Nov. 26, 2005

Talking in Bed

by Philip Larkin

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Poem:"Talking in Bed" by Philip Larkin from The Collected Poems © Estate of Philip Larkin 1988. Reprinted with permission.

Some Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day in 1942, the movie Casablanca had its premiere at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. Casablanca is the story of Rick Blaine, an American nightclub owner in North Africa during World War II. One night, he is approached by a French Resistance fighter named Victor and his wife Ilsa, who are trying to get papers to escape to America. Ilsa happens to be Rick's true love, who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris.

The movie took ten weeks to shoot. The original title was "Everybody Comes to Rick's." One of the actors considered for the part of Rick was Ronald Regan, but the producer eventually settled on Humphrey Bogart. The script was constantly rewritten throughout the shooting, and not even the writers knew whether Ilsa would end up with Rick or Victor at the end. The reviews were mixed, but it was a box office hit, and it went on to with the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1943.

Casablanca is one of the best-loved and most quoted movies of all time. It contains lines such as, "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine," "The problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world," "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," and, "Here's looking at you, kid."

It's the birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz, born in St. Paul, Minnesota (1922). He was the only son of a St. Paul barber, and the family was extremely poor. Schulz said, "We used to eat pancakes all the time because it's all we could afford."

He skipped a grade in elementary school and after that he never felt like he fit in. He was skinny and had a bad complexion and in high school he flunked at least one class every year. But he learned to love newspaper comics from his father, who'd only had a third grade education but who bought six different newspapers every weekend and read all the comics with his son. For as long as he could remember, Charles Schulz wanted to be a cartoonist.

After serving in World War II, Schulz moved back to St. Paul and got a job doing artwork for a Catholic magazine. In his spare time, he began to draw a cartoon strip about a group of kids, including one named Charlie Brown. He offered the strip to the St. Paul newspaper for free, in hopes of getting exposure, and they accepted. The strip was called "L'il Folks." After running two years, Schulz asked the newspaper if they could begin to pay him. They said no.

So Schulz bought a train ticket to New York and showed his comic strip to the United Feature Syndicate. They bought it, but changed the name from "L'il Folks" to "Peanuts." The first strip came out on October 2, 1950, featuring Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, and his friends Lucy, Schroeder, Linus, and Sally.

What made Peanuts revolutionary was that instead of making the children cutesy pranksters, like most children in cartoons at the time, Schulz drew upon on his own childhood difficulties for material. Charlie Brown was a chronically depressed and unlucky child who never gets to kick the football, who always gets his kite stuck in the tree, and who never wins the love of The Little Red Haired Girl. Charlie Brown was the first character in an American comic strip to suffer anxiety and insecurity, and Peanuts became the most popular comic strip of all time.

Charles Schulz said, "The meaning of life is to go back to sleep and hope that tomorrow will be a better day."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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