Charles Monroe Schulz 

The Banner

On November 26, 1922…Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He would have been 100 years old today. He would read the Sunday cartoon feature with his dad every week. Schulz had asthma and his mom would give him a pencil and paper in bed to draw and that started it all.

He created the Peanuts strip (originally entitled Li’l Folks) in 1950, introducing a group of characters based on semiautobiographical experiences.  That first year, the comic strip came in last place in the New York World Telegram’s reader survey of cartoons… however, a book of Peanuts reprints helped the strip gain a larger audience. Shulz encapsulated the kid’s point of view as good or better than anyone. The grownups didn’t talk; it was all about the kid’s world. When I was growing up I would not miss a Sunday Cartoon feature or holiday special…not to mention the movies that came out.

Schulz channeled the loneliness that he had experienced in his army days and the frustrations of everyday life into Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was familiar because he was us. . Linus was named after a friend and fellow cartoonist Linus Maurer. Peppermint Patty was inspired by his cousin Patricia and Snoopy is based on Schulz’s intelligent childhood pet dog. Woodstock is just a miniature of Snoopy…he is drawn the same way.

Philip Van Pelt’s wife, Louanne, inspired Lucy Van Pelt, Linus’ sister. Schulz introduced the feisty…some say mean brunette, known for pulling away footballs just as Charlie Brown is about to kick them, to the cartoon strip in 1952.

The comic strip would explode and be a pop culture icon in the 50s until now. So Happy Birthday Charles Schulz!

When I was a kid I would occasionally get a Peanuts item…watch or something with them on it. My favorite characters were Schroeder and Pigpen since I stayed dirty much to my mom’s horror. No matter how much she tried…and she tried and tried to get me somewhere clean…it hardly ever happened. She got me ready for Church one morning and she had a brainstorm. She got me ready 15 minutes before we left. It was a cool spring day so she put a scrubbed-clean Max into the back seat of our car. When she came out she was horrified…I had dug around in the ashtray and was filthy…therefore Pigpen suited me fine.

In the late 1990s while my wife and I were dating…we would go to flea markets and antique shops and buy Peanuts memorabilia. We both had rediscovered The Peanuts in our 20s. Over 2-4 years we bought thousands of dollars of older collectibles. If being late on rent meant getting a rare Peanuts item…so be it! No, we were not the most responsible around at the time. It was a cool bonding activity between us and we still have all the things that we bought. At Christmas, we get a lot of it out and decorate the house. We slowed down when our son Bailey came along and we realized…hmmm better start saving money!

So the Peanuts were with me as a child and an adult and if we ever see a Peaunts item out and about…we usually get it.

If you get in the mood to watch The Peanuts… try A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home…their first two movies.

My role model Pigpen

 

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This first premiered on November 20, 1973, on CBS and won an Emmy Award. Great Thanksgiving special as always with the earlier Peanuts.

The Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Peanuts specials I always looked forward to. The way their world was only for kids where grownups were heard but only as noise in the background.

It starts off with Lucy tempting Charlie Brown with that football. Just one time I wanted to see Charlie kick the football…or Lucy.

It’s Thanksgiving and Peppermint Patty invites herself and Marcie over to Charlie Brown’s house but Charlie and Sally are ready to go to their grandmothers. Charlie talks to Linus and he suggests having two Thanksgiving dinners.

The only thing Charlie can come up with is feeding his friends toast and cold cereal which does not make Peppermint Patty happy whatsoever. She lets Charlie have it really bad until Marcie reminds her that she invited herself over.

Not going to give it away for those who have not seen this wonderful holiday cartoon. The music by Vince Guaraldi is excellent and makes every Peanuts cartoon special.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

When I was growing up this was a must-watch in October. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released in October 1966.

Great Pumpkin

Charlie Brown is invited to Violet’s Halloween party. Before the party, the Peanuts gang plan to go trick or treating, with Snoopy, who is dressed as the WWI flying ace, taking his Halloween disguise to an extreme. The one person who won’t be joining them for the trick or treating or the party is Linus, who will be waiting in his local pumpkin patch for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin to give toys and candy to all the girls and boys.

This year he talked Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, into coming with him while the others went out. Linus and Sally stays at the pumpkin patch all night until Lucy gets up in the middle of the night to take Linus back home. The next day, Charlie Brown and Linus about the night’s events. Charlie Brown assures Linus that he’s done his share of stupid things too. This upsets Linus, who vows that the Great Pumpkin will appear next year.

Charlie Brown and Linus at the Wall

It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was adapted from Schulz’s newspaper strip, which he had conceived as a metaphor for some of the hope and disappointment associated with Santa Clause. Schulz didn’t like the idea of kids getting their hopes up about a lot of presents when many families could only afford one or two gifts for the holidays. “The Great Pumpkin is really kind of a satire on Santa Claus, when he doesn’t come, Linus is crushed.”

