Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FULL HOUSE: One Father's Grudging Recommendation...

FULL HOUSE: One Father's Grudging Recommendation...

Recently, thanks to a windfall of EIC money [God love it!], I was able to fulfill a long-promised obligation to my daughters by completing their collection of the show FULL HOUSE on DVD.  Yes, the 8th and final season is now in our hands, and of course a marathon of these episodes and all their favorite from SEVEN earlier seasons is now fully under way, and probably this program will dominate the cathode viewing in our humble house for at least the next 2 weeks or so.

The girls became FH fans through nickelodeon several years ago... and it it is, oddly, one of those rare obsessions that seem to take years to run their course.

Is it annoying?  Somewhat.  Do I wish they loved ROCKFORD or NORTHERN EXPOSURE more?  Perhaps.  Could it be worse?  Oh yes.

Actually it could be way, WAY worse.

In fact, there is, I have decided, much about FULL HOUSE to appreciate, especially from a parents' point of view.

First the negatives. FH is a fantasy about family life.  No real and uncomfortable conflict seems to exist at the Tanner home.  They live, they learn, they hug... and then they hug some more!  And even the title is a bizarre understatement!  By the 8th season, that is one stinkin' FULL house!!  

Uncle Jessie takes on a wife an twins and still choses to live in the attic, even though he is now a recording artist and his wife is an anchorwoman.  

Joey is also a children's TV star, but is similarly happy in his single bedroom.  I understand loving your friends and relatives... but... come on!  LOL
And... Bob saget and the Olson twins are... well... Bob Saget and the Olson twins... basically the three most annoying TV presences of the 1990s [and that is saying a LOT!]
Still... I have to like the cleanness and positiveness of this program. It really is good to see a family that loves eachother on TV nowdays.  And even the bizarre premise of three "Dads" raising 3 daughters works because two of the guys [guess which two? lol] make it at least a LIKEABLE fantasy.  

Dave Coulier was actually a talented comedian and impressionist, and working John Stamos' real life Elvis fixation  into the show was responsible for FH being quite possibly the only program of the last twenty years to have the word "rockabilly' in a script every season or so.   That gets high marks from me.

Also, the featured kids, as sugary as they were,  were better than most child actors, then and now.  The two older Tanner girls were competent at relaying melodrama in a reasonable and understated way... something even adult actors can struggle with.  And that kid that played Kimmy Gibbler was  a scream.  That actress not only turned an early walk-on into an established and crowd-pleasing character, but also managed to, in time, create one of the better comic relief side-roles in sit-com history.  What ever happened to that kid anyway?

The gueststars are interesting too... 80's late night TV legend Rhonda Shear played the adult Kimmy in one early dream sequence [Yowza!] and underground comic Bob Odenkirk was featured as Joey's rival in the Star Search episode.  [Yes...I have watch a LOT of FULL HOUSE, partner... lol]

In any case, here's to FULL HOUSE... If your kids have to watch somethin'... it could, indeed, be a LOT worse.

Friday, August 13, 2010

JIM KJELGAARD, American Author

JIM KJELGAARD, American Author
A Recommendation by Albie

Just recently, while searching out good things to read to my kids, I saw a book at our library book-sale that had a VERY familiar name on its spine: Jim Kjelgaard. Immediately I was thrust back in time to my earliest reading days, when Kjelgaard's was a name I would search for in the school and public libraries of my idyllic small town boyhood.

Of course I gladly paid the fifty cents for the book [THE BLACK FAWN, 1958, one of Jim's best, I now believe] and went home thinking of what I knew and didn't know about this interesting-- if largely forgotten-- American author.

I had heard and read a few things over the years. Someone had told me once at Bible college in the late '90s that Kjelgaard was a suicide; I also knew he was almost completely self-taught as a writer; but I found myself wanting to know more.

Kjelgaard [A Norwegian name, pronounced "KYELL-gard"... yup, he was a fellow Norski! YAY!] wrote well over 40 books, which were always about the out-of-doors and almost always about animals. In his time he was a VERY popular juvenile writer, although today he is mainly remembered for the trilogy he wrote about 3 generations of Irish Setters: BIG RED, IRISH RED, and OUTLAW RED. These three books have never gone out of print since their first publication in the 1940s.

