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Good grief! First-time visitors to "ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas" invariably were surprised by the impressively colorful ice-sculpture renderings of the Peanuts gang.

These articles are arranged from the most recent down, so you'll always find the newest news about Charlie Brown and his friends toward the top; older articles will be located further down, or on previous pages.

Very cool! Scenes from Charlie Brown special rendered in ice

November 27, 2009

By Donna Stinnett
The Gleaner (Henderson, Kentucky)

Thirty days after they started, 40 ice sculptors from Harbin, China, were successful in transforming 2 million pounds of ice into the colorful Christmas world of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

"ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas" opened late last week at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, marking the first time "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has been created in such a medium.

It will be open through Jan. 2 in the Gaslight Theater in Opry Plaza.

Just prior to the public opening, members of the late "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz' family as well as the 1965 animated cartoon's producer, Lee Mendelson, came from California to tour "ICE!"

"I couldn't wait to see it when the opportunity came up," said Craig Schulz, son of the artist. "It exceeds my expectations."

His sister, Jill, said it was very incredible to walk though and see the scenes from the Christmas classic recreated in ice in a three-dimensional way.

"My dad would certainly be proud of it," she said.

Visitors will see the highlights of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in the 10 rooms of the display, including the ice skating scene that opens the show, Lucy's psychiatry booth, Sally's letter to Sana, the Christmas play rehearsal, Charlie Brown and Linus' visit to the Christmas tree lot, Linus' famous speech that lets everyone know what Christmas is all about, Snoopy's decorated doghouse, the kids singing "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" and more.

There's also an interactive aspect to the ice exhibit -- an ice slide that visitors can try out should they choose.

Since the area that houses "ICE!" is kept at 9 degrees, visitors are given special parkas to wear for the 20 minutes or so they spending touring the exhibit. If you go you might want to take gloves.

Also at the ending of "ICE!" there is a life-size Nativity scene carved in ice, one of four featured in the resort's "A Country Christmas" celebration.

The 26th "A Country Christmas" also includes the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes, Louise Mandrell's Joy To the World show, 2 million exterior Christmas lights and other events.

Harbin, China, the hometown of the artisans who carved "ICE!" is nicknamed "Ice City" and is home of the internationally known Harbin Ice Festival.

"ICE!" will be open seven days a week. A schedule detailing the hours, which are more extensive on Fridays, Saturdays and the days immediately prior to and following Christmas Day, are available at

Tickets are $24 on Thursday-Sunday and $22 on Monday-Wednesday for adults and $15 and $13 for ages 4-11.

Google Doodle

Google logo: Thanksgiving with Snoopy and Woodstock

November 26, 2009

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time to be grateful for not just the harvest, but all things in our lives. And Google helps us remember the day with a special logo. Snoopy and Woodstock also adorn the logo, donning chef hats. Quite the image for quite a special holiday.

You can read about the history of Thanksgiving and more about the holiday on the Google search page that is linked to the logo. A Wikipedia article gives you information about the day.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday. And a great holiday season.

Skippy Baxter

Skippy Baxter still skating 80 years on

Ex-champion plans return to teaching at Schulz ice arena

November 23, 2009

By Chris Smith
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Nobody skates through life, not really. But Skippy Baxter has come pretty close.

Baxter, two weeks short of 90 years old, is the grand old man at the ice-skating rink that was built -- for him, you could say -- by his late friend and employer Charles Schulz.

Since the "Peanuts" creator died at age 77 in 2000, Baxter has been the Redwood Empire Ice Arena's resident celebrity. He hasn't sought to be idolized by multiple generations of skaters, but he's naturally charming and gracious and he's blessed with a smile that could melt ice. So adoration just happens.

A near-Olympian, Baxter is still skating 80 years after he first strapped on a pair of blades and decades after he performed in thousands of professional ice shows as one of the most precise, athletic and high-leaping figure skaters in America.

"Maybe the reason I've lasted is that I gave up smoking the day I was born," he said from a table at the arena's Warm Puppy Cafˇ. "And I gave up alcohol the day I was born."

He doesn't curse, either, though he confesses that he used swear words while serving with a U.S. Army mountain unit in Italy in World War II because too much polite language prompted other GIs to throw things at him.

Since he helped fellow World War II veteran Schulz open the skating rink near Coddingtown 40 years ago, Baxter's main pursuit has been showing kids, not simply telling them, how to skate. He's had to back off from the lessons as of late, after having both a hip and knee replaced after a fall on the ice last year.

Even so, the man who taught Peggy Fleming as a child and showed Robin Cousins how to do a backflip intends to resume teaching, even if he has to call on younger instructors to spell him should he grow tired before a lesson is through.

"I'm going to return (to teaching) in 2010. I don't know exactly when," said Baxter, a widower since his wife, Phyllis, died a year ago last August. Any kids who take skating lessons from him next year will be lucky kids, because the inductee into two Halls of Fame (World Figure Skating and U.S. Figure Skating) plans to retire before the end of 2010.

To be clear, said Skippy Baxter, who went by his given name, Lloyd, until friends impressed by how he skipped across the ice gave him a nickname that stuck, "I'm not going to retire from skating, just from teaching."

And he vows he'll also continue his regular visits with his friend Sparky Schulz.

"I sure miss him," Baxter said. "He was such a wonderful person. I go to his grave (at Sebastopol's Pleasant Hills Cemetery) at least once, twice a week."

Baxter met Schulz, one of the world's favorite cartoonists, in 1966.

A few years prior to that, Baxter and his brother, Meryl, had left Oakland and had come to Santa Rosa hoping the little city could support a new ice-skating rink. Skippy Baxter was then a bit older than 40 and had completed a demanding, exciting and successful career as a competitive skater and performer.

He'd qualified for the 1940 Summer Olympics, only to see them cancelled because of World War II. He'd performed in 5,532 ice shows with Sonja Henie and other greats, then he'd turned to working with young figure skaters eager to dance, spin and leap on the ice as he did.

After Baxter and his brother chose Santa Rosa as the spot for a new rink in 1961, they had one built on Santa Rosa's Summerfield Road. The building is now home to the Rialto Lakeside Cinemas.

Baxter recalled the night that Sparky Schulz and Joyce, his first wife and the mother of his five children, popped in. They'd had dinner up at the nearby Hilltopper restaurant, now The Villa, and had seen the blinking "Ice Skating" sign. Baxter said the Schulzes, formerly of icy Minnesota, took a look around the rink and said they'd like to bring their kids in to learn to skate.

The Schulz kids became regulars at the rink. They were disappointed and their parents were, too, when Baxter and his brother discovered in 1968 that the building's laminated roof beams were separating. They sadly announced they'd have to close the arena while the beams were replaced.

Then Charles Schulz phoned Baxter with a proposal.

"He said, 'Skippy, if I build a new rink, will you and your brother run it?' Without hesitation, I said yes."

Schulz had a new ice arena constructed on West Steele Lane and opened it in 1969 with Meryl Baxter as its manager and Skippy Baxter as the director of instruction. Forty years later, Meryl is retired in Pleasanton and his brother skates on at the rink he knows better than anyone else.

Skippy Baxter's blue eyes smiled when he said he hopes that when he dies somebody will put his skates on him and lace them up, "but not too tight. It might cut off circulation."

A Square Peg's Christmas

November 15, 2009

By Michael Murray
Canwest News Service (

It has been said that the genius of jazz legend Miles Davis was that he played silences the way other people played notes. He allowed space to come into his music, and it was into this emptiness that an unmistakable melancholy often settled.

I was struck by this observation while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is entirely unique in the genre of animated Christmas specials. The first oddity is the jazz soundtrack. Composed by Vince Guaraldi, the score is so integral to the show's mood and tone, it's practically a character in and of itself. There's a thoughtful, adult quality to it; one that suggests art rather than commerce, and although the show was released in 1965, it has a pre-modern, almost rural feel to it.

Although "Linus and Lucy" -- the signature piece of music to which all the Peanuts famously danced -- doesn't sound until about halfway through the special, it became so culturally embedded, it was used as the theme song for all subsequent specials.

However, it's not this piece of music that starts A Charlie Brown Christmas, but another Guaraldi composition. Wistful and contemplative, this music is in no rush, nor does it try too hard to sell you anything, be it a mood or a new song for your iPod.

As this music plays, the cartoon opens with a slow, 10-second pan. We move languorously across the winter landscape to watch the Peanuts skating on a frozen lake. With implacable faces, they glide about the ice. Instead of jubilantly playing as a group, as most children would, they seem indifferent to one another. Content to do their own thing, they seem lost in their own worlds. While this is slowly unfolding, we hear children's voices, slightly out of tune, singing "Christmas Time is Here." This has to be the most sombre, even mournful, Christmas carol ever.

Of course, the music isn't the only disarming thing about A Charlie Brown Christmas. The voices of the Peanuts and the rhythms of their speech have always seemed a little bit weird to me. There's a choppy, almost breathless quality to the way they deliver their lines, and I only recently discovered that the actors who voiced the Peanuts were indeed children.

Typically, when we're watching a cartoon like The Simpsons, we're hearing adult actors performing the voices of the children. This adds all sorts of polish and depth to the delivery. The actors furnish their lines with the knowing maturity of adults who understand exactly what the writing team intended. In the case of the Peanuts, the children used for the voices were sometimes too young to know how to read, and their lines were fed to them, half a line at a time, and then spliced together.

For this reason, there's an unusual pace and innocence in the way the characters speak. It's as if the words were translated from an adult language to a child's language, making it simultaneously alien and familiar.

Sometimes, it's as though the kids don't even really understand what they're saying. It's all very strange and dislocating, but it has the ring of truth to it.

At any rate, Charlie Brown is not in the Christmas spirit. He attempts to direct the school pageant, but proves a failure at that. He then bungles the task of picking out a tree, choosing one that's little more than an emaciated sprig of parsley. However, after Linus delivers the epiphanic Gospel of Luke, in which the true meaning of Christmas is revealed, things take a turn for the better. The tree, attended to by the Peanuts gang, fulfils its beautiful potential, and we're left with the image of everybody, Charlie Brown included, singing beneath an immense night sky, as snow falls.

Charlie Brown, a square peg in a world of round holes, always has an uncertain frown -- as if drawn by somebody with a shaky hand -- on his face. The jangly lines of an insomniac circle his eyes, and despite his very best efforts to be like the effortlessly confident and graceful Snoopy, things just never work out for him. The melancholic, depressive glaze of the Peanuts is unmistakable, and that's one of the reasons I think it makes for such a strange and compelling Christmas special.

I suppose there are many people who relate to Charlie Brown at this time of year. With manufactured Christmas Muzak bombarding us at the shopping malls, many of us feel pressured to be happy and to confront obligations, both financial and social, that we really want no part of. Often, the absences in our lives feel amplified at this time, and it's easy to fall through the cracks and feel blue, like an outsider, like Charlie Brown.

Each year, the eccentric Peanuts special returns and washes over us like a Miles Davis performance. A Charlie Brown Christmas comes at a different tempo, giving the audience the opportunity to fill the space between the notes that have been struck, and, like Charlie Brown, to find some solace in a restive moment of grace and innocence.

Good grief! Not!

New Village Theatre Art Gallery opens with 'Peanuts at Bat'

November 12, 2009

By Dolores Fox Ciardelli
The Danville Express News (California)

Baseball season may be over for some folks but it's just beginning in Danville. "Peanuts at Bat" from the Charles M. Schultz Museum is the opening exhibit in the new Village Theatre Art Gallery that is having its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., this Saturday, Nov. 14.

"The Town's Village Theatre Art Gallery creates an exciting new destination where both the visual and performing arts can be enjoyed," said Marcia Somers, assistant town manager. "When attending ... performances, you can now also view the lobby gallery exhibits before the show starts or during intermission."

Grand opening festivities begin with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. and will include a special guest appearance by Snoopy, live music, giveaways and food.

The Monte Vista Beautyshop Double Quartet will perform as well as the East Bay Banjo Club, United We Sing, and the San Ramon Valley Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Kylie Rothfield.

The party is also a chance to see the newly renovated lobby of the historic building. The entry was reconfigured to include an art gallery, larger restrooms and a new ticket area.

Peanuts at Bat showcases some of Charles M. Schulz's most memorable baseball-themed comic strips. Forty-three digital prints from the original Schulz drawings are on display, taking the visitor through five decades of the Peanuts Gang engaged in America's pastime.

Included in the exhibition are vintage Peanuts baseball memorabilia and ephemera: bobble head dolls, banners, and a board game. Also on display are a Louisville Slugger Joe Shlabotnik bat (Shlabnotnik is Charlie Brown's favorite - underperforming - player, who's never actually seen in the strip) and an over-sized Snoopy doll decked out in his favorite team uniform.

Peanuts at Bat is organized and toured by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa. It is sponsored locally by the Town of Danville Recreation Services Department.

"With the opening of the Village Theatre Art Gallery this is a unique time for the town," said Michelle Lacy, Recreation Services Manager.

The Peanuts exhibit runs through Dec. 20. The second exhibit will be "Light Fantastic," a contemporary Irish stained glass art show organized by the Crafts Council of Ireland, Kilkenny, from January to March. It will be followed in April and May by a show organized by the Mt. Diablo Museum curator featuring original work.

The Village Theatre Art Gallery is located at 233 Front St. in Danville. Gallery hours are 2-8 Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Jill Schulz, Daughter of Late 'Peanuts' Creator Charles Schulz Says No One Will Ever Continue Strip

November 5, 2009

By Brent Singer

Jill Schulz, daughter of "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, is a busy woman.

She helps manage the massive "Peanuts" empire, especially Woodstock Ice Productions, drawing on her career as a professional ice skater. She also directs and choreographs the "All Wheels Xtreme" sports entertainment shows and still finds time for her husband, Aaron, and their two children, Kylie, 11, and Tyler, 7. She took time out of her day to chat with ParentDish about her dad, his legacy and the Peanuts 60th Anniversary Photo Look-A-Like contest.

ParentDish: I'm sure you've been asked this 100 times, but what's it like to be the daughter of a legend?

Jill Schulz: I always say that he's the only dad I grew up with, so to me he was always a dad first. I learned a lot from my dad. His philosophy on working hard and enjoying what you do, and enjoying the process. We grew up in Northern California, so we didn't grow up in a sort of celebrity Beverly Hills-esque lifestyle. My parents were from Minnesota, so we were all fairly "Plain Jane." We just grew up in a regular "Brady Bunch"-style house in the country.

PD: Is there a point when you realized how special your dad is to other people?

JS: Throughout the years, just seeing the effect he had on different people, all the way from your average fan to when he had his heart surgery and President Reagan [called] him in the hospital. I think he himself was oftentimes impressed with how famous the entire "Peanuts" empire had become.

I remember we were at a cartoonists' convention, and he [said], this entire room full of people, all of their jobs and their livelihoods are based on his job. He really felt honored, a responsibility to all these people that were making their living and putting their energies into products that were related to this strip that he had started.

People used to say [to him], 'You have all the money you want, why don't you just retire.' My dad would always say, 'Why would I be fortunate enough to have a job that I love to do, the only thing I ever wanted to do [and] not do it?' To him that made no sense. He always taught me the real joy is in the process of finding something you do and in the doing of what it is you have a passion and an interest in, not where you're going to end up.

PD: Do you feel a responsibility to keep the Peanuts legacy safe and special?

JS: Yes. [My family is] very adamant about that. Years ago, before my dad passed away, there were renewals on contracts, and there was a question -- do we someday allow anyone else to write the strip, to continue it. A lot of people [said] you've got to get someone else to draw it, to keep the product out there. They were looking at it from purely a business standpoint.

[My dad] took great pride in the fact that he had never let anybody else letter or draw a single piece of any strip. And we said no, we don't care if it ends up being a less financially beneficial decision. Our first and foremost concern is the integrity of our dad's work, and the legend behind his work.

