Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Forgotten TV

(from the archives)
I shouldn't have loved Leave It to Beaver as much as I did because it was routinely pointed out to me by my grandmother that I didn't measure up to Wally and the Beaver. I didn't use Sir and M'am nearly enough. My table manners were not as good at theirs. I wasn't always washing my hands (they spent an inordinate amount of time in that bathroom off their bedroom). I wasn't nearly as tidy in my dress. Having so many scenes in a bathroom seems unusual.

But her words didn't have much of an impact (grandmothers did a lot of scolding in those days). I liked the show then and still do now. Leave it to Beaver ran from 1957 to 1963 and was written by Bob Mosher and Joe Connelly, who'd earlier written the Amos and Andy radio show and would later write The Munsters. It starred Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver, Barbara Billingsley as June, Tony Dow as Wally and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver. Why "the" in front of Beaver, I don't know, but it was used quite a lot.

Set in the town of Mayfield, Anywhere, the Cleavers were an upper middle class suburban family that probably mirrored very few of the lives of its viewers. Their life was a bit too easy financially, a bit too neat and tidy. The infamous pearls and dresses June wore were unfamiliar to most of us although I remember my mother getting dressed for dinner in the fifties.

What made it special was that so much of LITB was from the POV of the boys. The writers were on their side and seldom let them behave unrealistically, never let them flounder too much in their stunts. They assumed as we did that their motives were good and age-appropriate. It was easy to imagine myself in such a jam. (Although I would never climbed up into that cup on a billboard or let a homeless guy into the house).

The Cleaver parents were also subjected to the writers' microscope and made their share of parenting mistakes. They worried about such things routinely, re-thought poor decisions they had made, and corrected them. June always reminded Ward that boys today were different from those in his rural youth. Ward reminded June that boarding school was different from Mayfield Public High.

The show hummed due to its writing and it holds up very well today because it was never overly sanctimonious or too sure-footed in its view of the world. The writers were not afraid to make each Cleaver and his friends and neighbors look fairly ridiculous from time to time. If Eddie Haskell has endured as the case study of "bad influence" the Cleavers assumed they had raised a son smart enough to shake it off. How progressive was that!

I was exactly Beaver's age and had a mad crush on Wally, as did every girl I knew. An autographed picture of Wally hung on my wall. "Find a boy like Wally Cleever," must have been uttered more than once over those years and reportedly, he is as nice in person as on the show. No one offered the same advice about Beaver, who was much more like the rest of us.

I watched an early episode last week: Wally comes home from the barbershop with a ridiculous haircut, which all the boys have. June cannot let go of this and even sees the principal about it. (Something that would soon play out in many homes across the country). The show cleverly played a bit of rock music every time Wally or other boys with this haircut entered the room. In this show, June was allowed to be imperfect. How can you not like a show where everyone is allowed such a thing. It was the conforming fifties, but the Cleavers (or their writers) managed to sneak in a little bit more. Never sanctimonious, never out of touch, it plays w

Monday, July 30, 2018

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Once again thanks to the friends that took me shopping, to the movies, out to lunch, out to dinner this week . Boy, am I lucky. See not driving has its benefits.

Another hard week. Less than three weeks to go though. Phil's been in pain for five weeks now, I don't know how he does it. And why nothing seems to cure it. It's like a constant barrage of kidney stones making their way out.

Saw EIGHTH GRADE, which was one of the most realistic looks at being a thirteen year old girl I have seen. Such a great Dad too. That is the second film this year that has portrayed a father so lovingly. (CALL MY NAME)

So much fun looking at the story boards and tryout tapes Megan has been sending me. Of course, they need real cheerleaders to do the cheers because actresses would break their lovely necks.

How about you guys? 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 27, 2018

DARE ME, Megan Abbott
Now that it is going to have a pilot, I decided to reread this from 2012.
Addy and Beth are best friends and head the cheerleading squad at their high school. When a new coach comes along, one with ambitions for the squad and herself, a chasm opens between the girls. This sounds like a YA book but it really isn't and lots of teens were probably puzzled by the deeper themes in the book. This book is about power, ambition, friendship, love. I thought it was an even richer book eight years later. This is partly because I have watched these themes play out in three substituent novels. I think YOU WILL KNOW ME is my favorite of Megan's novels, but this is right up there. Oh, let's face it. They are all my favorite.

The Works of Megan Abbott
The Street is Mine (non-fiction)

Die a Little (2006)
The Song is You (2008)
Queenpin (2008)
Bury Me Deep(2009)
The End of Everything (2011)
Dare Me (2012)
The Fever (2014)
You Will Know Me (2016)
Give Me Your Hand (2018)

Normandy Gold (with Alison Gaylin) a graphic novel (2018)

Yvette Banek, DEATH IN HIGH  PROVENCE, Geroge Bellairs
Brian Busby, BLENCARROW, Isabel MacKay
Martin Edwards, Elizabeth X, Vera Caspary
Curt Evans, DEATH'S OLD SWEET SONG, Jonathan Stagge
Richard Horton, THE HAWKS OF ARCTURUS, Cecil Snyder III
Margot Kinberg, THE BOOK OF MEMORY, Patinah Gappah
Kate Laity, RIPLEY UNDER WATER, Patricia Highsmith
B.V. Lawson, THE SINGING SPIDER, Angus MacVicar
Evan Lewis, HANGROPE TOWN, Harry Whittington
Steve Lewis, DEATH NOTICE, M.S. Karl
J.F. Norris, THE LITTLE LIE, Jean Potts
Matt Paust, POLAR STAR, Martin Cruz Smith
Richard Robinson, CRIME THROUGH TIME, Monfredo and Newman
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, BRASS KNUCKLES, Stories by Frank Gruber
TomCat, THE OTHER BULLET, Nancy Barr Mavity

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Opening Titles

 LOLITA-Stanely Kubrick

One of my favorites. Captures the film so eerily. 

What's your favorite?