Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

A Charlie Brown Blog Post

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Every once in a while I like to share my enthusiasm for some old-fashioned American pop culture with Sophia, who didn’t move to this country until she was an adult, and missed out on such important bonding experiences, like watching reruns of The Brady Bunch after school.  Unfortunately, my attempts at getting her to love what I loved usually strike out.  She thought Star Wars was ridiculous.  She found the Wizard of Oz — get this — a little boring. 

Last night, it was time to introduce her to the Peanuts gang.  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was on TV.  Even though it is one of the gang’s lesser holiday specials (the Christmas one is the best), how can anyone resist Charlie Brown?   Uh… well…

First of all, I forgot how SLOOOOOWWWLY these cartoons are paced.   Even I was hoping for Homer Simpson to jump into the frame and create some drama.  I cannot imagine today’s hyper kids watching these gentle, rather unfunny holiday shows.

Sophia was confused with the characters from the start.

Scene 1 — Charlie Brown is being tempted to kick the football by Lucy.

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Sophia:  What’s going on?

Neil:  Charlie Brown will try to kick the football and Lucy, the girl, will take it away.  It’s a running gag.

Charlie Brown falls on his ass.

Sophia:  That wasn’t very funny.

Neil:  Well, it used to be. 

Sophia:  Really?

Neil:  Well, I guess it was never really that funny.

Scene 2 — Linus enters Charlie Brown’s home.

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Sophia:  You know, I was wondering — why is Charlie Brown bald?

Neil:  I have no idea.

Sophia:  Are you sure he isn’t an old man?

Neil:  He’s a kid.

Sophia:  And what about this guy —  his friend?

Neil:  Linus?

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Sophia:  He looks like he has hairplugs.

Neil:  That’s just how he was drawn.  He’s a kid also.  Look, he carries around a blanket.

Sophia:  Why?

Neil:  Uh, it’s a security blanket.  It’s complicated.  He’s intelligent, but he’s anxious.

Sophia:  Like you?

Neil:  No.  Not really.

Sophia:  Is this also supposed to be funny?

Neil:  Sort of.  Not ha-ha funny.  Gentle funny.

Sophia:  These are just weird characters.

Scene 3 — Snoopy enters Charlie Brown’s home.

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Neil:  That’s Snoopy.  You’ve heard of him, of course.

Sophia:  No.

Neil:  You’ve NEVER heard of Snoopy?

Sophia:  Is he a spy?

Neil:  A spy?

Sophia:  Why is he called Snoopy?

Neil:  I don’t know.  But he’s like the most popular character.  He was on t-shirts and things!

Sophia:  Does he talk?

Neil:  No, he doesn’t talk.

Sophia:  So, what makes him so popular?

Neil:  He’s cool.

Sophia:  ?

Scene 4 — Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown on the phone and invites herself over for Thanksgiving dinner.  She says she is bringing Marcie and Franklin.

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Sophia:  Is that a man?

Neil:  No, that’s Peppermint Patty.  She’s a tomboy.

Sophia:  No way, that’s a man. 

Neil:  No, it’s a girl.

Sophia:  Wow, she is so butch.

Marcie enters.

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Sophia:  And there’s her girlfriend.

Neil: It is not her girlfriend! That’s Marcie.  I don’t remember much about her.

Marcie calls Peppermint Patty “Sir.”

Sophia:  You see!  She is a man!

Neil:  She’s not.  Marcie just calls her “Sir.”

Sophia:   This is one freaky show!

Franklin enters.

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Sophia:  Is he the one black character?

Neil:  Yes.

After A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there was the “world premiere” of a new Charlie Brown cartoon, but I shut it off the minute I saw Snoopy doing Tony Hawk stunts on his skateboard.  Charles Schultz would NOT have Snoopy on a skateboard.

Sophia:  So, you really watched these cartoons all the time?

Neil:  I used to love the Peanuts.

Sophia:  What did you love about it?

Neil:  I think I related to Charlie Brown.

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Peanuts characters by Charles Schultz/United Media

 

69 Comments

  1. I don’t know who Sophia is, but she singlehandedly ruined Peanuts for herself and readers of this post. She ought to be sequestered.

  2. Did you explain to Sophia that when Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz that it was actually a statement about the Populist movement? I bet you didn’t. If you had, I bet she would have found it fascinating. I blame you, not Sophia, for the following post. (Because in my mind, Sophia is never at fault.)

