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A great childhood memoir
My mom first took me to see "Oliver!" in the theater when I was ten. I was absolutely horror-stricken by the way Oliver was treated in Dunstable - the dismal workhouse, Bumble's cruel treatment of the child, and Oliver's being locked up in the cellar. I cried throughout those scenes and my mom kept assuring me that it was going to have a happy ending. In fact, I cried all the way to the introduction of the Artful Dodger. Then I felt much better when the Dodger was befriending Oliver and with the humour that came with Fagin. Later that year, my mom bought me the Soundtrack album for my eleventh birthday, and I played it constantly. I have high-functioning autism, so I had obsessions, which made me very bright in certain things. As a result, before long, I knew the entire score of the songs by heart. When I was in my twenties, I had a penpal with the same special needs as me. One of his interests was "British child actor Mark Lester". I wrote to this guy in Texas about Mark Lester because I wanted to find out about his adult life. Many child stars become messed up later in life and Lester was no exception. But according to my friend in Texas, Lester is now an osteopath in England and has a family. I'm very happy for him that he turned out successful in the end. I wrote to him and told him what I've been saying and asked for his autograph. Apparently, so many people have asked him about his child-acting career and little else that he's long been burnt out with talking about this; therefore, he doesn't usually answer people's letters. He just wants to be left alone about it and I don't blame him one bit. But Lester sent me a card with his autograph on it, and while he sent only that, and not a letter, it is a very special thing that he replied at all. He must have been very happy to get my letter. Once, when I was a kid, when I was obsessed with "Oliver!", my grandparents came to visit for the summer, and Grandma made me the things mentioned in "Food, Glorious Food", including gruel (Grandma just made it so I could see what it looked like, and warned me I wasn't going to like it - YEAUCCCHHH!), pease pudding and savaloys, hot sausage and mustard, etc. I still find the Dunstable scenes very disturbing. If Bumble thought that rich food raised an artificial soul, why did HE eat it, I would like to know! That no-good hypocrite! If I were in Oliver's shoes, I'd have told Bumble that he was a fat, greedy pig! And imagine that teenage bully Noah Claypole saying such terrible things to Oliver about his dead mother! He deserved the licking he got from Oliver, being so much bigger! And it made me furious when Mrs. Sowerberry and the others took Noah's side instead of Oliver's. They deserved the licking that Noah got, and so did Bumble!
The Wonder Years (1988)
I wish there were more TV shows like this!
Note: This may contain a spoiler.
This show was on when I was in my late teens and early twenties and is one of my favourite all-time TV shows. I still watch it when the reruns play and I hope to get all the episodes on DVD in the near future. I loved watching Kevin grow up and I also love the times the show takes place, because I'm obsessed with where I was and what I might have been doing when shows and stories take place.
"The Wonder Years" takes place when I was a toddler and preschooler. As well, I like how Kevin is portrayed like a real kid, not like those obnoxious brats typical of older shows and movies. In addition, I think how Kevin sometimes rebelled, screwed up, and lied to his parents helps people feel better about themselves for doing things like that to their parents.
My favourite episode was when Wayne tried to get into the army. I had wanted to get into the Air Force when I was around eighteen and nineteen because the way the recruiters described it, it sounded like an answer to my prayers, including travelling (which I love to do) and having my expenses paid for. My dad had wanted me to get into the military, too, and was upset when I didn't. Wayne's father, on the other hand, tried to stop him and said, angrily, "Wayne! You're not joining the army and that's final!" That episode made me feel much better about not getting into the Air Force. I had failed my physical just like Wayne did.
I really think there should be more TV shows like this, instead of a lot of that bilge you get on TV nowadays, like "Desperate Housewives". And I think anyone who grew up with practical parents should watch this show.
Degrassi Junior High (1987)
Such a realistic show!
The Degrassi series are very realistic - none of that "happily ever after" nonsense typical of Hollywood and Disney. I've noticed that a lot of Canadian shows and stories are like that. The show deals with problems all kinds of teenagers face in the real world. My favourite episodes were those that focused on Wheels. He becomes orphaned at the age of fourteen and lives with his grandparents. Wheels becomes angry and rebellious, as well as very denying of his feelings. We see him picking fights with his grandmother, running away from home, doing poorly in school, stealing, lying, coming home past his curfew, and not taking responsibility for his actions. And all because Wheels is angry and misunderstood and isolated. It did bother me when his grandmother chucked him out of the house for sneaking out to go to a concert with Joey and Snake when he was grounded. I think she should have been more understanding of his anger. Later, when I saw "School's Out", I was saddened when Wheels was on the brink of moving away to Calgary and to his lover and starting a new life, and then was imprisoned for drinking and driving and being responsible for an injury and a death. But that's the way it goes with troubled teens in the real world. This isn't a Disney fairy tale.
Charlotte's Web (1973)
The drawings, soundtrack, etc.
I am an adult, in my thirties, and I still like this movie. I especially like how well the characters are drawn - not the animals with clothing and human bodies typical of many cartoons, but they're exactly like real animals. I also love the way the countryside is shown - it must be somewhere in New England. Another thing I love about Charlotte's Web to this day is how the beginning of the movie shows the countryside at dawn, at stages from the break of dawn to daylight, with the mist and everything. The overture played at the beginning harmonizes very well with the stages of dawn, including the lively band playing "Zuckerman's Famous Pig" when it's daylight. The songs are also well done. When I was a kid, before the age of VCRs and DVDs, we tried to find the album for months. We looked everywhere. We looked all over Saskatoon (where I live), Grandma looked all over San Antonio (where she lived), etc. Finally, my mom decided to order it, but it turned out it wasn't available on soundtrack. Luckily, I got a tape recorder for Christmas, and soon after, Charlotte's Web came on TV. So I tape recorded it off the TV. Why Charlotte's Web isn't available on soundtrack remains a mystery to me. I wonder if it ever was?