Annette Funicello Gone Aged 70: Now it’s Time to Say Goodbye

Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 - died April 8, 2013) RIP
Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 – died April 8, 2013) RIP

When I was five years old, we lived in Sacramento California and I used to watch the reruns of the original Mickey Mouse club. In black and white. One of my favourite “Mouseketeers” was Annette Funicello. This dark-haired song bird stole my five-year old heart.

Of course by the time I saw the old Mickey Mouse show, Annette was already getting ready to make those “beach” movies with heart-throb Frankie Avalon.

But television is a sort of time machine and when I watched first the Mickey Mouse Show and later the Wonderful World of Disney, Annette would be the same age, even though years had passed. She exuded, through the magic of television, an ageless “girl-next-door” glow that made her special to an entire generation of Mouseketeer fans.

These same fans would go on to love her even more as the love interest in a swimming suit. But however you were introduced to Annette, it was her voice and they way she sang that impressed and made you fall in love with her all over again.

Bio’s will tell you that she was the last Mouseketeer chosen and that she was the most popular. But what they can’t tell you is the special magic that this young girl and then woman had. A magic that kept her in people’s hearts long after the Mouse Club and the Beach Party films ended.

She was a champion who fought for everyone who had Multiple Sclerosis, which she had been diagnosed with the disease in 1987 and after a five-year silence went public with the news. Her fans never stopped loving her and supporting her and she passed that love and support to others who suffered from the disease.

It was complications from this disease  that took her life aged 70.

It is with a lump in my throat and prayer for her family and friends that I write this short love letter to the Mouseketeer of my youth.

So long Annette. Like the song says, you made me love you; but with a pure childlike love that never grew up.

I’ll finish this by including a video from YouTube that, quite appropriately, features Annette and her fellow Mouseketeers singing the “Goodbye” sign-off song from the show.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: The Past Can be a Blast

I was 5 years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. I remember the day very well. I was annoyed that my usual fare of children’s television was not airing. Instead it was some boring news thing. I went into the kitchen to complain to my mother about it. She told me to play something since Superman and The Mickey Mouse show weren’t on.

Later that same day a lady from the nearby Air Force base housing area came and knocked on every house door in the neighbourhood, including ours. She said the same thing to everyone who answered their door, “The President’s been shot.”

Even at 5 years old, I could tell that this was bad. The grown-ups were crying and very upset. America changed on that day forever, as did the rest of the world. Stephen King’s book 11/22/63 looks at what could happen if someone was given a choice to change history or, to be even more basic, to change the past by travelling back to a time when things were easier and simpler.

Jake Epping finds out that his friend Al, the proprietor of Al’s Diner, has found a “doorway” into the past. A sunny September afternoon in 1958, 5 whole years before Jacqueline Kennedy is made a widow and her children orphans. Al shows Jake this doorway when he finds that he is dying of cancer and after his last trip, “down the rabbit hole” left him unable to save President Kennedy from dying at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Jake finds out that Al has been going through this doorway for years. Al also explains to Jake that no matter how long you stay in the past, when you return you’ve only been gone for 2 minutes. Al stayed for 4 years on his last trip in order to save JFK from getting killed. Unfortunately his heavy cigarette habit caught up with him before he could stop Oswald.

He makes Jake promise that he will try to save Kennedy from assassination. Jake goes back and changes one thing; he stops the school janitor’s father from murdering his mother and his siblings. He comes back to see what has changed for the janitor only to find that he died in Vietnam. Despite this minor setback, Jake decides to live up to his promise to Al and go back.

President Kennedy and the First Lady (Dallas 22/11/63)

This is Stephen King at his finest. For years I have always declared that The Stand was his best book. Probably because it was the first one of his books that I read. But I now stand corrected. 11/22/63 is without a doubt his best book to date.

King has always had a talent for making his characters seem alive and breathing. His cinematic style of writing also make his stories just as alive as his characters. He still lets us into the minds of the people he writes about, which helps to make them seem more real.

In this book he manages to keep track of all the threads of the story (or strings, as it were) and tie them up in a bow at the end of the story. King is really the only writer who can consistently make me cry and laugh at his stories. His books also make me partake in one continuous “read-a-thon” where I cannot put the book down until I’ve finished it. Once I’ve finished it and read his afterword notes, I pick it up and read it again.

I think I got so swept away by the story because of the time period that is was set in. I was a small child in the 60’s and became a teenager in the 70’s. Apart from living in Sacramento California when I was 5, I grew up in the south. The picture he paints of the time, people and area is spot on.