Growing up, there was no other cartoon I looked forward to more than The Peanuts. Every holiday I was there watching the gang. I would also read the  Sunday paper to see the Peanuts strip.

Everything from Linus telling us the true meaning of Christmas, Sally and Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, Lucy pulling that football from Charlie Brown, Snoopy being WWI flying ace, Lucy being a Psychiatrist, and Charlie Brown getting that sad-looking Christmas tree…we got to peek into that kids only world and listen to the wisdom that was going on while Linus and Charlie Brown discussed life.

Charlie Brown and Linus wall

The Peanuts taught us about life. We lose more than we win therefore everyone is Charlie Brown to an extent. Every person has failed at a big moment or many of the small ones. We felt for Charlie Brown because we could relate.

TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 4 – Liam Selects – BoJack Horseman

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

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BoJack Horseman (2014-2020) – Netflix

BoJack Horseman is a comedy series that satirizes the vapidity of Hollywood (or “Hollywoo” as it is known in one of the show’s running gags) and the Southern California lifestyle.  But it also is a deeply human show that realistically deals with depression, substance abuse, generational trauma, and other human vulnerabilities.  Oh, and it’s also an animated series about a talking horse.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg created the show and served as showrunner (as well as a writer and voice actor) while illustrator/cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt was the show’s production designer. BoJack Horseman ran for 6 seasons with 77 episodes on Netflix and was later syndicated on Comedy Central and MTV2. Every episode opens with a fantastic title sequence set to a groovy jazz funk tune.

Let’s meet the main characters!

Main Characters

bojack

BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) – an anthropomorphic horse, BoJack became famous and wealthy starring in a 1990s sitcom about a horse who raises three human orphan children called Horsin’ Around.  As the series begins, BoJack is living on his past success while trying to revive his career.  He suffers from depression and alcoholism and his deep bitterness has made him cantankerous. I’ll be perfectly clear here that BoJack does some despicable things and it’s a testament to the show that he still manages to be a sympathetic character.

diane

Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) – a human writer of Vietnamese origin but raised by an adoptive Irish American family in Boston. As the show begins, Diane is hired to be a ghostwriter for BoJack’s memoir.  Despite her introversion and repulsion at BoJack’s womanizing, they become close friends. They share a bond of suffering from depression and a neglectful upbringing.  A running gag in the show is that Diane’s ringtone is the voice of various public radio personalities.

mr-peanutbutter

Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) – an optimistic and outgoing Labrador retriever who starred in a 90s sitcom that was a knockoff of Horsin’ Around. He believes this makes him BoJack’s peer and never understands why BoJack resents him.  Mr. Peanutbutter is introduced as Diane’s fiancé and they eventually marry.  His character began as kind of one-note joke of the type of person who would irritate BoJack but evolved over the course of the show into a more complex character.

todd

Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) – a human young man who has been living as houseguest on BoJack’s couch for several years before the show begins. BoJack verbally berates Todd but secretly considers him a close friend. Todd has a quirky personality and frequently comes up with various wacky ideas (often working with Mr. Peanutbutter), and a penchant for “failing up” when these ideas succeed.  He’s also something of the conscience of the show having a way of confronting BoJack in the most disarming way. In season 3 he comes out as asexual and over the rest of the series learns what asexuality means for him.

princess-carolyn

Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) – a Persian cat who is BoJack’s agent and a former girlfriend.  Princess Carolyn represents the struggle for women to “have it all” working hard to eventually start her own agency and adopt a child.  Sedaris’ voice work is particularly notable on the show especially when she’s frequently given tongue twisters in her dialogue.

Supporting Characters

sarah-lynn

Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) – a human actress who portrayed the youngest child on Horsin’ Around.  Sarah Lynn falls into the former child actor trope of seeking pop music stardom and engaging self-destructive behavior.  It’s revealed that she looked to BoJack as a father figure and was traumatized by his antisocial behavior.  When they reunite when Sarah Lynn is an adult it unfortunately leads to a codependent relationship and a downward spiral to the worst thing that BoJack does in the entire show.

herb

Herb Kazzaz (Stanley Tucci) – a human who served as the initial producer for Horsin’ Around and a friend of BoJack’s.  When Herb’s homosexuality becomes public, BoJack does not support him when the network removes Herb from his job. At the beginning of the series, Herb is dying of cancer and is reunited with BoJack and they have to deal with their troubled past.

hollyhock

Hollyhock (Aparna Nancherla) – a teenage horse who believes she is BoJack’s illegitimate child and comes to Hollywoo to have BoJack help find her mother.  BoJack grows attached to Hollyhock as one of his few living relatives but as often happens in this show, there’s trouble in their relationship.

beatrice

Beatrice Horseman (Wendie Malick) – a horse who is BoJack’s verbally abusive mother. A lot of the trauma that BoJack deals with is traced to the cruel parenting from Beatrice and his father Butterscotch (also voiced by Will Arnett).  The show depicts BoJack and Beatrice’s hostile relationship in her final years with several flashbacks to BoJack’s childhood and even to Beatrice’s life before BoJack was born.

margo-martindale

Character Actress Margo Martindale (Margo Martindale) – a real life human actor voices a criminally insane version of herself who gets involved in absurd schemes with the main characters.

