Monday, July 16, 2012

Dancing in the Moonlight (and Starlight)

Take a peak outside at the billions of stars splattered over the black summer night.  If you want a meteor show, the Perseids Meteor Shower is visible from July 23 to August 22, peaking August 13-14.  If you're more of a moon person, the next full moon is August 2.  I try never to miss a full moon, but I don't do as much star gazing as I used to--though I aim to make a point of seeing the Perseids Meteor Shower this year.  These days I spend most summer nights in air conditioned-comfort, but time was when the sultry nights beckoned me.  My friends and I dragged Main with the tunes blasting from the radio, gathered at the Dairy Queen, drove along country roads in a pickup truck, and swam in the lake outside of town, usually in our underwear, though not always.  We did our share of star gazing and dancing in the moonlight, too.  I'll be away from my blog for a couple of weeks for vacation.  Enjoy the video and see you at the end of July.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Vintage (1991)
110 pages
ISBN:  0679734775
Middle-School and High-School Readers

Originally published in 1984, The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age story set in the Hispanic section of Chicago.  This quick must-read is a series of vignettes, character sketches mostly.  With very few, but very exquisite, words Cisneros paints vivid pictures that breathe life into these characters.  Aunt Lupe, Rosa Vargas, Angel, Vargas, Marin...they step off the pages.  Life is hard for these people; they suffer from poverty, disease, spousal abuse, child abuse, desertion, loneliness, lack of education, but for the main character, Esperanza, whose very name means "hope," there is a chance she'll escape the fate of those around her.  For unlike the other women and girls of her neighborhood, she is free.  She has no men to feed; she is allowed to leave the house, and she is getting an education.  What's more, Esperanza is determined to have a better life, but she promises to come back for those she leaves behind.  You can't help but root for Esperanza to prevail.

To order from Amazon, click The House on Mango Street.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Andy Griffith Show: What's Your Hurry?

The passing of Andy Griffith comes just weeks after a conversation I had regarding humor on television.  The 30-something person with whom I was speaking said that many people today feel that before Monty Python there was nothing funny on t.v.  I, of course, disagree.  Yes, Monty Python was funny, but so were the less jaded television programs of the 50s and 60s.  I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Andy Griffith Show, which pays homage to the radio program Lum and Abner, were all quite funny in their day.  And, indeed, still today can hold their own with any contemporary comedy.  I can remember watching all of these shows for the first time and laughing out loud.  (I still do laugh out loud, in fact, when watching most of them.)

The Andy Griffith Show was set in a slower, simpler time--in those days long before computers and cell phones.  Though it was a touch anachronistic even then, the message was clear:  Slow down and take time to enjoy life.  A spin-off of The Danny Thomas Show, the pilot demonstrates the waning days of languid rural living.  City slicker Danny Williams blows through a stop sign on his way back to New York and is arrested by small-town sheriff Andy Taylor.  Danny is quite rude to Andy:  He calls him a rube and, pulling a wad of cash from his jacket, slaps a five-dollar bill on Andy's desk and commands that Andy use the money to "buy a comb and rake the hayseed out of his hair."  Andy levies a hefty fine on Danny, as he feels the fine should hurt a bit so that a miscreant feel the weight of the law.  Danny is outraged.  He takes the ten days in jail instead of the $100 fine and brings a television crew down and pleads on live national television his wrongdoing at Andy's hand.  Of course, it is Andy who prevails, and in summation he waxes on about people being in a hurry all the time, going from one city to another.  He says they should slow down because there's a whole lot to see between those cities.  So, if you're looking for some really funny entertainment, take the time to watch a few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.  (But steer clear of the later color episodes; the black and white episodes with Deputy Barney Fife are far superior.)

Incidentally, the last few weeks have seen the passing of many classic television stars, including Richard Dawson (Hogan's Heroes' Newkirk), Frank Cady (Petticoat Junction and Green Acres' Sam Drucker), Don Grady (My Three Sons' Robbie Douglas), Doris Singleton (I Love Lucy's Carolyn Appleby) and now Andy Griffith.  Rest in peace and thanks for the entertainment.

To order from Amazon, click on links below:
The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete First Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Second Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Third Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Fourth Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Fifth Season