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Top 5 Kid's Show Theme Songs:

For me, these are the songs that immediately transport me back to Saturday mornings when school was just a rumor and weekday afternoons when homework may have beckoned but would instead languish forgotten in my backpack. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Scooby Doo: Where Are You?
From the opening sound of screeching bats and that groovy drum fill, to the bubblegum vocals and a rhythm track lifted straight from "In the Midnight Hour," there's not another cartoon intro that says to me Crappy-early-seventies-animation better (and I mean that in a good way).

2. The Adventures of Fat Albert
Being one of the last cartoons of the morning, this was perhaps the one I looked forward to most if only because of this song (and Russell putting down Rudy). With that bouncing beat, that "Hey, Hey, Hey!" and that funky organ, I was hooked from the first note. The "Nah-nah-nah's" at the end were to me like a seven-year-old's "Hey Jude." Go ahead -- try not to sing along.

3. The Lone Ranger
The William Tell Overture? Nah -- it's the Lone Ranger! "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Hiyo Silver!'-- the Lone Ranger." Ah, my pulse still quickens whenever I hear those horns.

4. Batman
How many kids haven't run around singing the Batman song? It's iconic -- even the Who and the Jam both covered it. In many ways, the actual show was almost a letdown after the opening credits, but then how could anyone actually live up to the excitement generated by a Peter Gunn-like theme whose only lyrics were "Batman" sung over and over? (And for those who may not know, the song's composer, Neil Hefti, also the theme song for The Odd Couple.)

5. Land of the Lost
It's hard to choose one favorite out of all of Sid and Marty Krofft's shows, but this would have to be the one(sorry Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf). I mean, it's got a banjo, for crying out loud, and to paraphrase Steve Martin -- how can you not be happy when you hear a banjo?

So -- what are your favorites?
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This was done for Facebook but I decided to post it here as well.

I'm not tagging anyone for this, but here are the rules anyway:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs (+) on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

All-righty -- here we go!

1. When I was in second grade, I noticed water pouring from the roof of the school during recess. It was winter, but warm, so all the snow that had collected on top of the roof was melting and streaming over the edge. I thought the best thing to do was stand underneath the falling water and tell anyone who passed by that I was taking a shower. The playground aide stood by and watched me as I pretended to lather up and rinse my hair, until recess was over. Then, she took me to the office and the principal called my mother.

Read more... )
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When I was a kid, this opening used to scare the crap out of me. It was the beginning to the movie show Chiller Theater that used to be on Channel 11 out of New York and played every Saturday night. Lots of times, the opening was scarier than the movie that followed. It seems like I always watched it when my parents visited their friends in Litchfield, CT. The house where they lived was an old one and kind of creeped me out. I have no idea if it actually was haunted but if it wasn't, it should have been. That place haunted my dreams for years. When we'd visit, the grown-ups would sit in the kitchen socializing and while they played cards, drank beer and smoked pot, I'd be sit in the spooky old living room watching that hand emerge from it's bloody swamp, too terrified to move or speak. God, how I loved it.

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When I was in grade school, one of the most exciting days in the school year was when the teacher wheeled the film projector down the hall from the library and told us that it was a movie day. We'd pull our desks or tables away from the center of the room to make a large space on the floor. Then, after the teacher had pulled down the screen in front of the blackboard, she'd turn off the lights and we'd gather on the floor.

Under the flicker of the projector, I sat mesmerized by the antics of Uncle Smiley or some nature film about the desert. The best film of them all, though, had to be Paddle to the Sea. Each year, starting in second grade, we'd watch it at least once and sometimes twice, if we were lucky.

I loved watching the boy carve out his toy canoe and carefully paint it, then send it down a stream with the instructionswritten carefully on the bottom to put put the canoe back in the water so that it could reach the sea should anyone happen to find it. And though the wooden Indian in the canoe remained expressionless throughout the entire film, his face seemed to change as he reached each new point on his journey to the ocean.

Today, I found a site dedicated to the book and movie. I'd always thought that the movie was a true story -- that some Indian boy who lived far from the sea really had carved this beautiful little boat and figure and sent him on a journey to the ocean so that, even though the boy could never see what it looked like, his wooden figure could. Apparently, though, I was wrong. Still, if you go to the website, there is a link where you can download the film for free (as well as read the book online or order it and the film). So, for those of you who also remember Paddle to the Sea, enjoy!
janradder: (dork)


What can I say about Fat Albert except that this was my absolute favorite Saturday morning cartoon for years.  Just hearing that theme brings me back to six or seven years old and sitting in front of that TV just waiting for Bill Cosby and the Cosby kids.