Okay, I have a feeling that the description of the characters makes the show sound kind of like a bummer.  But it is also wildly funny with clever dialogue and endless sight gags.  And the characters who are animals frequently exhibit their animal characteristics in creative ways. The show also pushes the boundaries with what an animated show can do.  Some of the standout episodes include:

  • “Hank After Dark” (Series 2, episode 7) – a thinly-veiled take on Bill Cosby that involves the way that media and the entertainment industry collude to protect sexual predators.
  • “Fish Out of Water” (series 3, episode 4) – a brilliant experimental episode where BoJack attends a film festival under the ocean that is done almost entirely in pantomime with fantastic visuals.
  • “The Old Sugarman Place” (Series 4, episode 2) – BoJack visits his mother’s dilapidated family vacation home and flashbacks of Beatrice’s childhood trauma are shown.
  • “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” (Series 4, episode 6) – We hear BoJack’s inner monologue as he goes about his daily activities offering insight into his depression and self-destructive behavior.  This episode hit me hard.
  • “Free Churro” (Series 5, episode 6) – the entire episode is BoJack delivering a rambling eulogy at his mother’s funeral, and it’s powerful.
  • “A Quick One, While He’s Away” (Series 6, episode 8) – none of the main characters appear in this episode where an investigative reporter unearths BoJack’s hidden secrets by talking to various ancillary characters.
  • “The View From Halfway Down” (Series 6, episode 15) – BoJack has a near-death experience which results in a surreal, nightmare vision of meeting with several deceased family members and friends.

One more thing I have to point out is that an incredible amount of talented people who lent their voices to this show. A selection of celebrities who provided voices to one-time or recurring characters:

Patton Oswalt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, Olivia Wilde, Ilana Glazer, J.K. Simmons, Aisha Tyler,  Maria Bamford, Adam Conover, Keith Olbermann, Wyatt Cenac, Kristin Chenoweth, Cedric Yarbrough, Ken Jeong, Keegan-Michael Key, Jason Beghe, Brandon T. Jackson, Lisa Kudrow, Abbi Jacobson, Ben Schwartz, Philip Baker Hall, Lake Bell, Andre Braugher, Angela Bassett, Stephanie Beatriz, LaKeith Stanfield, Hilary Swank, Stephen Colbert, Anjelica Huston, Chris Parnell, Fred Savage, Amy Schumer, Tatiana Maslany, Garry Marshall, Ali Wong, Liev Schreiber, Ricky Gervais, Jeffrey Wright, Mara Wilson, Lorraine Bracco, Candice Bergen, “Weird Al” Yankovic, RuPaul,  Kristen Bell, Whoopi Goldberg, Randall Park, John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria, David Sedaris, Daveed Diggs, Issa Rae, Wanda Sykes, Audra McDonald, Gabe Kaplan, Richard Lewis, Stephen Root, Samantha Bee, and Alan Arkin.

Some celebrities who provided voices to animated versions of themselves:

Naomi Watts, Wallace Shawn, Henry Winkler, Paul McCartney, Scott Wolf, Daniel Radcliffe, Lance Bass, Jessica Biel, Leonard Maltin, Zach Braff, Felicity Huffman, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Laura Linney.

If you’re interested in reading more about BoJack Horseman, I wrote a review of each season at the time they were released.

TV Draft Round 7 – Pick 7 – Liam Selects – The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

(1959 – 1964)

When you have an animated series featuring talking animals, the natural inclination is to file it under “Children’s Entertainment.”  And yet The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show featured witty wordplay, spoofs of popular culture, self-referential humor, and political satire (particularly regarding the Cold War). You can tell that network execs were confused by the fact that they sometimes aired the show in prime time and sometimes on Saturday morning.  During the show’s five season run from 1959 to 1964 it also switched networks.  For the first two seasons it was on ABC and called Rocky and His Friends. Then it moved to NBC and became The Bullwinkle Show.  CBS never gave it a shot but the show lived on in syndication under the names The Rocky Show, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky. Whew!

