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 and with 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 no…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, one day if you get to grow up… I hope you get to marry the little redhead girl that you like so much and win for once.

The Boys of Summer

Baseball is back and I’m thrilled. I’ve always been a baseball fan first. No other sport matches up against it. It’s a game that takes a tremendous amount of skill to play. Most players who get drafted never get to play in the majors . Hitting a major league curve ball is probably the hardest thing to do in all sports.

Anyway, there is nothing like spring training and the hope for a new season. Every team is tied at 0 in the standings. I really wish an MLB team was in the city I live in…we have an NFL team that I would trade in a heartbeat to get an MLB team. Baseball is not an action packed game like basketball, soccer or hockey but there is a game within a game. When you get up to bat…no one is going to block for you…no it’s you against that pitcher … What I love is the different sized fields, no clock, no salary cap, players with quirks, fastballs that are 95 and above and the people who have the skills to play it right…it is a beautiful thing to see.

Baseball really hasn’t changed too much over the years except for instant replay and some small changes. What you see now is pretty much what you saw in 1920s. It’s one of the few things in America that stays consistent.

It’s a game of numbers and history…From Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson to Willie Mays to Hank Aaron to Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw to Mike Trout… No game has the history that baseball does that is as important.

I love to listen to broadcasts on the radio and to catch a game in mid summer after I get done with what I am doing. In an instant I’m back on the little league and then high school field…in what Bruce Springsteen says…my…”Glory Days”

The cold weather is leaving soon and it is time for me to follow my Dodgers all the way to a World Series again.

 

Beatles Movies

Beatle Movies: A Hard Days Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be.

A Hard Day’s Night – The plot was the Beatles on their way to a television appearance and the chaos that happens on the way there. Fans are chasing them everywhere and this part was in real life identical. Throw in Paul’s movie grandfather and you have the movie. The film is rated in the top 100 of some movie lists. The sound track is great and the Beatles were natural comedians and they had a witty script. A Hard Day’s Night was very close to real life because it was partly written by someone who went on tour with the Beatles and wrote some first hand information.

The Beatles were compared to the Marx Brothers when the movie came out. This movie is where their image was set in the public’s eye…John the intellectual, Paul the cute one, George the quiet one and Ringo the funny one (all of them were funny) of course it wasn’t that simple in real life.

This is the best movie they made and it fit them perfectly. I was fortunate enough to see this at a movie theater when it was re-released in 2000. Seeing the movie they way it was shown in 1964 was a great experience.

Help – A religious cult lost a ring that they had to have for a sacrifice ritual… Guess who had the ring? Ringo of course… the ring would not come off of his hand so they made trips to various places to help Ringo including Scotland Yard and mad scientists. The film looks great restored with vivid color. The filming locations included England, Austria and the Bahamas. The cinematography of the movie was great.

This was my introduction to Beatles movies and although not critically acclaimed it still is a good movie. John didn’t think much of the movie…his quote was “it was like being a frog in a movie about clams.”…it is enjoyable all the same. I’ve probably watched it more than any of their movies.

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles making a colorful home movie is the best way to describe it. The music makes the movie. It was a psychedelic trip that most Beatles fans enjoy. Where else can you see a video of I Am the Walrus, Blue Jay Way and The Fool on the Hill? They play 4 wizards that…well…. they play 4 wizards. I have seen this movie multiple times and every time I think maybe I missed something previously and its better than I remember…no… except you get to see them in their psychedelic phase and above all else the music. I can’t say I don’t enjoy it but only a little at a time.

It has been restored with a “making of” included with it. I enjoyed the documentary more than the movie, It’s not for non Beatles fans but for Beatles fans its a fascinating look an interesting time for them. I have to admit I like scenes from this movie more than the whole movie like Lennon’s spaghetti scene I Am the Walrus scene… The ending with the tuxedos is pretty cool also.

Yellow Submarine – A beautiful animated movie with the Beatles looking for Pepperland. I saw this as a kid and was mesmerized by the colors and these strange talking characters. Most of the soundtrack are older songs and orchestrated music by George Martin. The Beatles didn’t even do the voices because they were not really interested but ended up loving the movie. They did appear at the end of the movie in person.

This movie is very enjoyable for kids and adults. I pull it out every year and watch it.  My favorite character is Jeremy who helps and hinders and is a unique character in the movie to say the least. The animation is terrific and ahead of it’s time. To some people this is their favorite Beatles movie. Watch this movie if you can… it is enjoyable.