The new TV specials, we've allowed them to take comic strips and string them together, and you have to write enough to turn it into a half-hour TV special. But there will never be anyone writing a cartoon strip. That will never ever happen. Because we know that's something my dad never wanted.

PD: Why do you think Peanuts continues to resonate with people?

JS: [The strip] is based on emotions and situations in life that nobody escapes. My dad was always a great observer, and he was always a good listener. His own childhood memories were so strong that what was in the strip, all of the things we go through -- the Little Red Haired girl, the rejection, the brothers and sisters fighting, Lucy and's nothing that will ever go away. It was happening back when he started to write the strip, and it's still happening now. And I think that's why it continues.

PD: Comic strips, since they appear in the newspaper, are targeted at adults, not kids, right?

JS: You're right. My dad used to say, people don't understand that my cartoon strip is for adults. But a kid can still enjoy looking at the physical gags, the drawings, Snoopy jumping off the dog house, or dancing, because it's really clean and simple. That was one thing my dad intentionally did. He used to point out some strips that had too much going on in the picture, they added too much in the background. Even though the subject matter is definitely written for adults, kids like looking at it.

PD: The TV specials -- were they made for all ages?

JS: Those are definitely for all ages. The Halloween special is really identifiable to kids -- the trick or treating, "I got a rock," the Great Pumpkin. You probably have to be an adult to get to the next layer of what the meaning is in those specials, [but] I think the entertainment is for all ages.

PD: Tell me about the Peanuts Look Alike contest.

JS: It's just a fun thing to start the year for all the special events that will happen for the 60th anniversary. All the celebrities that agreed to represent themselves as that character, it's all fun. You're always seeing people saying, "Oh, you're so Charlie Brown," "My sister is just like Lucy, she's always yelling at me," things like that. It gives people a chance to send pictures, either people whose personalities are just like these characters or somebody who just looks like them.

PD: Your daughter was in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"?

JS: Yes, she played Sally and sang "My Philosophy" with the local theater club here.

PD: What was that like?

JS: It was neat to see her do it. The director gave her the last line of the play, where Lucy says, "You're a good man, Charlie Brown." Normally it would have gone to Lucy, but he gave it to her. I know it was really special for her. Now my son is starting to do plays. He'll probably be Linus because he has a blue blanket, like I'm sure hundreds of other people do.

PD: Would you mind if your kids went into show business?

JS: No. I want them to do whatever it is they want to do. I continually stress the lesson that my dad always taught me. The most important thing is just to enjoy the process of what you're doing. Understand the difference between wanting to be in the business and working at your craft, or wanting to be in the business because you want to end up on "Entertainment Tonight."

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' at the baby grand

October 28, 2009

Called a "pleasant mix...that aims to please and often succeeds," by the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Eric Mintel Jazz Quartet ('s presentation of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" features the beloved songs of Vince Guaraldi as made famous by the animated Peanuts gang. The acclaimed quartet brings familiar tunes such as "Christmas Time is Here," "Skating," and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" to the stage along with other classic holiday standards like "Silent Night," "Christmas Tree," "Christmas Song," and Mintel's own original compositions. The Eric Mintel Quartet performs "A Charlie Brown Christmas" live at the baby grand ( in Wilmington on Thursday, December 10 at 8PM. Tickets are $23.

For many families, the annual broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" signals the start of the holiday season. One of the most memorable aspects of the special is its collection of lilting, sweet melodies written by late composer Vince Guaraldi. The Grammy-winning jazz pianist's 1963 single "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" convinced producers to enlist him as composer for the animated version of Charles Schulz's celebrated comic strip. Eric Mintel and company showcase Guaraldi's holiday-themed music in an effort to not only entertain adults who grew up on A Charlie Brown Christmas, but also introduce children to jazz in a live concert setting.

Pianist and composer Eric Mintel has toured with his nationally-acclaimed quartet since 1993, mixing elements of classical, jazz, and original compositions to create a unique live experience. In addition to collaborating with symphonies, orchestras, and choirs, Mintel has frequently performed at the Kennedy Center, as well as the White House. Recently, the quartet opened for Dave Brubeck at the renowned Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was a featured guest on XM Satellite Radio's "Live Performance Theater."

In addition to Mintel, the jazz quartet consists of National Jazz Ensemble alumnus Nelson Hill on saxes and flute, one-time USO and Cavalcade of Stars bassist Dave Antonow, and drummer Dave Mohn, who has worked with many great jazz players, including Paul Schaeffer, Dennis DiBlasio, Richie Cole, Charles Fambrough, Steve Varner, and Daryl Hall.

The Eric Mintel Quartet performs "A Charlie Brown Christmas" live at the baby grand in Wilmington on Thursday, December 10 at 8PM. This concert is sponsored by DuPont. Tickets are $23 and can also be purchased as part of a MyChoice series package. MyChoice benefits include saving $3 off each ticket with the purchase of 3, 4 or 5 shows and $5 off each ticket with the purchase of 6 or more shows, as well as ticket exchange privileges, free parking vouchers, lost ticket insurance, The Grand's Stage Door Pass, and more. Both single tickets and MyChoice series packages can be purchased online at (, or by calling 302-652-5577 or 800-37-GRAND, or visiting The Grand's Box Office at 818 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.

Other upcoming holiday shows include the warm sounds of a Canadian Brass Christmas ( on Monday, December 14 at The Grand. Kick off the holiday season with The Grand and the Brian Setzer Orchestra at the 2009 Grand Gala ( on Saturday, December 5 at 8PM. The Brian Setzer Orchestra sold out the house at The Grand in 2006, and their return performance will keep you on your feet with swing, blues, and rockabilly versions of popular holiday favorites. Further information on these shows and other artists can be found in The Grand's 2009-2010 season brochure, now available for download at (, or by request when calling The Grand's Box Office at 302-652-5577.

Ice sculptures

Only One Month Until World's Only Charlie Brown Ice Sculpture Attraction Opens

October 21, 2009

PR Web

With only one month to go until the opening of the only ice sculpture attraction in the world telling the story of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the family of the late and legendary Charles Schulz is preparing for a visit to Nashville, Tenn. It is there that artisans from Harbin, China are busy carving 2 million pounds of ice at Gaylord Opryland Resort's A Country Christmas. When the 40 carvers are finished, thousands of giant blocks of ice will have been transformed into a larger-than-life ice sculpture storybook telling the story of A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. Members of the Schulz family will be the first to experience ICE during a private tour before it opens to the public November 20, 2009.

"We've all seen an ice sculpture, we've all seen carvings, but I think to see room after room of these Charlie Brown Ice sculptures is going to be mind boggling. I think that when it comes to these ice sculptures that they are going to be perfect and [Charles Schulz] would have loved them all," said Jeannie Schulz, wife of the late Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz.

A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of America's most successful TV Christmas classics, is being brought to life in frozen form at Gaylord Opryland's Gaslight ICE! Theater, in an attraction called ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas. The colorful, interactive ice sculpture world will tell the story of Charlie Brown and his friends as he asks, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?," and they discover the answer together. Jeannie Schulz along with Charles Schulz's son Craig will be on hand to experience ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas, when it is complete. They discuss the project, and Charles Schulz on a video that can be seen at which was recorded at the Charles Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.

"Undoubtedly my Dad would have loved it because basically anything that was about art he loved whether it was ice carving, drawing, painting ... he was fascinated by art. So for someone to take his comic strip and translate it into ice sculptures I think would have fascinated him on numerous levels. Now for it to come to Nashville, I am thrilled," explained Craig Schulz, son of Charles Schulz.

"We are proud to partner with Gaylord Opryland Resort to bring the public ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas," said Helene Gordon, VP of Peanuts Worldwide at United Media, the licensing and syndication company for Peanuts. "Each holiday season, fans of all ages look forward to watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, and having a chance to see it brought to life with ICE! will truly be a wonderful and unique way to celebrate this time of year."

It will take a team of 40 artisans 40 days of around-the-clock work to transform thousands of 350 lb. blocks of ice into the Peanuts characters' sculptures, slides and entire rooms that are literally constructed of ice. The attraction is constructed inside the theater on the Gaylord Opryland property that is kept chilled at 9 degrees.

ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas opens Nov. 20, 2009, and runs through Jan. 2, 2010. It will be open seven days a week with times ranging from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., depending on the day of the week. Ticket prices range from $13 (child) to $24 (adult), depending on the day. Children ages 3 years and under are allowed entrance for free.

Peanuts lovers can have breakfast with Charlie Brown, too, in Gaylord Opryland's beautiful Garden Conservatory Atrium's Ristorante Volare. Children and adults will enjoy the wide range of delicious buffet items created with A Charlie Brown Christmas in mind. And Charlie will visit the tables, share hugs and happily join his new friends for photographs.

Breakfast with Charlie Brown is available Saturdays and Sundays during A Country Christmas from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast is $14.95 for kids 3-11 and $24.95 for adults. Reservations are strongly suggested and can be made by calling 1-888-999-6779.

To see the schedule for ICE!, buy individual or group tickets in advance, make reservations for Breakfast with Charlie Brown or book A Country Christmas vacation packages from two to three nights, which includes ICE!, call 1-888-999-OPRY or visit

Sleepy Eye
From left, Sleepy Eye Mayor Jim Broich holds the Linus statue's "I Love Sleepy Eye" heart recovered last Wednesday in brush along the bike trail by Edgar Sanchez and Nate Eckstein.

Sleepy Eye Linus' lost heart found

October 7, 2009

By Doreen Tyler
The Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch [Minnesota]

The odds were stacked against it ever happening, but, as luck would have it, Linus got his heart back.

Last Wednesday, Nate Eckstein and his buddy, Edgar Sanchez, both of Sleepy Eye, found the "I Love Sleepy Eye" heart laying in the brush along the bike trail.

"It was laying there and we thought it was a balloon or something," Edgar said. "We picked it up and freaked out because we knew it was the heart they were looking for."

The pair immediately took Linus' heart to the police station, but since the police were out on patrol, Nate and Edgar instead left it with Sleepy Eye Ambulance coordinator Shari Hittesdorf who happened to be in her office at the time. The guys said they won't forget the look on her face when she saw what they had.

Shari made a phone call to Mayor Jim Broich who picked up the heart on Thursday. "I never thought I'd see this again," he said, examining the heart. "I was under the impression from information the police had, that it was in pieces."

According to Mayor Broich, the police had leads on the perpetrators of the theft, but were unable to prove they had committed the crime. It had been insinuated to them that the heart had been destroyed.

Linus' heart did sustain some damage by way of scratches. When Nate and Edgar found it, the heart was muddy and in need of a good cleaning. "It will need to be repainted," Mayor Broich said.

"In the spring, we're hoping to have the whole Linus statue repainted. It needs it."

The "I Love Sleepy Eye" Linus and Snoopy statue was erected in front of Dyckman Library in September of 2003, as part of the unveiling of 105 statues in a public art initiative called "Linus Blankets St. Paul."

The Sleepy Eye Linus statue was made to honor Sleepy Eye native Linus Maurer who worked with cartoonist and Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.

The heart, along with Snoopy's nose, were reported missing in early May 2009, although it is still unknown when the parts were first stolen.

The process had just gotten under way to create a replacement heart. Mayor Broich estimated it could have cost the city up to $1,000 to replace the heart and nose. He added Linus' heart will be reattached in the coming week, more securely than it had been attached.

Snoopy's nose may never be found. It is, after all, small and black, much like a clump of dirt or mud.

When asked if they might like to give the search a try anyway, Nate and Edgar laughed. "It would be hard to find that," Nate said.

"I'm glad to have (Linus' heart) back," Mayor Broich concluded. "This was unexpected."

Charlie Brown, world's greatest baseball player, returns to the Slugger Museum

October 6, 2009 [Kentucky]

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory announced the return of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang with a new temporary exhibition entitled Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!. The exhibit, developed with the Charles M. Schulz Museum, opens Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 4, 2010.

The 2009 debut of Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! marks the beginning of a three-year agreement to bring the exhibit to Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory during the holiday season. Admission to the exhibit is included with a Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory ticket.

The heartwarming collection honors the 1965 classic television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas with a behind-the-scenes look at this animated gem and artifacts used in the production.

"We are very excited to welcome back the Peanuts gang," says Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Executive Director Anne Jewell. "The Peanuts At Bat exhibit was such a rousing success two years ago, we wanted to expand our relationship with the Schulz Museum. Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! is the perfect way to do that. We hope this annual exhibition becomes a holiday tradition for our guests."

Other features of the exhibition include reproductions of winter and holiday-themed Peanuts comic strips, a continuous showing of the 1965 classic - A Charlie Brown Christmas, fun hands-on arts & crafts, and much more.

"The Peanuts gang and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! have found a holiday home at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory," says Charles M. Schulz Museum Executive Director Karen Johnson. "Wintertime and the holidays were very important to Mr. Schulz and his endearing characters. This exhibit is a tribute to them and celebrates Charlie Brown's quest to find the true meaning of Christmas."

Reflections on Peanuts
Sid and Sharon Kingry, of the Village of Hacienda, share a laugh as they read the newspaper comics Wednesday in Spanish Springs Town Square. [Nicole Sack / Daily Sun]

Villagers reflect on comic strips, the Oct. 2, 1950, syndication of Charles M. Schulz's 'Peanuts'

October 2, 2009

By Nicole Sack
The Villages Daily Sun [Florida]

Sharon Kingry doesn't hesitate when it comes to comics.

"It's the first thing she reads in the newspaper," said Sid Kingry, her husband. "And if she finds something good, she shows it to me, and makes me read it."

Sharon Kingry, an English major in college, explains the allure of the paneled comics: "They are intellectual. There is more social commentary in the comics than any other part of the newspaper."

There has been one strip in particular that has brought a special story to those who flip to the funny pages: Peanuts.

Sharon Kingry said she gravitates toward Snoopy, Charlie Brown's dog and World War I flying ace; Woodstock, who plays birdbath ice hockey and communicates with tick marks, which Snoopy can understand; and Schroeder, who plays Beethoven on his piano.

"He is cool -- off in his own world. We've all been there," she said of Schroeder.

But what about good ol' Charlie Brown?

"Pathos! Poor, pathetic Charlie Brown," she laughed. "Nothing ever seems to work out for him. I felt like Charlie Brown when I started playing tennis."

Charlie Brown manages a baseball team that never wins, he is constantly being called a blockhead, loses kites to trees and relentlessly has footballs pulled out from in front of him.

"I think a lot of people don't get the satire," Sharon Kingry said of the funny pages. "Sometimes you have to read between the lines. You'll find things that make you laugh at yourself."

Back in 1950, newspaper readers across the nation got their first introduction to Charlie Brown on this day, Oct. 2.

Based in Minnesota, Charles M. Schulz's comic strip was syndicated to seven newspapers: The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Tribune, the Allentown Call-Chronicle, the Bethlehem-Globe Times, the Denver Post and the Seattle Times.

Paul Lonsdorf, of The Village of Orange Blossom Gardens, said that when his six children were living at home, Peanuts was a common topic of discussion. But as the kids grew up and moved away, Lonsdorf hasn't stopped turning to the funny pages.

Something else that has remained constant is the age of some of his favorite comic-strip characters. Lonsdorf notes that Blondie and Dagwood haven't aged since they were introduced in 1930, but their children have grown up. The Peanuts gang has also been untouched by the passing years.

"I don't know why I remember so much about them, but I do," said Lonsdorf, who grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in New Jersey prior to moving to The Villages in 1999.

While adults are occasionally mentioned in Peanuts, they are never actually seen. Shirley Klenke, a former schoolteacher, understands why the Peanuts gang does best without adult supervision.

"There is a way that children interact with a parent or an adult. But when it's just kids -- the way they relate to each other -- it's a whole different world. Parents aren't in on it," she said.

That's not to say that Klenke doesn't understand the humor. And her favorite of the Peanuts: Lucy, who runs a curbside psychiatric clinic for 5 cents a visit.