Ok, but beyond this rocky (pun intended) broadcast history, what was the show about?  Jay Ward created the show to be an ongoing adventure serial about a moose and a squirrel. Animator Alex Anderson created many of the characters but declined to work on the show itself.  Ward hired Bill Scott as head writer and co-producer of the show, as well as writers Chris Hayward and Allan Burns. General Mills came on board as the show’s main sponsor. The ongoing serial featured four main characters, two heroes and two villains:

  • Rocket J. Squirrel (a.k.a. Rocky the Flying Squirrel), voiced by June Foray, is a noble all-American kid in squirrel form who serves as the straight man to his partner Bullwinkle’s antics. His catchphrase is “Hokey smokes!”
  • Bullwinkle J. Moose, voiced by Bill Scott, is a good-hearted and optimistic, but very dimwitted moose. He and Rocky are roommates in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.  He attended Wossamotta U. on a football scholarship.
  • Boris Badenov, voiced by Paul Frees, is a spy from the fictional nation of Pottsylvania (a thinly disguised amalgamation of countries behind the Iron Curtain.). He is constantly up to no good and scheming on a plan given to him by his Fearless Leader or concocting his own criminal conspiracy. He proudly introduces himself as the “world’s greatest no-goodnik.”
  • Natasha Fatale, voiced by June Foray, is another Pottsylvania spy and Boris’ partner in crime. The design of Boris and Natasha are inspired by Charles Addams’ characters Gomez and Morticia Addams.

Over five seasons and 163 episodes, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Boris & Natasha appeared in 28 different serialized story arcs. The shortest serial had only 4 chapters while the longest had 40!  And this was in the days before DVD box sets and streaming video made binge watching possible, so the creators of the show put a lot of faith in the audience remembering what happened earlier in the story.

A typical 23-minute episode would have two segments of a Rocky & Bullwinkle serial, each ending on a cliffhanger (and a bad pun).  Additionally, the show would have a couple of supporting features drawn from the following:

  • Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties – In a parody of silent film melodramas, the brave but dumber-than-Bullwinkle mounted policeman Dudley Do-Right (Bill Scott) attempts to foil the plots of the villainous Snidley Whiplash (Hans Conried). This usually requires rescuing Nell Fenwick (June Foray), whom Dudley loves, but she in return is only fond of his horse.
  • Aesop and Son – Old fables are retold in a comical way by Aesop (Charles Ruggles) and his son, Junior (Daws Butler).
  • Fractured Fairy Tales – Edward Everett Horton narrates fairy tales updated with modern themes and a lot of puns.
  • Peabody’s Improbable History – Mister Peabody (Bill Scott), a genius talking dog, adopts a boy named Sherman (Walter Tetley). Since the boy needs exercise, Peabody invents a time machine called the WABAC. They travel to various historical events to see what “really” happened.
  • Bullwinkle’s Corner – Bullwinkle attempts to be cultured by reading poetry with comical results.
  • Know-it All – Bullwinkle, who we have already noted is quite dim, attempts to be the authority of various topics while Boris Badenov undermines his efforts.

The one great flaw of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show is its animation style.  Television animation of the 50s and 60s relied on the practices of limited animation such as reusing simple backgrounds and the stilted motions of the characters to save money.  But even by the standards of limited animation, The Rocky and Bulwinkle Show’s animation was choppy and full of visible flaws.  General Mills insisted on outsourcing the animation to the Mexican studio Gamma Productions S.A. de C.V, and Ward was never happy with the quality.  But ultimately, the witty scripts and terrific voice acting made the poor quality animation irrelevant to the show becoming a classic.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show legacy lives on in syndicated reruns.  Despite never being a morning person, I went through a phase as a teenager in the late 1980s where I would get up to watch it at 6am before school!  The show has also been released in various home media formats.  Attempts to revive the show in the 1970s and 80s failed but it eventually found its way to the big screen.  Boris and Natasha: The Movie (1992) and Dudley Do-Right (1999) were live-action adaptations that both bombed. A live-action/animated hybrid movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) was also poorly received.  Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) from DreamWorks Animation got much better reviews and spun off a Netflix series (2015-2017).  DreamWorks Animation Television followed up with a reboot series of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2018-2019) on Amazon Prime Video.  I have not watched any of these having remained loyal to the original work of Jay Ward and company.

TV Draft Round 3 – Pick 7 – King Of The Hill

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 8 rounds will be posted here. We will have 64 different TV Shows by 8 different writers. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Dave from https://soundday.wordpress.com/

First I’d like to thank Max for keeping this project running, and for inviting me to take part. There are so many good TV shows to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll opt for one that seems to hit close to home for me (LOL – literally)… King of the Hill.

King of the Hill was a long-running animated prime-time cartoon that somehow had characters a lot more “real” than most of its contemporaries made with real actors. It ran on Fox Network for 259 episodes from 1997- 2010, and has been seen in re-runs in syndication and on some of the streaming services. I’m not a gigantic fan of Fox overall, but one thing they do well is cartoons!

