Monday, November 30, 2015

A Charlie Brown Christmas Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Anyone who knows me knows just how much of a fan I am of Peanuts. I did all sorts of posts about the Peanuts movie on Facebook that a friend asked if I was getting paid by the company to promote the movie. I responded no I’m doing it because I’m a fan.

And I am a huge Huge HUGE fan of the Christmas special. If there was one special to pick that most represented the spirit of Christmas this is the one to pick.

What has become a classic was not thought so at the time.There were all sorts of concerns in the process of creating the show. There was too much religion in it. The voices were of kids instead of professional actors. This was on of the first cartoons that used real kids voices. The incredible success of the show set the trend for the future on that.

Here’s just a little on the problems from a story in USA Today:
Midway through production in 1965, executive producer Lee Mendelson remembers a visit from an ad executive at McCann-Erickson, whose client Coca-Cola commissioned the special. Looking at rough pencil drawings and animation tests with no music, “he said: ‘This isn’t very good. I don’t know what I’m going to tell the agency. If I tell them what I think, they’re going to cancel the show,’ “ Mendelson says. “I said, ‘Well, wait, whoa, this is all very rudimentary. If you believe in Charles Schulz and his characters, you’re just going to have to trust us that this is going to be great.’”

“It never got that far, because they thought that having jazz music on a Christmas show didn’t make much sense,” Mendelson says. “They didn’t like the (voice) actors being kids, and they just didn’t like the show in general. They said: ‘You made a nice try. We’ll put it on the air, obviously, but it just doesn’t work.’"

Here’s a link to another story from USA Today on the 50th anniversary

Way back in 2006 I did a post about the special you can find it here. In it there’s a reprint of a story that USA Today ran the year before on the 40th anniversary of the special.

Here’s a little from that USA Today story that first ran in 2005:
"They said it was slow," executive producer Lee Mendelson remembers with a laugh. There were concerns that the show was almost defiantly different: There was no laugh track, real children provided the voices, and there was a swinging score by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.
Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez fretted about the insistence by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz that his first-ever TV spinoff end with a reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke by a lisping little boy named Linus.

"We told Schulz, 'Look, you can't read from the Bible on network television,' " Mendelson says. "When we finished the show and watched it, Melendez and I looked at each other and I said, 'We've ruined Charlie Brown.' "

Good grief, were they wrong. The first broadcast was watched by almost 50% of the nation's viewers. "When I started reading the reviews, I was absolutely shocked," says Melendez, 89. "They actually liked it!"

Christopher Shea was just 7 when he did the part and credits Melendez's coaching and his mom's doctorate in 17th-century British literature for Linus' lilting eloquence with a Biblical text.
Shea, who now lives in Eureka, Calif., with two daughters, 11 and 16, answers quickly when asked why the special has proved so enduring. "It's the words," he says.
Shea says that for years, in his teens and 20s, he didn't quite understand his soliloquy's impact.
"People kept coming up to me and saying, 'Every time I watch that, I cry,' " he says. "But as I got older, I understood the words more, and I understood the power of what was going on. Now I cry, too."

It’s always amazing the potential what ifs that might have changed what has become a classic and tradition when Christmas Time is Here. I know I will enjoy the special and as always enjoy the show itself.

More Favorites from Artomatic

Here are a few more of the artists from Artomatic that I really enjoyed.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cheryl Ann Bearss at Artomatic

I really liked her work. It was very impressive. Find out more about her here.

More from Artomatic

Loved this one all about Beaker

Taking in Artomatic

I went to Artomatic on Friday.

In case you might not know what Artomatic is:

ARTOMATIC is a non-profit, volunteer-run 501(c)3 organization that organizes and hosts a large arts festival occurring every 12-18 months in the DC metropolitan area, usually in a commercial location slated for demolition. The event is unjuried (first-come-first-served) and showcases creative work in visual art, music, film, performance, and fashion. The 2012 Artomatic attracted about 1700 artists and performers and over 70,000 visitors. We also license other events in other locations, such as Artomatic@Frederick, held in Frederick, MD, and are currently expanding and building our licensing program stateside and internationally. Artomatic’s mission is to create community, build audience and expand economic development by transforming available space into a playground for artistic expression. Artomatic is guided by a volunteer Board of Directors and is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. See more about the volunteer teams that make Artomatic possible.

