Category Archives: traditional upbringing

Mystery about a Sister

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Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter with Others

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When my Mom gets her large package of humorous emails, she

likes me to read them aloud to her. Some of these she has already

sorted through, deciding which ‘belongs on Robin’s blog,’ while

others she has ‘censored’ or marked ‘just plain stupid.’ I read her

all the Thanksgiving funnies, throwing them into my folder to

save for 2015, while I found a few that were for men to make fun

of women and some of women to make fun of men. It made sense

for me to publish them as a whole, saying this thought:

“Can’t we (girls and boys) all just get along?”

 

This is for the Ladies’ First:

1.

“A man came home from work and found his three children outside,

still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and

20 wrappers strewn all around the front yard.

The door of his wife’s car was open and so was the front door to the

house. There was no sign of the dog.

When he entered their home, he found an even bigger mess.  A lamp

had been knocked over and the throw rug was wadded against one wall.

In the family room, the t.v. was loudly blaring on the cartoon channel.

The toys and various items of clothing were strewn everywhere.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the

counter and the refrigerator door was open wide. The dog food had been

spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table and a small pile

of sand was spread by the back door.

The man of the house walked quickly through the rooms, scanning for

any signs of his wife. He climbed up the stairs to the second floor,

getting nervous, almost frantic. He stepped over toys and more piles

of clothes. . .

He was worried that she might be ill or that something serious may

have happened.

When he got outside the closed bathroom door, there was a small

amount of water. At last! Some sign or explanation!

When he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more

toys thrown over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and there

was tooth paste smeared over the floor length mirror and on the walls.

When he rushed out of the bathroom into the next bedroom, he found

his wife curled up in bed in her pajamas, reading a paperback book.

 

He looked at her bewildered and had to rein in his voice from his

impulse to yell at her,

“What happened here today?”

She looked at him and smiled,

“How was your day?”

He ignored the question and repeated his own question.

She gave him a big smile then and answered,

“You know every day when you come home from work and you ask

me ‘What in the world do you do all day?”

“Yes,” her husband answered in an incredulous voice.

She answered,

“Well, today I didn’t do it.”

 

This is for “idiot” bosses, either female or male:

2.

“People gathered for a goodbye luncheon for an old and dear

coworker who was leaving the company due to ‘downsizing.’

As we were leaving the restaurant, the manager commented

cheerfully,

“This was fun. We should do this more often.”

The comment was met with stunned silence. Not another

word was spoken.

The coworkers all just looked at each other, with that ‘deer in

the headlights’ stare.

We got into our cars not knowing how to take the comment.”

 

This is for the Men, who so to speak, get the ‘last word in.’

3.

“During a recent woman’s medical examination, a British doctor

says,

“Your heart, lungs, pulse and blood pressure are all fine.

Now, let me see the part that gets you ladies into all kinds of

trouble.”

The woman started to take down her knickers, but was stopped

by the doctor interrupting this procedure by saying,

“No, no! Just stick out your tongue!”

 

This is for all of us coffee drinkers, who could not maintain our

sanity or attention to details without it. Thanks, Maxine!

4.

“I don’t know what I’d do without my morning coffee. . .

probably Twenty-five to Life in the state penitentiary.”

 

This is for all of those who enjoy little tyke’s who say the ‘darndest

things:’

5.

“A minister was presenting the Children’s Sermon and asked the

children if they knew what the word, “resurrection” was.

Asking questions in front of the whole congregation, with only

the kids up in front,  may lead to some ‘dangerous’  or ‘sketchy’

answers, but this one really does take the cake!

Finally, after the children were restless and looking around and not

answering the minister, one boy raised his hand. He pronounced his

answer loudly and clearly:

“I don’t know what ‘resurrection’ is but I do know that if it lasts more

than four hours you are supposed to call a doctor.”

 

Laughter and tears ensued, rolling in the aisle commenced. . .

 

It took over ten minutes for the congregation to settle down enough

for the Adult Sermon to be preached.”

 

In this post I have written today, although I feel the jokes are quite

amusing,

I wish to let you know they each have a stereotype in them.