It typically ran on Sunday nights after The Simpsons, – itself a hilarious and ground-breaking show – at 8:30 Eastern time. Fox seemed to clue in on how much of a good thing they had going with Sunday night cartoons aimed at adults and forever were searching for ones to lineup with their corporate flagship show and its yellow-skinned Springfielders. Some of them caught on (e.g. Family Guy or, though I can’t fathom why, Bob’s Burgers), others were come and gone faster than you could say “Eat my shorts” …anyone remember Border Town? Although a few of the post-Bart and Homer series might have now topped King of the Hill in episodes, I don’t think any have topped it for humor and creating characters we felt we could relate to. No wonder Time magazine once called it “the most acutely-observed and realistic sitcom about American life, bar none.” Perhaps all the more surprising since its main creator was Mike Judge, whose previous claim to fame was Beavis and Butthead.

King of the Hill revolved around Hank Hill and his family – wife Peggy, tween son Bobby and their dog, a lazy hound called Ladybird. And the niece who lived with them, to Hank’s mild disapproval, Luanne. They were a typical, middle-class Texan family living somewhere in the suburbs, in the city of “Arlen.” Hank sold propane, and propane products and was proud of it. Peggy was a substitute teacher, specializing in Spanish classes (although her knowledge of the language was barely functional) who loved Boggle and making green bean casseroles; a woman described as “confidant, sometimes to the point of lacking self-awareness.”  Like most Texans, they loved things like rodeos, pickup trucks and Dallas Cowboys football – in one memorable episode Hank tries to get together a movement to move the Cowboys training camp to Arlen, but they pick Wichita Falls. To which Hank replies that city which claims to be “north Texas! More like south Oklahoma if you ask me!” a pretty stinging insult in the Lone Star State! Bobby, to his dad’s chagrin, is chubby, has little interest in sports and wants to be a stand-up comedian or worse yet, a clown.

Joining Hank is a supporting cast of neighbors we all seem to know in real life. There’s Bill, balding, overweight veteran who’s lonely and cuts hair on the nearby military base for income and amusement. Boomhauer, the suave, thin ladies man with the weird hillbilly accent who always seems to have female companionship and little to do outside of that but drink beer with the other guys and watch the world go by. (In the final episode’s surprise twist, we see his wallet lying open and find he’s a Texas Ranger – the elite branch of the state police.)  And there’s Dale, a man ahead of his time. Chain-smoker, exterminator by day, full-time conspiracy theorist and paranoid political commentator at night. Somehow he’s married to the lovely Nancy, the local TV weather girl and they have a son, Joseph… who looks nothing at all like him nor the blonde Nancy…but suspiciously like John Redcorn, the Native “healer” who has been giving her lengthy massages for her migraines for years. Dale has trouble figuring out why Joseph looks like that…but thinks maybe his wife was abducted and impregnated by aliens.  And we can’t forget Cotton, Hank’s cranky old father, lacking the bottom of his legs due to a war injury, nor the Khans. The Khans are from Laos, and while their daughter, Kahn Jr. (Connie to her friends) has assimilated well and is Bobby’s erstwhile girlfriend, and mother Mihn tries, Kahn Sr. fancies himself a successful businessman and can’t believe his bad luck landing up on a street full of hillbillies and rednecks. Somehow, the men all seem to get along and bond over things like appreciation of a good garbage can or love of (in Khan’s case, grudging acceptance of) Alamo Beer.

For the most part, the stories were fully relatable. They never starred in freaky Halloween episodes nor a big Broadway show (although ZZ Top did guest star once and put Hank unwillingly into a reality show following him around) or get abducted by aliens, perhaps to Dale’s surprise. Instead there were events like Hank trying to get the city to rescind it’s bylaw necessitating water-conserving toilets, or camping out in the local Megalomart with Dale (which bears a lot of resemblance to another American big box department store)  trying to catch a rat. In one episode, Bobby gets picked on by bullies leading Hank to try to get the boy into a boxing class. Instead of that, Bobby ends up in a women’s self-defence course and learns to kick anyone he’s mad at in the testicles…Hank included. And one of the final episodes really amused me … I was born and raised near Toronto, if you didn’t know that already. In it, Boomhauer decides to take a vacation in Canada and temporarily trades houses with a Canadian family. Hank and the Canadian dad take an instant disliking to each other, with them competing over who brews the best beer and whose brand of lawn mower rules. End result? Both get arrested for DWI while mowing their lawns; Hank and his buddies eventually sell a “keginator” beer-pump to bail the Canuck out of jail, because that’s what neighbors do. “We’re Americans,” Hank declares “we’re the world’s welcome mat. It doesn’t matter if they’re from Canada, Laos, or God forbid, even California!”