Let It Be – A record of the Beatles breaking up. They stayed together for another year but this is a glimpse of the tensions that were happening. I’m a huge Beatles fan but it is hard watching this movie at times but I do like it. The first half is somewhat depressing but the second half lightens up when Billy Preston starts playing keyboards and they move the recording to the Apple headquarters. The rooftop scene is great and it is the last live performance of them and I would like to see the complete performance. Every time I watch I hope they will work it out… of course it won’t happen. You see George and Paul have a small fight and you see Yoko sticking to John like glue.

The music is great of course… from Let It Be to I Dig a Pony. You get the rawest Beatles performance since they played in Hamburg warts and all. I have a bootleg copy of this and it was actually released on laser disc but a blue ray release will not happen anytime soon because from what I’ve read the Harrison and Lennon (Yoko) estate does not want it released. I’ve also read where Paul and Ringo don’t like it and I’ve read where they don’t care. They have released so much…why not finish the story and release this…

It’s been so many years ago and it’s not like it hasn’t been documented that they were not getting along. This is for Beatles fans only.

 

 

A Clockwork Orange

This movie changed me when I was a teenager. It made me realize the power that a movie can have…There are just a few movies that have moved me and this was one of them…Platoon was another. I had seen violence before on the screen but this was realistic and brutal…especially when you are a 15 year old viewing it for the first time.

I love the soundtrack especially the music that was performed on a Moog synthesizer and it set the tone for the film. I’m not giving a synopsis of the movie…there are plenty of books and internet sites that do that… but a movie that will change you does its job and more.

The scenes that stick with me are the record shop scene, the Billyboy gang fight, Singing in the Rain and of course the eye scene… The record shop scene was filmed in the Chelsea Drugstore… I would love to have a room like that place. Very 60’s-70s futuristic…immortalized in the Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”…The building is now sadly a McDonalds…modern progress?

This movie runs the gamut…cruelty, horror, the absurd, violence, pity, and justice. This movie, in my opinion, shows that evil exists in all of us and what happens if we would let it take over. Also, I think the movie shows you that no one can change someone’s nature no matter what drugs or treatment you may give them outside of a lobotomy. Treatment and drugs may slow them down but their nature is not going to change.

This movie has been analyzed to death and rightly so. It could have only been made in the time period it was made. I can’t imagine this movie coming out now.

It’s very hard to put this movie into words…you just have to see it. If you want something really different…this is the movie but a warning if you don’t like violence…it’s not for you…

The cool car was an Adams Probe 16 AB/4 that was referred to as a Durango 95 in the film has been restored…

The Record Shop (Chelsea Drugstore)

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Adams Probe 16 AB/4

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Saturday Night Live

It started out as Saturday Night… Saturday Night Live title belonged to ABC for a show hosted by Howard Cosell who was out of his league. ABC let Saturday Night have the Live part after Cosell’s show was over.

Who was the best cast through the years? This is a question that is debated over and over again. The people arguing usually picks the cast they grew up with. I grew up with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Personally, I always thought the original cast was the best and it wasn’t even close. John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase (though I liked his replacement better…Bill Murray), Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris and my favorite overlooked cast member Laraine Newman.

Why do I like the original cast the most? They tried new things and went out on a limb. Some of the skits succeeded some didn’t but they were different from anything on TV at that time…and also at this time. That cast pushed the envelop to use a worn-out phrase but in this instance it is true. Lorne Michaels guided the show and even the musical guests were usually hip bands and artists unknown to the general public and some are legendary now. No way would Michaels ever dream of that now…he usually gets whoever is the most popular to draw in the ratings. He could not do what he did in the 70s anymore because of ratings…and it is sad. Michaels also used the complete ensemble. It was not the Eddie Murphy and the Joe Piscopo show of the early eighties. It was about getting an unknown cast and building them and all of them having a shot…not a star-driven show that gave all the best bits to the stars.

A lot of the skits are now famous… Ackroyd’s Bassomatic, the Samurai, the uncomfortable but funny Word Association with Richard Pryor, The Mr. Bill Show, Weekend Update, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Land Shark, Bag of Glass, The Wild and Crazy Guys, the Coneheads, The Lounge Singer, Mr. Mike, The Blues Brothers and many more.

The writers for the show were not in the Carol Burnett comedy vein..they were not in the current SNL vein either. The style was more aggressive, especially with Michael O’Donoghue. He was a comedy trailblazer with National Lampoon and added dark humor to SNL. Other writers were Franken and Davis, Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Miller, Anne Beatts, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller and also Ackroyd and Chase.

The two members that didn’t get as much publicity as the others were Newman and Morris and are not as well remembered today. Newman and Ackroyd were the best character actors on the show…they could play anyone.  That cast tried to test all the limits. SNL has turned into just another comedy show through the years. The original group also did some serious skits along with comedy and trips into the bizarre (See Mr. Mike). …It separated the original from any other cast.

