Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Rainbow Connection

It was gloomy, cold, and gale-force windy when we headed out this morning, Lauren in a winter jacket, me in that blue hoody I bought at Eddie Bauer. The damp weather made me appreciate we planned on staying in the area today. This was no weather for long drives.

Our first stop was in Lanesborough, down the road from the abandoned Berkshire Mall. Berkshire Mantiques is an antique shop and coffee bar situated in an old farm building. Despite the name, it's filled with all kinds of antique items, from ancient gas station signs to records to furniture. There's even an area for coffee and baked goods set up along a bar in the back. Lauren greeted the owners like old friends. Apparently, they're customers at the bank where she works. I didn't see anything I could carry home, but she found the cutest teddy bear-shaped bank. He has a slight chip in his base; otherwise, he's adorable.

It started raining as we headed down the highway to North Adams. The weather slowed down just as Lauren pulled into the parking lot behind Norad Mill. This 1898 factory complex has since been made over to houses offices and shops. 

Our first stop was Belltower Records. This tiny hipster enclave nestled in a whitewashed sewing room mainly sold new records and old CDs. It reminded me a lot of Sun Valley Records in Somerdale, without the DVDs and incense. We peeked around, but they were kind of busy, and neither of us walked out with anything.

We had far more luck across the hall at the Norad Candy and Toy Company. Stuffed animals and bins and shelves filled with penny candy lined the walls of the polished oak wood room. We have plenty of candy, but we found Halloween stuffed animals we liked. Lauren chose a cute black cat with an orange bow. I went with a sweet bat with orange-lined wings. He'll go great with the three stuffed bats I pull out for Halloween every year. 

Lauren originally planned for us to eat at The Norad Cafe, but they're closed on Sunday. She took us into downtown North Adams, eventually ending up at 413 Bistro and Taproom in the Holiday Inn. They were a small room consisting of a black wood bar and whitewashed brick. We each had sliders. The waitress said they were out of the beef brisket I wanted; I went with chicken and waffles. Lauren had siracha chicken. 

And so, we waited to eat. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. It took almost 40 minutes for our food to arrive. We waited so long, another group sitting in the room across from us got angry and left. Admittedly, our food was very tasty when it did come. The chicken was crunchy and the herbed cream cheese was delicious, but the waffles were too small to work as sandwich bread. I used a knife and ate the chicken and waffles separately. 

(Research reveals they're a brand-new business that just opened in July. They may have gotten hit hard with the current hiring shortage, and I can't imagine it's easy to find people willing to work on Sunday's at normal times.)

The Berkshire Emporium is across the street. This is another huge antique center, more of a jumble like the Barrington Antique Center. They had so much stuff packed into that building, shelves of books for sale lined the side wall of the bakery next-door. I couldn't take home anything that interested me, but Lauren found a cute mini-Nintendo that held over 600 vintage games. (Apparently, they're among the most popular items in the store. The owner told Lauren she sells one or more a week and can't keep them in stock.)

Our next stop was the gigantic WalMart in Lanesborough. We dodged lighter showers heading into the massive building, nestled between two mountains. Lauren found Father Knows Best: The Complete Series and a few things for her parents. Once again, I saw nothing I could carry home that interested me. 

Lauren's wanted to check out the Berkshire Scenic Railway in Adams for years. This volunteer-only local museum has short trips down tracks originally used by passenger trains and freight going from Boston and Albany to North Adams when it was an industrial hub. Truthfully, the scenery mostly consists of trees and houses, but there is the occasional lovely view of babbling brooks and rushing rivers. The trees are starting to turn glorious colors up here, too, golds and bricks and lime greens. (Oddly, despite talking quite a bit about the historic Hoosic Tunnel, we didn't go through it.)

It started pouring as we arrived at the station. The two of us dashed for the car as fast as our legs could carry us. We decided the weather wasn't appropriate for further travels. She ordered take-out dinner from her parents' favorite local restaurant the Highland instead. 

No sooner did she finish calling in the order, than we looked up over the train...and saw a beautiful rainbow stretching over the trains and the majestic Greylock Mountain. Even as we took photos, a second, fainter rainbow appeared, to our surprise and delight. 

We stopped briefly at a parking lot in downtown Pittsfield for Lauren to pick up dinner, then headed home. After we showed Mr. and Mrs. Miller our finds, we dug into dinner. I had a huge hot turkey sandwich dripping with (probably bottled) gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Lauren had a Chicken Parmesan sandwich and a small salad. Yum! The potatoes were probably a mix, too, but there's nothing like comfort food. 

After we ate, we moved into Lauren's room downstairs to try out that tiny Nintendo. Half of the 620 games were Japanese titles we never heard of, and many of the others were for one player only, but we did find a few we could do together. I got further on Super Mario Brothers, mainly because I remembered to use the secret pipes in World 1-2. Lauren killed me at Ice Hockey 7 - 2; I had trouble aiming. She also did better at Elevator Action, in which a secret agent rides a series of elevators down a building, shooting at bad guys and occasionally stepping into red doors. I couldn't get out of the first round; Lauren made it to round 3. Her Raphael just barely beat my Leonardo at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters

We did best at Galaxia. Each of us made it to the third round. She had the better score, but I had the higher aim-accuracy percentage. I've been playing that game all my life; it was common in the Cape May arcades during my childhood, and I believe they had it in Wildwood in the early 2000's, too. 

Finished the night online with vintage word game shows at YouTube. Rhyme and Reason was yet another attempt to clone Match Game in 1975. In the pilot episode, Bob Eubanks hosts a panel (including poet laureate of television Nipsey Russell) who have to match the word the contestant game to finish a rhyme. It's cute, but a bit complicated and slow-paced. I can understand why it didn't last a year, and this is the only episode known to exist today.

The Cross-Wits was more fun. It's basically a cross between Password Plus and crossword puzzles. Here, the celebrities help contestants figure out a crossword puzzle with a theme. The winners move on to the bonus round, where a celebrity helps the figure out a larger puzzle for increasing cash amounts. Nipsey Russell's in this 1979 episode as well, joined by Elaine Joyce, soap star Rosemary Forsyth, and character actor James Hampton. Gentlemanly Jack Clark presides over this one.

Wheel of Fortune originally debuted on NBC in 1975. It garnered good but not spectacular ratings on the network through the early 80's, until Chuck Woolery was replaced by Pat Sajak in 1983, Vanna White started turning letters, and the show launched a syndicated version later that year. Suddenly, ratings were through the roof, and they climbed even further when the show was packaged with a new version of Jeopardy! in the late 80's. The episode I chose from 1988 is pretty emblematic of the ones my family used to watch together after dinner. 

The success of Password in the early 60's spawned even more word association parlor games. Oh My Word was a short-lived San Francisco show that had celebrities making up descriptions of unusual words. Musicians Buddy Greco and Sal Mineo join Jim Lange (in his first major hosting assignment) here. Wordplay is a later version from 1987, only here, it's three celebrities making up the goofy descriptions. Roseanne Barr joins Ned Beatty and Stephan Furst over a year before her sitcom started to chew gum and revel in wordy wisecracks. Tom Kennedy keeps things moving. 

Lingo originally played syndication in 1987, but that version didn't even last a year. Game Show Network revived it in 2003; this time, it ran five years. Chuck Woolery watches over two teams of men and women attempt to guess a mystery word appearing bit by bit on a screen. The team who finally guesses gets to choose numbers for a bingo card. If they can fill a line, they'll be able to move on to the bonus round, where they guess as many Lingo words as possible. 

This seems to be especially popular with people who grew up watching it in the early-mid 2000's, and I can see why. Though the ladies didn't play too well, it's still fast-paced fun in an era where most shows were trying desperately to rack up suspense and mystery. 

Stump your friends and challenge your mind with these wild word games! (Oh, and Rhyme and Reason comes in three parts, but it's also the only copy of that show known to exist.)

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