The first book I ever read by him was called SNOW DOG, originally published in 1948. I came across an old dust-jacketed copy at my buddy Paul Schwartz's house in Canelo, AZ about 1976 or so. After I commented that I liked the exciting cover illustration, good ol' Paul said, "Oh yeah, that's a good one, Albie! You should read it." I did.

That book, like most of Kjelgaard's, centered around a noble animal [this time a half-Siberian Husky named Chiri] that lived by the rough and tumble code of the wilderness. The boy protagonist Link, in what I would find to be the pattern for Kjelgaard heroes, is a lonely adolescent who befriends our Great Canine. Many wonderful adventures ensue, of course.

Although you could definitely say that Kjelgaard was a "formula" writer of sorts, he did indeed posess some prose qualities that really set him apart. First, he was a marvelous conveyor of the wonder and beauty of nature. For example, the descriptions of the landscape and wildlife in SNOW DOG betrayed, even to my "tween-aged" mind, an obviously intimate knowledge of the northern woodlands of its setting, and the details of Link's fictional life as a trapper bore the same marks of pure authenticity.

Kjelgaard also had an ability that even some best-selling novelists of today would and should envy: he was able to describe scenes of pure action with an amazingly believable and vigorous fluidity.

When I read SNOW DOG in those arid Southern Arizona foothills, it really was as though i was right there with Link and Chiri... experiencing the cold and harshness of the artic outdoors.

At that time, it was just about everything I could have wanted in a work of fiction. That book was indeed like a "frigate that took me lands away," as Emily Dickenson memorably described good reading. For the hours I spent holding it I was in another lifetime... another reality.

And That is just plain old good writin'!

Well, in short... I was hooked.

And luckily, in those days, his books were still widely available for loan to any interested boy. This is no longer so today, I am told, and that is a downright shame.

Here is some interesting info about J.K. that I was able to find on the wonderful world wide web.

James Arthur Kjelgaard was born on December 10, 1910 in New York City. The son of a doctor, he had four brothers and one sister.

While he was still very young, his family purchased an 1800 acre farm in Potter County, PA. Here he and his brothers spent long days in the outdoors hunting and fishing.

The family next moved to Galeton, PA. The people in the area were poor and this meant that Dr. Kjelgaard didn't always bring in a lot of money. The Kjelgaard boys therefore actually supplemented the dinner table with fish and other small game animals they trapped and hunted!!

During the Galeton years, Jim began to have a passion for writing, and spent time in his room writing poems and short stories. [He completed his first story-- which he later actually sold-- at the age of eleven! ]

Young Jim continued to write, and submitted stories to many hunting and fishing magazines. In 1928, his senior year at Galeton High School, Jim sold his first story for a two-year subscription to an outdoors magazine.

After high school, Jim and his brothers looked for jobs of any type. They harvested potatoes, dug ditches and then in the 1930s began to guide hunters.

Jim took two years of Syracuse University extension courses, while working full time. During this time he continued to write prolifically.

One of Mr. Kjelgaard's readers, Eddie Dresen, began corresponding with him and quickly Jim learned Eddie was short for Edna!! As fate would have it, Jim traveled to Milwaukee to meet her in 1939, and they were married soon after and lived in Milwaukee. They had one child, a daughter named Karen. Jim enjoyed teaching Karen about the outdoors, and would delight in taking her hunting and fishing.

This daughter Karen has written an interesting article about her Dad that is posted on a tribute site. [Jim Kjelgaard, A Daughter's Memoir by Karen Kjelgaard, November 1998, ] In it, she writes:

"We went to Big Cedar Lake every summer, and I remember fishing from a pier and finding at least ten little warm water fish on my line when I pulled it in. Dad had swum under the pier and put them there. It was the sort of kindly, humorous thing that appealed to him."

