's eventual reemergence into my social life.
A definitely impressive facet of 1983 was how much in demand I was in the neighbourhood. By Joey, by Craig and his baseball group, and by others, like some of Steven's friends, who wanted to play baseball or to consult with me about what was new and exciting in the world of the imaginative videophile. I would oftentimes be together in my house with Joey for not even ten minutes before the doorbell would sound with summons of me for baseball or some other neighbourhood group activity. The doorbell was ringing like never before or since. I would sometimes actually yearn for my life to not be quite so busy, so that I would have more one-on-one time with Joey, or some time by myself for quiet contemplation or for viewing my videotape of Space: 1999- "Dragon's Domain" and Cosmos- "Heaven and Hell". The irony of such yearning in the latter regard then was not lost on me after 1987 when I had oodles of time for watching videotapes and a collapsed social life.
Still, I did watch that videotape a good many times, usually in the pre-bedtime 9:30 to 11 o'clock evening time frame, and one night when I was having difficulty sleeping, I was laying under my blankets and sheets and looking at my bedroom window, thinking about Carl Sagan's commentaries on environmental degradation, atomic warfare, species extinctions, and, accompanied by a dinosaur skeleton, his remark that, "If you wait long enough, everything changes." Downbeat considerations during so uplifting a period of my life, but they provided some riveting and profound conversational material for my evenings with Joey, the subjects of talks that he- and I- remembered for many years afterward.
There are three specific movie or television items that recall me vividly and emotionally to 1983. Space: 1999 (which should go without saying), Cosmos (and in particular the instalments thereof entitled "Heaven and Hell" and "Who Speaks For Earth?" and music and images throughout those), and the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. Sean Connery's fifth James Bond outing was available to me on pre-recorded videotape in the latter half of August, and on Tuesday, August 23, I brought it into my possession, was in fact with Tony and Steven watching it at their house that on day's glorious sun-shiny A.M. and P.M., as Steven confirmed his belief that he had seen the opening of that movie on late-night television (a claim that Tony had long disputed) and as I, viewing the movie for the first time, thought it one of the best of the entire run of Eon Films' spy-action movie series and for the life of me could not comprehend why something so exotic, so visually lavish, so action-packed, and so tunefully soul-stirring was so often slammed by film critics and by people in general. I loved every minute of that movie, and there are scenes and musical compositions that can cause my eyes to water and a lump to form in my throat. As much to do, I feel sure, with my sentimental nostalgia for 1983 and the way of things in those days, as with the intrinsic aesthetic value of the movie.
You Only Live Twice was one of the James Bond movies watched by Craig and his comrade(s) at my house that summer (Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever being the others), and I was watching it with Joey one morning before my doorbell sounded with summons for a baseball game. Joey and I only viewed the movie together as far as the end of the helicopter battle above the volcano. And I regret to say that we never completed our experiencing together of You Only Live Twice. But the feel of that movie and the sentiment generated when the summer of 1983 is referenced in my memory by that James Bond film's music and images, always do recall me to Joey. My best buddy and our best times together.
In hindsight, I do not even think that the Australian boys, and Paul in particular, were as bad a presence in our neighbourhood and blight in my life as I spoke of them to be. In any event, apart from Kelly, who still was head over heels in love with Paul (and vice versa, despite Kelly's frightening propensity for temporary psychosis), my friends and acquaintances had become just as irritated by Paul as was I. It was reassuring to know that I was not alone in my adverse reaction to him. Craig often quipped that Kelly and Paul as a couple reminded him of Broom Hilda and Shoe of the newspaper comic pages, Philip was heard to say that if he never saw Paul again it would be too soon, Steven and some of his pals thought that Paul resembled Skyboy of the excessively aired "Spiderman Meets Skyboy" episode of the Spidey television series still being telecast on CHSJ-TV (an observation not meant to be flattering), and Joey, in loyalty to me, was anti-Paul on principle. But besides, I suppose that I needed the presence of a staunch critic to keep me anchored, to prevent me from becoming "carried away" or complacent or even arrogant with all of the positive things that were happening in my life. Yes, I think in retrospect that I was in danger of developing an air of entitlement and arrogance about me, and having someone so vocal, so consistent, and so quick to "take me to task" if I overstepped acceptable boundaries of self-importance, was rather beneficial. As long as he was only a lone voice and not echoed by popular opinion. And I must admit that by late in the coming autumn, not only would Paul and his brothers not vex me anymore, but I was actually starting to like them, and him most particularly.
My ability to play baseball, at one time practically non-existent, was truly now at a zenith. Never was this more evident than in a baseball game at Park Street School Field on a late August evening, whereby two swaggering teenagers challenged Craig, Philip, and myself to a them-against-us battle of the baseball bat, certain as they were that I would be a liability to our team. Though growing taller day by day, I remained slight of build- and I was, to their eyes, a 17-year-old in younger company. "Easy out," they pronounced of me. Ha! On my first at-bat, on the first pitch, I launched the baseball far over their heads for a home run and delighted in obliging them to eat their words. They declined to do so at first, but then came another home run off of my bat and another, followed by a triple, a double, and another home run. I propelled the baseball in every direction. Left field. Centre field. Right field. And with scarcely a strike in any of my turns in the batter's box. They had no choice but to admit that they had underestimated me. A person with the fiercest determination to prove his naysayers wrong, need not have a powerful physique; all that is needed is optimum contact of bat and ball, and I had just that. Combined with the stimulus that I was having from my best summer yet in Fredericton.
A similar thing happened in August, 1984. Craig and Philip challenged Tony and myself to a baseball game on Linden Crescent South, and Tony and I were the underdogs because I was not the "power hitter" that they all were. Tony and I won the game, with me executing the game-winning catch. And I was the pitcher of decision in each of these games!
Steven was flummoxed one August, 1983 afternoon by one of my wins, and I overheard him saying to his friends, "Did you see that? Kevin won again! What's going on here?!" Definitely, my co-inhabitants of the Linden Crescent and Woodmount Drive neighbourhood could not help but recognise my record-setting sequence of recreational baseball triumphs. Some of them tried to fluster me as I stood confidently at pitcher's position, but being at top of my game, I could not be stopped. Not at baseball. However...
Joey and I experienced another distinct and acute downturn in our relationship in early September. It was about nine days at the most in duration, quite agonising, and to no small degree my fault- although I do believe that a third party contributed very significantly to it and to throwing fuel to it. This difficult time for Joey and I had its beginnings on the latter half of Saturday, September 3 and was past us by Monday, September 12. I was not fully aware of our being in it until Saturday, September 10, when Joey came to my place to visit and was seething with a vexation that I had not seen in him for quite awhile. For Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11, there could be no denying Joey's irate temper toward me. It seemed to dissipate totally by the afternoon of Monday, September 12, on which Joey visited me in a kind, gentle, affable, fences-mending spirit, perhaps more friendly to me than he had ever been.
What brought about the abrupt change in relations between Joey and I? I must say that I was mystified, attributing it to some incomprehensible tendency, some sort of autonomous irascibility or volatility in my best friend. Hindsight has, however, shown to me a rather more definable, or I should say identifiable, cause to the early-September-of-1983 altered state of the Joey-Kevin relationship. The third party to which I referred in the above paragraph.
I have tended to be quite an easy mark for people who would do me harm. Not so much people of obvious enmity toward me but rather persons who are two-faced. I think that the main reason for this is the same root cause of most of my difficulty in life. My not extroverting enough. My failure to see through others' eyes, to perceive situations from angles different from that angle- or angles- which I have somehow arrived at, and as an extrapolation the possible lurking aims and motives of particular people underneath some facade of friendliness or good will. My deficient capacity for expanding my number of potential viewpoints on a given event, situation, etc., combined with a desire to be liked and a yearning for being able to relax in the company of friends, has left me wide-open to being undermined and/or manipulated and hurt by two-faced people. People who sense weakness in me and cunningly exploit it for their purposes.
I have from time to time been judged to be paranoid, but my real problem is that I am not paranoid enough. If paranoid is the correct word to use. I am insufficiently aware at the critical time and for some time subsequent, of the possible underhandedness of the persons purporting to be friends or friendly. And so, traps can be sprung for me, oh, so obliging me, to oh, so guilelessly, so stupidly fall straight into, to my detriment and the trapper's benefit. In the case of Andrew, Andrew the faithful comer to and supporter of my showings of movies and television programmes, I really, really did not "catch on" to his motivation regarding Joey and I to split us up, to sow misunderstanding and disharmony. No. I did not "catch on" to that. Not for many, many years thereafter. It was not until I tried after the elapsing of two decades and more, to reassemble the puzzle that the missing piece was staring me plain in the face. Joey did not turn from me or lash out at me because of him being moody, bipolar, or some such thing. No. Andrew underhandedly manipulated me into a situation where I could be perceived as being something less than aptly partial or dependable to Joey, and then behind my back told Joey about it, "tarting it up" with half-truth and/or creative distortion, so that it sounded yet more damning. Or maybe he did not have to manipulate; I might unwittingly provide him with a perfect pretext for his squeal, with which for him to portray me, either overtly or insinuatingly, as being something less than the steadfastly first-favouring friend. I might be misconstrued in such a way just by being removed from Joey and with Tony for a videotape-copying session. Andrew could argue that I was less worthy a friend.
When it came to being a blabbermouth, Andrew was tops in the neighbourhood. I knew that. So did just about everyone else. But I failed to factor it into untoward developments in my relationships. I failed even to suspect there being anything afoot in Andrew always being latched onto Joey in the days following the start of a time of some tribulation between Joey and I. Indeed, Andrew would always be there beside Joey when Joey was not happy with me. But I attributed other explanations to changes in Joey's- and other peoples'- esteem for me from day to day.
Andrew's mode of operation was that he would "spill the beans". And truthfully much of the time. About some extraneous happenings or whatever. But he would occasionally opt for a half-truth-with-exaggeration-or-twisting tack when it suited him, and because he was accurate most other times that he chattered, he had the appearance of veracity when he was being creative with the truth. And he would sometimes make the circumstances with which to manipulate me into committing gullible errs for him to capitalise upon with some ever so creative tattle. Why I was so confoundedly blind to this was, again, due to my failure to extrovert. To look at others' motives. And also to consider the dismayed or offended viewpoint of the person to whom Andrew had portrayed me as a friend of faltering commitment or dependability. I was to have similar experience in later life when other people with apparent allegiance to me schemed to subvert me. I still was an easy mark.
My insufficiently developed ability to multi-contextualise and to go far outside myself to survey a happening or situation from high above, cognisant fully of the "big picture" and all angles thereto, made me an easy dupe. I failed to comprehend Andrew's motivation because I was not outside myself enough to see it properly. From the beginnings of my acquaintance of Andrew, he had been best buddies with Steven. As Steven became close and best pals with another boy, Robbie, Andrew for his part continued to be most adherent, most loyal, to Steven. When it became clear that Steven and Robbie were best friends without any pull-back from that, Andrew set sights on Joey. And he found me "in the way". And as in summer of 1983 Joey was not going to leave me so that Andrew and he would be together, Andrew, I now believe, determined that I should be neutralised, or at least knocked down a peg or two or three in Joey's eyes, my image tarnished. It is true that I harmed my own cause with mistakes independent of Andrew's machinations. I am fully aware now of each of those mistakes. But some, a minority fraction but still some, of my blunders were in circumstances created by Andrew, and it was those with which he was to gain most advantage, in order to ingratiate himself unto Joey during the days or weeks when Joey and I were alienated or estranged. Which he did.
I will grant that this could come across like so much quarter-century-old sour grapes, perhaps even paranoid delusion. I must say that even I was oblivious to Andrew's meddling for so very long a time quite possibly because I could not- or would not- believe it, displeasing and disquieting as such an idea would have been to me then. Credulity is always under strain when one posits there to be nefarious goings-on in a social situation. But in the 1990s, I did read a book that counselled periodic inspection of the people in one's life, their behaviour, their possible motivations. Because I did not do that in the early 1980s, Andrew was therefore able to effect, I think, further damage.
In the case of September 3, 1983, I should have asked myself why Andrew appeared at my place in the afternoon while I was doing yard work and asked me to immediately go into the basement with him (it was, though mostly sunny, not a hot day); why after just a minute or so the doorbell to my house rang; why or how Andrew correctly knew that it was Joey at the door; why Andrew wanted us to hide so that Joey would not be able to see us through the basement window; why Andrew was not in the least bit uncomfortable, was quite at peace (given that he had wanted to hide from Joey) in Joey's presence when Joey and the boy, name of Jason, who was with Joey came into my basement after my father answered the door; why, after Andrew and Joey having left together, was Joey somewhat short of words with me in the evening when the two of them rejoined me; and why I did not have any contact from Joey for a week and why when he did come to see me on the following Saturday he was bitter and angry to me for unspecified reason. All of this, tallied now, must look more than a little strange, if not suspicious as regards Andrew's role, to even the most dispassionate observer. After all, two plus two plus two plus two does equal eight. Such an equation's result is obvious, but not when one has not isolated the factors comprising the equation. Rather than detect all of the above mentioned peculiar circumstances and "add them up", the answer being that Andrew, knowing that Joey was en route to my place, did come to "set me up" and then behind my back tattled half-truthfully to Joey (doubtless making the hiding sound as though it had been my idea). I think back to the day now, and Andrew's scheme looks clear as mud. It is the only explanation that may be said to rationally, methodically fit what transpired. Otherwise, I must deal with improbable coincidence, Andrew being selectively prescient, and Joey, variable. Back then, the above questions just did not occur to me, and I just concluded that Joey was later "out of sorts", that he had stepped out of his bed on the wrong side or had not been sleeping much, with irritability the result. Or that he was bipolar and did not like me on certain days. Or some other reason unrelated to a stumble or stumbles on my part.
Andrew's contributions to the rough patches in the first years of Era 4, slipped under my radar. And with the for-me-unhappy span of days (e.g. September 3-11, 1983) that Joey and I were not chummy, Andrew was able to re-establish a foothold, soon a firm foothold, in Joey's life, after not having had such a foothold for the bulk of summer of 1983. And he would be there henceforth, accompanying Joey or certain to eventually appear when Joey and I were together, me soon to be alone and Andrew and Joey departing as two. I deeply disliked seeing Andrew with Joey. Naturally. But I did not "clue in" on what Andrew did to gain sway. I can see now that Andrew would be ever poised to capitalise on any disturbance, arising fully by my own fault, or my fault with Andrew's manipulation, in my relations with Joey. And I also in retrospect would surmise Andrew's gossipy involvement in occasional destabilisations in the delicate coexistence of my friendships with Tony and with Joey in this era. A troublesome character, Andrew was. His loyal attendance at my videotape shows and the like would seem to be so much smoke and mirrors; to say the very least, it was far from adequate compensation for the disservices rendered.
I have improved somewhat in being able to detect the machinations of a professing-to-be-friendly malefactor. But I still am fallible. And some people are so subtle, so sly, that they even today manage to bamboozle me. They appear so amiable, so allegiant for quite a long time (years, even), the other shoe to drop still not recognisable by me until it hits my face with a thud. I must be vigilant in being with these people. Ideally, I should not be near them at all, but one sometimes has no choice, if the two-faced person is a colleague, or a close friend's friend.
CHSJ ceased its 4:30 P.M. Spiderman broadcasts on Friday, September 9, 1983. My yield of videotaped episodes by then was very sweet indeed. I had lacked three of the Spidey television series instalments until very near the end of the line of this run for the web-swinger on CHSJ, and then, as if to order, all three of them were shown, almost in succession. Amazing! They were "Spiderman Meets Dr. Noah Boddy"/"The Fantastic Fakir", "Spiderman Battles the Molemen", and "Home". "Spiderman Battles the Molemen", in fact, was among the last few episodes aired on CHSJ before Spidey was removed from CHSJ's schedule, replaced at 4:30 P.M. on weekdays by Rocket Robin Hood. I had succeeded in achieving a full collection (though most of it still needing editing work) of Spiderman. For two of the instalments, "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado" and "Rollarama", I had been unable to procure videotape-recordings clear of those accursed cable television lines, and some others were of film prints of inferior quality, but in September, 1983, I could assert ownership of comprehensive Spiderman. Quite the feat, considering that it was CHSJ-TV (haphazard episode broadcast and variable film elements and telecine performance and all) and Fredericton Cablevision with which I was contending.
My second Space: 1999 episode videocassette from Dartmouth arrived in my mailbox after a reasonable 4-day transit time period, on the sunny morning of Friday, September 2, 1983. I was, between 10:30 and 11 A.M., watching an exciting episode of The Edge of Night involving the trapping of the killer of Nicole Drake Cavanaugh and intrigue surrounding the shadowy organisation of a mysterious, deranged limping man who was intent on gaining control of media in the city of Monticello. As the killer, one Stan Hathaway, was fleeing police pursuit and was soon to fall to his death, I heard the sound of a Canada Post van in my driveway and went to my house's mailbox to retrieve my package. My father was grocery shopping at that time.
I did not see Stan Hathaway's episode-ending demise on The Edge of Night that morning, as I had un-packaged my videotape of three Space: 1999 episodes and was watching the first of them on the videotape for some period of elapsed time before the clock's minute hand had reached clock's top.
The Fuji-brand videotape's contents were "Mission of the Darians" (from CBHT's July 31 broadcast), "Black Sun" (from August 7), and "Matter of Life and Death" (from August 28). "End of Eternity" on August 14 had started 30 minutes earlier than Fonda had expected it to commence, and thus the first half of it had been missed on her videotape-recording (I suggested that she erase that episode's second half that was on the videotape). And "Voyager's Return" on August 21 had been inaccessible as a result of power failure caused by an electrical storm. In addition to "Dragon's Domain", I now had three more Space: 1999 episodes in which to delight. "Mission of the Darians" did have the many rippling lines of interference of which Tony had spoken after he had viewed said episode in Halifax on July 31, but they were not compromising enough of picture quality for me to reject the videotape-recording of "Mission of the Darians", and they did lessen in intensity as the episode progressed into its first act. After lunch on September 2, I was at Tony's place, performing duplication edits to arrive at a McCorry-standard videocassette-recording of "Mission of the Darians". And I made another copy of "Dragon's Domain" to put after it on its videotape, those two episodes belonging together as "Dragon's Domain" followed "Mission of the Darians" in order of production.
And "Matter of Life and Death" and "Black Sun" were likewise copied and edited on Sunday, September 4 (another brilliantly sunny day). I had slight difficulty on one edit for "Black Sun" but persevered through my work, and by 4 P.M. that Sunday had completed my three polished additions to my growing Space: 1999 videotape collection. All episodes had their titles fully intact on the videotapes. Some scenes were missing, but such was long-acknowledged CBC practice. On the whole, I was that day one exceedingly happy 17-year-old Space: 1999-enthusiast, ready and somewhat raring for whatever the new school year would throw at me.
I was not expectant as yet of a time of difficulty in my friendship with Joey. Joey had been less inclined than was now usual to talk with me on the evening of September 3, but I thought that to be a brief, inexplicable aberration after a successful summer for the friendship between Joey and I. One could say that preoccupation with my latest acquired Space: 1999 episodes had obscured my awareness of a problem with my best friend and I. Perhaps it also contributed to Andrew's ability to do what he did on September 3.
There was not a trace of apprehensiveness or reluctance for my return to Fredericton High School for Grade 12. To be sure, I was sad to see the superlative summer of 1983 come to an end, but I was cresting with such a elevated, effervescent wave from that summer that I rode the favourable surf into my first days of my final school year with nary a qualm. Tony was now in Grade 10 and with me again in the same learning establishment. I assured his mother that I would guide him through the rather intricate first-day process, my having experienced it myself two years earlier. Tony and I rode yellow-tinted bus to Fredericton's then only high school on the morning of Tuesday, September 6. I showed him where he needed to go to obtain his schedule of courses and his list of teachers, and we parted company. It was to be a morning-only school day for us, and Tony and I met outside of Fredericton High School's C-wing at close to 12 P.M. to together board the Fredericton-North-bound student transfer vehicle. I had agreed to deliver flea market fliers throughout Nashwaaksis (and had been so doing for most of Labour Day, Monday, September 5) for a friend of one of my neighbors, and for the afternoon of September 6, after having lunch upon my noon-approximate arrival at home, I was treading about on the streets and sidewalks of the Fulton Avenue-Maple Street area of Fredericton North, dropping pamphlet after pamphlet in mailbox after mailbox, and then I returned to my house and to my television to watch my Space: 1999 episodes.
It was my final year in school, and friends and acquaintances around me were all expressive of how much they envied my state of near completion of twelve years of enforced learning. Being berated and mistreated by my adolescent peers was now a memory, and I had become as comfortable as possible within the enormous Fredericton High School and with the manner of instruction for an array of subject courses. And I was enjoying so gratifying a way of life in 1983 that not even the most tedious drudgery of copying blackboard notes, learning mathematical formulae and French verb tenses by rote, and reading largely uninspiring material designated as "classic" by curriculum (e.g. Wuthering Heights and Macbeth) could dent my enthusiasm for my life at the time. However, I was soon to be jolted into a realisation that my choice of courses for the year had not entirely been in accordance with my strengths.
My mother was henceforth always to chide me for my having not decided upon Mathematics in my senior year (Mathematics was an elective subject in Grade 12), for without it I would not qualify for entry into Science faculty programmes at university, but I now doubted that Science was my calling, and I was, in any case, more than a little ill-at-ease by this juncture in my schooling with the subject matter of Mathematics (which promised to be yet more difficult at the Grade 12 level), and thought Computer Education and Economics to be rather more practical and potentially appealing, though I did placate my mother and her appointed guidance counsellors somewhat by also opting for Grade 12 Chemistry and Physics. French and Compulsory English completed my slate of six full-year courses. As circumstances would reveal to me, the two items on my daily regimen of study that I thought would be of a new interest were the ones that inspired me the least, and in fact, I was failing Computer Education by end of December and looking for as harmless an exit as possible from that course, while Economics, although passed in first semester with at least ten percentage marks to spare, was dull as dishwater, and it was something of a strain to keep my attention and my sketchy aptitude for algebraic equations focused thereupon.
But I was in no danger, really, of not graduating in the following June. After something of a lapse in Grade 11, my performance in French was again in upwards of ninety percent grading territory, and I applied myself to English, somehow succeeding in immersing myself in Shakespeare's tale of murderous political intrigue in medieval Scotland (it helped, I guess, that events of Space: 1999's "Journey to Where" episode were set in that place and time), while, thanks to some superior teachers, attaining reasonably commendable test and examination evaluation in Chemistry and Physics. I was permitted to drop Computer Education in the winter/spring-of-1984 semester and have a study time period instead. My homeroom course had been Computer Education. And so, after reporting there for roll call, I would walk to another classroom for my study time, and then next in the morning would be Chemistry and Economics, with English, Physics, and French in the afternoon. For lunch, I would either eat somewhere in the Fredericton Mall, or at Burger King, usually joined at those places by Tony, whose lunch hour was same as mine.
Concentrating on school work was quite the task with so much happening in my life at home. 1983 provided arguably the best autumn season in this era of my life. After Joey and I were past our difficult time of early September, Joey remained a sturdy presence close to me some way into October before the disappointing annual autumn-winter doldrums in our friendship established themselves. And after that, Andrew was very much in the picture. For the time being, though, in mid-September through to late October, Joey and I were together after school on a number of days. I fondly remember sitting with him on my television room floor as I showed to him my videotape-recordings of Spiderman's "Home" and "Spiderman Battles the Molemen" episodes, with which Joey was pleased.
The most memorable appeal of September, 1983 was the after-dinner regular baseball games played at Park Street School field, and which encompassed the youth (mostly of Steven's ever growing brigade of playmates of his peer group) from our immediate neighbourhood and several outlying streets. We had teams of 6 to 9 persons, and games that lasted a full nine innings. For one such game, played on Monday, September 12, Tony and I were designated team captains and chose our players, and Joey jumped for joy when I chose him first. My team was first at bat, and we rallied for a six or seven run lead. Indeed sufficient for me to be on top of my game as pitcher. I never fell behind in the score, though during the apparent beginning of a mid-contest comeback by Tony's crew, I was challenged by one of my players, a young fellow named Andy (not Andrew), to relinquish the pitcher's mound. When I would not concede to Andy's dissident overture, he jumped on my back, and Joey came running to my aid and pulled Andy off of me and joined me in avowing my right as team captain to pitch if I so-decreed, and without rebellion by anyone. Our team kept its cohesion and spirit and won that excellent game that sunny September evening- after which I walked to the Pic N' Puff store to see the TV Guide listing for the next Sunday's CBHT Space: 1999 telecast (i.e. of the episode, "Another Time, Another Place"). And it is a memory that I will treasure for as long as I live. Curiously, it was a game in which Craig was not present. Steven maintained that we did not need Craig for the game, and in that respect he was correct. For nearly two weeks, we kept evening baseball games ongoing, until such time as I became saddled with an excess of school homework that I could no longer dispel with late-evening cursory glances or minimal written efforts, and the baseball games soon became intermittent, reverting to the two-persons-against-two-persons, on-street variety of ball and bat competitions and then to inferior games arranged by Craig in the backyard of the Australian boys, slowly tailing away to their end as leaves fell and chilly northerly winds required bulky clothing and a chosen shift by my associates to street hockey, which I never liked to play.
But I was accustomed to autumn's progression as leading to a "winding down" of outdoor activity, neighbourhood social contact, and close rapport with my best friend. Not that seasonal change really should have had such a negative effect, but I was at rather a loss as to how I was to prevent it, being as I was patently uninterested in and far, far from sufficiently capable of the playing of hockey (on road or on ice), and I was in any case separated from my friends for most of each school day and out of the loop, as it were, when they formed plans for shared after-school and evening activity, and was often busy with homework or videotaping in any case.
And for 1983, I had further incoming videotapes of Space: 1999 episodes to which to eagerly look forward, keeping my level of enthusiasm still quite high amid the downbeat aspects of the onset of cold weather and the attendant retraction of my social life. On a partly cloudy and slightly nippy Thursday, October 6, I received my third videotape of Space: 1999 episodes. I came home from school that afternoon to discover the expected package on the kitchen counter-table, and I was like a boy in a candy store as I poured my eyes over no less than four Space: 1999 episodes videotape-recorded from CBHT, them being "Space Brain" (from September 4), "Another Time, Another Place" (from September 18), "The Infernal Machine" (from September 25), and "Ring Around the Moon" (from October 2). Fonda had been unsuccessful in videotaping "The Full Circle" on September 11, due, if memory serves, to a power failure negating the function of her videocassette-enregistering apparatus' automatic-record timer. I was not expecting "Space Brain", as TV Guide episode synopsis for September 4 had been for "Earthbound" (an episode that twice now had been wrongly believed by me to be aired), and I was happy indeed to behold the inaugural scene of "Space Brain" as the first glimpse of Space: 1999 on the videotape. It was at that time one of my favourite Space: 1999 episodes, and it and "The Infernal Machine" would go aptly together, in proper sequence (if I knew the Space: 1999 episode order correctly), when I copied and edited them on another videocassette. My father that afternoon was glued to our second television, which was in the dining room, as a game in the Major League Baseball American League playoff division series, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox, was being shown. I cared little for that as I revelled in what was available to me on my received videocassette. I remember straining to pull myself away from my television screen displaying the images of "Another Time, Another Place", the second Space: 1999 episode on that beloved videotape, when I was called to the kitchen to ready myself for dinner.
One more day of school, that of Friday, October 7, and then I would have a three-day long weekend, for Thanksgiving, with which to enjoy and to refine the further four Space: 1999 television series entries that I now had. I vividly remember thinking often at school that day about my latest videotaped acquisitions, and on Saturday evening, I was at Tony's place, working on the first of the to-be-polished episodes, "Space Brain", as Steven and some of his friends were with us, watching and most of them rather liking the portrayed events of Space: 1999's foam in the Moonbase story. Tony commented about the protracted length of the prologue, and I recall Steven thrilling to the rapid succession of scenes in the "This Episode" sequence, Andrew (yes, THE Andrew; at least he was not with Joey that night) reading the episode title as it appeared following first set of commercials (which this time had been left fully by Fonda in the original videotape-recording), and another of Steven's friends (who was not impressed with either me or my fancied television show) complaining about the experience with Space: 1999 that evening. On Sunday morning, I duplicated and edited "The Infernal Machine", and in mid-week afternoons after school I arrived at glossed versions of "Another Time, Another Place" and "Ring Around the Moon", both of those on TDK-brand T-60 videocassettes. Some of the edits were tricky, requiring some repeat attempts to achieve best results, but I persevered, and, from what I could ascertain, Tony seemed not the least bit impatient with my finickiness. Indeed, I give very high marks for Tony's dedication of time and videocassette machine usage to me at the time.