"I identify with Lucy," Klenke said. "She says things that make your hair stand on end."

The regard for Peanuts took it into more than 2,600 newspapers at the peak of its popularity. In December 1999 Schulz announced his retirement due to health problems, and on Feb. 12, 2000, he died at age 77 due to complications from colon cancer. The strip continues in reruns.

Snoopy in the dugout

A new personal coach for Wright?

September 22, 2009

By Bill Price
The New York Daily News

I doubt Snoopy will be brought aboard, but that photo got me thinking that it might not be a bad idea since David Wright can use all the help he can get.

Snoopy, who certainly isn't afraid of the Red Baron, could convince Wright not to be afraid of Citi Field and just swing away.

Snoopy could also teach Wright how to relax. While Charlie Brown gets top billing, everyone knows Snoopy is the real star of the show, yet it never bothers him. If he's not snoozing on the dog house, he's busting Lucy's chops or putting up Christmas lights. He has no problem being the face of the franchise, so why should Wright?

Snoopy could also bring his other pals around.

Lucy could become the Alan Lans of the 21st century, opening up her psychiatrist shop in the clubhouse, Marcy could walk around calling Omar Minaya "sir" so he feels important, Schroeder could play the organ between innings and Pig Pen could teach all the Mets how to get dirty. And when things start going bad, Charlie Brown and his "Good Grief" shtick could help offset the always-smiling Mr. Met.

Having the Peanuts gang around would certainly give Jerry Manuel some new material to try out on the media. He could even try to talk like the teachers on those shows for a few laughs. So let's hire Snoopy, that is if we can afford him.

Good ol' Gregor Brown
Lucy displays her trademark warmth in the Kafkaesque "Good ol' Gregor Brown."

Classics, Comics In Masterful Mashups

September 3, 2009

By Glen Weldon
National Public Radio

It would be a mistake to dismiss cartoonist R. Sikoryak's highly stylized mashups of comics and classic literature as mere parody. They are that, of course: It's certainly amusing to see the artist depicting Lady Macbeth, for example, as Mary Worth, the funny pages' most venerable buttinsky.

But Sikoryak is up to something more substantial here -- he's not simply satirizing Shakespeare's regicidal Thane (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rex Morgan, M.D.), nor is he just poking fun at the way Mary is always sticking her blue rinse into everyone's business.

No, in "MacWorth," and in the 13 other cartoon sendups of the literary canon collected in Masterpiece Comics, Sikoryak skillfully finds and plumbs the connections between so-called high and low culture. These parallels are his true medium, and as fun as it is to see the chameleonic Sikoryak deftly interpolating the art style of Little Lulu, Garfield and Superman, the real joy of Masterpiece Comics comes in seeing how, again and again, the cartoonist lines things up to ensure that comic strip and classic book comment on one another.

When it works -- when he locates deep affinities between a literary work and a contemporary strip -- the result distills the essence of both, allowing you to see them with fresh eyes. Often, the connections Sikoryak uncovers are intuitive, reflecting similarities of tone and mood between the two works in question. This is nowhere more apparent than when he marries the tale of Kafka's Gregor Samsa to that most haplessly Kafkaesque of all comic strip characters, Charlie Brown.

The fusion ("Good ol' Gregor Brown") works so well that you can't help but notice how much emotional real estate the two authors share. And Sikoryak has internalized the strip's simple line work so well that even though you know in your head that Schulz never drew a giant dung beetle wearing Charlie Brown's iconic yellow shirt, you feel certain this is what it would look like if he had.

Masterpiece Comics is full of "but of course!" moments like that one. In retelling the Genesis story, what better candidate to personify the quick-to-anger Old Testament Jehovah than Dagwood Bumstead's hotheaded, cigar-chomping boss, Mr. Dithers? The tale of Dante's Inferno plays out, canto by canto, as a series of Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrappers; Wuthering Heights becomes an old EC horror comic; Voltaire's Candide gets re-imagined as Ziggy; Garfield shows his Mephistophelian side in an updated Doctor Faustus.

Until now, fans of Sikoryak's takes on the classics have had to seek them out in indie-comic anthologies like Raw or Drawn and Quarterly. Masterpiece Comics combines those previously published works with new material designed to look like ads from vintage comic books, including one for a scale model of Captain Ahab's doomed whaler ("Because of the PEQUOD WHALING SHIP's enormous metaphorical weight we must ask for 75-cent shipping charges").

Masterpiece Comics is an impressively diverse collection of Sikoryak's clever, distinctive and ultimately illuminating work; it reads like the assigned textbook for the coolest Great Books survey course of all time.

Cedar Fair brings a familiar face to its parks in 2010

September 3, 2009

Cedar Fair Entertainment, a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today reported that it has reached an agreement with United Media to bring the Peanuts characters to five more of its parks for next summer.

"We are thrilled to be able to expand the Peanuts brand to five of our other parks," said Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Peanuts and Cedar Fair are synonymous with good, wholesome family fun and we believe our guests, both young and old alike, will enjoy spending time next summer with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and everyone's favorite beagle - Snoopy!"

Canada's Wonderland, near Toronto; Kings Dominion, in Doswell, Va.; Carowinds in Charlotte, NC; Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio; and California's Great America will welcome the lovable Peanuts characters to their parks in 2010. The Peanuts characters will be integrated into the parks through rebranding of existing kids' areas, and in some cases new rides, live shows and attractions.

The Peanuts characters have been entertaining kids of all ages for years at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California; Cedar Point and Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom in Ohio; Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa.; Michigan's Adventure near Muskegon, Mich.; and Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.

"For nearly 30 years, Cedar Fair and Peanuts have enjoyed a successful partnership, and we are pleased that we're not only extending this association, but expanding our presence into five additional parks," said Doug Stern, President and CEO of United Media. "In all avenues of the consumer experience, Cedar Fair reaches families in a fun and amusing way. The Peanuts characters, with their broad appeal to fans of all ages, are brought to life vividly through the attractions, themed rides, ice shows, character appearances, and skits."

Starring an unlikely round-headed hero and a unique cast of young characters wiser and wittier than their years, Charles Schulz's Peanuts is not just the best-known, most-loved comic strip ever created, but a true global phenomenon. The Peanuts characters are featured in 2,200 newspapers, in classic television specials and on remastered DVDs, on stage, in hundreds of books and across the Internet. They have inspired every kind of consumer product from t-shirts to toothbrushes.

Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. Amusement parks in the Company's northern region include two in Ohio: Cedar Point, consistently voted "Best Amusement Park in the World" in Amusement Today polls and Kings Island; as well as Canada's Wonderland, near Toronto; Dorney Park, PA; Valleyfair, MN; and Michigan's Adventure, MI. In the southern region are Kings Dominion, VA; Carowinds, NC; and Worlds of Fun, MO. Western parks in California include: Knott's Berry Farm; California's Great America; and Gilroy Gardens, which is managed under contract.

This news release and prior releases are available online at

Woodbury Beagle
Kissing 2 Lips flower shop owner Christie Lewis puts some finishing touches on the Snoopy statue recently installed outside her business.

Peanuts statue finds a home in Woodbury

September 2, 2009

By Amber Kispert
The Woodbury Bulletin [Minnesota]

Everybody's favorite beagle, Snoopy, has found himself a new home in Woodbury outside the Kissing 2 Lips flower shop.

"Snoopy is going to be the new face of the flower shop," owner Christie Lewis said.

The Snoopy statue was delivered to the flower shop on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Snoopy has always been part of Lewis' family having been displayed prominently outside their previous establishment, Shamrock's Bar and Grill, in all his Irish glory.

After Lewis and her husband sold the restaurant, they wanted to keep Snoopy in the family, so they took him in to get renovated back to the traditional Snoopy look.

"He got a whole new makeover," Lewis said.

Lewis' Snoopy marks the first Snoopy in Woodbury.

Lewis said she is so excited to have Snoopy here and hopes that people stop by to say hello to him.

"Snoopy is just timeless -- I don't care how old you are," she said. "He's a fabric of our childhood."

The Woodbury Cafe also has statues of Peanuts characters at its store front.

The statues were originally commissioned for the city of St. Paul.

HMS Beagle

Snoopy meets Burning Man

August 31, 2009

Arts blog
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Thousands of free spirits will convene through Labor Day weekend on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for the annual Burning Man communal gathering and arts festival.

And one of them will be Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy.

Jeannie Schulz, widow of "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz, is taking up a boat-shaped car with a cutout of Snoopy on the bow.

The name of the craft? "H.M.S. Beagle," of course, with no apologies to Charles Darwin, who sailed on the original craft of that title. This year's Burning Man theme is evolution, after all.

"I loved Burning Man last year. I took up 'Peanuts' books to share, and volunteered in the coffee shop," Jeannie said. "This year, I can be a taxi. I think the H.M.S. Beagle will be a popular form of transporation."

A large Sonoma County contingent is expected at Burning Man this year, said Michael Friedenberg, chairman of the Arts Council of Sonoma County.

"Last year, about 25 arts community leaders from Sonoma County went to Burning Man as a delegation," he said. "We're trying to bring Burning Man art back to our community, maybe to Sonoma County Museum."

Charlie Brown Christmas coming to town

Volunteer group working to improve downtown celebration

August 26, 2009

By Matthew Hall
The Windsor Times [California]

A group of downtown business owners and residents have come together to form a new group focused on providing an expanded Christmas celebration in downtown Windsor.

The group, called It Takes A Village, has plans to expand holiday lights in the area, decorate the windows of empty commercial spaces, set up a "Santa shop" with a professional photographer and at the August 19 council meeting, the group received approval to set up a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove on the Town Green.

The grove will organize decorations and lights for up to 48 trees. Individuals, businesses, community groups and schools will be invited to participate with trees in the Bosque area (behind the Rain Joe Snoopy statue) between December 5 and January 2. In addition, 20 trees decorated by non-profits will be displayed along the fountain area. Participants may request sponsorship for their decorations or choose to provide their own materials. While some sponsorships have already been secured from Michael Powell, Party Jump, Atrellis and Images, additional sponsors are being sought.

The staff report presented to council on August 19, said "The proposed Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove would be an attractive enhancement that will replace what the Park Division has done along the fountain in previous years."

The program will include a showing of the "Charlie Brown Christmas" movie during the decorating section on December 5 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Members of the It Takes A Village coalition have already secured $2,000 from the town during the non-profit grant allocation for their combined efforts. While no additional money is being requested for the grove, staff estimate it will take an additional $1,000 to support the project.

Karen Alves presented the project to the council and said "people were talking about how sad Christmas was last year and in January we put a plan together. What we wanted to accomplish was to add things to the Town Green Village and Old Downtown Green that would attract people and make it a destination for families."

Alves said an attempt at lighting the downtown area last year began too late and was unable to secure permission or sponsorship for a more elaborate display. "It wasn't anyone's fault, just a combination of circumstances and the economy," she said.

In order to secure the necessary resources the group has been working on the 2009 celebration since February. Alves said the early start was necessary and that the group would continue to do what was necessary to make the downtown event successful. "We started early so we would have plenty of time to accomplish it. I just got before the town in August when it started in February, it takes time," she said.

World War I and the Flying Ace

August 7, 2009

The Overland Park Convention & Visitor's Bureau [Kansas City, Missouri]

This fall for the first time since its grand opening, the National World War I Museum will reveal two new special exhibits with historical objects never before seen by the public.

The First World War in Color: International Treasures from the National World War I Museum offers vivid insight into the Great War by presenting newly acquired historical objects from countries around the world. Black and white photography which captured the grey images of the Great War failed to show the flashes of color seen by the soldier. The special exhibition shows the stark contrast between these black and white images and the colorful objects from the war.

The second exhibition, Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, pairs 42 pieces of art by Charles Schulz with historical objects drawn from the Museum's World War I aviation collection.

Both special exhibitions debut on September 1, 2009. Admission to the two exhibitions is included with admission to the National World War I Museum. The First World War in Color and Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace are both supported by the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.

The lasting images from World War I are viewed through black and white photography. While these photos tell the dramatic story of the Great War, they fail to capture the rich color that was prevalent during this era.

The reality of World War I included parades of armies marching in the world's capitols, awash with colorful uniforms and flags, to the quiet radiance of past battlefields covered with red poppies.

The color and drama of the Great War has been captured in The First World War in Color: International Treasures from the National World War I Museum which debuts September 1, 2009, and will be exhibited for one year. The exhibition is located in the Museum's Exhibit Hall, an original 1926 building that flanks the Liberty Memorial Tower. The exhibition is made up of newly acquired historical objects from countries around the world that represent the vivid colors of the Great War.

"We are thrilled to share the amazing treasures the Museum has actively acquired since our 2006 opening," explains Vice President of Museum Programs Eli Paul. "We have been fortunate to receive thousands of exceptional new artifacts and are delighted to share the best-of-the-best with our visitors. This exhibition helps you understand why the Museum continues to collect artifacts. There are so many stories from this era to share - and new acquisitions help us tell those stories."

The First World War in Color will include one-of-a-kind uniforms, helmets, books, textiles, medals and unique personal items from the Great War. Other extraordinary artifacts include original paintings, vivid posters, color photographs, postcards and documents.

The National World War I Museum has been collecting treasures that span the globe since the end of the Great War and still actively collects. Since its grand opening in 2006, thousands of new objects have been acquired by the Museum. One of the largest and most significant acquisitions, donated by Joseph and Blanche Touhill of St. Louis, Missouri, includes the objects that make up the core of the "treasures" exhibited in The First World War in Color.

"We were simply stunned with the quality of European uniforms that Joe and Blanche Touhill donated to the Museum - both in their rarity and excellent condition," explains Paul. "We hope this special exhibition inspires others to consider donating artifacts to the National World War I Museum. While we have the most comprehensive collection in the United States there are still significant historical objects that we are seeking."

Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, presents Charles M. Schulz's lovable beagle, Snoopy, as his alter ego, the Flying Ace. The exhibit showcases 42 of Snoopy's most exciting adventures in his transformed doghouse-now a Sopwith Camel airplane -from the time he faced a deadly bout of influenza to sparring with the Flying Ace's archenemy, the Red Baron.

Memorable for both children and adults, the exhibit expands beyond a pop culture icon to include vintage objects related to World War I aviation. These include a Prussian mounted officer's ulanka (tunic) like the one worn by the real Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, snapshots of von Richthofen, a German airplane fabric section from a Fokker D7 rudder, airman insignia, flying goggles and a British Lewis .303 caliber aircraft machine gun produced for the French. Additional cartoons and original artwork published during World War I are also showcased in this display.

This special exhibition, located in the Museum's permanent gallery, will be on display from September 1, 2009 through November 29, 2009.

Schulz served as a sergeant in the United States Army and had always wanted to draw adventure comic strips but had been told to stick with what he did best-funny kids. However, after 15 years as a cartoonist, on Sunday, October 10, 1965, he finally had the opportunity to create his hero: Snoopy, the World War I Flying Ace.

Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace is organized by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center and toured by ExhibitUSA, the national touring division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a non-profit regional arts organization based in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays, except for Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Museum is also closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Last tickets for the Liberty Memorial Tower are sold at 4:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the day of your visit. The Liberty Memorial is operated in agreement with the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners. For more information call 816-784-1918 or visit

Beagle hugs, security blankets

July 19, 2009

By Carolyn Younger
The St. Helena Star [California]

For half a century Snoopy perched on his dog house and mused about life, Linus held tight to his security blanket, Schroeder plinked away at the piano, Lucy grumped and Charlie Brown, the little round-headed boy, never lost hope.

The "Peanuts" gang - Sally Brown, Peppermint Patty, Pig-Pen, Woodstock, Marcie and the little red haired girl, with cameo appearances by the Great Pumpkin and the Red Baron - were the creation of the late Charles M. "Sparky" Schulz. Their adventures struck a chord with comic strip readers all over the world.