Jim, Eddie and Karen made many trips out West, taking photographs and doing research for Jim's books. Later their family moved to Phoenix, Arizona hoping to improve Jim's health. While very different from the country he grew up in, Jim came to love the desert and its stark beauty.

This part was, of course, of great interest to me.... At least 2 of Jim's books that I have read were actually set here in AZ: DESERT DOG [about a greyhound stranded in the Sonoran wilderness] and HI JOLLY [a great treatment of Hahdi Ali and the famous US Cavalry "Camel Corps" experiment.] Both are worth seeking out for any Arizonan.

As I had heard, Kjelgaard's life did indeed end in suicide. The full story is that he had long suffered a variety of debilitating medical conditions. As a child, he suffered epileptic-like seizures that were eventually diagnosed as a brain tumor, and treated by drilling a hole in his skull. This led to excruciating head-aches as he grew older. He also experienced stabbing back pain and advanced arthritis most of his life.

Daughter Karen remembers: "My father's last years were marked by frequent depression and illness. No one really knew what was wrong with him. He spent more and more time with physicians, but we never knew for sure what his illness was. A brain tumor was never confirmed. He became suicidal, (and) was patently deeply unhappy."

On July 12, 1959, he shot himself.

I often thought of writing to him when I was a boy. I had no idea that he had died 5 years before I was even born!

Still... He is worth remembering... and reading... even today. One reason his books are so compelling [he still has a wide internet following and his books are much collected to this day by those who remember him] is that he did NOT believe in writing down to kids. He once said that "kids can spot weaknesses in a juvenile book that would get by in a book for adults."

His philosophy was: "You have to struggle to get up to the kids' level." I like that!

My favorite of his books was-- and still remains-- CHIP THE DAM BUILDER, a novel from 1950. It is the story of an old and wise beaver [named Chip, of course] who leads a whole colony of beavers in search of a new home. It is an amazingly detailed extrapolation of an animal's toils and struggles, written sensitively by a man who must have indeed believed that his audience deserved the very best of his efforts.

I can't do much about his overall reputation, to be sure, but I CAN make dang sure my kids know about him.

I think he'd be happiest with that, actually.


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Albie's note: I really like these thoughts by Mr. Clemens...  They represent-- in a small way--  his vicious life-long war on snobbery and convention. I wonder what a "Pittsburgh stogy" tasted like?? 

My friends for some years now have remarked that I am an inveterate consumer of tobacco. That is true, but my habits with regard to tobacco have changed. I have no doubt that you will say, when I have explained to you what my present purpose is, that my taste has deteriorated, but I do not so regard it. Let me tell you briefly the history of my personal relation to tobacco. It began, I think, when I was a lad, and took the form of a quid, which I became expert in tucking under my tongue. Afterward I learned the delights of the pipe, and I suppose there was no other youngster of my age who could more deftly cut plug tobacco so as to make it available for pipe-smoking.

Well, time ran on, and there came a time when I was able to gratify one of my youthful ambitions -- I could buy the choicest Havana cigars without seriously interfering with my income. I smoked a good many, changing off from the Havana cigars to the pipe in the course of a day's smoking.

At last it occurred to me that something was lacking in the Havana cigar. It did not quite fulfill my youthful anticipations. I experimented. I bought what was called a seed-leaf cigar with a Connecticut wrapper. After a while I became satiated of these, and I searched for something else. The Pittsburgh Stogy was recommended to me. It certainly had the merit of cheapness, if that be a merit in tobacco, and I experimented with the stogy. Then, once more, I changed off, so that I might acquire the subtler flavor of the Wheeling Toby. Now that palled, and I looked around New York in the hope of finding cigars which would seem to most people vile, but which, I am sure, would be ambrosial to me. I couldn't find any. They put into my hands some of those little things that cost ten cents a box, but they are a delusion.

I said to a friend, "I want to know if you can direct me to an honest tobacco merchant who will tell me what is the worst cigar in the New York market, excepting those made for Chinese consumption -- I want real tobacco. If you will do this and I find the man is as good as his word, I will guarantee him a regular market for a fair amount of his cigars."

