Betty's Blog
28 August

Happy Birthday Scooby Doo!

Can you believe Scooby Doo, will turn 45 on September 13? That's 315 in dog years! But even at his ripe old age, this dog doesn't show any signs of slowing down. The first episode of "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?" aired in 1969 and the series ran for two years. In the decades that followed, ten more Scooby series aired on various networks. Now Scooby has his own web site, his own video game and Comedy Central plans to pick up the pooch with their new series, "Be Cool, Scooby Doo," scheduled to air in 2015.

Scooby and his beatnik buddy, Shaggy made up one of the silliest cartoon duos on TV with their goofy jokes, which only they laughed at, and the crazy faces they made when they unexpectedly ran into -- and from -- a "supernatural" enemy. Scooby, whose fear of ghosts or anything else was promptly cured with a Scooby Snack, always had a way of helping the kids of Mystery Inc. solve cases by bungling his way through -- with a little help from Shaggy.

With Scooby's big day coming up, I just had to go back and watch a few episodes, beginning, of course, at the beginning with Scooby's "birthday" episode, "What a Night for A Knight." I think I laughed even more than I did when I watched the crazy canine and his pals for the first time. Those old cartoons are still hilarious and Shaggy's beat-speak, the flower-power van and the kids' retro fashions transported me right back to the sixties. All the more reason to wish our favorite Great Dane Detective a happy birthday filled with Scooby Snacks and cases to crack!


21 August

The Evilest of Evils

Everyone loves to hate the bad guys. And some of the most lovable villains of all have been brought to life by Disney. Who didn't love to hate Cruella de Vil? Or Aladdin's Jafar? Or The Big Bad Wolf? But the queen of all evil queens was the "Mistress of All Evil" in Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent.

I remember watching Sleeping Beauty as a kid and breathlessly crying, "No! No! No!" as the evil queen persuaded her to touch the spinning wheel that would put her to sleep and cheering as the Handsome Prince escaped Maleficent's clutches and woke the sleeping kingdom. I think Maleficent was one of Disney's scariest animated villains ever. She was so scary that during screenings of the original film in 1959, many parents had to leave the theaters -- with their crying, frightened children!

The new evil queen, played by Angelina Jolie in Disney's remix of the old tale, is just as scary as the first. Jolie admits that when she was in costume or acting, she "scared little girls" so much that the filmmakers hired Jolie's daughter to play the role of young Princess Aurora -- because she wouldn't be afraid of her own mother during shooting! Jolie relished the role, though, saying that the character was one of her favorites as a child. It's no wonder she plays the part so well.

Though Maleficent isn't an animated film and the story's point-of-view changed for this remake, one thing hasn't changed: Disney's Maleficent is today as she was then: magnificent.

14 August

A Fond Farewell to Robin Williams

We were all shocked and saddened this week by the news of Robin Williams' death. It seemed unbelievable, untenable. Memorials sprung up online and in the real world as the nation grieved the loss of one of its favorite, funniest sons. Among the most touching tributes were those that asked us to remember Williams not for his sad end, but for the laughter he brought to the world.

In an emotional remembrance, Conan O'Brien called Robin Williams "the best talk show guest in the world." I must agree. While I loved him as Mork, Garp, Popeye, Aladdin, Peter Pan, John Keating and Adrian Cronauer and I watched his stand-up shows over and over again, I always enjoyed his talk show appearances the most. Especially on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, where Williams made his first appearance in 1981, stunning the host into helpless laughter with his speed-of-light comedic mind and intentionally driving the camera operators mad by refusing to sit still.

Though he was an accomplished dramatic actor, his particular genius was for making people laugh. His comedy was an unpredictable, high-energy, maniacal thrill ride that left you breathless, your sides splitting like you just ran a marathon, your cheeks aching with laughter. He made the mundane hilarious. He made the hilarious surreal. He made the surreal absurd. And he made the world a little better just by being in it. Rest easy, Robin Williams. We will always remember the laughter.



