Friday, September 28, 2012

"The Brady Bunch in The New York Mystery" Chapter 2

1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: The Bradys begin to pack for the trip for New York, though Mike only told them about the trip the night before. Peter continues to play with his camera though he has no film. A man named "Mr. Mason" calls while Mike is out to ask how the plans are coming for the Pacific Equitable Bank; Mike has not heard of the man. Jan uses binoculars to watch two men across the street who seem to be watching the house. The family goes out for Chinese food for dinner, and return to find that the house has been ransacked...... 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Jan admits she had an overactive imagination. Only Greg and Bobby are adventurous enough to use chop sticks (and Bobby makes a mess.) Carol wonders how Alice will react to the news that they will be staying in a house with a housekeeper (Mrs. Crump), that doesn't allow others in the kitchen...... 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: Woman's Lib kickback - Greg thinks "Sisters are expected to be kind of wacky" and "Women are funny sometimes." ETHNIC SENSITIVITY Alice says "I love Chinese food, I used to eat it all the time when I was dating this fellow. Trouble is after our first date, I wanted another one."...... 4) HIP SLANG: "Weirdo" (Marcia), "Holy Moley!" (Greg)....... 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES: Frankenstein and Dracula....... 6) FAVORITE PASSAGE: "None of the Brady Bunch had to be reminded they were one big happy family. There were the usual teasings, the quarrels that happen in any family, the differences in opinion sometimes - but when it got down to the nitty-gritty, the kids were the six musketeers, with all for one and one for all."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"The Brady Bunch in the New York Mystery" - Chapter 1

1) PLOT SYNOPSIS: Mike Brady tells his family asks the family to guess which “really big town” they’re going to visit. (Now the online dictionaries I consulted say a town is bigger than a village and smaller than a city. Of course, Mike Brady couldn’t consult online dictionaries.) The answer was New York where Mike has an architects’ conference. His wife, Carol, and their kids (Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy) and their housekeeper, Alice, are all excited about the trip. They will stay with a widower friend of Mike’s who lives in a large Long Island with his 16 year-old daughter. Mike Brady will attend the conference and work on plans for a bank while the rest of the family tours the “town” of New York. In other developments, Peter fixes his camera for the trip. Jan is creeped out by a man outside their house who is looking for “the Grady’s”. Inexplicably, Bobby dresses as a vampire and scares Jan. And the creepy man continues to hang around outside the Brady house…….. 2) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Mike needs a dictionary. Carol is easily amused. Alice presumes a lot for a “housekeeper”. Greg starts panting as soon as he hears he will see a girl roughly his age in New York. Marcia is sensitive to remarks about her cooking (especially her spaghetti which is heavy on the garlic.) Peter has given up magic for photography. Jan is easily spooked. Bobby dresses up in strange outfits with little provocation. Cindy is mocked for thinking Denver is bigger than San Francisco (and rightfully so.)……… 3) RELEVANT CULTURAL ISSUES: Native American Issues and Economic Troubles bought together in this exchange: “’I remember’ Peter put in. ‘The Indians sold it (Manhattan) for twenty four dollars.’ ‘I wonder if they’ll ever try to get it back,’ Jan wondered. ‘They wouldn’t dare,’ Alice said, chuckling. ‘They couldn’t afford it now because of inflation!’” Crime – people are said to be robbed in Central Park……… 4) HIP SLANG: “Groovy’ (Peter), “For Pete’s Sake” (Jan)……….. 5) CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL REFERENCES: Alice dreams Rock Hudson is deciding between her and Raquel Welch. Perhaps Cindy’s reference to “Midget Vampires”……….. 6) FAVORITE SENTENCE: When Alice is asked if she knows the Gradys, she replies, “If there are any, I suppose they’d be known as the Grady Grumps.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coming Soon: Looking at "The Brady Bunch in The New York Mystery"