Two such readers, St. Helena's Don Fraser, and Derrick Bang of Davis, can be counted among the most fervent. Together they have put together a collection of reminiscences written by people of all ages from eight countries and 16 U.S. states, whose lives were touched in a real way by the seemingly simple cartoon characters.

The book is a collection of 51 stories. Stuffed Snoopies have accompanied children to the hospital and home again. Time and again one track-suited Snoopy sat patiently in a bar next to a glass of orange juice as his 8-year-old friend waited for his dad. A naval air force commander's most prized possession is his promotion party invitation drawn by Schulz. Another family treasures the Snoopy count-down calendar made by a soldier for his family so they could mark the days until his return from Vietnam. Adults recall what it was like to want to be cool and confident like Snoopy. Others consider good ol' Charlie Brown their hero.

Over the years, Fraser, a former U.S. Marine fighter pilot who later made a business of marketing Peanuts merchandise worldwide, often spoke to organizations about Schulz and his characters. Inevitably people would come up afterwards and tell him their own Peanuts stories.

"I'd say, 'That's interesting - why don't you write that down and send it to me?'" he said. "So over 10 or 15 years I had a file of these personal stories but I didn't know what I was going to do with them."

Following Schulz' death in 2000 Fraser suggested to his widow, Jeannie, that an oral history program be created at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa. She agreed and eventually Fraser collected 41 oral histories from people who knew the cartoonist personally.

"The stories that came out of this were tributes to Sparky, what a fabulous person he was and how he had influenced their lives," Fraser said. "Then I started thinking about this little file I had of stories from people who never knew him but had just read the Peanuts strips. Sparky had won all the writing and cartooning awards you can get, some two and three times, but the mark of the man was how he had touched the lives of people that didn't know him."

And so, with the help of Bang, a member of the Peanuts collector club and co-editor of their newsletter, the two compiled the stories that commemorate Schulz and his "gang." "Security Blankets" was published earlier this year by Andrews McMeel and is available in St. Helena at Main Street Books.

It may not be the last, Fraser said. If more people have stories to share, there could be a sequel.

Kim Bo-yeun artwork

Happiness is a warm and digital puppy

July 18, 2009

By Hannah Kim
JoongAng Daily

Snoopy has a great many friends. But digital artist Kim Bo-yeun fancies herself one of the best.

"I remember first coming across Snoopy in a black-and-white, four-panel cartoon when I was little," Kim says. "Perhaps this is why I was able to depict the Peanuts Gang creatively in my art."

At an exhibition at Topo Haus in Insa-dong, Kim's artwork is on display alongside original etchings of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang by creator Charles Schulz.

Kim is a professor at the Hongik University International Design School for Advanced Studies, and is one of Korea's most active digital artists. Her previous work, for which she captured on-screen text from TV shows and made a digital pattern out of the images, enticed the art community and led to her participation in this exhibit.

"I want to make digital art, which can be hard to approach for some due to its unfamiliar and rigid nature, into something soft and warm," Kim commented. "That is why I used paper instead of digital screens for this exhibition."

That warmth can also be seen from her usage of crimson hues and motif of heart shapes.

Schulz is famous for his fuzzy feelings too. According to legend, while fighting in World War II Schulz saw a dog walking by. This is said to be the basis of the famous quote, "Happiness is a warm puppy."

Kim says her biggest influence came from the "action painting" of Jackson Pollock, which involves freely throwing or splashing paint onto canvas. She combined Pollock's very analog abstract art with her area of expertise: the computer.

"Imagine a giant digital paintbrush if you will," she explained. "I can control the size, shape and color of the brush, but I can't control what will come out once I have swung that brush across the screen."

She also added that she likes to turn things that are approachable and go easily unnoticed, like cartoons, into works of art, as she has done in the Peanuts exhibit and with her television text project. "I had a lot of fun with this exhibition," Kim said. "It gave me a chance to really get in depth and explore the infinite possibilities of digital art."

She is planning to expand into new fields, including typography, while continuing her research. When asked what she might want to say to the younger generation who may not be familiar with Snoopy, she replied, "Come and make yourself a new best friend!"

The Snoopy Exhibition will continue until July 21 at Topo Haus, near exit 3 of Anguk Station on subway line No. 3. For more information, call 02-734-7555 or go to

Charlie Brown gets ICED in the summer heat

July 17, 2009

Gaylord Opryland Resort's A Country Christmas will for the 26th year make memories that will last a lifetime for the thousands of people who travel from around the world to experience the most written-about holiday resort entertainment, decor and food in America. The iconic resort began hanging its signature 2-million lights today and will not finish until A Country Christmas begins in November. The decorators were "assisted" by Gaylord Opryland's new holiday residents, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, who adorned Charlie Brown's own tree, as the new A Charlie Brown Christmas theme for the resort's famed ICE! attraction was announced for the first time.

Called one of the "Ten Great Places to Catch up with Santa" by USA Today; hailed as "The Most Christmassy Hotel in the Nation" by the Travel Channel's Extreme Christmas; named one of the top ten places to spend Christmas in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine; and referred to as a "Nashville treasure" by Southern Living magazine, the Christmas experience at Gaylord Opryland is unparalleled.

In addition to the frequently photographed outdoor decorations and lights, A Country Christmas includes more than a dozen shows and attractions, including an all-new interactive ice sculpture world, ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz; The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes; plus, Louise Mandrell's 'Joy to the World' Christmas Dinner and Show, A Country Christmas on the Cumberland and much more. Dates for various shows and attractions vary, but overall, A Country Christmas begins Nov. 20, 2009 and runs through Jan. 2, 2010.

Some of the top shows and attractions of A Country Christmas 2009 include:

New! ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz

A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of America's most beloved and most successful television Christmas classics, is being brought to Nashville, Tenn. by Gaylord Opryland Resort for the world's first and only ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. The new, colorful, interactive ice sculpture world will tell the story of Charlie Brown and his friends as he asks, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?," and they discover the answer together. From the first scene on the ice-skating pond to the transformation of Charlie Brown's tree, the uplifting story will be brought to life in 2 million pounds of ice, creating new treasured memories from Charles Schulz's quintessential 1965 animated production. The Peanuts characters' sculptures, slides and rooms literally constructed of ice, will be hand-carved by artisans brought to the resort from Harbin, China, which is home to the internationally famous Harbin Ice Festival. ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz, presented by Coca-Cola, and also sponsored by Haagen-Daz and Delta Dental of Tennessee, runs Nov. 20, 2009 through Jan.2, 2010.

New! Breakfast with Charlie Brown

Begin a day filled with holiday festivities by having breakfast with one of the world's most lovable losers, Charlie Brown. The star of this year's ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas will join families and Peanuts-loving friends for a new and delicious breakfast event Fridays through Sundays during Gaylord Opryland's A Country Christmas in 2009.

He'll share hugs and be ready for photographs as he visits from table to table, spreading his eternal faith in finding people who recognize "what Christmas is really all about." Breakfast with Charlie Brown will be held in the resort's signature Ristorante Volare, located in the Garden Conservatory Atrium, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast is $14.95 for kids 3-11 and $24.95 for adults. Reservations are strongly suggested and can be made by calling 1-888-999-6779.

Senior hockey
Bobby Lund, with the Minnesota Madness laughs with players on the bench at the Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, July 15, 2008. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Skating through Life

July 12, 2009

By Nathan Halverson
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The skates take a bit longer to tie than in years past. The bruises come easier, and the fatigue is a bit harder to shake from their bones.

But for the hundreds of hockey players in the Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament, quitting hockey would be tantamount to quitting a way of life.

"I played ever since I was 6," said Terry White, 66, who travelled from his home near Calgary to skate in the annual competition.

The week-long tournament that kicked off Sunday in Santa Rosa includes a division for skaters as young as 40, but it is the octogenarians who inspire the most awe.

"We've got a guy playing who is 87," said Steve Kostichuk, an 80-year-old who travels up from Los Angeles to officiate the games. "He's awesome."

By the time a hockey player is seasoned enough to qualify for entry into the annual Snoopy's Senior tournament, any aspirations of playing hockey professionally left the ice long ago.

Instead, the tournament is full of doctors, lawyers and engineers who continued to play hockey to blow off steam from a long work week, and to stay in shape while enjoying a simple camaraderie on the ice.

Many are now retired from their jobs, but playing hockey has become a way of life.

Ed Reynolds, a 72-year-old retired trial judge from Massachusetts, described his former occupation like this: "A lot of pressure."

He turned to hockey for stress relief.

"It was a wonderful outlet," Reynolds said. "And lots of fun."

After retiring, Reynolds and his teammates saw no reason to put up the skates.

"At this age, you can't stop. You'll never get going again," said Yves Patenaude, a 72-year-old from Ottawa who plays with the Ottawa Silver Foxes. "You have to keep playing until you croak."

The younger players in the 40-year-old division see it the same way.

"In 30 years, I'll still be playing," said Jim Rogers, an engineer for Enphase, a solar energy company in Petaluma. "If I can make it to 70, I certainly will."

Many of those still playing in their golden years credit hockey for sustaining their health.

"Our minds and bodies are connected," said White, who retired as the president of the University of Calgary. "If we keep our bodies in shape, our minds stay sharp."

White dealt with plenty of stress as the top administrator for a university with 38,000 students, and playing goalie for an adult hockey team gave him a place to blow off steam and deal directly with challenges.

"At least on the ice, I know people won't take shots at me from behind my back," he said.

The parking lot outside the ice rink looks a bit like a Florida retirement community. Silver hair dominates the scene. And senior citizens sit around kvetching about their aches and pains.

But these guys have battle wounds that would make a 20-something proud.

Bud McAdam, 75, joined in a conversation about how to stay limber in his golden years.

"I've got some problems with my knees," he told another player, who responded with some advice on daily exercises.

Tournament organizer Mike Kovanis looks at these old-timers with awe.

"There was a 60-year-old division game that was flying," Kovanis said.

The 34th annual tournament, which for three decades was sponsored by the late Santa Rosa cartoonist and hockey player Charles Schulz, provides a place for older players to gather. It also provides an example of how a young man's game becomes an old man's healthy entertainment.

Kovanis coaches teenagers in the Santa Rosa Junior Hockey Club, and helped start a team last year for Cardinal Newman High School. He knows he is teaching kids more than a game, he is showing them a way to stay fit, release stress, and meet new people for decades to come.

"It's a sport you can play for the rest of your life," he said. "Even though it's physically demanding, you can keep going."

Hot dog! Snoopy visits the Inland Empire

July 9, 2009

By John Weeks
The Redlands Daily Facts [Redlands, California]

Snoopy, the world's most famous cartoon dog, is being celebrated in a new exhibit that opens this weekend at the Museum of History and Art in Ontario.

It's an exhibit with a local angle for San Bernardino County fans. Charles Schulz, the late cartoonist who created Snoopy and the whole "Peanuts" gang, spent part of his boyhood in Needles.

He was born in 1922 in Minneapolis but in 1928, when he was only 6, the family moved to Needles to help care for an ailing loved one. They remained in the Colorado River city until 1930. The young Schulz attended the D Street School and developed a lasting crush on a girl there after he walked with her to school one day. For the rest of his life, if he met anyone from San Bernardino County, he invariably would ask, "Did you know a Marie Holland from Needles?"

There were plenty of memories of those years in Needles that stuck, so to speak, with Schulz. The city became one of the very few real-life places to be mentioned in the "Peanuts" comic strip. And it was mentioned again and again.

Snoopy's brother, Spike, we were told, hailed from Needles, and whenever he had to leave, for whatever reason, he immediately grew homesick and longed to return.

Schulz, who had a real dog named Spike when he lived in Needles, remembered both the pet and the town with enough fondness that he immortalized both in his comic strip.

Not surprisingly, the real Needles has returned the favor, naming three streets in honor of the cartoonist. In the southernmost portion of the city there's a West Spikes Road and a separate East Spikes Road. Connecting the two is Schulz Road.

It's not the Snoopy whose brother Spike hails from Needles, however, who is celebrated in the new museum exhibit. Rather, it's the Snoopy who wears aviator's goggles and a scarf and sits on top of his doghouse, pretending it's a a fighter plane and that he's a fighter pilot doing battle with his nemesis the Red Baron.

The name of the exhibit is "Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace." It features more than 40 of Schulz's cartoons, with accompanying text and photos of the cartoonist at work.

We see Snoopy comparing himself to famed solo aviator Charles Lindberg, who earned the nickname "The Lone Eagle." Snoopy decides to call himself "The Lone Beagle."

We see Snoopy imagining that his "plane" has been strafed by enemy gunfire. "I should have stayed in Paris," he muses grimly.

We see Snoopy, on many occasions, shaking his fist and uttering his battle cry: "Curse you, Red Baron!"

Schulz, who served as an Army sergeant in World War II, began drawing "Peanuts" in 1950. It soon became the most popular comic strip in the world. He toyed for a long time with the idea of giving Snoopy a more active role, and finally, on Sunday, Oct. 10, 1965, he introduced the cartoon dog in his new guise as an imaginary action hero.

Snoopy's high-flying adventures became one of the strip's most beloved storylines, even inspiring the 1966 pop music hit "Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron" by the Royal Guardsmen.

Schulz maintained the recurring subplot for the duration of the strip, which ended with his retirement in 2000. He died on Feb. 12 of that year, one day before his last strip appeared in newspapers.

Although Schulz stipulated that the strip was not to be continued by other artists after his death, reprints of his own original "Peanuts" cartoons still run in many newspapers, including The Sun. Even in reprint form, it's still one the most widely circulated comic strips in the world.

The exhibit "Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace" continues through Aug. 16, then moves on to Kansas City, Mo. The Museum of History and Art is at 225 S. Euclid Ave., Ontario. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call (909) 395-2510.

Robert Short

Peanuts theologian Robert Short, 76, dies

July 9, 2009

By Jacob Quinn Sanders
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Robert Short thought faith was best when it was subtle and most accessible when it seemed almost trivial.

He wrote books to prove it - The Gospel According to Peanuts, The Gospel From Outer Space, The Parables According to Dr. Seuss - while telling his three children to find their own faith, to do what they love and the money would follow.

A Presbyterian minister and theologian, Short died at age 76 in Little Rock on Monday. His funeral was Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Little Rock - a church he had never set foot inside in life.

There were times that he would crawl so deep into his own head that the conventions of this world eluded him.

"We got kicked out of so many movies," his oldest daughter, Becky DiCola, 39, said after her father's funeral.

It seems that while Short was writing the outer space book, he had a habit of sneaking in a camera to various science-fiction movies to take pictures he needed to illustrate it.

Short's son, Chris, the youngest of three children, said he saw parts of one of the Star Wars movies at least three times because every time his father would get kicked out, they'd buy another ticket and go back in.

"They'd always find us out because he used a tripod," Short's other daughter, Sarah Kalbacka, 35, said. "And he'd set it up in the aisle in front of everybody. And he had no idea why they asked us to leave. Every time, he was surprised."

His books often started on napkins in a McDonald's or a Dunkin Donuts or a Baskin-Robbins. In Little Rock one of his favorite spots was the cafeteria at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center.

Short wore massive noisecanceling headphones - often plugged into nothing - so he could concentrate unbothered. Sometimes he carried his things in a fast-food bag. Sometimes it was a pillowcase.

"He definitely did not conform to anyone else's process or anyone else's idea of how he needed to do his work," Chris Short, 33, said.

Most famous among his works was The Gospel According to Peanuts, first published in 1965 with the blessing of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. The book's publisher, Westminster John Knox Press, said the book has been translated in to 11 languages and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Short conceived the book as a seminary student. Its success almost cost him the chance to meet the woman who would become his wife.

"We had a mutual friend who tried to set us up," Kay Short said. "I thought, 'Peanuts and the gospel - no, I don't want to go. How cheesy. No thanks.'"

Her friend told her to go on the blind date or lose the friendship.

"Of course I went," she said. "How glad I am that I did."

Kay Short said she could recall going to a dinner for theologians at the University of Chicago when the book was still new.