  3. Too funny.
    I watched this also, and I kept thinking that Patty’s voice was male.

  4. Good for Sophia for asking all the questions I was never brave enough to ask!
    I’m assuming the teacher was not in this episode?

  5. I will never be able to watch Peanuts the same way again… heh.

  6. The old cartoons from childhood are just never quite the same when we watch them now. Although some stand the test of time; Bagpuss is just as surreal now as it was when I first watched it!

  7. I have to admit, I was never a fan of of The Peanuts. Even as a kid I found it boring.

  8. wizard of oz scares me, to this day, i can’t watch it, it’s those monkeys.
    i’ve never seen a charlie brown thanksgiving, maybe because i’m in canada and ours is before yours? i’m not a fan of his christmas show either, i much prefer the grinch (the cartoon, not the movie).

  9. BTW – I also came to the U.S. late – I mean, as an adult … and, oh dear … I also found “The Wizard of Oz” a “little boring.” Wow! I never thought I would say this – write this – out loud – in public!

  10. I always found watching the Peanuts specials to be a little disappointing…probably because they were just as Sophia says.

    And Peppermint Patty? I thought CS had created the first lesbian cartoon character! At least the first sexually ambivalent character…heck even the animal cartoons had clear gender roles back then.

  11. She just dissed the Peanuts gang! Who disses the Peanuts gang?!

    I love Snoopy. Spy, my ass! 🙂

  12. Sandra Dee – You could not have said it better than I would have!

    I fell in love with The Peanuts the minute I first saw Charlie Brown on a Christmas Card that my brother had sent us while spending a year in the U.S.A. in 1968-69. I have been a huge fan ever since, and I am probably the ultimate Joe Cool wannabe. I was born and raised in France, moved permanently to the U.S. when I was 23, so not having been raised in this country probably has very little to do with “getting” or “not getting” the whole Peanuts thing.

  13. I love Sophia’s take on the Peanuts gang; guess I’d never seen through the thinly veiled “disguises”.

    Neil–is that the beginning of a smile on your face…or a sneer?!

  14. What did Sophia think about Pig Pen?

  15. Wizard of Oz boring? What’s wrong with you people?

    Sophia’s take on the Peanuts had me giggling the whole time. It’s fun to see it all in a new light. (I’m with Lynnster, I’ll never be able to watch Peanuts in the same way again.)

  16. My son and I and the wife watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show last night and he laughed several times. He especially enjoyed when Snoopy was fighting the lawn-chair.

    Perhaps there is a little Neil in him?

  17. Oh yes, he just turned 11.

  18. You two play off each other so well.

    And I’m sad to admit that I’ve never seen a Charlie Brown episode/special in its entirety. Looks like all I’m missing out on are some premature bald guys. -=oP

  19. Are you wearing a pocket protector?

  20. i love the pictures. i don’t think that a pocket protector. i think the object is either a wad of kleenex or an enhaler.

    i have to admit, i quickly blazed passed last nights peanuts episode,while silently praying i would not get caught by my 3 year old.

    you have to admit, peanuts is a little a slow.

  21. I always thought Peppermint Patty was a lesbian, even before I knew what a lesbian was. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I find that nostalgia really is sweeter in memory. When you go back, it’s just not the same. Except for the Brady Bunch. After all these years they’re still far out.

  22. Was it just me or did Peppermint Patty’s voice sound WAY more manly than you remembered as a child? And you know, I don’t remember my parents screaming about Peppermint Patty and Marcie’s relationship “indoctrinating” me to – gasp – “alternative lifestyles” as a child. And these days parents are up in arms about a damn Teletubby who carries a man bag? Don’t they know this stuff is lost on kids anyway?

  23. It’s funny how someone who is new to something can see things we gloss over. Sophia took the name “Snoopy” very literally. “Is he a spy?” Of course, one would ask that. How very interesting.

  24. So funny. I love the Charlie Brown specials. All of them. Have you ever noticed how people always watched reruns of The Brady Bunch. No one, at any time in the history of the world actually watched The Brady Bunch. We all watched reruns. Maybe there never was an actual Brady Bunch.

  25. Little Neilochka? Too cute!

    Woodstock was my Peanuts character of choice, I think I had a crush on that little bird.

    Frank Baum is a terrific writer, if you haven’t read the whole series, you should. I read them as an adult and was mesmerized.