Curiously, the next videotape from Fonda in Dartmouth, with yet another four Space: 1999 episodes, also arrived in some close advance of a three-day respite from school, that of the weekend adjacent to and inclusive of Remembrance Day (Friday, November 11). Actually, it was a three-and-a-half-day holiday, for on Thursday, November 10, school was adjourned at noontime. On my before-lunch passage through my house's front door that mostly overcast, quite cool day in the year's eleventh month, I saw my parcel of delight awaiting me in kitchen location and scampered up the stairs to the kitchen to tear away the wrapping and hold in my hands the receptacle for my latest Space: 1999 episode gains. I was now logging a wait of four days for packages from Dartmouth to reach me. Rather antsy was I whilst sitting in school that morning, that my package might not come until after the long weekend. But I need not have worried, for I was indeed to have a new videotape of Space: 1999 episodes to edit and to adore over the school-less days before me. A very impressive slate of episodes had been videotape-recorded by Fonda from CBHT: "The Last Sunset" (on October 16), "The Troubled Spirit" (on October 23), "The Testament of Arkadia" (on October 30), and "The Last Enemy" (on November 6). Space: 1999 had been preempted for unheralded and mysterious reasons on October 9; "Missing Link" was the episode that had been listed in TV Guide as scheduled to air on that day. After a speedy lunch on Thursday, November 10, I hastened with my videocassette recorder to Tony's house, and the process of burnishing duplication commenced with "The Testament of Arkadia", and then "The Troubled Spirit". Editing was problematic in a few instances, but I did complete the work of refining on these two episodes by dinner hour. In the evening, I returned to Tony's place and laboured on the other two episodes and recall completing "The Last Enemy" by about 9:30 P.M.. Tony and Steven both watched "The Last Enemy" in all of its explosive glory while I was doing the editing work. "The Troubled Spirit" and "The Last Enemy" went splendidly together on one videotape, while "The Testament of Arkadia" and "The Last Sunset" made for a less comfortable but acceptable fit on the second videotape that I had purchased (both of them Magnavox-brand) on which to port them in copied and edited state. Thus, on a mostly overcast Friday morning, Remembrance Day, I was at home, my four latest Space: 1999 episodes fully polished for me to watch with utmost satisfaction.
I had not tremendously admired Star Trek, but I did not dislike it. I quite enjoyed many episodes of its third season that was transmitted in New Brunswick on CHSJ Television during 1976-7, and they- in addition to Space: 1999- fired my interest in outer space and science fiction during my final, wonderful year in Douglastown. The majority of Star Trek's episodes I had never seen- until the fourth quarter of 1983, when two television stations, CHSJ- Saint John and WVII- Bangor, Maine, added Star Trek to their programming slates. CHSJ aired Star Trek on Saturday afternoons at 12:30 starting on October 1, 1983 with "The Trouble With Tribbles", followed by "Bread and Circuses" on October 8. Not exactly the entries in this television series that one might think would commence a television station's presentation thereof. But as it was CHSJ doing the broadcasting, nothing was outside the realms of possibility. Third episode aired was "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the standard initial Star Trek episode in syndication sequence. But with its prologue switched with that of "The Corbomite Manoeuvre", which was the next Star Trek episode on CHSJ as the transmission order of episodes fell into line with that which I was to know for many years to come on WVII, which broadcast Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock's interplanetary exploits each weekday at 6 P.M.. So, in addition to incoming videotapes of Space: 1999, Star Trek was something to which to look forward on tedious days at school. WVII began its run of Star Trek on Monday, October 24 with "Where No Man Has Gone Before", all portions of that episode intact. Fourth quarter of 1983 marked the first time that I saw the Star Trek television series' awesome opener ("Where No Man Has Gone Before") in anything other than Photonovel form, in addition to dozens of exciting stories in the first and second Star Trek seasons.
I remember that in the weeks leading to CHSJ-TV's October 1, 1983 beginning to its 1980s run of Star Trek, CHSJ aired a thirty-second promotion for Star Trek using scenes from the Star Trek first season episode, "Charlie X". Particularly a scene in which Captain Kirk tells to Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy that he intends to "take him on", him being the psionic-powered adolescent, Charlie, who has begun a reign of terror on the good Starship Enterprise, and an earlier scene in the episode whereupon Charlie makes disappear a man laughing at him in the Enterprise gymnasium. Post-autumn-of-1983, CHSJ was opting to air Star Trek at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon after a noontime offering of the old television series, My Favourite Martian.
I vividly remember sunny and warm Saturday, October 1, 1983. TV Guide magazine was un-revealing as to which episode of Star Trek would that day begin CHSJ-TV's 1980s run of the voyages of the Enterprise. I was, I do recall, feeling quite anticipatory that Saturday morning about the return of Star Trek to television in my neck of the world, counting down the hours to 12:30. At about 11:30, Joey came to visit me. He was accompanied by Andrew (gr-r-r-r!) and some other fellow, and the three of them chatted with me in my basement for about a half-hour, before they left and I went upstairs to have lunch and wait for the airing of Star Trek. I sat through the low-brow fare that was My Favourite Martian as I ate my lunch and Star Trek neared closer and closer. As previously stated, the episode was "The Trouble With Tribbles". I knew such within seconds of seeing the opening scene, a conversation in the Enterprise Briefing Room between Kirk, Spock, and Mr. Chekov. I had never seen "The Trouble With Tribbles" on film before, though I was very familiar with it by way of its Photonovel. An overrated and not very exciting episode, I tended to opine. In my estimation, rather a damp squib for launching a run of the television series. But I suppose that Star Trek aficionado majority assessment was a deciding factor in the decision by either CHSJ or the Star Trek distributor to go with the light-hearted episode with the easily multiplying furry things and their jovial peddler.
I was also to discover that CHSJ was running film prints of Star Trek from its own telecine equipment, with carry-over of many of the dubious hallmarks of CHSJ's showings of Spiderman. Black splotches of tape before commercials. Copious film splices in less-than-pristine film elements. And occasional "hairs in the gate". I can still visualise the black tape splotches as Cyrano Jones was sampling alcoholic drinks whilst Enterprise officers and Klingons were fighting in a barroom. Commercial! Commercial! I videotape-recorded "The Trouble with Tribbles" that day, but not with a huge amount of enthusiasm.
When CHSJ aired its next Star Trek episode, "Bread and Circuses" on October 8, I was with my mother and father at my grandparents' house, my videocassette machine at home videotape-recording the episode by timer-record preset. I vividly remember viewing the episode and being rather annoyed that CHSJ stuck its television station logo into the episode during the scene where Kirk recites a log report on having met a group of runaway slaves on a planet patterned after ancient Rome. The telecasting the Saturday after that of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" in a botched manner was further indication that CHSJ-TV's run of Star Trek was to be anything but polished and smooth. I was delighted to discover that WVII would be airing Star Trek, also. And Monday to Friday, yet. What could be better? Though occasionally marred by some faint video-ripple interference, WVII's presenting of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" put CHSJ's to shame. I remember sitting with anticipation at the television set in my den awaiting the showing of "The Corbomite Manoeuvre" on WVII on Tuesday, October 25. "Mudd's Women" on October 26 had to be joined in progress due to an ABC News Special Report about an American military crisis in Central America. Ah, one of the pitfalls of depending upon American broadcasters for the airing of television series. Those pesky news reports that interrupt regular programming. I had to rely on CHSJ's airing of "Mudd's Women" on blustery and snow-flurry-punctuated October 29, for a viewing in full of that episode. Happily, WVII's showings of Star Trek were thereafter unmarred by news interruptions. For the remainder of 1983 and most of 1984.
WVII telecast "The Naked Time" on Halloween, and I had to leave my television repeatedly to give candy to children at the front door. "What Are Little Girls Made of?" on Thursday, November 3 was a memorable Star Trek viewing experience. The best one of that particular week. By the way, there was an unexpected commercial interval after Captain Kirk said, "Dr. Korby... was never here." WVII often had commercials in Star Trek for Margolian's department stores with rather a distinctive jingle. And I remember eating Heinz Spaghetti and Meatballs off of a televison tray while watching "The Enemy Within" (the episode in which Kirk is split into two aspects, good and evil) on CHSJ on Saturday, November 5, while my parents were not at home with me (they were shopping and visiting my grandparents).
On many a day, I had an after-supper snack of ketchup potato chips and worked bit by bit on school homework as I watched and videotaped WVII's Star Trek telecasts. My taste for potato chips became very overpowering at that time of my life, and I am ashamed to say that sour cream and onion flavour potato chips often constituted my Sunday breakfast, as I watched something quite delightful on ATV: Super Space Theatre, a selected aggregate of episodes of Gerry-Anderson-produced television series edited into two-hour "movies", and amongst them were the Space: 1999 compilations, Journey Through the Black Sun (shown on Sunday, November 6) and Cosmic Princess (transmitted on Sunday, November 13). Super Space Theatre was an 8-to-10-A.M. offering on ATV throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Yes, people in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were able to see Space: 1999 in two aspects.
Destination: Moonbase Alpha and Alien Attack were conspicuously missing from Super Space Theatre on ATV, though Alien Attack came to after-dusk, ahem, light on ATV's companion broadcaster, ASN (available to New Brunswick cable television subscribers on Channel 5), as a Monday evening movie on January 9, 1984- and Destination: Moonbase Alpha was discovered, to my ogle-eyed, flabbergasted disbelief, on the shelf of the Video King videotape rental shop in downtown Fredericton on the morning of Saturday, October 22, 1983. And I had it in my possession not long thereafter, joining my CBHT-sourced Space: 1999 episodes along with the from-broadcast-on-ATV-or-ASN other Space: 1999 "movies", through which I had representation of certain episodes that I lacked from CBHT.
Truly is it astounding how such positive things came about in those days! They just did. I pounded home runs without any question of how I did it. Desired television series returned to broadcasters' schedules, and I joyfully videotape-recorded them. Persons of cultivated friendship included me in their fun, actively seeking my company. All of this happened, each thing enhancing the other. No diatribe-writing haters of what I fancied marred those good times. Andrew's machination (of which I was not cognisant) in September aside, the positive developments kept on flowing (among them an article about my mother in the local newspaper, about which Joey telephoned me to remark late in November), capped with a further Space: 1999-filled videocassette from Fonda in Dartmouth in mid-December, arriving at my house on Friday, December 16.
And there was, in 1983, a further two resurgent (in rerun) television series to add to the gratifying return of Space: 1999 and Star Trek. The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, two technological fiction action-adventure television shows of the 1970s, were both added to ATV's programming schedule as late-night offerings after the midnight-to-1-P.M. news broadcasts, and both of those television series were also being shown by WLBZ- Bangor on weekend afternoons. I used my videocassette recorder's preset-timer-record function to videotape ATV's 1 A.M. telecasts of parts one and two of The Bionic Woman- "Doomsday is Tomorrow", and I remember watching my videotape-recording of part one of that Bionic Woman two-parter before leaving home to go to school one autumn morning in 1983. I recall that I was also feeling fairly expectant of a videotape of Space: 1999 episode coming my way from Dartmouth later that day.
I also remember seeing a WLBZ broadcast of the Six Million Dollar Man episode, "Danny's Inferno", late one Sunday afternoon in 1984. After 1984, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman were both gone from broadcast television in my area of the world, and I would not see the bionically-powered Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers again until the reunion movie, The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, premiered on television in May of 1987.
By and by, more extraordinary occurrences served to bookmark the tremendously memorable year that was 1983, among them a power failure on my street on Saturday, November 26, necessitating my mother, father, and I staying almost all of that day at my grandparents' house, where there was, of course, full electricity supply. My grandfather was still in recovery from a mild stroke that had required his hospitalisation in late October (I recall visiting him in the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital after my viewing and videotaping of Star Trek's "The Man Trap" episode on WVII on Friday, October 28). At my grandparents' place that November Saturday, I recall viewing the Star Trek episode, "Charlie X", at 12:30 P.M., preceded on CHSJ by the usual showing of an episode of My Favourite Martian. For the remainder of that afternoon, there was nothing of interest on any television station, and in addition to being bored, I was more than a little edgy about the power interruption at home obliterating my entire weekend's videotape viewing opportunities. My father suggested I telephone Joey to ask if power had been restored on Linden Crescent, but I yet had apprehensions about initiating telephone contact even with my best friend (if indeed he was at home), and thus declined to do as my father recommended. We finally heard confirmation on the radio of Fredericton North power interruptions all being corrected, and thus did my parents and I venture back home in the windy and chilly late November weather at around 8:30 Saturday evening. I was comfortably seated in my television room and watching my videotape of Space: 1999's "The Last Enemy" episode by 9 P.M.. Also, prime-time "event" television in 1983 was rather prolific, and I was in front of my television for such items as M*A*S*H's final, movie-length episode, the television miniseries, The Winds of War, and, one vividly remembered Sunday evening in the late autumn, The Day After, the graphic and disturbing portrayal of a post-nuclear-war world. Everybody at school was talking about it on days to follow. Likewise was Star Trek an often mentioned item among some persons in my school, particularly in Chemistry class, as I overheard some chat about the famous Gorn episode, "Arena", and one fellow reciting word for word Mr. Sulu's reports on the decelerating speeds of the Enterprise as it was caught in the Metron thought-projected holding beam, and the same classmate articulating about how impressed he was by the premise, the story, and the visualisation of "The Doomsday Machine". I used to wish that Space: 1999 could be seen in New Brunswick in those days and be as enthusiastically embraced and acclaimed by my peers. Not a chance. But I could still dream, could I not?
The coming of my videocassette with Space: 1999 episodes on Friday, December 16 was characterised by a rather nerve-racking wait. I now thought it reasonable to anticipate such a videotape's placement in my mailbox on the Thursday following Monday dispatch, as the last two videotapes had been delivered that promptly. But I came home from one of my first-semester examinations at school on Thursday, December 15, quite confident that my videotape would be there on the kitchen table for me, but it was not. And most of Friday passed, the day's mail having been delivered by postman, with again no appearance of the parcel from Dartmouth, and I fretted vigorously about having to endure a whole weekend of perpetuated expectancy. Silly me had not paused to consider that pre-Christmas congestion of letters and packages at Canada Post would have slowed the transference process and that it may not be realistic to think that my current package would travel as quickly as the previous two. I was also missing Joey's presence so very much. I had not seen him for many weeks, and thus I resolved that Friday afternoon to cast aside my tendency to shrink from making uninvited visits, and to go and seek Joey at his home after school. At 3:45 P.M., I was garbed in my winter boots and coat, was outdoors, and was walking in the direction of Joey's house, when a white Canada Post van was on Linden Crescent, passing by me and stopping in my driveway. I did a 180-degree turn and at increasing pace ran for my door as my father received my parcel. And within a minute on that frosty Friday afternoon, I was at my television, watching the magnetic-signal-converted-and-preserved images from CBHT's broadcast of Space: 1999 on November 20, and in particular those of the episode, "The Exiles", the first Space: 1999 second season episode to be telecast on CBHT in 1983. Weird that it was not "The Metamorph". Indeed, "The Metamorph" was what TV Guide had synopsised for third Sunday in November. Stranger still was that CBHT inserted a commercial interval after the Season 2 opening credit sequence instead of after episode hook (as had been what I had known years earlier to be standard procedure on CBC transmissions of Space: 1999- Season 2), and that Fonda left the commercials intact (one of the advertisements was for Scotia Stamp Studio in downtown Halifax). I had to fast-forward my videotape to pass the commercials to see what I thought would be Helena Russell's Moonbase Alpha Status Report inaugurating "The Metamorph", to be instead treated to that which commenced the happenings of "The Exiles". Moreover, during one of the advertising clusters punctuating the episode, there was a specially created by CBC, thirty-second promotion for the same Space: 1999 story that I was in process of watching, with scenes from the episode and mention by the CBC announcer of 300-year-old psychotic killers in suspended animation.
So, "The Exiles" was first. Other Moonbase Alphan action on the videotape was that of "Journey to Where" (from November 27), a most unexpected "The Seance Spectre" (from December 4), and, lastly, "The Metamorph" (from December 11). A very bizarre sequence of episodes! I was so very happy to have "The Metamorph" in its episodic format and to be able to dispense with the version of "The Metamorph" presented in the Cosmic Princess "movie". That Friday evening was defined by my dedicated, extensive re-acquaintance with Space: 1999's second-season-proper (i.e. not the "movies") via four of its more outstanding episodes, two of which I had not retained in the French or English language on audiotape and which sounded almost new to me as I listened to their dialogue, music, and sound effects in combination with the invigorating experience of again seeing them. I snacked on potato chips as I was alone at home that evening and delighting in watching "Journey to Where". Next day, Saturday, I rented a videocassette recorder (the very first time for me to do so) from Muntz Stereo and combined it with mine in my television room to attain edited and polished copies of the four episodes, with "The Metamorph" and "The Exiles" sharing one videocassette, and "Journey to Where" and "The Seance Spectre" occupying another. The Christmas season of 1983 was to comprise many occasions of viewing the four Space: 1999 second season episodes now in my videotape possession.
Early in the week after my acquisition of those cherished Space: 1999- Season 2 episodes, I tried again to ascend Linden Crescent's eastern incline and call upon Joey at his door, this time completing my trek along Linden Crescent South and up the windswept Linden Crescent East and ringing Joey's doorbell. He was at home but preparing to go to a friend's house, and that friend was with him. I was departed-from within a couple of minutes and returned home, no alternate time for our coming together broached. Not during the Christmas and New Year holiday time period. The amount of time that Joey and I had been apart since the summer had been quite detrimental, and the negative trend in our friendship had to be reversed. If the initiative for doing so had to be mine, then so must I act. I was to attempt again a rejoining with Joey in January. On my birthday, actually. And I achieved a rather more encouraging reception, even if the presence of two other boys- and of them in particular- rather diluted the desired effect.
I was quite surprised that Fonda telephoned me a couple of days in advance of Christmas Day, which was on a Sunday in 1983 and which was resulting in the preemption of Space: 1999 and Space: 1999's Sunday morning companion, Gunsmoke, on CBHT in favour of the movie, Miracle On 34th Street. Fonda wanted to inform me that she would be away from her Dartmouth home and visiting her family and would be unable to videotape-record Space: 1999 (even by way automatic-record timer), and I replied that Space: 1999 was not going to be broadcast on that day anyway; so, no worries.
For Christmas in 1983, I received among my gifts a videotape label packet and funds for the acquiring of the James Bond movie, Live and Let Die, plus additional monies to be devoted to my videocassette-collecting pursuits. I recall showing to Tony and Steven at their house the second season Space: 1999 episodes that I had recently attained, and Steven, being preferential to Season 2, found much to enjoy in the four episodes being screened on their television by means of my videotapes. More memories of the year-end holidays of 1983 were of several Star Trek episodes on WVII, which was now quite far into the second season of said television series, and of seeing advertisements for episodes like "Obsession" and "The Immunity Syndrome" on WVII earlier in the particular days that those Star Trek television series entries were shown. The most striking experience of all during those final days of 1983 was of sitting in my television room, cuddled close to said room's electrically-powered heater, on New Year's Eve, watching on MPBN (the PBS television station out of Bangor, Maine) a commercial-free performance of the 1948 movie, Scott of the Antarctic. MPBN programme manager Bernie Roscetti introduced the overwhelmingly grim and surprisingly realistic (for a 1948 production) rendering of Antarctica's inhospitable interior and of Robert Falcon Scott's fatal bid to be first man to reach the South Pole, with much solemn and by times shudders-and-shivers-inducing musical accompaniment. In addition to referencing the quality of the work of Scott of the Antarctic's soundtrack tune composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mr. Roscetti was commenting on the impending start of 1984, which he expressly hoped would not be the kind of year posited by one George Orwell.
No Orwellian year for me, was 1984. Thankfully! But it was distinguished by a decrease in overall quality from 1983. Not so pronounced a reduction, however, as to send me into a desperately depressed frame of mind. And it was still a vastly superior annum to those that followed it. Indeed, in and of itself, 1984 was mostly a fabulous year. One of my very best. But it definitely suffered in comparison to 1983. My situation with Joey and also that with Tony and the delicate coordinated maintenance of those two friendships, was destabilised quite early in the year, and keeping both relationships to a degree of satisfaction (satisfaction on their part and on mine) relative to what I sought from both, would not come as effortlessly as in much of 1983. I was thus to contend with a winter time period of scant communication and avoidance by Tony and a distressing string of June days in which I was in Joey's disfavour, and then for much of the summer I was again subject to Tony's quiet, withdrawing disapproval. In addition to that, my progress of acquiring episodes of Space: 1999 from Nova Scotia would become stalled for a substantial time, and then somewhat different- and rather more complicated.
My visit with Joey on my birthday was a mixed success. I managed to secure upwards of three hours with him, but it was not the one-on-one type of socialising for which I had hoped. Joey was in Andrew's Juniper Court backyard and called out to me when he saw me at his own house's door at nearly 1 P.M., and I shambled my snow boots to move in his direction, bracing myself for a few minutes of conversation in advance of my being turned away. A turning away was expected, and for Andrew to be in the picture for it could only be aggravating. Though I had been quite clueless about what had happened in the previous September, to see Andrew and Joey in close association was not pleasing in any circumstances, whatever my limited awareness and my discomfort (from a variety of causes or concerns) about expressing my feelings about such. I would have to meekly withdraw when bidden to do so and privately deal with how I felt. I walked up to Joey in Andrew's yard, preparing myself for a requested retreat. But I guess that my mention of that day being my birthday and my obvious wish to spend the special day with him prompted Joey to consider including me in his afternoon plans. So, Joey and I were in the company of Andrew and another member of their age bracket (John) for a couple of hours in Andrew's home, playing Trivial Pursuit and other games, before we four changed location to McCorry domicile for the remainder of the afternoon, watching Revenge of the Pink Panther from my videotape collection until my three young guests departed for their respective homes in advance of dinner hour. I spent the evening alone in my television room, watching and videotaping the Star Trek episode, "Assignment: Earth", by way of WVII and giving some of my Space: 1999 videotape spools a further passage through the playback heads of my Panasonic videocassette machine. Although the day did not go as envisioned, it did put my rapport with Joey back on solid footing, for I again became someone with whom Joey wished to associate, talk, play, watch television and videotapes, and generally pal around. In January, February, and March of 1984, I was invited to visit with Joey at his house on many Thursday evenings while his parents were not at home, and to sometimes help him either at his house or mine with his school homework assignments. I recall him one Tuesday evening in February asking my assistance on a bar graph on Canadian city populations that he was tasked to complete for the next day at school. I provided the benefit of my additional years of experience with the compulsory learning process, and together we correctly finished the graph, but the mathematical aspects to the exercise, even at Joey's Grade 5 level, were, curiously, a disconcerting challenge for me. Which goes to show that my aptitude for equations of many forms had deteriorated already after my not having been enrolled in a pure Mathematics course for more than the past five months, and that it probably was shaky almost from the start.
On January 6, my mother and father treated me to a belated (by 24 hours) birthday meal, which was traditionally at the Ponderosa Steakhouse on Fredericton's Prospect Street. I remember watching my Scott of the Antarctic January 31 videotape-recording from MPBN in the afternoon. Indeed, the storyline, the portrayals, the imagery, and the music of that movie had a profoundly sombre effect upon me, for dating back as far as Grade 3, I found the tragedy of Scott's problem-fraught journey to the Earth's southern extremity to be unnerving and very compelling. As I watched it I was reminded of the Space: 1999 episode, "Death's Other Dominion", which I wished that I could have in/on my videocassette drawers and shelves. But the story of Scott transcended any fictional present-day or future display of people struggling to achieve goals and to survive in intensely cold places, for it was real, and of a time when technology was not much developed and what little there was of it was virtually useless in the punishing weather of Antarctica. My father and I collected my mother from her workplace just before 5 P.M., and the three of us were eating steaks at the Ponderosa within a half-hour. I was thereafter back at home, enjoying the first third season Star Trek episode screened on WVII, it being "Spectre of the Gun", Star Trek's stylish, imaginative rendition of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. How fascinating that it should air on the same day that I was eating supper at a restaurant named after a famous ranch of the American West! I had never before seen that Star Trek episode, though I had read James Blish's paperback-book adaptation of it and thought that it had at its heart a highly fascinating science fiction (or science fantasy) story idea.
First indications that 1984 was to be of lesser rank were manifesting themselves in January first with my inability on my birthday to bring about a social duo with Joey (a way of interaction with my best friend that had been the norm in summer of 1983) and instead having to settle for the two of us being part of a foursome. And then, with the first Space: 1999 videotape of the new year, further signs that fortunes would not be as readily in accordance with wishes.
That videocassette arrived in the McCorry mailbox on Thursday, February 2 and was found by me upon glancing over its first magnetically imprinted pictures to be rather inducing of a perplexed scratching of the head. I was expecting the episode, "All That Glisters", from December 18 as per TV Guide magazine's listing, but instead of "All That Glisters", I was seeing "Missing Link". A first season episode in the midst of CBHT's rather jumbled run of Season 2. And in black and white, yet. "What gives?" I asked myself with some considerable bafflement. I fast-forwarded the videotape to check upon the other episodes thereon, and the second such item on the videocassette was "The Rules of Luton" (of January 8), also in black and white. And the third and final Space: 1999 selection on the videotape was "New Adam, New Eve" (of January 22), with it, at least, being in colour. The CBHT Space: 1999 broadcasts of January 1 and 15 had been missed by Fonda for reasons that I do not recollect, and the absence of synopsis in TV Guide on those weeks meant that I lacked a telling of what had been shown. I theorised those episodes to have been "The Taybor" and "Brian the Brain". Fonda had also missed "The AB Chrysalis" on January 29. Anyway, on the videotape then most recently in my possession, I was confronted with an indeed disquieting development. How did it happen? What did it mean?
As I was pondering on these questions, I was feeling a soreness in my throat. And as is usually the case, the sore throat was symptom one of an onset of influenza. I was to be sick with fever, chills, nasal and chest congestion, headaches, and all of the other disagreeable manifestations of my body fighting an infection, for some days hence. On Saturday, February 4, 1984, I was laying on the sofa in my television room and watching cable television channel four, on which were being shown previews of movies offered on First Choice, the cable pay-television channel for the viewing of feature films of recent (within two years) production. And in a continuous loop were scenes from Blade Runner, Mommie Dearest, Yellowbeard, and other movies. I distinctly remember Harrison Ford narrating the opening scene of Blade Runner, and the dreary depiction of Los Angeles of 2019 meshed aptly with how miserable that I was feeling that day. Curiously, I subsequently was never to "warm" to Blade Runner, and it remains to this day a movie venerated by a great many people whom I respect, but which I just cannot bring myself to like or desire to watch.
I was in the throes of influenza infection for the whole of that weekend and for the start of the following school week, returning to classes on Tuesday, February 7 while still prone to sneezes and fits of coughing. I did, however, recover much faster from that bout of influenza than I would do when I was older. After school on that day's afternoon, I brought the latest videotape from Fonda in Dartmouth along with my videocassette recorder to Tony's house to attempt a duplication and editing of "New Adam, New Eve" and the black-and-white Space: 1999 episodes that I was prepared, albeit reluctantly, to accept (beggars cannot be choosers, after all). I discovered that when played on Tony's videocassette machine, both "Missing Link" and "The Rules of Luton" had colour, but over-saturated and with some distortion over Moonbase wall edges or Luton trees. Better than black and white any day of the week, I thought, and I thus set to work on attempting an edited and in-colour copy of "The Rules of Luton", only to find that my recording did not always reproduce the colour from the original videotape being played in Tony's videocassette deck. An aggravating and ultimately futile situation. When all was said and done, I had two black-and-white Space: 1999 episodes, conspicuous as a swollen, sore thumb and index finger, in my assemblage of videotapes of said television series.
In correspondence with me a few days later, Fonda conceded that black-and-white playback of the episodes was a possibility. Evidently, she had used her boy-friend's television set's antenna as receiver for CBHT's signal, and the antenna was either faulty or not properly attuned. In any event, her news for me was still less promising. Due to her coming marriage, she would no longer be able to do the videotaping of Space: 1999 for me, and there was nobody she knew who would be interested in continuing the job. That was that. My meandering-Moon-in-outer-space gravy train was off of its rails. But I had blessings, many of them, to count. Indeed, yes. I was far, far better situated with regard to my favourite television show than I had been in June and early July of the year previous. I now had 19 Space: 1999 episodes from CBHT, although two of them in black and white, plus others via their "movie" version. All in all, a total of near half of the Space: 1999 filmography. Not a bad outcome, really, considering how very difficult Space: 1999 had been to attain in any media for a number of years. I in fact had several of my most yearned-for episodes. If I did need to "pack it in", I could be reasonably content with what I had. I thanked Fonda for all of her help and paid her in full for the last videotape.
For much of February and March, I strived to live by such wisdom. But it was tortuous to read TV Guide synopses and to know which episodes were being transmitted on CBHT and the other non-New-Brunswick CBC television stations in Canada's eastern Maritimes. I could not rest on my laurels. I had to pursue other avenues for increasing my Space: 1999 collection on videocassette. The videotape store clerk route still had merit. It had been a success once; it could be so again. Video Home Entertainment Centre had an outlet in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where CBIT was broadcasting. I could try there.
In the meantime, as the February and March temperatures fluctuated between frigid or snowstorm-fostering lows and occasional snow-melting highs of ten to fifteen degrees, I was presented with my first friendship crisis of the year. Joey and I were becoming closer again, coming together at his place on many a Thursday evening and at my house on a few other occasions, while Tony was suddenly not talkative and was disinclined to stand with me at the school bus stop each morning- and was silently declining to sit with me on the bus to and from Fredericton High School. I would also, while at the Burger King restaurant for lunch, see Tony through a window going into stores in the K-Mart Plaza and staying therein until sufficient time had passed for me to finish my lunch. Then, as I departed the fast food establishment, I would see Tony emerging from one of the stores and directing himself toward the restaurant that I was leaving. Dense as ever, I failed utterly to connect his odd actions with their probable cause. One day in January or February (February, I think), I had been departing Tony's house as Andrew and another of Steven's friends were arriving there, and Andrew referenced my birthday and the hours that I spent with him, Joey, and company on January 5. I left Tony's house with an over-the-shoulder confirmation of the verity of Andrew's chatter. Tony was characteristically non-emotive, preserving his casualness toward matters of friendship with me in the post-1982 period, but it probably bothered him that I had been so partial to Joey on so momentous an occasion as my eighteenth birthday. It underscored the reality of the era too much, I guess, for Tony's taste. That plus who knows what else Andrew told Tony about the amount of time I had been dedicating to Joey in the past year. Tony did not appear angry or perturbed on any of the stretch of days that I was outside of his social periphery. His face was blank, while he kept distance and avoided me.
