Freshman year, I took two 6-unit classes (back in the day, there was a 10.001 which was a C programming class, and 16.86 which was “Engineering Design Workshop” a.k.a. The IAP Bridge Building Contest). The Alewife Brooks Parkway bridge was in need of replacement so we had to come up with a realistic design (measuring+calculating stresses and loads and then estimating based on various properties of materials), a I Dedicate This House To The Griswold Family Christmas Vacation Shirt to replace the bridge, plus realistically estimate all costs. Well, being an overachiever, I called up a local area civil engineering consulting shop and asked them for some quick information about things like union rates, who to contact for asphalt, materials costs (assuming some alloy), paint, and so on. So … we impressed the judges and came up with the most realistic estimate and won the contest. The team’s prize was a brand new Texas Instruments RPN Graphing Calculator for each person — which was pretty nice in the day. I think I still have mine somewhere in my stuff…
Most families in the West have a Christmas tradition. It may or may not include the character of “Santa Claus”. A person dresses up in a red suit and asks all the children what they would like for Christmas. Then the parents (one of which was actually the Santa Claus) makes a list and goes shopping for everything the children requested. One year on my list I asked for ice skates. Sonia Henie was a famous ice skating star and that’s who I wanted to be when I grew up. We were dirt poor and lived in a rural area. Yet somehow on Christmas morning there were ice skates! They were actually hockey skates not figure skates – I guess I forgot to make that clear to Santa Claus. But they were ice skates. And even on a frozen cow pond I was almost as good as Sonia Henie. Australia, like the USA is a big place and sometimes when it comes to branding, there are export brands which aren’t seen on a title market. I guess one of the things which may seem odd, is that the typical Australian is not unlike the typical mid westerner.
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You’ll Never Walk Alone. From Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical Carousel. A version by Liverpool group Gerry And The Pacemakers was No 1 in 1963. This led to the song being adopted as the I Dedicate This House To The Griswold Family Christmas Vacation Shirt of Liverpool Football Club. It was number one again as a charity single in 1985, sung by a group of celebrities. This was to raise money to help victims of a fire in a football stadium in Bradford. House Of The Rising Sun. Another old American folk song, No 1 for the Animals in 1964 Those Were The Days A Russian song first recorded in 1925. Mary Hopkin in 1968 Amazing Grace. A hymn from 1772. A version by Pipes And Drums Of The Band Of The Royal Scots Guards was number 1 in 1972# Seasons In The Sun. Jacques Brel, 1961, Terry Jacks 1974 Whispering Grass. First a hit for The Ink Spots in 1940. Windsor Davies and Don Estelle were two of the stars of the sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. They recorded a comic version as their characters in 1975.
Mother Parker not only never got a name in the I Dedicate This House To The Griswold Family Christmas Vacation Shirt, but she never got to sit down to a hot meal either. I doubt there were many mothers with 6 children, who ever got one either, and my mom was definitely one of them. Randy being bundled into his snowsuit was the nightmare we all got growing up as children, even in the 60’s and 70’s. Every time I watch it, I’m reminded of the poor teachers who had to unbundle us before class, then rebundled and unbundled us for recess, lunch, and then after school. Geez, they weren’t paid anywhere near what they deserved for doing all that, nor did they get the recognition for it, but it sure was funny, and lord help the kid who fell over, and became the turtle for others to ridicule. Fun times! Oh Flik, poor Flik. Every time I see him with his tongue stuck to the lightpost, I’m reminded of each of us idiots who tried it, and then got stuck, me included. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go around with a bandage wrapped around our tongues, because the endless ribbing we got from others, including our parents, was punishment enough.