You know I believe in fairness, equality and making everyone feeling

comfortable here

on this blog. . .

I usually worry about these things, edit and make them fit everyone

and never show a lack of respect for most people. I even have had to

apologize.

Sorry, this time. . .

I am going to “Let it go.”

 

Revolutionary Music Found in Movie

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While thoroughly laughing at some of the outrageous comedic complications

to be found in the British movie, “Pirate Radio,” I wondered why this movie,

was ‘panned’ and didn’t make it. Originally released as, “The Boat that Rocked,”

it was a fictitious story about the BBC being rather rigid in the choices of music,

they promoted and allowed on their channel. The ones who were ‘forced’ into

the ships floating in the Sound, have the music British teenagers really wanted

to hear! There are scenes where nurses and doctors are listening in, on their

‘night shifts,’ along with parents who had strictly forbidden their youth to listen

to this ‘trash’ and other derogatory labels given to ‘rock and roll.’

Kenneth Brannaugh portrays a very strict BBC broadcasting boss, who is trying

to use his authority to promote censorship over the ‘air waves.’ While the crazy

characters on board the ship, are sending radio ‘shock waves’ of rock and roll

music out into the English atmosphere. They  look like they are having a ball!

The gorgeous January Jones, is in a short part of the movie, as the “Duchess,”

while the main character is Tom Sturgess’ young teen, sent off to his godfather’s

domain, as a so-called “punishment” for being too wild in school.

After the movie, my Mom told my brother and I that she never could get why

parents were so upset over the lyrics, rhythm and movement that washed

over the musical industry during the period that this movie takes place in.

She mentioned the literary period where there was revolutionary thoughts,

along with the 50’s less serious musical and expressionary embodiment of

the “Beatniks.” She summed this up, coherently in this thought:

“Every generation has its rebels, who think they are totally original. While

their deterrents are ones who feel that their oppositional views will create

revolution.”

I have to remind you of why Mom is so open-minded, just in case you are

a ‘new’ reader or visitor to my blog. My Mom taught 30 years of high school.

She found the students that were repressed by authoritarian parents were

the first ones that showed rebellion, like the age old views on “P.K.’s” or

Preacher’s Kids.

My brother, Randy, while discussing the soundtrack, somehow got on to

the subject of how there are main stream artists, bands and singing groups

that go beyond their ‘comfort zones.’

His examples were eclectic and unexpected. An example of a vegetable song,

which may not have been drug-induced but sounds like it was:

“Smiley Smile,” by the Beach Boys! It is part of that same driving and catchy

album, “Good Vibrations” is on. I had never heard it! Loved it, due to its quite

unique sound.

Using synthesizers, combined with real instruments led us to YouTube, to

also pursue a group with a “genius,” in Randy’s mind and ‘ears.’ Have you ever

listened to the group, Craftwork? Gary Anderson’s “Heroes and Villains,” is

plain awesome!

The intriguing movie, that inspired a musical conversation about the “Beatniks”

by my Mom and my brother, Randy’s random musings, has great performances

from some ‘quirky’ actors, including the late, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and one

of my favorites, (from “Love Actually” and other British films) Bill Nighy. The

screenwriter is the one who came up with, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

If you haven’t time to watch the movie, please check out the soundtrack. Lots of

popular songs can be found here, along with the sixties and seventies connection.

I enjoyed the way England received the harder styled rock and roll, showing

young people gathered in front of televisions there on the “Other side of the

Pond,” teen-aged girls shrieking and teen boys, hiding below their blankets,

trying to listen to the ‘pirated’ songs played on a boat.

A true page out of history that is enjoyable from beginning to the end! You may

need to include a brew, ale or wine to get in the humorous proper frame of mind.

If you are not a drinker, be prepared for absolute silliness, some rather risqué

scenes, included.

You may enjoy actual footage of DJ Robbie Dale, who was aboard the “Mi Amigo”

boat, captured by the film makers, Mike Hodges and Paddy Searle.

I cannot imagine a time when the Hollies and the Rolling Stones, among others

were considered so inflammatory and controversial!

Who would have imagined these ‘renegades’ would most of them have been

‘knighted’ by the Queen?!