We found a tobacco dealer who would tell the truth -- who, if a cigar was bad, would boldly say so. He produced what he called the very worst cigars he had ever had in his shop. He let me experiment with one then and there. The test was satisfactory.

This was, after all, the real thing. I negotiated for a box of them and took them away with me, so that I might be sure of having them handy when I want them.

I discovered that the "worst cigars," so called, are the best for me, after all.

–excerpted from Mark Twain's Speeches, 1910

Sunday, July 18, 2010


OK, I admit it: I LOVE a good western.

Oh Heck, let’s be honest...I love a BAD western sometimes too. OK, often... lol

As a kid growing up in rural Arizona in the 70s [I was born in ’64] westerns were everywhere. The local TV stations in Tucson re-ran them constantly. The adult men of my town read them often... in stores, barber shops and their own trucks on work breaks. The school and public libraries were full of them. So I have an excuse for my taste: I was brainwashed early.

Westerns still seem pretty popular in AZ. More popular than in other places I have been. It even seems fitting to me somehow that the singular distinctive MYTH found in the classic western has remained popular at this late hour primarily here in the hinterlands of the real U.S. west. If nothing else, this fact suggests to me that the western has a certain psychological appeal, and that that draw is closely linked to literal "wide open spaces."

Libertarian writer Gary North has listed what he believes to be the 4 fundamental themes of the classic western. They are as follows:

1. cowardice vs. honor
2. the defense of private property (land)
3. law enforcement
4. the moral limits of vengeance

I think that’s a pretty accurate list. And I feel I should note...Westerns that do not apply any of these themes are almost always modern, revisionist westerns.

Westerns have never really changed over the years, but that is not to say there has not been a great variety of artistic direction within the genre.

Looking at the 4 themes stated above one would almost conclude that the western is nessessarily conservative... perhaps even individualistic and libertarian. But alas, that hasn’t always been true. In point of fact, westerns have been used to promote liberal agendas as well as conservative ones; to promote Christianity as well as to mock Faith. A recent western-- OPEN RANGE with Kevin Costner-- has serious socialistic undertones to the viewer who can see them. Actually though, this is nothing new. Many classic westerns have had uncomfortably "collectivist" themes since at least the World War 2 era. [Take a close look sometime at the underlying message of HIGH NOON, for example, which strongly implies that an empowered central government is the only thing that will save men from themselves. Watch the famous "church scene" carefully and you’ll see what I mean.]

At it’s best, though, the western is a great and uniquely American art form. And yes... at it’s best it is one of the most entertaining showcases for fiction concerned with the plight of rugged individuals, often standing at odds with the conglomerate or corporate mindset.

It has been said often that Owen Wister’s 1900 novel THE VIRGINIAN is the first western story, but I believe this is entirely ludicrous. Fenimore Cooper basically wrote frontier "westerns" seventy-odd years before Wister, and dime novels had already invented and overused the "fast draw showdowns" and "heroic personal codes" of the "horse opera" since at least the late 1860s.

Having said that, though, I will admit that THE VIIRGINIAN was a milestone; a true American classic. If you’ve never read it I actually envy you the experience. In essence, Wister took the conventions and cliches of the mythic dime novel western and added something that made literary history: a remarkable dose of realism. Wister’s cowboys are real working men. His landscapes are turn-of-the-century Wyoming as seen by a brilliant visitor. Read today, Wister’s masterpiece seems less like a "western" than something out of Dickens or Stevenson; the characters are finely drawn and the story is compelling. Even the female lead character is a fully developed and motivated character... and that is something only the best westerns ever could boast.

After Wister came the deluge. I believe the golden age of the western on paper was from about 1900 to 1925 or so. Even the worst westerns from that period seem to be well written and thoughtful. Check out the short stories that O. Henry wrote about the west, for example. They contain some best slang you will ever read.