The next couple of posts will show some of what I saw on my visit there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris a Week Later

I’d thought about doing a post about this right after it happened. Then thought I’d do it over the weekend as more facts became clear. Then I thought I’d wait a little longer.

To say it was a horrible event would be an understatement. To say it was a shock to the system is also an understatement. Here people were going about their lives and suddenly the most horrible of things happened. Going to a concert and suddenly gun fire breaks out. I’d been to the Jon McLaughlin concert at the Hamilton in DC the night before. I would never think that a terrorist attack could happen there. I’m sure the people at the venue in Paris thought the same thing. More likely they didn’t think of it at all. They were just looking forward to having a good time.

ISIS of ISIL or Daesh whatever the hell it’s called needs to be stopped. It needs to be destroyed. The territory it controls must be taken back, conquered whatever term you like to use. Militarily they can be defeated. The question is what will the military force look like that leads that fight. Will US ground forces be sent in to do the fighting. To me that’s a win for ISIS. The evil West trying to destroy Islam. What a great recruiting tool. Also the suggestion by some that this wouldn’t take many troops and be over quickly well gosh gee wasn’t that what was suppose to be how things would work in Iraq. As I recall we weren’t greeted as liberators as promised. And the Mission Accomplished banner was more than just a little premature. So the military option is possible but is fraught with huge potential pit falls which have to be thought through there is action. Once again militarily they can be defeated.

But it is much harder to defeat an idea. There is going to have to be some long hard thinking on how to go about doing that. What needs to be done to defeat their ideas? Economic aid to the region? Some sort of political settlement or power sharing so groups feel they have a chance in the political process? What needs to be done to counter their propaganda machine? What needs to be done to defeat their presence on the web which seems to be massive and a way they recruit people. What needs to be done to dry up their money. What needs to be done to find the countries that are supporting these guys. I don’t hear much about any of those questions. Until some or most of them questions are answered ISIS will be a problem. And right now I don’t hear a great deal of discussion about that. Anonymous is supposedly attack ISIS’ presence on the web. But I’m not sure how to verify that one way or the other.

It’s a list of hard questions. I don’t see much attempt by anyone to answer them at all. And they need to be answered while we are in the process of figuring out the best military option to defeat them. None of this seat of your pants, make it up as things blow up around you like what happened in Iraq.

This is what we face in the wake of the attacks on Paris.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Last Song from Jon McLaughlin

One last song. This is not from the concert I went to. But this is a song that I really love. It's just so well done. It was from a date earlier on the tour.

More from Jon McLaughlin — Here's an Accoustic Version of Beautiful Disaster

Such a great song. So very cool to be acoustic version of the song. And to be within five feet of Jon when he sang it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tess Henley at the Hamilton

The opening act for Jon McLaughlin was Tess Henley. She was really good. Very much a one person band. She had her Mac ready to go to help her with over dubbing and background music.

I bought a couple of her CDs. I really enjoy them. I even had her sign one.

Here's one of her songs.

Jon McLaughlin at the Hamilton

What a great concert. Got a VIP pass. With that I got to see him before the concert started and even got to hear two songs that he didn't play in the concert.

The Hamilton is a great place for a concert. It was tables and you ordered dinner (which was great). Because we got in early we had great seats. Front and center.

Here's a video that I took at the concert.

This is one of the extra songs I got to hear having the VIP pass. Jon's a little in the dark. The next song they turned up the lights.

Charlie Brown, Baseball and Snoopy

Charles Schulz certainly enjoyed baseball. And he had many strips of Charlie Brown's trials and tribulations with the game. Here's something to bring a smile to your face this Tuesday.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Peanuts Movie

What a wonderful movie. What a wonderful tribute to Charles Schulz. A very sweet and delightful movie. It brings to like all the vast array of Peanuts characters in a charming and loving way.

