Monday, December 19, 2011

"MANKIND SHOULD BE OUR BUSINESS, BUT WE SELDOM ATTEND TO IT"

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It was in December, probably 1987 or ’88. I was at work in one of the offices of UCLA’s Parking Department, when two of my best friends there, Lonnie and The Countess, broke out in song. They began singing . . .

Thank you very much, thank you very much! That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me . . .

When the singing finally came to an end, I asked them, “Where did you hear that song?” Their mouths hung open for a minute or two and they looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.

And then at once they both shouted (as if I were hard of hearing because of the lobsters), “SCROOGE!”

And that’s how I first learned there was a 1970 movie musical called ‘SCROOGE’, based on Dickens’ famous ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Yes, SCROOGE is a musical.

Now look here, I’m a “dude”, as in, “guy”. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my friend The Flyin’ Aardvark. Exactly one week ago, after I had made a rude remark, she wrote this to me: Ahem. ... You are such a GUY! Ha!

I was on my high school’s sophomore football team. I was on my high school’s varsity wrestling team. I NEVER cry (where anyone else can see it) and I DO NOT like musicals!

Well, except for Roy Rogers oaters.

And ‘Singin’ In The Rain’.

And ‘My Fair Lady’.

(Alright, I also like 'Bells Are Ringing', 'Guys And Dolls', and ‘The Sound Of Music’, but so help me, if you ever tell that to anyone, I – will – hunt - you - down - and - KILL - you! Twice!)

Therefore, I was predisposed to dislike SCROOGE. But I saw it anyway. With The Countess. I told her, “If it’s a musical, I won’t like it.” And I was right because... I LOVE it! It is by far my favorite filmed version of 'A Christmas Carol'. And, yes, I've seen the vast majority of them.



How good is this movie? Well, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘Scrooge’ are both on my Top Ten favorite movies list. No, NO, NO! I do not mean “Top Ten favorite Christmas movies list”. I mean Top Ten list PERIOD!

In fact, I’m not sure which of those Christmas movies I love most. It pretty much depends upon which one I’m watching at the moment.

SCROOGE stars Albert Finney and was filmed in England with an all Great Britain cast. For those who know anything at all about acting, that means the acting is way, Way, WAY friggin’ better than what you will find in most American movies!

The direction is fantabulous, the sets are spectacular, the cinematography is delicious, and the music is so addictive it should be considered a controlled substance. For such an old movie, even the special effects are still pretty good.

Two of my all-time favorite quotations come from the movie SCROOGE:

Mankind should be our business, but we seldom attend to it.
~ Jacob Marley

There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish; the thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember, …time is short, and suddenly you're not there anymore.
~ The Ghost Of Christmas Present

I have only one negative remark to make about SCROOGE: There is one song in the score, sung by Tiny Tim, that is so high-pitched, stepped-on-a-cat’s-tail awful that I fast-forward through it every other year.

[Note: I watch my four favorite Christmas movies only every other year, so they don’t cease delivering to me the emotional impact I watch them for. This year, it’s the “modern” classics – ‘Scrooge’ and ‘A Christmas Story’ – next year it will be the old school classics – “It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘Miracle On 34th Street’.]

But even that awful song by Tiny Tim has become a part of the Christmas tradition that I share with my brother, Nappy. Every other year, we TRADITIONALLY fast-forward through it!

There’s a part in SCROOGE where - in anticipation of the second ghost’s appearance, and temporarily feeling bold and brave – Ebenezer yells out, “I’m ready for you!”

Well, this year, just as Tiny Tim’s dreadful song was about to be sung, I raised the DVD gizmo, my finger on the fast-forward button, and I yelled out, “I’m ready for you, Tiny Tim!”

Nappy and I both laughed. Yeah, you can make a “Christmas tradition” out of just about anything.

If you’re having trouble finding “The Christmas Spirit” this year – as it seems many people are – then you need to watch SCROOGE.

Here’s a link to about ten minutes of this wonderful life movie! (This is a future Christmas, in which Ebenezer has died, and the people indebted to him are joyfully singing "Thank you very much!")

