Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

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CharlieBrown.jpgThis week, our neighbours to the south celebrate Thanksgiving.  I noticed in the television schedule that the "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" special will be airing on Thursday.  The Peanuts cartoon strips ran from 1950 to 2000, illustrated by Charles M. Schulz.  I think that Schulz's fame rocketed with the many made for TV specials such as "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and my personal favourite "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  Anytime I see a sad, little unwanted tree during the holiday season, I refer to it as the Charlie Brown tree.  The ugly duckling fantasy even applied to a bit of greenery in the genius mind of Schulz.

Whenever I happen to tune out of a conversation, I remember Charlie Brown's teacher, who's voice was heard, but her words were always muddled as if she was just a buzzing annoyance to the class.  There was something so pathetic and lovable about Charlie Brown.  His peers seemed to be both friends and foe.

 The idea that we could all relate to one or more of his friends is not an accident:
-Woodstock - Snoopy's best friend - a yellow flightless bird with communication skills  known only to Snoopy
-Snoopy - Charlie Brown's lovable, but sometimes devious dog.  He was modelled after one of Schulz's childhood dogs.  He is probably the most recognizable Peanuts character
-Franklin - First black character in a comic strip
-Lucy Van Pelt - I loved her evil little character traits.  She was the older sister of Linus.  I always loved her "Psychotherapy 5 cents" stand.  Other kids had lemonade stands, but not Lucy!
-Linus Van Pelt - The meek younger brother of Lucy, never without his blanket and sucking his thumb
-Peppermint Patty - A freckle-faced tomboy neighbour who had a crush on Charlie Brown
-Sally Brown - Younger sister of Charlie Brown, who always had fabulous naturally curly hair
-Pig-Pen - The poor dirty little boy who was always surrounded by a cloud of dust
-Schroeder - The mini-grand piano playing virtuoso.  He loved classical music and Beethoven.  He was considered probably Charlie Brown's best friend.

There were many other minor recurring characters.  Each with a bit of Schulz in them.

It seems that a lot of the cartoon characters from the 1950's were really meant to entertain adults, with a lot of adult humour and references.  "The Flintstones" is a great example of that.

There is something sweet and pathetic about Charlie Brown, who was never called just Charlie.  He was the lovable loser who was constantly outsmarted by kids and animals alike.  But we love him no matter what, because he had endless determination despite his endless insecurities and failures.

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