Having been sick with full-fledged influenza in early February, I had had to delay proceeding with a second and third videotape presentation of Space: 1999 (I had opened that sequence of videotape showings of my favourite television opus with Alien Attack) for sufficient time as I was recovered from the worst of the illness and then from the lingering croup and sneezes. It was an endeavour which was to have Tony's involvement as assistant. On resumption of the from-videotape showings in my television room of the odyssey of Alpha Moonbase, Tony became more sociable with me again and joined me in assembling the attendees for the Space: 1999 showings. There was no indication as yet of trouble in relations with Joey concerning Tony's appointment to the traditional assistant position, but there eventually would be. Unbeknown to my conscious, rational mind (which was still quite poor much of the time in empathy and in correctly recognising causes and effects), I was walking a tightrope, and my counterpoising movements just could not sustain my precarious progress for long on that wire. Certainly not with some gossipy person piling bricks on either end of the balancing stick.
First quarter of 1984 constituted additionally a time of discovery for me. With the transmission of Invasion: UFO on ASN one weekday evening in late January, I finally had occasion to train my eyes upon Gerry Anderson's pre-Space: 1999 television series, UFO, about alien invaders and a high-technology defencive organisation on Earth. Invasion: UFO was, like Alien Attack, Destination: Moonbase Alpha, etc., a movie-length compilation of Gerry-Anderson-produced television series episodes. I found what I saw of the precursor to Space: 1999 to be somewhat interesting in its sets and visual effects, and its lead character dynamic, with some traits, a haunted gravitas belying a no-nonsense, sometimes irritable but unfailingly humane kind of leadership, in common with John Koenig of Space: 1999. The music was also quite pleasing. My curiosity about UFO had been aroused, but as there was nothing more of that television show available to me at that time, I filed it and a watching of its episodes in the drawers of my mental cabinet of things to do someday when circumstances might permit.
And there was a British television series being run in the early months of 1984 on TVOntario, which Fredericton Cablevision was then providing to subscribers. A television series that I had read about in many a Starlog magazine. Doctor Who. During a telephone conversation with Joey one Thursday evening in March (a telephone call with a summons to Joey's house for the evening), I heard an announcer on Joey's television stating that Doctor Who was coming next on TVOntario. A week thereafter, I was at home and decided that I should have a gander at that strange television programme about a police telephone box doubling as a time machine, and see if it had anything to offer to me with my taste for British works of the imagination. I did not realise as I was viewing the episode presented that evening on TVOntario that it was a key, important entry in a many-years-running television series. With a premise of a release of all-affecting entropy and a pandemic of crumbling worlds, the hero of the television show, played with scarf and rubber boots by the curly-haired Tom Baker, appeared to rescue the universe from further collapse but at cost of his own life as he fell from a radio telescope and, surrounded by his friends, died and changed into youthful, straight-haired Peter Davison. Yes, the episode which I had seen was Baker's swan song, part four of the story, "Logopolis". After "Logopolis", a week later, was the first part of a four-part serial, "City of Death", obviously from earlier in Mr. Baker's expansive duration as a Gallifreyan Time Lord as he was again the Doctor, and with a different travelling companion at his side. The presence in that serial of familiar faces from Space: 1999, those of Catherine Schell and Julian Glover, clinched its most agreeable effect upon me. But it was already an engaging tale, of an alien on Earth, masquerading as an Italian Count residing in modern Paris and financing a time-reversal experiment by the theft and Black Market sale of the Mona Lisa portrait (of which he somehow has six other genuine articles ensconced in his cellar planned for transaction, also), with the objective of going back in time and stopping himself from pressing a button that doomed him to splintering in time and his people to certain extinction. I became enamoured with the episode quartet that comprised "City of Death", and I videotape-recorded each of the four episodes on Thursday evening telecast, the fourth such being on the first Thursday in April. On some of those four weeks, as Doctor Who was beginning, I was invited to visit Joey- and thus left my videocassette recorder in my television room by itself to complete its directive.
Coming on TVOntario in the weeks after "City of Death" were the Doctor Who four-part serials, "The Creature From the Pit" and "Nightmare of Eden". Some days after the second part of "Nightmare of Eden", TVOntario and Doctor Who vanished from cable television in Fredericton. But less than a month later, Doctor Who would materialise on MPBN as an early Saturday evening offering.
Early in April, I was in urgent negotiation with an employee of Video Home Entertainment Centre in Sydney for said employee's son to videotape Space: 1999 from CBIT for me. Hopes that I had attained two Season 2 episodes from March 25 ("The Immunity Syndrome") and April 1 ("The Dorcons") had been dashed after another employee who had agreed to do the work, quit his position at the store, and the videotape-recordings that he had done were gone with him. By then, the relevant CBC television stations were finishing Season 2, having bypassed a handful of episodes. Thereafter, a few episodes, one from Season One and two from Season Two, that had been skipped were granted a CBHT, CBIT, CBCT telecast following "The Dorcons". "Earthbound" was shown on April 8 and happened to be the first of the episodes that my new provider of Space: 1999 videotaped, with "All That Glisters" as telecast on April 15 being the second Space: 1999 episode to come my way from my Syndey, Nova Scotia connection.
On Wednesday, April 18, I received the first videotape of CBIT's Space: 1999 episode transmissions. How very felicitous and indeed relieving to again be coming through my house's door after a day at school and see on my kitchen table a videotape of fervent desire! Unfortunately, from that initial from-Sydney videocassette I learned that I was not to have quite the same sort of fairly uncomplicated routine output with this supplier of videotape servings of Space: 1999's run in Nova Scotia as I had with those of his predecessor. My new hire, like Fonda a keen deleter of advertisements, was a tad slower at the de-pausing switch, and episode titles, shown in Space: 1999's distinctive Futura font following first commercial interval, were to be sometimes missing completely from my videotape-recordings from Sydney, or in some cases extant but fast gone and obscured completely by colour multi-burst rainbow glitch. "Earthbound" was found to be without its episode title, though "All That Glisters" fared rather better, the title intact and largely uncorrupted. Further was my new-found videotape-recording contractor not a believer in merit of episode ending credits. The credits at the close of both "Earthbound" and "All That Glisters" were missing. But as I say, beggars cannot be choosers- and I dared not criticise, lest I may lose my renewed opportunity for expansive Space: 1999 videotaped episode holdings. Come what may, I was resolved to keep my lucrative relationship with the father and son in Sydney. As long as episodes kept on coming, I would "grin and bear it", hoping, as always, for the best.
On the evening of the day that the first videotape from Sydney was delivered to my address, I was feasting on a cream-filled chocolate roll cake as my eyes absorbed the likewise delectable depiction of facially painted, benevolent Caldorian visitors to Moonbase Alpha and the hazardous encounter of my Moonbase Alphan heroes with the light-emitting, desperate-for-water and potentially lethal rocks of a red, dry desert world. Joey visited me unexpectedly and delightfully later that evening, and sat with me in my television room, which in spring and summer of 1984 doubled as my bedroom, watching the entirety of "All That Glisters" as he munched merrily away on some rather less than fresh ketchup-flavoured potato chips that had been lying in an opened bag on room floor. I then walked with him to his home as I had done on several an evening in the past summer.
Red potato chips and red planet imagery. Apt, surely. Indeed, there was in this era something of an aesthetic link between my favourite friend and most preferred television show. Though he was not wearing them on that evening, Joey also had in 1984 a pair of beige rugby pants (yes, beige like the colour of garments of Space: 1999's Alphans). Those pants of his even had a seam down the leg comparable to the look of the leg-side zippered slacks of the Alphan uniform. Joey and Space: 1999 were rarely a harmonious pair (and that I think was mostly my fault). But as videotape-recordings of Space: 1999 and that television show itself were an ongoing, major concern for me, Joey's taste in what he wore, though still somewhat in line with mid-1980s fashion, coincided often with my recognised utmost entertainment interest of the time. Joey was, yes, starting to wear plenty of beige. In 1984, he had at least two other pairs of rugby-style pants of beige colouring, those having three thick side-leg seams (black or white). And he also had an occasional penchant for sporting turtleneck shirts. It was almost as if he had chosen to accommodate his choice of clothing to the manner of dress of the characters of my favourite television programme. Stupid me never remarked to him how impressed I was with his choices of wearing apparel. But such was consistent with my uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with regard to Joey (from 1984 onward an increasing tendency that intriguingly ran parallel to my diminishing baseball wins). As regards baseball, Joey was the only person I knew to have in 1984 a hat referring to Detroit, home of the Tigers, the Major League baseball team that was pulling far ahead of the competition in the American League East and which had my very keen appreciation. And yet was I also abysmally silent in my praises for Joey's Detroit baseball cap. I was to stumble a substantial number of times in 1984 and in the year after that, and the condition of my neighbourhood being what it was then, each of my failures were capitalised-upon by someone else, a Linden-Crescent-inhabitant-turned-dweller-of-Juniper-Court, who wanted a new best buddy after coming second to someone else in Steven's association and who saw in Joey a likely candidate for the best friend honour. I was blocking the way, though, but I would err and fall into Joey's disfavour to a pronounced extent and protracted enough period of time for Andrew, my competition, to latch onto Joey such that, once the situation between Joey and I improved and normalised, I was hamstrung by Andrew's near constant presence beside Joey. He was in 1984 with Joey nearly all the time, and if he was not, I could bet my bottom dollar that he eventually would be.
Early May signified 1984's diminished difference from 1983. Joey and I were not together at any time during the school holidays for teachers' Professional Development seminars in May of 1984. A contrast to what had been known the year prior. I was, I regret to say, rather too dedicated in any case on those days with copying and editing newly obtained Space: 1999 episodes videotaped from CBIT by my contact in Sydney. Editing by that time had become exceedingly difficult and required far, far more time for multiple attempts at refining videotape-recordings than what I had averaged a year earlier. Still, I was not informed by my parents of any telephone calls or appearances at our door by Joey while I was at Tony's place in 1984. For much of May and June, I was on the outside, more or less, of Joey's social circle. And when he did come to me to ask to view a Spiderman episode (e.g. "The Winged Thing"/"Conner's Reptiles") or some other item from my videocassettes, there would be someone else accompanying him- and usually one person in particular. One-on-one affiliation with Joey was difficult to attain for much of the middle months of 1984, and I was, I suppose, noticeably less enthusiastic when I opened my door to find him in the company of a same-age friend of his, than how I had been known previously to greet him when he had come by himself to visit with me. Far too quick, much too aggressive was one particular person to connect with Joey if Joey and I were experiencing some difficulties; this much I sensed even then. The person whom I in retrospect tend to suspect was a contributing factor, because of his propensity to blab- and with exaggerated spin and half-truth, in some of those time periods of Joey-Kevin estrangement.
This said, I can truly see, however, that the one most to blame for a reduction in one-on-one connection with Joey, was me. I still did not tell him, not even in private, that I thought of him as my best buddy. I did not announce him as such to any segment of the neighbourhood. Though my relationship with him had been rebounding after a fallow autumn and early winter, I failed to substantially capitalise upon that, being as I was much too concerned with my Space: 1999 videotape collection endeavour. On some occasions, I saw Joey outdoors as I was in Tony's house in the midst of a videotape-duplication session and wanted so much to go out to be with Joey, but my travails of replicating and refining magnetic audio-visual signals kept me tied to the videocassette recorders of Tony and myself. Further, I had opted, albeit in a rather downplayed fashion, for Tony as my colleague in Space: 1999 videotape showings for the neighbourhood in the winter months and was about to do same in the summer, leading to quite a dark time between myself and Joey, though I was then witlessly unaware of cause-and-effect between my contentious decision-making and Joey's resentment toward me and my Space: 1999 videotape presentations.
Space: 1999 episodes kept coming into my eager grasp via CBIT and my Sydney connection, and I was finding that although son and parent in Nova Scotia's easternmost city were very dependable at videotaping every week's Space: 1999 episode, I continued to have to resign myself to the sight of sometimes absent episode title and always no end credits. The second videocassette from Sydney was in transit to me following Sunday, May 6. Three episodes were on it, and my excitement was palpable, for two of the episodes were very much desired, them being "Death's Other Dominion"- Moonbase Alpha's iconic ice planet encounter, and "Force of Life" (which I was to have a second opportunity to own after the thwarted effort to obtain it in the Amherst excursion of late June, 1983). CBHT, CBIT, and CBCT were going to once more rerun the first and second season Space: 1999 episodes, and I was to be granted opportunity to attain episodes that for some reason or another I had not been able to procure on first go-around. "The Mark of Archanon" was videotaped as broadcast on April 22. And for the Sunday after it, "Death's Other Dominion" was summarised in TV Guide as the episode scheduled for transmission in Nova Scotia. I remember being very urgent in my plea that my contact in Sydney stop at nothing to insure the successful videotape-recording of the April 29 Space: 1999 broadcast.
On Saturday, April 28, I was watching the James Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun, via my videotape thereof before my parents and I embarked that morning upon a day's venture by car to our former surroundings, the Newcastle-Douglastown-Chatham Miramichi region of New Brunswick. In the back seat of our automotive transport on that excellent, sunny day, I thought frequently about "Death's Other Dominion" and how vital that it was that said Space: 1999 episode be encoded on the morrow on a certain videocassette in Sydney. If not, I doubted that I would have a further opportunity to acquire videotaped record of the Space: 1999 story of immortals on a frozen planet. My parents and I passed through Douglastown and glanced at what was once our home without stopping our car. I perused the shelves of a store for used and resalable books in downtown Chatham and saw a rather dilapidated copy of Pocket Books' Collision Course, the Space: 1999 book that included the novelisation for "Death's Other Dominion". Surprise, surprise! Most of that day was spent at the Chatham home of a friend of my mother's. We had dinner there before going back to Fredericton in the evening.
At around 11 o'clock on the next morning, I was sitting and talking with a group of boys in the driveway of a Woodmount Drive inhabitant who had a basketball net positioned on the pavement on his property, and as some of them were dribbling and hooping basketballs, I directed my eyes in a southeasterly direction, wondering if somewhere a few hundred miles away, the Space: 1999 episode which I coveted was being converted to magnetic signals on a spool in a certain person's videocassette recorder. I was relieved and elated when I was informed of the April 29 Space: 1999 episode definitely having been videotaped. The episode of May 6 was not summarised in TV Guide, but I had a hunch, as I walked to my home from the Pic N' Puff store on a sunny weekday evening, that May 6 might offer a repeat telecast of "Force of Life"- and it was just so. I was more than a little impatient for the second videotape from Sydney to come to its grand appearance upon my kitchen table on my return to home from school, after one memorable day when I had an oral test of my French-speaking skills as the last item on my afternoon school agenda preceding the protracted string of teachers' Professional Development Days, by which I and all New Brunswick youths had vacation from scholastic drudgery. The anticipated videotape did not arrive, however until the morning of the first of those May holidays.
As expected, it had on it "The Mark of Archanon", "Death's Other Dominion", and "Force of Life". I fast-forwarded through "The Mark of Archanon" to see if the episodes whose inclusion on the videotape had been most imperative, were in fact on that videotape. And when I saw Brian Blessed in an ice cave and uttering, "Earthmen from home," I knew that the episode of the planet of permanent frigid winter was now mine, and with first glimpse of Anton Zoref on the floor of the Nuclear Generating Area, I had confirmation of "Force of Life"'s chilly presence in my videotape collection, also. Sadly, though, both of those Season 1 episodes had been recorded on the videotape without episode titles. Drat! And as expected, no end credits either. And there was a strange, rough edit in the prologue of "Death's Other Dominion" (done by my Sydney benefactor) in the middle of dialogue between the Dr. Rowland and Jack Tanner characters. An edit that I knew would be prohibitively difficult to smoothen. And in the end, I had to lop off everything preceding that weird edit and commence my edited copy a short while thereafter. My videocassette machine had become decidedly editor-unfriendly by spring of 1984, and my copying-to-polish work on these episodes was to be quite the ordeal. After a full afternoon and evening of edit attempts, I had to concede defeat and depart Tony's home without having succeeded in bringing the newly acquired Space: 1999 stories to my videotape-recording specifications. A further attempt a few days later was likewise frustratingly to no avail. On a Sunday afternoon, I rented a videocassette recorder from Nashwaaksis Video King and in the comfort of my own home, I toiled yet again, fighting with the editing process to come to Space: 1999 episode copies with edits that I could accept. "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life" were on one videotape, and "The Mark of Archanon" (which had its episode title reasonably intact) I put on videocassette with "All That Glisters". Near end of May, as final examinations were commencing at school, I received a further two Space: 1999 episodes from Sydney, "Alpha Child" and "Guardian of Piri" (CBIT broadcasts of May 13 and 20, respectively) and, undaunted, began my struggle to arrive at satisfactory copies of those two episodes. Remarkably, I had a much easier time at editing those, completing my burnished duplications of them at Tony's house on a sunny weekday in early June. I was relieved to find that the two episodes had titles intact. The videotaper in Sydney possibly was becoming quicker at de-pausing after commercials.
With the repeat telecast on CBIT of "Dragon's Domain" on May 27, I had a further complication with which to labour in my ongoing quest for completion of the Space: 1999 contingent of my videotape holdings. Redundant episodes. While there may have been different scene deletions on the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island CBC airings of Space: 1999 episodes for the second early-1980s run of the television series, I was not prepared to part with my money for episodes that I already had, on the chance of a few scenes having been reinstalled into episodes. I explained as best I could my predicament to my favourite employee at Sydney Video Home Entertainment Centre, and he agreed to have his son videotape only the episodes which I needed, not ones that I already possessed. It meant my sending a list of titles of already owned episodes, in addition to a reliance on TV Guide magazine to provide correct upcoming episode summaries. We were able to successfully forgo the May and June, 1984 further runs of "Dragon's Domain" (of May 27), "Mission of the Darians" (of June 3), and "Matter of Life and Death" (of June 24), and to procure "Voyager's Return" (of June 17) and the Canada Day broadcast of "The Full Circle", and I was the happy recipient of the videotape with "Voyager's Return" and "The Full Circle" (both with their episode titles intact and requiring a minimum of editing work- with a rented videocassette recorder combined with my own at home) on July 5. There was no Space: 1999 episode transmitted on CBHT, CBIT, and CBCT on June 10, and due to golf and copious Olympics coverage, Space: 1999 was preempted for many consecutive weeks through the summer of 1984 as my collection of entries in my favourite television series halted pending a return of Moonbase Alpha's odyssey to broadcasts in Nova Scotia, and that was not until late August.
For the most part, my Grade 12 year was like its two immediate forebears. I had many years to come before I would see a Ralph Phillips Warner Brothers cartoon, but I shared with that daydreaming youngster a propensity for reverie in the classroom. Though I did apply myself to assigned schoolwork, being shown films about chemical reactions or listening to other students speaking in French about their current lives enabled my flighty mind to indulge itself with thoughts of out-of-school people, places, events, and televised depictions. Really, where the school experience was intrinsically concerned, there is quite little memorable about Grade 12. Only what was transpiring in my life beyond the three-storey brick walls of Fredericton's then-only reservoir of Grade 10-to-12 scholars, and what were subjects of solitary thinking and of conversation with Tony on the way to and from the humongous high school. Of course, I was pensive and conversant about Space: 1999, I appreciatively thought back upon a previous evening with Joey, and I chatted with Tony on the school bus to and from our lieu of learning, about Star Trek episodes on WVII (I especially remember banter about Star Trek's third season which I enjoyed from WVII's broadcasts much more than I thought I would) and about what I was seeing of Doctor Who on TVOntario. And I would come home each day and watch the morning's episode of The Edge of Night that my dependable videocassette machine automatic-timer-recorded for me. But that daytime television serial was steadily weakening after a riveting, mid-to-late-1983 yarn about covert camera surveillance and subliminal, docility-inducing signals on cable television and in the music at a discotheque, being used by a limping man of enormous wealth and industry to gain dominion over the city of Monticello's officials and general populace. I will always remember special guest actor Dick Cavett as an all-knowing underworld personage saying, "This city is under siege," to heroes Sky and Raven Whitney whilst the limping man was consolidating his grip upon Monticello. Following the resolution (with a commando raid upon the limping man's niche by the leading male characters) of that exciting storyline, The Edge of Night succumbed to mundane story material that saw my interest in that long-addictive crime-drama television programme finally start to fade. WVII terminated broadcast of The Edge of Night as summer of 1984 was about to begin. Perhaps it was for the best, for I was much too busy that summer to fit a viewing of a "soap" serial into my schedule without some other facet of my life suffering in consequence (though I did follow the famous Grant Putnam and Grant Andrews storyline on General Hospital in 1984, and it helped that Joey was as intrigued by the conflict between look-alikes of different natures as was I, and we two watched General Hospital at my house on a few afternoons). Joey was not inspired by The Edge of Night. I had not been able to wean him onto it on a few days in 1983 that he was agreeable to watching it with me- and I would not have had very long to follow with him very many Edge of Night story threads in any case, for it was a daytime drama soon to be axed, by both WVII and the main ABC television network.
Though mostly not with absolute dedication, I watched some prime-time television series in 1984. T.J. Hooker, a fast-paced American police drama with William Shatner portraying the leading, title character, was one of those. And it was fairly popular among my friends. We used to think that one of the sailors in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, was played by Adrian Zmed, who was Romano in T.J. Hooker. There is a distinct resemblance, certainly, but Adrian Zmed's name cannot be found in The Spy Who Loved Me's end credits. Hardcastle and McCormick, about a retired judge teaming with an ex-convict to combat lawlessness in suburban America, was another television series that I watched, circa 1984. The situation-comedy, Newhart, would usually be on television after I came indoors following a Monday evening with Joey. The A-Team, Remington Steele, and Cagney and Lacey also received viewings, though with lesser regularity. While I did prefer to watch television and movies from my videocassette collection, if these prime-time broadcast television programmes were being shown when I switched on the television or when I came indoors to join my mother in front of "the tube", I often or at least sometimes allowed myself to become immersed in the week's episode's events.
I was much more consistent in watching Dallas, whose storylines I continued to follow and which was on CBC Television on Friday evenings at 9 P.M.. On a Friday in May of 1984, I was shaking my head in amazement at seeing the writers of Dallas contriving what appeared to be a further "Who shot J.R.?" season cliffhanger, the first such having been in 1980. Surely they were not going to repeat themselves so cheaply? Character after character was speaking antipathy for or outright vowing to kill J.R.. But a story twist that the writers put at the end of the firing of bullets into J.R.'s chair in his office was that it was not J.R. whose body was riddled by lead projectiles but his brother, Bobby. Bobby, who for some as yet unexplained reason was in J.R.'s office and therefore in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the next morning, Craig, Philip, and others were at my door, asking me to play Saturday morning baseball, and I remember speculating with them about who trained and fired the gun at J.R., or, as Craig reminded me, Bobby.
In the abundance of baseball games played in the spring and summer of 1984, I continued my winning ways from 1983, while as had been true of May and June of 1983, my attention on readying for final examinations at school was not optimal. Yes, I finished the 1983-4 school year in rather a distracted and therefore languid and feeble fashion, as had also been the case a year earlier. But I still passed all five of my courses, with plenty of percentile numbers to spare, and was at Fredericton High School one last morning in mid-to-late June to clean out my locker, return text books to each course teacher, and receive my year's end report card. Less than an hour after being bussed to school that sunny June morning, I walked out the door of the high school, feeling free as a bird, the formality of a graduation ceremony the only obligation remaining for me as regards the public education system, said ceremony to proceed at the Aitken University Centre on an evening in the coming week. My father met me that bright morning at the McDonald's restaurant on Prospect Street for breakfast as we read the Telegraph Journal newspaper, and most particularly an article therein entitled "The Detroit Tigers: Despite Fast Start, Can they Keep it Going?". More on the Tigers later.
I was somewhat blase about the enormity of at last being finished with school. At least with Grade-1-to-12 public school. My friends were envious, of course. But really, they were the ones who should have been envied- by me, for they had years yet ahead of them with the freedom to enjoy life in the spirit that is only allowable, really, for a bona fide child in our society. I had held onto that juvenile spirit much longer than did most jaded teenagers, and felt, unto myself, proud and happy for having done so. But even for me the time was close, very close, to leave much of the fun and games and wide-eyed wonder of childhood behind me. Even though my friends were all my junior, I was required to conform somewhat to the standard behaviour pattern of eighteen-year-olds. In the summer to come, I would be required to find some kind of employment, attain a permit for driving an automobile, and conduct myself rather more like an adult than my inner self would tend to want to act. Still, I would indulge myself for one, last summer with some games of indeed youthful nature and enjoy the quality of friendship that goes with such games.
I graduated from high school on the sunny evening of Thursday, June 21, 1984. I just did not ever believe myself to be a part of the class with which I was graduating, but as had been the case since I moved to Fredericton, I did among my peer group what I was expected by the establishment to do, and with the merest of verve. I sat in the midst of some 900 other graduates through a 4-hour-long ceremony, awaiting my diploma. Proms and graduation parties were not for me. I would have been a wallflower anyway, since I really did not much know anyone in my graduating class. I was pleased, though not too exuberantly so, to be through with school, and on the next evening chaperoned Joey and Andrew (yes, Andrew) to see Gremlins at the Nashwaaksis Twin Cinemas.
That was, in fact, the worst week of the year and one of the poorest ever for my friendship with Joey. It was brought about by total failure by me in the consideration department where Joey and his entitlement as best buddy to consultation at least, on the planning of Space: 1999 videotape presentations, was concerned. It did not occur to me (but absolutely should have done) that he might have wanted to be my assistant in those videotape shows, certainly in the summer. And not only did I nod to Tony as my helper/partner in the summer's Space: 1999 videotape showings, but I distributed an invitational pamphlet to everybody, including Joey (as a potential attendee like the others), in our neighbourhood. My selfish wish for Space: 1999 popularity in my surroundings and to share my enjoyment of that television show with my associates, and to my best buddy especially, had melded with the instinctive expediency of having Tony aboard on the current project as assistant, to cloud my admittedly uneven, still nascent, and rather not-spontaneous capacity for relating to the feelings of others. I ought to have known that Joey could have found the idea of a summer videotape presentation series with Tony at my side, to be highly inflammatory. And then I compounded the faux-pas by not only not talking with Joey about the matter beforehand but actually treating him as another of the crowd of possible videotape show attendees of his age group.
When Joey summoned me to the pole ball area of the Park Street School playground in the afternoon on Monday, June 18 and gave to me an ear-bashing for what I had done, I did not clue into the true cause and reason of his anger with me, and instead introverted completely and thought him to be attacking my taste in imaginative entertainment and me personally. I become offended and angered and resolved to shun Joey in future. When Joey actually came to the second of that summer's videotape shows, of the Space: 1999 episodes, "Alpha Child" and "Guardian of Piri", on the evening of June 20, along with some of his friends, and was exceedingly friendly and conciliatory, I, still feeling quite hurt and resentful, hesitated to allow him and his friends access to the videotape show. In immediate private conference with Andrew in my basement (what was I thinking?!?!), I expressed doubt to Andrew, who had brought Joey and company with him that evening, about whether it would be wise to proceed with the evening's videotape show, because Joey had only two days previous lambasted me apparently for my having the videotape shows of Space: 1999 and for my appreciation of that television series, and I did not understand his motives for being there that evening. Stupid of me? Indeed, yes! Andrew was purveyor of all things gossip. He did not understand my feelings, skewed as they were, likely only assessed me as being unfriendly to Joey, and doubtless told Joey, with some creative liberties so that it sounded even more unpleasant, that I had negative thoughts about Joey coming to that particular videotape show.
I did have the videotape performance that evening, for Joey, Andrew, and the other boys, and Joey was very chummy with me and attentive to the first episode, "Alpha Child", as was everybody else in my television room. But for "Guardian of Piri", my audience walked out of my room and my house, due to sheer boredom evidently- and I cannot say as I blame them. "Guardian of Piri" is a poor, poor choice of Space: 1999 episode to show on a sunny June evening to a room full of boys. Tony, who had arrived late for the "double-feature" performance, was the only person still with me after Act 2 of "Guardian of Piri". However, I did find Joey's friendliness that evening to be rather endearing, and I was indeed quite prepared for some hatchet burying, only to discover that on the next day that I saw him, Friday, June 22, the day after my high school graduation, Joey was offish and snappish toward me, with Andrew by his side for the whole day. I provided to the two of them lengthy glimpses of my newly acquired CBS-FOX Video videotape-recording of On Her Majesty's Secret Service before conceding to Andrew's suggestion that I go with him and Joey to see Gremlins at Nashwaaksis Cinema 2 that evening. Not because I particularly felt a desire to see that 1984 Steven Spielberg Productions movie. And not because I was inclined to be so favourable to Andrew in particular. Rather, I wanted my relationship with Joey to be put back in good-working order, and I disliked the concept of Andrew achieving significant inroads with Joey during that difficult time for Joey and myself. I needed thus to be with them as much as possible, and if investing a few dollars on a theatre ticket to watch a movie about little demons wreaking Yuletide havoc in a small town was what was I needed to do, so be it. That was what I did, believing also that I might somewhat improve the situation between myself with Joey, because, after all, I was enabling Joey to see the film just by going with them into the theatre building.
It was a disagreeable walk by the three of us to the movie theatre, as Joey expressed displeasure for me being with him and Andrew for any part of the evening. But as the movie was rated as requiring adult accompaniment (why that was the case, I have no idea, for Gremlins had teenage and child actors in key roles), there was no possibility of my young companions gaining access to the cinema without me. I became angry at Joey for his remarks and threatened to effect a 90-degree turn for home. Andrew was acting the mediator, but I feel sure that he was relishing the problems that Joey and I were having, and in any case he needed me for him and Joey to gain entry to the cinema. We three sat together in one of the front rows of the movie theatre, Joey in centre, Andrew and I on either side of him. Joey seemed to relent in his complaints about my presence, and the movie was watched from start to finish with reasonably pleasant spirit, but the two of them abandoned me after we exited the theatre at around 9 P.M., and I walked home by myself- and how I felt about that goes without saying, I should think.