07 August

Happy Birthday Lucille Ball!

Yesterday was Lucille Ball's birthday. So, of course, I had to pay my respects by watching part of an I Love Lucy marathon on television. Once I started, I couldn't stop watching even though I've seen every episode dozens of times. (At least!) Finally, a three in the morning, I dragged myself to bed so I wouldn't end up sleeping at my desk all day.

But before the sandman came to claim me, I was able to see some of my favorite episodes, including "Job Switching", which most of us know as the chocolate factory episode. Decades later, it's still hilarious to watch Lucy and Ethyl stuffing their faces with chocolates to keep up with the conveyer. Did you know the wordless supervisor in that episode was an actual candy dipper from the See's candy factory? She didn't speak because she had trouble with the lines -- it was a show business accident that created a historical comic moment. I also got to see my all-time favorite, "Lucy Does a TV Commercial", aka the Vitameatavegimin episode, before lights-out. I always loved how Lucy wanted to be a star so badly! Lucy would stop at nothing to get her fifteen minutes of fame -- even when it ended in disaster, which was almost always.

I Love Lucy first aired in 1951. Over 60 years later, at any time, night or day, the show is being broadcast somewhere in the world -- and probably keeping people up deep into the wee hours of the morning, just like me.


31 July

Summer Reading

There's nothing like a good book to keep you occupied during the dog days of summer. Or a few good books. When it's too hot to go anywhere but the beach or the pool or too hot to go outside at all, a good book is great company while you're huddled in front of the air conditioner.

I loved summer reading when I was a kid because I got to choose books I wanted to read. And I didn't have to write book reports or essays or take tests on them like I did during the school year. Though I didn't read the classics during summer break, I read a lot, which seemed to make my parents as happy as it made me.

Nancy Drew mysteries were always at the top of my summer reading list and I loved all comic books from Archie to the X-men. But my favorites were movie magazines for the pictures and the superstar gossip -- I devoured stacks and stacks of the glossy mags while imagining myself living the whirlwind sometimes topsy-turvy life of a Big Star. I've grown up (a little) since then, but I don't think I'll ever outgrow my summer favorites!


24 July

Woo-Hoo! It's A Simpsons Binge-A-Thon!

This fall could give us TV's biggest premier ever -- of a 25-year old show. From August 21st through September 1st, FXX will air every single episode of The Simpsons in the biggest TV marathon ever. That's 552 episodes of the animated television show, plus the full length feature film! Also, for the first time ever, the network will make every episode available online.

I remember when The Simpsons first aired on television as a cartoon interlude on the Tracy Ullman Show. I thought it was funny and edgy, but I never thought it would become a spin-off. Even after the premier, I didn't think the show would last , so for many years, I videotaped every single episode. I was hoping to preserve the most inventive cartoon I'd ever seen forever. On VHS tapes.

It seems laughable now. I was dead wrong about The Simpsons' longevity and somewhere along the line I stopped recording the show, probably when it went into syndication or maybe when VHS succumbed to the superior technology of the DVD. But I never stopped watching and laughing at America's most dysfunctional family. And now we'll be able to watch the entire 25-year catalog of episodes at once, or watch them on-demand any time we want. So I guess I can finally throw out all those years of VHS tapes. It seems like The Simpsons is here to stay!

17 July

Beatlemania

Are you watching "The Sixties" on CNN? It's an original series that explores the politics, pressures and parties of "the decade that shaped America." I confess: I'm addicted to it. One of my favorite episodes so far was "The British Invasion" because I remember all those bands like the Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones. But my favorite "invader" of all was The Beatles.

I remember when The Beatles toured America as if it was yesterday. I tried at least a half a dozen times to get tickets, but I never did. Not that my mom would have let me go to one of their concerts anyway. She didn't consider rock and roll music. And she really didn't like their haircuts, or rather, their lack of haircuts. But I loved them. I begged and begged until she let me watch them on "The Ed Sullivan Show", but that was as close as I ever got to the Fab Four.

