changing the tower light bulb (it’s too late, baby)

BACK IN PRE-REAGAN AMERICA, back in the ’60s when the wealthy and the corporations still paid something resembling a reasonable tax rate, many (white) high schools in these here United States had a Guidance Counselor. This person’s job was to assist juniors and seniors in recognizing and understanding their interests and skills and guide them towards courses that might help them towards realizing the goal of a rewarding career.

This article was written to get readers to look at the 2-minute video below of Mr Kevin Schmidt going about his job changing light bulbs!

One of the ways they did this was to give us an “aptitude test” (perhaps this was something more formal and should be capitalized as Aptitude Test), which was a battery of questions to help those Guidance Counselors to recognize and understand their students’ potential.

I remember taking the tests but nothing of what constituted those tests. But I do remember my results: I was best suited for a job as a park ranger, living alone in a fire tower somewhere in the middle of a forest somewhere far to the west of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Seemed insane to me then, not so insane now—provided I had access to female companionship every now and again.

Let there be light

This was brought to mind by the video below that was featured in today’s Big Geek Daddy email newsletter. Titled “Changing The Tower Light Bulb,” the text that introduced this video reads (modified for those of us who pay attention to grammar and punctuation):

“How many workers does it take to change the light bulb on a 1,500-foot TV tower in South Dakota? If you’re a tower-climber like Kevin Schmidt, then it only takes one person to climb the tower, one to film it using an aerial drone, and probably a couple of others on the ground providing support. The light bulb he’s changing is at the top of an inactive 1,500-foot high analog broadcast antenna for KDLT-TV near Salem, South Dakota. This line of work is not for the faint-hearted . . .”

This tower is 1,500 feet tall. Yet according to a “List of tallest structures in the United States by height” on Wikipedia, this tower is 609.6 meters tall, which is 2,000 feet! Either way, if this structure was in New York City, Mr Schmidt would be looking DOWN at the Empire State Building!

I can see me handling this job: I not only have no fear of heights, but actually enjoy the act of climbing—which is a very different experience than taking an elevator to the top of a tall structure for the pleasure of looking down!

Loathe as I am to assume things, I assume that it’s too late for a career change to tower-climber for me as I sit at my computer at the age of 64 sipping at my ubiquitous cuppa coffee listening to Carole King’s monumental 1971 album TAPESTRY (“And it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late”).

By the way, according to those aptitude tests, I scored a zero (that’s “0”) in musical aptitude, which caused my GC to remark that he’d never seen a zero in anything on these tests before. That is, I had absolutely no interest in the whole wide world in anything musical.

Newly acquired readers of my work here at Neal Umphred Dot Com are invited to visit my other sites, Rather Rare Records and Elvis – A Touch Of Gold . . . 



FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is a still from the original 1933 release of King Kong, perhaps the most astounding special effects movie ever made. Made in 1932, King Kong was an RKO Radio Pictures film produced and directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.

King Kong really starred the stop-motion animation of Willis O’Brien (with assistance from his protegé Ray Harryhausen), and was the first truly great “special effects movie.” And went to become a legend among stop-motion animation artists and fans, responsible for some of the finest fantasy films ever made, with his masterpiece being The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad (1958).

King Kong also featured an equally amazing score by Max Steiner. The composer stated, “”It was made for music. It was the kind of film that allowed you to do anything and everything, from weird chords and dissonances to pretty melodies.”

“There had never been a score so ambitious and so perfectly attuned to the visuals; Steiner’s music for King Kong was and is a landmark of film scoring, as much responsible for the success of the film as Cooper’s imagination and O’Brien’s gifted animation.” (Ronald Haver, David O. Selznick’s Hollywood)

Oh, right, the actors: the movie featured Fay Wray with Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. King Kong has been remade several times but beware and ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES for the real deal! (Although Naomi Watts in the 2005 remake is glorious in the Fay Wray role.)



I am not letting an opportunity to include a photograph of a beautiful woman for even the flimsiest of reasons pass me by. This is a photo of Fay Wray cowering in fear of the Great Ape. Ms Wray made her first feature film in 1925 and her last in 1980. Her fame today rests almost exclusively on playing the beauty to Kong’s beast.

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2 Replies to “changing the tower light bulb (it’s too late, baby)”

  1. I was hoping for some King Kong after the lead picture, but vertigo PLUS! My inner ear needed to go right back to the not overly skinny Fay Wray.

    Guidance Counselors! I remember mine looking like Elmer Fudd. Could’a been the same one that gave you a Zero (0) in musical aptitude.

    Long live Harryhausen!

    1. Yeah, the featured image is a teaser, heyna? I dunno, Fay Wray looks really yummy to me.

      My GC was tall and lean and if you said his name I would probably remember it. He didn’t give me a zero; according to those inane tests, I simply showed no interest in music so scored a “0”!

      Harryhausen did a lot of great effects for otherwise lame movies, such as MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and JASON & THE ARGONAUTS—which you and I probably saw at Forty Fort or Swoyersville or Luzerne—and the relatively unknown VALLEY OF THE GWANGI from 1968 when we paying attention to other things.

      I love ’em all!!!

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