Saturday, June 23 did not see improvement in relations between Joey and I, as I was kept far from arm's length and as Andrew latched onto Joey all day, accompanied by other boys of their peer group. It was not until Sunday, June 24, on which Joey left his friends for a minute and bicycled in my direction as I was walking past Park Street School playground and cheerfully asked me if I knew what day it was, and I swiftly replied by wishing him a happy birthday, that a significant thaw was proceeding. We did not see each other for several days thereafter, though. When we again did was on the hot and humid evening of Canada Day as Joey visited me to talk about James Bond and Octopussy, the latest of the Roger Moore entries in the technological espionage movie series. Joey informed me that he was on the verge of seeing Octopussy, by way of a videocassette recorder rental financed by his mother.
It is true that on more than one occasion, I aborted or delayed a visit to Joey's house due to the arrival of a Space: 1999 videotape, or due to disappointment over the non-arrival of such a videotape. But I would have acted identically in the case of Michael or Tony, too. Quite. It is incumbent on my best friend of any particular era (and indeed all friends, period) to understand and to accept the enormous hold that Space: 1999- and most other of my fancied entertainments- have over me, and to love me because of that tremendous attachment that I have for such works of the imagination- and to be in harmony with Space: 1999 and those other television shows, etc. for my sake- even if some of them are not exactly one's cup of tea. Joey may indeed have wished to be in harmony. But because of the June 18-23, 1984 incidents, I was under the impression that he was opposed to me where Space: 1999 was concerned, whereas maybe it was only my handling one particular Space: 1999-related item, i.e. the series of Space: 1999 videotape shows, that Joey found to be objectionable and cause for of resentment. Joey did have a different challenge than had Michael or Tony. Space: 1999 was not being broadcast on television in our own Canadian province in the 1980s, and Joey's only experience of Space: 1999 was through me and my doddering and occasionally (or frequently) dimwitted decisions regarding neighbourhood exposure for the television series about Moonbase Alpha. For Joey not to like Space: 1999 or even not abide it ought to be understandable with the circumstances that I created.
It was definitely my error of judgement that set that June-of-1984 week of discontent into motion, and my failure to empathise with and understand Joey's reaction to my error (which of itself I was also still quite ignorant) compounded the problem. But that regrettable time should not have gone on as long as it did. Joey and I had been through so very much together already, I cherished his friendship, and even a reprimanding of me by him pertaining to Space: 1999 could not keep me angry with him for longer than two days maximum. I was prepared after witnessing Joey's heart-warming friendliness toward me at my "Alpha Child" and "Guardian of Piri" Space: 1999 episode presentation, to put the whole dispute behind us. But it had to have been gossipy meddling by Andrew that kept the problem alive, i.e. his probable exaggerated or half-truthful blabbing of my pre-show doubts, to Joey so that it was Joey's turn to be angry at me. And I cannot absolve Andrew from having a role in him and Joey leaving me after exiting the movie theatre post-Gremlins. I could have become angry about that, and the chain reaction might have continued, but I chose for my caring for my best friend to dominate, and the cycle of estrangement ceased. I still was rather more than a little dismayed and upset by what I then interpreted as animosity in my best friend for my favourite television programme. But, again, I treasured Joey and felt awful about the difficult week that we had experienced. That and I guess similar sentiment in Joey stopped the downward slide, and the worst of that year (1984) was definitely behind us- even if I had to henceforth contend with Andrew for Joey's company.
The remainder of the summer of 1984 was uplifting, certainly. Joey and I did not again that summer experience any bumpy road. The difficult week in June was behind us, though sadly I still did not properly comprehend its root causes- and would not for twenty years. Andrew had capitalised on that late-June Joey-and-Kevin estrangement and was reaping dividends of many hours each day of quality time with Joey, with whom Andrew was very much ingratiated. Andrew and Joey, in summer of 1983 seldom ever connecting (mainly to my benefit, though not via any nefarious action on my part), were in 1984 very close, and my togetherness with Joey scaled back as a result. Still, I did have other aspects of my life commanding attention- and some other commitments of which my parents were keen to remind me. And so, I devoted much of the time that I was Joey-less, toward improving and augmenting my videotape collection- of Space: 1999 especially, learning to do some household chores such as laundry, looking for gainful employment, and learning to drive a car.
Most days in summer of 1984, I did not see Joey until mid-afternoon when he would come to my door- almost always with Andrew with him. Such was quite unlike 1983, in which most summer days were started by Joey and I coming together in the mornings by a visit by him to my place. Joey and I were often full-day comrades in summer of 1983 (and summer of 1982, too), but in 1984, I was no longer the summer's-day-initiating pal for Joey. Andrew had attained that privilege; either he was preemptively seeking Joey's company earlier than Joey could telephone me, or Joey was choosing to be with Andrew first- and retaining socialising with me for a later hour. In any event, I was quite confounded, nonplussed, to find Andrew with Joey at my door on so many a summer afternoon in 1984, though Andrew did tend to become scarce by evening, allowing me to rely upon the evening's fun at baseball or other games (with Craig, Kelly, and other persons except Andrew participating) and after-games one-on-one talk as a vehicle for Joey to be my closest pal, and me his.
There were a few mornings in 1984 in which I was Joey's premiere social option (mainly on those days leading to the yard sale that Joey and I had early in August, or on days when Andrew was away somewhere with his family) but not very many. It is true that I was in 1984 not at home for a sizable amount of time, my commitments much increased from the year previous. I was having Young Drivers of Canada classroom and practicum training. And I was prodded almost daily by my parents to go to the Canada Employment Centre for Students and peruse the job openings board. I was not as available to Joey and the other fellows of my neighbourhood as I had been in 1983, and it is indeed possible that I may not have been at home on certain mornings, and that Joey secondarily selected Andrew, and a routine developed. I wish that I could produce some proof of such, but I do not recall being informed by my mother or father of any summer of 1984 A.M. visits by Joey when I was not at home. P.M. visits, yes. But not A.M. ones.
My Young Drivers of Canada classroom instruction was in the upstairs of a building on Main Street in Fredericton North. The building was halfway between the York Plaza and Nashwaaksis Place. I have vivid memories of walking down to Main Street on Monday evenings and waiting at the steps of that specific edifice on Main Street while my fellow students of automobile-directing assembled in a group around me, all of us awaiting the arrival of the man of the hour, a Mr. Dove (I have always remembered that name), who escorted us upstairs to an ad hoc classroom, wherein we were to hear of the various contingencies with which defencive car-drivers must contend, and what ought to be done when those do arise. I remember that the lady sitting next to me was chain-smoking, the gaseous cigarette discharge almost unbearable. Unfortunately, there was not much relief to be found within the four walls, as a cloud of cigarette emissions hung over the room like smog over Los Angeles. Just about everybody other than me in that car-driving class was a smoker and could not desist from "lighting up", not even for an hour and a half, or however long the classroom instruction was on those evenings. The dangers of second-hand smoke had not come into public awareness as yet, and thus a ban on smoking in buildings was far from becoming a reality.
In summer, 1984, I successfully joined a Space: 1999 fan club stationed in Ohio, the start of a long and frequently unpleasant association with other people of my generation who, unlike me, were narrow- or closed-minded about any point of view of that television programme of shared interest which positively differed from their own. After a few years of peace, I would be subjected to fans' poison pens and typewriter and computer keyboards and incessant denunciation of Season 2 of Space: 1999 (yes, the very season that pulled me into the dynamic, exciting, and aesthetically stimulating universe of that television show) in every publication vis-a-vis the science fiction genre. 1984 was the year in which I reached the age of majority and, for better or for worse (usually the latter), quited forever from naivete of childhood. It probably was no coincidence that I entered the wild and woolly realm of organised fandom at that precise time. 17 years later, in 2001, I would pass through the exit door with a multitude of scars from many a verbal battle, me usually being surrounded by enemies, hopelessly outnumbered, and the loser. In 1984, though, at the start of my long and soon-to-be tumultuous association with fandom, I was very excited about the notion of being in an organised grouping of people who had supposedly been likewise affected by so very special a television show, and to actually have occasion, perhaps, to meet the actors who played my childhood heroes, or at the very least, through the club newsletter, announce my existence to them. My first achievement as an "active fan" was the contributing of a short biographical blurb to the newsletter. And by way of that- and the mention within of videotaped episodes, I had aroused the curiosity of fans who, like me, had partial representation of Space: 1999 on videocassette and sought completeness of their collection. One of the positive aspects, of those days at least, to being in the fan club was contact with people who had the episodes that I lacked on my videotapes and were agreeable to providing me with such, in exchange for something from me. My progress with the Nova Scotia connection was to come to a grinding halt in summer of 1984 due to week after week of preemption on CBIT, CBHT, CBCT for sports coverage, including the Olympics. And once Space: 1999 was back on the docket on the neighbouring Canadian provinces' CBC television stations, TV Guide some weeks printed no episode synopsis, complicating my bid to flush out, as it were, potential redundant episodes. And my benefactors in Sydney were less than enthusiastic about resuming the travails of Sunday morning and had misplaced my list of unneeded episodes, the result being that on receipt of the September, 1984 videotape received by me, I found that two of the three episodes thereon I already had: "The Last Enemy" and "The Exiles". Between them, however, was "The Dorcons", an episode that I was overjoyed to have at last on videocassette, even though the young Nova Scotian who had done the videotaping had evidently forgotten to de-pause his machine after three commercial intervals, with many minutes of the episode therefore missing, including the prelude to the Act 2 Dorcon assault upon Alpha, Varda's mind-probe search for Maya in Command Centre at start of Act 3, and the whole epilogue. Indeed, the full playing time of "The Dorcons" on my videotape was less than 45 minutes, and I had never known the CBC to be that scissor-happy. "Ah, well," I thought. "At least the episode title was intact." And even with so much of the episode missing, its essential story still could be understood. The unnecessary videotape-recording of "The Exiles" was also heavily truncated.
That was to be the last videotape to come from Nova Scotia. My Sydney contacts did not wish to continue with our deal, redundant episodes were difficult to avoid, and I desired a simpler and faster way of arriving at totality for my videocassette holdings of Space: 1999. A fellow videotape collector situated in Ohio had many of the episodes that I was without, and I was in negotiation with him through much of 1984's summer and into the autumn, to copy those particular episodes, videotape-to-videotape, for me. I remember Joey coming to my door one morning in the summer and handing to me the day's mail that he extracted from my Postal box, and it was correspondence from my fellow Space: 1999 enthusiast and videotape collector in Ohio.
Neighbourhood baseball had resumed in spring of 1984, Craig back at my door on many a weekend day or weekday evening, asking me to participate in any on-street or Park Street School paved-area or field competitions of the bat-and-ball sport. As I have said, my winning ways at baseball carried over into 1984 from 1983. By early August in 1984, my win-and-loss record was 41-and-9. Granted, my win column gains were fudged to include victories at what I called "pinball baseball", as Craig and I, along with some very young boys, batted balls against the backstop at Park Street School field, sections of said backstop denoting single, double, and triple base hits and the very top of the backstop signifying home run if the ball impacted one of those after it was propelled in that general direction by contact with bat. I think that my victory-and-defeat statistic for proper baseball games was something like 27-and-9. Still a quality pattern of pitching decisions by any means, and all the more noteworthy in view of Craig's altering of alignment of teams in many of the 1984 baseball contests. He had become disenchanted from joining further with Adam and had now chosen most of the time to adjoin with Philip (whom Craig now affectionately nicknamed Philly Fanatic, or often just Phil) in two-players-versus-two-players games, which, despite the vastness of Park Street School's field, were often being played thereon. It was tremendously difficult for one player to man the whole outfield. I would tend to insist upon playing games of four persons total on the street or on the paved area near Park Street School but was frequently overruled. The two-player-team games at Park Street School field, with me and a teammate scrambling to improvise coverage of all baseball field positions, accounted for some portion of my nine losses.
There were still baseball games with teams of three or more people, and those games were definitely my preference. However, it is a challenge to remember who my teammates were for many of the baseball (and "pinball baseball") games of 1984. We did have a few new boys join our neighbourhood that year, and while they did partake in some playing of baseball, I do not recall their contribution to base-running action to an appreciable extent. By 1984, relations between Craig and Joey, always rather grudging, had become quite untenable for all but a few weeks (in August), during which time they returned to a condition of mutual tolerance. For much of the summer of 1984, neither one of them would consent to participate in contests of baseball involving each other. Although he did agree to join in a few games of baseball with Craig, Philip, and I- and to serve as my teammate, the presence of Tony in our neighbourhood became more and more peripheral that summer, and although still cordial by the most basic definition of that word, Tony's association with me had by early August come to closely resemble that of a quite disinterested acquaintance. And Steven and I were, by 1984, in our least positive social phase. Our interaction was frequently adversarial, certainly at baseball, in which Steven was as frequent an opponent to me as Craig was. He was since 1982 resolutely against attending my videotape showings and was rather critical (and I can certainly in hindsight comprehend his reasons for being short of patience for me) of the excessive time and videotape-duplication attempts that I needed to have for acceptable (to me) edits for my acquired Space: 1999 episodes. Although still quite admiring of that television show, Steven's regard for it was taxed to the maximum by my repetitive videotape play of parts of episodes. And I guess that he felt it to be presumptuous of me to commit Tony's- and his- videocassette equipment and television set, to countless hours of oftentimes frustrating editing procedure. Steven's antagonism toward me may have been fuelled as much by that as by what he no doubt was privy to concerning the rapport and time spent between Joey and myself. News that must have been displeasing to Steven, for Joey was not in Steven's most favoured circle of persons, and Tony, my best friend of prior days, was Steven's brother. For me to be reportedly preferential and generous of time and friendship toward Joey probably did raise hackles with Steven, and perhaps at Steven's insistence, with Tony also. The guilt would be off the gingerbread for me to be imposing myself upon Tony with hours of videocassette duplicating. In Steven's mind, I would gather, I was "out of line". And I can understand his reasons for thinking so.
Even then, deficient in empathy though I still regrettably was for much of the time, I must have sensed the questionable propriety of my conduct regarding Tony and the exceedingly long videotape-editing sessions within his hospitality, for by mid-summer in 1984, I was increasingly opting to rent videocassette recorders from either Video King's Fredericton North outlet, Muntz Stereo, or Video Home Entertainment Centre in York Plaza, so that I could toil away at editing Space: 1999 episode videotape-recordings at home, rather than impose myself and my rarefied standards upon Tony, Steven, and Steven's visiting chums. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable in burdening Tony, Steven, and company, as my editing sessions were seldom of material benefit to Tony other than affording to him- and others present- opportunity to view whatever it was that I wanted to copy and polish. And Tony was in the summer of 1984 less inclined to want to consent to a session for videocassette-recorder-combining for videotape-copying purposes. He dismissed one or two such petitions, for a rather modest amount of editing work, by me in mid-summer. Moreover, Steven and I were jousting with words quite often by 1984, with Steven's best pal, Robbie, entering into the fray and sometimes outperforming Steven with verbal bombardment of my then less than esteemed person, as Tony would silently observe from his sofa behind the sparring, or from elsewhere on the sands or grasses of the baseball diamond and its outlying sectors. Baseball games in which I was accosted by berating opponents (Craig and Steven being on same team was a killer of a vitriolic mixture) and even from members of my own team were becoming much too numerous, though still not quite the norm, thank goodness. Besides, if I was winning, I was immune to the effect of jibing by other players, but if I was losing, I was vulnerable, very much so, to the attacks upon me by Steven, Steven's buddies, Craig, Philip, or others, and could be so inflamed and/or distraught as to leave the game. And I must say that toward the end of the baseball-play time frame of 1984, I found myself in a slump from which I really never recovered. I was, I believe, 43-and-19 by the close of baseball season in October of that year. And Craig used to taunt me with quips that I was "washed up", "over the hill", etc..
I may appear to be describing 1984 as an unpleasant year, but really, it did have a magnificent amount of happy days with which to recommend it- in August especially. And as in 1983, Joey was the prime contributor to the excellence of the times. After a desperately poor beginning, the summer of 1984, particularly with regard to my friendship with Joey, was quite a rollicking one, one last, delightful indulgence with childhood's wide range of fun and-games, within the remotest parameters of for-my-age socially permissible conduct. For one, final summer, I enjoyed the fun of hide-and-seek and other play of that sort, along with the ageless athletics of baseball, before I would be obliged to part with children's pastimes and restrict myself to sports, and even with those to a reduced extent. There were many experiences with Joey in 1984 that rivalled those of 1983. If I was irked by the presence alongside Joey of others of his age bracket, and one person in particular, I resolved not to allow that to hinder or spoil my enjoyment of many an evening with Joey, by which time I was often his exclusive conversational partner following the evening departure of everybody else, and enthusiastic co-player in hide-and-seek, baseball, and some other games of considerable fun.
There was an evening in July on which Joey telephoned me and asked if he could come down to my place for a talk about possible collaboration on a yard sale, and Joey and I were minutes later sitting in my combined television room and bedroom, sharing a bowl of popcorn prepared by my mother, as the two of us watched some of the Space: 1999 episode, "The Full Circle", by way of my videotape-recording thereof (which I had already been watching) and then a televised adventure of The A-Team. We were together for a whole day a short while after that, assembling our yard sale paraphernalia, watching television, and travelling from my house to Joey's and back to mine. Joey and I had our yard sale on the sunny morning of Saturday, August 4. I remember going indoors to briefly check on CHSJ-TV's showing of Star Trek and saw the first scenes of the episode, "The Deadly Years". The one in which Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and others are afflicted with rapid ageing.
Joey and I were both in best of spirits following a morning of a higher than expected rate of transaction and incoming monies for us both. Enough dollars for me to obtain for my videotape collection the 1983 James Bond movie, Octopussy, which was watched by Joey (who had already seen it), Andrew (I wince), Craig, and myself on a very hot and humid Monday, August 6 afternoon, my floor fan's spinning blades operating on full power to cool us as best it could.
Although trendiness has generally not been my defining trait, 1984 was the year when I most "went with the flow". I actually liked Gremlins, thought the songs for Ghostbusters and Footloose were good, wore rugby pants, was amused at the ubiquitous caricatures of Michael Jackson, including the one on the television game show, Press Your Luck (i.e. the Michael Jackson Whammy), and became a Detroit Tigers fan (that was the year wherein they had a 35-and-5 start, finished the regular season at 108-and-54, and won convincingly in the American Baseball League playoffs and World Series), looking far and wide for an elusive Tigers cap and imitating Jack Morris and Milt Wilcox in my pitching "wind-ups" during our neighbourhood baseball games. I telephoned onto a radio show and predicted that the Tigers would win the Fall Classic. In 1984, I applied with Student Employment for work and had a golf caddying job for less than a week, the duration of a tournament when additional help was needed. I had my in-car driving lessons and obtained my driver's license in 1984, two years after most of my peers had acquired theirs. It was a highly eventful summer. Despite a most difficult beginning to it. And some other persons irritatingly vying for Joey's time and attention. Joey absolutely was my best friend through that summer.
August was, as usual, the better of the two summer months. There was a ten-day time span in mid-August that was particularly outstanding for Joey and I. It began on the evening of Thursday, August 9 when I came home with my parents from a visit with my grandparents. It was around 9 o'clock. Joey and Andrew (sigh!) were together on the street as I arrived home. Andrew left within minutes, and Joey and I sat in my driveway, between car and lawn slope, talking for close to an hour as the sun diminished and the stars twinkled in the sky. Joey was wearing a white turtleneck shirt, and I recall that night talking a bit about space, among several other things.
Next day, Friday, August 10, provided the evening of one of the biggest ever neighbourhood games of hide-and-seek. Joey came to my place after he had been at the Nashwaaksis Junior High School field house. And as I later learned, he put his Nashwaaksis Junior High School gymnasium membership card in my house's drain pipe because his grey sweatpants were pocketless and he did not want to be carrying the card in hand all evening. That evening, Joey and I were inseparable hide-and-seek buddies, hiding together everywhere. Joey was pulling up his pants constantly that evening. Sometimes about twice per minute. I recall Craig and Philip and Kelly and a few others being there in the game. Joey spoke of a guaranteed hiding place. "Lead the way," I said. We hid at the back of the driveway of my enemy, Andre, under the basketball net. It did give us a good view of home base (my chimney), from around the side corner of the patio of Andre's house. We could see how far away the person who was "it" was from home base, and we could therefore dash for home base when we were sure we could outrun the "it" person to reach home base. It was a good hiding place. But we had not expected someone in a car to pull into Andre's driveway, attracting the attention to that direction of the person who was "it". We were revealed to be hiding there by the person disembarking the car, and were caught. Fortunately, though, first person caught was "it", and we were not first caught.
There was a huge disagreement among the other players as to which of them was "it" in the next hide-and-seek round, and we tried eeeny-meeny-minny-mo and all other such procedures to determine who would be "it", but someone always found a loophole to weasel out of being "it". To determine who should be "it", Joey was blindfolded, spun around, and sent by me in the direction of the others standing in my front yard near the street. Whoever Joey touched would be "it". He kept dizzily falling to the grass after a couple of steps, and extending his hand to me to help him back up, which I did. He stood up and gave his pants a couple of upward pulls. I spun him around again, and after a couple of steps he fell again. When he did sightlessly wander close to the others, they all moved out of his way at the same time, and he went past them. We finally agreed that the person whom Joey had passed closest to, would be "it". Joey and I ran to the LeBlanc and Shannon driveways and then, inching our way along the wall to the Shannons' house, we looked up toward the Linden Crescent centre woods as a likely place to hide, and ran as fast as we could to the edge of the tree line. We moved into the woods without being seen. I remember crouching on the ground next to Joey just inside the woods and looking outward to my backyard as everyone was wondering where we were. We were hiding out of bounds, but we did not care. The person who was "it" was omitting the woods from his search for us. Joey suggested that we run up street to his place and hide in the back of his father's truck. Nice idea. I doubted, though, that the others would be so determined to find us that they would ever go that far in their search. They would just concede defeat and go home. We stayed in the woods, waiting for the "it" person to finally look for us there. We scrambled toward home base when our hiding place was detected, but we were outrun back there by the "it" person. The sun was descending, and everybody dispersed, with me walking with Joey to his home. He had forgotten his Nashwaaksis Junior High School gymnasium membership card in the drain pipe. I did not know about the card being in the drain pipe because I did not see Joey put it there.
I recall that Friday night vividly because Joey and I were so close during that hide-and-seek game. On the next day, it rained heavily, and Joey was away to camp. My only memory of that Saturday was of watching and videotaping the 2-hours-and-15-minutes-long Doctor Who serial, "The Seeds of Doom" (in continuous "movie" format- a regular offering on the Bangor, Maine PBS television station, MPBN, starting in June of 1984), which was about alien seed pods discovered in Antarctica, germinating by infecting and absorbing human hosts, and becoming towering, squid-like, man-eating, intelligent plant life. Doctor Who was not renowned for its special effects, but all other aspects of production, from tension-filled atmosphere to music, to revolting depiction of body horror, and to a compelling central acting performance, were top-notch. The presence in Doctor Who of many an actor and actress who had a role in Space: 1999 and some of the aesthetic of Space: 1999 manifesting itself in some of the more futuristic Doctor Who serials, were components, vital components, to Doctor Who's appeal to me. They formed the bedrock in the foundation for my interest in Doctor Who. Together with a still routinely availing social condition during my seminal and developing interest in the travels and travails of the Doctor. My appreciation for Doctor Who in everything (Space: 1999-connected or no) that made it what it was, then grew out of that foundation. I was becoming more and more a Doctor Who admirer through the course of 1984 and early 1985.
Joey came to see me on the overcast and occasionally drizzly afternoon of Sunday, August 12. Decked in violet-red rain pants and rain jacket, he asked if I knew what happened to the gymnasium membership card. I said that I had not been aware that it was in the drainpipe, and the heavy rains doubtless washed it out of the pipe. We looked all over my front lawn for the card, but it was nowhere to be seen. A mystery that was never solved. Relieving ourselves of our search, we sat on the steps on the right side of my driveway and talked for nearly an hour about the world, the possible future of the world, and some rather philosophical points of view about those. Our talks were always very wide and quite profound in scope. Joey left me for a half-hour or so and came back with Andrew, wanting to watch Superman III, which I had acquired on videocassette. And we did so, before dispersing for dinner. In the evening, there was a baseball game played on the street in front of my abode. Joey and I versus Craig and Philip. Joey had discarded his rain attire and was wearing beige rugby pants with three dark stripes on the sides and a yellow shirt. He was pulling his pants up often that evening also. After a few innings (with Joey applauding some of my catches), the baseball game was declared ended, and hide-and-seek was planned. I ate a Fudgsicle and gave one such to Joey, while everyone else expressed disapproval at my outright favouritism.
I remember mentioning to Joey in the middle week of August that I feared having to drive car on the quite elevated Princess Margaret Bridge, and it happened that on my second car-driving lesson I was told by my instructor to drive the training vehicle onto that self same bridge! Joey's chin nearly hit the ground when I informed him later the same day about my quite unexpected feat. It is noteworthy definitely that I was sharing such news with Joey, and not with Tony or anyone else, about my driving lessons- and also news and updates about the golf caddying that I would be doing later that month.
With another weekend came another round of neighbourhood hide-and-seek, baseball, and other various amusements. On Saturday evening, Joey and I were together again as hide-and-seek buddies. I remember sustaining quite a razzing by Craig for some reason or another, with a chorus of persons in his invalidating court, and I was thus in one of my downbeat moods. Joey sat with me on the slope of my front lawn as the sun disappeared on the western horizon. And he encouraged me to talk about what was bothering me, and as he very frequently seemed most capable to do, turned my disposition around by 180 degrees. Joey was certainly the only person in our whole neighbourhood who could pull me out of a gloomy frame of mind. Just by sitting and talking with me.
On the following day, Sunday, August 19, I found that, as it then appeared, I did not attain a place in the selection of golf caddies for the coming week's tournament at the Fredericton Golf and Curling Club. My father transported me to that location in the morning for me to read the list posted in the basement lounge in the impressive, classy structure. And my name was nowhere to be seen. And that was despite my attending of a caddying clinic some ten days earlier. My spirits were not exactly at most elevated level. After lunch, Joey joined me and some of the other youth of our neighbourhood on the grounds to Park Street School, and we meandered our way back to Linden Crescent, to the top of the western hill thereof, where a Mr. Creaser snapshot a picture of all of us on his front lawn, with Joey and I seated side by side. I wish so very much that I could see or have that photograph today! Joey noticed that I was depressed over evidently not qualifying for the caddying work (I was rather "counting upon" my potential salary for that to fund certain videotape collector dealings in coming months), and within the group of we Linden Crescent/Woodmount Drive denizens, Joey stayed close by my side all afternoon and evening that sunny Sunday. I remember that we all walked to my place and sat on my stairs to my back patio, with pairs of us sharing a step, and Joey was right beside me on one of the steps. He was showing in no uncertain way his intent to stay by me throughout the day, even as people sharing his age happened along with invitations for him to leave me and the group of us that had formed earlier in the day. I had been cheered significantly with Joey's help. Entirely a result of his faithful dedication and support. It is days like that one that reinforce my feeling of fondness for Joey- and show that I am not exaggerating when I say that he was my best friend. Memories of days like that are why I miss Joey so very much. Joey was with me to the setting of the sun that Sunday in 1984 as a reduced number of us played tag on the LeBlanc's and my front lawns.
I remember videotape-recording the movie, Starcrash, from television's (i.e. ATV's) late-night motion picture offering on Saturday, August 18, by my videocassette machine's automatic-record timer function, and watching that produced-in-Europe, space-fantasy hokum after dinner and late in the evening of that special Sunday with Joey. I had seen Starcrash theatrically with Tony in 1979, but the fantastic tales of Stella Star comprising Starcrash, and especially the gloriously expressive music (by far the best thing about the movie, very much redeeming it from its admittedly often rather lame turns in its storytelling), recall me ever so much more to 1984 and to Joey, because of my videotaping of it from ATV one night in the midst of my most pleasant times with my best pal Joey in my eighteenth year of life. I did quite a remarkable amount of nightly videotaping by automatic-timer setting in 1984. The New Avengers was being run on the American CBS television network in a 70-minute-long presentation on Wednesdays at 12:30 A.M.. WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, Maine, was transmitting all New Avengers episodes through its CBS connection, and I was striving to add at least some of the action-packed television series with Patrick Macnee as suave John Steed and Joanna Lumley as the luscious, vivacious, and crafty Purdey and Gareth Hunt as the James-Bond-like Mike Gambit, to my videocassette stacks. Poor mid-summer reception on Fredericton Cablevision's signal from WAGM proved rather a hindrance and annoyance, though I was able to attain passably acceptable videotape-recording of the New Avengers episodes, "The Eagle's Nest", "The Midas Touch", and "Gnaws". I additionally tried to videotape, also from WAGM, a nocturnal presentation of the "Double Shock" Columbo episode with Martin Landau as guest star, but a thunderstorm caused total loss of sound and picture only 10 minutes after start of said outing for the rumpled-raincoat-wearing sleuth.
On Channel 4 on our cable television dial in summer of 1984 was another of those looped series of previews for movies on the First Choice pay-television service, among those being snippets of Octopussy, The Hunger, and Psycho II, together with a full-length performance of Ernie Fosselius' Star Wars spoof, "Hardware Wars", run ad nauseam on Channel 4 for I and my friends to derive many a chuckle from its droll brand of satire.
