Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review - The It's a Wonderful Life Book

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

My copy of The It's a Wonderful Life Book with
bookmarks at each of the scenes. Don't let the condition
fool you. I have used this book extensively.  I just take
really good care of my books.
In The It's a Wonderful Life Book, Jeanine Basinger has put together the definitive collection of primary source information available about the film It's a Wonderful Life.

Anybody who considers him or herself a "Lifer" (a fan of the movie, usually an extreme fan such as myself) needs to purchase this book.

Almost everything you want to know is in here, from the complete text of the original story the film was based on, to interviews with Stewart, an introduction by Capra, pictures galore, the final script, script revisions, notes about suggested censorship, and much, much more.

There is even information in here you wouldn't even think about asking. An example is the name of the "stars in charge." One is named Joseph. What is the name of the other galaxy? (Hint: The answer isn't God.)

I used to get e-mails asking me questions about the film. Now those discussions usually happen on Facebook. If I don't have the answer, this is the first book I pick up. Of the many times I've been asked questions, I have always found the answer in this book.
This is the ultimate IAWL reference. 

In fact, I have written my own book about It's a Wonderful Life, and I am currently looking for a publisher. While writing this book, I kept looking at my copy of Basinger's book. I didn't look at it because I wanted to take information from it. Instead, I stared at it to remind me that my goal was to write a book about It's a Wonderful Life that is as good and as useful as this.

I give Basinger's book 5 stars out of 5.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Two Cents Worth of Shoelaces

When a young George Bailey returns to work at Gower's Drug Store after saving his brother from the river, Mary and Violet vie for the his attention.

Violet wants to cents worth of shoelaces, but she doesn't even have to ask for them. Instead, George asks her if that is what she wants, and she confirms it. A relationship between an employee and a return customer that shops often and almost always buys the same things.

So the question is, what are shoelaces?

I can't count how many times people have said she purchases literal shoelaces...for your shoes. This, of course begs the question, how many possible pairs of shoelaces has she purchased that George automatically knows that is what she wants? That's not logical.

She isn't buying actual shoelaces. Instead, what she is purchasing are licorice shoelaces...candy. Like these, which my wife bought at a locally-owned store (ironically, a store called Ben Franklin, which according to the script, is the name of the main star/galaxy/solar system that decides to send Clarence to help George Bailey):


Before you eat them, you play with them, as my oldest son illustrates in these two photos below:

 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 35

Welcome to Photo Friday. Don't tell me. I know....It's Thursday. Welcome to Photo Thursday, then. Because....Christmas!

Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.

This week, I post photos of a one-of-a-kind, hand-carved wooden bell. There is no other like it. My parents got this for me for Christmas, and it was carved by someone who mom grew up with. I need to check with her, but it may have been carved using wood from a tree that grew in the front yard of the house where she grew up. The house has been demolished and the tree has been cut down.




This may be the tree that some of the wood was taken from to make this bell.
The house is where my mom grew up. It's been torn down since this photo was taken.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Can You Tell Me How They Got to Sesame Street?

Bert the Cop and Ernie the Taxi Driver in It's a Wonderful Life. 
Source: Wiki Commons
A myth has grown out of the story that the characters of Bert and Ernie in It’s a Wonderful Life inspired the names of the characters on the children’s show “Sesame Street.” 

Stephen Cox, author of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book, debunks this claim: “It’s purely coincidence, admits Henson representatives who were there in the late 1960s when Sesame Street first paved its way on television” (87).
(Left to right) Ernie and Bert
Source: http://www.factfixx.com/2011/08/10/urban-legends-bert-and-ernie-are-lovers/
Even the “behind the scenes” book about “Sesame Street,” titled Sesame Street Unpaved, by David Borgenicht, tackles the topic: “Sesame writers insist that it’s just a coincidence” (23).

A quick Google search of the phrase "bert and ernie sesame street it's a wonderful life" will also disprove the myth.

Please help me educate America. Please stop this pop-culture lie.

Sources:


Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved. New York: Hyperion, 1998.


Cox, Stephen. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book. Nashville: Cumberland House, 2003.

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's a Wonderful Podcast: The Collector's Edition

So, December 14 wasn't what I expected it to be.

I was minding my own business and noticed on Facebook that I had a new friend request. I checked it and found out that it was a guy named Richard Goodson.

As a "Lifer" (fan of It's a Wonderful Life), this is a very well-known name. It's also one of those names and people who seem like they are inaccessible. I have know who he is for years, but it never dawned on me to contact him because I'm me and he is him.....seemingly untouchable.

So who is he? Only one of the biggest collectors of It's a Wonderful Life memorabilia. While my collection includes store-bought village pieces, Christmas tree decorations, lots of angels and LOTS of bells, Goodson collects the less commercial, more meaningful, ephemeral stuff. For example, he has two sets of earrings that Gloria Grahame (Violet) wore in the film. He recently collected photos of Jean Gale (who played young Mary Hatch) as a child. He even has checks written by Marian Carr, who played Jane Wainwright, an uncredited role. His collection is so extensive, here are a few pictures because my words can't do it justice:





Impressive, right? That's not even half of it.