The show had Greg Daniels co-writing early on, a good pedigree since he’d worked on Saturday Night Live, the Simpsons and co-wrote the Seinfeld episode “The Parking Space”… Music City Mike probably remembers that one.  When it first came on, I liked it and often watched it, but it took years for it to really grow on me and come to appreciate how fully nuanced the characters were and how much attention to detail of human nature it showed…all the while being hilarious. There was a great sense of humanity in it all. People like Hank were trying their best, having a hard time keeping up with the changing times (he was the holdout on the office’s love of Facebook, for example) but doing his best to understand and be better. Nancy had her ongoing affair, but called it off eventually when she realized it was wrong to do to her husband, wacky as he was. And Luanne, sweet as pie and about as dumb as one too, with her little Christian puppets trying to teach kids right from wrong, boyfriend Lucky in tow. Lucky got his nickname when he slipped on pee at a Walmart and sued them for hundreds of thousands! (That makes watching it a tiny bit sad as both of the voice actors are gone – Brittany Murphy who did Luanne, and the one and only Tom Petty who was ‘Lucky’). They were all good people and the shows funny. But once I came to Texas…boy howdy, it took to another level for me.

Judge spent time in the Dallas Metroplex when young and said he based it on the suburbs like Arlington and Garland, Texas. Once I saw Waco, it seemed like Waco was Arlen…or vice versa. There are so many details that ring true like the Bush’s beans at dinner or love of Whataburger. When Peggy wants to have a serious talk with Bobby, she’ll treat him to one of those burgers…leading him to suspiciously note last time she took him there, she told him about Doggie Heaven!

I started this thinking I wouldn’t have enough to say about King of the Hill. Turns out I have too much to say for one column really. So one more thing – I just reminded myself how funny the show was. I think I’m going to go watch a few now!

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I watched this last night…gearing up for Christmas…it’s not Christmas without The Peanuts and watching them all dance to “Linus and Lucy.”

The Peanuts were my favorite cartoon growing up and I would never miss their Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas specials. Everyone can relate to Charlie Brown because we all lose more than we win in life. He doesn’t get to kick that football, his dog has more things than he does, and he is forever trying to get the elusive little redhead girl to notice him.

The Peanuts inhabit a kids world where grownups are felt but not heard. At least not in English. I’ve said this before but… Charlie Brown, one day when you grow up… I hope you end up with the little red head girl that you like so much and win just for once…for all of us.

Little Red-Haired Girl | Charlie brown characters, Charlie brown and  snoopy, Charlie brown cartoon

This 1965 special has everything good about them in one show.

The gang is skating and Charlie Brown is telling Linus that despite Christmas being a happy time he is depressed. Linus tells Charlie that is normal and Lucy pipes in with “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.” That sums it all up.

Charlie gets to direct the Christmas play and his main job was to get a spectacular Christmas tree under Lucy’s orders. …He picks the only real tree there…more like a branch but he is sure it will do the job. Most of the gang do not agree when he comes back with the tree but Charlie persists. Linus gets up and reads from the Bible and the inflection he lends to the reading is great.

After that, you will need to watch because it will be worth it.

Aluminum Christmas trees were marketed beginning in 1958 and enjoyed fairly strong sales by eliminating pesky needles and tree sap. But the annual airings of A Charlie Brown Christmas swayed public thinking: In the special, Charlie Brown refuses to get a fake tree. Viewers began to do the same, and the product was virtually phased out by 1969. The leftovers are now collector’s items.

Actors and Actresses The early Peanuts specials made use of both untrained kids and professional actors: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown) and Christopher Shea (Linus) were working child performers, while the rest of the cast consisted of “regular” kids coached by Melendez in the studio. When Schulz told Melendez that Snoopy couldn’t have any lines in the show—he’s a dog, and Schulz’s dogs didn’t talk—the animator decided to bark and chuff into a microphone himself, then speed up the recording to give it a more emotive quality.

Love the Christmas Dance.

Vince Guaraldi Trio – Linus and Lucy

It’s hard to resist this song. It automatically makes me happy when I hear it. I see the Peanuts gang doing their thing.

Peanuts GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

This song I can hear anytime of the year and be happy. It’s associated with Christmas also…whichever… I never get tired of it.

I was reminded of this song this year in Hanspostcard’s song draft when run-sew-read’s pick was this song.

Ironically, just about everyone would call this “the Charlie Brown song” even though it’s actually titled after Linus and Lucy Van Pelt, brother and sister in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip universe.

The song is most famous for its use in the yearly favorite A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired in 1965, but it was written two years earlier for a documentary about Schulz and the Peanuts gang called A Boy Named Charlie Brown, which never aired.

Producer Lee Mendelson was in charge of the documentary and asked Vince Guaraldi to compose music for it

Guaraldi was huge in the jazz world and won the 1962 Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition for “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” for his group, the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Mendelson was searching for what kind of music to play for the documentary when he took a taxi cab and “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” was playing as he crossed the Golden Gate bridge. He loved it and his decision was made.

Guaraldi wrote a series of songs for the project, including “Linus and Lucy,” that he recorded with his group, the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Even though A Boy Named Charlie Brown was shelved, the soundtrack was released in 1964, which is where “Linus and Lucy” first appeared.

In 1965, Mendelson put together the first Peanuts TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, using many of the same people who worked on the documentary. “Linus and Lucy” formed the score, and a song he wrote with Guaraldi called “Christmas Time Is Here” was included in a key scene.