Scrooge the Musical (1970) Part 9
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BF5ZcMgd0Q

[Note: In actuality, the movie’s visuals are not as dark as they appear in this video.]

Dog God bless us, every one!
~ TinyTim @Dyslexia.moc

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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19 comments:

mousiemarc said...

Stephen,
Ya know three of your top three are on my family spin wheel as well. However, I've never seen the "Scrooge" musical. Guess I'll have to check it out.

Br'er Marc

farawayeyes said...

I had no idea 'Scrooge' was ever made as a musical. I had no idea you would be so sentimental.(Please don't kill me twice, but I think it's nice.) Thank you ver ymuch!

Mankind is our business,but it is the business of heartbreak. Hard to attend to.

Should have known your fondness for ghosts would lead to Scrooge. I'll have to check out the musical. Of course it will be well into next year before Netflix can send it. to me.

YeamieWaffles said...

"Mankind should be our business, but we seldom attend to it." That really rings true with me, I absolutely love Scrooge man, in my opinion it's a great story that empathises what's wrong and what can be good about society in one fell swoop. Really thought provoking stuff you have here, it's excellent as usual buddy.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

BR'ER MARC ~
Unless you absolutely hate ALL musicals PERIOD, I think I can guarantee you will dig 'Scrooge'. It finnin' tuh be da best, man! (But be ready with the remote for Tiny Tim's song! Actually, you should probably let him sing through it the first time, so thereafter you will understand just what it is you're fast-forwarding through.)


FARAWAYEYES ~
Yeah, I'll confess that I'm a "dudeguy", but in some respects I'm an atypical "dudeguy". And one of those traits being that I have a sentimental streak about a mile and a half wide.

But... a minor correction: I wouldn't really describe my interest in ghosts as a "fondness". I find them very intriguing and quite mysterious, as I have never been able to conclude just what they really are.

In most areas of life, I am generally fairly confident that I have a decent grasp of what's what, but when it comes to ghosts, I can think of three possible explanations, and I'm not sure which of the three it really is, or if it's possibly a combination of all three depending upon circumstances.

Ghosts are one of life's puzzles that has always kept my mind... puzzled.
[;o)


MATTHEW ~
Thanks, my man! Glad ya liked it. There's a reason 'A Christmas Carol' is still with us and has been remade time and time again, in one form after another: it speaks of something quite profound in the human condition.

But, you know how it's almost a truisim that "the movie is never as good as the book"? Well, this is one of those rare instances when the reverse is actually true. In my opinion, 'Scrooge' is even better than the Dickens book.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Karen Peterson said...

I really don't know why I haven't been reading your blog all along except that it's probably because I'm dumb sometimes and miss out on the good stuff. Anyway, you're hilarious.

And this post was hilarious and reminded me of a good friend of mine who thinks that, because he is a GUY, all musicals are automatically lame, except then he pretty much loves every one that he sees.

It really must be a guy thing.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

KAREN ~
Ha! Well, first of all, I thank you sincerely for the great compliment - it's truly appreciated!

Well, ya know, we "dudeguys" have a reputation to maintain, even if reality doesn't always reflect the image that we are attempting to portray.

Yeah, it's probably a "guy" thang. Just be grateful you're not one of us.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

mousiemarc said...

Stephen,
As far as ghosts go all you have to ask is one question. Where is the profit/benefit? And I don't mean financial profit. Who is it benefiting? From my reading and studying I have found that everything God creates has a benefit. This benefit always helps us in some way here as well as to help lead us to him (if we have'nt already). I would imagine if people reincarnate they wouldn't be hanging around as ghosts first. Talk about never coming together with my wife again. If I have to think about grandma checking things out I'm likely not to ignore my wife and not take a shower.
In all seriousness though I always look for a potential benefit. In the case of ghosts I just can't find any.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

BR'ER MARC ~
You know me, I always try to let the evidence alone lead me to my beliefs, and not approach anything dogmatically: "I would rather KNOW an unpleasant fact than BELIEVE a pleasant lie."

Such is the way I approach things and attempt to understand the mysteries of life (and death).

GHOSTS...

The spirits of deceased people who have (temporarily) emotionally bound themselves to Earth?

