Way back when I was a kid, Peanuts were part of the cadence of the major holidays. Halloween coming up? Get ready for “It’s The Great Pumpkin”. Thanksgiving had “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and, a few weeks later, we had “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. (These were also the only times you ever saw commercials for Dolly Madison as well. Saturday morning was owned by cereal and Hostess but you could be excused for forgetting about the very existence of Dolly Madison until, oh yeah, they’re the ones bringing us these Charlie Brown specials.)

I don’t know that I ever saw them in stores. Sure, I’d see Hostess. I’d see Little Debbie. “Where are the Dolly Madison snack cakes?” Seems like a misallocation of ad dollars, if you ask me. At the very least, send a case or two to Meijer or something the week of the show.

Anyway, having had opportunity to revisit the strips recently, I was struck by how they must have captured a zeitgeist of a particular time perfectly. Back when there wasn’t really a whole lot of content explicitly created for children and so something that children could experience themselves as something *FOR THEM* must have provided a great deal of a boost to the strips themselves. I mean, Krazy Kat was pretty much *NOT* for kids, and Pogo was absolutely brilliant but used childish imagery to tell a very adult story. Peanuts (after the first couple of existential years, anyway) was something like that but with training wheels. Kids could enjoy it just as much as the grownups and have conversations about the various dynamics that existed in the “gang”. Charlie Brown and Sally, Lucy and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcia, Franklin, Schroeder, Pig Pen, and, of course, Snoopy. Little comic strips that weren’t particularly funny, necessarily, but were accessible to children and became part of the daily ritual of reading the paper: Check out the headlines, check out the box scores, open to the funnies. *NOW* you can start reading articles.

The strips themselves didn’t really have jokes, per se. More situations that were zany. A children’s baseball team that gets interrupted by theological discussions. A bird that uses his canine best friend’s doghouse for the weekly bridge game. Linus being a Zen Master who sucks his thumb and still carries a security blanket around.

Man, when I was a kid, I *DEVOURED* these things. Looking at them now, I’m more struck by how they are cute and sometimes clever and certainly the inspiration for thousands of comic strip writers… but not particularly funny.

So now I’m wondering whether the movie will go for a modern take on the Peanuts Universe and go for funny or if it will try to capture the feel of the strip by providing an understated wry affection for the universe that children live in.

And, of course, if they’re going to mess everything up.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

(Photo is “Movie Night“, taken by Ginny, used under a creative commons license.)

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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21 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. Speaking of cartoons, I picked up “Fun Home” after that kerfluffle a few weeks back (no politics).

    It is an amazing work of fiction.


  2. Still watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, as well as definitely not enough Person of Interest Season 4. (Jaybird and I have both had very busy weeks.)

    Reading all sorts of things: Dietland, Last First Snow, Ana of California, the latest mystery by Louise Penny, a Captain Marvel Comic. I reread Friday Night Lights, which holds up. Did I already mention here that I FINALLY read some Joanna Russ (nonfiction, entitled The Country You Have Never Seen) and cannot believe I have not been reading her since I was in college and first heard her name? LOVE LOVE. Especially her wicked and glorious book reviews.

    Also I’m almost done with a biography of Queen Elizabeth (and incidentally of her circle), written by Carolly Erickson, which is quite fun, but amazingly callous / dismissive / snarky about the non-aristocratic classes. Overempathy with her subjects, maybe?


    • We crowbarred in an episode and HOLY COW, they’ve got really, really good writers.

      Seasons One and Two are the “we had to tell you that story so we could tell you this one” setup to Season Three and we just finished ep. 8 of Season Four and we’re going into some seriously subverted tropes territory.

      They’re subverting their own tropes.

      I *LOVE* that.


  3. We spent the week watching The Supersizers… which is a food critic and a comedian experiencing the food for a week of various English periods. They get a health check beforehand to see if they gain any weight, or other changes. Fun watching them stare at feast foods of, say, Medieval periods (often noting that there is no coffee or tea so small beer was drank all day) such as cockatrice (front of turkey sown to the back of a piglet) or other. Very few vegitables…

    I am reading Pavane which is every bit as good as the reviews say, and truly ground breaking for what it was doing.