  26. You’re not just related. You are Charlie Brown!

  27. Neil:
    I started watching Charlie Brown with my daughter and – I have to admit – I thought it was a little weird, too. Even when I was a kid, I couldn’t figure out where the parents and teachers were. Also, I never understood why Charlie was such a pariah. I mean, what did he do to deserve it? And the shirt with the big zig-zag on it? Maybe that shirt was part of the problem. And Lucy was a snot. A real snot. I kept these comments to myself, hoping my daughter would like the series. She didn’t. It’s back to Princess crap.

  28. seeig Peanuts through Sophia’s eyes has got me thinking- there is a lot of subterfuge going on in the Peanuts cartoons. 🙂

  29. I actually own (Ok I swiped it from the bookmobile in 1971) “Peanuts Treasury” by Charles M. Schulz. (Love you Mr. Schultz, RIP) Snoopy could have been a spy. He was always trying to shoot down the Red Baron from the top of his dog house. A dog house that had a Van Gogh inside! What can I say, the book is always better than the movie.

    Your picture is just precious. Love the bow tie but someone could have handed you a comb.

  30. I loved this post. It makes me wonder what my kids (born and raised in France) would think of the Peanuts. Of course, they’re younger than Sophia, so I doubt the observations would have been so literal? Astute?

  31. If she thought the Thanksgiving episode was weird, what do you think she would have done with The Great Pumpkin Halloween show?

  32. I grew up with it but I never really got it any more than I got Garfield.

    I didn’t think about Patty’s leanings but I always thought Marcie had a crush on her.

  33. Thank you, Sophia. I always found Peanuts boring on the whole, Snoopy and Woodstock irritating in particular, and Charlie Brown, well, pathetic. Never understood the joy with which my friends and classmates would await the holiday episodes. I was very glad to become an adult, and not have to pretend to like the Peanuts gang anymore.

  34. OH MY GAWD…YOU ARE ADORABLE!!!

  35. Aww! Love the school pics!

    (Yes, they’re a little Charlie Brown… which only makes them more endearing.)

  36. I think doing Peppermint Patty’s voiceover caused some confusion in the actor as well. In the credits, he is listed as Christopher DeFaria, but in IMDB, he is listed as Kip DeFaria.

  37. OMG…you are adorable! And, even though I grew up watching Charlie and the gang, I think I agree with Sophia on all accounts.

  38. First of all, for her first viewing you should have gone straight to the classic “Charlie Brown Christmas” and not that dumb Thanksgiving special. I defy Sophia not to cry during Linus’s impassioned speech about the true meaning of Christmas in which he quotes extensively from the New Testament (can you imagine that in a cartoon today?). As a little Jewish boy watching that in Chicago, I was ready to convert to Christianity.

    Second, of course Peppermint Patty is a lesbian. I’m sure today she and Marcie are living happily in Rhode Island where Peppermint Patty (now called Patricia) is a well known gastroenterologist and Marcie a vegan caterer. Charlie Brown visits them every summer with his wife Frieda and sometimes Linus and his partner Raoul come in from Boston.

    “Wizard of Oz” boring? Arrrrrrrrgh! Heresy! Treason! I’m calling Homeland Security.

  39. It was well-known at my college that Peppermint Patty and Marcie were lovers, just like Scooby snacks were pot brownies. I always hated Charlie Brown for being such a martyr, Lucy for being a bitch, and Snoopy for being a narcissist. Linus was the only one I could stand, well, him and Schroder. Gotta love the musician!

  40. Seriously some of the funniest dialogue ever (you and Sophia, not Peanuts).

  41. Fear not-I was Peppermint Patty. Yes I am tomboy and yes I am a Patti and no I am not a man.

  42. You are adorable. ADORABLE.

    And yeah Peanuts is not as good when you’re older. You should have her watch the Christmas one. I still tear up when Charlie Brown says, “IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN TELL ME WHAT CHRISTMAS IS REALLY ABOUT!” and Gentle Linus tells the story. So sweet.

    Of course, since you are Jewish, I can’t imagine you liked this one as much. ;P

  43. I love Snoopy and Woodstock. I think I prefer Snoopy as the Red Baron or Joe Cool without the Peanuts gang.

    What I loved about Charlie Brown specials are the teacher moments; waa waa waa.

    What did Sophia think about Schroder?

  44. I love, even today, the pace and tone of Charlie Brown. Every other cartoon character is on crystal meth as far as I can tell.

    Hello, Neil.

  45. What about the piano playing kid, Scrotum? I mean, who names their kid scrotum?

  46. we watched it too. I have to say that we also read the great pumpkin book recently (Charlie Brown) and the girls found it quite boring compared to the other stories out there. They didnt “get” it for some reason! Shows how it all has changed over the years

  47. After watching a Charlie Brown cartoons with my dad for a certain number of years, he started calling me “Sir.” People thought it was funny, a grown man calling his daughter Sir. Ha ha. Funny, yeah.