Impersonal residue of human energy that some more highly attuned people inadvertently tap into and observe?

The devil playing tricks on the living?

All of the above, depending upon the circumstances, on a case-by-case basis?

None of the above because it's really something I've not even considered?

I don't know. There is not enough evidence that I'm currently aware of to indicate that any of the above is most likely to be the truth, nor enough evidence to discount any of the above.

I may not know the answer to the "ghost riddle" until after I myself have died, and that's OK with me.

Not sure what I think about your "benefit" standard - I'd have to contemplate that for awhile.

But, just off the top of my head here... if I kept seeing my deceased Grandma, and came to believe that she had emotionally bound herself to the Earth as a ghost, I would pray for her. I would pray to The Lord to send His Holy Spirit to help her and lead her to where God Himself wills her to be.

And if God answered that prayer, would that not be a form of "healing"? And would it not strengthen my belief in the power of prayer, as well as glorify God through His loving intercession and correction of a human error?

At one point, Jesus said a healing He had performed was done so "that the works of God should be revealed in him ["him" being the previously blind man]".

Therefore, even if your "benefit" standard has merit (and it very well might), I can still see how it could be applied to the ghost scenario and hold water without necessarily proving that ALL ghostly phenomena is always a trick of the devil. (Although I suspect that at least some of it might very well be just that!)

I'm sure I'll know the answer when God deems that I need to know it. Until then, I find it's a very interesting subject to ponder, but I NEVER seek out nor even hope to see ghosts, in the same way I won't play with a Ouija board. God and His Son protect me, and if I see an apparition, it's only because my Protectors permitted it.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

mousiemarc said...

Stephen,
I don't personally know of any biblical verse that acknowledges a ghost. There are things known as familar spirits (using king james language) that I'm convinced from my working of Gods word are in fact devil spirits (or demons). I don't claim to have all the answers, nor do I profess to be a biblical scholar. So who says I'm right.

As far as 'IF' your grandmother appeared before you? Well, lets just say how would we really know if it was or was not such and such person? If the ghost asked you to do something that was against Gods word I think it would be fairly obvious where it was coming from. I myself have had some experience with ghosts. I grew up in a house with one. Foot steps when your the only one in the house. Shadows on the wall, a spirit presenting itself as the deceased (the women who passed away in our home before we purchased it) to both myself, mother, and father. It was in our home for the most part without incident. Occasionally moving something out of it's place but that was about it.

Once I became a Christian one night chills went up my spine, the room went cold (on a 90 degree humid evening in August) and the most demonic laugh came from behind me. "Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha." As if to encite fear and torment. My gut reaction was to turn and state with authority, "In the name of Jesus Christ leave this house and never return." The chilly creepy feeling left, poof gone. My mom said about a year later, "The old lady that died here hasn't been around for the longest time." I never said anything to my mom but in my mind I said, "Dang right she isn't. My God and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ banished that spirit from this house." Keep in mind I never mentioned anything about that night until I think I mentioned it to you in passing on the phone once.

Since that time I have worked Gods word on ghosts. I have not found anything that I can conclude would suggest their existance. For the verses people have used to justify them I have found alternative and (in my opinion based on my own research) more logical interpretations of the verses in question. All this being said I honestly went into the subjest wanting to find a biblical justification for ghosts. Much like Josh McDowell wanted to prove christianity inaccurate but instead ended up writing "More than a carpenter." So if nothing else please believe me when I tell you that I came up with enough to convince me that ghosts are demons. I don't expect anyone else to take my word for it.

When it comes to the benefit aspect of my previous statement, that was a statement made by a christian pastor in my old church. I thought about and researched the claim, and I have found it to be true. There is nothing that God does that doesn't have a benefit. We may not always see it, we may not always like it, but God is holy and he is just.

Love ya Brother and Merry Christmas to you and your family. By the way tried to reach you by phone x 3 last couple months. No cigar. Will keep trying as I get to missing you and our talks. Plus I read More than a Carpenter on your recommendation and LOVE IT. Best book I've read in a long time.

God Bless you,
Br'er Marc

Sheboyganboy 6 said...

The comment section here got serious, but I will stick with movie triviality.

