My Movie Ban

Aren’t memories a lovely thing? Isn’t it amazing how we can sanitize them so that as we look back, the waves of time have washed over our lives and we recall only the good ole days? Even in the best of times, there had to be negative emotions, hurt feelings, or repressed fears. Yet through the Pollyannaish lens of the mind, most of those evaporate until we look back with dopey, satisfied grins at simpler and happier times.

Unless you have children to remind you.

In my memories, our children are all happy, well-adjusted, curly-haired imps who look at me in love and awe as I made all the right decisions and led the family on daring adventures and fantastic voyages.

In the drama of their minds, I play the part of a bumbling clown – Dick Van Dyke tripping over ottomans. While I remember sunshine and rainbows, they recall falls from horses, near drownings, and being afraid of monsters from stories I told because evidently I was a whooping maniac who hurled them into the deep end of the pool while I laughed sadistically from the shallow end where my feet always touched.

I don’t think they truly remember it that way, but they sure do seem to revel in the faults and foibles of the patriarch. They have passed through the childhood Land of Perfect Daddy and into the demilitarized zone that borders adulthood. At times, they demonstrate against the SDDS (Socialist Dumb Daddy State) where loud speakers boom amplified messages of all dad’s mistakes as propaganda to the less informed.

This Christmas, the wayward two were home from college and I was hobbled by a bum ankle which left a great deal of down time during which we watched old home videos and reminisced. And then I had the unmitigated gall to suggest a movie which brought up all the scars I had inflicted with my movie choices. In my defense, there was no PG-13 when I was young, so cursing was more readily acceptable in PG movies. Who knew the profanity that would assault their tender ears during Harry and the Hendersons? I only recalled a sweet sasquatch.

I do not qualify as guidance


I also had no idea the pain and trauma Jumanji would inflict. Nightmares of monkey boys affected sleep patterns for years. After that, their mother, who acts as the propriety police in all the lands of daddy, instituted a five-year movie ban and no longer allowed me to suggest movies from my childhood.

Just when it finally lifted, I made a new, holiday suggestion: Christmas Vacation.

Before you go saying, “I love that movie,” chances are you love the sanitized TBS version – which is all I have ever seen. Clark’s profanity-laced tirade in the theater edition might shock and surprise you. It did me… as I lay helplessly on the couch, knowing I had blown it… again.

Although I am sure my kids hear worse at their schools daily, the little covert operatives assumed the roles of prim saints in a tabernacle choir and acted shocked and morally compromised. It was quite a performance. They choked back evil grins and banded together while their mother issued a new movie ban… another long five years.

I get out in 2021.


What movies did you remember as clean and wholesome only to realize too late they were not?





The Laugh Track

When did they make the last truly funny show? Has there been anything funny created in two decades or are they simply repeating the same thirty minute plotlines with different characters? The real question is, are they still using the same crazy laugh track from I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith show?image

We are living with a baby monitor in the house once more. No baby (Thank God), but our patient is twelve and wants time alone with the ability to call mom with any whim that might cross her mind. Not that she would take advantage of the situation… No.

I digress.

The thing that is annoying about the baby monitor is hearing terrible programming while I’m sitting alone in the den. Worse yet, with the monitor in the kitchen on one side of me and the TV in the bedroom on the other, I get to hear the awfulness in stereo. The quality of TV these days seems to be atrocious. I’m only speaking of children’s shows in this case, but not much has piqued my interest since The Office went off the air. I do like Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, but neither are must-see for me.

imageSo I sit with the baby monitor blaring from the kitchen. It doesn’t pick up everything and the laugh track seems peculiarly loud. It sounds exactly like the ones from every mildly humorous sitcom I recall – Taxi, Fish, Welcome Back Kotter, etc. There were funny moments in those, but maybe six per episode. The laugh button was hit fifty times per show, which magnified the disparity between actual funny and forced funny. It seems they are still using the same track these days, only they hit it more often and forgot to put the six funny moments in the shows.


I was trying to build a list of shows I remember that were clever and funny enough to go without the laugh track. Here is what I came up with:





Everybody Loves Raymond

I Love Lucy

Andy Griffith

The Office

The Dick Van Dyke Show

It isn’t an exhaustive list, but my poor memory tires quickly. What would you add to my list?