 

Do you know a band who sang something you normally would not hear them sing?

They may have ‘stretched’ to encompass a different musical genre and out of their

“comfort zone?”

Were there any songs(or groups) your parents ‘forbade’ you to listen to?

 

Serenity Sunday

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This was a special memory, a time when our church walks to the African

Methodist Episcopalian Church in Delaware, Ohio. The way the ‘body of

the church’ there responds to the words of the Gospel, is quite amazing.

My young children, ages 1, 3 and 5 had seen a few movies with the responses

that different cultures have to religion.

We were open-minded,

had chosen to go to the

Asbury Methodist Church

to visit,

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church,

and then, this summer Sunday,

we had been entering

First Presbyterian Church

for the first time.

My three children were all ‘slicked up’ in their Sunday’s best clothes. The

two girls in matching dresses, ‘baby’ in my arms, since she was still pretty

clingy. The people we saw pouring out of the church, were all friendly,

but wait! Had I missed the time? Were they starting earlier, in summer?

One very open, sweet faced petite ‘elderly’ woman, older than my parents

who were in their fifties, (I, only thirty, considering my parents… “old!”)

stopped to tell me that the whole congregation ‘exchanged’ or ‘visited’

the other church, AME church, in the summer for one Sunday and then,

the following one, their whole church came to ‘ours.’

When we entered their church, you must walk up a long, steep set of

steps. They had an elevator, for those who were needing it. This group of

well-dressed black people on the first floor and outside the door, looked

like they were in the receiving line of a wedding. All were such warm,

smiling faces. I was glad I had not turned around at First Presby and

gotten into my car to go home!

Their were a few children who greeted my children, some giving hugs,

as encouraged by their parents and what appeared to be grandparents.

 

The Gospel songs, rejoicing and praising the Lord were awesome on

this Sunday. For many years since I arrived in Delaware,

in the late Summer of 1986,

I have walked or driven straight there.

Knowing how blessed I would feel, enriched and most importantly,

LOVED after the service.

I had known of Maya Angelou, due to being born in Cleveland, my

parents having chosen, during their retirement around 1979, to move

to Vermilion, Ohio. Maya went to college in Oberlin, where my parents

had chosen their ‘final’ church to attend. The service included this poem.

I know this because it has helped me, made me continue to feel loved,

throughout many years since that first visit at the AME church.

There are many poems, books and thoughts (quoted frequently) that

Maya wrote, but these powerful words were ‘given to me’ on that first

Sunday morning of church in Delaware, Ohio, in the articulate man

who preached to us the Word of Christ:

 

“CHRISTIANS

by Maya Angelou

(April 14, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not shouting ‘I’m clean livin’

I’m whispering ‘I was lost

Now I’m found and forgiven.’

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I don’t speak of this with pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble

And need Christ to be my guide.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not trying to be strong.

I’m professing that I’m weak

And need His strength to carry on.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not bragging of success.

I’m admitting I have failed

And need God to clean my mess.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not claiming to be perfect,

My flaws are far too visible

But, God believes I am worth it.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I still feel the sting of pain.

I have my share of heartaches

So I call upon His name.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not holier than thou,

I’m just a simple sinner

Who received God’s good Grace, somehow!”

 

I am off to babysit, really play with, my grandchildren.

I give them little parts of my faith,

pieces of God,

to love

and

pray.

 

I have an overnight planned,

so won’t be posting

tomorrow either!

 

 

Famous T. V. Dads

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Famous television fathers were quite conventional, sometimes filling

current stereotypes, but they usually seemed above normal in their

tolerance and patience. We were talking at Friday’s midpoint mark, in

the breakroom about how we may have formed misconceptions about

the way dads should act from watching these early family shows. After

all, most of us did not have traditional fathers, who would go to work in

suits and ties, come in cheerful, pull out a newspaper and quietly unwind.

I am sure my father wished he could have been ‘so lucky!’