Another good period though, for some reason, is the late 1930s to mid-1940s. Westerns had a strong literary feel just before and during the WW2 era. [Again I really don’t know why.] Ernest Hemingway himself once confessed to voraciously reading the works of Ernest Haycox [one of my 3 favorite all-time authors.] If you read some of Haycox’s short fiction from the period-- especially stories like "Violent Interlude" and my personal favorite "Officer’s Choice"-- you will see why. They read like Hemingway on horseback. Other greats from this period were Tom W. Blackburn, Luke Short, and Peter Dawson. [Interestingly, Short and Dawson were real life brothers-- real names Frederick and Jonathon Glidden.]

I believe that western movies also had their rennasiance in the ’30s and ’40s. Some of those films are still the most realistically designed westerns ever filmed. Look at the costuming in films like DALLAS with Gary Cooper or DODGE CITY with Erroll Flynn.  

Even the horses are dressed right-- in Victorian high-backed saddlery. The spirit of these films is great as well... always a rollicking wide open attitude... and a blissful democracy about the rights of men. And again these westerns often feature great female characters. Check out Ella Raines as the cowgirl heroine "Arly" in the old John wayne classic TALL IN THE SADDLE. She is by far the best character in the film... lively, smart, attractive, and virile. They just don’t create cowgirls like that anymore. Sigh.

The greatest western movie of all time though, in my humble opinion, is TRUE GRIT from 1969. I don’t care what anyone tells you, John Wayne totally earned his Oscar for his portrayal of fat, one-eyed, Federal Marshal Rooster Cogburn. This film, based on Charles Portis’ classic novel of the same name, is an amazingly audacious movie that would NEVER be made today. The story of teenaged moralist Mattie Ross [played to perfection by Kim Darby] hiring the drunken Cogburn to avenge her father’s death is less a cliched shoot-em-up than a near documentary about the criminal mindset and effective containment thereof. Cogburn, Mattie, and Texas ranger LeBouef [played with red-neck bravado in an under-rated performance by Glen Campbell] travel through an 1870s Oklahoma Territory where criminals are real and not glorified. They are consistently presented as selfish, whiney and brutal... and thus darkly comical. Also, the use of period slang and vernacular in this film is the best I have ever seen, although I have to admit that the screenplay for TOMBSTONE with Kurt Russell runs a close second.

TV westerns, in my opinion, were usually not as good as their counterparts in print and cinema. GUNSMOKE and BONANZA, the 2 longest running TV westerns, are both-- to me, at least-- case studies in boredom and nausea. [Nobody on Bonanza even LOOKS like they’ve been west of the Jersey shore, and how about that Gunsmoke anyway? 20 years on the air and NO character developement whatsoever! You’d think he would’ve at least married the hooker by about year 5! LOL]

MAVERICK with James Garner, on the other hand, was a classic. I can’t wait til they DVD that one!

All in all... I think the very best TV westerns, for some reason, were the ones that bordered on soap opera. My two all-time favorites were both of this style: HIGH CHAPPARAL and [remove all hats, please] THE BIG VALLEY.

The great selling point of these 2 shows was their attempt at historicity. While the hairstyles and clothes were sometimes off, both shows made a really noble attempt at historical realism. Both, for example were actually filmed where they were set. "HC" was filmed each week in Old Tucson and actaully took place there. "BV" was done the same way in the San Joaquin Valley in SoCal.

As much as I like the compelling Inter-cultural ranch saga and great acting of HIGH CHAPPARAL, for me there was never a TV western to rank with BIG VALLEY. This classic show had all the themes mentioned by Gary North above, and it used them to the most dramatic effect ever. It was the opposite of a collectivist western in that the heroes were a family involved in big time capitalism, and the values of free trade and charity were constantly if subtly preached. Also, no western ever quite reached the sheer testosterone level that the Barkley saga did. Never was there-- in ANY other western-- a better group of differing bad-asses than the Barkley brothers. Hot-head Nick, big-brained Jarrod, and Tragic/noble Heath [no accident, I think, that his name so closely resembles that of the anti-hero of WUTHERING HEIGHTS] were the best ensemble of charcters that ever graced a TV western. In fact, this show was far more closely aligned to the literary western invented by Owen Wister than to the then-current paperback writers like, say, Louis L’Amour [who I also admire, actually.] Also, the great Barbara Stanwick really lifted the bar with her presence as the matriarch of the clan. She made it classy as well as tough. Long live THE BIG VALLEY!