"Theologians only tend to talk to other theologians and no one understands them," she said. "I mean, I'm fluent in English. I have a decent vocabulary. They were using all these words I know well in a way I'd never heard."

At first, she felt intimidated.

"But by the end of our night what I was was really ticked off," she said. "Those were the things that drove Bob crazy."

At the time of its publication, the book was a risk.

"He really invented the study of religion through popular culture," Short's editor, David Dobson, said.

Martin E. Marty, an emeritus professor of divinity at the University of Chicago, wrote the foreword for the book's 1999 edition. At the time it came out, some people in conservative religious circles were almost bracing themselves.

"A lot of people were nervous about this idea of mixing pop culture and the Bible," Marty said. "What people realized when it was published, however, was that this was a new medium for the expression of Scripture and religious ideas. It was not pushing the edges of faith."

The Gospel According to Peanuts quickly became nearly ubiquitous.

Mark Pinsky wrote The Gospel According to The Simpsons in 2001. He wrote The Gospel According to Disney in 2004.

"I'm 62," he said. "I'm of that age where everyone I know either read or bought the Peanuts book. I had a copy in my garage, and as I wrote mine, I read his."

Short pursued the sacred in the mundane, the truth in the trivial - an inspiration to other authors.

"To go even farther, if he hadn't written his book I never would have done mine."

The success of the Peanuts book, even decades later, helped get Pinsky his cover art for the Simpsons book.

"Matt Groening's lawyers told me that he was flattered to be in the same company as Charles Schulz and that's why we could have a picture of Bart Simpson on the cover," Pinsky said.

Short wrote seven other books, two of them with Peanuts themes: The Parables of Peanuts in 1968 and Short Meditations on the Bible and Peanuts in 1990. The program for his funeral even references Schulz's motley group of cartoon children. On the cover it says, "You're a Good Man, Robert Short."

His Dr. Seuss book he wrote without the cooperation of creator Theodore Seuss Geisel's widow, using art not found in the original Dr. Seuss books.

What he really wanted to write was a book on the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes.

The strip's creator, Bill Watterson, would not grant him permission to use panels from Calvin & Hobbes in the book or on the cover, Dobson said.

"Without those, there was really no point," he said.

Short was born in Midland, Texas, on Aug. 3, 1932. He moved to Chicago in 1963.

All three of his children were born in Illinois, but they had each moved out by the time Short accepted a job in 1991 as associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brighton in Michigan.

Still, Short never let his family forget where he grew up.

"When the children were little, we'd take these long car trips," Kay Short said. "Every time we crossed the Mason-Dixon line, he'd start singing."

Not just any song.

"'Oklahoma,' that was one of his favorites," she said. '"Dixie.' Even 'The Yellow Rose of Texas,' he'd sing that too, top of his lungs."

In 1996, Short and his wife moved to Monticello, where he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. They moved to Little Rock in 2001, where Short founded the Fellowship of Christianity Without Doom and Gloom.

"He once told me that hell is for nonbelievers on Earth," Chris Short said. "It wasn't a concept that worked for him any other way."

Short's pleasures were simple pleasures. Dancing, sometimes even when there was no music. Making people laugh. Reading - he would even read while driving.

He also just liked occasionally messing with people.

The way his children tell it, Short once showed up to a wedding he was supposed to officiate wearing a world's-greatest-dad tie. Never mind that the people would have to get married again in front of a justice of the peace because Short forgot his license in that state had lapsed - that's a different story.

Someone he knew came up to Short and said how nice that his oldest, Becky, had bought that tie for him. "She didn't buy it for me," Short said. Well then surely it must have been Sarah, the middle child. "No," Short said. "I didn't get this from her." So obviously it was Chris, how thoughtful of him. "Chris didn't buy me this tie," Short said. He bought it for himself - on the way to the wedding. He just didn't say so. "I'm thinking he thought he was the world's greatest dad and that one of us should have bought it for him had we only thought of it," DiCola said. "That was my dad."

'Snoopy teacher' noted in 'Peanuts' book

June 25, 2009

By Sharla Allard
The Sharon Advocate [Massachusetts]

SHARON -- Bulletin boards at the Cottage Street School in Sharon 40 years ago when Joan Wernick started teaching first grade boasted big yellow school buses.

One day a student asked Wernick if she would, instead, hang up the black and white stuffed animal he was clutching.

"Does your dog have a name?" she asked.

"You don't know who Snoopy is?" the boy responded, amazed someone didn't recognize, from the long-running Peanuts comic strip, the famous beagle inspired by its creator Charles Schultz's own dog Spike.

Over the years, Wernick's affection for the fictional dog grew. Her students began adding handmade and store-bought Snoopys to her classroom until, at one point, they numbered over two hundred.

All this is recounted in Donald Fraser and Derrick Bang's book published this April called "Security Blankets: How Peanuts Touched Our Lives."

People of all ages tell how they've identified with the anxiety-ridden Charlie Brown or his tormentor, Lucy, and Wernick explains how she came to be called the "Snoopy teacher."

For one thing, each year her class celebrates Snoopy's birthday. The students sponge-paint the dog's face and make a quilt, and Wernick dresses up in Snoopy jeans, shirt, jacket and earrings.

"We get to sit on our desks and watch a Snoopy movie," beamed seven-year-old Rachel. And the dog with street smarts teaches lessons, one of them up on a poster: "Reading is actually an adventure; it's like a journey to a new place."

Besides the Snoopy memorabilia her classes have amassed, Wernick has thousands at home, she said, several stacked next to and inside the family's fireplace. "In the winter when we want to start a fire," she said, "we have to move them to the basement."

That reminded Tara Goodwin Frier, a volunteer in the first grade where her son Will is a Wernick fan, of the winter when a family of one of Wernick's students couldn't afford a Christmas tree. Wernick organized her colleagues to buy them presents and a tree, fully decorated, Frier said. They carried the tree up a long outdoor staircase, rang the bell, and hid in the woods until the family had taken the gifts inside.

One contributor to the "Security Blankets" book Wernick has a chapter in tells of taking his gift of a stuffed Snoopy with him to a college softball tournament and, years later when he needed surgery, into the operating room.

It turns out a child's affection for a dog with artificial fur translates to mutual caring when it comes to the real thing. Shoshana, one of Wernick's first-graders, said she likes it when her dog, a Wheaten Terrier, licks her face, reminiscent of Snoopy's giving characters going through some doubt and fear a juicy lick on the nose. Shoshana's friend Madison said she enjoys walking her dog, Little Guy, "but not into the street."

Everybody in the class loves Wernick's dog, Miss Olivia, even though she's still afraid of water, rabbits and ducks after having been to dog school three times. The class chanted in unison, "And she eats Peppermint Patties out of your pocket!"

Dogs like Snoopy and teachers like Wernick ensure a young learner's life is never boring. And the students show much more promise than little Sally in the Peanuts strip, who mistook "Santa's reindeer" to mean "Santa's rain gear."

Even as an adult, Schultz, who drew his last comic strip near the turn of this century, got a C-minus in a class on the Drawing of Children. But his kindergarten teacher had told him, "Charlie, one day you'll be an artist."

In one of his earliest strips from the 1950s, the sun is shown slowly melting Charlie Brown's snowman.

"It's gone!" Charlie Brown wailed. "There's nothing left! Only a memory and a carrot!" Then, in the last frame, Snoopy comes along and eats the carrot.

For Wernick and her classes, the memory is definitely being kept alive.

A Very Ready Stand-in

High School Charlie Brown Gets the Call When Gloucester Stage Actor Steps Out

June 23, 2009

By Gail McCarthy
Gloucester Daily Times [Massachusetts]

Brian Audano, who just played the lead in a high school show of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," planned to attend Saturday's matinee of the professional production at Gloucester Stage Company.

Instead, he found himself on stage performing the part of Charlie Brown -- the same role he played last month in the Rockport High School spring musical.

Audano, who graduated from RHS on June 5, had put on his yellow Charlie Brown shirt with the signature black zig-zag design that morning for no particular reason. But the shirt took on a whole new meaning when he received a call Saturday around 1 p.m., just two hours before curtain time. That's when he learned that Stephen Gagliastro -- the actor playing Charlie Brown in Gloucester Stage's first production of the season -- had a medical emergency and was unable to perform.

In spite of his trepidation, he agreed to go right away to the Gloucester Stage Company, where he met the group of five professional actors with whom he'd be working. And news of Audano's Gloucester professional-level debut spread quickly among the cast and crew of the RHS production, who all showed up to cheer him on.

Audano, who will attend Wheelock College to study elementary education this fall, said his last-minute stand-in performance was a great experience.

"It was pretty amazing, a little nerve-racking. But I was lucky because all of the cast were so kind," he said. "I had about an hour and a half to go over new stage directions.

"We had 18 people in the high school show and they had a six-person production," he said. "But they helped me go over the new blocking and stage directions."

The songs and the lines were almost the same, with a few little differences, he said. The parts in the high school had been split up differently to accommodate more students in the production.

David Sharrocks, who played the role of Snoopy, said they appreciated Audano stepping into the part.

"I was thoroughly impressed that he never opened the binder with the script. He was surprisingly relaxed the whole time and he seemed very comfortable with the experience," said Sharrocks.

Audano came back for the evening performance -- just in case.

The cast presented the young man with a thank-you card. When it came time to take a bow at the end of the evening performance, the cast gave Audano a gesture of thanks. Gagliastro, who returned as Charlie Brown for the evening performance, gave Audano his pencil.

"It was all so serendipitous that Rockport High School had just done Charlie Brown, and the high school directors had come to see the show just days before," said Heidi Dallin, who teaches and directs the Gloucester Stage youth acting workshops.

Denise Ferazzi, who along with Lisa Mento were co-directors of the Rockport High show, said she was impressed with the transition Audano made into the new role.

"We were happy to see how well he did. He just picked up where he left off with his character from our production and became part of their professional production. It was seamless," she said. "As directors we were really happy to see that. It means that our program is doing good things."

Ferazzi said several people who sat near her Saturday had seen the show before the Saturday matinee with Audano.

"They said they were really impressed with how he did. It was a different take on Charlie Brown but they were pleased with the show, and equally entertained," she said.

Emma Ouellette, a Rockport High junior, was among the Rockport cast in the audience. She had played the role of Frida at the RHS show.

When the show opened, a Gloucester Stage representative addressed the audience.

"He talked about the beauty of attending live theater with live actors, but he said unfortunately sometimes the live actors can get sick," related Ouellette who also saw the Gloucester Stage show before Saturday.

"It was different with Brian, probably because he managed to act more childlike. I felt like that with our play too because we are all younger," she said. "He did look kind of nervous and we were all nervous for him but he did fantastic."

When the announcer tried to pronounce the young actor's last name, it didn't take long for the Rockport contingent to blurt out the correct pronunciation of "Audano." Audano, who was waiting in the wings, heard them all chime in on that note.

Dallin said the main objective of producing "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" was to serve as community outreach to the youth.

"We wanted to expose young people on Cape Ann to live professional theater and to have a show that families could come to and make it affordable," she said. "We really carried out that mission. We really did reach out to the youth -- literally."

Life lessons from Charlie Brown? Good grief!

June 16, 2009

By Peter Chianca
The North Andover Citizen [Massachusetts]

There's a particular type of person who relates to Charlie Brown. And if you've ever seen me try to kick a football, you know why I'm that type of person.

That's not the only reason, of course. I've also suffered from an inability to talk to more than my share of little red-haired girls. And while I was never knocked flat on my back on a pitcher's mound in my underwear, there certainly have been times when it felt like I was -- like, say, my entire freshman year of high school.

I bring this up because my wife and I took the kids to see an excellent production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Gloucester Stage Company last week, and I was reminded of the influence the Peanuts gang had on my own personal development. Although it's actually a little jarring to see ol' Charlie Brown come to life, talking about, say, his worst times of the day:

"I think lunchtime is about the worst time of the day for me. Always having to sit here alone. Of course, sometimes mornings aren't so pleasant, either -- waking up and wondering if anyone would really miss me if I never got out of bed. Then there's the night, too -- lying there and thinking about all the stupid things I've done during the day. And all those hours in between -- when I do all those stupid things. Well, lunchtime is AMONG the worst times of the day for me."

Monologues like that are probably what make my wife avoid watching Charlie Brown TV specials; she feels too sorry for him. I just can't help but marvel at how subversive Charles Schulz was to come up with such a uniformly pathetic lead character, and how well it worked -- somehow I doubt I was the only 10-year-old reading Peanuts comic strips and nodding my head at the idea of having done stupid things all day long. And the ones who weren't were probably just too busy burying their heads in their blankets.

My kids have never seemed to relate to Charlie Brown the way I did -- which is probably a good thing -- but I still think they could learn a thing or two from that round-headed kid, as Snoopy liked to refer to him. In fact, just from the production we saw last week, I'm pretty sure they were at least able to glean the following life lessons:

1.) Book reports will not write themselves. Charlie Brown found this out the hard way, but it's worth noting that if you take Schroeder's tack, you can make any book report actually be about Robin Hood. Some of the world's greatest writers do this -- that's how Frank Rich's columns all sill wind up being about George Bush.

2) A little philosophy goes a long way. I can appreciate all four of Sally's philosophies -- "Oh yeah? That's what you think," "Why are you telling me?," "NO" and "I can't stand it!" -- but I think the last one is the most practical. What's most important, though, is just to have one in the first place. That way you'll know when you violate it.

3) If it's such a magnificent day, why spoil it for the rabbits? Enough said.

4) Happiness comes from the oddest places. For you it may not be from finding a pencil, telling the time or pizza with sausage, but it probably can be from something fairly close to you, if you just look for it. Although if it's not pizza with sausage, what is your problem?

5) For whatever it's worth, you're you. Even if you're a blockhead. (You know who you are.)

And if there's one other message I hope my kids took from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," it's that there's something to be said for being an incorrigible optimist, no matter how bad things are likely to turn out. Knowing there's always a chance things will turn your way -- even a "billion to one" chance, to quote CB -- can sometimes be exactly what you need to get yourself out of bed in the morning.

And back in at night, after you've done all those stupid things.

The proud, the few...
Retired Army Col. Louis "Pete" Peterka and former WAVE Hattie Stone, both of Santa Rosa, tour the D-Day exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa on Friday. (Photo by Kent Porter/The Press Democrat)

WWII vets remember D-Day at Schulz Museum

New exhibit commemorates pivotal battle and those who fought, died at Normandy

June 5, 2009

By Paul Payne
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sixty-five years later, Donald Clouston still can remember the bullets.

They whizzed all around him as he and his fellow paratroopers dropped from a plane into occupied France in the wee hours before the D-Day landings.

German soldiers were in the fields shooting up at him. They hit many of his friends, who died before they reached the ground.

"They opened up on us as soon as we jumped," said Clouston, 83, a member of the 101st Airborne Division who survived the historic invasion and later settled in Santa Rosa. "A lot of my buddies didn't make it."

Clouston was one of nearly 150 World War II veterans -- including about 15 who made the Normandy landing -- to visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum on Friday for a new exhibit devoted to D-Day.

They shared war stories about June 6, 1944, and pored over the exhibit, which includes artifacts from Schulz's combat experience as well as his commemorative comic strips featuring Snoopy storming the beaches. Admission is free today.

Schulz, who helped found the National D-Day Memorial, said he wanted to ensure future generations remembered a pivotal point in the war.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says about 2.6 million World War II veterans are alive today, but more than 300,000 are expected to die this year.

"Charles Schulz thought D-Day was something we should never forget," said Gina Huntsinger, museum marketing director.

Although time has erased much of the pain of the day that cost almost 1,500 American lives, octogenarians at the museum Friday could remember the details.

Clouston, a Maine native who joined the Army at 17, recalled flying over the English Channel in a C-47 transport plane and jumping from the open door.

As he dropped through the sky somewhere behind Utah Beach, he realized people were shooting at him. He landed unscathed and bolted for cover.