My family consisted of two bread-winners and the three of us children,

were often in the winter months the last ones picked up at our baby-

sitter’s house. I remember looking out of Mrs. Boos’ picture window

into the darkness, wondering which day it was that Mom was doing her

oracle debates, drama or Spanish club meetings? I would sigh with an

almost exasperated ‘whoosh!’ when I finally saw her station wagon’s

headlights in the driveway. Mrs. Boos had two sons who played with my

brothers, occasionally I would join in or get a chance to sit on Diana’s

bed, her teenaged daughter and look at pictures of the Beatles or the

Dave Clark Five, or sometimes there would be magazines full of fashion

and hairstyles. My Mom was pleased when Diana went to Kent State

University and invited me to spend “Siblings Weekend,” as Diana’s baby

‘sister,’ Robin.

When we got home, my Dad, usually, would be home shortly, pulling off

his tie, after he took off his jacket, asking what he needed to do to ‘pitch

in.’ Spoiled me, made me think all fathers were like this. Today, Saturday,

June 14th, 2014, they had on the CBS Morning Show, a segment on the

percentage of fathers in the fifties, sixties and seventies that helped out

in child-rearing responsibilities. Sadly, they still said in the more recent

years the percentage of household responsibilities, even with working

moms being in the majority, it is still not a 50/50 deal.

Anyway, Melvin’s Mom and Dad were more like my parents, sharing the

chores and also, enjoying family times together. He admitted most of

his African American friends had either a limited amount of fatherly

involvement or none.

Tammy said that her mother had stayed home, whenever she would ask

for help inside the house, her father was quick to remind her, “You don’t

work.” She was dismayed at this behavior, remembering, even as a young

girl in her imagination, “I won’t stand for this in my adult life!” (Tammy

and Mike have been friends since childhood, “fence post buddies,” but have

never tied the knot.) She certainly is open that she doesn’t even have a

joint account with Mike, they just split the bills and love each other. She

is an independent woman, almost the ‘polar opposite’ from the parents

she dearly loves.

Trevinal said his parents are more together now, but in his childhood his

father sounded like my first husband, wished for dinner on the table,

kids cleaned up and early to bed, and lots of time watching his favorite

sports shows on television. There is a whole different love that he and his

wife share, more understanding and encouragement. He is so ‘blessed,’

he says to have someone who believed in his ability to think. The family

cannot believe that he is in Nursing School, working fulltime to pay his

bills and rising far above the expectations of Special Education. He feels

that by meeting the ‘right’ woman to share his life is a ‘daily blessing.’

His being in his thirties, reminds me of my own son, and I also remind

him of my belief in his ability to be a good father, when the time comes.

Here are the above persons’ and other coworkers, along with family

members who have cited some excellent, funny and different television

situational comedies for “Best Examples of Television Fathers:”

1.  My favorite father of all time, is from the show, “My Three Sons.” This

show allowed a non-traditional father, in amongst the ‘drones’ that I

found on other television shows. The combined household of widower,

played by Fred McMurray, his brother, who was the boys’ Uncle Charlie,

and the three rowdy boys always made me admire the patience, fortitude

and compassion showing what I considered “true family values.”

 

That is not to say, I didn’t laugh at the antics of Dick Van Dyke, Danny Thomas,

John Forsythe  (“Bachelor Father”) or Brian Keith (“Family Affair.”) I also liked

“The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” an almost first time reality show, since the family

was played by actual family members. I liked the sense of humor and the handsome

boys in this one! (Diana, my babysitter’s daughter, also had a few articles in her

teen magazines which featured the Nelson boys, especially the “cute” Ricky!

 

2.  Hugh Beaumont, who played the Dad on “Leave It to Beaver,” was the one

that my coworker, Mark, listed as his favorite. The different ways that influenced

his choice was first he liked that Beaver’s mother wore an apron, like his mother

did, daily. Also, that the father character hardly ever yelled, even under stressful

times.

3.  Tammy said the whole family in her household liked, “The Danny Thomas

Show.” I still like that Marlo Thomas was an independent woman, not hurrying

into marriage until she fell in love, in real life, with the talk show host, Phil

Donahue. I also personally enjoyed the fact she is a columnist in my “AARP

Magazine.” Tammy said she liked Danny Thomas, since he presented a few

shows, mentioning different cultures. I would have to check this out, but do

support and believe in St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Marlo has said that she

got her Dad’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which carries her through

tough times.