So yeah... I dig Westerns!

I know they are out of style-- but I love them in spite of it... heck, maybe BECAUSE of it.

Some folks escape with Jedi Knights and some with young sorcerers named Harry... but give me a horse next to Rooster Cogburn any day!


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Lately I have been reading about this man. His name was Daniel Boone, and he has become an almost mythical figure from American history. There were legends about him even in his own lifetime, but the bare truth of his accomplishments makes a story more compelling than any fiction.

If you will indulge me, I would like to share a few facts about this man's life. I think there is a lesson the old "Long Rifle" can teach us... even today.

By all accounts he wasn't tall [Probably he stood about 5 feet 5]... His voice was said to be distractingly soft. It was said that there was nothing about him physically that would leave a lasting impression.

At 34 years of age, he was deeply in debt and failing as a farmer. His whole life had seemed like an uneventful failure. It was at this time they say he actually gave up. He decided to pay his debts, pack up his family, and head for a land to the west he heard about called, "'Kaintuck."

It is a historical fact that with his bare hands he cut a road through the wilderness to allow others access to the lush western spaces beyond Appalachia. He established a town called "Boonesborough" and fought man, beast and nature to preserve it... until the area was populated and secure. He was, interestingly, a professing Christian who had been raised in the Quaker faith. His brother and he became Baptists later, and that same brother served as a preacher to the community he had founded.

He served the colonies as a militia officer during the American revolution. In 1778 he was captured by the Shawnee Indians who adopted him into their tribe, giving him the name Sheltowee (which apparently meant "The Big Turtle").

In his writings he claimed to hate all violence and bloodshed. It is worth noting that he was famously sympathetic to the plight of the tribal indians of his time, even though he had lost two sons in frontier indian wars.

At the age of 70 he got tired of the crowds and moved to the St. Louis, Missouri, area seeking "elbow room." It was in many ways a second career for him as a town builder. Remember... this was at age SEVENTY!

In 1820 at the age of 86 he died.

Now consider this. This man had left the Carolinas, and failure, and never looked back. Facing complete uncertainty he marched west and into history. He helped in no small way to mold and establish a part of our nation.

So... what would have happened if Daniel Boone had been a successful farmer?

Now... I don't know about anyone else, but this story kind of amazes me. I mean it really makes me think. If we could see the "big picture" of our lives I suspect we would very possibly find that our "failures" were often the catalysts that pointed us toward a new and great beginning.

I find that encouraging, don't you? Whether we've had a disappointment in business, a physical setback, a significant human loss or a even a failed marriage [Ouch!]... in all probability God Himself may very well be opening up a new world of possibility to us. What a wonderful thought!

Thank God for creating a universe that has made room for all manner of second chances! [...and third and fourth and fifth and... you get the point... LOL]

In any case... I tip my hat to the old frontiersman's example...

Thanks for livin' it large, Dan'l!

"Many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy. With me the world has taken great liberties, and yet I have been but a common man."
—Daniel Boone

"I can't say as I ever was lost,
but I was bewildered once for three days."
—Daniel Boone

Vitally Important Blog: MUNSTERS VS. ADDAMS FAMILY

A friend and I were recently discussing the merits, and differing value of TV's 2 great monster families... and, perhaps ill-advisedly, I promised to blog on the subject.

SO HERE WE GO, KIDS: The Question:

"Which was the better show, 'The Munsters' or 'The Addams Family,' and more importantly, WHY?"

Well FIRST, here are some of the distinct differences between the two seemingly similar shows, which, interstingly, both lasted two seasons ... and even had their original runs the EXACT same two years [1964-1966] way back when I was just a babe and a toddler.

While both shows sort of... mocked the family unit that was seen on typical sitcoms at the time, they did so in two different ways. "The Munsters" basically replaced each member of the stereotypical TV family unit with characters from horror movies, but these characters still maintained their very human roles, though their "monstrous" qualities usually played into the storyline.