Anyway, Goodson provides photos for authors, as well. He takes his display around to festivals and events and hangs out with Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu) on a regular basis.

So I'm not stupid. I accepted the friend request. Almost immediately, he starts up a chat with me. Okay, I'll bite. He starts talking about how he has stories he wants to tell me. And suddenly I get an idea.

I have this blog, see. And at work, I co-host a podcast about prevention. Prevention of what you ask? Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling, destructive behaviors, mental health issues, suicide. Basically, if it hurts you, we work to prevent it and help people through it when they find themselves fighting against it.

Our podcast began in September and we worked diligently (and successfully) to fight the commercialization of marijuana in Ohio in November. We have run a number of episodes about the opiate epidemic, as well as episodes about distracted driving and other issues. The plan was to record and post an episode about the Parents Who Host Lose the Most campaign, which warns parents of the dangers and consequences of hosting an underage party and serving alcohol this week before our office closed for a two-week holiday break. That fell through and there wasn't Plan B.

But I had an idea. I have read multiple stories about how It's a Wonderful Life has prevented others from attempting suicide. I have read other stories about judges making it required viewing while sentencing criminals. I wrote about suicide extensively during the A-Z Blogging Challenge in April.

It's a Wonderful Life is a passion of mine (if you hadn't guessed). It's timely for the holiday, and it was on-topic for work! So within 10 minutes of meeting Mr. Goodson on Facebook, I was asking him to record a podcast with me. To my surprise, he was open to it, and within 45 minutes of meeting him, we were recording.

Unfortunately, due to timing and illness and out-of-town meetings, we were unable to augment this podcast with commentary from a suicide prevention specialist or psychologist, so we couldn't use it as a holiday special. However, my boss was willing to allow me to post it on my blog, so here it is.

Mr. Goodson and I talked about a lot more than what was captured on audio. I hope Mr. Goodson and I can continue our discussions and share more stories as time goes on. Thank you Mr. Goodson, for reaching out to me and for sharing your collection and knowledge with the world.

I'll stop typing now and let you listen to the podcast, which consists of a discussion between two passionate collectors of IAWL memorabilia. I hope you enjoy.


I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again: TALK to somebody. People like Potter are in the vast minority. Someone out there can help you. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Life can be hard but it's worth fighting for. So FIGHT!






Friday, December 18, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 34

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.

These photos were taken at Salem-Cass United Methodist Church in Hancock County, OH in March, 2015.












Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Collection Part 7 - Color Christmas Ornament

I don't remember a lot about this ornament, and the box is safely tucked away in storage.

What I do know about it is that it is my favorite ornament out of my collection. It looks like decoupage with the image of George and Mary laid or painted on it. The reason I say that is that if you look at George's shoulder and the top of the letters F and E in Life, you can see the paper laid over the title, and some wrinkles in the paper.

The image printed on the ornament is taken from the movie poster.

This ornament is in like-new condition. The photo was taken Nov. 28, 2015.

I love this ornament.


Monday, December 14, 2015

My Collection Part 6 - You Are Now In Bedford Falls Ornament

This "You Are Now In Bedford Falls" tree ornament sign was part of the late 1990s/early 2000s-era Walgreens collection. It hangs on my tree. It is in like-new condition. This photo was taken on Nov. 28, 2015.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 33

This Christmas tree ornament hangs on our tree this year. It features a painting of Joseph and Mary (with palm trees???????) walking to the stable in Bethlehem, while an angel watches over them.

It's a beautiful bell, but I'm not so sure about the palm trees.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Genre mash-up movie poster

This might freak people out a little bit.

Of course, this blog is all abut It's a Wonderful Life. I'm a HUGE fan. I'm also a voracious reader of Stephen King books. I loved his latest, Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and as a rule, I typically don't enjoy his short stories.

But two weeks ago, I finished his book IT for the third time, and followed it up by reading The Stand in a week. That's my fourth or fifth time through that book.

I ran across the following movie poster mash-up a few years ago and stumbled across it again on Monday. So I thought I would share it here just for fun as a bonus entry day.

Source: http://s143.photobucket.com/user/silsbee26/media/Esplanade.jpg.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Collection Part 5 - Hallmark ornament from 1996

Here is the Hallmark ornament from 1996.

Due to the number of ornaments we display each year, we have unboxed all of our older ornaments and safely stored away the boxes....which means that I don't have the box at my fingertips to include a photo of it.

But here is my ornament from 1996. This picture was taken Nov. 28, 2015.


Monday, December 7, 2015

My Collection Part 4 - Hallmark Christmas Ornament 2015

Today I feature my Hallmark Christmas Ornament for 2015.

It is a display of George and Mary together during the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life. George is holding the copy of Tom Sawyer with the inscription from Clarence.

Here it is with the box and hanging on our tree.