4.  Trevinal still remembers almost every show that “Family Matters” had

on television. He has found this to calm him, looking at Urkel’s silly dress

code, high water pants and his often expressed question, “Did I do that?”

The sense of humor and the family were something he admired and felt

that Urkel’s character was one that gave him confidence when he made

mistakes, throughout many of his years,  in life.

Trevinal’s words are very powerful, expressing this to me:

“Whenever Urkel goofed up, people would roll their eyes, sometimes

bellow at him, but always forgive him. That is how I wish to be when I

am a father.”

Reginald VelJohnson, who played the father in “Family Matters,” is

in one of my youngest daughter’s favorite shows, “Hart of Dixie.”

(Rachel Bilson and Tim Matheson play doctors on that country

setting show.)

Trevinal also noted that Urkel was a neighbor,  the family next door’s kid,

but he became part of the family and included, whether wanted there or not,

anyway.

5.  Keith told me, laughing, while lifting a box in the aerosol room, in what we

call the “Bomb Shelter,” that his favorite father character was Archie Bunker.

That show was called, “All in the Family,” where all sorts of issues popped up,

Archie sticking his neck out, saying all kinds of bigoted or prejudiced comments,

but usually backing down on them. Meeting people of all ethnicities, while they

were in an urban setting, with his wife being accepting, his daughter also very

open minded and often, Rob Reiner, playing “Meathead,” took the brunt of

Archie’s anger. I asked why he thought of this character? He told me, a little

bit sheepishly, that his own father was ‘backwards’ and ‘ignorant’ like Archie

had been. This made him become aware that there were other perspectives

on people. I appreciated Keith’s candor. He also added his parents were from

Kentucky! He added this with a laugh, like that explained everything!

He also said he respected the actor, Carroll O’Connor,  who had gone on to

play a cop, with a black partner, in the show, “The Heat of the Night.”

6.  My son, James, joked that he liked Homer Simpson, for the same reason

that Keith liked Archie Bunker. He said they were the ‘opposite of everything

he hoped for in a father.’ He also said that making mistakes for Homer, making

poor judgments, did make him feel more comfortable in his own parenting

skills.

7.  My oldest daughter said she liked Patrick Duffy, in the show, “Step by Step.”

She had a crush on him, from early days of watching, “Dallas,” and also had

a young ‘crush’ on Cody, the cousin who lives in a van in the driveway on this

sit-com. I liked it because Suzanne Somers was a hairdresser, average single

mother, who found a man with children to marry. I think the idea of stepkids,

appealed to me, also in ‘The Brady Bunch.”

When I mentioned my oldest daughter’s opinion, the men still were ‘hooting’

and ‘hollering,’ in a playful manner. They said she ‘made’ the show, “Three’s

Company,” and still looks great to this day.

8.  No one named, “Father Knows Best,” but all cited this as their 2nd and 3rd

choice of Best Television Father.

9. Charlene, whose young son, Ian, was in on my ‘Opinion Poll’ on Thursday,

had said she loved, “Wonder Years.” Since the mother character is on our

favorite soap opera, (Allie Mills), she remembered to point out she is good in

“The Bold and the Beautiful.” She also mentioned that the Dad on “Wonder

Years,” had to tackle difficult teen subject matter, since the boys grow up on

that show, from junior high through high school. I have to check out the dates,

be back to tell you the years: 1988 until 1993. The father’s character was

played by Dan Lauria. The couple who ended up taking the show into the

more mature theme included Danica McKellar and Fred Savage as “Winnie

Cooper,” and the kid next door, “Kevin Arnold.” In the Arnold family, the

mother stays home while the father worked. An interesting fact that I found

out was, Danica’s sister could have won the part of “Winnie,” the directors

say it was a ‘toss up’ between Danica and Crystal McKellar.