Joey and I indeed had a memorable day together on Sunday, August 19. On the next day, he telephoned me at close to 3 o'clock in the afternoon and asked if I would like for him to come to visit. Yes, absolutely! And he was with me in my room watching Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, and other Walter Lantz-produced cartoon shorts on television when I heard the ringing of my telephone. It was a representative of the Fredericton Golf and Curling Club asking me to report for work early on the following morning. I had "made the cut" after all to be golf caddy. Joey then said to me, "There, you see. You made it after all. Just have faith. Things will work out for you."
I caddied on the green of the Fredericton Golf and Curling Club every day for the remainder of that week, conveyed by my mother to my job destination on Golf Club Road in the mornings, all but one of them sunny, at approximately 8:30 A.M., and meeting the golfer with whom I was assigned for the full tournament as we started each day's play of the esteemed-gentleman sport. I had a wheel cart for the set of golf clubs and thus did not have to carry those (thank God!), but I nevertheless was exhausted at the mid-afternoon (between 2 and 3 P.M.) end of every game from being on my feet and walking an 18-hole golf course with no lunch, only a snack, for upwards of five hours. Notwithstanding, it was a pleasurable and memorable experience, and I recollect thinking often on those days, of the money that I would be garnering by week's conclusion for my videotape-purchasing habit, and in particular for a plethora of Space: 1999 episodes of which I was in negotiation with a young man in Ohio to acquire second-generation videocassette copies (i.e. duplications from his videotape-recordings). For some reason, "The AB Chrysalis" was one of the Space: 1999 episodes to enter my reveries while I was standing on or traversing those spacious plots of grass. Maybe it was the sight of bouncing golf balls that was responsible for my cogitation about spherical Voice Probes and their jumpy locomotion in said Space: 1999 television series entry that was amongst the sum of what I hoped to gain through an Ohio correspondent. Who knows?
I was back at home at 3 P.M., my legs feeling like they were going to fall off, and I would go straight outside to join with Joey and other neighbourhood cohorts. I remember playing baseball at Park Street School field with Joey on one of those evenings and could barely stand, much less run the bases. Joey and I returned to my place and were watching television (I seem to remember Bloopers and Practical Jokes), and when it came time, at near 10 P.M., for Joey to leave me for the night, he said that there was no need for me to walk him home as I was clearly in no condition to further put one foot before the other. Each day that I golf caddied, in addition to Space: 1999 videotapes to which I looked forward, I thought of Joey and of the fun and affinity to be had with him when I arrived back at home. Those were truly wonderful times, those August weeks of 1984.
The Detroit Tigers were on the verge of winning the American Baseball League pennant. I searched far and wide for a Tigers baseball team cap, having to settle for a San Diego Padres hat (they were a first place team too, that year, and they were in the World Series). Joey's cap with Detroit written on it may not have been an exact Tigers cap, but it sure looked good on him in that year of the Tigers! I used to imitate the Jack Morris pitching wind-up, to the amusement of everyone. Craig liked to bemoan me for being a bandwagoner, for my cheering for the Detroit baseball team only because of its vaunted numbers in the winning column, but professional sport did, by 1984 certainly, constitute the only field of human endeavour where I was inclined to bandwagon effect. And the Tigers, and manager Sparky Anderson, were quite deserving of admiration for a fast seasonal start and then a quite steady .600 playing of the National Pastime. Joey and I were a symbiotic pair in our keen following of the Tigers' remarkable year, while a part of me always had a shared tendency with Craig- and with Tony, also- to root with recognised futility for the perennially underachieving (and allegedly cursed) Boston Red Sox.
The summer of 1984 was also defined by my relationship with Tony being at lowest ebb. With hindsight, I can perceive why such a condition had come to be. Although Tony had- at least toward me- held himself back from from the affectionate and the most committed aspects of best friendship and could indeed have been prepared to accept somewhat my establishing of very close friendship with someone else, it likely still was too jarring for him to learn, as I am sure he did, about my going with Joey and Andrew to see Gremlins. Movie theatre attendance in my accompaniment had been Tony's special privilege for a number of years; however, since 1982, I had not been with him to view a single motion picture in a cinema. Going to see movies was by 1984 something I rarely did in any case, and Tony had for quite some time refrained from asking me to do so. In 1983, I had gone but once to a movie theatre, to see Return of the Jedi, and only twice in 1984, for Star Trek III- The Search For Spock and Gremlins, both of those movie viewings in the 1984 month of June. Gremlins was the only movie in the entirety of my life's fourth era that I theatrically viewed with a friend (friend- singular, because I was really at the cinema on that particular occasion for Joey). I indeed did ask Joey to accompany me to movie theatres on further occasions, if I felt sufficiently compelled to go and see a particular film- and of course wanting my best friend with me, provided that I believed that the movie would be to his liking. From 1982 onward, I did not feel comfortable asking anyone other than Joey to go with me to see a movie. He had first refusal. And when he declined to accompany, I felt better about going to a movie (if I went at all) by myself than I did about approaching another friend about joining me. If I did not go with Joey or with my parents (I saw 2010: The Year We Make Contact with my mother and father on my birthday in 1985), I went alone. Treks to the cinema with Tony were no longer expected, and I gather that Tony was content with that, for he never again broached our going together to see a film, nor voiced any dismay at my near extinct (i.e. one or two times per year, maximum) patronage of the city movie theatres. However, for Tony, it probably was much too evident a sign of preferred friendship for me to be going with Joey to see a movie. That plus the increasing amount of time again that summer (1984) that I spent with Joey, about which Tony must have been told by the neighbourhood chatterbox, name starting with an A.
My Space: 1999 videotape performances, after the trouble generated for myself and Joey as a result of them, bombed. After three showings of two episodes each, nobody would come into vicinity of my television for more such. Indeed, on the second Space: 1999 videotape show of summer of 1984, everyone in attendance left my place partway through the second presented episode, "Guardian of Piri". Not even the proposed inducement of a black-and-white television awarded to the most loyal attendee could maintain neighbourhood summer interest in the Space-Age-fiction entertainment that I was peddling. Maybe Joey being my assistant would have made the difference; it certainly would have done so where him and I and a certain week in June were concerned. On the occasion of the fourth planned Space: 1999 two-episode presentation, when Tony and I could not find anybody at home and interested in attending the videotape show, I proceeded anyway with the event, for Tony. He had not seen "Voyager's Return", and I thought that he might like to do so at that time, but he departed my house before completion of said episode.
With the nixing of a couple of proposed videotape copying sessions and my opting more and more to go the route of the videocassette recorder rental for purposes of videotape-to-videotape duplicating and editing work, I had little reason to go to Tony's house but to talk, which was, I have to say, seeming more and more in itself to be an imposition. By August, I had more or less discontinued the procedure of the visit with Tony, opting instead to be with Joey whenever my schedule of commitments- and Joey's timetable- permitted it. And if I did go to Tony's place, it tended to be with Craig and Philip, to ask Tony to join us in a game of baseball. A few times, he did so, and it was him and myself versus Craig and Philip, and in one of such games, during a vividly remembered sunny afternoon on the street in front of my house, Tony and I won, with me jubilantly celebrating that outcome as winning pitcher, with the game-concluding catch having been mine. But comradeship was utterly absent. In 1978 when Tony and I played our first baseball games together as teammates, team spirit and affinity had been quite powerful, but in 1984, it was essentially gone. A prime indicator if ever one was needed that my relationship with Tony had come to a condition almost of non-existence. He was on those days uncommunicative. Not noticeably angry or disenchanted, but blank, devoid of the smallest expression of emotion for my company, as much without pleasure to be with me as with Craig and Philip, seemingly playing those baseball games just for something to do. The appearance of Joey near the end of the game that Tony and I won, noticeably elevated my spirit for the victory to its zenith, especially when the winning catch was mine, impressing Joey with my advanced "grasp" of the one of the sport of baseball's needed skills. I had definitely come quite a long way since former days when I was a waste of baseball team position, both defensively and offensively. I threw baseball glove in air, with Craig chastising me for so-doing, in that the hand implement that I had been using for such inspired catches was his. But I was so very happy at the result of that game that I shrugged away Craig's complaint. Tony quietly walked off that afternoon's baseball playing area that was Linden Crescent in front of where my house was located, as Joey and I conferred on my front lawn one-on-one about a variety of work-and-play-related subjects.
There was very little that I felt that I could then do to turn the tide where Tony was concerned. I had a number of commitments in 1984, and I was in any case most dedicated to Joey with the social time that I did have over the many superb summer days.
And then it became known that Tony and Steven were going to be moving from Fredericton and relocating 100 miles away in Moncton by the end of that summer. A move like that can ultimately be fatal for the healthiest of relationships- and I do believe that had Tony not moved away, my friendship with him would most likely have been finished by the end of 1984. Its condition was that dire.
Indeed, the departure of Tony and Steven from Fredericton, a prospect that would have been devastating to me four years earlier, was in 1984 met by me with calm resignation. To ready myself for the solemn day that saw Tony's family's exodus from the city and from the neighbourhood where they had resided for nine years, I conditioned my frame of mind to the notion of a neighbourhood without Tony and Steven. And I was intrigued, very much so, with how our neighbourhood would continue without their presence. I looked forward to witnessing and in fact being a part of the new directions in which the Linden Crescent and Woodmount Drive community of young people would venture. I found that I was actually rather upbeat about times ahead, feeling as I did that I would be more at liberty to be a closer and more responsive buddy to Joey than I had hitherto permitted myself to be. I believed that Joey would enthusiastically step forward to fill whatever gaps in my life that Tony's absence would create, and be a closer buddy to me than ever. I definitely expected even better times ahead for Joey and I.
Tony's leaving of Fredericton, for all that any of us (including him) knew, was going to be permanent. Yet, the good-byes were subdued. Practically a flatline on the emotional electroencephalogram. On the day before Tony's family's belongings were going to be loaded onto bulky road vehicles, Craig, Philip, and I approached Tony to play one, final baseball game with us, but Tony said that he was busy packing his possessions and helping Steven and his parents with boxing of theirs, and he said a "See ya" without a trace of emotive finality. As Craig, Philip, and I walked down Tony's driveway and up Woodmount Drive to Longwood Drive, Craig was scoffing at the dearth of sentiment exhibited by Tony on termination of residence and of social contact within a community after so many years, and in particular at Tony's evidently blase demeanour toward me. "How long have you and him been friends?" Craig rhetorically asked me. "And that's his idea of a good-bye." I really did not care to engage in discussion with Craig regarding Tony and suggested a quick conversational subject change as we three, Craig, Philip, and I, walked toward Park Street School field on that overcast, late-August afternoon. I mean, Tony's departure was exactly as I had expected it to be. Relations between me and Tony- and also between me and Steven- did seem in mid-1984 at rather a nadir. I could scarcely express any disappointment over a manner of bidden adieu that I knew for a number of weeks was a sure bet.
The autumn of 1984 beckoned. It was to be a most unusual one in so many ways. Not only were Tony and Steven gone from the picture, but it was to be the first time since very early childhood that I had no school, no educational establishment of any sort, to which to go. With reluctant accord by my mother and father, I had opted for 1984-5 to be a year's sabbatical from the learning process, as they and I hoped that an answer to the question of what I should do for a living might present itself. My childhood dream of being a space scientist now definitely fizzled, I had become directionless. Self-confidence had plummeted with my failing of Computer Education in Grade 12, my near-failing of Physics in Grade 10, and the general 10-15 percent drop in my school mark average from Grade 9 to Grade 10. That combined with ennui of school itself and the year's-end decline in my grading average had me not only off my feed with conveyance of knowledge, but questioning my ability to cope with the workload in university. I chose the year's hiatus from education in 1984-5 to regain my confidence, to try to find direction again. Meantime, my mother found some work for me in the videotaping from ASN of something in said television station's educational programming block, a series of Gerontology lectures that my mother's employer wanted for the Victorian Order of Nurses videocassette archive. It was quite an appealing concept. Using my videotaping equipment and interest for some money to fund my own collecting of videocassettes. That videotape-recording contract and my being paid by my grandparents to rake leaves comprised the total work that I undertook for 1984-5. The remainder of my time was to be filled, as far as my parents would sanction, with intensive pondering on what my future might be and preparations for attending university in the autumn of 1985. That and leisure. Plenty of leisure.
I was, of course, intent on quality time a-plenty with the further building of my videotape collection and particularly with adding to my affiliation with my best buddy. To my astonishment, friendship between Joey and I receded, in terms of our being together, even faster in autumn of 1984 than in the two autumns before then. Joey stopped his visits and telephone calls almost immediately after his school year commenced, with me fading fast to sideline status on all but a rare occasion. And I was observing- as I was cutting my lawn or as I was walking to the Pic N' Puff store- Joey's eager involvement in the after-school group activities of persons of his school grade level. Some days, he acknowledged me with sparse facial expression and an economical wave of the hand as he passed my house on his way to his home following end of school day, and on one Wednesday afternoon as he was on the Park Street School playground, he saw me walking on the street and bicycled to my side for a very temporary exchange of chummy conversation. On the whole, I was a fringe presence in his life much earlier in the waning months of the year than I had hitherto been. That much was obvious. But as to the reason, or reasons, for that quick post-Labour-Day decline, I was inclined toward the defeatist Joey-likes-me-less mindset, inducing glum, mopey behaviour (that could have been interpreted by Joey to denote disinterest). Instead of a less introverted, better aware of Joey's possible perspective, more optimistic and constructive approach to viewing the situation.
It was the first post-summer season since Joey and I had met, that Tony was not in the picture for me once Joey had gone back to his schoolmates, and Joey may have been biding his time to see how much the different circumstances would affect my rapport with him. Would I forsake apprehensiveness and seek out Joey all that much more, rather more frequently and rather more quickly? And especially in what had traditionally been lesser months for us? Joey may have been hesitant to blaze a trail to my doorstep in the immediate wake of Tony's exit because he wanted to wait and see how Tony being gone would change the amount of my contact with him (Joey) relative to that with the other persons still in our vicinity. And I was certainly attending like signs of positive change from him. It is possible that each of us was awaiting the other's approach- and I finally did decide that I was evidently going to have to be initiator of contact if I was to have any hope of maintaining- or increasing- Joey's place in my life. But by the time that I did act thusly, he may have lost a considerable amount of faith in our relationship and was opting to be with his same-age friends in after-school and weekend hours, preferring the boys with whom he was already in company for a multitude of shared experiences in the classroom and playground of school. The type of peer-group-topical conversation and joyful, juvenile play that could be had with them, I could not provide, and the pull of peers for Joey (no doubt always a formidable force) was in 1984-5 all the more evident to me because I was around our neighbourhood rather more than in the past.
Meanwhile, Craig and Philip were continuing to call upon me to join them in playing baseball. Whilst Joey was committed to his same-age friends, and with Tony no longer present, I conceded to Craig's requests for me to join in whatever base-running, ball-and-bat games that he was able to bring about, though I was definitely slumping by then (1984's autumn), and therefore losing heart. Only the success of the Detroit Tigers kept my enthusiasm for the sport of baseball alive at that time, and Craig offered conversation of some value with his extensive familiarity with Major League teams, players, and statistics. Joey may have seen me with Craig and may have interpreted that unfavourably. To me, though, it was a question of availability and of overtures in my direction. Craig and his pals were not only receptive but outgoing toward me that autumn, even if it was only because I was useful as an opposing player, and a floundering one to be quite easily defeated. I wanted most to be with Joey, but he was almost always in exclusive company of same-age buddies, as I observed him and them from the baseball field as they were playing or socialising nearby, or on their way to somewhere else.
It occurs to me that the situation with Joey could have been strengthened substantially, perhaps beyond the possibility of any of his peers of attaining highest prominence, if I had told him that he was my best friend. Before September, 1984, however, I had been skittish about such a pronouncement causing a backlash against me by Steven, Steven's friends, and Tony. After the departure of Tony and Steven in 1984, though I sensed myself to be at rather more liberty to express my regard for Joey, I was too inhibited, too self-conscious, fearful of Joey replying, "Really? Well, that's nice. But you're not mine," as he walked away with Andrew or some other same-age friend of his, if I was to say to him that he was my best friend. Besides, I do not think that Joey would have found such a statement to be sufficiently convincing if I did speak it in the wake of Tony's leaving. My optimum time where Joey was concerned, to say that he was my best friend, had passed. And more freely-speaking persons like Andrew had staked more abundant claim to Joey's affinity and time.
Still, it is possible that Joey's sooner than usual retreat from me after start of school year 1984-5 might have been meant to induce me to reach out to him rather than await his coming to me. And even then I hesitated- and when I did walk to his house on a Wednesday afternoon at approximately 12:30 in late September, Joey was sceptical when he answered his door. He invited me inside to view his new Betamax videocassette recorder and to talk with him as he ate his tomato soup lunch and as we watched the Flintstones episode, "Masquerade Party", better known to most people as the episode with the musical group called The Way-Outs and an instilled-with-fear populace of the town of Bedrock, transmitted on ATV. But as was usual in those days, a friend of Joey's soon was with us. Before The Flintstones was finished. And I was dismissed from their company as they went together to the Pic N' Puff store. Even if I were to brave a revelation about the highest value I assigned to Joey's friendship, an ideal timing to do so was almost always, it seemed, beyond reach. From autumn of 1984 onward, we were rarely together long enough for conversation to become settled and relaxed enough for me to lead us into discussion about our friendship. We were in any case all too often abruptly intruded upon by one or more representatives of the legions of Joey's school pals.
Obviously, I could not be with Joey at school, or in organised sports, or anything where streaming people into age groups was standard practice. And because I was no longer in school and around home in our neighbourhood much more that year than in any other prior year, I was witness to the breadth and the abundance of Joey's social connections, at times of the day when I had, in the years previous, been elsewhere (either at school myself, on the school bus en route to home). And knowing that I was at home with much free, social time, he yet was opting for company of boys of his age on all Wednesday afternoons, and most all other times, too. Again, I could have aided my cause immensely by simply telling him of my utmost fondness for his friendship, but inhibition and fear of a statement of lesser worth with regards to me, thwarted that.
I nonetheless persisted in coming at least once weekly to his house to call upon him, most often finding nobody at home, and sometimes only his sister (who as expected was snippy toward me and may not have told Joey that I had been there calling upon him). Meantime, I continued my efforts toward attaining my licence for driving a car and increasing my videotape holdings of favourite entertainment- with Outland, the Sean Connery thriller about law enforcement on a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons, The Shape of Things to Come, a moody, autumnal, made-in-Canada, 1979 outer-space epic starring Jack Palance and Space: 1999's Barry Morse, and Laserblast, a low, low, low-budget movie about a teenager discovering an alien ray gun that slowly transmutes him into a murdering monster, being some of the movies that I was obtaining in August and September in 1984. Space: 1999 was, of course, still my primary motivation in my videotape quest. I also at long last enjoyed the privilege of voting in a Canadian federal election, in September of 1984- and that proved to be just one of the few elections in which the political party for which I cast a ballot won and thus formed government. And I thrilled to the Detroit Tigers' successful finish in the 1984 baseball season. My parents and I also went to Truro, Nova Scotia on a weekend in mid-September, and I had my videocassette recorder with me in hope of videotaping an as yet not possessed Space: 1999 episode, only to find myself videotaping a Space: 1999 television series entry that I already had- and was going to receive again from my videotaping source in Sydney.
One Saturday evening in late September in 1984 as I was preparing to watch the 7 P.M. MPBN telecast of the Doctor Who story, "The Invisible Enemy", I discovered Joey outside on the street in front of my house, solitarily playing with his hockey stick, hockey net, and a tennis ball. Forsaking Doctor Who, I went outside as darkness was descending upon our city, was greeted instantly by Joey, and chatted with him, our enthusiasm for each other's company very evident indeed. But the conversation was all too brief as he kept it to fifteen or twenty minutes before climbing onto his bicycle, his hockey net on his back, for return to his home. I then went indoors to join the Doctor Who story already in progress and about 30 minutes into its 90-minute running length. I thought it strange that Joey would choose to practice road hockey on the area of our street in front of my house. Perhaps he was there primarily in hope that I might come out of doors to socialise with him. But if he wanted to see me, why not come to my door? I had not known Joey to refrain from going, entirely on his initiative, to see a friend such as myself. Apprehensiveness was my, not his, personality trait.
When in late October I passed my written and in-car test for my automobile driving permit, I wanted Joey to be my first person besides my parents to be told of my success. I went to see him after school, and he was on his way out of door for an appointment with a school peer. But he did smile along with an affectionate statement of congratulations, and also remembered precisely my prediction on the outcome of Major League Baseball's American and National League playoffs and of the World Series, which to both our amazement, had come true. The Detroit Tigers routed the Kansas City Royals three games consecutive and then won the World Series in five games against the San Diego Padres.
As October proceeded and led into November, I continued to watch- and sometimes to videotape-record- MPBN's telecasts of Doctor Who. And Star Trek was back on WVII, on Monday to Friday inclusive; it had been removed from that Bangor, Maine television station for the summer. CHSJ did continue airing Star Trek on Saturdays in the summer and would persist in airing it until near the end of the summer of 1986. Whereas WVII had gone from showing Star Trek episodes from mostly complete film prints to using videotape-edited versions of the episodes (all of them with an additional commercial interval and with several minutes of footage removed), CHSJ maintained its allegiance to the utilisation of film prints, the episodes being mostly presented in their entirety.
In the 1984-5 television season, V had become a regular, weekly, hour-long offering, its mileage already having been exceeded by a second, bloated three-part television miniseries in May of 1984; I found a few Christmas "movies of the week" to be effective at pulling on my heart strings; and there were some items of some interest to me on French-language CBC, those being a repeat run of Le Mutant in the autumn and, on Tuesday, New Year's Day at 6 P.M., the famous "747" episode of The Incredible Hulk (called L'Incroyable Hulk en francais) wherein Bill Bixby's Dr. David Banner character's more gradual than usual "demi-Hulk" transition at the controls of a passenger aircraft was rendered rather chillingly with facial close-ups. First time for me to see that particular episode of the television show about the not-so-jolly green giant. And by and by, my compulsion to view Warner Brothers cartoons was once more on the rise, as the CBS television network had reformatted The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show in 1984 with a new opening song ("It's cartoon gold, for young and old...") and some appealingly different, busier-than-traditional styles for revealing cartoon titles and character poses. I fancied adding those cartoons to my videotape collection, but CBS' long-entrenched practice of editing for violent content and WAGM's undependable picture quality (with Fredericton Cablevision) and variable loyalty to its CBS feed, it for some time showing The Smurfs off of the NBC television network instead of the first half-hour of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, together comprised a compound headache that I chose to mostly eschew for the time being, though I was interested in trying to procure onto my videocassettes some of the less butchered Tweety cartoons, and "Hyde and Go Tweet" especially. And in summer of 1985, I did just that. With The Pink Panther Show and the revamped Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, I was experiencing a reawakening of a long dormant fascination with non-super-hero, comedic cartoons, a fascination which would grow steadily during my first two years in university, and then become fuelled quite powerfully by nostalgia for Douglastown and for Era 2, in post-1987 years, in addition to a building aesthetic interest in the work of cartoon animation directors Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson.
I never did tell Michael that he was my best friend in Douglastown. I did not ever sense that it was necessary to do so, and I would not have been particularly adept at so candid and so affecting a conversation. Tony was content to not need to respond to or initiate such talk, and any statement of utmost affinity either way would have been uncomfortable for him, and from him to me maybe, if not probably, quite out of the question. Joey, however, did need to be told of his special status, I think, but I just lacked prior experience, courage, that elusive ideal moment, and, I believed, favourable prevailing circumstances within our neighbourhood social unit, to verbalise my fondness for a best pal such as him.
And Joey did try to pull the words out of me. How he tried! But they caught in my throat or emerged in stumbling or all-too-brief speech in what probably sounded to Joey to be a half-hearted manner, if that. On a typically overcast early November of 1984 morning, as I was readying to videotape-record Scott of the Antarctic from MPBN (hoping as I was for a videocassette-recording of that golden oldie that would be superior to what I had of it from its December 31, 1983 telecast), the telephone rang, and Joey was the person on the opposite end of the electronic communication line. He was, seemingly out of the blue, asking of me some very direct, quite personal questions along the lines of, "Do you like me?" and "How much do you like me?" At that time, there was only one telephone in my house. It was in the kitchen, and I could not talk privately there on the telephone with anybody. Certainly not about matters interpersonal. Joey had caught me completely by surprise with his questions, and I staggered in my effort to reply satisfactorily to them with as few words as possible. I tried to sidestep them when they went beyond requiring simple yes-or-no responses. Joey then did some James Bond imitations, acted somewhat upbeat, and then terminated the conversation without a suggested meeting at my place or at his or somewhere in between. I thought that telephone call to be certainly quite odd, but I was rather preoccupied with a certain videotaping project on that day and delayed extensive contemplation about that talk on the telephone. Bottom line was that I failed to sufficiently provide the answers to Joey that he was intently seeking, and I thus was sealing my fate, I think, for the months to come. I reaped the outcome of what I had sown, that outcome being a diminishing place for me in Joey's life, and my by times adverse reactions to that alienating him from me even more. 1984-5 was when downturn in our friendship was really quite pronounced. I was, to be sure, puzzled indeed as to Joey's telephone call and his questioning, what in particular had precipitated it, and whether Joey was just acting goofy as he was known sometimes to do, or if he was endeavouring to attain from me a clear and candid statement of his importance to me. If the latter was the case- and I now do believe that it was, I squandered my best opportunity to say to him what needed saying.
The next few weeks that November were so very busy that I did not proceed with a "follow up" visit to Joey to enquire as to the actual purpose of that bizarre telephone call. On a chilly and drizzly Tuesday, November 6, 1984, as I was watching General Hospital at 4 P.M., a parcel arrived at my door. It was from Columbus, Ohio. My Space: 1999 fan contact there had done the duplicating of said television series' episodes in his possession that I needed, and like a child in a toy factory, I was popping videotape after videotape into my piece of Panasonic hardware, delighting in the opportunity after so many years to see certain Space: 1999 episodes, among them "Brian the Brain" and "End of Eternity", both unseen, even unheard, by me in English or French since 1977. Dandy, full-colour videotape copies of "The Rules of Luton" and "Missing Link" were in the offering, too, along with "Earthbound" (with full titles), and several mid-Season-2 Moonbase Alpha encounters: "The Taybor", "The AB Chrysalis", "Catacombs of the Moon" (another traditionally difficult episode to attain viewing and ownership), and "Seed of Destruction". Unfortunately was there a drawback to this bedazzling development. WUAB-TV Cleveland had transferred all second season episodes to videotape for editing purposes, deleting nearly four minutes out of each story (CBC English had been known to only eliminate approximately two minutes from its transmitted Space: 1999 episodes), and with the irritating side-effect of a periodic haywire picture due, it seemed, to videotape-recorder head clogging during WUAB's film-to-videotape transfer procedure. And the first season episodes had occasional WUAB-TV logos overlain on top of particular scenes. Editing by me of these undesirable elements to my received episodes was rather a daunting proposition. But it was so very exhilarating to be so much further along in my quest for comprehensive Space: 1999, now possessing many episodes that I had not experienced in English for many years, that I was indeed ready to meet the challenge. A total of three videocassette recorder rentals from Log Home Video in the Devon area of Fredericton North over the course of a week was to be what I required, and running almost around the clock, for me to finish my work. And when I did, I had every first season episode in some capacity (three in "movie" format only) in my Space: 1999 collection, and more than half of the second season. On the afternoon that I returned a leased videocassette machine to Log Home Video, I resolved to go to see Joey. But he was not at home.
On the week thereafter, my mother was going to Toronto for yet another of her Victorian Order of Nurses conferences, and I accompanied her on her journey, once again by passenger train, to and from Canada's most populous metropolis. My father could not secure time away from his work and thus could not come with us. It was a disappointing sojourn in the city of the CN Tower, the World's Biggest Bookstore, and Yonge Street. My mother and I were staying in a hotel in Mississauga, 20 minutes by taxicab away from central Toronto. I could only afford a couple of shopping excursions in Toronto and apart from a few Starlog magazine back-issues (including those with Space: 1999 second season episode descriptions) and one or two Space: 1999 books to replace some old copies thereof, I found Toronto in 1984 to be far from the boon to me what Ottawa had been in 1983. And I contracted a virus sometime during that week. On the train back to New Brunswick, I became feverish, suffered from a piercingly sore throat, and generally felt miserable. It felt like the train ride was never going to end, as remedy for my deteriorating condition was limited to a bowl or two of chicken noodle soup at the Moncton train depot and a drink of juice on the Moncton-to-Fredericton leg of our homebound trek. I was one restless, suffering traveller in that hot, poorly ventilated train car. I will never forget how good it felt to be home. Still, my influenza was going to become much worse before I was to recover. It was not until the early days of December that I felt healthy enough again to go outside into my community. And then my mother and father had news of some quite upsetting import. My father had a problem with the valves of his heart and needed a double-bypass operation. It was a risky procedure, certainly, but without it, he would have a fatal heart attack at some all-too-close point in time.
I went up my street's east slope in search of Joey on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 18. It was a cloudy, breezy day with intermittent snowfall. Some frozen aquatic flakes were dusting the pavement as I braced myself to be dismissed almost immediately, if indeed Joey or anybody was at home at all. As my feet were starting to touch the driveway of Joey's domicile, he came outside with his dog, planning a short outdoor trek with his furry pet. Joey smiled whole-heartedly when he saw me approaching, and we two were instantaneously swept with good cheer and an easily flowing conversation that lasted for close to an hour. Joey and I conversed most chummily in the driveway and along the front walkway of his Linden Crescent East homestead as descending snow increased in momentum and particle size and motor vehicles turning the corner from Longwood Drive to Linden Crescent skidded, to Joey's and my amusement. I confided to Joey how I felt about my father's coming surgery, was candid in expressing my intent to come to see Joey long before that particular day, and was pleased to hear Joey say that he had been planning a visit to me also. But I still did not raise the subject of his early November telephone call and the questions that he asked. As wonderful as our conversation that December day was, I still felt uneasy about invoking intimate friendship talk without some indication from Joey that he was then ready and willing to delve into such. Our communicative hour together in the falling snow was nevertheless very reassuring for us and our future as buddies, I thought- and I came home at close to 5 o'clock for supper and a viewing of the Mickey Rooney Christmas movie, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, on WVII before Star Trek's "Plato's Stepchildren" episode, feeling very happy about relations with my best friend.