  4. Finishing Ancillary Justice. :) I understand why it won so many awards. (The Hugo, the Nebula, and at least three other big ones in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. That’s…pretty uncommon).

    Plus I added half a dozen names to my “to check out” author list, which is getting pretty unmanageable.


  5. The latest trainwreck of an idea turned into a movie.
    “Springtime for Hitler” courtesy of Maeby.
    It’ll be out soon enough.

    Why, oh why, do people actually produce things that aren’t meant to actually hit the shelves????

    The classic is still: A fool and his money…


  6. Watching:
    * Fear the Walking Dead (totally meh so far, all of the gripes I had with the first show and none of the fun)

    No Longer Watching:
    * The Strain (it’s gone steadily downhill since the first episode, with two minor moments that were partially redeeming, but in the greater context it’s largely swill)


    • I never started FTWD, and I am about ready to bail on The Strain. It’s not even entertainingly bad at this point, and I pretty much just let it play while I check e-mail. Plus, Eldritch and Coco…yeccccchhhhh

      Narcos isn’t that great, I’m about halfway through that. It’s entertaining enough, but that’s mostly because the real-life history was crazy enough that it would be hard to make it totally boring. I think as soon as I finish Narcos I may try to finally get back to Person of Interest.


        • It really could have been good, but it’s just not, and you’re right, having at least one likeable character would help (Pedro Pascal is trying, but he’s given nothing to work with).

          Still, I’d kind of forgotten just how big Escobar and the cartel were. At their height, supposedly > $60 million/day – and that’s in eighties dollars. And if the allegations about Escobar being behind the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court are true…wow.


      • Eldritch and Coco alone justified placing THE STRAIN in the horror genre, though not for the reasons intended. Such an odd pointless homage to Philip K Dick there, too.

        Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, I mean the whole show, not just Coco + EP, it surprises you. Sometimes, it’s the little things, like the 500-year-old book that looks like it was printed yesterday, because it probably was…

        It kind of almost successfully maintains the pulp spirit, somehow – meaning that some low but just barely sufficient percentage of the time it’s doing stuff intrinsically weird enough or sympathetic enough or diverting enough to keep you watching until the next such incident or moment – Eph’s wife and the blind spider kids, the warrior from ancient Rome… whatevs – within a context that COULD at any moment deliver… something. Plus you can fast forward through the flashbacks and the Coco-Eldritch romance – then catch the look on her face at the moment she finally realizes what she’s gotten into, possibly a metaphor for the viewer or actress or maybe the showrunners… Anyway, only one more episode and then we’ll be put out of our misery.

        FTWD, otoh, I’m liking enough. It seems overall determined to be as believable as possible. It’s the opposite of THE STRAIN. Last night’s episode, if I’m not mistaken, didn’t have a single walking walker in it or moment of walker peril. It was just a story about catastrophic breakdown of order and being under martial law, cut off from the world. Very ambitious in its way.

        Another good and typical moment, from a prior episode, was when one main group, having finally escaped being trapped amidst a zombie-infected riot, was heading home, and in the background all the lights were going out in the city.

        Somewhat along the same lines, but even more so, of doomed yearnings to return to normalcy, it also delivered one I thought truly terrific moment, a standout in the vast corpus of eotwawki fiction. I mean the moment in the episode before last when, after a night of walker horrors, “Travis” takes his trash can to the curb for pick-up, and making eye contact with a neighbor doing the same. That the first trash can contains the corpse of a neighborhood dog (which gave the episode its title) partly devoured by its zombie master, rolled up in a blanket: Just right for a character disposing of it, unwilling to make a firm break with normalcy. I could identify, brought back memories of days after big earthquakes – for instance when I was a kid, not knowing whether school would be canceled.


  7. Has anyone watched HBO’s “Show Me a Hero”? I’m interseted in it but have so little time for TV. It takes place in Yonkers though so I need to get on it.


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