10. My mother loved the shows with Bill Bixby, including his role in “My

Favorite Martian” and “The Hulk.” But when I would come home from

junior high and high school, I would have the lights off, my Mom sitting

on one end of the sofa with her feet up on an ottoman, watching, “The

Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” When I overheard that song on the radio

and recently, on a commercial, I would almost “tear up.” Mom was much

more tired when I was that age, she would not volunteer to be coaches,

helpers or club counselors at Westlake High School. She would be the

chaperone, with my Dad by her side, for dances. That was as much energy

as she could ‘wrangle up,’ in her forties. I love Harry Nilsson’s song, the

memory of her sometimes lightly snoring, until the song would play

and she would sit up, watch and share those moments. My one brother

would be in track, (Spring), water boy in basketball, (Winter) or in

Cross Country, (Fall). This was ‘our time.’ The song began with these

words: “Let me tell you about my best friend,…” (The song includes

the father saying, “My pride and joy.”)

By the way, the jingles or songs for television would make an excellent

memorable post. When we were noticing the songs, we all agreed that

the piano playing and the off-key singing by Edith Bunker, played by

Jean Stapleton, was iconic: “Those Were the Days.”

That “Wonder Years” song, “I Get By With a Little Help From MyFriends,”

is legendary. We were nostalgic, reminiscent of family shows when there

weren’t as many choices on television and everyone’s family gathered together

to watch the shows. Even the commercials were memorable.

10.  The last contributor to this post on television fathers was my youngest

daughter’s suggestion of “Little House on the Prairie.” She enjoyed the setting

out West, through tough times, settling and learning how to live as a family

in a different time period had intrigued her.

She grew up watching this in reruns on Nickelodeon. This television

dramatic series ran from 1974 until 1983. (She was born in 1985.)

She reminded me that she read most of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books,

after I introduced them to her. She felt Michael Landon portrayed a

very charismatic and dynamic father. I am happy that she remembered

him in this role. (His personal life, somewhat like the much admired

Bing Crosby; left much to be desired. I feel the same about Eric Clapton,

Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Troubled, but still admired for their

personal talents and  the ‘body of their works.’)

What was your favorite television father?

Opinions

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Sometimes, there are lots of opinions flying about our break

room at work. The ones that when we were growing up, we

were taught to not bring up in social settings, seem to

catch my attention more. You know, like you are spying or

catching a glimpse of someone, sometimes a side you would

not expect.

At home, those who have read a few of my past articles or

posts, you may remember my parents were very open-minded.

We, essentially, at the dinner table talked about all kinds

of things considered, ‘inappropriate.’ My Mom’s high school

students had prepared her, from the fifties through the

eighties, to handle those three subjects one could think about

but, never, ever bring up. We had “guess who’s coming to dinner,”

literally including students from her school, my brothers and my

friends and neighbors, too.

I tended to ‘echo’ this pattern, while a single mother, raising

my three children. We had guests often, we did not limit our

conversation subject matter, (unless someone got ‘squeamish’ or

asked that the subject be ‘squashed.’)

Both my parents helped to make me a more relatable parent. This

meant I did the same thing, let the children have their ‘voice’

and forget about that old, antiquated philosophy,

“Children should be seen and not heard.”

In our country, when you start talking about the three subjects

most consider ‘touchy,’ the general population list: sex,

politics and religion.

I heard it expressed many times before at friends’ and my

ex-husband’s, “We don’t talk about those subjects in ‘mixed

company.'” One of my best girlfriends, who had a mother who

resembled, Donna Reed, wore an actual full, ruffly apron while

she prepared dinner. One time while I was helping set the

table, my friend’s brother started to talk about what was

called, “Sex Ed.” We were in middle school and he was in high

school. Susan’s mother said,

“Jeff, we don’t talk about those things at home! It is not

nice!”

(Wow! Wonder what that did to his sexual performance, later

in life? Thinking the subject matter was not only ‘taboo’

from discussion but it was, “not nice!”)

I also have heard the familiar expression, “Who opened this

can of worms?”

I was thinking today, of a light hearted post, where people

from around the world, would respond with their ‘off limit’

subjects and also, what it is called when you wander into a

controversial subject. There must be a wide variety of ways

that this is expressed!

I hope that posing this open-ended response won’t start

something!