I love Scrooge, I love the Dickens story, and I love musicals in general. I also consider myself manly, in a near John Wayne-like way... minus the drinking. Does that failing disqualify me? Probably.

My Fair Lady is excellent. My favorite is Oklahoma. I'll often buy season tickets to our Seattle musical theater group. I stride in there, rather than sashay.

And, like everyone else, Its A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. In fact this last weekend I saw a really interesting stage version of the story here, done as "Theater Anonymous".

Stephen: you've heard of that, no doubt. But for those who haven't, it is a very cool "experiential" sort of theater. The actors are chosen by the director secretly, and they only rehearse with the director - not the other actors. They are sworn to only tell one other trustworthy person about their acting gig. When their daily rehearsal is finished, they go out the back door and the next actor comes in the front to practice his/her lines.

Everyone goes to the theater the night of the performance and we all sit in the audience. Actors too. The other actors and the audience ONLY learn who is who when an actor stand up and delivers their first line. Then they come down to the stage and deliver the rest of their lines from there, discovering and interacting with their fellow thespians for the first time.

Essentially, the first performance is the ONLY performance and the only rehearsal. It was a hoot, and surprisingly well acted. It was great!

Its A Wonderful Life always brings a tear to my eye, and did again this time. Thanks for the blog bit, Brother!

walk2write said...

Excellent suggestion for a film. I share the same admiration you have for certain musicals--BUT! I am eternally grateful that I'm not one of you guys. There are so many reasons...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Part 1 Of 2:
BR'ER MARC ~

I'm sorry you've been unable to reach me by phone. Have most or all of those attempts been on Sundays or Mondays? If so, that would explain it. I'm very difficult to reach via telephone on the days/nights that NFL Football is primarily being played. Not because I watch much football, but just because those are the two nights I'm hard to reach, and that's the best way to remember which days/nights of the week one should forget trying to reach me.

As for ghosts... well, Brother, I don't find any verses in The Bible that clearly state UFOs exist either, but they certainly do! And I have concluded that they are related to demonic activity - just as you have concluded about ghosts. So, maybe it's true about ghosts as well, but I have not arrived at that conclusion. Not yet anyway.

Because you have had an encounter of the ghostly kind that evidently turned out to be demonic in origin, it does not necessarily follow that ALL ghostly manifestations are of the same nature. It could be true, but I think arriving at that hard and fast conclusion might be premature. Simply because some in Group A = B is not reason to state definitively that ALL in Group A = B.

I recall us having an extended and ultimately unresolved discussion about the possibility (or not) of ghosts and "life after death" a couple years ago. It seems nothing has changed. This is one of those areas in which we aren't going to come to any agreement. At least not yet. No big deal.

One of the important lessons I have learned in life is that too often we start with the mind-set that something is EITHER this OR that, but I have found that more often than not, the Either/Or approach turns out to be inaccurate. Very often the correct answer is BOTH, depending upon the particular circumstance. Or to phrase it another way, “Situations alter cases”.

For example: Are homosexuals born that way (i.e., is it based in something real, like their physiology?) or is homosexuality a voluntarily chosen lifestyle? Most mainstream Christians will tell you it’s the later, and they base that on two things: Why would God create them predisposed toward something He has declared sinful? And why have some homosexuals apparently been able to leave that lifestyle behind and live out normal heterosexual lifestyles afterwards?

Many homosexuals and psychologists will tell you that they were “wired” that way from birth and knew they were homosexuals from a very, very young age.

EITHER the first explanation OR the second? I have known a lot of homosexuals and have spoken with some about it. I am utterly convinced that the real answer is BOTH. I have known some whom I do believe were wired that way from birth (possibly a karmic consequence), and others whom I believe had chosen that lifestyle as an act of rebellion against their parents, etc.

Continued Below...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Part 2 Of 2:
Until I have received conclusive evidence one way or the other, I am leaving my mind open about ghosts and taking the attitude that the real answer may be BOTH. I have NO DOUBT that some ghostly manifestations are demonic in origin; perhaps even the marjority. But I have yet to come across any solid evidence or information that leads me to conclude that ALL ghostly manifestations are necessarily tricks of the devil.