During the Christmas season that year, I watched my Space: 1999 videotapes, especially those of episodes of most recent acquisition, became moist-eyed by way of television Christmas movies such as the aforementioned one with Mr. Rooney and a Jacklyn Smith and Art Carney North Pole fantasy called The Night They Saved Christmas, and recall watching the George Pal-directed The Time Machine (1960) on WLBZ's Great Money Movie on a weekday afternoon a few days after January 1, 1985.
I was delighted to be visited by Joey on the morning of January 3, the first time that I saw him after Christmas. Sporting his new army pants and telling me of his recent hiring by The Daily Gleaner to be newspaper carrier for our neighbourhood (the option of home delivery of the Gleaner was again chosen by my father- after several years of foregoing it- in light of Joey's announcement), Joey played my Christmas present computer's baseball game and sat with me to watch my recently attained videocassette of The Empire Strikes Back, before suddenly aborting the visit and leaving me before 11:30 that morning. A perplexing turn of events that I had not seen coming. And then I was flustered when Joey opted not to stop to see me on his first days as a newspaper deliverer. Indeed, the first time that he collected money for a week's worth of Daily Gleaners, he was very businesslike. No perceptible trace of a wish to socialise with me when he came to my door. This will never do, I said to myself. And so, I started to- in the middle of winter- go outside and occupy myself somehow in my driveway or opened garage until Joey strode along on his delivery route. Thus commenced a tradition lasting for as long as Joey was disseminating the news to the people of our street, of me awaiting his newspaper-carrying emergence onto my area of our crescent street. On some days, Joey was pleased to see me outside, and on some other days, not. There were days when he would have same-age friends of his by his side and pass me with few words spoken. I became more and more aware of his constantly strengthening bond with his peers in school and organised sports. I could not be with him in those, obviously. And I knew how stronger the ties of friendship between Joey and his same-age cohorts would become over time, while I would be less and less significant. Such consideration really depressed me. And did so more and more as time went by. That year (1984-5) that Joey was in Grade 6, I remember feeling particularly low on the priority scale. My attitude became one of defeatist, downbeat discouragement. And yet, I thought that I needed to project a manner of assured composure if I was to retain Joey's respect. Sometimes, I could not do that. I could not talk to Joey and act as though I was unperturbed by evidently being of decreased relevance to his life. I would look away, or pretend not to hear him when he called out my name. Sometimes to test him. Sometimes because I just could not act like I was in happy agreement with our condition. I may have appeared to not be pleased to see him, but I was pleased, certainly, even as I knew that his time with me would likely be brief and rushed, filler between school and his planned time with peers in the evening.
Not completely daunted, I asked Joey to accompany me to see the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, in June of 1985 during that motion picture's few weeks of showings at the Plaza Cinemas. I had some dollars to spare and wanted very much to go with Joey, my best friend, to see a theatrical presentation of a James Bond film. However, no amount of persuasion consistent with my personality (I was not the sort of person to twist an arm) could bring an affirmative answer. Ultimately, I opted not to go to the cinemas Plaza for A View to a Kill, and as had been the case with its predecessor, Octopussy, I did not see A View to a Kill until after its release on videotape. Joey did, however, go to the Plaza Cinema 1 one evening (that of June 8, 1985) with his father and possibly with a friend (though I am not sure of that- or if so, of who it was) for purpose of seeing the 1985 James Bond film adventure and thoroughly knew Roger Moore's final outing as the intrepid British super-spy many months before I did.
Such was the state of Joey and Kevin for first half of 1985. Disappointment, missed or declined opportunities for togetherness, me feeling inferior, or of lesser value and desirability, relative to Joey's friends of his age group. And as had been a fact for us since start of 1984's final quarter, we were not on the same wavelength as to each other's feelings, did not read each other's cues, and I failed time and time again to say what was required, I think, to effect the improvement that we- or certainly I- wanted. My somewhat withdrawn, depressed demeanour was quite possibly regarded by Joey as declining interest in him, and in response to his rather swift passages by me on his newspaper deliveries, I deferred conversation of how I was feeling to later times that never really materialised, and some items of concern I kept to myself indefinitely. I did not tell Joey of my grandfather's death and its impact upon me in March of 1985, and was slow to talk to him in early June after my father's successful surgery. Perhaps Joey's decision not to accompany me to see 1985's James Bond movie was something of a reaction to how quiet, how prone to glum, introverted recoil that I had been behaving. I missed so very much the good times that Joey and I once shared and which were seemingly, by way of his increased emphasis on same-age associations, not to be recurrent in our future.
And I did also miss Tony and Steven. Quite. In the ten months (by June of 1985) that they had been gone, with a key ingredient, i.e. Steven, to social cohesiveness among the boys of Steven's age bracket no longer present, a number of the boys were branching in directions involving persons not part of our immediate neighbourhood or of our traditional social circle. It was amazing that I did successfully have two months' worth of videotape showings in the winter, with me in fact doing all of the corralling of persons to watch the videotapes, but I must say that the latter half of those two months of presented videotaped episodes of Space: 1999's second season were scantly attended. Only the first few Wednesday afternoons with Moonbase Alpha were emphatic successes in terms of the numbers of people on my television room's floor and the response by them to what they were watching, with a double-feature of the episodes, "The AB Chrysalis" and "The Rules of Luton", garnering the most incoming persons and appreciative remarks. Rather appropriately, the last videotape presentation that I was ever to have was (in late March of 1985) of the final Space: 1999 episode, "The Dorcons", though that really was not by design. Honest. Apart from Ray and maybe Kelly's brother, Scott, response to my Space: 1999 and science fiction videocassette series of shows in the latter month thereof was practically nil, and even in the first month, the boys present were accompanied by their pals from school, persons I did not know and whom I only ever met on those occasions in particular. I wanted Joey to be my assistant, absolutely, but I felt certain that he would outright reject my invitation to be such, because I was presenting videotapes mostly of a television programme that had become, despite- or due to- my efforts, a thorn in Joey's side, it seemed, and he would, I thought, be uninterested in spending Wednesday afternoons at my place. I should still have asked him, but self-consciousness and fear of the crushing disappointment of rejection kept me silent. I should have asked Joey to assist and coped with the impact of his negative response. But I just did not think myself strong enough to deal with the reeling effect of a rebuff by my best friend. Not with so much else happening in my life that was distressing and morale-diminishing. And I was aware of how dicey the whole subject of Space: 1999 and videotape showings thereof was between Joey and myself (though I had yet to comprehend the de facto reasons for that), and remembering the problematical early summer of 1984, I tried my level best when with Joey, to downplay as much as possible my Wednesday afternoon presentations of Space: 1999.
My father's double-bypass heart surgery was scheduled for May in 1985 in Halifax. He was quite ill for all of the time that he needed to wait for the life-saving operation. And as if that were not enough, my grandfather became sicker and sicker and was hospitalised for several days before his death on March 8, 1985. I remember vividly spending many a late evening with my mother and grandmother at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital, sitting in one of the lounges and watching Benny Hill as my mother conferred with nurses and doctors and my grandmother was maintaining a vigil at my grandfather's bedside. I was amazed at how stoic was my grandmother's handling of the ordeal of her husband's deterioration and death. I was with my father at home on the morning of Friday, March 8, having just returned home from purchasing the Magnavox videocassette recorder to replace my dead Panasonic videotape machine, when the telephone rang with my mother relaying the sad news that my grandfather had expired in the A.M. hours of that overcast March Friday. I fell to pieces when I attended the open-casket memorial service on Sunday evening. I could not keep myself composed as my grandfather's husk lay in coffin, his embalmed face visible. I was too distraught to stay in the visitation room. The funeral a day or two later was a much more manageable event for me, though my depressed mood lingered for many days hence.
Joey could see that I was withdrawn and glum. But it made little sense to him in view of my ownership of a new videotape machine superior to the old. And I, in faltering faith in my friendship with Joey, did not think that he would be supportive or understanding of how I was feeling, and therefore I kept my bereavement to myself, while he probably was interpreting my under-enthused attitude to be indicative of reduced interest in him, which was absolutely not the case. My relationship with Joey seemed to be in free-fall. He had so many same-age friends that I could not avoid the growing impression of being an outsider and a lesser friend. I was increasingly thinking myself ultimately expendable and became less and less secure about our friendship. I started testing him by pretending not to hear him when he called out to me, to see if he would show his dedication and keep calling my name. In retrospect, I suppose that I may have seemed aloof, but uncertainty about my place in his world was causing me to act nonchalantly, in hope that he would reach out more to me.
First item that I videotaped with my new piece of electronic gear on the Saturday of that dismal week was a Doctor Who special episode entitled "The Five Doctors", that was about various incarnations of the Doctor being assembled in the Death Zone on planet Gallifrey. Death Zone. How fitting, that. With death now a factor in my life that was to grow increasingly pronounced over the years to come.
In April of 1985, I found a classified advertisement in a magazine for a collector's store in Winnipeg, Manitoba that was offering some Space: 1999 books for sale. When I established contact by mail with that dealer in printed media and other memorabilia related to television shows, I received an all-inclusive listing of merchandise, and therein were all eight of Charlton Comics' black-and-white illustrated Space: 1999 magazines and many of the Space: 1999 paperback books with episode novelisations. When I pulled my chin off of the floor, I speeded myself to place an order for all of the books (needed to replace disintegrating earlier purchased copies) and the first of the magazines (which were rarer and rather more expensive than the books). Within two weeks, I had Pocket Books' The Space Guardians, Collision Course, and Lunar Attack, and Orbit Publications' Moon Odyssey, plus the first volume in Charlton Comics' Space: 1999 magazine series. I was beaming proudly to be owner of the last of those items and soon assembled the monies needed to buy all seven of the other Space: 1999 magazines, generously on reserve for me by the owner of that Winnipeg store. They all came to my doorstep by Parcel Post during the time period in mid-to-late May in 1985 that my father was having his surgery in Halifax. Between early morning Pink Panther Show broadcasts on ATV and repeat reading of my magazines, which I received with almost as much excited zeal as that of Daffy Duck in a famous Daffy-as-Duck-Twacy cartoon (which I had yet to see), I lived through those tense times for my family (and for several weeks after our return to home I ran errands for my father during his rather lengthy recuperation). It was especially pleasing to have the Charlton Comics Space: 1999 magazine with a version of "The Metamorph" therein, seeing as David B. possessed that one so tantalisingly when I was friends with him in the late 1970s. Now, I, too, had that magazine, and I revelled in the acquisition! In addition to my father's full recovery, it was one of the select few triumphs for me within the downbeat spring of 1985.
The eventual failure of my winter of 1985 series of videotape shows underscored the depressing reality of times of late. People were not "with me" anymore. By spring of 1985, my only significant social contacts in the neighbourhood were with my still-receding best friendship with Joey, and with continuing participation in the baseball games orchestrated by Craig and his, by then, best buddy, Philip. As warm weather was upon us in April and May of 1985, the boys of Joey's age group, where I was concerned, were now only acting as a syphon, draining away more and more time that Joey ought to have been spending with me, often pulling him totally out of the Linden Crescent/Woodmount Drive milieu, to be together with them and their (and his) new-found "outworld" buddies, or coming with him on his newspaper route, such that I, if outside in my yard in hope of socialising with Joey, was but someone to whom Joey said a passing hello. Steven being ringleader of sorts had not only kept the boys of his and Joey's age group united in the environs where I was active as a social, games-playing, and videotape-entertainment-providing personality- and did, I believe, provide opportunities for Joey and I to be fellow players in all-inclusive games of, say, baseball, but it also kept some of the competition for Joey's attention away from us for a sizable fraction of the time. Enough for Joey and I to connect one-on-one for many, many affectionately remembered visits at my place or at his, in 1982, 1983 (especially), and 1984. And being by times with Tony had enabled me to maintain a profile, albeit not always a warmly welcomed one, with Steven's buddies and facilitated the arranging of successful videotape shows.
The grand, new, post-summer-of-1984, post-Tony-and-Steven epoch of avowed, reciprocated best friendship with Joey just had not materialised. I had become rather marginalised in the neighbourhood, and with Joey most particularly. Craig and Philip still wanted me for recreational baseball, but my floundering performance in that sport was intensely frustrating to me, and all that I received from the pair of them was at best unconvincing bromides and at worst outright sneers and jeers as I struggled on the pitcher's mound and in the batter's box in what fewer games than usual that Craig was able to arrange. It had been a dim and depressing year for me, with my grandfather's death, my father's impending double-bypass heart operation, and impression of fading significance to Joey. And as if that were not enough to send me into an aggrieved tailspin, my new Magnavox videocassette machine was revealing a litany of tracking problems on most of the videotape-recordings done on my then-quite-deceased Panasonic mechanism after spring of 1984. I would need to acquire videotape recording of the material in question yet again. Aarrgh! I toiled away at that for many days consecutive in June of 1985. With rented videotape apparatus from Video Home Entertainment Centre combined with my Magnavox videocassette recorder, I had marathon videotape duplicating sessions, in addition to doing some burnishing editing work on some recently attained (from MPBN) movie-length Doctor Who adventures ("Pyramids of Mars" I recall copying quite late one night in mid-June of 1985) and then early-morning awakenings to see and videotape-record Inspector cartoons on ATV's 7 A.M. telecasts of The Pink Panther Show. My labours with videotape kept me busy and thus not immediately conscious of Joey's continuing and expanding social contacts apart from me through much of June.
Space: 1999 was to be notably problematic to re-record on videotapes with my new Magnavox videocassette device, as I had dispensed with many of my original CBHT-and-CBIT-sourced first-generation videotapings. Happily, a PBS television station in Ohio was reported by one of my mail correspondents to be airing commercial-free, uncut episodes of Space: 1999. But building a pipeline for those complete and commercial-free episodes to flow into my anticipatory hands was to prove something of a strain on my patience, and I am sorry to say, my tact- and ultimately, I was only able to procure nine episodes from that PBS Ohio broadcast run, and some of those were third-generation videotape copies: "The Mark of Archanon" (off-air), "Death's Other Dominion" (at last with its full titles, to my sigh of long-awaited satisfaction), "Guardian of Piri", "End of Eternity", "Earthbound", "The Full Circle", "Another Time, Another Place", "Missing Link", and "The Last Sunset" (the latter eight of these being third-generation videotape-recordings by the time that they were in my possession). I could not afford to be particular, though, with regard to wherefores for my replacement Space: 1999 episodes. By spring of 1986, the formidable task of refurbishing my Space: 1999 collection had come to a conclusion that I could judge to be acceptable, though I would continue to be on the lookout for better-looking or more complete copies of episodes. I had even been able, along the way, to obtain original (i.e. episodic) versions of most of the Space: 1999 episodes turned into "movies", all except both parts of "The Bringers of Wonder" (though in 1987, I did succeed in importing to my fair country the episode title, guest stars, etc. sequence for part one).
As regards my educational direction, I simply had no idea what I wanted to be- and still did not in 1985. My mother always maintained that I was more intelligent and pliable than I thought myself to be. She still urged me to enrol in Science at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. But I knew that the mathematical gobbledygook of Physics and Chemistry was not my forte, and with a reported failure rate of close to fifty percent in the first year, the Bachelor of Science programme at University of New Brunswick was just too intimidating. Still, my parents were insistent that I go to university. So, like most uncertain people, I enrolled in the Arts programme.
One day early in the summer of 1985, Craig came to my door with some news of considerable staggering proportion. He had learned that Tony and Steven had moved back to Fredericton. He said that someone whom he knew had seen and talked to Steven. It almost no time at all, Craig and I learned that Tony and Steven were living in an apartment on Longwood Drive, within viewing range of Park Street School's baseball diamond! Amazing! Still more eyebrow-elevating was that Tony and Steven had been in our area for some weeks already. Craig found Tony's seeming reluctance to announce his return to be incomprehensibly daft, but I thought it sensible given the downbeat manner by which Tony had left our city. I had not heard from Tony by any means since he had gone to Moncton, and considering the condition of my relationship with him on his departure, I had not expected otherwise. Some cajoling was required by Steven to bring Tony out of their home and down to the baseball field at Park Street School, but once there, Tony settled back into the routines of baseball play with myself, Craig, and other neighbourhood persons, and was almost immediately cordial and fluently communicative with me. During one of our team's turns at bat, Tony and I conversed on the entertainment developments of the year that we were apart, and I think that he was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had I not changed very much (apart from losing my perm curly hairstyle imposed upon me by my mother prior to my high school graduation) but also that my relationship with Joey had not progressed. Tony may have come back to Fredericton expecting supreme, best-buddy chumminess between Joey and I and could have been holding back from coming into my midst for that reason. And yet I think that even if Tony had returned to Fredericton to find Joey and I virtually inseparable, he would not have been the slightest bit dissonant, or even disconcerted. Indeed, he- and Steven, too- were found to have adopted rather a laissez-faire, so-be-it-and-let-us-have-fun-whatever-the-circumstances approach to their regained place in the Linden-Crescent-surrounding community.
I was at that time quite optimistic about all matters social. That perhaps Tony and Steven being back meant that we, all of us in our neighbourhood, might somehow return to the ways of happier times before 1984, or some semblance thereof. And my situation with Joey did improve somewhat in the months after the restoration of Tony and Steven to our suburban habitat. I cannot say for certain how much of a cause-and-effect relationship that there was. Perhaps Tony being nearby gave to Joey added impetus to reach out to me, him being someone with whom Joey might have felt it necessary to compete for my companionship and first loyalty. Not that there really was any competition. Joey was my best buddy even after the disappointing time period for us that was 1984-5. More likely was that Steven being a chief factor again in neighbourhood for organising the masses of Joey's peers, kept some of my rivals for Joey's time and attention from nipping too closely, too often, at my heels. Though one of them in particular, Andrew, did continue incursions into the time that Joey and I were together, but even those seemed, for awhile anyway, to be of reduced amount, though they were no less exasperating for me when they did occur.
After a fallow year for me socially, I was definitely witness to an upturn in my life on all counts. It felt nice to again have someone like Tony with whom to converse about Space: 1999, videotape acquisitions, and so forth. My connection with Tony from 1985 onward did not amount to any more, really, than a few minutes two or three times per week on Tony's doorstep and maybe involvement together (usually on opposite teams) in a baseball game. But it was an agreeable arrangement, I believe, for both of us. Tony and Steven were both reconnecting with Fredericton with something of a different custom than I had seen from them in the weeks leading to their 1984 departure. They were quite upbeat- and particularly so toward me. They seemed prepared to accept whatever they found in their reclaimed homeland with neither complaint nor tacit peeve. Post-1985 was to be a stage in my history with Tony defined by expectations at their most modest, as Tony and I settled into an easy-going relationship of affinity in least complex, least committed format. Something of an amiable, tangential association in lieu of a full-fledged friendship by definition, with no quibbles on either his part or mine, about any of our other social connections or the amount of time or attention allocated to one another. Our connection was limited on mutual accord to talks at Tony's doorstep about space fantasy opuses and my loaning of videotapes first of Space: 1999 then of Doctor Who for Tony to view in his own time, him being sometimes joined in that by Steven and Steven's pals, and for Tony to provide his impressions in subsequent conversation with me at his door or on the baseball field. Although providing videotaped material for Tony and Steven to watch while I was not with them was in no way comparable to the former experience of being with friends as they experienced my favourite entertainments, there nevertheless was something gratifying about knowing that somewhere one or more people of my acquaintance were seeing- and enjoying- something of my keen, enduring interest from one of my videotapes. Steven, although as yet occasionally caustic toward me when encouraged or bidden to be so by some of his friends, was in gradual development toward becoming one of the kindest, most complimentary, and indeed one of the very few friendly faces in my life in the early 1990s.
Furthermore, I was successful in reacquiring Space: 1999 episodes that had videotape tracking issues on my recently acquired Magnavox machine and in attaining for first time ever videocassette copies of what remained to be had of Space: 1999's second production block. "The Lambda Factor" and "A Matter of Balance" were mine via contact with an American Space: 1999 aficionado and videophile in May, 1985, and a T-160 videocassette with "Dorzak", "The Immunity Syndrome", and "One Moment of Humanity" thereon, sent from a collector in Peoria, Illinois and awaited with growing impatience by me for three weeks, was in my hands in August, 1985. And by first third of 1986, I had every Space: 1999 episode in some capacity in my ownership. "The Beta Cloud" (received in September, 1985) and "Devil's Planet" (arriving in the mail after dispatch from Peoria, Illinois and being watched by me on the same day, January 26, 1986, as the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion) were the final components for my Space: 1999 videotape library. I had to accept fourth-generation and soft-looking copies- and "Devil's Planet" had deficient reception on its source television signal- KICU, San Jose, California, rendering a sizable chunk of its opening hook unacceptable. But at least I could assert possession of all 48 episodes of Space: 1999. And henceforth was there a protracted striving toward improvements to my collection, in terms of picture quality and episode completeness.
Already, I was, in 1985, able to acquire complete, better-than-decent quality copies of the episodic versions (not from "movie" compilations of episodes) of "Space Warp" and "Collision Course" and was feeling quite pleased with those acquisitions, in that the episodic versions of episodes used for "movies" were, by 1985, not being broadcast anywhere. The "Collision Course" copy arrived in the mail days before Christmas of 1985. The mailman delivered the package to my next-door neighbours by mistake, and they brought it to me. Friday, December 20, 1985 was that day.
My videotape holdings were going into a leaps-and-bounds expansion as I was also capitalising on weekly Doctor Who "movies" from MPBN (and Zenith-brand blank videotapes sold cheaply by the Co-op grocery store at which my father had membership) and, in autumn of 1985, new and improved, frequently impeccably edited first-generation videotape-recordings of Spiderman! And I had a couple more New Avengers episodes ("Hostage" and "Complex!") videotaped via automatic-record timer, from CBS' late-night transmissions in summer, 1985.
Moreover still, ATV was screening The Pink Panther Show early weekday mornings, at 7 o'clock, in 1984-5. My first few 1984 viewings of that were rather unpromising as the Pink Panther cartoons were of a time of production later than the panther's adventures with which I was acquainted in childhood. The music was pedestrian, the cartoon animation dull, the stories bland. And second cartoon short in each instalment alternated between the excursions of an egotistical shark and the bumbling antics of a pair of toads. There was a glimpse or two of the Ant and Aardvark, but where was the Inspector? Where were the early Pink Panther cartoons? On Saturday, February 23, 1985, I was with my father in mid-afternoon at the Brookside Mall and discovered The Pink Panther Show being shown on ATV as received on one of the K-Mart store's display televisions. An Inspector cartoon was beginning- and it was "Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!", the Inspector's frightful ordeal in a scary house with the monstrous transformations of chemical-imbibing Sergeant Deux-Deux. I stood there in K-Mart beholding a petrifying Inspector cartoon unseen by me since Douglastown times. I resolved to videotape the Inspector cartoons on The Pink Panther Show but did not have much occasion to do so until June in 1985 (when the Inspector shared second-cartoon-per-instalment airtime with his fellow colleagues of the Pink Panther) and then on a Monday-to-Friday basis in August and early September, as first and second seasons of The Pink Panther Show, Inspector cartoons in every episode, were being run.
Most of the Inspector cartoons were added to my videotape collection in August and September of 1985. I videotape-recorded a select number of Pink Panther cartoons, also. I remember the Inspector cartoons, "Carte Blanched", "The Shooting of Caribou Lou", "Bear De Guerre", "Pierre and Cottage Cheese", "Cirrhosis of the Louvre", and "Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!" being shown on ATV early A.M. during the often rainy week of my orientation process at University of New Brunswick, i.e. September 2 (Labour Day) to September 5. I already had the latter two Inspector cartoons on the above list from telecast on ATV in the prior June. Joey and I had together watched "Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!" and another Inspector cartoon, "Sacre Bleu Cross", via one of my videotapes on the hot, hazy early evening of July 1, 1985 as we two were in the initial planning stages for a yard sale, about which Joey had approached me on a visit to my door as I was watching the Doctor Who story, "The Robots of Death", on the evening of Saturday, June 29 (after I had attended a cousin's wedding in the afternoon). On July 1, before Joey's evening appearance on my doorstep and our viewing of two Inspector cartoons, I had walked to and from Pizza Delight on Main Street in Nashwaaksis for dinner- and I remember it being very hot outside.
Joey and I were indeed on the mend for the latter half of 1985, though not even the flimsiest comparison could be made of any part of 1985 to much of the first two-thirds of 1984 or to most of 1983. Our best times were definitely in years past us. Yet, latter 1985 was an encouraging time for us while we collaborated once again through the summer on a yard sale that was put into operation on Saturday, August 24. On the evening of the Monday preceding the yard sale, Joey came to visit with me, to sit with me on my back steps and talk. Still dressed in his Cardinals baseball uniform worn earlier that evening for his involvement in an organised game of bat and ball, he rang my doorbell as I was starting to watch a 9 P.M. Cagney and Lacey episode, and invited me outdoors for some company and conversation. I shivered in the nippy sunset air of late August as Joey and I talked for nearly an hour. Rather like old times of a summer or two prior, and, alas, the only occasion in 1985 that Joey and I did come together for a sunset conversation, a one-time revival of those fondly looked-back-upon evenings of one, two, three years previous. Though Joey, dressed in rust-red-coloured rugby pants and a bright yellow jacket, was a few minutes late for the early-morning preparations, our August 24 yard sale was perfect. Joey and I sold much of the price-tagged-with-pieces-of-masking-tape materials that we had compiled- including a Halloween mask of Joey's that had some mutual significance for the two of us (I had worn it in a basement play performance in July, 1983)- and we two were in a very positive spirit as my mother and father departed for my grandmother's house, leaving Joey and I in able charge of the remainder of the sales. Joey went into my house to go to the bathroom and came back outdoors, the pockets of his bright yellow jacket stained red, with Joey coyly admitting that he had sauntered into my television room and lined his garment with ketchup-flavoured potato chips. Joey's undeterred (i.e. regardless of burned condition or staleness of the potato chips) taste for that certain snack food was something that he joked about some years afterwards. As Joey and I sat on my front step during the late-morning lull in browser-or-buyer traffic, I was on the verge of inviting him to stay with me for lunch after ending the yard sale and of suggesting that we spend the remainder of the day together. But Andrew happened along at that precise moment and preempted my proposal, by appealing to Joey to leave me. And to me was allocated the work of moving all unsold items back into my garage and basement.
Who knows? That could have been a defining day for the rapport between Joey and I for some years to follow. At any rate, it, in being interrupted, was a further potential day of cherished memories with Joey of which I was deprived. And there I was in my kitchen, stirring Campbell's tomato soup, watching The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show on the television set that was on a table straddling kitchen and dining area as the cartoon, "Frigid Hare" (titled "Frid Gid Hare" by the newfangled motion-graphic technique for displaying the names of cartoon shorts on the CBS television network compilations of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies), was being presented, and feeling more than a little dejected and resentful of Andrew's intrusion.
But Andrew was difficult for me to really dislike back then. Yes, that he was. After what I have said, I do know how incredible such a statement must be. But he was enthusiastic, embracing of much imaginative entertainment, one of the most loyal and regular comers for my videotape shows, in fact sometimes asking me to revive them after I had cancelled a particular series of them. On a one-on-one basis, he could even be quite a pleasant person to be in company. But his incursions into the times shared between Joey and myself and, summer of 1983 excepted, his constant success at luring Joey away from me, combined with his notorious tendency to blab anything and everything, oftimes with exaggerated or half-truthful embellishment so as to accentuate any negative connotation and thereby rile one's friends and "stir up" discord, resentment, hostility, made my "gut" needle me daily with suggestions that I really should be wary of Andrew- and to dislike him as I should dislike a rival for my best friend's attention and long-term loyalty. However, my rational mind, citing Andrew's positive qualities, countered my instinct (though I was often still conscious of what my instinct was telling to me), and I stayed cordial, quite agreeably responsive at times to Andrew's overtures- when they were not directed toward a "break-up" of shared social time between Joey and myself. And even if they were so, I held my tongue and played the "finishing-last nice guy" to the hilt, whilst Joey and Andrew left me, together walking down the street away from me, and as I felt, standing there by myself, more than a trifle "off-put" by Andrew's intrusion. True, I had not announced Joey as my best pal, and he, I would suppose, felt less inclined to stay with me than he would were I to have told him of his most esteemed status. But nonetheless, Joey and I being evidently together, just the two of us, by his wishes and mine, at my house or at his or at some other location, ought to have been respected and not dividedly meddled upon by Andrew or by anyone else. Especially not with the tactics that Andrew had used in September of 1983, though I had yet to clue into any of that. I would have been within my rights to tell Andrew to go away, especially once he started extending invitations to Joey to leave me. But I did not. I did not want to offend my most dependable videotape presentation attendee. Nor was I comfortable with appearing to be possessive. But certainly, after 1985, once my showings of videotape had come to a final end, I had nothing to lose, really, and indeed much to gain by drawing a line in the sand where Andrew approaching Joey was concerned.
Instead, to my deep, deep, deep regret and ultimate shame, I kept my mouth shut. And thereby allowed Andrew- and others of Joey's peer group- to claim more and ever more of Joey's time and friendship affection. And even when, by 1986, I was reaping the dubious harvest of my quiet compliance, I was still reluctant to "speak up", biding my time for an ideal moment (in the middle of a long conversation with Joey) to raise the topic of our friendship, leaving aside (if I could) any mention of other people and their role in the decline, "fessing up" to my errs, while declaring Joey's best-friend status. That ideal moment never came. And rather than constructive talk, I inadvertently became irritable and seemingly aloof. Wrong move, definitely, even if it was not deliberate.