Just wondered, what did your family consider too personal to

talk about?

What does that mean: ‘in mixed company?’

Was that to refer to men could talk about certain things,

which women’s ‘pretty little minds needn’t worry about?’

I think my Grandma once told me,

“That’s not lady-like to say, Robin.”

Laughing my way through, what some people call, ‘hump day!’

“Brave” is an Outstanding film

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I rounded up a lonely grandson yesterday, after I left the

library, with my blogging time ‘used up.’ Micah’s brother,

Skyler, was at his Dad’s house, while Micah was with his

own Dad at my oldest daughter’s house. Micah and I chose to

watch the animated children’s film, “Brave” after much debate.

We got it at the library, so that worked out for Nana’s budget!

We had already all the mattresses in my apartment out, since

I had a movie night with my youngest daughter, Felicia on

Friday night.

Micah and I went up the front steps to the third floor, he

likes to ‘check out’ the triangular way the ceiling ‘peaks.’

We looked at a few doors, checked out the storage area, where

there is usually discarded items from college students coming

or going, not locked up but right inside the door, where a

poster says, “Free items.” We looked, he more intently than

I, at a lamp. It had a brass post and the base was well taken

care of, needing solely a lampshade. When Micah asked, “Do

you want it, Nana?” I could not help but smile at his sweet,

handsome brown, long lashed eyes! They looked quite serious.

I replied with a question, “Where would I put it?”

He is 4 1/2 years old, but sometimes Skyler’s wit and insight

have brought him to a different place in his thinking. He is

so funny at times but his reply reflected also, his preschool

teacher’s positivity:

“That’s a good question, Nana!”

Anyway, he used my mail box key downstairs, basement level,

where I live, to find that I had a new magazine. He studied

it, said, “This is Felicia’s!” Yes, (it was the Women’s

Health” magazine), with Evangelina from Lost t.v. show, all

buffed up and her behind having an arrow pointing to it,

with the words, “This is a nice butt,’ or something like

that! I was glad he did not read that because that is an

annoying little caption for a women’s magazine to put on

its cover! I would not mind if they said, “Look what her

exercising has done to her, post-baby boy!”

Anyway, we went into the apartment and took our shoes off

and Micah was filled with joy, “Come on, Nana! Let’s see

who can bounce the highest!”

I asked him if he, Tigger or I would win a bouncing contest?

He answered, “Tigger, of course! You are a silly Nana!”

When we had worn off a few calories and Micah was apparently

able or ready to sit still a bit, I asked him what would

he like to do while I popped popcorn and made cocoa for the

two of us? He said he would check out the “boys’ drawer.”

This is not the way I labeled this drawer in my antique

dresser that is filled with table linens, candles and

what most people would store in their breakfronts. Skyler

initiated this location when Micah was too little to

reach the top drawer, placing these tiny pirate ships,

a baggie of the posts and sails, the little Pirates of

the Caribbean “fleet” of three ships plus the cast and

‘crew.” Also, he dragged out the alligator that I bought

for Sky, who left it wisely at my apt. instead of taking

it home. Micah’s was used to ‘beat” on things outside

and the squeaky noise is no longer there along with it

looking rather raggedy for a rubber toy. He brought out

a flashlight out of the little telephone table with my

real white rotary telephone that makes dialing tones

with each finger pulling the dial around. He “took a

call” from Great Grammie O. while I finished up with

2 Little Debby’ chocolate heart shaped cakes, one for

each of us. This may sugar him up just in time to drop

him off at his mother’s when she is arriving home from

work, I chuckled and thought!

We got the pillows cushioned so that our backs were up

against the love seat, then we put our non-spillable

food items on our lap trays. The cocoa for Micah was

put into a thermos with cold milk to cool it, mine was

placed beside me on the floor, we were ready for the

movie to start!

“Brave” is a Pixar Animation project that had a very

kind dedication, after the credits rolled, that said,

thank you and in memory of Steve Jobs. The order or

sequence of his assistance in their association may

not be exact! I did not take notes, as I did while

watching a cartoon with Mom about the Cat like Zorro.

It said dedicated to our mentor, friend and partner.