Favorite Russell put down?  "Rudy?  You're like school on a summer day -- no class!"
janradder: (dork)
I have been a huge Dr. Strange fan since I was about six and I picked up a Giant Size collection of Dr. Strange stories from a newsstand in Milford, CT when my family was visiting friends.  The only reason I'd gotten it was because my mother had told me I could buy a comic book and this was one of the few places that carried the Giant Size comics.  That day there were only two -- a Captain America I already had and a Dr. Strange.  Reluctantly, I got the comic and let it sit for about a year.  Every now and then I'd look into it but the pictures were usually too frightening (especially Nightmare) or the stories to weird to follow.  Eventually, though, I overcame my fear and figured out what was going on and Dr. Strange became my absolute favorite comic book hero.

In 1978, I saw in the TV guide that there was going to be a movie on Friday night (CBS, maybe?) called Dr. Strange.  I would hunt the weekly TV guide regularly to find anything that resembled a super hero movie.  Often, I'd be burned (I still remember seeing Letterman and being brutally disappointed that it was a talk show -- this was when Dave was on in the morning) but sometimes, I'd hit the jackpot.  There was no description with Dr. Strange and for all I knew it was a hospital drama but I asked my mother if I could stay up to watch it (it was late) on the off chance that this was the Dr. Strange.  She said no and I badgered here for the next few days.  Friday came and still the answer was no.  I remember sitting in front of the TV as the beginning started and then being sent off to bed.

"It'll be on again," my mother said.

The next day at baseball practice, I asked my comics friend, John Lucas, if he'd seen it.  He said yes and then he told me it was actually the comic book Dr. Strange and it was cool and awesome and spectacular and he'd loved it a lot.  I scoured the TV guide looking for a rerun of that movie for years but it was never on again.  And I've scoured the internet looking for anything about it but came up with nothing but a short scene posted on YouTube until today.

Today I found out that someone has recently posted the entire movie to YouTube.  I am in disbelief.  Finally, after all these years, I have found my Dr. Strange Holy Grail!  But that's not all, because I also found that a Dr. Strange feature film has been announced for 2010 directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by Neil Gaiman.  I feel like I've hit the jackpot!
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I went upstairs this morning to find our bedroom door was shut.  I opened it to see my two boys sitting on a trunk that we keep near the windows.  They were sitting side by side, quietly looking out the window into our backyard.

"That looks fun," I said.  "What are you guys doing?  Looking out at the yard?"

"We are flying on an airplane," Arie told me.

"Oh," I said and then remembered how earlier in the morning they had asked me how much plane tickets were and then found paper slips to act as tickets and gave me $3000 in pretend cash to pay for them.

I still marvel at the imagination of children, remembering my own childhood and the games and stories I came up with and how vivid and easy it all seemed to me then to see what was not there.  When my kids ask me to engage in imaginary play now I just can't do it.  I go along with them, trying to be a part of their story but I'm not really there -- I am still firmly grounded in the unimaginative world of adults.  The guest room is the guest room -- not the outside where Mr. Red Cape and Mr. Grey Cape do battle with the forces of evil.  The couch is a couch and not some hill to climb or car to drive.  My empty hands do not hold paper money, or magic rocks or lost keys, they are empty.  My children have this amazing world that only they can see and I each time they remind me of this, I thank them silently for reminding me that I used to have one too.
janradder: (dork)
[livejournal.com profile] haddayr and I took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters last night (a co-worker had free tickets so we decided to use them).

When I was a kid I was obsessed with the Globetrotters (as I'm sure many kids of the seventies were).  I had an autographed picture of Meadowlark Lemon hanging up in my room that my grandmother had gotten for me.  She made Keds at Uniroyal in Naugatuck, CT and made quite a few of them for famous basketball players like Wilt Chamberlain (she also made me a pair of kick-ass sneakers when I was six that had my name stitched into them and shiny red reflectors and a whole bunch of other neat things.  Unfortunately, when they wore out, I think they were thrown in the trash).  Occasionally the players would come in personally to have their feet measured and this was the case with Meadowlark so while he was at Uniroyal, my grandmother got his autograph for her  grandson.  And because my grandmother made his shoes, I always felt a connection to him and the Globetrotters a little more than other kids my age, might.  I could look at him and think, he's wearing shoes that my grandma made.