"The Addams Family" was similar, in respect to mocking the family unit, but the dynamic of the family was less typical. Instead of them trying to be the same as everyone else-- to blend in-- they in fact celebrated their eccentricities... really flew their "Freak Flags," so to speak.

For these reasons, the shows attracted [and still attract] different kinds of viewers. In fact I must say... I discovered a LOT of opinion on this important issue all over the internet!

For example, one blogger maintains that the shows attract different and opposing demographics altogether. "The Munsters," according to this fella, attract forthright, honest, ingenuous, engaging and open-minded viewers! In fact, this guy even went as far to say that these Munster's viewers seem to have had happier childhoods. [Huh??]   He further believes that lovers of "The Addams Family" are "left-of-center, culturally elitist, college-educated, somewhat counter-culture and strident in their opinons."

Wow! I would love to see the that guy's "research." :P

Well, in any case... which show did you prefer?

For me it was a surprisingly difficult choice, but I guess-- if pressed-- I would say I lean slightly toward Herman and Lily Munster and family.

Now don't get me wrong... The Addamses did have some cool stuff going for them! I mean, that individualistic streak is cool in its way, to be sure... how could it not warm my old beatnick heart?

And... I gotta say this: I really like the positive depiction of marital love-- I'm talking about how Gomez is always presented as so incredibly and visibly HOT for his wife, Morticia.  Seriously! Check out how he is constantly fondling her and calling her those Spanish pet names! Honestly... they are easily the most passionate married couple in all of classic TV... by far.

Also... I really like Lurch and Cousin It. Those were great touches... That "You Raaaaang?" thing is totally awesome!

But frankly, at the same time... those 2 kids leave me bitterly cold!  I mean, they are just WAY too creepy for me. You have to admit, Eddie and Marylin Munster [ooh lah lah ] were never actually creepy.

And this serves to bring us to the really big difference between the two families: The Munsters were basically a funny and nice Monster family, really kind of like a comic book or a cartoon, while the Addamses had this very real and sometimes genuinely disturbing streak of actual creepiness.

For example, I remember once, while watching at a friend's house in high school back in the early '80s, kind of doing a double-take at this scene of Morticia whipping Gomez [and I mean fully clothed of course but with an actual leather horse whip!] and of course Gomez is really getting off on it! My friend and I were like: HUH??? [And I distinctly remember this, by the way... I haven't seen it in years but I am dang sure it's on the DVD!]

Now THAT is some stuff you never saw on I LOVE LUCY...

So, in a way I can see why the Addamses seem to be more popular in almost all of these internet discussions. I mean, they have this... "edge," you know? Sort of like all these adult cartoons nowadays.

Still... I choose the Munsters because the whole premise on that show was that these folks were actually a nice, well-meaning, and functioning family, no matter how creepy they looked.

I kind of like that premise. There's actually a moral there, I think.

Also, the sheer decadence of the Addamses can actually be TOO real sometimes, especially when you consider that they were actually played as idle rich tycoons who daily made a killing on the Stock Market... [remember Gomez watching his ticker tapes with glee all the time?]

Frankly, there is just something so real about THAT, that it is truly uncomfortable to me!

Now the Munsters, on the other hand, were presented as a working class family [remember Herman with his lunch-pail and hard-helmet?] and also as honest immigrants from a foreign country [Transylvania] who loved the USA and believed whole-heartedly in honesty and fair play. By the end of each episode, they had usually won their creeped-out neighbors and co-workers over with their winsome generosity and good-hearted nature.

To be really honest about it all, though,  I think what really pulled me over to the Munster side were two incidental things: the theme song and the cool cars. That song was cool. It's actually been covered by many Surf bands through the ages, recently by Los Straitjackets. And who could forget Grandpa's roadster "Drag-ula?" If you need to put "street cred" on the Munster side, the cars on that show were designed by George "batmobile" Barris himself, and they still attract crowds today. [I saw the actual "Munster Koach" in Tucson once about three years ago... cooler than a polar bear's toenail!]

So those are my thoughts.

Please, feel free to chime in.