When you push the button, it plays "Auld Lang Syne."

video


Here is our Christmas tree in full:



Friday, December 4, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 32

These bells are angel-shaped tin bells. They are part of either the Target or Walgreens It's a Wonderful Life collection. These hang on my tree.

Each is engraved with a different saying. The one on the left says "Each man's life touches so many others." The one on the right says "No man is a failure who has friends."


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Review - 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welch.

My copy of 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life.
This is a well-thought-out book that does exactly what it says it does: It looks at 52 life lessons that can be learned from It's a Wonderful Life. The book is broken up into 52 chapters, and can be read as a weekly devotional (or not), one chapter per week.

I devoured this book in a matter of days.

There are moments when Welch gets a little overwrought, spending too much time thinking about/describing/explaining certain aspects of the film and its characters. There are other days when he is spot-on and you can't help but jump up and scream "EXACTLY!!!"

There are religious overtones in this book. That's a fact. If that offends you, don't buy or read this book. Or maybe you should. If you like It's a Wonderful Life, the Christian aspect is already there, so you might as well learn more about it.

What makes it even more fun is that the author's name is Bob Welch. Welch was the name of the man who punched George in the mouth at Martini's bar....the teacher's husband. I don't know if HIS name was Bob, but that is the name of the author of this book. It means absolutely nothing, but it's a fun observation nonetheless.

I purchased the hardcover copy of this book a couple of years ago. The ebook was available on iTunes, Kindle and Nook for 99 cents on Nov. 30, 2015. It might still be on sale today.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review - Ziegfeld Girl

In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

Ziegfeld Girl. Starring James Stewart and Judy Garland. 1941.

Crap. It's a musical.

I'm sure it's great if you're into musicals. But I'm more into movies that progress forward. Musicals, for me, seem to introduce an idea and then spin its wheels and dwell on it for about 4 minutes at a stretch while someone drones on and on and on about it.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Movie Review - It Happened One Night

In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

It Happened One Night. Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. 1934.

An out-of-work journalist (Gable) and a runaway heiress (Colbert) agree to disagree. He learns her secret and promises not to tell in exchange for her exclusive story. It's your classic story of blackmail.

There is chivalry and hate and contempt and friendship and love and every extreme you can imagine. It is extremely risque, especially at the motor lodge, considering its age.

The Wall of Jericho stands tall until it falters. It's not my favorite Capra film, but it holds its own. Watching the cast belt out "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" like they are teenagers singing a modern Top 40 hit at the Homecoming dance is entertaining, as well. :)

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 31

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is the bell that sits in front of the Salvation Army Church building on Tarr Street in North Baltimore OH. The building now sits empty. These photos were taken March 29, 2015.







The bell seen in the above photos is just down the street from this memorial marker for Jesse Baker, who as a night policeman who was shot and killed on this spot on June 19, 1896. Several blocks away from this memorial, near another church with a bell, and right next to the library, is a second memorial for another officer shot on duty in North Baltimore. It used to be an old oil boom town full of bars and brothels.
Another view of the memorial marker for Jesse Baker. North Baltimore's train station can be seen in the background of the photo. The marker sits on Tarr Street, which is the only remaining brick road in the village. Directly behind me is an amazing home built in the 1800s that I considered buying at one point. It has a hitching post in the front yard.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review - Jimmy Stewart and His Poems

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, by Jimmy Stewart. 1989.

Jimmy Stewart wrote some verse
That made my English professor curse
He said it was not poetry, but worse
It was an assignment that I turned in ... my first.

Years later I know he was right
The book it really stunk
And yet I keep it next to Plath and Ginsberg
Tucked inside a trunk
Two copies of Stewart's poetry that I have in my collection.

Okay, I'm done.

I know the poetry above is not in any consistent meter. I know the rhymes are not in a consistent pattern. Neither are Stewarts. So not only are my verses above acceptable for this review, they are intentionally bad.

Don't expect anything high-minded here. You won't find Stewart's poetry in any classrooms...at any level. But that's okay. They don't beg analysis. They don't beg interpretation. They are intended to be entertaining and gain a few laughs.

There are only four poems in this book. All of them are preceded by a short explanation of their creation. Of the four poems, three of them are about Stewart's travels to foreign countries:

  • The Top Step in the Hotel Junin
  • The Aberdares!
  • I'm a Movie Camera
I found this letter to Dear Abby in my copy with the cartoon dust jacket. I had forgotten
I had put it there. To be honest, I don't even remember it. But it gives you an idea of
how Stewart wrote.
A fourth poem, titled "Beau" is about the family dog.

Sadly, Stewart believes that in order to be poetry, the lines must rhyme. I strongly disagree with him, but who am I to argue with Jimmy Stewart?

3 out of 5 starts, but only for cuteness, not for quality of the poetry!



Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 30

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is a tower bell in what was once Scotch Ridge United Presbyterian Church. It has been converted into a home in Scotch Ridge, Ohio. These photos were taken March 15, 2015.











This bottom photo is a composite/stitched photo of what you see above. As you can see, it is not perfect and has some parts missing. But you get the idea.