Anyway, last night the Globetrotters came out for their introductions and then, after, the PA started playing "Sweet Georgia Brown" and the team went into their Magic Circle routine where they spun basketballs on their fingers, their heads, over their arms, threw them under their legs, balanced them on the their heads and backs, flipping them back and forth to each other and I was instantly transported back to Saturday morning when I was seven watching the Harlem Globetrotters on Wide World of Sports and just waiting in anticipation to see my favorite gag, the bucket of confetti thrown into the audience.  Last night, the shoes were different, the uniforms were looser, and there was no Curly Neal or  Meadowlark or any of the players  I remembered, but "Sweet Georgia Brown" still made me just as happy as it did when I was seven.  And I did get to see the bucket gag.
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When I was a kid I loved Evel Knievel.  Part of it was the toys.  Part of it was his seemingly (to me, at least) weekly appearance on ABC's Wide World of Sports.  But another part was that I watched the biopic made I don't know when and starring I don't know who when I was in first grade.

When I was in first grade, my town held a sleep over for all the grade school boys (maybe it was just first grade, I can't remember).  We got a flyer at school about it and all the boys in my class were talking about the sleep over.  It was to be held at another school (Highland School, a place I would attend the next year and grow to loathe so much that I still sometimes get hives and feel a sick foreboding sense of doom whenever I drive past it while visiting my mother).  We'd arrive sometime after dinner, have a bunch of evening activities and then sleep in our sleeping bags on the gym floor.  One of my friends at school (David, I think his name was) said he was going to go.  Completely uncharacteristically of me, I said I was also going and asked my parents.  They said yes.  I was not the type of kid to just jump into some social situation like this.  I was shy, kind of quiet until I got to know people, and didn't really like large groups (sort of like I am now).  A town-wide sleepover was the exact sort of event I would normally avoid (and later would whenever possible).  I'm still not sure why I decided to go.  I guess it seemed like fun.   And I had a friend who would be there.

It was Friday night and the night of the sleep over.  My friend and I both assured each other we'd see one another at Highland School.  I packed my bag and grabbed my brand new Captain Marvel sleeping bag (bought especially for the occasion) and my father drove me to the school. When we got there we went to the sign in table and I looked for my friend.  He was nowhere to be found.  I felt kind of queasy and wished I could go home.  I remember my father staying a little longer than he might have normally.  I think he thought I would ask to go home with him.  I can't remember what I said to him but eventually he left with my assurances that my friend would eventually show up.  Needless to say, he never did.

I really don't remember what I did that night except that I remember feeling absolutely and utterly terrified.  I did not know a single kid there.  I was in a gym filled with yelling, laughing boys who I did not know.  They played basketball, talked to each other, ran, maybe even sang songs.  I really can't remember.  I do remember looking for my friend the whole night, hoping he'd somehow show up but knowing that he wouldn't.  When it became clear to me that he wasn't coming, I just waited for bed time and when that came, I lay on the floor in my sleeping bag, feeling the cold hardwood of the gym underneath me, and tried to sleep which I eventually did.

We had some activities the next morning but I really don't remember them.  What I do remember was eating breakfast from those little cereal boxes that came in the variety packs.  They were the kind that you lay on their back, cut open the front of the box where it was marked, poured your milk into the inner bag after you tore it open and then ate your cereal straight out of the box.  Now this was heaven.  I loved those cereal boxes.  I loved that you could eat right out of the box. I loved that I could get Apple Jacks because my family never  bought Apple Jacks.  I really loved those boxes of cereal.

After breakfast, there was a movie.  I don't think I knew that there would be a movie and I had no idea what movie it would be.  What it was, though, was the Evel Knievel movie.  I knew who Evel was at the time (I think every kid in 1976 knew who he was) but I had no idea there was a movie about him.  Finding this out was as amazing and wonderful as when I found out there was a Batman movie when it was shown on TV on a rainy Saturday afternoon while my mother and sister were sick and taking naps.  Here was Evel, from his early days as a hood.  Here was Evel,  racing his motorcycle down streets.  Here was Evel jumping cars with that motorcycle.  And finally, here was Evel riding his motorcycle and wearing that totally awesome white jumpsuit with blue and red stripes and stars and cape!  I was enthralled.  I was in awe.  Evel Knievel had become my new hero.  After spending a night and a morning in absolute abject misery, Evel Knievel had come and rescued me with his death defying feats and his bad-ass I-don't-give-a-crap attitude.

I later learned about how he wasn't such a nice guy, how he spent time in prison, how he was more famous for his crashes than his successful jumps.  But I've never forgotten how Evel Knievel came and found me on a dreary Saturday morning and took me for a ride on his motorcycle in that dark elementary school auditorium.

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March 2012

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