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My Fair Munster

1addams1Married in 1865 Herman and Lily Munster had a love that was timeless.

With Universal Studios as producer, The Munsters were able to use classic monster images to which they added running gags, including the central theme that they considered themselves just an average, middle-class family to make a typical sitcom into a brilliantly campy classic.

Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster, Frankenstein’s monster/joke-cracking suburban Dad was electric. Yvonne De Carlo as a blood-sucking Donna Reedesque PTA Mom was inspired. Add cool cars, pets, a young werewolf, older vampire and of course, the family oddball, the ‘plain’ niece, Marilyn, and they had a runaway hit.

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What I could piece together about The Munsters:

1313 Mockingbird Lane has been used in many TV series and movies in various forms including Desperate Housewives.

Spot was alleged to be a fire-breathing T Rex, not a dragon.

The Munsters and The Addams Family ran concurrently, 1964-1966. The Munsters had higher ratings, but was knocked out by Batman, in colour. Kapow!

Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were in Car 54, Where Are You? together before The Munsters. Gwynne says “Car 54, Where Are You?” in the Munster Go Home! film.

Herman worked at Gateman, Goodbury & Grave Funeral Parlor. The spooky John Carradine played Mr. Gateman.

Fred Gwynne continued acting, including Jud Crandall in Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (I guess you could say Gage was his Achilles’ Heel) and who could forget his conversation with Joe Pecsi about the ‘yutes’ in My Cousin Vinny.

Pat Priest replaced Beverley Owen as Marilyn Munster after episode 13; the two were so similar most people didn’t even notice.

Butch Patrick played himself, dressed as Eddie Munster in The Simpsons in 1999.

1addams3Fred Gwynne’s costume weighed about 50lbs and filming in black & white they had to use violet face paint to catch the light.

The Munsters did have a certain built-in charm.


Hide and Shriek with The Addams Family

1addams6Those famous finger snaps, and like Pavlov’s pups so many of us are transported into The Addams Family mansion.

Growing up I always thought maybe I’d been switched at birth with The Addams Family; I don’t believe I was the only person in my family who felt the same.

For me,  John Astin brought the Charles Addams cartoons to life with his irresistible paranormal charm.

Though wealthy, The Addams Family macabre eccentricity caused them to live as outcasts; it was a role they seemed to relish. They were also portrayed as close-knit, respectful, and loving. This satirical translation of an ideal American family may not have lasted long, but their influence refuses to give up the ghost, including: movies (the best with Raul Julia, Anjelica Houston, Christina Ricci, Carol Kane, Christopher Lloyd, Joan Cusack, etc.), cartoons, books, games, musicals – they simply refuse to pass on.

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Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky Addams Family bits and pieces:

The Addams Family motto: Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc. In Addams Latin, simply: We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.

Their mansion at 0001 Cemetary Lane was inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1925 painting about the alienation of modern life, House by the Railroad. Looks like Charles Addams’ friend, Alfred Hitchcock may have liked the painting too, think Psycho.1addamsCharles Addams had no names for the family in his one-panel cartoons, for the TV series he helped pick some out. The nursery rhyme line, Wednesday’s child is full of woe was inspiring.

Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of Wizard of Oz fame  played Morticia’s Mom.

1addams15The Addams Family loved pets, including but not limited to: a vulture, piranha, an octopus, a giant squid, a man-eating plant, a jaguar, spiders, and who could forget Kitty Kat?

 Ted Cassidy as Lurch gave himself a speaking role by ad-libbing, “You rang?” and also played Thing T. Thing (guess what the T stands for).

 And I’m listening to the CD of original music from The Addams Family, composed by incomparable Vic Mizzy right now, cara mia.

Joyeux Halloween!

 


Religion, Politics, and The Great Pumpkin

Halloween19Halloween crawls inexorably toward us, a wild beast about to attack with treats, costumes, and decorations, horror movies and specials.