"I took off running," said Clouston, who returned home to Bangor to manager an officer's club. "There were Germans shooting at me. But they didn't hit me. I was lucky."

Other veterans from the era recalled the times.

Hattie Stone, 91 of Santa Rosa, a Navy radio telegrapher stationed in Hutchinson, Kan., said news of the invasion brought cheers because it meant the war could soon be over.

The entire country was caught up in the war effort, whether they were working in munitions factories, saving aluminum foil or rationing, she said.

"There was great celebration," said Stone. "People were so happy that part of the war was winding down."

Bill Nicholl of Santa Rosa, who joined the Navy at war's end, remembered church bells ringing in his hometown of New York City. He was told to pray because GIs were landing on the beaches in France and losing their lives, he said.

Nicholl, who stayed in the service through the Korean War, said people were more patriotic back then. If a young man appeared on the streets without a uniform, people stared, he said.

But things aren't the same today, he said, adding that the war in Iraq doesn't seem as necessary and people view military action in a different light.

"I don't think this is a popular war at all," Nicholl said. "I support the troops, but not this war."

'Curse you, Red Baron!'

May 21, 2009

By Eric Donaldson
The Vancouver Voice [Vancouver, Washington]

The aforementioned headline is a phrase most of us have grown-up with, as a crazy cartoon Beagle dog with human thoughts and personality helped us laugh through good times and bad, and sometimes taught us a bit of history in the process.

I find myself feeling a bit excited as my Editor here at The Voice tells me he'd like me to cover the Snoopy as WWI Flying Ace Charles Schulz travelling exhibit and collectable show at Pearson Air Museum.

As I am a fan of flying, (especially Hot Air Balloons, but that's another article), and a fan of Snoopy and his antics over the years, I could hardly wait to get the 'inside scoop' on this travelling exhibit.

Snoopy made his debut in the Peanuts comic strip on October 10, 1965, and, over the next 34 years, appeared as the central character in more than 400 strips. Many of these cartoon panels involved 'The World War One Flying Ace' and his on-going attempts to shoot-down "The Red Baron," a World War I pilot that actually existed.

In the real world, German Pilot Manfred von Richthofen was a very real danger to American and Allied troops, as he and his support troops flew through the skies of Europe giving as much trouble to the Allies as they could. He had his plane (a Fokker DK-1, a replica of which is at Pearson Air Museum, hand-built by Seigfred Bredl of Vancouver), painted bright red, and red was the color used for the tents and many other support vehicles and supply crates, and over time this group became known as 'The Flying Circus,' as they were very nomadic, travelling daily, setting-up nightly...

Baron von Richthoven is credited with downing more than 80 allied planes, until being brought-down by anti-aircraft fire from Cedric Popkin, a machine-gunner with our Australian allies.

Snoopy began to battle The Red Baron in the comics as a means of diffusing some of the worry and stress America was feeling about the Vietnam War. Charles Schulz had been in the Army during World War II, and had received the Bronze Star before his discharge as a sergeant in 1945.

Snoopy, as the 'Flying Ace,' received a Bronze Supper Dish for his meritorious service in 1968.

Snoopy spent many Sundays travelling through the bistros of Paris, flying through the skies of Europe, and even sometimes being captured, always to escape and wind-up hoisting a frosty mug of root beer while chatting-up the locals about his most recent encounter. Truly a separate reality that we all loved.

Charles Schulz got his start in cartooning with a single-panel drawing of his family dog published in Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not in 1937, and didn't stop until his retirement in 1999. Mr. Schulz died two months later, just hours before the final new strip appeared nationally in Sunday papers.

We still have Peanuts running in many papers daily, as the topics and characters are timeless, and a whole new generation has embraced Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, starting each day with a family-friendly chuckle...

Upon arriving at the museum, we were greeted by about 20 Beagles of various ages, all members of Columbia-Willamette Beagle Club, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the fun these dogs were having in the beautiful spring morning we were blessed with. I had to grab a photo of Max, a Beagle rescued by Jayne Bailey, who had been so mistreated in his pre-rescue life that his hair turned white, but he obviously enjoys the much-improved life he's living now, and actually seems to relish being the center of attention when he's dressed as the Flying Ace.

The travelling exhibit has about 40 pieces of art by Charles Schulz, and some historical info as well, augmented by exhibits of Snoopy collectibles from local fans.

The collector selected by the Charles Schulz people to show-off some of her favorites featuring The Flying Ace is Nancy Stiles of Portland, Oregon, who estimates she has more than 5,000 (yes, that's five-THOUSAND!), pieces of Snoopy collectibles. Unfortunately, there was only room to show about 100 pieces, and Nancy says the most popular item shown at Pearson is the 'Barbie and Snoopy Aviator Doll' that has Barbie dressed in an aviator jacket, ready to take-off.

Along with the Snoopy as Flying Ace collectables, and the wonderful art in the exhibit, cartoonist Shannon L. Wheeler of Portland was on-hand to help introduce the art of cartooning to kids of all ages.

Overall, I have to say that it's a very good exhibit, I sure wished there had been more pieces in the display, both of Mr. Schulz's artwork and the collectables, but the items that are on display will have you both intrigued by the background info and laughing from the wonderful humor of Snoopy and Charles Schulz.

Pearson Air Museum is located in the big hanger at Pearson Airfield, a part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and is the oldest operating airfield in the United States. The hanger that houses the museum was built in 1918, and is the nation's oldest wooden structure still used to house aircraft.

Pearson Air Museum is located 1115 East 5th Street in Vancouver. Open Tuesdays, noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the entire facility is available for rental for events and such. For more information, call 694-7026.

The NASA connection

40 Years After Apollo, Peanuts Still Seeing Stars

May 19, 2009

By Scott Thill

Four decades ago, Apollo 10 headed for outer space with Charlie Brown and Snoopy in tow. And not just in spirit: Charles Schulz's unforgettable Peanuts pair became semi-official NASA mascots.

Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young and Eugene A. Cernan nicknamed their command and lunar modules Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and Schulz sketched special artwork for the mission, which lasted from May 18 to 26, 1969.

Crew secretary Jamye Flowers greeted Stafford at launch with a giant Snoopy doll. NASA staffers checked color telecasts broadcast from inside the craft using paintings of Charlie Brown in space coveralls and Snoopy in his Flying Ace scarf. The recovery team that fished the Apollo 10 crew out of the drink painted "Hello 'der Charlie Brown" on the underside of its helicopter. And the comic strips just kept on coming.

"I think the confluence of astronomy and comics is incredibly cool and so did my dad," explained Charles' son Craig Schulz, a director of The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. "He felt that his association with NASA via Peanuts was one of the two most important aspects of his life, the other being his service in World War II. Nothing helps bring astronomy down to earth, so to speak, better than comic strips."

The second mission to orbit the moon, Apollo 10 set a world record at the time for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle. Although the crew did not reach the moon, the Snoopy lunar module buzzed within eight miles of the surface. It was enough to energize Schulz's comics, which had always featured Snoopy in some form of flying contraption.

Craig Schulz says that his father, like most pop culture of the period, was geeked on astronautics.

"Instead of being way out there in the distance -- so technical and scientific and unapproachable -- comic strips allow[ed] astronauts and space travel to become part of our daily experience," he says. "Lately, Stephen Colbert has helped do the same thing. But I can't think of anything that conveyed the pure joy and excitement of space travel better than Snoopy on top of his doghouse wanting to be the first Beagle on the moon!"

The relationship formed when NASA asked Schulz to join the mission in hopes of cheering up a nation saddened by the tragedy of Apollo 1. Schulz was certain that the United States would one day make the moon, so he kicked off a week-long series of strips where Snoopy made it his mission to do just that. NASA had its semi-official mascot, and a public-relations makeover for a program well worth the popular and scientific interest. Today, we could really use the analogue.

"There has never been a greater achievement in human history than Americans landing on the moon," Schulz says. "Having Snoopy be part of that program inspired children to take an interest in space and NASA, and those children are now ready to go back to the moon and beyond. The time we have spent on Hubble and the International Space Station may not seem as exciting or as ambitious as the first moon landing, but they are necessary steps in enabling us to land on other worlds. My hope is that Snoopy will return to the moon and maybe even fly to Mars in my lifetime."

Snoopy touching down at Pearson

Exhibit focuses on Peanuts' beloved beagle as a WWI Flying Ace

May 13, 2009

By Tom Vogt
The Columbian [Vancouver, Washington]

When Snoopy arrived at Pearson Air Museum in his role as the World War I flying ace, a Fokker triplane was waiting for him.

No problem: It's a reproduction of the same model of fighter flown by Baron Manfred von Richthofen, but it doesn't have working machine guns.

On Saturday, the museum will welcome a traveling art exhibit of the "Peanuts" character that covers Snoopy's 34-year career as a doghouse aviator.

"Snoopy gives us a chance to cross-pollinate, with something for kids and history enthusiasts," said Bill Alley, the museum's manager and curator. "We want to broaden our appeal" beyond aviation buffs.

The exhibit will be in Vancouver through June 19.

Saturday's kickoff party, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature free root beer and a discussion of Germany's Red Baron and his Fokker DR-1 triplane, using the museum's full-sized replica.

Portland cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, whose work is seen in Dark Horse comics as well as The New Yorker, will teach a family-friendly cartooning workshop.

The exhibit was created by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.

"We were very fortunate to get it," Alley said. He tried to get the exhibit awhile ago, but it was completely booked. "Then a museum in the Midwest got flooded and had to cancel."

The exhibit came to Vancouver from a stop in the Boulder, Colo., Historical Museum. After leaving Pearson, it will go to the Museum of History and Art in Ontario, Calif.

The exhibit includes digital reproductions of the original Peanuts comic strips drawn by Schulz, as well as material that provides some insights into his creative process.

One of the supplementary panels offers a quote from Schulz, explaining how his son, Monte, showed the cartoonist a model of a WWI fighter.

"I drew a helmet on Snoopy and placed him in a pilot's pose on top of his doghouse. The whole thing kind of fit together," Schulz said.

Snoopy's first airborne adventure was published on Oct. 10, 1965. Before Schulz died in 2000, he used the "Flying Ace" theme for more than 400 Peanuts strips over the span of 34 years - with some significant changes in the flight plan.

In a 1997 interview, Schulz said that he quit drawing the Flying Ace strips during the Vietnam War.

"It just didn't seem funny," said Schulz, who had led an Army machine-gun squad during WWII.

Snoopy did pull on his flying helmet and silk scarf again, but "I didn't do him fighting the Red Baron," Schulz said in that 1997 interview. "Mostly, it was just sitting in the French cafˇ, flirting with the waitress."

And by the way: A pilot in an open cockpit didn't wear that silk scarf just to score style points, Alley noted.

"It was as an important piece of clothing. A leather flying jacket will chafe your neck at 110 mph," Alley said. "The scarf keeps your neck from chafing."

And, Alley smiled, "Chicks like it."

Schulz donates $1 million to Ohio cartoon museum

April 24, 2009

By Mary Callahan
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Extending her support for the art form her late husband helped define, Santa Rosa philanthropist Jeannie Schulz has donated $1 million toward a new home for the Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.

The gift, announced Thursday, includes the promise of another $2.5 million if the Columbus-based university can match that amount from other sources, a campus spokeswoman said.

Schulz's donation will be spent toward an estimated $20.6 million building renovation that will make room for the Cartoon Library and Museum's collection of more than 400,000 original cartoons and comic art, manuscripts, newspaper clippings and other pieces.

It is an appropriate tribute to her late husband, "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said in a written statement.

"By helping to underwrite a state-of-the-art facility for the University's renowned Cartoon Library and Museum," Gee said, "Jean Schulz advances the work of students, faculty and scholars and deepens our understanding of the importance of the genre.

"Her gift is an especially fitting way to honor the remarkable creative legacy of her late husband, Charles."

Schulz is president of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in northwest Santa Rosa and has known the Ohio State museum found and curator, Lucy Shelton Caswell, for decades, Jane Carroll, public relations manager for OSU development, said.

Shelton Caswell, a professor, author and cartoon historian, has written about Charles M. Schulz and also sits on the Santa Rosa museum board, for which Jean Schulz is president.

In 2006, she guest-curated an exhibit on the history of little girls in the comics at the Santa Rosa facility.

She founded the OSU cartoon museum and research center in 1977 in two converted classrooms, with a collection from Ohio-born cartoonist Milton Caniff, creator of "Steve Canyon" and "Terry and the Pirates."

Over 30 years, the museum grew to more than 200,000 before acquiring in 2007 the entire collection of the International Museum of Cartoon Art, doubling the OSU museum's size and drawing researchers from around the globe, Carroll said.

"Lucy Caswell has done a marvelous job in collecting and preserving works in the cartoon medium. I was pleased at the opportunity to help provide a home for this important collection and to recognize her contribution in the field," Jeannie Schulz said in a statement.

"It's phenomenal," Carroll said of the museum's deep collection of original artwork and artifacts. "You go in there, and it's jaw dropping."

The growing collection is housed, however, in cramped quarters beneath the campus arts center that are difficult to find and insufficient for the museum's needs, Carroll said.

If all goes well, it will be moved into a 40,000-square-foot space in a historic building that will also provide space for a campus Department of Dance and Museum/Dance Library, and an upgraded auditorium.

The new cartoon museum will include a reading room, three museum-quality galleries and expanded storage with state-of-the-art environmental and security controls.

Snoopy's Home Ice earns 'senior' status

Schulz's Redwood Empire Ice Arena celebrating 40th anniversary

April 24, 2009

By Dan Taylor
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

At last, Snoopy's Home Ice will be old enough to enter its own Senior World Hockey Tournament. On Tuesday, the Santa Rosa haven for skaters, also known as the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, turns 40.

"You have to be 40 to be in the senior tournament," said Justin Higgs, the arena's general manager since last summer. "We've been kidding around about that."

On April 28, 1969, the arena opened with a gala performance starring skater Peggy Fleming. Over the years, many top skaters performed there: Scott Hamilton, Robin Cousins, Kristi Yamaguchi, Charlie Tickner and others. Bill Cosby, Victor Borge and Bob Newhart clowned there. Crystal Gayle and Helen Reddy sang there.

The arena was built by "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz and his first wife, Joyce. Schulz grew up with skating and ice hockey in St. Paul, Minn. He moved to Sonoma County in 1958, settling first in Sebastopol and later in Santa Rosa, where he died in 2000 after writing and drawing the comic strip for nearly 50 years.

"When Joyce and Charles Schulz devised this plan, they really did have the goal of making it the most beautiful ice arena in the world, and they had the wherewithal to do it," Higgs said.

"Santa Rosa was fortunate enough to be ground zero for the phenomenal success that 'Peanuts' was enjoying at the time," he added. "It was because of Charles Schulz's love of skating and ice hockey that he wanted to be able to share that with the community."

Schulz maintained a studio at the ice arena during 1970 and 1971, then moved into his permanent studio nearby, at 1 Snoopy Place, Higgs said.

One of the most familiar faces at Snoopy's Home Ice over the past four decades is Skippy Baxter, 89, who has worked there as a teacher and coach since it opened. He considers the arena, with its Swiss chalet facades and Swiss Alps murals, a rare beauty among its kind.

"It's hard to beat this arena," Baxter said. "I don't know of any rink that has what we have here. It's a lot more beautiful. It's just a wonderful place."

Higgs, a former interim education director at the Charles Schulz Museum and interim director at the Sonoma County Museum, is a relative newcomer, but he shares Baxter's sense of awe.

"It really is amazing. If you go to most other ice arenas, they're just basically big tin sheds," Higgs said. "We've just finished a multimillion-dollar upgrade to the chillers, compressors and air conditioning, to make it more efficient and environmentally friendly."

As for the dual names used by the complex, Higgs has worked out his own explanation.

"For me, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena is the entire complex, including the gallery and gift shop, and the Warm Puppy Cafe," Higgs said. "Snoopy's Home Ice is the actual ice arena."


