Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #6: Schroeder

One of the most common names for a municipal theater is “Orpheum” derived from the Greek mythological figure, Orpheus, who was legendary for his music. Tales of antiquity tell of his great love, Eurydice and how he went down to the Underworld to get her back from Hades, and how his song had so bewitched the Dark Lord and his queen Persephone that they relented, allowing him to have his bride, on one condition. He was never to look back, lest she fade away. He disobeyed, losing his wife until he joined her in the underworld, permanently.

In fact aside from the famous Apollo theater in New York, it isn’t common for a theater or music hall to be named for a fictional character. Usually, they are named after a great local

Schroeder

patron of the arts, or just for the city itself. Even on college campuses, the music hall is named for its donors. Thus, in 2014, it came as a big surprise to many that Sonoma State University in Northern California would name one of their music halls after a comic strip character.

As the Los Angeles Times reported,

“Schroeder Hall — a modest, 250-seat venue located at the public university’s Green Music Center — will have its opening later this month. The hall is named in honor of the “Peanuts” character Schroeder, the precocious boy who enjoys playing the music of Ludwig van Beethoven on his toy piano. A university spokeswoman said that the hall’s naming was a way of recognizing Jean Schulz, wife of the late “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz. Jean Schulz has been a supporter and donor to the Green Music Center for years…An inaugural performance at Schroeder Hall is scheduled for Aug. 22. The private event, featuring pianist David Benoit, will honor Jean Schulz with a program titled “Tribute to Charlie Brown.””

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Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #5: Franklin

The individual members of the Peanuts gang are best known for their little “quirks”. Linus has his security blanket like a little child, yet he has the mind of a scholar. Schroeder is obsessed with his piano and Beethoven music. Sally is sweet and well meaning but tends to mess up her thoughts. Lucy is crabby, and yet melts around Schroeder. Peppermint Patty is a great athlete, and cant’ seem to figure out that Snoopy is a dog. And Charlie brown is…well, Charlie Brown.

franklin

Franklin

This even extends to some of his supporting players such as Pig Pen with his traveling cloud of dust, or Frieda with her naturally curly red hair. Yet some characters don’t get as much development. In some cases they are just meant to be one off characters for a brief arc. In other cases there was just nothing that can be done about them and they were phased out like Shermie.

One however that has a fairly stationary character actually came into existence when a fan wrote to Charles Schulz and asked to create a character like him. That character is Franklin, and while he isn’t known for any of his quirks, he is well known for bringing some much needed diversity to the strip. It takes more than a casual glance at the cast of main characters, and a cursory reading of their very Germanic surnames ( Van Pelt, Schroeder, Reichhardt, and even Brown was a very common Anglicization of the German name “Braun”)  that make the strip sound like the characters just came from an Oktoberfest celebration. When the creator himself was of German and Swedish ancestry it’s not too surprising.  Writers write what they know, and someone of that background is going to create characters that reflect their heritage. Continue reading

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How to Avoid a Very Mustafar Valentines

One of my favorite moments in the new Star Wars film Rogue One ( and believe me there are many of them) is getting to see Darth Vader’s personal fortress. The idea of Vader’s citadel has been a notion long toyed with since the first script for The Empire Strikes  Back. This fortress was to be located on a volcanic planet then known as Had Abaddon, a name derived from the Hebrew word for “Destroyer” a fallen angel who is to lead the demonic hoards from the bottomless pit in the Last Days according to the book of Revelation.

Rogue One Concept Art of Vader's Citadel

Rogue One Concept Art of Vader’s Citadel

Not only was Had Abaddon the Imperial homeworld and location of Vader’s citadel, it was also where he was supposed to have received the wounds that forced him to need his iconic armor to survive. This idea was shelved due to budgetary concerns, and to be saved for Return of the Jedi. It would be nixed again due to budgetary concerns and instead fans were given a second Death Star. It would not be until 2005 with Revenge of the Sith that fans would get to see this world of fire and brimstone. Continue reading

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Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #4: Sally Brown

The years following World War II led to the birth of the generation known as the “Baby Boomers” those individuals born between 1946 and 1964. At its peak, the ideal family unit at this time included parents, 2.5 children and a dog. This was often seen on many of the TV sitcoms of the day, and as the Peanuts comic strip reflected the world of Middle-class, Upper Midwestern America, it would also feature the ideal family unit. Midway the first

Sally Brown

Sally Brown

decade of the Peanuts comic strip, readers would see the Van Pelt family grow dramatically through Lucy and Linus.

However, as Schulz always referred to Peanuts as “featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” naturally his family unit would become more defined. In the earliest strips, Snoopy gradually shifted from the neighborhood dog to belonging solely with Charlie Brown. Then as the 1950s drew to a close, the world was introduced to the newest member of the brown family, Charlie Brown’s adorable and precocious little sister, Sally.