The story is:. The little red haired girl has moved into the neighborhood. Charlie Brown is smitten with her. He tries for the rest of the movie to try and get her to notice him. Not all of his attempts work out. In fact none of them work out the way Charlie Brown hopes that they will. He tries to impress her at a dance. He does very well until he slips and some how sets off the sprinkler system. He is assigned to work with her on a book report. She has to go and see a sick relative. Charlie Brown takes it on himself to write the report on War and Peace no less. And it goes from there.

There are the usual side plots with Snoopy taking on the Red Baron. Lucy giving out advice. Linus having problems with Sally.

Here’s a sampling of the reviews:

From USA Today:
You’re in a good movie, Charlie Brown!

Those who have seen the vintage Halloween and Christmas specials a bazillion times or are just finding out now what a Pigpen is will find something to adore about the clever and charming The Peanuts Movie (*** out of four; rated G; in theaters Friday nationwide). Director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!) and producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) bring Snoopy, Peppermint Patty and all the gang to computer-generated 3-D life while never overshadowing the timeless quality of the late Charles M. Schulz’s comic-strip world.
Yahoo News:
Maybe the Peanuts gang hasn’t been on the big screen in decades because they’ve had so much success on the small one, with specials like “The Great Pumpkin” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that have been annual TV traditions since the 1960s.

Thankfully, “The Peanuts Movie” isn’t just a small-screen special writ large. The filmmakers take advantage of their cinematic scope with a bigger story, more sophisticated animation and effective use of 3-D that gives new depth to the Peanuts world. But the characters loved by generations of fans — Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Woodstock and beloved blockhead Charlie Brown — are as charming and timeless as ever.

Washington Post:
Director Martino has captured the emotions that made “Peanuts” so meaningful, masterfully replicating Schulz’s hand-drawn expressions, including Charlie’s sighs, Sally’s smiles and the exasperated yells of Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller). The filmmakers also stay true to the timelessness of Schulz’s world. The only tweets come from Woodstock, and Linus (Alexander Garfin) grips his blanket instead of an iPhone. Schroeder (Noah Johnston) still plays Beethoven on his toy piano, and Lucy charges only five cents for advice.

Parents’ hearts will melt every time Sally (Mariel Sheets) lovingly calls Charlie “Big Brother,” and when Charlie — feeling dejected at his prospects — laments that he has no future with the Little Red-Haired Girl because “she’s something, and I’m nothing.” An entertaining combination of humor and tenderness.

I saw it in 3D. Mostly because the time worked for me because of the other things I did that day. But I’m glad I saw it in 3D. It brought a whole new perspective on the whole Peanuts gang. This is a wonderful, delightful and just plain fun movie. Go and enjoy. Make sure you stay until the end for a couple of additional treats from the film makers.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Final Pictures of the New York City Trip

Just a few of the goodies available from the place we had dinner.

After getting autographs from the Allegiance cast, we headed to the half price ticket booth.

We wanted to see Something Rotten. When we got to the window we were told they didn't have any tickets. We tried next for A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder. We were told they had seats but not together. Then they said they had tickets to Something Rotten but again not together.

We took those since I'd seen Gentlemen's Guide. Something Rotten was absolutely hilarious. The row behind me was empty so at intermission Diane and I moved there. Really really enjoyed the show.

Next on the agenda was dinner. We decided since we had a big lunch to just have a sandwich. Found a nice place north of Times Square. Had a very nice dinner and split a piece of cheese cake.

We had a little time before the show so we went to Times Square to take some more pictures.

After the show it was off to the bus. And another amazing trip to New York drew to a close.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Outside of Allegiance

A few shots of the theater.

More from Allegiance — Getting Cast Autographs

Telly Leung who plays Sammy

Our seats were right by an exit and as we exited we were right by the stage door. So we got some really good pictures and many autographs. George Takei did not come out.

Telly heading our way.

Katie Rose Clark who plays Hannah

Michael K. Lee who plays Frankie

Lea Salonga who plays Kei

Christopheren Nomura who plays Tatsuo

Aaron J. Albano