Where: Snoopy's Home Ice, also known as the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, 1667 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa

When: Special skating sessions, with music from each of the decades the arena has been open, on the last Saturday of the month -- April 25, the '60s; May 30 will be the '70s; June 27, the '80s; July 25, the '90s

Information: (707) 546-7147,

FSU's symphony is recording every note from A to Zwilich

March 27, 2009

By Mark Hinson
The Tallahassee Democrat [Florida]

The Florida State University Symphony Orchestra is playing for "Peanuts."


In 2006, the FSU Symphony teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and FSU alum Ellen Taaffe Zwilich to record a television program during a performance of Zwilich's popular "Peanuts Gallery" (1996). The collection of six musical sketches features such memorable interludes as "Schroeder's Beethoven Fantasy," "Lullaby for Linus" and "Lucy Freaks Out." The award-wining "Peanuts Gallery" was broadcast nationally on PBS.

The collaboration went so swimmingly that when the Nexus Classical Music label approached Zwilich recently to ask for a new recording, she volunteered the FSU Symphony. Nexus gave it the OK.

"She wouldn't have chosen us if she didn't believe in us," conductor Alex Jimenez said. "It's a big boost of confidence for us. It's a feather in our cap."

The FSU orchestra will present "An Evening with Ellen Taaffe Zwilich" on Thursday and April 3 at 8 p.m. in Opperman Music Hall. Zwilich will on hand to introduce the works, which include "Peanuts," "Images for Two Pianos and Orchestra" (1986) and "Fantasy for Piano" (2000).

"I've just noticed that young players really bring something fresh and new to the table," Zwilich said. "I love musicians."

On April 4 and 5, Jimenez, the orchestra and three guest pianists (Read Gainsford, Heidi Louise Williams and Jeffrey Biegel) will record the program for Nexus at FSU. "Not many university symphonies have recorded for a major label," Jimenez said. "As far as I know, I think we're only the second one."

"(Recording 'Peanuts Gallery' with the FSU Symphony) went extremely well," Zwilich said. "Alex is very good to work with and he's really good at motivating the players. I love working with him."

Zwilich and "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz became friends in the '80s after the cartoonist name-checked the composer in one of his syndicated comic strips.

Craig and the statue

Snoopy moves to KSC

March 16, 2009

By Susanne Cervenka
Florida Today

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER -- Snoopy visited the Space Coast before blasting off aboard Apollo 10. Now, the beloved beagle will make Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex his permanent home.

The family of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz donated a 5-foot-tall Snoopy statue to NASA, honoring the space program's 50th anniversary.

For 40 years, Snoopy has been the mascot for NASA's Space Flight Awareness Program, an award that recognizes employees' contributions to the space flight success. Less than 1 percent of NASA employees are honored with the "Silver Snoopy," a pin that is flown in space and is awarded by an astronaut.

"This was near and dear to his heart," said Craig Schulz, the youngest son of the late cartoonist.

Craig Schulz said his father called the partnership with NASA one of the two most important things in his career. The other was his service in World War II.

The polyurethane statue features Schulz's well-known character standing on the moon, donning a spacesuit and holding a helmet.

The statue, which weighs about 600 pounds with its base, will be placed in the Rocket Garden.

John Morefield

Great Ideas Department: 5c Architecture

March 13, 2009

By Kelsey Keith

It's no secret that architecture has been hit by the recession (yes, even that impenetrable bastion of technical wizardry, jargon, theory, and - oh nevermind). 27-year old Seattle resident John Morefield can attest: he was laid off not once, but twice in a single year as projects dry up and small firms tighten budgets. So what's a boy to do? Watch Peanuts cartoons and hang out at the local farmers' market?

Why yes indeedy. Morefield's concept for Architecture 5c -- edificially inspired by Charles Schulz's psychiatrist booth for Lucy -- is bringing architecture to the people, and people to the architecture. For a nickel, passerby can ask questions that range from simple ("What's the best insulation to use next to concrete in a basement?") to complex ("We have a 700-square foot Seattle bungalow and want to add a second story because we're expecting our first child... Help!").

The idea is to spur conversation about building matters and make contacts that might someday develop into working relationships. And the message is spreading, at least in its first incarnation, as he's received 5c queries via email from across the globe -- Brazil, Portugal, Shanghai -- and coverage on a CNN news broadcast.

At 1/20th of a dollar per question, this is no get-rich scheme (especially since all proceeds are donated to a Seattle food bank). So what's the point? Morefield says he wants to create a "ripple effect" on a local level, for one nickel leads to one project, which employs one contractor, who hires two carpenters, and so on. And though his ultimate goal is to expand Architecture 5c nationwide, with booths in neighborhoods across the country from the Bronx to Oakland, he admits the idea "can't grow large enough that I don't have time for the booth." That explains his regular appearance in Ballard, even at 7:30 am in rainy, 32-degree weather.

We caught up with the architect in New York this week to pester him with questions about the future of housing, from construction trends to suburban development. Some bon mots below:

On prefab: "Prefab has already seen success - in the mobile home industry. I admire what firms like Michelle Kaufmann are doing, but prefab construction [as a movement] can't really take off."

On the future of domestic architecture: "Green design has finally hit in all categories. Whether building new or retrofitting an older home, eco-friendly construction is the absolute future. We've been hearing even more about it with Obama in office."

On suburban sprawl and McMansions: "My parents live in Phoenix, Arizona, and no one's buying into the 300, 400 home subdivisions that are already built - they're sitting empty, half built, or just the foundations down. It's like a post-apocalyptic ghost town."

On living in smaller spaces: "It comes down to this: you've got heat it, and you've got to pay for all the materials. The days of urban sprawl are slowing."

He wrote the soundtrack to the life of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, and yet his name will probably escape you

February 6, 2009

By Barry Gordon The Scotsman (Edinburgh, UK)

His name might not sound familiar, but there's a good chance his music does.

Vince Guaraldi -- aka Dr Funk -- is best known as the jazz pianist who brought Charles Schulz's Peanuts universe to life. Think of Snoopy dancing on Schroeder's piano and you instantly hear Guaraldi's music in your head. The opening bars to Linus And Lucy can provoke an entire group of people into spontaneous dance. The cascading notes to his Vivaldi-like Skating is the most vivid representation of falling snowflakes in music. And who can forget Christmas Time Is Here that follows Charlie Brown on his lonesome, burdensome quest for the perfect Christmas Tree? Not me.

I was five years old when I first heard Guaraldi's music. Vince was singing about Joe Cool -- one of Snoopy's many alter-egos -- at the time. Funky, mellow, cool, Guaraldi's ability to share a childlike innocence and pocket-sized epiphany about na•vety, spirituality, melancholy and the pathos of children's simple reactions to the adult world was no mean feat. Yet more than 30 years after his death -- on this day in 1976 -- Vince Guaraldi is still one of the most-heard unknowns in music.

So who is Vince Guaraldi? And why should anyone care? Firstly, he's one of the most influential and iconic-looking musicians to lay hands on a piano. With his trademark handlebar moustache and horn-rimmed glasses, Guaraldi introduced millions more children like me to jazz than Miles Davis's A Kind Of Blue ever did for our parents. He was the first jazz musician to have a gold record; one of the first to win a Grammy; one of the first musicians to play a stadium, and one of, if not the, first artists to have their music played in space. Not bad for a guy who nearly didn't have a musical career on account of almost losing a finger.

This life-changing moment occurred when Guaraldi moved into the family printing business; a nasty encounter with a printing machine at the San Francisco Daily News put paid to that, a key moment that provoked Guaraldi to pursue music full-time.

Born in San Francisco in 1928, Guaraldi was seven when he started piano lessons with his mother, Carmella. Following his accident at the newspaper, he renewed his love affair with the piano, playing small gigs before getting his break filling in for the legendary pianist Art Tatum. "It was more than scary," Guaraldi said. "I came close to giving up the instrument, and I wouldn't have been the first after working with Tatum."

Hanging out and performing with controversial comedian Lenny Bruce, the shy, introverted Guaraldi let his music do the talking, and it wasn't long before his song, Cast Your Fate To The Wind -- included on the album of music taken from Brazilian movie Black Orpheus -- became a crossover hit, winning him a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Composition 1963. Constantly demanded at clubs, Guaraldi referred to it as "like signing your name to a cheque".

Later, Guaraldi became jazz music's first stadium artist. Faced with an improbable gig at the 1963 Stanford-Oregon American football game, the Stanford Band went on strike, allowing Guaraldi's trio to fill in during the half-time interval. The band -- including the piano -- set up on a big cart and rolled out to the middle of the field. No-one knew it at the time, but it was one of the first opportunities to hear live music in hi-fi sound within a football stadium, well before The Beatles and Shea stadium.

Another critical hit was also around the corner. Featuring Latin music, waltz tempos, traditional jazz "supper music" as well as a 68-voice choir for the choral Eucharist at the San Francisco Grace Cathedral, the event proved something else: Guaraldi could write music for Charlie Brown, too.

It so happened Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson was searching for music to accompany a Peanuts television documentary when, travelling across the Golden Gate Bridge in a taxi, he heard Cast Your Fate To The Wind on the radio.

"Right away I knew there was something special about this guy's music," recalls Mendelson, "It had an adult and children's quality to it. Charles Schulz, however, was no fan of jazz. He preferred classical music, but as soon as he heard Guaraldi he, too, realised there was something magical about Guaraldi's soft jazz that could make his characters come to life. With Schulz's approval, Mendelson tracked Guaraldi down.

"He asked to play something over the phone," Mendelson recalls. "I told him I didn't want to hear it over the phone. He said if he didn't play it, he might forget it. He played the Linus and Lucy theme. It was perfect. In my soul, I knew this was going to have a deep impact on what we were going to do."

For the next 11 years, Guaraldi recorded 15 specials and one feature film for Peanuts (A Charlie Brown Christmas, earning him an Academy Award nomination), helping turn Peanuts into a franchise and global phenomenon. He wrote more standards, deputised on keyboards for the Grateful Dead, experimented with harpsichords and a Fender Rhodes electric piano, but failed to generate another hit.

Peanuts had become a blessing and a curse, typecasting Guaraldi as "that Peanuts guy". Then, on 6 February 1976, while waiting in a motel room between sets at Menlo Park's Butterfield's nightclub, Guaraldi suffered a sudden heart attack and died. He was 47. Earlier that day, he had finished recording his final Peanuts session. A few weeks later, It's Arbor Day Charlie Brown debuted.

Although it was a shock, the situation under which he passed away seemed ironically appropriate -- with the piano.

Mendelson says: "The day of his funeral, they played the Charlie Brown music in the church. It was not an easy day; he was so young. It was one of the saddest days of my life. He was up to my house the night before his death, and said he had not been feeling well, and didn't know what it was."

When Guaraldi passed away, something else died along with him. Peanuts shows continued; however, the musicians given the job of having to replace the great man struggled. Ed Bogas, Desiree Goyette, Judy Munsen -- all found Guaraldi's shoes impossible to fill, not one producing a song or theme anywhere near as catchy as the Master, and several of the cartoon series's specials from the late 1970s and 1980s consequently lacked a certain zip.

Today, Vince Guaraldi is more popular than ever. His son, David, promotes the Guaraldi legacy, releasing previously unreleased music Peanuts fans continue to devour with voracious appetite: the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas spent the last two years topping the iTunes Christmas chart.

Now, with a TV documentary scheduled for Christmas this year, and a possible biography on the cards too, it seems the man who injected music into Charlie Brown and Snoopy's life is experiencing a renaissance. Good grief! as Charlie Brown might say.

Museum soars 'To The Moon' with Snoopy in space exhibit

January 31, 2009

Four months before the first humans landed on the Moon in 1969, a beagle beat them to it.

More important than racing the Russians, or passing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, was that this "World Famous Astronaut" had beat "that stupid cat who lives next door."

Of course, Snoopy's moon trip only took place in the daily "Peanuts" comic strips created by Charles M. Schulz and syndicated in newspapers the week of March 10, 1969.

Two months later though, Snoopy -- along with his owner Charlie Brown -- took a different trip to the Moon, only this time it was for real. Serving as the spacecraft names for NASA's final lunar landing dress rehearsal, Charlie Brown and Snoopy cleared the way for Neil and Buzz to become the first men on the Moon.

Snoopy's space flights, both those real and imagined, are celebrated in "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA", a six-month exhibit that opened Saturday at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.

Approaching the Moon

"We were thinking about the fact that it was the 40th anniversary of Apollo 10 and how wonderful it would be to explore that connection between the Peanuts characters and NASA," curator Jane O'Cain told collectSPACE.

The resulting exhibition, which runs January 31 through the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing on July 20, 2009, uses both space exploration and Schulz artifacts to guide visitors through the past four decades of Snoopy's space adventures.

Divided into four themed-sections, "Snoopy Soars with NASA" first introduces how the comic strip beagle came to serve as the space agency's official safety watchdog.

In 1968, Snoopy began promoting safety awareness and contamination control within NASA facilities appearing on posters, many of which are on display in the exhibit. The agency was granted use of the cartoon character so long as Schulz drew Snoopy on all the NASA-related material and a copyright notice accompanied the artwork.

"I believe their thought was that Snoopy was such a wildly popular character that it was a way to gain people's attention and get them to concentrate more on what was going on," explained O'Cain.

Schulz's first drawing of Snoopy as an astronaut was not for a poster but rather a pin to be flown in space and then rewarded to fewer than 1% of the NASA workforce yearly.

"We have [in the exhibit] the original drawing that Schulz did for the template for the Silver Snoopy award pin," said O'Cain of the "astronauts' personal award" presented for outstanding contributions to their missions' success. "It is fascinating because it was his first attempt at drawing Snoopy as an astronaut. You can actually see the pencil under-drawing as he grappled with where would Snoopy's arms be if he was carrying the [oxygen supply] suitcase and how would he draw the actual suit."

Fortunately, Schulz had hands-on access to a flight suit courtesy the co-owner of the company chosen to mint the Silver Snoopy pins, by nature he was also in the Marines.

"So Don Fraser actually brought out his flight suit to Schulz's office here in Santa Rosa so that Schulz could kind of get an idea about how to go about drawing Snoopy as an astronaut," recounted O'Cain. "I am kind of hoping that people will appreciate the kind of stretch that Schulz went to capture Snoopy in that way."

Entering lunar orbit

As a secretary in the Astronaut Office in 1969, Jamye Flowers was assigned on temporary duty to the Cape for about six weeks prior to launch to work with the Apollo 10 prime, backup, and support crews in the crew quarters' offices. It was there that Flowers got caught up in the pre- flight preparations... literally.

Standing in the hallway where the Apollo 10 astronauts would pass on their way to their ride to the launch pad, Flowers held a large stuffed Snoopy doll.

"She was going to tease [lunar module pilot Eugene] Cernan about taking Snoopy to the Moon. Unfortunately for her -- or perhaps funnily for her -- the tables were turned and she and Snoopy almost went to the Moon instead. We have the famous picture of Cernan grabbing Snoopy and Jamye," described O'Cain.

Carried a few feet down the hall, Flowers and Snoopy were ultimately left behind as Cernan, Thomas Stafford and John Young left for the Moon. NASA photographs caught the moment for posterity, which led O'Cain to add Flowers' story to the exhibit.

"I video taped a short 'clip' explaining the circumstances of the Apollo 10 Snoopy send-off photograph and it is my understanding that visitors will be able to view the clip at the exhibit," explained Flowers, now Jamye Coplin, in an interview with collectSPACE. "When that photograph was taken launch morning in May 1969, I never imagined that forty years later I would be lucky enough to be included in such an outstanding exhibit."

In addition to Coplin's video, the Apollo 10 dedicated area of "Snoopy Soars with NASA" includes a one-third scale model of an Apollo Command Module (Charlie Brown, the real Apollo 10 module is on display in London), a NASA loaned flightsuit and a collection of never-before exhibited parts from the same type of rocket that lofted Apollo 10.