Yet, the commencement of the educational year in September of 1985 was something of a new beginning for both Joey and I. He was starting Grade 7 at Nashwaaksis Junior High (and for the second year in a row his teacher was the same as mine had been in those same grades; yes, Joey had Mrs. O'Hara for Grade 6, and then Mrs. Redstone for homeroom in Grade 7), and I was embarking upon a 4-year Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of New Brunswick. Spirits between Joey and I were promisingly good in the autumn of 1985. Though we did not do much else but talk during his newspaper deliveries and partake in just a couple of weekday evening baseball games at Park Street School field in mid-September, Joey was putting his hand on my shoulder and encouraging same gesture from me, was curious about my electric razor and its precision and rubbed his hand along my chin to do a measurement of the closeness of my razor's shaving job, and he was again becoming rather comfortable with using terms of pal and buddy in regards to me- after I had not heard such words of affinity for many months. Plus, he started asking my assistance with his newspaper deliveries. But Andrew continued to intrude from time to time in my association with Joey, and I could only strive for my times with Joey to be removed from Andrew's sight or knowledge, perhaps on a day when Andrew was occupied in some group activity orchestrated by Steven. On the whole, though, Joey and I were again in an upbeat time period, easily the best, most commendable one of our post-1984 years.
Adding to the feeling of rejuvenation in my life was the return of Spiderman to CHSJ-TV after a two-year hiatus. The web-spinning super-hero was, for the 1985-6 television season, to be aired at 7:30 in the morning each weekday. The cable television reception-subverting lines that had plagued me during Spidey's prior time on CHSJ did not pose a problem in early-morning hours, and I was elated at an opportunity to bolster my Spiderman collection on videocassette with fresh and potentially superior videotape-recordings on my new Magnavox machine, with which I had evidently superior tracking on all recorded videocassettes, plus a technique for fairly reliable edits, permitting me oftentimes to integrate into my videotape library off-air, almost impeccably rendered Spidey episodes. The first instalment of Spiderman on CHSJ was the unneeded "King Pinned" on Monday, September 30. After that were "Super Swami"/"The Birth of Micro Man", "Phantom From the Depths of Time", "Cloud City of Gold", and the, for me, incontrovertibly redundant "Criminals in the Clouds" to complete week 1 of Spidey's re-engagement on the televisual waves of CHSJ. On Tuesday, October 1, the day of "Super Swami"/"The Birth of Micro Man", I informed Joey of Spidey's reemergence onto CHSJ broadcasts at early in the mornings, and he was determined to view our shared beloved television show before leaving for school on each A.M.. I did rather the same, delighting in the crime-fighting, journeying-to-strange-lands exploits of the web-swinger before going to my morning university classes. I often sat in lecture halls or modest-sized classrooms and walked to the Harveys' fast food restaurant near the University of New Brunswick campus, for my lunch, thinking both of the morning's Spidey episode and of my meeting with Joey on his newspaper route in the afternoon, to which I always looked forward as I logged hour after hour each day in my freshman year's courses.
Television in the autumn of 1985 was appealing to me in many respects! Not only was Spidey back, but so were both Rocket Robin Hood and The Marvel Superheroes, the pair of them residing on CHSJ's Saturday morning schedule. The Pink Panther Show was enjoying back-to-back, two-instalment coverage on ATV on Saturdays at noon, with individual cartoon shorts being aired by ATV as filler on weekdays between 12:55 and 1:00 P.M.. A new television network (ABC) and a new television series for the Warner Brothers cartoons augmented even further my interest in Saturday morning television, as I watched The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour on WVII. An interesting PBS Masterpiece Theatre television miniseries on the 1911-2 race to the South Pole, The Last Place On Earth, was shown at 2 P.M. on Saturday afternoons. On Friday nights, the CBS television network offered a resurrected Twilight Zone with many creepy, eerie mini-episodes assembled to fill a broadcast hour, followed by Dallas, with the fascinating eighth season of that long-running prime-time drama serial, i.e. the season thereof without Patrick Duffy, whose character, Bobby, had been killed in the finale of the prior year's episode sequence. I was quite pleased with much of the directions in which Dallas chose to venture without the, in my opinion, boring Bobby character. And on early Saturday evenings were, on Maine's PBS television station, MPBN, Omnibus (i.e. movie-length) versions of Doctor Who. Combine all of these with incoming episodes of Space: 1999 from fellow videotape-recording collectors on the North American continent, and it was truly one of the very best of times for me in terms of the watching of television and of entertainment acquisition on videocassette. I was merrily videotaping Spiderman, Rocket Robin Hood, some Marvel Superheroes (the Hulk and Mighty Thor, mainly), every week's serving of Doctor Who, the Inspector cartoons (and some cartoon shorts with the Pink Panther) on The Pink Panther Show, The Last Place on Earth, some of the Sylvester cartoons on The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour, and every week's Doctor Who Theatre (so the newspaper television listings called it) on MPBN (sometimes introduced by MPBN programme manager Bernie Roscetti).
Together with the aforementioned television-viewing and videotape-attaining attractions of autumn of 1985 were longer afternoon conversations with Joey about a variety of subjects and a start to weekend loans to Tony and Steven of my Space: 1999 videotaped episodes, and before long, also of my ever-expanding Doctor Who videotape catalogue, courtesy of MPBN's commercial-free, mostly uninterrupted (apart from thrice-yearly two-week appeals for pledged money) telecasts, providing to Tony and I on Tony's doorstep quite an amount of never-before broached areas of shared impressions and ideas. That autumn, twice weekly, I walked from the Fredericton South university campus to downtown Fredericton on my way to my northside home, inhaling the crisp September, October, and November air, thinking positively about seeing Joey later in the afternoon, stepping into the Video King videocassette dealer's Fredericton South outlet on King Street to peruse the new videotape arrivals, and boarding Fredericton Transit buses at the King's Place shopping mall for an automotive-powered completion of my homeward journey (and I would more and more choose to walk the full distance to home from university, including the Westmorland Street Bridge). On most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my father drove his car onto campus to collect me in the parking lot near the University Bookstore and convey me quickly to home at around 3:30 P.M. following my last class (English) of the day. And I would be thinking of the time to come with Joey as my father and I sped (within legal limits, of course) down University Avenue in our car, toward a railroad overpass, Queen Street, and the on-ramp to the Westmorland Street Bridge. Following a quick snack upon my arrival at home, I would sit outdoors on my front steps, shamble around my driveway and in and out of my garage, in wait of Joey's arrival, his sack of newspapers over his shoulder, for a few minutes at least of treasured, chummy banter and discussion about our respective learning establishments and our experiences there.
Starting university was at first a rather daunting task, considering the size of the campus and of some of the introductory level courses. But I grew to like the more flexible schedule and less oppressive learning environment, relative to those of junior and senior high school. My marks in the 4 years of my Bachelor of Arts degree were in the B+ to A- range. Sometimes higher. In my first year, I entered a basic Astronomy course open to Arts students, along with French, Political Science, Psychology, and compulsory Arts and English. It was not until my second year, however, that I became more confident and participated in discussions. Some of the material of study in my first year of university was The Great Gatsby, Dr. Faustus, and, to my delighted surprise, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". The compulsory Arts 1000 course dealt with the development of Western thought from ancient Greece to the present day. I found Plato, Augustine, and Hobbes to be very provocative thinkers, and my Arts average was A-.
My daily first semester schedule was French at 9:30 A.M., Astronomy at 10:30 A.M. (with me needing to walk from McLaggan to Tilley Hall), Psychology at 1:30 P.M. (starting in Head Hall for day one and then switching to McLaggan), and English at 2:30 P.M. (with required walking from McLaggan to Carleton Hall) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; Arts at 10:30 A.M. (In Carleton Hall), Political Science (in Tilley Hall) at 11:30 A.M., and Arts tutorial (in McLaggan Hall) at 1:30 P.M. on Tuesdays; and Thursdays same as Tuesdays aside from Arts tutorial, of which there was none on any Thursday. My second semester course roster was virtually identical, except for French being after Astronomy instead of prior to it, as I braved the snow and bitter winds on a near-to-11:30 A.M. walk from Tilley Hall to a building across the road from the University Bookstore.
On most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my father was in the parking lot near the University Bookstore, awaiting me in his car to conduct me to home at close to 3:30 P.M.. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually walked all of the way home from the university campus, or rode a Fredericton Transit bus. And it was on Tuesdays and Thursdays that I tended to visit videocassette dealers in downtown Fredericton.
Some of my videotape acquisitions in September and October of 1985, apart from Space: 1999, Spiderman, and Doctor Who, were of 1984 (the John Hurt and Richard Burton movie version of George Orwell's novel), Fahrenheit 451, and SYLVESTER AND TWEETY'S CRAZY CAPERS (including "Hyde and Go Tweet") by means of pre-recorded videocassette. Fahrenheit 451 is particularly memorable, its autumnal mood and imagery perfectly evocative of the feel of that same season in which I was then living, as leaves were falling and the air was developing a bracing, crisp coolness to it, and the communal reading motif at the movie's close coincided aptly with the ethos of the university campus. The bookish notions of Fahrenheit 451 and the literary pedigree of 1984 denoted something of an academic turn on my part in late 1985. That plus the quite elegant, sophisticated dialogue of most Doctor Who serials. Still, I had daily servings of Spiderman and weekend offerings of Rocket Robin Hood, The Marvel Superheroes, and The Pink Panther Show to assuage my appetite for less overtly cerebral fare.
There are definite positive vibes in reminiscences about the autumn of 1985. I was adjusting to university much quicker, and much more easily, than I thought possible. Still rather a loner in the hustle and bustle on the campus grounds between classes, on the walk to and from the Harveys' restaurant, sitting in the Harriet Irving Library, and walking some nippy October days to the Quik-Mart on University Avenue for a snack. But thriving, indeed yes, in terms of grades and overall academic performance. I was in quite contented spirit as I sat in a lawn chair or on the front steps of my house reading my afternoon's mail (including, on a couple of times, a Space: 1999 fan club newsletter, which was something of a thrill for me to receive in those days) or one of my Space: 1999 black-and-white comic-book magazines bought through Canada Post from a Winnipeg collector's store, as I waited for Joey to come in my direction. On a few Saturdays, Joey and I had some fairly long talks during his newspaper deliveries. We conferred for awhile on Halloween night as I provided to him some candy as a bonus along with his weekly payment for the newspaper (myself, I had too much candy- and had to endure the acute though momentary pain of emergency dental work- a replacement tooth filling- on the Monday thereafter), and in December, I gave to Joey a cash gift in advance of Christmas, and in return a few days later (a very snowy December 18) he shovelled out my driveway as the two of us talked for the duration of the thirty minutes of his snow-removing travail.
I have pleasant memory of the way of things around the Christmas of 1985. I knew that I had aced four of my first-semester examinations and was looking forward to receiving my marks on those examinations, while also enjoying and appreciating a two-week respite from responsibilities of university. I had found the second, third, fourth, and fifth Planet of the Apes movies at Mr. Video in downtown Fredericton and on Thursday, January 2, 1986, I added Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle For the Planet of the Apes to my videotape collection and would on Saturday, January 18 do the same with Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Escape From the Planet of the Apes. Except for Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, I was seeing these movies for the first time. Toward the end of December, MPBN had made the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison in its run of Doctor Who serials with those gentlemen in the title role, and I was for the first time watching- and videotape-recording- the stories of the Peter Davison era of that television show and quite enjoying them. And although The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour had only reached instalment thirteen before reruns started, I still was casting keen eyes upon the cartoons on it, especially those that I was videotaping from broadcast of that ABC television network presentation of the Warner Brothers cartoons. And all the while, I had my very good impressions of recent comings-together with Joey.
Indeed, yes. The last five months of 1985 elevated the whole year to a level substantially above any of the twelve-month blocks of time to follow, though it still did not compare with any of the three years before it. I was in rather a positive mindset as 1986 began, and some of the vitality of late 1985 did carry over into the first quarter of 1986. But after that, Joey and I began a downhill curve, the dubious momentum coming from arguments over money and newspaper delivery technicalities, and, I think with hindsight, our respective discontent with the state of our friendship. And with both of us reading each other as being aloof or passively accepting of the situation and reacting yet more contrarily to one another- which looked to us both like even more reduced interest, the rift between us could only widen. In the hot summer of 1986, we did little more but deliver newspapers, clean out my basement one day on my mother's request (and promise of pay), and have maybe have one noteworthy conversation per each month on one of Joey's newspaper-delivering stops at my garage/basement. In 1986, Joey and I never played baseball together, never talked together on my doorstep with the setting sun, never had a yard sale, never collaborated on any time-consuming money-making endeavour, and never went anywhere together. And all along, I knew that he was enjoying plenty of quality time with others. I wanted to have a heart-to-heart talk with Joey about the present condition of our friendship and what we ought to do to bring about sustained improvement. But each day that I was ready for such, he was not, was short of words for me or rather irritable, which led to me being irritable also. Neither of us was speaking constructively to what was happening; we were not voicing unmistakable expressions of concern or alarm at the marked reduction in our time spent together. And so, our slide continued into the autumn and winter to follow.
And my playing of baseball continued its petering-out pattern in 1986, though I did have a few instances of apotheosis against Andre and company. One day in June of 1986, for example, I propelled multi-base-hits far past Andre's overconfident outfielders in repeated succession as I was potentially the most valuable player on a team consisting of Craig, Philip, Tony, and myself. I also, alas, had the distressing experience of being excluded from one game being played between Craig, Tony, Steven, and other persons against the minions of Andre on a May afternoon in 1986. I was coming back to my house after a walk to the Pic N' Puff store and saw all of them in the midst of playing their baseball game. I walked over to the Park Street School field where they were located, and stood there near the batter's bench for ten minutes, totally ignored, before I walked away. I sat on the doorstep at home, stewing quite sourly about what I had experienced. Andre of course was expected to be as rude as possible, but Craig, Tony, and the other young chums had been utterly unnoticing of my presence. For ten minutes! And there was another time when I was part of a massive crowd for a baseball game at the usual venue. Craig and Andre were team captains choosing players. I was picked dead last, after some very young children had been chosen. "You can have him," said that loathsome Andre to Craig. I may not have been as effective at the game as I had been a couple of years earlier and, yes, Craig never had been keen on my being my teammate (I guess I should have seen the humiliating incident coming from a mile away), but for Craig to treat me as so undesirable as to be a worse choice than little children was inexcusable. And then to later feed to me some bull's excrement about everybody being chosen last at some time or another. Negative events such as each of these were imprinted on my memory with a resounding thud, and are indelible for as long as I retain capacity for accurate remembrance, and I may channel into the dismal way that I felt at those specific times just by thinking about them. Although later kindness toward me by the relevant persons can soften the pout-inducing effect of those unpleasant recollections, the channel, the mental time stream, for feeling the full morale-sinking effect remains open.
1986 was, I wish I did not need to say, the first largely disappointing year of this fourth life era. In terms of world events, it was a downer of a year, what with the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the Chernobyl nuclear power station catastrophe, an entire season of Dallas being nullified by the most expedient dream contrivance in entertainment history, and the Boston Red Sox coming so tantalisingly close, so very close to being World Champions- but defeating themselves in the final two World Series games. And in my life, too, it was a year with sparse (though not as yet non-existent) cause for optimism. The upbeat energy of the second half of 1985 did not withstand the doldrums gaining root in 1986. I could sure relate to poor Bill Buckner, what with the slump in which I was mired in my own baseball efforts. There was no escaping the fact that the best times of this life era were behind me. My paucity of baseball glories was symptomatic of the at best mediocre year that was 1986. And still, 1986 at its lowest troughs could not equate with the social rock bottom that would be more than half of 1987. I could expend but one paragraph listing the fondly recalled, positive aspects of post-March, 1986, a time of much wasted potential, down-scaled social routines, and reduced rapport with Joey. I fared quite admirably at university in spring examinations- as I had likewise done in December. That much I can claim. However, my baseball woes showed scant signs of really abating (I was fortunate if I won even 40 percent of my games); I no longer had any videotape shows (and my floor model television perished in September, 1985 to be replaced with a tiny, portable television monitor that would never pass muster as a medium of presenting contents of my videotapes to any comers), which meant much reduced adjoining in entertainment tastes (and conversation thereupon) with many of my young neighbourhood co-inhabitants; and, with completion for the time being of my Space: 1999 collection, and Spiderman and other items nearing a satisfactory actualisation, I was in the process of adding items of a lesser priority and less excitement in acquisition, to my videotape rows, stacks, and drawers, with only Doctor Who and a few other items offering 52-weeks-per-year sustained interest.
In 1986, I had reacquired Spiderman episodes en masse via early-morning videotaping of Spiderman on CHSJ, many of them presented on quite decent quality film elements. "Cold Storage" was one of the "hold-outs" for several months of the 1985-6 broadcast year, but it was aired on a Thursday morning in late January (two days after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster). However, a videotape-recording mistake on my part (not pressing the record button with enough force) resulted in my not successfully videotape-recording the whole episode. I did not discover that recording was not happening until about half of the way through the episode. It aired again on March 21, and on that occasion I was able to achieve a full videotape recording.
Sunny Saturday, January 18, during which temperatures in Fredericton were unseasonably warm, was the day of three notable videotape acquisitions: the first two sequels to the Planet of the Apes theatrical motion picture as I have above mentioned, and a 1981 Spider-Man episode, "The Incredible Shrinking Spider-Man", that, being without Spidey's "amazing friends" of his further television series commencing in 1982 and having much of the characterisation, if not the style, of the web-swinger's earliest outings on television, was quite an appealing companion to my collection 1967-70 Spiderman. And I sought access to more such never before seen Spidey episodes, by way of Prism Video's exciting MARVEL COMICS VIDEO LIBRARY series (that incorporated television shows of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s featuring all of the Marvel Comic super-heroes). The SPIDER-MAN videotape containing "The Incredible Shrinking Spider-Man" was one of the commercial videocasettes first to be released as part of the MARVEL COMICS VIDEO LIBRARY range.
Through 1985-6 to the end of the summer of 1986, CHSJ showed all 1967-70 Spidey instalments bar two: "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt" and "Never Step on a Scorpion"/"Sands of Crime". "The Evil Sorcerer" became scarce in the latter two-thirds of CHSJ's final year as telecaster of the web-spinner's travails and travels, frustrating me in my efforts to videotape-record a superior copy of it to one that I had made, with some glitches that my increasingly finicky standard no longer judged to be acceptable, in October of 1985. And for a time in mid-1986, Spiderman moved to a later morning airtime, with Rocket Robin Hood and the Thor episodes of The Marvel Superheroes joining Spidey in weekday exposure on CHSJ for much of the summer of 1986. I recall the Rocket Robin Hood episode, "The Emperor Jimmy", commencing on CHSJ on the August morning that Joey joined me to clean my basement. I was striving to videotape as many third season entries in the Rocket Robin Hood television series as possible, was frustrated to find that "Dementia Five" was being shown- and already much in progress- when I came home from an early lunch with my father at Fredericton North's Dairy Queen, and fretted rather substantially on the day that coverage of the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson preempted everything on CHSJ. I did, however, have nearly all Rocket Robin Hood episodes that I craved most to have in my videotape collection, among them "The Living Planet" (videotaped in early February in 1986 and on the same videocassette as the Doctor Who stories, "Time-Flight" and "Arc of Infinity"), "The Solar Sphinx" (videotape-recorded on May 3 in 1986 on a videocassette whose contents also included Doctor Who's "Planet of Fire" and "The Caves of Androzani"), and "Lord of the Underworld" and "Lord of the Shadows" (videotaped in the summer of 1986), together with some other Rocket Robin Hood escapades in typical CHSJ jumbled order, like "Jesse James Rides Again", "Marlin, the Magician", and "Doctor Magnet". I also had nearly all of The Marvel Superheroes episodes with Mighty Thor, the most memorable of those being "The Mysterious Mister Hyde" (aired on and videotaped from CHSJ in mid-autumn in 1985), "The Grey Gargoyle" (broadcast on CHSJ on December 21, 1985- same day as the Doctor Who story, "Logopolis", on MPBN), "The Absorbing Man", "The Power of Pluto", and "Molto the Lava Man" (the last three on this list offered by CHSJ in the sun-shiny, hot months of 1986).
Providence led me in early 1987 to a SANDMAN videotape at Fredericton Mall Sobeys grocery store. It just happened to have on it the Spidey double-story episode, "Never Step on a Scorpion"/"Sands of Crime, while "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt" was found to be available on a creaky old RCA VideoDisc leased by Worrall's Furniture. My search for best-possible-quality Spiderman episodes was not complete, though. Not by a long chalk. It persisted into the 1990s- and beyond. Eventually reaching the ultimate actualisation in the form of a box set of DVDs with almost all episodes presented with a clarity and richness of colour never before seen.
In 1986, one of the strangest chapters in the history of Space: 1999 on commercial audio-visual media occurred when IVE Home Video somehow gained the home videotape rights to three of the Space: 1999 "movies" and released two of them, Alien Attack and Journey Through the Black Sun, under a new label called SYBIL DANNING'S ADVENTURE VIDEO. Sybil Danning would be garbed in a costume specific to the genre of the filmed (or videotaped) entertainment being offered, and would, for about a minute, give a rambling introduction to the featured item, the introduction consisting of a number of lame puns or banal idioms, of which some were laced with crude innuendo. And her costumes would tend to expose her flesh in rather a carnally enticing way. We in Canada were spared the Sybil Danning introduction to Alien Attack (the videotape went immediately to the main feature after the copyrights and home videotape company logos) but had to suffer through the one for Journey Through the Black Sun. Still, the "movies" and the episodes compiling them looked better, far, far better, than the videotape copies thereof that I had already possessed, and it was quite exciting going to Muntz Stereo to buy them after being notifed that they had arrived there by way of special order (they were not in stock on the shelves at Muntz Stereo). Strangely, Journey Through the Black Sun, the second of the two Space: 1999 "movies" to be released in the SYBIL DANNING'S ADVENTURE VIDEO range, arrived at Muntz Stereo weeks before Alien Attack that had been made available to consumers some weeks earlier. The art on the box to Alien Attack was odd, to say the least. The drawing of Martin Landau showed a frizzy permanent hairstyle, with Koenig dressed in an off-colour variant of his anorak worn in Season Two of Space: 1999. There was an upside down, very inaccurately represented Eagle spaceship. And an astronaut resembling the Gary Lockwood Dr. Frank Poole character of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 opus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in a spacesuit from that movie.
Both of those videotapes were bought from Muntz Stereo in the spring of 1986. I remember thinking about them one day as I walked down Windsor Street outside University of New Brunswick campus on a springtime walk from university to home.
In 1986, I was also continuing to assemble a collection of Doctor Who on videotape, by way of MPBN's Saturday evening telecasts. By May of 1986, I had attained almost every Doctor Who serial starring Tom Baker as the Doctor and all of the Doctor Who serials to star Baker's successor, Peter Davison. And all serials in continuous movie format.
And on Saturday, April 26, 1986, I added Return of the Jedi, it having been released days previous to pre-recorded videocassette, to my videotape collection. Also acquired very close to then were some improved copies of some Space: 1999 episodes, them consisting mostly of complete copies sourced from a PBS television station in Ohio. "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life" (both of those at last in my possession with full titles), "Alpha Child", "End of Eternity", "The Full Circle", "The Last Sunset", and "Journey to Where" were the episodes received in videotape copy. I remember receiving the episodes upon coming home from having my hair cut and styled by someone named Victor at a place in Fredricton's downtown where Queen Street approaches Smythe Street. April 26, 1986 was the day of a cousin's wedding attended by my parents and I. And it also was the day that the Chernobyl, Ukraine, U.S.S.R. nuclear power station reached a state of criticality, with disastrous consequences.
I was in rather an upbeat frame of mind at the receiving of my grades for my first university year. Mostly As. The improvements to my Space: 1999 videotape collection were much appreciated by me and added a spring to my step. And the days of early May were mainly sunny, which was cause for a happy mood. I can vividly remember the sunny Saturday (May 3) on which Peter Davison's penultimate serial as the Doctor, "Planet of Fire", was shown on MPBN. But the Chernobyl disaster and the spread of radioactivity across Europe (for starters) was very troubling. I had no doubt that the air mass with the Chernobyl radioactive particles would reach Canada eventually.
On Saturday, May 10, 1986, as MPBN was showing the Doctor Who story that brought Peter Davison's exit from the role of the Doctor, Davison's portrayed incarnation of the Doctor succumbing to Spectrox Toxemia after becoming inadvertently involved in a conflict between android rebels and gun runners and military forces on the tumultuous mud planet of Androzani Minor, the air mass infested with radioactive particles from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in Ukraine finally reached New Brunswick after having crossed Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and Canada. I was confounded to discover that alarm about this was non-existent among the populace of Fredericton bar myself on that sunny Saturday. All that day, I stayed indoors as a precaution, however tenuous, against the radioactive iodine isotopes, etc. likely to be in the air. I could in fact hear a periodic, weird buzzing coming, it seemed, from the power wire-lines behind our house, and as I was videotaping "The Caves of Androzani" on Doctor Who on MPBN, some peculiar audio-visual interference, of a kind that I had not seen and heard before or since, was intermittently manifest in the MPBN signal. My parents laughed at me that day, telling to me that I was overreacting to a problem, i.e. radioactive particles reaching New Brunswick from the other side of the world, that was not verifiable. Who really knew, though? Indeed, lack of up-to-date news coverage about the effect upon North America of the accident, despite early forecasts after the April 26 disaster in Chernobyl of the path that the radiation cloud would assume as prevailing winds moved it around the planet, was a source of dismay and of vexation to me. On Sunday, May 11, I was coaxed outdoors and to Park Street School baseball field by Craig and some others for an evening baseball game. I breathed as guardedly as possible while wondering also if the radioactive particles might have accumulated on the ground.
In June in 1986, my parents and I went to Halifax for a few days. While there, we visited my paternal grandmother, the only time I ever met her before her death a few years hence, and I insisted upon having a look at the Video Home Entertainment Centre on the Wyse Road in Dartmouth, just to see the store whose employee in 1983 had been so very providing for me in my successful bid to attain videotape-recordings of CBHT's Space: 1999 broadcasts. I did not go inside the tiny-looking videocassette business outlet. I only observed it in passing in our car. And by then, Space: 1999 on CBHT was more than a year extinct, replaced by The Prisoner and then by some CBC-produced television documentaries.
With the summer of 1986 came a run by MPBN of the Doctor Who serials of the earliest Doctor, the First Doctor, played by the late William Hartnell. More specifically, the First Doctor serials that existed complete in the British Broadcasting Corporation archives. MPBN's run of those serials was not without complications. "An Unearthly Child", the very first Doctor Who serial, had to be delayed for broadcast for two weeks because of a loss of MPBN transmission on Saturday, July 5. Therefore, the first William Hartnell Doctor Who serial that I saw and videotape-recorded was the second one, "The Daleks", memorably telecast by MPBN for two hours and forty minutes, from 7 P.M. to 9:40 P.M., on July 12. An electrical storm cut transmission of the MPBN airing of "The Keys of Marinus" on July 26 at close to 80 minutes into it. And signal loss occurred again during "The Aztecs" on August 2 and yet again within telecast of "The Sensorites" on August 9. Electrical storm again in both cases.
1986 was the year of the Boston Red Sox, until the World Series. The group around home- Craig especially- were all quite enamoured with the excellent season of the Red Sox and of ace pitcher Roger Clemens. I shared in the disappointment when the baseball went through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the "Fall Classic".
1986 was also the infamous year of television's greatest ratings ploy! Bobby Ewing stepped out of a bathroom shower, and everything that had transpired in the thirty-plus-episodes-long, 1985-6 season of Dallas was a Pamela Ewing dream- so that Patrick Duffy could return to the role that he had departed in May, 1985, when his Bobby character had been supposedly killed! Most galling was that I thought the season that was dream-negated to be one of the best seasons ever in that television series. The thrilling 1986 climax in which a vengeful Caribbean vixen, Angelica Nero, bombed J.R. Ewing's office was ultimately purported to be just a figment of Pam Ewing's imagination, as was Pam's tender reunion with Mark Graison, who had presumably died in an aeroplane crash in 1984 after being told that he had a terminal disease. Rumours abounded about the return of Bobby Ewing before the mystery of Bobby's presence in the bathroom shower was finally "solved" in the 1986-7 season opener. This particular, season-erasing event effectively proved to me that television producers could stoop to any contrivance for the sake of all-important audience approval; most viewers wanted Bobby back. Ironically, however, such a wish- to have again something that was lost, to be able to go backward to a past time in which one had that which was lost- would be something that was to overpower me within one year to follow!
For my second university year (1986-7), I sampled a different smorgasbord of disciplines under the Arts banner. Philosophy, Anthropology, and History, along with continuation of my work in French and Political Science. For first semester, it was 9:30 A.M. Philosophy (in Tilley Hall's basement), 10:30 A.M. Anthropology (in Carleton Hall), 11:30 A.M. Political Science (on Tilley Hall floor two), and 1:30 P.M. History (on Tilley Hall's ground floor) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And French all by its lonesome on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 P.M. (in Tilley Hall on the second floor). Second semester saw French shift to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 2:30 P.M. (meaning that I had all of my courses concentrated on those three weekdays, leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays completely free for study and for essay-writing). Again, my father collected me in his car to chauffeur me to home at the end of the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday university days. I found Political Science to be bland. My professor's heavily pronounced francophone accent and very opinionated sorties, none of which had any relevance to the course syllabus or to the expected examination questions, were rather less than absorbing for the Canadian politics subject matter of the course, which really ought to have been of some considerable interest, being as I had long been fairly keen to study the political process in my home country. My average mark in Political Science was my lowest that year (it had been second lowest in 1985-6, with Psychology being the course to hold the most dubious honour).