When he writes of the small Texas town where Jake meets Sadie, I can “see” the teenagers with their flat tops and Ked sneakers and penny loafers (with a dime stuck in the front of the shoe) and I can taste the king size Cokes and smell the ever present cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke. As Jake points out, everyone smoked in the 50’s and 60’s. These were the last days of innocence in America. We’d won the war. John Wayne was still number one at the box office and America was the golden land of opportunity.

It was also the days of racial segregation, the KKK and “better dead than red.” There were towns in the south that did not allow black people to live within their hallowed city limits. A time when the Army and the police and the National Guard had to escort black students to a white school. It was also Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. Russia was the “big bad” that the world faced and nuclear weapons were what we dropped on Japan and Russia beat us into space and had atomic weapons.

I can still remember the signs of restaurants and cafes that said, “No Coloured’s” and of course the all-purpose catch-all, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” This would change in the 70’s when it was no longer deemed appropriate to be racially bigoted. The signs were replaced with the, “No shirt, No shoes, No service.” This prejudice against the long-haired, peace-loving, hippies was acceptable.

It is this backdrop that Jake has to inhabit. And we are there with him, every step of the way. But Jake is not alone, he feels like the past is actively fighting him every step of the way on his journey to save the US president from assassination.

He learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed.

If I used a star system for rating books I’ve read, 11/22/63 would get a 5 out of 5 stars. So okay the idea isn’t necessarily original, King himself writes about Jack Finney‘s Time and Again. But it is the way it is written that makes this a classic tale and one worth reading.

In my humble opinion, Stephen King is, as his name suggests, the crowned head of popular fiction. I don’t think that he is in any danger of losing his crown.

Stephen King.

Super Sweet Blogging Award…Up! Up! And Away!

I’ve got to thank the lovely Marilyn over at Serendipity for bestowing this award on my little blog. Which is, in essence, me I suppose. Still it’s wonderful to be nominated for anything with the word super in its title. It always makes me regress to childhood when the coolest guy on the television was Superman (the real program with George Reeves, not the cartoon).

Okay so I’m not that old, I used to watch the re-runs which were shown daily in Sacramento California when I was about 4 or 5. Poor old George had Up, up and ‘awayed’ himself to the hereafter by the time I got old enough to watch his show. I also watched the re-runs of the Mickey Mouse club with Annette Funicello and pals, I think Annette had graduated to Beach Party Bingo or some other teen bikini film with Frankie Avalon when I watched her.

Sorry I’m digressing something rotten. Back to the award.

I will set out the guidelines and answer some questions and nominate a baker’s dozen of other bloggers that I think fit the bill for the Super Sweet Blogging Award (or more accurately pull some blogger out of my metaphorical hat, because I hate having to choose just a few).

Right! The guidelines are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award aka give credit to. So Thanks Marilyn at Serendipity (The coolest blog name ever).

2.Answer the super sweet questions, which I will do right after passing on the guidelines.

3. Nominate a Bakers Dozen.

The super sweet questions are:

1. Cookies or cake? Cookies. Not just any old ordinary cookies either. The old-fashioned (as when I was a boy) Girl Scout Peanut Butter cookies. Oh man!

2. Chocolate or vanilla. Chocolate every time.

3. What is your favourite sweet treat, cheesecake or frozen yoghurt? That’s a toughie…frozen yoghurt.

4.When do you crave sweet things the most? I don’t as a rule crave sweet things, but I’d have to say probably after a meal.

5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Of all the people who could have a “sweet” nickname, I would not be one of them. The only ‘handle’ I’ve ever had besides my own name was Texas Ted (don’t ask, it’s a boring story).

The awards:

Now here I’m going to deviate a little bit from the formula. Instead of nominating special posts that I find inspirational, I am going to nominate blogs that I’ve just discovered. I’d like to nominate everyone but sadly I don’t have the time. So here goes:

Austin ‘Bishop Review’

pikeknight

42ndego

overthinkerer

Dawn Akemi

filmhipster

timneath

mformariya 

Thomas Priday

Filmcraziest

TheNovelReviewer

Logan Krum Movie Reviews

Chris Martin

And there you have it. I’m just doing my bit to spread a little love around. If you get a chance check these blogs out, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

Thanks again Marilyn! All awards gratefully and cheerfully accepted! Cheers mate!!