I'll be going chapter by chapter through this 1972 Jack Matcha classic, and as I did with the Patridge Family book, I'll be looking at the following items: 1) Plot synopsis, 2) Character Development, 3) Relevant Issues, 4) Hip Slang, 5) Cultural References, 6) Favorite passages Preview from the cover: "A trip to New York turns into a dangerous adventure when Peter turns photographer and the family becomes involved with four mysterious strangers!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hanging Out With Abe (Paige and I Visit the Lincoln Museum)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois does a wonderful job of presenting the Safe Version of the 16th President. That’s a worthy thing. When I visited, there were busloads of school kids. I’m sure that is not a rare phenomenon. And children of a variety of races and creeds were as a whole presented with a national icon that unites us; the aspects of Lincoln that divide us were given short shift. But more about that in a bit. ****** First the things I loved about the museum. Thought and expense was put into keeping the museum from being dull. There are people who complain about the museum being Disneyfied. I have no problem with that. Many of the nontraditional attractions are insightful. To present the four major candidates for President in 1860, a wall of televisions present the campaign of that year narrated by Tim Russert. Sure, that’s taking liberties, but I don’t think anyone visiting the museum would think they actually think they had TV at that time, so that’s okay. (With the possible exception of Joe Biden, but I didn’t see him there that day. ) ***** The museum divides a tour of Lincoln’s life into two parts. One enters a log cabin to follow the path of Honest Abe’s boyhood through the presidential campaign. One enters the White House to learn of the presidential years, the war years. It was great fun to see wax works of Lincoln and Stephen Douglas posed to debate in front of a replica of a building on the Knox College campus. Because the next day, my daughter, Paige, and I stood in front of the real building as I took her back for her third year at the school. ***** Wax replicas of Lincoln and other figures of his times populate all sections of this tour (from the boy Lincoln reading outside his cabin to the aged leader sitting in his box at Ford’s theater.) I was delighted when they used the old wax museum trick of putting a “real” Lincoln where we expected another wax figure. (Even better when I saw that same Lincoln greeted as “Fritz” in the parking lot as he drove off in his red Taurus.) ***** A very cool special effects “Ghosts” show with a Twilight Zone twist demonstrates the importance of the work of archive preservation. “The War Gallery” provides was of the best methods of presenting photos I’ve ever seen. And an amazing little film presents the history of the Civil War in four minutes. Another display I loved was a room filled with cartoons and quotes critical of President Lincoln and his wife Mary. Lincoln portrayed as a backward, hideous ape, either a buffoon or evil genius. Overhead clashing speakers voice the snakelike voice of his critics. But that room highlights one of the minor problems I have with the museum. ***** With hindsight we are allowed to mock the critics who didn’t recognize the Great Man. And for the most part we are shielded from the controversial aspects of his life. In the interactive film, “Lincoln’s Eyes”, we’re told that the imagery of the House Divided Speech is provided by his childhood reading of Aesop’s Fables. That is true, to a point, but his reading of the Gospels probably influenced that speech even more. But we are kept at a safe distance from Lincoln the theologian. Atheists have used Lincoln’s criticism of the historicity of Scripture to claim him as one of their own. And Christian’s have used other speeches and comments to claim him as well. But little is said about Lincoln’s view of religious faith is not highlighted, because, well, it wouldn’t be safe. ***** There is a discussion of the timing of the Emancipation Proclamation, but other controversial issues about Lincoln’s opinions on slaves, such as his remarks that blacks should be sent back to Africa are not highlighted in any way. And we certainly don’t hear any of Lincoln’s bawdy stories. And there seems to be a minimum of mentions of Lincoln as, well, a Republican. ***** Everything presented seems to be aimed at allowing all visitors to claim Lincoln as their own. And at a time when there is so much dissention in our country over race, politics and religion…That’s okay.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review of "Sleepwalk With Me"

You probably won’t see the film I’m writing about today. It very well may not be playing in a theater near you. It might not make it into the Redbox. You might think, “Well, I’ll put it on my Netflix list” but before you add it to your queue, you could well be distracted by a Yahoo headline on which change restaurant does the healthiest sushi.***** Anyway, the movie is “Sleepwalk With Me”, a low budget romantic comedy that received acclaim at the film festivals that acclaim a lot of films most of us never even hear about. One of the reasons I heard about this film, and wanted to see it, is because my daughter Jill went to see the film’s premiere in New York City. Her current Facebook profile picture was taken with the film’s star, writer and director, Mike Birbiglia. (More evidence this is a little film. Jill would have been quite unlikely to be able to get a picture with, say, Christian Bale on the red carpet at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises”.)***** The film is a slightly fictionalize telling of Birbiglia’s experiences (mainly “the names have been changed” as they used to say on “Dragnet”.) Mike plays “Matt”, a aspiring stand-up comedian in a long term relationship with a woman (Abby in the film, real name unknown); that everyone assumes is headed for marriage.***** But he’s not excited or fulfilled in the relationship and she isn’t either. But they continue on because neither person wants to hurt the other’s feelings. The metaphor in the title is they’re sleepwalking in the relationship. But Matt’s repressed emotions seek an outlet, and he begins to literally sleepwalk.***** The film mines humor focusing on the minutia of relationships, but also makes some good points about the dangers of letting inertia dominate our relationships and decision making.***** Viewing the film reminded me of two verses from Ephesians. The first is from chapter 5, verse 14, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” We often let habit, both sinful habits and neutral life patterns, take us through the motions in life when God wants so much more for us in Christ.***** The second verse I thought of was from Ephesians 4:15, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow.” That balance of truth and love is so very important.***** Walking in our sleep is a dangerous thing. We need to wake up and walk in God’s light.