Now one of my favorite stars is making an authorized documentary about the supergroup from Liverpool. It's rumored that Ron Howard's as yet untitled film will with feature participation by Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison will also participate on behalf on their late husbands. But the best thing is the filmmakers are encouraging real people to participate in the project! If you have film or photos of the group, you can submit them at TheBeatlesLiveProject.com for a chance to claim your own place in music history. Since I didn't get to go to any of the concerts, I don't have any photos of my own, but that's okay. I'm happy just to see the film and relive those days when The Beatles were the biggest thing to hit America - ever!


10 July

My Favorite Monkey

Remember The Man with the Yellow Hat? He was Curious George's nameless sidekick in the popular children's books first published in 1941. The "Curious George" books were some of my favorites when I was a kid. I read all seven books over and over again, laughing when George got himself a job and cheering when he got a medal for his venture into space.

But I think my favorite Curious George story was when the poor monkey swallowed a puzzle piece and had to go the hospital for surgery. My mom brought me the book when I had to have my tonsils removed because she didn't want me to be scared. And it worked. After seeing George have his own surgery -- followed by lots of ice cream and monkey business including a wild wheelchair ride and lots of laughs -- I wasn't scared at all. I wanted to go to the hospital.

Since then there have been Curious George movies and cartoons and movies and George is now a huge star over at PBS Kids. George's friend even got a name finally: Ted Shackleford. But to me, he'll always be The Man with the Yellow Hat. And George will always be my favorite mischievous monkey, the monkey who actually made me look forward to getting my tonsils out!


03 July

Hot Dogs and Ice Cream

You might think Independence Day is the only holiday to observe this month, but there's more than the 4th to celebrate in July: hot dogs and ice cream! Yes, July is National Hot Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month. I guess that makes sense, since Americans consume more hot dogs in July than in any other month. And no one has to guess why ice cream is so popular in July - the sweet, cooling treat is a summer staple for adults and kids alike.

To me, hot dogs and ice cream go hand-in-hand. All summer long, my dad used to grill up hot dogs while my mom was in the kitchen stirring up some homemade ice cream in one of those old-fashioned contraptions. You remember the ones I'm talking about -- the ones that looked like a worn out old bucket with a hand crank on the side. I loved running back and forth from the sizzling grill to the cool kitchen waiting for my parents to serve up summer goodies. Then Mom would pour us some ice cold Cokes to go with our hot dogs and we'd gobble them up while we waited for the ice cream to harden in the freezer.

When I learned that ice cream and hot dogs had their own national holiday month, I couldn't help but relive all those great memories of carefree summers on the back lawn with my dad and helping my mom work the ice cream maker in the kitchen. And those memories alone are worth a few fireworks!

Wieners Gone Wild CookbookHot Dog Toaster

16 June

The Babe -- Forever The Hero!

June 13 is a memorable day for Yankee fans. On that day in 1948, sixty thousand fans helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium. Among the celebrants was the one and only Babe Ruth. Although weakened with throat cancer, he entered the Bronx ballpark wearing his pinstripe uniform to the roar of the crowd, for what would be the last time. For fans all over the world, he wasn’t just a retired ballplayer—he was an international icon with staggering statistics, and a personality that captivated young and old alike. Imagine the excitement as his number 3 jersey was ceremoniously retired, and the fans paid tribute to the Sultan of Swat!
http://life.time.com/culture/babe-ruth-color-photos-of-the-yankees-legend-late-in-his-career/?iid=lb-gal-viewagn#1
On that bittersweet day, reunited with former teammates, Babe posed for pictures, including a candid photo of him standing apart from the other players, using his bat as a cane. The photo won a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most famous in baseball history. The legendary slugger succumbed to his illness just two months later, at age 53, a hero of the game, and of our hearts.

Babe Ruth DVD Card collectionWorst Baseball book Rockwell Puzzle All Time Greats PlaqueTie dye Shirts