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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How the Grinch Celebrated 50 Years

Thanks to the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and Freeform (formerly ABC family, in one of the worst network renaming attempts since the Sci-Fi Channel adopted Sy-Fy), there is no shortage of brand new Christmas movies to watch on TV each year. However, some of the truly great specials aren’t live action rom-coms or drama stories, but animated films for the whole family. While not every single animated Christmas special isn’t destined to become a classic ( I’m looking at you, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer), the best ones have been with us for almost half a century. Joining the very top of that list is a feature about a green skinned curmudgeon, known only as The Grinch. In fact along with “Scrooge” few characters in the past 100 years or so has been so able to successfully integrate himself with Christmas, as the Grinch, so much so that like that old British miser, his name becomes shorthand for someone who hates Christmas.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Based on the story by the prolific children’s author Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was a natural choice.   Every kid grows up with the books of Dr. Seuss, and they always have a favorite. For me, it was always the Grinch. Sure Cat in the Hat was fun, and Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham was a lesson in perseverance,  but there was always something about the Grinch that appealed to me more. So much so that we owned to copies in my household because I staked my claim and wrote my initials in the front cover in crayon, and when you’re three years old, nothing shows ownership more than scrawling some semblance of your name on a favorite book to make it “yours.”

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It’s a Wonderful Classic: Celebrating 70 years of It’s a Wonderful Life

I grew up in a house with out air conditioning. Thus in the sweltering heat of a Minnesota summer night, my family and I would “camp” in our basement, turn on a huge fan and watch Christmas movies to beat the heat, many of which my mom had taped off TV and compiled into a series of collections. This was actually one of my first experiences with Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life. This movies, along with the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Holiday Inn were recorded off of TV broadcasts by my mother and usually placed near the middle or very end of the tape, which mom usually popped in the VCR when it was time to go to bed, and I’d be asleep before they started.

It wouldn’t be until I was in Junior High that I could successfully sit down and watch them, but it would take a half a semester of college for me to really appreciate many of these old classic Christmas movies. Chief among them is  It’s A Wonderful Life. In fact every Christmas I’ve made a point to watch this movie. Despite an apparent love that I have for science fiction, fantasy, action and adventure movies, this quaint old film holds a special place in my heart.

Original poster from It's A Wonderful Life

Original poster from It’s A Wonderful Life

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Why Star Wars is a Perfect Fit for a December Release

Along with Spielberg’s Jaws, the entire concept of the summer blockbuster owes it’s existence to Star Wars. I can still remember the fun of cosplaying as Anakin Skywalker while my best friend went as Palpatine for the release of Revenge of the Sith and walking around our college campus in our costumes during finals. It was a nice little reprieve for the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation. I even tried to use a Jedi Mind Trick to try and get the entire class out of one of our finals.

Thus, when it was first announced that The Force Awakens would deviate from the summer release, like many other fans, I was stunned. To me, Star Wars  was as much a part of summer as a backyard barbecue, ice cream, fireworks, popsicles,  and a warm sandy beach ( though in the interest of full disclosure I do share Anakin’s dislike of sand). How on Earth could Disney deviate from a time honored tradition! What’s next? Replacing an annual Fourth of July fireworks display with a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet?

What does Star Wars have to do with Christmas? Didn’t we learn anything from the bad, bad, insanely bad Holiday Special?

Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio getting decked out for Christmas

Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio getting decked out for Christmas

However, as we approach the release of Rogue One, and this film looks to do just as well, if not better then The Force Awakens, I‘m beginning to see that Star Wars actually fits in with a December release, and it’s not just because of the red and green lightsaber color scheme. It’s not even because of the fact that they have big epic land battles on ice planets. One of the first and most obvious reasons is that Star Wars, at its core is a fairy tale set in outerspace.

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In Memoriam: John Glenn 1921-2016


John Glenn

“Godspeed, John Glenn”. That became a buzzword on the twitter sphere this past week with the passing of a legend. It is fitting of course. These were the words spoken by fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter from mission control when Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. In doing so, he became a hero to a nation desperately searching for one during the Cold War. 

Even before his historic launch into space. Glenn was already a hero. A combat veteran he served in both World War II and the Korean War in the US Marine corps. During WWII he would fly a total of 59 combat missions and earn two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and ten air medals. It is easy then to see why NASA would recruit someone with such exceptional pilot skills.

Glenn had been part of the original Mercury 7 Astronauts, chosen because they had “the Right Stuff”, these men had to have courage, intelligence, and resourcefulness at all times. These people had to be cool under pressure, and considering they were all combat veterans they had that in spades. More importantly, Glenn, like many others in the astronaut corps didn’t see themselves as heroes, but rather men who did the job their country called them to do.

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