As I re-watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for like the millionth time (sadly, this may not be as much of an exaggeration as it should be), this time I’m trying to see it through the eyes of a child, today. So with that in mind, I’m putting aside the symbolic struggle represented for those whose beliefs are in the minority, as with certain religions, theories, or Linus and his Great Pumpkin; also, everything I’ve learned from this, including parts that, at times, seem a bit weird. Here are a few older posts that look into that.

http://yadadarcyyada.com/2013/10/29/stuff-i-learned-from-its-the-great-pumpkin-charlie-brown/

http://yadadarcyyada.com/2013/10/27/its-the-great-pumpkin-charlie-brown/

Do children now really like these older classics or are we transferring our fond memories to them, assuming they’ll like them as much as we did? Are they humouring us?
Lucy getting dog germs from Snoopy, is that still a thing?
How about the sucker getting leaves stuck on it?
Does anyone even remember what a Sopwith Camel is?
Do they think Schroeder should just use an app to make music?Halloween21Do they think the homemade costumes are bizarre?
That old-school animation is boring?
Do they need more sophisticated animation?
Bigger musical numbers? Action? Adventure?
Is this show just too slow and too old-fashioned for modern audiences?
1halloween1I guess I’m hoping in this frenzied, mixed-up world there’s still a place for the simple joy of Charlie Brown and friends…


Maybe Anna Karenina should have taken a bus

1anna1Some books should be reread at various stages of your life, not only to view the book differently, but to view the world differently.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is one of those books.

As a teen I thought this book wildly romantic. A tragic tale filled with noble nobles; and I didn’t fully understand why the peasants were so upset.

In my 20s I thought Anna Karenina was a narcissistic neurotic birdbrain; the nobles pompous gits; and the peasants noble.

Now, in my 40s I decided to read this again, so I borrowed the recent Oxford University Press version, an inspiring and edifying translation with notes and a wonderful introduction by Rosamund Bartlett from Netgalley.com for the low price of an honest review. As the pages flew by I realized how differently I now see the novel as well as the complicated navigation of life’s path. The message that finding happiness without causing damage or destruction is so clear, though easier said than done, and for Anna Karenina, apparently impossible. Trapped in a loveless marriage, surrounded by sociopolitical upheaval, and bound by the brutal intolerance and hypocrisy of society, she made poor choices.

No idea how I will see this years from now.

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Rosamund Bartlett’s patient guidance through the troubled waters of Tolstoy’s complicated soul offers generations a chance to experience the passion and progress, still relevant today. Translations of Tolstoy can be thorny, his remarkable ability to link realist and modern writing to emphasize differing attitudes and lifestyles can be difficult to communicate without altering or losing his viewpoint.

1anna4There have also been many visions of this classic presented on film. The latest adaptation by director Joe Wright, screenplay by Tom Stoppard starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson was a sumptuous  delight for the senses, yet in the 1927 silent film, Love starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert  had a consummate romance and depth of despair that spoke volumes.

All in all, maybe Anna Karenina should have taken a bus.


Thankful I know enough to be thankful

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Here in Canada we have Thanksgiving in October, weeks before Halloween…go figure.

A few things I know and things I’m thankful for, including but not limited to:

1. Happiness can be…a smile, a furry friend, snowflakes dancing against the darkness, absorbing books, family, friends, a movie that makes you laugh and cry, a TV show where you can’t wait for the next episode, a cozy bed, chocolate melting on your tongue, a slow dance, walking in the Fall and more.

2. Those who believe in fate or faith should never look both ways or check an expiry date.

3. Fear is more contagious than any disease and stronger than an army.

4. People make choices. How you feel about those choices or the consequences has little or no bearing. Really.

5. The Earth will still be here in one form or another after we’re gone.1thanks106. Everyone has their own window on the world, with it’s own screen. You can’t make someone see through your screen and it’s impossible to see through theirs.

7. You can’t walk away from yourself the way you walk away from other people. If you’re going to stay, play nice.

8. Truth can be painful and can take you places you may not wish to go. Go anyway.

9. Even the most basic beliefs about reality aren’t true alone, our thinking makes them true in our experience. Hopefully this isn’t true about zombies.