When A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted in 1965, it quickly turned the Peanuts franchise into a television institution. That first special also shot Guaraldi to greater fame, and he became connected to all subsequent Peanuts shows.

Guaraldi would continue to work on Peanuts films until his death in 1976.

No words…just enjoy

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This first premiered on November 20, 1973, on CBS and won an Emmy Award. Great Thanksgiving special as always with the earlier Peanuts.

The Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Peanuts specials I always looked forward to. The way their world was only for kids where grownups were heard but only as noise in the background.

It starts off with Lucy tempting Charlie Brown with that football. Just one time I wanted to see Charlie kick the football…or Lucy.

It’s Thanksgiving and Peppermint Patty invites herself and Marcie over to Charlie Brown’s house but Charlie and Sally are ready to go to their grandmothers. Charlie talks to Linus and he suggests having two Thanksgiving dinners.

The only thing Charlie can come up with is feeding his friends toast and cold cereal which does not make Peppermint Patty happy whatsoever. She lets Charlie have it really bad until Marcie reminds her that she invited herself over.

Not going to give it away for those who have not seen this wonderful holiday cartoon. The music by Vince Guaraldi is excellent and makes every Peanuts cartoon special.

Dr Seuss – The Sneetches

It only lasts around 12 minutes and it was squeezed in between Green Eggs and Ham and The Zax. They were packaged in a program called Doctor Suess On The Loose.

The Sneetches teaches us all that we are all the same no matter who we are or what we look like… and the stupidity of discrimination. I would wait all year for these 3 great segments…

There were two different types of Sneetches that live near the beach. The Star-Belly Sneetches have stars on their bellies. They believe that the star makes them more important than the Plain-Belly Sneetches who do not have stars. The Star-Belly Sneetches brag that they are the best on the beach and will not play games or socialize with those without the star.

sneetches.jpg

One day Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives and announces that he can solve the problem for the Plain-Belly Sneetches for a small price. They agree to his offer. The Plain-Belly Sneetches enter a large machine and pop out with a star on the bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches are angry because they no longer feel superior. They decide to pay Sylvester McMonkey McBean to take off their stars. The Sneetches pay to put on, take off, and put on the stars for the rest of the day.

Eventually, the Sneetches run out of money and Sylvester McMonkey McBean leaves with all their money. He leaves saying that a Sneetch never learns. However, the Sneetches did learn a lesson that day. They decide that no kind of Sneetch is better than another. They forgot about the stars and became friends.

A toast! Raise your marshmallow stick!

A toast! Raise your good fellow stick!

A toast to the silly gimmick-ick

That we have here and thar

Sound off and let the welcome ring

So what to your star-spangled thing?

A toast! Raise your marshmallow stick!

A toast! Raise your good fellow stick!

And pooh pooh pooh to your bellied star!

https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Selected-Works-of-Dr-Seuss/the-sneetches-summary/

Wait Til Your Father Gets Home…

An adult primetime cartoon in the early seventies. The father is voiced by Tom Bosley who is better known as Mr. C or Mr. Cunningham. In this show, he voices Harry Boyle.

This program was about the Boyle family who had a common-sense father, a loyal wife (Irma), a lazy hippie son (Chet), a progressive thinking daughter (Alice) and a younger more conservative son (Jaime) who predated Michael J Fox on Family Ties.

Harry has conservative views from the fifties but he is not overboard while his two oldest children have no intention of following the rules and morals of their father’s generation. The youngest son is just out for money.

The show also features an ultra-right winged conspiracy-minded McCarthy influenced neighbor (Ralph Kane) who resembled Richard Nixon (to me anyway) and he is always thinking the communists are out to get him and his neighbors.

The show ran 3 seasons from 1972-1974 with a total of 48 episodes.

If you lived in the seventies or if you are a student of that time… you might enjoy it. What I remember most about it was the theme song. I was too young to get the references…I just remember, hey it’s a cartoon and it’s not Saturday morning or a Disney special.

One thing that struck me about this show was the minimalist animation. The backgrounds were simple but effective.

The show is topical just like the show that inspired it…All In The Family.

It is a fun time capsule…and I still watch it from time to time.

wait til adver.jpg

The Peanuts

The Peanuts lived in a world where adults didn’t matter as much. The world was for kids only and anytime an adult came around and talked… all you heard was a wah, wah, wah wah… no words. All the kids owned their day to day activities. The Peanuts didn’t talk down to us…no they talked to us. They were also clever enough for adults to like.

Nobody ever wins every time in this life. Everyone loses sometimes…therefore everyone is Charlie Brown to an extent. Every person has failed at a big moments or at small moments. We felt for Charlie Brown because we felt for ourselves.

When my son was born…I thought oh great…Now I’m a grown up and I’m a wah, wah, wah, wah adult…My son will live his life and sometimes I will be just noise in the background.