There were other great casts but none resonated like the original to me. It was also the timing of when they debuted…and look at the talent in that cast…

The host each week was usually under the radar actors, writers, musicians and sometimes athletes. You usually didn’t see A-list actors but if you did they were carefully chosen. The one big mistake was Milton Berle…how he got to host I don’t know but that is the only show of the first five years I will try to avoid… He was that bad.

I like the feel of underground the first five years had but you can only be that for so long…popularity takes over. Those first 5 great years (the first four were great…the fifth good) set the foundation that holds to this day…just without the daring and danger…in other words, it has become vanilla like the rest of the world.

Cheers to the show that introduced Acapulco Gold to a television audience.

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The Bassomatic…something you cannot explain with words.

The best Star Trek parody…

Howard Cosell

Young people will not remember this man. He was a journalist, lawyer, and sportscaster and more (even a spot in a Woody Allen movie). Along with all of that, he was egotistical, insecure, annoying, opinionated, cruel, obnoxious, jealous, petty but yet I still liked the guy.  This man was once voted in a TV Guide poll as the most disliked and the most liked sportscaster of the time. He didn’t care who he upset and according to him he always would “tell it as it is”… He did elevate sports reporting that is now prevalent to this day.

He probably is most remembered for three things. He championed Muhammad Ali and when Ali refused the draft Howard stood by him. Helping boxing become a huge sport. Being Jewish he knew bigotry and always stood for equality. He is also remembered for being in the original Monday Night Football crew… He made it THE show to watch and the NFL owes him quite a bit. Whether you loved or hated him, you would tune in and watch.

The original MNF crew was Cosell, Don Meredith and Keith Jackson (to be replaced by Frank Gifford). I never understood Keith being replaced by Frank…Keith was by far the better broadcaster but Frank looked better for the women viewers. Howard never liked the thought of ex-jocks being sportscasters. He felt like they were taking over and called it jockocracy. Cosell and Meredith made a great team. Meredith didn’t give a care about the game and supplied the humor while the photographic memory of Cosell would rattle off stats without cheat sheets most of the time.

In 1974 during an MNF telecast, the crew were joined by John Lennon and Ronald Reagan. Cosell told Frank Gifford you take the governor and I’ll take the Beatle. Howard wanted to interview John because there were only 4 Beatles in the world but a lot of politicians. Lennon and Regan actually hit it off well while Reagan explained American Football (I would have loved to hear that conversation) to him. Cosell actually talked to John a few years later wanting him and the Beatles to regroup on a terrible show that Cosell was hosting…of course, Lennon politely refused.

Cosell and Ali were linked together for the rest of their lives. Ali would pick on Howard in front of cameras but Cosell loved the attention. Ali helped Cosell and Cosell helped Ali… two completely different people in all ways except both loving the limelight. Cosell’s most famous call? “Down goes Frazier” “Down goes Frazier”  “Down goes Frazier”

 

Only in the 1970s could this pairing happen

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When John was assassinated in 1980 Howard broke it to the world on MNF.

Howard faded out in the 80s but took shots at everyone in one of his tell-all books. Again he really didn’t care who he upset.

The Twilight Zone

The way Rod Serling handled social injustice and racial bigotry all with a science fiction twist was compelling. He had to do it that back then because of sponsors. Picking a favorite episode (Walking Distance is hard to beat) is almost impossible. Black Mirror covers some of the same territory but nothing beats the intelligence of Twilight Zone.

Hands down my favorite show of all time. I never get tired of it. 5 seasons of quality 30  minute stories. Season 4 has hour long episodes. Just a few of them are a little forced but even the weakest are very watchable. Rod Serling was a great TV writer and he picked some great writers like Richard Matheson to contribute to the show. The show doesn’t age and the black and white only adds to it.

I would really look forward to labor day because one channel would always play Twilight Zones for 24 hours. I then just went out and bought the complete collection on DVDtwi.jpg.

The Twilight Zone has been revived a few times. In the 80’s and 2000’s but they didn’t come close to the original. A movie was made in 1983 called Twilight Zone: The Movie  but it came with a tragic a cost. Vic Morrow and two child actors died needlessly in a scene with a helicopter.

The movie was alright…I liked the Vic Morrow story but my favorite part was the intro with Dan Aykroyd “You want to see something really scary”and Albert Brooks. Again not even scratching the surface of the original series.

You could always depend on a twist in the smart scripts. I’ve seen all of them probably 5 – 10 times each. The one that is the most haunting to me is “Come Wander With Me”… It’s not the most famous one but I loved it…if you haven’t seen it check it out. A lot of future stars were on the show from Robert Redford to Jack Klugman.

Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks