stuffed animals

We’re #1 on This Demonstration

The Yamaha PSR-27 keyboard.

I have been playing the piano since I was about seven years old, and since I was in junior high, I have also owned an electronic keyboard. Keyboards were big-ticket items when I was a kid because they not only cost a decent amount of money, but also were pretty amazing. The better keyboards could synthesize a ton of instruments and had several present rhythms and one-touch chords.

My first keyboard was a small Casio PT-180, which I remember bringing into school to work on a project, but the first keyboard that I remember really being important to me was myu second one, a Yamaha PSR-27. In terms of keyboardness, it wasn’t much (compared to some of the more high end models), but it had way more instruments than that Casio, plus came with its own stand so instead of taking it out of the box, setting it up, and plugging it in whenever I wanted to use it, I simply set it up and plugged it in in the basement.

The coolest thing on the keyboard was a yellow button that said “demo.” This was pretty much exactly what you’d think it was–a demonstration of what the keyboard was capable of, done through a 90-second song that used several instruments, rhythms, and effects, including the orchestra hit, which was popular to almost an annoying degree in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

My sister and I played that keyboard endlessly, fooling around with the different instruments, playing our weekly piano pieces on the “distortion guitar” or “church organ” settings, and even adding the one-touch chords and disco beat to songs like the Star Wars theme. But the most fun we had was with the demonstration because it was a crazy tune that used just about everything the keyboard offered and even if we figured out how to play it, we would never be that good because we were not very quick at changing instruments.

But more importantly, this was around the time when the two fo us were really into playing with her stuffed animals. Yes, I know that it seems weird that a twelve year old would play with stuffed animals, but Nancy was still nine and there were many days when the two fo us were stuck in the house together. By this time, stuffed animal play had evolved to the action-adventure stage. Each animal that was among our “main players” had a distinct character and we were even working on a semblance of continuity when it came to our stories.

That is, of course, when we weren’t playing Battle of the Stuffed Animal Bands. This was a regular contest that featured four of the most hard-rocking groups of animals: two frogs named Felix and Fred, otherwise known as “Fe and Fred;” the guitar-laden novelty animal Rockasaurus; the beaver-rabbit-raccoon combo known as the Woodland Creatures; and two dogs that we called the Nas. (more…)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Supershish?

Silvan the cat, manufactured by Dakin in the 1980s. This picture is from a recent eBay auction.

“Vintage Dakin 1980 Japanese Artists Black Cat Silvan,” the listing says, “He has a slight musky odor but due to his age I do not want to wash him–he was surface washed with disinfectant wipe and sprayed with allergen spray lightly.”  Next to the description is the price:  $179.10. In another auction with a similar discription, Silvan is wearing a Santa hat and the seller is asking for $129 [note: these prices were in 2010 … another look at eBay in 2017 sees prices run from $10-$75].

I was looking for a gag gift for my sister’s 30th birthday, which happens to be today.  It was an old tradition of ours–give a “cheesy gift” with a real gift for birthdays and Christmas–that we gave up a couple of years ago after running out of good ideas that weren’t going to cost too much money.  I brought it back because when your younger sister turns 30, you bust her chops as much as possible.

Finding her gift meant combing eBay for something that was appropriate or reflected whatever idiotic inside jokes we’ve shared over the years.  I spend the better part of an evening doing so, and in the midst of my searching, I typed in “Silvan cat” and found the listings I described above.

Had I been able to afford such a high-priced stuffed animal, I’m sure I would have sent it her way because she would have laughed her ass off (I know she did when I sent her the link to the auction).  Back when we were kids, Nancy had a menagerie of stuffed animals, most of which were gifts from grandparents and other relatives, and with the exception of some Pound Puppies or various stuffed Garfields and Odies, none of them were really from a series or line of characters.  Most, I believe, were purchased at random from toy stores or stationery stores.  Silvan, however, was a little bit different and wound up being a little more important.