Much like how Linus was introduced off screen through his sister offering to trade her brother for Charlie’s bike, Sally was introduced through her big brother’s reaction, showing just how different these two families were. While Lucy was eager to get rid of Linus, Charlie couldn’t have been happier. As is seen in a strip from May 26, 1959, Charlie had just gotten off the phone with his father at the hospital and happily ran down the street yelling,

“A BABY SISTER! I’M A FATHER! I mean my DAD’S a father! I’M a brother! I have a baby sister! I’m a brother!” Continue reading

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Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #3: Lucy Van Pelt

It seems ironic that Charles Schulz would give his comic strip antagonist the name “Lucy”. After all, in Latin it means “bringer of light”, and that is not something that she seems to do for Charlie Brown or any of the other characters. Crabby is one of the many words that are often used to describe her. By most current standards of today she could be considered a bully. After all, what else would you call someone who destroys her brother’s security blanket, smashes Schroeder’s piano and bust of Beethoven repeatedly, and continually tricks Charlie Brown into kicking the football, only to pull it away from him and land on his back?

In fact, Lucy has been tormenting Charlie Brown ever since she first debuted in the comic strips. When Charlie first met her she was only a toddler, and Charlie acted as a sort of older brother figure. In her debut,  dated   March, 30th 1952   , Charlie Brown is happily sowing her his record collection. She asks to hear “Three Blind Mice” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and finally asks for a glass of water. Charlie agrees to get her a drink, and when he returns he finds Lucy is actually eating his record collection. Charlie is in tears, and Lucy senses his distress, and offers him a bite of one of the destroyed albums.

Her antagonism extends past Charlie Brown. In one strip, dated January 24th 1954, we see

Lucy Van Pelt

Lucy Van Pelt

Lucy terrorizing very one in her town. Kicking over everything belonging to Linus, Schroeder, Violet, Charlie, Shermie, and Patty, saying, as she runs away from the now angry mob,

 

“This is what I  think of your box of cookies! That’s what I think of your ol’ piano! That’s what I think of your ol’ stamp collection. And that’s what I think of your ol’ picture puzzle! And THAT’s what I think of your stupid ol’ marbles. And that’s what I think of your silly ol color crayons! I’m frustrated and inhibited and nobody understands me.”

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A Belated Thanks

Normally by this time of the year, I’ve usually posted a year-end review with nifty statistics and graphics. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, one was not composed this year. I could do it myself, but math has never been my strong spot. I just know I’ve been getting a lot of views, from a lot of countries I never imagined possible. More importantly, you guys are still reading my older blog series posts.

That is part of the reason I wanted to do this. I like taking the time to thank my readers for following my blog or stopping by. While it’s true that writers should always write what they want to read, the fact that other people want to read it too speaks volumes.
So…thanks! Hopefully, I’ll get a nice update next year with all the bells and whistles, but until then,  hope you enjoy all that I’ve got planned this year.

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Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts # 2: Linus Van Pelt

When we first meet Charlie Brown in the comic strips we see the round-headed kid running down the street. Two of his peers, Shermy and Patty notice him coming and Shermy , as soon as Charlie runs by says ,”How I hate him.” Thus, in one sentence, Shultz set the stage for one of the most well known facets of Charlie’s world, that being that it seems that ever one around him appear to hate him.

While he certainly had his share of playmates, more often then not Charlie was often ignored and belittled by the other kids, even the girls. This became even more evident as some of the younger children added, like Lucy, and Schroeder were aged up to Charlie Brown’s level and he ceased to be a mentor to the younger kids. Naturally he would need someone, aside from his dog, to act as a best friend in order for the character to thrive.

Every hero in fiction needs a good friend. Hamlet has Horatio. Sherlock Holmes has Dr. Watson. Frodo Baggins has Samwise Gamgee. Batman has Robin. Superman has Jimmy Olson. Iron Man has War Machine. Captain America has Bucky Barnes. Captain Kirk has Mr. Spock. Han Solo has Chewbacca. Indeed, it’s hard to mention any one of these heroes without immediately thinking of their trusted best friend.

They act as a sounding board, a moral compass, a counselor, and serve as our window into the hero’s respective journey. Whether or not these characters like Horatio, Watson, Sam, Robin, Jimmy, War Machine, Bucky, Spock and Chewie could be called sidekicks, it cannot be denied that they have a very important emotional role in the lives of the heroes. In the

Linus Van Pelt

Linus Van Pelt

case of Charlie Brown he needs someone who will listen to his problems and offer him advice, someone who when everyone else seems to laugh at him will stand by him.

That someone, is  Linus Van Pelt, who is coincidentally the younger brother of Charlie’s primary antagonist.  With his trusty security blanket, his childlike faith, his wild imagination, and his simple wisdom, Linus is the embodiment of everything Charles Dickens wrote when he described childhood,

“..(T)he dreams of childhood – it’s airy fables, its graceful, beautiful, humane, impossible adornments of the world beyond; so good to be believed in once, so good to be remembered when outgrown…”

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