EITHER, OR, or BOTH? For the time being anyway, I am open to all three possibilities. That’s my answer and I’m sticking with it, Bro.

Glad ya liked McDowell's "Mo' Than A Carpenter". It's a good one for sure, and an especially good book to recommend to someone who is skeptical of Christianity but hasn't really seriously investigated it.

I view McDowell as a bit of a "Christian Legalist", and I think his very literal, legalist narrow viewpoint sometimes causes him to arrive at erroneous conclusions (a la John MacArthur), but overall, I think his book is very powerful, and a great one for the "uninitiated". With your extensive Biblical studies, I know there wasn't much if anything in it that you weren't already aware of.

A Merry Christmas to you, your wife, and your little ones, Br'er!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

SHEBOYGANBOY SIX ~
No, I must confess that I had never heard of "Theatre Anonymous"; that must be some concept someone came up with long after I lost interest in acting.

Its sounds a bit peculiar, and I can think of reasons - from an actor's perspective - to question that format. It seems like it would be more valuable in scenes where two characters meet each other for the first time. But in scenes where two characters are supposed to have a shared personal history, it strikes me that this type of rehearsal/performance format could be a liability.

But if you say the performances are good, I take your word for it.

In the event I am unable to post anything new here before Christmas (or ever again), please accept my best Christmas wishes for you and yourn here and now, Brother.


WALK2WRITE ~
If you like some of the other musicals that I do, then run - don't "WALK" - to see 'Scrooge'. I'm confident you'll love it.

I never minded being "a guy" until I read the book 'The Privilege Of Being A Woman' by Alice von Hildebrand. That was the first time I ever considered that perhaps I had been ripped off!

And A Merry Christmas to you, too!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

mousiemarc said...

Stephen,
Well answered to my previous post. And your right most things are not either/or. Though some things are. Jesus Christ is Lord, there is but one God. exc exc exc. And I imagine some things people mistake for ghosts are in fact good things, angels possibly. I don't know. What I do know is if something contacts me saying it's my dead relative I'm telling it to take a hike. I've told my relatives the same. Don't want to offend any of them in the event I'm wrong.

On a more upbeat note, I do like to watch Allister Simm in the british version of the Scrooge story. Old, yes. But in my opinion well done. I'm gonna look into your musical though. My wife likes musicals, and I think it just might be a hit around my neck of the woods.

God Bless you brother,
Br'er Marc

P.S. Just to comment on the UFO thing until proven otherwise I think those are demons too.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

BR'ER MARC ~
Thanks, Bro!
And, yes, I've seen the version of 'A Christmas Carol' that you referred to also; I think it is generally regarded as the best one. I like it - I like most versions of that story - but to me, 'Scrooge' with Albert Finney blows 'em ALL away.

The only one I that I truly, truly dislike is the one starring George C. Scott. Oh, gosh, for a guy who can sometimes give a pretty good performance, that was just bad 'n' dreary 'n' devoid of energy. I once even made up my own joke pertaining to Scott's awful performance as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Yep, yep, yep on the UFOs. I first began studying that subject when I was in fifth grade. No question about it in my mind: demons all!

Merry CHRISTmas, Br'er!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Sig Wynne-Evans said...

Great Stuffs!!

In my family, there is one whose tradition it is to watch Its a Wonderful Life. I hate it. Sure, it is a great lesson, but the whiney crybaby gets-on-my-nerves James Stewart makes me wanna puke.

For several years, I returned the puke-fest favor though because my daughter loved to listen to the LP (yes back when we still played the occaisional LP) of Alvin and the Chipmunk's Christmas....She loved it. I thought it was quaint as I grew up with it. Now...well, its burried in a some nut hole...

Have a merry one...and raise a glass for me!

Sig

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

SIG ~
Thanks for checking in and commenting.

But you hate “It’s A Wonderful Life”?!

DOH!
I think I sense a lump o’ coal a-comin’ to someone.

Have a great, Jimmyless Christmas!

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

SIG ~
Thanks for checking in and commenting.

But you hate “It’s A Wonderful Life”?!

DOH!
I think I sense a lump o’ coal a-comin’ to someone.

Have a great, Jimmyless Christmas!

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’