David B., my erstwhile friend from early in Era 3, was in my Philosophy class. 1986-7 was his first academic year at the University of New Brunswick. We talked cordially a few times in those minutes before our professor entered the classroom. Tony also started university that year. Unlike me, he had not had difficulty with Mathematics and Physics at Fredericton High School and had proceeded to enrol into the Bachelor of Science programme at the University of New Brunswick. Our paths rarely crossed at university, as our respective university faculties were based in different buildings on campus. I recall seeing and exchanging hurried greeting with Tony once in the foyer of the Harriet Irving Library. Sometime in November of 1986. And that was the only time that I can remember such an occurrence.
The most interesting course in my second university year was History, which dealt with modern time from 1789 onward. I participated freely in tutorials and always enjoyed our lectures and assigned readings, which included Darkness at Noon, The Trial, and Eichmann in Jerusalem. I also enjoyed Philosophy, in which we read the ideas of thinkers from the ancient Chinese to the existentialism of the twentieth century. My mark in History was rather high, and I was invited to Honour in it in the final two years of my Arts degree. The irony, as old friends in Douglastown would later note, is that there I was, someone who was known to be fascinated by the speculative visions of the future in modern science fiction and space fantasy, opting to become a intensive student of History! What really compelled me was the human condition and humanity's perspectives on the world and universe, past, present, and future. My decision to Honour in History was not really as illogical as it may first have seemed to everyone whom I told of it.
I continued videotaping Doctor Who through 1986 and into 1987. After MPBN had finished showing all of the Tom Baker and Peter Davison serials (Mr. Thomas Baker's run on MPBN was from June, 1984 to March, 1985 and then again from March to December, 1985- with "The Five Doctors" being the only non-Tom-Baker-era Doctor Who adventure screened on MPBN during these periods of time, and then the Doctor Who innings of young Mr. Davison through to mid-May in 1986), it proceeded to the serials with Davison's rather unappealing successor, Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor. And next, in July of 1986, was a major jump backward in time as the television station started running black-and-white serials featuring the very first Doctor, played by the late William Hartnell. Then, in November, 1986, came MPBN's run of available stories of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. And shortly before Christmas, 1986, MPBN began showing the long-anticipated serials of the suave, dandy, James Bond-like Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, whose serials were mostly in vibrant colour! With a new videocassette recorder bought from Trader MacKenzie's in mid-September of 1986, I eagerly videotaped all of the Pertwee serials, though MPBN had problems with several of them, and picture loss was common. A snowstorm entirely impaired MPBN's northeastern Maine transmission on January 3, 1987, when Pertwee's second story, "Doctor Who and the Silurians", was due to air. The Pertwee Doctor Who stories continued to be shown until the end of May, 1987. After that, it was back to Tom Baker's lengthy run as the title character of Doctor Who for a third televising of all forty-one of the serials with Tom Baker as the Doctor.
Downgraded though 1986 was with regard to my social life, it did yet have one very vital element still going for it. Joey and I were still seeing each other. We still had regular, almost daily contact, with our friendship battered but not bowed. I would be lying if I said that I was encouraged by the direction in which we seemed to be going, but as long as we two remained within sight, consideration, and capacity for communication, hope could still be clung to, for a renewal of excellent rapport and many superlative times. I carped, to myself, about the increasing tendency for Joey to summon me to an up-street place near his home, where he would hand to me newspapers with practically no conversation to offer, our occasions for talking in my basement being reduced to one day a week, if that. And I was becoming irritable and verbally tetchy with him on occasion as my insufficiently spoken sense of lesser and lesser social value to him and my attendant frustration became impossible to stifle. One day, Joey was shocked at my outspoken outpouring of repressed anger over what must have seemed to him a quite trivial incident, and I was becoming rather stubborn and argumentative against doing any more newspaper deliveries for him than I had initially agreed to do without any change to the amount of his earnings that he allocated to me, and becoming grouchy if he pressed for my help on the one or two days each week when I did not usually work some of his newspaper route for him.
I was potentially harming my own cause with my disagreeable behaviour, and it was not calculated conduct by any means, but rather "off the cuff", "blurted out", spur-of-the-moment sorts of irascibility. Rather First-or-Third-Doctor-like, in terms of Doctor Who. My irritable words and vocal tones were always as startling to me as much they were to Joey. There was no denying that I was one unhappy soul. I even announced an end in November, 1986 to my assisting of him in delivery of the Gleaner to determine to what extent our friendship had become dependent upon the newspaper route and if there may be a way of regaining the more gratifying amounts of time together and wider range of interrelation of yesteryear, if, say, Joey were to miss me. And if also he might read my opting to resign as denoting how I felt about the way of things, and concur that positive change was needed. Would Joey go back to coming to visit me frequently and at length at varying hours of different days of the week? My "taken-for-granted" feeling needed attention by Joey, and I felt, I hoped, that he would view my resignation from joining with him in his job as being indicative of my dissatisfaction with the condition then of our friendship and undertake, on his initiative, action toward improving our situation. Within a week, he was imploring me to reconsider. Not the outcome that I had most wished for, but it did sure feel good to be wanted by my best friend! And although I was less than thrilled with Joey's spoken reason for wishing a return by me to his newspaper-carrying side (he said that he wanted to be finished as quickly as possible with newspaper duties in order for him to spend as much time as possible at a gymnasium, perhaps with a friend), I conceded to his persuasion and before Christmas in 1986 was back to assisting him on his Daily Gleaner distributing work.
But my irritability persisted. For a time, I did alternate my inadvertent angry outbursts with invitations to visit and encouraging pats on his shoulder to which Joey was initially dismissive. But he did soon reciprocate on the hand-on-shoulder gestures. And eventually he did, I think, recognise correctly what was troubling me, what was turning his senior pal into a frequently cantankerous codger. In the early months of 1987, Joey was becoming more attentive to me, even if only on his newspaper route. He came to my place for a visit one Sunday afternoon in mid-February as I was videotaping a special broadcast on MPBN of the Doctor Who ninety-minute story, "Day of the Daleks", from Jon Pertwee's time as the Doctor. However, even that was in conjunction with one of Joey's walks into my vicinity of Linden Crescent to collect newspaper money from certain customers. We sat in my combined television room and bedroom and talked as I finished my videotape-recording that afternoon of the special 3:00-to-4:30 P.M. Doctor Who Theatre presentation on MPBN and thereafter watched on my tiny television set one of the 1981 Spider-Man episodes ("The Vulture Has Landed") that I had obtained.
Toward the end of August in 1986, I was shanghaied, or perhaps I should say nudged, by my father into accepting an offer by The Sunday Herald which was beginning its publication run in New Brunswick, to deposit that newsmagazine for the seventh day of the week, into the mailboxes of people in the Fulton Heights area of Fredericton North in exchange for a two-times-monthly remuneration. It was something for me to do on weekends when I was not quite as busy with my university studies. "Why not?" I replied to both my father and to myself. And I proceeded with the job assigned to me, which included homes stretching from Douglas Avenue to Fir Court to the joining of Longwood Drive and Fulton Avenue, in the crisp air of early Saturday and Sunday mornings in October as the Herald commenced its off-the-presses dissemination of curio stories, human interest items, television listings, and entertainment trivia and crossword puzzles and such to the people of New Brunswick's many communities. I would use the proceeds from my job, in addition to what Joey was apportioning to me for helping him with delivering The Daily Gleaner, to fund my purchases of videocassettes on which to videotape-record Doctor Who and the Tweety cartoons from The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show (that premiered on the ABC television network through WVII-TV in September, 1986). The Herald had many subscribers in the first month that I circulated it, but when I did collection of monies for a further month of deliveries, I lost half of the clientele but still needed to walk the same distance, practically, to continue distributing the Herald to the remaining paying customers. And thereafter each month the Herald continued hemorrhaging readers and subscriptions, with only a few new persons added to my route, in hitherto outer areas of my delivery span. With the onset of winter weather, and it did indeed seem to storm every weekend through much of December and January, I found my deliveries often needing to be done with my father chauffeuring me in his car. The Herald became a losing proposition for both me and its publisher. I struggled onward in the snow-blowing, gusty winds and bitter cold, finally quitting my contract with The Sunday Herald at the end of February in 1987.
Yes, the winter of 1986-7 was a wild one. On the weekend of January 10-11, when "The Ambassadors of Death" was in the offering on Saturday evening's Doctor Who Theatre, Fredericton received some eighty centimetres of snow. I recollect there being a snowstorm on the weekend before that, resulting in MPBN's signal being lost and me missing "Doctor Who and the Silurians", and I have memories of delivering the Herald with transportation by my father's car in a blustery snowfall on Saturday, January 31 (the day that "The Mind of Evil" was the Doctor Who story transmitted on MPBN- with a special telecast of "The Claws of Axos" on the afternoon of the next day, Sunday, February 1, on which it was still snowing as I was working on an essay for my French course at university). There was so much snow that year that visibility on either side of one's car was zero as one was backing automobile out of driveway.
1987 was arguably the most significant of all my years in Fredericton, but not because of any lasting developments there of a positive nature. Quite the opposite. My rather precariously maintained world of Era 4 collapsed like a house of cards during the summer. The collapse was as thorough as it was fast. Despite the rot's in-creeping period being rather prolonged through much of 1986 and its origins being traceable further back than that, I was caught by surprise by the rapidity and vastly encompassing nature of the implosion that claimed my calibre of life and, it seemed, promise of more thereof.
1987 was a year that started with a goodly amount of promise: exciting Doctor Who starring Mr. Pertwee on Saturday evenings; the success of my flier-circulating lawn-cutting business; and a noticeable increase in the length of conversations I had with Joey on his newspaper route. While the remainder of my social existence was as mediocre if not as entropic as in 1986, my friendship with Joey seemed at last to have turned a corner. We appeared to be on the brink of a new and much improved phase in our friendship. Had Joey bidden a cold-shouldered adios to me at the very start of 1987, I would not have been blindsided by that anywhere near as much as I was by same in the middle and latter part of the year- though it would absolutely have devastated me just as much. In view of how bettered that my connection with Joey was becoming in April and May, in no way did I see loss of best friend as an eventuality eerily looming. As though to counter my inclination of late to irascible behaviour, Joey was, toward me, brimming with kind regards, helpful words and actions, and improving, increasing social time offered- altogether an indeed tender reminder of our friendship as it was a few years previous. But was it the start of better days to come, or the last gasp of a friendship- an important part of a way of life doomed to die?
Despite the negative slide in its post-1985 stage being indeed quite evident with more than twenty years of 20/20 hindsight, I do not buy into the notion that what did happen was in any way inevitable. By a certain point in time, the likelihood of the outcome was formidable, but not even then was it totally unavoidable. A conversation with Joey in 1983 or early 1984 about our friendship and its level of importance to me, or even the answers to questions posed by him on the telephone one day in November, 1984 would have done wonders toward a much different calibre of long-term affiliation. But fear of being told that best-buddy status was not mutual, diffidence, self-consciousness, or maybe even some plain wishy-washiness (i.e. should I or should I not?) kept me from saying to Joey what I should have said. And these are unsatisfactory excuses, in the cold light of adjudging retrospection.
Most others in my social circle waived ties, anyway, with me by 1987- or shortly thereafter, even with me soft-peddling for years my best friendship with Joey for their benefit. In the long run, I did not gain, really, by not being forthcoming with Joey. I lost on all counts. I lost Joey. I lost the others. Perhaps losing those other Fredericton social connections was unavoidable, ultimately. But an enduring close association with Joey, through his teenage years and into adulthood, was, whatever the competition from his peers for his loyalty, still quite possible for me had I not been faint of heart. I should have been braver than I was. In going to Joey's door much more often. And in telephoning him. And in talking openly with him. There were misunderstandings involved, too. But those were born more of my lack of openness and of my insufficient development in looking from outside of myself at situations, than of anything- or anyone- else. Plus, there were my cumulative blunders in my friendship with Joey. Andrew had a part in some of those, or in aggravating or prolonging the result. But I could have and should have been a whole, whole lot more careful and vigilant about Andrew, cluing promptly into what he was doing and having resolute courage and fortitude to "call him out" on such- and to avow always that I wanted for Joey to remain with me when Andrew came along. But when Andrew was involved in them and when not, I made those mistakes. Mistakes which, I believe, reached a critical mass in 1987.
I will expand upon my recounting of the collapse of Era 4 in my Era 5 memoirs to come. Indeed, the collapse was, from its initial stage, part of the 1987-92 era-proper. Part and parcel of my disenchantment with Fredericton which was one of the main defining aspects of Era 5. But to illustrate how jarring the change of fortunes was for me, here is an account of how Joey and I seemed to be on a favourable curve again in our relationship. In fact, among everybody of his age group, he was the only person by second quarter of 1987 to have, or to want to have, contact with me at all, and in the spring of 1987 he was increasing his time with me- as though he had resolved to do so in response to my crabby behaviour, the reason which he correctly deduced. One day near the end of April, Fredericton was buried in the head-achy whiteness of a spring snowstorm. For that and for some really frivolous reasons, like my least loved Major League baseball teams winning all of their games, I was in one of my disgruntled and cynical moods, downspirited about life and the world in general, and when Joey telephoned me to arrange for our meeting up-street for me to receive newspapers from him to deliver to my half of our street, he instantly sensed from my voice that I was not the least bit in good cheer and talked patiently with me for close to a half-hour, pulling me out of my dire frame of mind like nobody else could. He was fabulous! But when I wanted to thank him, the words would not come out of my lips. Why? Diffidence, perhaps. Or residual hurt feeling from prior months of apparently being more or less decommissioned as close buddy. Maybe a part of me felt that he had more to do yet before I would be thoroughly fluent in my grateful and kind sentiment.
And on many a day in May, Joey worked his newspaper route as early as possible so as to stop at my house and stay with me in my basement for 45 minutes or more, talking and joking as we two connected again with the affinity mode standard in our best days. Joey ran behind me and grabbed me completely by surprise one day as I was mowing the lawn of the manor on Gourley Court. My heart was a-pounding after Joey had affectionately scared me silly. Joey recommended me to my next-door neighbours as their lawn-cutter for the summer. And with my largest lawn job, Joey asked to join me, I said yes, and we two were working again together in the grass-shearing vocation. On June 3, same day that Joey and I worked on the Trainor lawn (Joey clipping and raking) and the Maple Street Trainor Building (Joey and I both labouring in the humid, intensely sunlit evening air to mow the tall growth on a steep slope behind the Trainor Building; he in fact came to my aid when he saw me losing my footing as I was pushing my lawn mower horizontally on that slope and completed the work on that himself as sweat was pouring down his brow), Joey informed me of his intention to retire from his newspaper route. And I was quite calm, believing indeed that he and I were in the midst of a renaissance of our friendship and that we could return to the much preferable condition of hours at a time spent with each other that was what had defined our friendship before Joey's hire by Gleaner. True, I had become accustomed to seeing Joey on a number of days per week, even if it might sometimes- or often- only be for a few minutes at a time, by way of his newspaper delivery route, but perhaps, just perhaps, I could depend upon one or two days weekly with Joey for hours together rather than minutes. I did, though, have a nagging feeling that the ending of Joey's newspaper delivery job could spell trouble, for we had yet to arrive at a new-found regular method for coming together outside of Joey's Gleaner rounds of the neighbourhood. But I quelled my doubts. Quality of friendship between Joey and myself was building to the high standards of the early years of this era, and I had appropriately positive thoughts where we two were concerned.
I do recognise that I have allocated a very substantial amount of Web space and authorship in these memoirs on describing events, situations, conditions, to and fro as they did go, between Joey and myself. And rightly so, for Joey's friendship had been key to this era's superlative quality. The importance of my friendship with Joey to this era is such that oscillations experienced over those years in relations with him must be mentioned, interpretation of them then and now, stated. They affected my impressions of all else that transpired in 1982-7. Indeed, my nostalgia today for Era 4 is founded greatly on the Joey-and-Kevin dynamic, including understanding now of why we did have those difficult, less gratifying days or spans of days. And when times were good between us as they mostly were in this era, and especially in the first years of it, the era was outstanding! Firing on all thrusters, I believe the saying goes. Every experience in this era with regard to television shows and so forth, be it with something that I was seeing for the first time, like Doctor Who, or with television programmes first viewed in Era 2 that reemerged in my life, was influenced profoundly by my social situation, in which Joey was at centre. The linchpin to the whole thing being so fondly looked back upon. Michael in Era 2 and Joey in Era 4 were my two most affectionate and, I think, most loving friends. What happened to Michael and me after I and then he left Douglastown is acknowledged, of course. We did diverge when we were apart. That does happen. And Michael and I did indeed quarrel many a time when we both lived in Douglastown as best pals. Joey and I also did not have clear sailing either in our years as friends. But such is normal, I now perceive, when people love one another very much. When there is goodly amount of emotion invested. I remember Kelly saying to me once that one tends to have more arguments or "rough patches" with one's best friends than with others. At the time, I could not comprehend her reasoning behind such a statement. Now, I do.
I cannot over-emphasise how much Michael and Joey meant- and still mean- to me. And it is vital that I express my appreciation, esteem, and love for Joey before I proceed into chronicling of the events and the ways of things in the bleakest times in my relations with Joey, the years from 1987 that we were apart. I would also affirm my memory, a memory absolutely clear, of Joey saying during one of his visits at my place in 1983 to watch videotaped Spiderman episodes with me, that he wished more than anything to be my brother. I do not think that to have been a frivolous statement by him. I do not nowadays doubt its sincerity or its permanence. Nobody else, not even Michael, has spoken of such an affection for me. And Joey did not lose his love for me, as I can perceive now. Michael did lose that love. At least, appearances point to such. And such was due, I presume, to the visit by him with me in 1980 and the outcome and effect of that. Possibly also as a result of the chasm that had opened between us as regards interests and tastes in our growth apart in quite different communities. The resiliency of Joey's affection for me would appear much the stronger. Because it would withstand some dire, dire years for our relationship- and already had rebounded from some very regrettable actions by me in the first few years that we knew each other. But circumstances were different with Joey and me from the situation between Michael and myself. In any case, what I am endeavouring to say is that no matter how unpleasant that matters would become in Era 5, my affection for Joey has a robustness and a durability transcending the separation and the estrangement that we would live through in the last years of the 1980s and in the 1990s.
|True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island. To find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.
Like a videotape or something like that being dangled in front of me and then yanked away, my spring, 1987 improvement in relations with Joey was, alas, not to be continuous. Joey would be gone from my side for practically the entirety of the summer. Linden Crescent and the nearest surrounding streets were devoid of life as Joey tended more and more to go quite beyond our traditional environs for socialisation and as other persons of my long acquaintance were either working on most days (in the case of Tony and Craig) or were also venturing outside of the Linden Crescent/Woodmount Drive/Park Street zone of Fulton Heights for fun, frolic, and conversation. Craig and Philip, though still playing catch in front of Craig's house on some early evenings, were scarcely enthused to see me approach them. Not all that new a development, that. But the number of games of bat and ball that I played with them was in marked decline, and they were content more and more to restrict their time on Linden Crescent to one-on-one catch, with me on the curb talking with an impassive, bored-sounding Craig about Major League Baseball and other subjects as Craig hurled a ball in Philip's direction. The pair of them were definitely very close as they branched outward into our city for involvement in baseball games non-inclusive of me, and the neighbourhood baseball game was by 1988 to go the way of the Do-Do. The long weeks of 1987's summer and enthusiastic company- if company at all- to be found essentially nowhere, lead me to observe with lonesome anguish that my Fredericton life was nowhere near as enduring as even I, insecure as I was, had thought it to be. And soon, memories of Douglastown were to begin returning with amazing breadth and clarity and tremendous fondness.
In spring of 1987, I revived the lawn-cutting notion, which had been largely untapped for a few years. This time, I was much more experienced and knew the market and the customer mind somewhat better than I did previously. I was also a university student with what would be seen as a legitimate reason for wanting to earn money. With all of this in mind, I chose a different approach. Instead of going directly to the customers and propositioning them for a one-time lawn job, as Joey and I had done in 1982, I would have them call upon me for a summer-long arrangement. I drafted a small advertisement flier describing myself as a reliable, dedicated university student looking for work, offering my services for a reasonable price, and leaving my telephone number for anybody interested. After distributing flier copies to some 100 mailboxes, I had several replies. One from a woman on nearby Lawrence Crescent who always paid me generously. Especially rewarding was my lawn-cutting deal with the wealthy family who had a huge yard on Park Street and who owned a Maple Street business building. The family's patriarch, a Mr. Trainor, contracted with me to do lawn work 4 times a month. Per-month remuneration was in the order of hundreds of dollars. Joey joined me and helped on a few of my verdant labours, but I did most of the work and timed myself efficiently, so that I would be sufficiently rested when I went from job to job. I also had a few one-time lawn cutting jobs, including that on the estate of a Gourley Court mansion-sized home on Friday, May 22, but it was the regular employs that were the most rewarding! My physical health was at its peak.
There was a case of successful entrepreneurship in a time when the economy was favourable to such a thing. But apart from it, I was not a successful job-seeker. I had no inclination to acquire a retail business job when I was 16 in 1982, and my parents did not insist on it. I earned some money cutting lawns and was fairly content with my earnings. Our family had no community connections in Fredericton. I was left to struggle with others who had no "who-you-know" advantages and were just faces in a large crowd seeking work. And even this was in the "booming" 1980s. Once I had started university in September of 1985, my studies became a full-time concern, and my mother and father graciously funded my education and tolerated my rather idle presence in the summers. In 1987, however, I did find enough work as a self-employed lawn-cutter to keep me busy- and, of course, to support my videotape-collecting hobby.
Protracted dry weather in mid-to-late July and early August, 1987 brought my business to a standstill, and I spent long hours alone. The incessant Iran-Contra hearings on television meant that there was nothing of interest to watch. My videotape collection was stagnating. My father started working days again for the first time since he had begun work at Fredericton Transit as a bus maintenance man in 1978, and I was alone in the house all day, with no company and nobody to whom I could reach out to invite to visit with some sureness of receiving an affirmative answer. Nobody I could seek out and be sure of finding at home. Joey had in June passed his newspaper route onto someone else and entirely stopped coming to see me. It was a jarring change coincident with a dramatic drop in the baseball games that I was asked by Craig and other neighbourhood teenaged males to play. Craig was unavailable for much of the 1987 summer, working somewhere as he was of age to do so, and he was eventually to ramify into the wide Fredericton milieu and gain honoured membership within a baseball-playing clique into which Craig initiated his best pal, Philip, while I was evidently persona non grata for such a dignified group of bat-and-ball competitors, whose games were played in fields throughout Fredericton. And anyway, I was never clique material. The games of baseball in our neighbourhood were soon to become extinct, and me their most prehistoric and first to be forsaken dinosaur. Steven and his buddies and multitude of their same-age peers were in spring and summer of 1987 playing a series of recreational baseball games at McLoon Field adjacent to Nashwaaksis Junior High School, and I was purposefully excluded from all of those contests. The word was sent around our neighbourhood that I was specifically unwelcome. For some reason then unbeknown to me- and even beyond my capacity then to theorise- I had come to a situated point in my time stream when a way of life for the past 5 years was now gone.
Contrasting this with the glory days of 1983 when I was not only part of all neighbourhood baseball games but team captain, with many people- and especially Joey- wanting to be with me on my team, and our winning of the games being the delicious icing on the cake, it was clear how much my quality of life had plummeted. My, how I had plummeted! From popular team leader to spurned loner. Once upon a time, in 1983, I was bringing wonderful things into reality with astounding consistency, and was rather in demand. In 1987, I was ineffectual. A loser. Unable by my efforts, such as they were, to bring about improvement in my then present situation and inclined to feel sorry for myself and embittered and angry with most everyone in my neighbourhood as I solitarily brooded on my doorstep. My disagreeable predicament in my milieu of ten years went beyond, way beyond, my still limited, occasional capacity at that time to multi-contextualise, to extrovert and view circumstances from other viewpoints. There was scant possibility of rationalising what had happened (with all possible angles considered, including that of my own contributions to my demise), whilst anguished and depressed emotions were overriding my capacity for reason. My apparent state of exile in my home place of ten years was to be a persisting, ever more cogent fact through summer, autumn, and winter. It was not going away with the dawning of another day.
Even though its superior experiences were concentrated in its first half, the fourth era of my life was, for its five-year span, indeed distinct from what came after it, and it drew to a close primarily because my best buddy of the era decided- for all in all quite valid reasons (as I can discern in retrospect)- to dispense with me as a social option, and many other aspects- and persons- to my Era 4 existence likewise were fading away, in remarkably close order. Era 4 did not end due to me or anyone else relocating to another community as Era 2 had done. Indeed, all of the Era 4 players in the story of my life were still on the stage that was our neighbourhood, which had become but a tiny part of a wider spotlight where they were concerned. With the scope and the dynamic of our surroundings so very different, what were once outsiders pouring in, or my friends reaching out to them and going to them more and more, it felt somewhat as if I had moved to a different city or subdivision. It was like I was in 1977 again, having just moved into Fredericton. Day after day in my Fredericton domicile by myself, early morning to late afternoon unvisited, not telephoned, uninvited to any social function, like in the first lonely months of Era 3. This time, though, I was out of contact with Era 2 buddies for seven, eight, or ten years. Long time, no see; long time, no mailed correspondence.
And unlike 1977, television provided sparse solace, what with Ollie North, Poindexter, and other Iran-Contra personalities occupying broadcast signals across the cable television dial- or at least on channels of television that, normally, had programming of some interest to me (i.e. General Hospital or Star Trek, the latter of which I was still striving to attain best quality videotape-recordings). The Pertwee Doctor Who stories had given way in June of 1987 to a third run of Tom Baker's Doctor Who series of stories of multi-part episodes shown on Saturdays in Omnibus form on MPBN, of which only "Planet of Evil" was one which I had not already seen. On a day or two or three, I went alone by bus to the malls or to Fredericton's downtown and bought a couple of book novelisations of missing-on-film Doctor Who serials ("Galaxy Four", "The Savages", "The Faceless Ones") or some Doctor Who magazines. But there was only so much of that I could do, and, besides, going shopping by myself was really not much better than sitting alone at home.
Long, lonely weeks and a summer (of 1987) slipping away looked, in August, to be all too evident. I wanted very much to reach out to Joey and bring him back into my life. But if he was at home when I called upon him, he was always on his way to somewhere with a peer. I recall him one day being on the verge of leaving his house to go to play badminton at the Nashwaaksis Junior High School field house with a same-age buddy. Yes, badminton. The sport that Joey came to enjoy in his association with me. Now, he was playing it with someone else. One day, I wanted for him to help me with a big lawn and household chore job for which I had been hired by a lady on Lawrence Crescent. But I received a rebuff from him as he spoke as little as possible to me from his house's upstairs window. Moreover, The Living Daylights, a new James Bond film, with a new James Bond- Timothy Dalton, opened in Fredericton in mid-August, and I could not convince Joey to accompany me to view it. I went to see it alone on a mid-week evening and did enjoy it immensely, even though I felt rebuffed with regard to it.
My parents and I had gone to Newcastle and Douglastown for a one-day visit in July, while Oliver North's Iran-Contra testimony was occupying nearly all television stations. We never stopped to visit anyone in Douglastown. I had not been in contact with anyone there for more than 7 years and felt unsure about what reception there might be at my ringing of certain doorbells. Still, just seeing the old neighbourhood had caused something inside me to "click", though not immediately. In May of that year, I had watched The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, a reunion movie for the bionic duo from the 1970s television series of which I was rather a loyal viewer when living in Douglastown. It too caused something in me to "click", again not immediately. These were definite nostalgia-stirring phenomena, but I remained quite firmly planted in the present until the many lonely weeks reached an unbearable climax in late August. I was aware that I had lost a summer, a summer that was thoroughly un-fun, lonely, and more reminiscent than ever of the last four months or so of 1977. Time seemed to slip a ten-year groove. I felt more in empathy with myself 10 years previous than at any time in the elapsed interim decade. 1977 had been the year I had left Douglastown to come to Fredericton. Events were directing me- or events some of which I had a hand in creating were directing me- toward an unprecedented nostalgic period of time.
But I still did not surrender to the longings for my former life until one morning in late August (almost 10 years precisely since moving out of Douglastown) when my mother found a picture, a school class picture from Grade 5, from January of 1977. It was a picture about which I had long forgotten. I saw my Douglastown Elementary School classmates in almost exactly the way they looked when I said good-bye to them on June 24, 1977. Overcome with longing, I walked extensively in the late summer sunshine. I wondered what had become of all of the people whom I once knew. I had dreams in which I found my Douglastown friends and classmates at university. Memories of my five years in that wonderful village came flooding back. Extraordinary coincidence. The finding of that photograph in combination with disenchantment with the way that my life in Fredericton had become.
I was definitely in early days of a new era, the defining traits thereof already firmly established. No longer in the company of my best friend- or of other long-time associates. Feeling neglected, alone, gloomy. Inclined to despair of my Fredericton surroundings. Reticent. Nostalgic. Such was the way of things for me as Era 5 of my life was beginning.
Television programming and my life experiences retained their intricate interconnection in this fourth era of my life. And therefore do I offer Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1982 to 1983, Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1983, Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1983 to 1984, Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1984 to 1985, Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1985, and Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1985 to 1987. Therein are television listings for specific days from start of summer vacation in 1982 onward.
McCorry's Memoirs continue with McCorry's Memoirs Era 5: Blasts From the Past (1987-92).