Archive for the ‘School House Rock’ Category

[LISTENED TO: April 29, 2015] Bossypants

bossyAfter listening to Amy Poehler’s audio book, it made me want to listen to Tina Fey’s book.  Sarah had read the book and said it was very funny, but I imagined that the audio would be even funnier.  And boy was it ever funny.

And here’s where I apologize to Tina Fey.  I had always heard her spoken about in such lofty terms as the funniest writer, the golden child (insert various rave here), and I wound up holding her to an unfair standard.  I never found her funny enough for me.  She made me laugh, but, for instance, I thought Mean Girls could have been…more somehow.  After listening to this, I realized what the problem was for me.  I always felt like her stuff could have been more pointed or something, but I realize that given the media she works with she was unlikely to “get away” with anything more pointed–certainly not on Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock.  Rather, she did lots of subtly feminist (or sometime over the top feminist) jokes that I didn’t really appreciate for what she was doing.  But when she lets loose in this book it is really amazing to hear what she herself–not a team of writers–has to say.  Of course, having said that, and having listened to the book, I absolutely need to rewatch 30 Rock (although I never cared for the Tracey Morgan or Jane Krakowski characters) and maybe even some old Weekend updates.

But, I already know Tina’s response to me, because she says it in the book.  And, it talks about something Amy Poehler once said.

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may20014SOUNDTRACK: “Elementary, My Dear” (1973).

elemYou have to have a particularly cruel heart if you don’t love School House Rock.

All of the songs, well, most of the songs, are super catchy and by golly if you don’t learn a lot.

And they attack problems in an interesting way.  The premise of using Noah’s Ark to show how to multiply by 2 is genius.

You’ll get that “elementary, my dear” section stuck in your head.  But I’m also impressed at the way the song goes into unexpected chords for “you get an even number.” And I love the way Bob Dorough really gets into it (whooping it up at the end).

Few people would think that the 2 times table is hard, but man is it fun to sing along to.

This song is not as popular as some of the other ones, but it’s still great

[READ: April 14, 2014] “A Study in Sherlock”

A while back I wrote a post about Sherlock Holmes on TV (Sherlock and Elementary) and in the movies (Sherlock Holmes).  I had read a few stories and so I did a brief comparison of the shows.  Since then while I have continued to believe that Sherlock is the better show, I have really grown to appreciate Elementary a lot more.  They almost seem incomparable because they are so very different in structure and intent.  Elementary has actually been a little more satisfying lately because it has so many more episodes that it allows the characters to develop and fail in interesting ways–something that the three episodes of Sherlock simply won’t do.

Laura Miller has done a similar thing with this article.  Although in fairness she did a lot more research than I did and talks a lot more about the original books and stage and early film adaptations, and she talks a lot less about the TV shows.  And no she doesn’t cite my post.

This was an enjoyable piece because it goes beyond the commonly known elements of Conan Doyle–how he did not like Holmes and tried to kill him off twice, that he wanted to write more important fiction–and into what Holmes was like after Doyle was finished with him.  Holmes has entered the public domain in both England and America, and so he is basically free for everyone to use, much like a classic myth or a fairy tale.  The big difference is that we know his origins.

What I especially enjoyed was that so many things that we think of as quintessential Holmes are actually not from Doyle.  His deerstalker hat was added by a book illustrator but is never mentioned in the text.  The calabash pipe came a decade later when a stage actor used it so that the audience could still see his face.  Conan Doyle was still alive while these changes were being made.  Indeed, when a play of Sherlock Holmes was written, the playwrite called and asked if he could give the man a love interest and Conan Doyle replied, “Marry him, murder him or do what you like with him.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANIMANIACS-Wakko’s 50 State Capitals (1995).

To the tune of “Turkey in the Straw,” Wakko teaches you all of the capitals of the 50 States.   I suspect that if I had the energy, I would try to remember this (as many commenters on YouTube say they’ve done).  While I know most of the capitols, I certainly don’t know them to a  catchy tune.

This song is not as explicitly insane as the countries of the world song, but it’s still pretty awesome.  Thank you, Animaniacs for being this generation’s School House Rock!

[READ: July 2012] Chi’s Sweet Home 9

Volume 9 of Chi’s Sweet Home has just come out and the whole family was excited to read it (Clark grabbed it first!).

I don’t know how long the series is going to run, but if anyone thought it was winding down with Book 8, nothing could be further from the truth.

As the book opens, Chi is wearing her Elizabethan collar to protect her from her injuries (I actually don’t recall what injuries they were).   But she soon gets that off and her family realizes that since she couldn’t go outside with the collar on, maybe they should make her an indoor cat after all–she’ll certainly be safer!

And so begins Chi’s frustration–unable to get outside and nobody helping her out!  And she had promised Cocchi that she would met him at the fountain   For the first time in the series (as far as I can remember) another character gets an entire strip to himself: poor Cocchi, the naughty stray cat feels sad and lonely as he waits for Chi who promised she’d be back to play today.   If you think it’s frustrating to wait for people  imagine being a cat and having no way to communicate! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK-“Interjection” (1975).

I can’t get over how much information I learned from School House Rock.  And, conversely, how kids don’t have exposure to this kind of educational material.  In part because it’s not made anymore, but also because we TiVo everything, so there’s no interstitials.  I’d love to be able to insert some of these into their shows that they like.

Interjection has got to be one of the best of the bunch (I have a top ten which is very different from the Best of CD that came out–where’s Verb?).  We were listening to this CD in the car the other day trying to get them excited about the songs (which definitely work better with the videos).  But since Clark’s story has an interjection, this was the obvious choice.

Relive the glory:

Darn.  That’s the end.

[CREATED: June 2012] The Book of Hi’s

Today is Clark’s 7th birthday!  Happy birthday, sweetheart!

I have told my kids that if they tell me stories, I will make them into books for them.  I even have a digital recorder if they want to recite stories that we can make together.  They are always coming up with stories that their toys play (mostly about jail and monsters and whatnot), but they don’t seem to want to record them for posterity.

Then one day Sarah and the kids were doing a craft that involved writing out stories (Sarah had stapled pages together).  Clark wrote this story.  And it cracks me up, primarily because I know he thinks it is very funny, but also because it is weirdly funny (if ever there was a kid who was almost ready for Monty Python, it’s this one).

He wrote it out very fast on one page of the book, so I decided to make a proper book out of it.  For your enjoyment, I present, in full, The Book of Hi’s. (more…)

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orange.jpgSOUNDTRACK: CHAVEZ-Better Days Will Haunt You (2006).

chavezz.jpgI first fell in love with Chavez when I saw a video for their song “Break Up Your Band.” I loved the video, and loved the music. And, I basically became of fan of them because of this video, which I think I must have seen on 120 Minutes, way back when. Turns out that my memory of this video is the equivalent of my memory of Good Omens (cf. Good Omens). The video is on the DVD that comes with this collection, and wow, I don’t recall the video looking like that at all! Huh, clearly I am an unreliable narrator.

Chavez is such a great noisy dissonant band. Squealy guitars, weird tempos, and noise, noise, noise. Fun! But what’s really fun is their cover of “Little Twelvetoes,” a song from the School House Rock oeuvre. This song is SO bizarre, and that’s even before Chavez gets their hands on it. The premise is that people from other planets with six fingers and toes and each hand and foot could count to twelve as easily as we count to ten. And, they made up two new numbers that would fill in the gap between nine and ten so that their twelve could be our number 10. Therefore, they could just add a zero when multiplying by 12. Or something.


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