  48. That’s an adorable perspective, but nothing will ever take the Peanuts’ Magic away!

  49. mmariem3 — Schroeder wasn’t in this special. I think Sophia would like him. Schroeder was snarky before anyone knew the word.

  50. Neil, you would have fit right in my class.

  51. Sophia just keeps getting more endearinger and endearinger with every blog post.

  52. Non-Highlighted Heather

    November 21, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    In honor of Charlie Brown the rest of my comment will be spoken in Peanut adult language:

    Wou wu wou-wou-wou. Wou-wou-wou-wou wou wu wou-wou wou. Wou wou wu wu wou!

  53. They are very slow-moving cartoons. I LOVE Snoopy, though. I love the drawn cartoons, though, bc then I can read them as fast as I want.

  54. You need to lock here in a room with a dozen essential Americana 101 videos and not let her out till she sees them all.

    I too came over as an adult but I grew up westernized. If she’s from the Eastern Bloc(?) then they did not have a whole lot of access to American culture.

  55. Interesting multi-cultural exchange!! Sophia, no worries girl, it made a lot more sense in 1973. Neil, adorable pics, Schultz would have loved sketching you! much peace & love to you both, JP

  56. Neil, thanks for this warm and funny post at a Thanks-giving Time.

    I am like sophia, coming to this country when I was already an adult, so I missed out on a lot too pop culture wise. But Peanut, I enjoy immensely, although when D told me the story about Lucy tricking Charlie Brown in the football kicking, I was like Sophia,,,that does not sounds very funny…This brought back heart-warming memories……and that adorable picture of yours.

  57. It’s pretty well-established in the comic strips (and cartoons, I believe) that Patti and Marcy both had a thing for Charlie Brown.

    And I feel like such a dork for remembering this. 😛

  58. I used to love Charlie Brown (and I have never set foot in the USA), but that was when it was a comic strip in the newspaper. I suspect it was never meant to translate well to television.

  59. My love is also from Ukraine and I introduced him to Charlie Brown specials a couple years ago too and he LOVES them! In fact, I think we are going to netflix all of them one of these days.

  60. I used to live off of the Peanuts comics. In third grade, I pretended I was sick one day just so I could stay in bed and read Peanuts. The other day I picked up a Special Edition of Peanuts at Barnes and Noble whilst browsing and found Charlie Brown depressing and Snoopy with a personality you would expect a 30-year-old who still lives with his parents to have. Alas, it still drew me in. Only this time, none of them made me laugh.

  61. OMG the tears are running down my cheeks. The Marcie-Peppermint Patty liason just never occurred to me, how could I have been so blind?

    Thank you for making me genuinely laugh for the first time in weeks.

  62. Neil Charles Schultz would NOT have Snoopy on a skateboard.?

    You’re wrong there. Snoopy has been on skateboards since the 70’s. There are several toy Snoopys on skateboards. And, I think the credits of the cartoon list Charles Schultz as a producer, which means this thing might have been in production before he passed on. In any case. there is a link to the actual skateboarding bits in question.

  63. Thank you, Kilwag, for setting me straight. I appreciate it.

  64. I can’t help but to think that some of this was made up. I mean why would she ask if Peppermint Patty was a man? Wouldn’t one assume she’s a boy and not ask about it the first seeing it? Especially with the “sir’s.” A lot of the other stuff were things that Peanuts gets criticized for.

  65. I have to admit, I never got the Brady Bunch, they scare me. O.o Though I have to admit the only part in the movie they made afterwards was the whole car jack scene. That being said, I wouldn’t say Charlie Brown and the gang are boring. I’ve never found ’em boring or unfunny.

    That being said, to this day Charlie Brown and the gang are part of a comic that has some of the most outlandish ideas ever put to print. I mean the great Pumpkin, Lucy with a knife killing the pumpkin that Linus just carried into the house and of course there are the adults who are always beyond comprehension. Though I suspect that has more to do with CS, and the fact that the comic strip was started in a completely different era from what most of us grew up in.

  66. That being said, I say ye should introduce her to Dr. Seuss next.

  67. I got a rock! Heh.

  68. Hilarious! I do think it is at this point only airing for the adults. I don’t think that the kids actually like it. It is just that we all are so attached and sentimental about childhood shows.

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