I thought that was a cool dedication.

The story of the movie is about a young girl, Merida,

growing up, being given “Lessons on being a Princess,”

from her mother, the Queen or Eleanor. You must be

mannerly. You need to follow certain guidelines. You

should strive to be perfect. You must not put weapons,

(her Dad, the King, gave her a bow and arrow for a

birthday gift, while young) on the table! Just remember

to smile! These are all said to prepare her for being a

wife someday and in her role as Princess.

Here is one line I tried to remember from all these

lessons:

“It’s marriage! Not the end of the world, Merida!”

There are 3 main male contestants. One is portrayed as

a simpleton. Another is thin, wiry and has blue and purple

paintings. like tattoos on his face and body. He reminded

me of the Scot, Braveheart. The last one was a country

farmer’s son, a little bit heavy but brawny, too. None of

the three looked like “Disney Princes.”

The princess, Merida, at one point in the movie escapes

the competitions, chooses to run into the forest seeking

a witch in a hut built into the mountains. She is an

interesting, funny witch, reminding me of the character

that was in “The Princess Bride,” played by the zany

Carol Kane paired with Billy Crystal’s character. Both

perform ‘magic’ and this 1987 film, directed by Rob

Reiner, still stands the ‘test of time’ in my eyes

about Princesses being able to break molds and be their

own true selves.

Merida asks for a spell to “change her fate.”

What the witch in this tale does, is rather unusual,

giving the girl a potion to give to her mother that

will help them to compromise and get along better.

There is a warning attached to this potion, that the

mother and daughter need to “mend their bonds” and

there is a reference to a large tapestry hanging in

the castle that has a rip in it. That this must be

mended to make the family complete, once more.

The magic potion turns the mother into a bear, one

of the enemies that have already been presented to

be mortal to the clans. Their is a mysticism to this

and a legend about the bear that is their ‘enemy.’

We find out that there is a Prince inhabited in the

large, ferocious male bear. Eleanor, the Queen, has

her spirit in a kindly bear who rolls her eyes, and

there are amusing parts with her trying to get the

situation resolved. Ultimately, Merida and Eleanor,

have to find their way back to being loving and

understand each other. I won’t reveal the interesting

and rather complicated ways this is carried out. But,

a hilarious part is when the triplet toddler red-haired

little brothers of Merida, get a hold of the potion and

become baby bears made Micah roar with their antics!

The messages about communication and how it breaks down,

once Merida grows into her teens are very realistic. The

mother, “Mum,” as Merida calls her, is tightly wound and

stressing more the importance of being a lady than the

daughter wants to follow. It had principles and practices

that could be applied to any time period or any family.

Still centuries past the time that this represents and takes

place, where clans come to the kingdom, from out in the

country and other kingdoms to ‘fight and win’ the Princess’

hand in marriage.

Here are the elements that were interesting and

culturally influenced by the Scottish ancestry presented

in this film. I had to explain them to Micah and put the

film on ‘pause.’

1. There is a different accent, the brogue of the Scottish

heritage that caused Micah to need ‘translations.’

2. will o’ wisps: they are magical orbs that lead Merida

several times through the forest, safely home or back to

find her mother, who later is transformed into a bear.

These luminous balls of light are beautiful guides when

Merida is needing help, mystical in their appearance. One

time, when describing them to her mother and father, her

Dad gets upset. Her mother tells Merida that her father

‘does not believe in magic.’

3. clans, legends and the Stonehenge Rocks all had to

be explained to Micah.

4. Micah enjoyed the bagpipes and the kilts on the men.

There were two episodes that could be considered PG rated,

since one time a man in a kilt who doesn’t like another

man’s clan, turns around and flashes the man, you as an

adult realize he is not wearing underwear. I think my

grandson thought he was just showing his ‘behind.’

Another time, for I an obscure reason, there were a

few men who lost their kilts but had longer tunics

on, as they all walked away, you could see three men’s

naked behinds. Lots of humorous parts to keep children

and adults, alike entertained.

This is a beautiful, fanciful and engaging animated

children’s film. I would give “Brave” four stars ****!