Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween’s Greatest Middle Child.

     “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” has been airing every year around Halloween since 1966. But while Charlie Brown gets top billing, the real star of the show isn’t pumpkin-headed Charlie. It’s his blanket toting buddy, Linus Van Pelt
     Linus first mentioned the Great Pumpkin in 1959, which inspired the 1966 animated television special. No one else believes in the mythical gourd, except for Linus. Every year (for almost 60 years) , he sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, which never happens.  Linus is defeated, but determined, vowing  to wait for him again the following Halloween. What else would you expect from a Middle Child? That’s right, Linus is a Middle Child!
Rerun VanPelt (Licensed under
Fair Use via Wikipedia.)
     Everyone knows Linus' older sister, Lucy.  But baby bro Rerun was first mentioned on May 23, 1972: Lucy throws Linus out of the house and then finds out another little brother had just been born. Lucy declares "A new baby brother? But I just got rid of the old one!" She comments that having a second younger brother is like watching reruns on television, and Linus suggests naming him just that.
     Rerun actually appears in the strip for the first time almost a year later, on March 26, 1973 -- an identical but smaller version of Linus. In later years, Linus attempts to make Rerun a Great Pumpkin believer, taking his wary and embarrassed little brother door-to-door to spread the word. But even Rerun could not be converted. So this Halloween, let’s pay tribute to Halloween’s most famous forgotten Middle Child and share some Great Pumpkin love. Don’t do it for me. Do it for Linus!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Christopher, Christopher, Christopher!

     Let’s close the schools. Let’s have parades for him and name cities and streets all across the country after him. Let’s even reduce all sofa and loveseat living room sets by 30%! Columbus Day is all about Christopher. But what about his younger, and Smack Dab Middle brother, Bartolome? 
     Bart was a mapmaker in Lisbon, who together with Chris came up with the plan to reach the Orient by a Western route, which, by the way, they never accomplished. But even that didn’t stop the elder Columbus from becoming famous -- for getting lost! 
     While Chris stayed stateside drumming up support for their plan, Bart went to England seeking assistance from Henry VII. He was taken by pirates en route and arrived in England in bad shape, so it didn’t go well when he presented himself at the Kings Court. So he headed over to France to hit up Charles VII, but also came up empty. Meanwhile, Chris convinced Ferdinand and Isabella to fork over some cash. When Bart got the news, he headed back to Spain -- but big bro had already left without him! Nice. 
     Bart did finally get to Hispaniola in 1494 to meet his brother, where he remained for six years serving as governor. He also founded the city of Santo Domingo, and accompanied his brother on his fourth and final journey. But still, it’s always, “Chris did this,” or “Chris did that!” Not that Christopher wasn’t willing to share any of the spotlight. When things fell apart in Hispaniola, they were imprisoned together. So at least Bart got to share jail time with his brother.