"We have a wonderful collector in the Bay area and he has loaned us his Saturn V components and they are the first time they have been seen in a museum. It will be quite wonderful for people who are technical bent and would like to see that type of technology, what put a man on the Moon," said O'Cain.

The exhibit also features two renderings of Snoopy, one drawn by Schulz, the other not, but both flew on Charlie Brown to the Moon.

"Renderings of Snoopy and Charlie Brown were taken on board Apollo 10 and we actually have the Snoopy that was on the flight that you can see on the video where John Young is holding Snoopy and Charlie Brown for the camera," said O'Cain. "We're thrilled to have the Snoopy painting in the exhibit but it wasn't done by Schulz, it was done by a graphic artist at NASA."

It's not known who the space agency had paint Snoopy, but its understood that Edgar Mitchell, who served on the Apollo 10 backup crew and later walked on the Moon on Apollo 14, was responsible for coming to Schulz for a few surprises for the crew.

"He asked for some renderings of Snoopy that he could then insert into the checklist so that the astronauts would then find them in space," O'Cain described. "So we have this wonderful artifact that has a rendering of Snoopy on one side, and the careful calculations that the astronauts were making on the other."

Return to the Moon

"Snoopy Soars to the Moon" ends with the message that Snoopy's adventures in space will continue with the next generation of explorers.

"Rounding out the exhibit, we have a creative play area for children, which includes a rocket ship and a chance to dress up in astronaut costumes," O'Cain shared.

The display also features an entire case that looks at all the different ways that Snoopy as an astronaut has been interpreted in toys and products over the past 40 years.

And even though original Peanuts' strips ceased after Schulz's passing in February 2000, Snoopy continues to serve as NASA's mascot for mission success.

"We especially wanted to note that Snoopy continues in his role at NASA, even up until today," said O'Cain.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is 50 minutes by car north of San Francisco on Highway 101. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403.

Astronauts visit

Apollo 10 astronauts come to Santa Rosa

January 31, 2009

By Mary Callahan
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

They are among a handful of people alive who've had the privilege to fly to the moon and look back to see the earth in its fullness and fragility.

Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan described the vantage point Saturday as looking out from "God's front porch," and called it "the one single most vivid memory" he has of his first flight to the moon in July 1969.

Like others who participated in the nation's manned space program during the glory years of the Apollo project, Cernan said that view brought him new perspective about the world all humans share.

"If we could put everybody on that spot for five minutes, the earth would be a different place," he said.

But it was not philosophy that drew hundreds to meet Cernan and fellow astronaut Tom Stafford, his commander aboard Apollo 10, at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa on Saturday afternoon.

They were there to touch greatness, to reach back through history, and to stare in awe at heroes whose inspiration transcends generations.

"It's almost beyond words to describe it," a beaming Erich Reinstadler, 35, a space exploration buff from Petaluma, said after shaking hands with the two astronauts. "Just a huge honor."

Another fan, Dave Alder, 45, flew all the way from Houston for a chance to meet them.

"These guys are my true heroes," Alder said.

The crowd included contemporaries of the two astronauts, now in their 70s, like retired NASA satellite engineer Joe Schulman of Oakmont, who said he "didn't have the stomach" to work on the manned project, so much was at stake.

His wife, Joan, said she doesn't "understand the complexity of the machines, but I want to see the men who had the guts" to go to the moon.

"We made sure to come down," said Tiffany Margerison of Fort Bragg, who brought her three children and a niece to meet the two men. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity -- unless you live in Florida."

The museum brought the astronauts to town to open an exhibit celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 10 mission and its connection to Schulz's Peanuts' characters, Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Cernan and the others nicknamed their command and lunar modules after the two characters completely impromptu during a simulator exercise before the mission, Cernan said.

The nicknames stuck, NASA command embraced them and Schulz granted his permission, initiating a long relationship between the Apollo program and the Peanuts gang that includes designation of the Silver Snoopy Award still used by NASA to recognize outstanding contributions to the space program.

Schulz also depicted the moon flight in his cartoon, with Snoopy landing even before any astronauts did.

Astonaut recalls Snoopy's space exploits

Tom Stafford, Eugene Cernan to visit Schulz Museum exhibit 'Snoopy Soars with NASA'

January 30, 2009

By Dan Taylor
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Apollo 10 astronauts Eugene Cernan, Commander Tom Stafford, and John W. Young in 1969.

What does an astronaut orbiting the moon in a tiny module worry about? The endless, airless expanse of space looming just beyond the craft's thin metal skin?

Manning the radio during the Apollo 10 mission in 1969, Capt. Eugene Cernan wrestled with a much more mundane problem.

"John Young was flying the command module, while Tom Stafford and I went in the lunar lander for several orbits, and we needed something to call each other. 'Hey you,' or just 'John,' didn't seem fancy enough," Cernan recalled.

"One day, I called him Charlie Brown, and in turn John called us Snoopy, because we were snooping around the moon."

The rest is history, and also the subject of the new exhibit "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA," opening Saturday at Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schulz Museum with Cernan and Stafford in attendance.

"That's how it started and it just took off. The whole world identified with the characters. People say, 'Did you fly Snoopy and Charlie Brown? What number mission was that, anyway?'" said Cernan, 74, by phone from his home in Houston last weekend.

"We didn't need to make Snoopy famous," Cernan added. "He was already famous, but NASA picked up on our call signs and created the Silver Snoopy Award for outstanding service. It's been that way for 40 years, thanks to Charles Schulz. Otherwise, we never would have been able to use the name."

There were phone consultations between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration staff and the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip, Cernan said, but the astronaut never got to meet Schulz.

The cartoonist died in 2000, but Cernan looks forward to visiting the museum and enjoying a reunion with Stafford and members of the Apollo 10 recovery team: helicopter pilot Chuck Smiley and swimmer Wes Chesser.

Another special guest is Jamye Flowers Coplin, a NASA secretary famously photographed presenting the Apollo 10 crew with a giant stuffed Snoopy doll.

"I've seen Jamye as recently as a few months ago, but the recovery pilot -- oh my golly, I haven't seen him in a million years," Cernan said.

The exhibit, which continues through July 20, features a one-third scale model of the Apollo command module from the Johnson Space Center and an Apollo-era flight suit, as well as space-related "Peanuts" comic strips.

While Apollo 10's cartoon mascots make that mission the focus of the Schulz Museum exhibit, Cernan does have a few other claims to fame. He was the second American to walk in space, during the Gemini 9 mission in 1966, but even that doesn't rate a spot near the top of his exceptional resume.

"I was commander of Apollo 17 in 1972, and as such, I was the last man to have left my footprints on the moon," said Cernan in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

Then he added a lament: "I thought we'd be back to the moon before now. Right now we have a program that is moving slowly -- too slowly -- to go back."

Cernan hopes for a new national emphasis on space exploration that will inspire young people to study and strive, in hopes of traveling to the moon and beyond.

"Unfortunately, the current space program is not very exciting to a lot of kids. They see the shuttle launch, and then it's over," Cernan said.

"Everybody knows who John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were, but can you give me the name of somebody on a space station today? Don't be embarrassed, because I can't either."

Cernan longs for the disciplined resolve of the '60s space effort, and praises President John F. Kennedy's fateful pledge to reach the moon within that decade.

"The president was either a visionary or a dreamer or politically astute, or maybe all three, but he did the right thing at the right time for the country," the retired astronaut said.

"I don't have an official role now," Cernan added. "I'm just an American citizen who believes in the future of space travel and what it means to this country."

Snoopy joins U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus to help spread holiday cheer throughout Germany

January 13, 2009

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Welch
USAREUR Band and Chorus

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Each year the Soldiers of the United States Army Europe Band and Chorus get the chance to spread holiday cheer to thousands of people.

During the last few weeks in December, the Band and Chorus continued this tradition with concerts throughout Germany. However, this time, they brought along a friend. Snoopy, the famous beagle from the Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics and television specials joined the USAREUR Band and Chorus for the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The show, entitled An American Holiday Celebration, also featured both classic holiday favorites along with modern songs like Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant and music from the motion picture Polar Express. This mix of tunes helped to make the concerts something that those of any age could enjoy. The band and chorus also used the concerts to showcase some of its small groups such as the Rhine River Ramblers playing a Dixieland version of O Tannenbaum and the Soldier of Swing swinging to big band versions of holiday classics.

Over the span of six concerts in the German cities of Eppelheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Pforzheim, Bamberg and Russelsheim the USAREUR Band and Chorus performed for nearly 10,000 people, some of who even attended more than once. A particular highlight for the Soldiers of the Band and Chorus occurred at the second annual Commanding General's Holiday Concert at the Kongresshaus in Heidelberg. United States Army Europe and 7th Army Commanding Gen. Carter F. Ham joined the band as a euphonium player during a sing along with the audience near the end of the concert. Ham then took the opportunity to promote Snoopy from private first class to corporal for his work in helping to represent the United States Army in Europe.

Along with its Holiday Brass group, which has had over 20 performances since early December, the Soldiers of the USAREUR Band and Chorus have been able to spread holiday cheer to many; American and German, military and civilian, young and old.

Beethoven rules

Listening to Schroeder: Peanuts Scholars Find Messages in Cartoon's Scores

January 13, 2009

By April Dembosky
The New York Times

SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- In a "Peanuts" strip from the mid-1950s, Charlie Brown walks through the first panel and finds Schroeder sitting in front of an adult-size hi-fi, his ear to the speaker. "Shh," Schroeder says, "I'm listening to Beethoven's Ninth." Charlie Brown inspects Schroeder's outfit. "In an overcoat?" he asks. Schroeder leans even closer to the speaker and responds, "The first movement was so beautiful it gave me the chills!"

In the world of "Peanuts," of course, Schroeder was the Beethoven-obsessed music nerd who lost patience when Lucy interrupted his practice and who called time-outs as a baseball catcher to share composer trivia with the pitcher. Yet musicologists and art curators have learned that there was much more than a punch line to Charles Schulz's invocation of Beethoven's music.

"If you don't read music and you can't identify the music in the strips, then you lose out on some of the meaning," said William Meredith, the director of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, who has studied hundreds of Beethoven-themed "Peanuts" strips.

When Schroeder pounded on his piano, his eyes clenched in a trance, the notes floating above his head were no random ink spots dropped into the key of G. Schulz carefully chose each snatch of music he drew and transcribed the notes from the score. More than an illustration, the music was a soundtrack to the strip, introducing the characters' state of emotion, prompting one of them to ask a question or punctuating an interaction.

"The music is a character in the strip as much as the people are, because the music sets the tone," Mr. Meredith said. To understand what gave Schroeder chills, he said, you have to listen to the musical passage. "When you actually hear the symphony, the whole thing feels completely different."

That linkage is the central theme of "Schulz's Beethoven: Schroeder's Muse," an exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center here, which was jointly organized with the Beethoven center. (It continues through Jan. 26 at the museum and will reopen on May 1 at the center in San Jose.)

Mr. Meredith spent more than a year identifying the compositions, gathering recordings and reinterpreting the strips; Jane O'Cain, the museum's curator, researched Schulz's artistic process and music-listening habits.

In the resulting show visitors can gaze upon the Beethoven strips, then tap a number into their audio guide and hear the music Schroeder is playing.

In a strip from 1953 Schroeder embarks on an intensive workout. He does push-ups, jumps rope, lifts weights, touches his toes, does sit-ups ("Puff, Puff"), boxes, runs ("Pant, Pant") and finally eats ("Chomp! Chomp!"). In the last two panels he walks to his piano with determination and begins playing furiously, sweat springing from his brow.

The eighth notes above Schroeder's head are from the opening bars of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata (Op. 106), a piece so long, artistically complex and technically difficult that it is referred to as the "Giant" Sonata. When Beethoven delivered it to the publisher in 1819, he is believed to have said, "Now you will have a sonata that will keep the pianists busy when it is played 50 years from now."

According to the exhibition notes, classical music was as much a priority for Mr. Schulz as drawing was when he attended art school in the 1940s. He once said of his classmates, "We all collected classical albums, which we frequently shared on evenings when we got together to listen to music and challenge each other in wild games of hearts."

Sue Broadwell, who worked as Schulz's secretary from 1963 to 1967, said he played classical and other records -- "he had a weakness for country western," she said -- in his studio while he worked. "He encouraged me to take a music appreciation course, which I did," she said. "Every once in a while, as I was learning different pieces, he'd whistle some for me and I had to guess them."

Mr. Schulz also regularly attended classical music concerts here with his family.

"He could sit almost perfectly still the whole time, without squirming, without crossing his legs," said Jeannie Schulz, the cartoonist's widow, who helped found the museum and serves as president of its board.

During concerts, she said, "he would pull a notebook out of his breast pocket and write something down," adding: "Later in the car, he would say, 'How would it be if Marcie and Peppermint Patty were at a concert, and ...' He was always thinking about his characters."

Although Schulz greatly admired Beethoven, his favorite composer was actually Brahms. He simply found that the name Beethoven -- the way it sounded and the way it looked on the page -- was funnier, the exhibition notes remark.

Accuracy and authenticity are hallmarks of the strips, whether they deal with music, sports or medical conditions, Ms. O'Cain, the museum's curator, said. "With figure skating, he would carefully study books to make sure the jumps or spins that he had characters portraying, that they were correct," she said. He would add subtle twists or inside jokes for readers familiar with skating or surfing or shorthand.

Mr. Schulz also mined Beethoven's life for material. He had numerous books in which he underlined details about Beethoven's love life, clothing, even his favorite recipe (macaroni with cheese).

"I have read several biographies of Beethoven -- being strangely fascinated by the lives of composers, much more so than the lives of painters," he said in 1975. As a result, Schulz fans like to point out, the strips are as educational as they are entertaining.

"What you thought was a funny tagline was an absolutely true story out of Beethoven's life," said Karen Johnson, the Schulz museum's director.

Beethoven's birthday was a perennial "Peanuts" event. Schroeder appeared in "Peanuts" for 49 years, and the composer's birthday was acknowledged in 27 of them. Sometime in the 1960s Mr. Schulz hosted a real-life birthday party for Beethoven in his home in Northern California, according to Ms. O'Cain's curatorial research. He drew Beethoven sweatshirts for each of the guests, two of which have been tracked down. One with the composer's portrait is in the show.

The other, owned by Lee Mendelson, the producer of the Peanuts animated specials, features a full-body drawing of Beethoven -- in a Schroeder sweatshirt.

The beagle skates

A Charlie Brown Post-Christmas Skate

December 31, 2008

By Helena Zhu
The Epoch Times

NEW YORK -- This winter, instead of watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on television, more than 300 New York school children enjoyed a free glide on ice with Snoopy and the Peanuts friends at The Pond in Bryant Park on Tuesday.

Seeing the beloved comic characters twirling on ice, the elementary and middle school kids were anxious to get on the ice with the Peanuts gang. Parents hurried to prepare; their children did not want to miss the rare opportunity to catch a photograph with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy.

7-year-old Naya Pena, who often watches Snoopy programs at home, was "happy" to spend her second time on ice with the animated stars.

"That's cool!" said Naya, who came with her mom and cousin.

This fourth-annual event was one of the 600 programs under Mayor Bloomberg's Out-of-School Time (OST) initiative introduced in 2005.

"[The OST initiative is] an opportunity for children to engage in enriching programs when they are not in school, so it's running after school hours, but it's also during the school vacations and the summers," said Chris Caruso, assistant commissioner of Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), one of the organizers.

"This is really an opportunity for us to showcase the fact that there are great activities going on during the time when school is not in session" said Caruso.

"We are thrilled with MetLife and having Snoopy here. It really provided a more enriching experience for the children. They all got photographs with the characters. The kids really appreciate the opportunity to come to Manhattan, to maybe learn how to ice skate and really have an exciting opportunity instead of sitting home." Said Caruso.

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