10. We forget. Our mind is designed to remember and to forget, but too often we forget when someone has been there for us or not. Don’t forget.

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I’m thankful my son makes me laugh and vice versa.
Thankful for family, friends, and virtual friends.
Thankful for things that keep my weary mind amused.
Thankful for what I’ve had, what I’ve lost, what I might have.
Thankful I know enough to be thankful.

 


Angry Optimist

How do you see the world?

1. You see a glass of water as:
a) Half full;
b) Half empty;
c) Probably contaminated;

2. A friend says they like your new hairdo, you think:
a) That’s so nice;
b) What, didn’t she like it before?
c) I don’t even have a new hairdo, what’s she up to?

3. You see a group of people shuffling down the street, you think:
a) Must be a charity walk;
b) Maybe they’re going for a stroll;
c) Zombies!!!

4. A politician is talking and you think:
a) I’m sure he has our best interests at heart;
b) Liar!!!
c) Start looking up false flag websites.

5. You wake up with fever, cough, etc., you think:
a) I have a cold, I’ll be better soon;
b) Great, another cold, why me?
c) Oh great, Ebola.

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Reading the amazing Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by the talented Lisa Rogak (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), it becomes even more clear the paradox that is Jon Stewart. The book spotlights all sides of Stewart: Passionate, smart, hilarious, honest to a fault, fervent believer, witty social analyst, comedian, writer, actor, director, producer, pundit, haunted by demons he’s morphed into a huge career. Yet still seems like he can be a bit of a prat. It’s one of the cool and hopelessly annoying things about humans, we’re puzzles, some more than1angry13 others.

We’re so used to seeing Stewart that we forget how he got into our living rooms, bedrooms and hearts, or that he brought Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and more with him – you decide if he should be loved or hated for that.

Whether you first found Stewart on The Jon Stewart Show, The Daily Show, The Simpsons, Sesame Street, Spin City, American Dad, or in smash hit movies such as Death to Smoochy, just kidding, Playing By Heart with Gillian Anderson, X-Files, he’s made us laugh, think, question, wonder, cry, smile, pause, and laugh some more.

Stewart delivers real news spun in a funny way to shine the light of reality through the darkness. Angry Optimist? Cheerful Pessimist? Amazing Mitch McConnell impressionist…Whatever, I like the cut of his jib.1angry7


I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you

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I’m not going to wax poetic about Leonard Cohen, he can do that himself, through his music.

These are the 5 of his songs I love:

1. Everybody Knows (made famous in Pump Up the Volume). To me, an echoing voice of many generations, still calling vainly through the haze of lies and corruption.

2. First We Take Manhattan. This song got in my head and has never left; such unprocessed intensity it thrashes around still begging for answers.

3. Hallelujah. First heard in my teen angst years and can sometimes evoke a tear or two as the truth struggles through. Hundreds of versions later, my favs remain by: Jeff Buckley, John Cale, and Mr. Cohen, sorry Bono, yours sucked. Long before Shrek, this was classic.

4. Who By Fire. A prayer by another other name. I might just be reading into this, but I always felt it was about atonement, an expiational yearning, of sorts.

5. Avalanche. Evocative articulation about depression.

I don’t dislike the rest of Cohen’s work, it just doesn’t affect me the way the aforementioned songs do. I’ve seen him in concert several times, I even sat with him once many years ago, in a group. I felt questions bubbling up, but rarely spoke; being a writer and pedantic poet I found myself enjoying just listening to one so exquisitely arcane.

1cohen8I’m always interested to see what others read into this abstruse artist. There are so many interpretations of his work. I dove into the book, Leonard Cohen and Philosophy: Various Positions, edited by Jason Holt (Open Court), from the Popular Culture and Philosophy series with a keenness that was repaid in full by cool and thought-provoking scrutiny of Cohen’s creations. I revisited some of his songs, to hear what these philosophers had heard. I still didn’t always hear it, but I thank them for their considered analysis.  After many decades of listening to Mr. Cohen I realize that reconciling what people say and what they do may remain an eternal mystery…doesn’t mean I have to quit trying.


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