Growing up, there was no other cartoon I looked forward to more than the Peanuts. Every holiday and any time one of the networks decided to show one… I was there. I would also read the occasional Sunday paper to see the Peanuts strip.

Everything from Linus telling us the true meaning of Christmas, Sally and Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, Lucy pulling that football from Charlie Brown, Snoopy being cool and taking care of Woodstock, Lucy being a Psychiatrist and Charlie Brown getting that sad looking Christmas tree…we got to peek into that world and listen to the wisdom that was going on while propped up on that brick wall.

Charlie Brown and Linus wall

Charlie Brown, one day when you grow up… I hope you end up with the little red head girl that you like so much and win just for once…for all of us.

Little Red-Haired Girl | Charlie brown characters, Charlie brown and  snoopy, Charlie brown cartoon

When The Winds Blow 1986

The animation is wonderful in this movie. I want to thank Dave for mentioning it in his blog.

I was moved by this movie. It brought back the Cold War that even as kids we thought about from time to time. I watched this movie Wednesday night and I have been thinking about it ever since.

It’s not a movie to cheer you up by any means. It’s about an elderly British couple named Jim and Hilda Bloggs who read that war was about to begin. This was made during the cold war and Jim comes home with government brochures on how to prepare for a nuclear attack. They both keep thinking of WW2 and neither were knowledgeable on the horrors of nuclear war.

You really get invested in this couple and as the story unfolds and it’s terribly realistic. Jim keeps reading the brochure and both are optimistic about it all without fully understanding it…Even after the worse happens they remain confident that all will be well…it’s worth a watch. When the Wind Blows was based on a 1982 graphic novel, by British artist Raymond Briggs, that shows a nuclear attack on Britain by the Soviet Union.

It looks like a stop-motion background but with cartoon characters for the bulk of the movie. A technical crew employed a striking combination of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation to bring to life Briggs’ characters, the numerous fantasy/dream sequences, and the soon-to-be nuclear-ravaged, picture-postcard surroundings of the Sussex countryside.

The music… David Bowie sings the theme “When The Wind Blows” and he was going to give more tracks but decided to back out to focus on his album. Roger Waters came in and finished it up. Squeeze also adds to the soundtrack.

Why apocalyptic animation When the Wind Blows is still devastating ...

Why apocalyptic animation When the Wind Blows is still devastating ...

 

One Froggy Evening

Steven Spielberg called this cartoon short “the Citizen Kane of animated shorts.” It was written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones.

This is my favorite cartoon short. The short story is told without dialog…just singing in parts.

If you want to teach someone about Greed… watch this short. Instead of appreciating what he had…he wasn’t happy unless he could make money off of the frog.

The story is great. A 1955 construction worker is on a demolition site and pries open a box from 1892 found in the cornerstone of the building. Out of the box comes an old frog that climbs to the lid. The frog looks up at the construction worker and suddenly pulls up a top hat and coattails and starts singing “Hello my Honey, Hello my Baby…” and continues with the song.

The worker then starts dreaming of a theater marque with the picture of the frog…”He Sings”, “Talks”, and “Dances” with a picture of the frog.

He rents a theater and presents his frog to the audience. Right before the crowd settles in with the curtain down…the Frog starts singing and dancing away but stops the instant the curtain rises. The audience boos and throws vegetables.

That is his dilemma.  The frog will only sing for this one guy. Not for paying crowds, not talent agents, ONLY HIM. Slowly he is driven mad, not so much by the frog but by his own failed plans with the frog. Failing to recognize the special gift he has, he sees the building going up and sticks the frog back into the cornerstone. Years pass, and when the laser demolition-man is vaporizing the building with his 21st-century technology, what does he find? Our friend the singing frog. The space suited construction worker from 2056 starts dreaming of the money he can make from the frog… And so the cycle continues.

 

Let’s All Go To The Lobby!

“Let’s All Go To The Lobby” is an animated short from the 1950’s that was played before movies and during drive-in intermissions.

This advertisement is beyond catchy. It’s hard to get it out of your head. Plus, who doesn’t want to see singing popcorn, candy, and a drink? I KNOW I DO!

I see this occasionally at the theater when they are showing an older movie.

In 1957 Chicago-based Filmack Studios released the trailer animated by the producer of Popeye, Dave Fleischer, as part of a series of similar Technicolor shorts to promote the newly installed concession stands in theaters across the country.

Filmack has continued selling copies in the decades since its production. The company estimates that 80% of independent theaters have screened the film at various points.

In 2000, “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

So everyone… Let’s Go Out To The Lobby!!!!

Let’s All Go To The Lobby

Let’s all go to the lobby
Let’s all go to the lobby
Let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat

Delicious things to eat
The popcorn can’t be beat
The sparkling drinks are just dandy
The chocolate bars and nut candy
So let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat
Let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat