50 Facts About How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The People Who Made It

It can’t be denied that the mid-1960s was the golden age of the animated TV Christmas special. You could deny it, but you’d be wrong. The stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered in 1964, and A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted twelve months later. The next year, in 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas aired for the first time.

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the animated Grinch, here are 50 facts about the classic TV special and the people who made it.

1. The Dr. Seuss book on which the special is based was published by Random House in 1957. It also appeared in an issue of Redbook magazine at the same time.

2. Dr. Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Geisel. His dozens of children’s books have spawned 11 TV specials, four feature films, four TV series and a stage musical. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

3. While attending Dartmouth College, Geisel got caught drinking gin with friends in his dorm room. As punishment, he was forced to stop all extracurricular activities, including writing for the school’s humor magazine. To surreptitiously keep writing for it, he began using the pen name Seuss. (Dartmouth gave him an honorary doctorate in 1956.)

4. His first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by anywhere from 20 to 43 publishers, depending on which time he told the story.

5. An early version of the Grinch character appeared in 1955 in a Seuss story called “The Hoobub and the Grinch.” Continue reading

Celebrating 65 Years of “I Love Lucy” with 10 Iconic On-Screen Lucy Moments

65 years ago today “I Love Lucy” aired it’s first episode.

If you’ve never seen an episode of “I Love Lucy” …then you’ve got some ‘splaying to do! But here are the basics – Starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, the show followed the antics of a mischievous, red-headed housewife who wanted so desperately to be in show business like her husband, Cuban musician Ricky Ricardo.

What you may not know is that “I Love Lucy” was actually based on a radio program from 1948 called “My Favorite Husband” which starred Lucille Ball with actor Dick Denning playing the role of her husband. But when CBS bought the rights to the show, Lucille insisted on recasting her real-life husband Desi in the TV show.

“I Love Lucy” was a pioneer of television sitcoms for many reasons. Lucille Ball paved the way for strong-female leads, producers and comedians for decades that followed her – stars like Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and many more. In it’s day, “I Love Lucy” was also a ground-breaking on social norms, portraying an on-screen interracial marriage, and later an on-screen pregnancy. In fact, the network prohibited the use of the word “pregnant” so the show’s writers used the French word “enceinte.” Continue reading

Our 10 Favorite Lines from Sherlock the TV Series

Sherlock.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought him to life in print, but of all actors that have brought him to life on screen; none have done so quite like Benedict Cumberbatch.  Sherlock makes a seamless transition to the 21st century with Cumberbatch at the helm, and it’s a character that you immediately identify and possibly empathize with; or, you are simply intrigued by his “high-functioning sociopath” behavior.

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I’m a proud member of the fandom that began in 2010, and one of the many that are anxiously awaiting the series’ return in 2017.  The previous seasons are a streaming repeat on my television at home, and tablet when I travel.  While we all patiently (or not so patiently) wait, I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from the series.

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It’s Time to Raise the Curtain…40 Years of the Muppet Show

If you’re like me, hearing the words “It’s time to play the music; it’s time to dim the lights” transports you to your childhood, when the week wasn’t complete without your weekly dose of the Muppets.  It’s hard to imagine that The Muppet Show turned 40 years old this year and harder to image that Jim Henson himself would have turned 80 this month.  So, to help celebrate these events, here are some interesting facts about the Muppets and their creator.

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  • Jim Henson had a passion for puppetry even when he was a child and TV Puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, from the show Kukla, Fran and Ollie was a major influence in his childhood.

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These Are a Few of the Voyages…: Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek

Half Price Books would like to take a moment to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek and look back at its long history of stories that inspired generations of fans. And for some reason, they tapped the guy with a U.S.S. Enterprise model on his desk to write it.

I’ve decided to share some of my favorite Trek episodes with you. Please keep in mind: this is not intended as a definitive top-ten list, but it is a list of all the things that make Trek great – adventure, humor, allegory and the belief that tomorrow will be better than today.

So without further ado, here are some of the voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise and its spin-offs.

The Original Series (1966 – 1969)

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1. Balance of Terror (1966)
“Balance of Terror” is an homage to World War II submarine thrillers like Run Silent, Run Deep. The Enterprise hunts down a cloaked Romulan ship that’s committed surprise attacks against the Federation. What follows is a tense thriller as Captain Kirk and the captain of the Romulan ship attempt to outthink and outmaneuver each other. In the process of doing so, they each realize that the other is a man of duty and honor.

It’s a notion that Trek would come back to again and again: that we are all, to some degree, creatures of circumstance. And that our enemies are often our enemies because of the walls we create. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Bugs Bunny…Sort of.

I know what you’re going to say: “Wait a minute!  I thought Bugs Bunny’s birthday was in July!” To which I will respond, “It is…well, sort of.”

Yes, Bugs Bunny’s first starring role was in the short “A Wild Hare,” which debuted on July 27, 1940.  However, Bugs was first in a Porky Pig cartoon called “Porky’s Hare Hunt,” and this cartoon premiered on April 30, 1938.  So what happened between April 1938 and July 1940?  Where did our rascally rabbit go?  How did he get his big break? And what launched him into superstardom?

Here are ten facts about Bugs Bunny that shed light on these questions and so much more.

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Source: Deviantart.com

1. On April 17, 1937, Warner Bros. released a cartoon entitled “Porky’s Duck Hunt,” which introduced the world to Daffy Duck. The cartoon was a success, so the next year when the studio was pushing for another cartoon, director Bob Clampett decided to recycle some of the jokes that hadn’t made it into “Porky’s Duck Hunt” with the suggestion that they “dress the duck in a rabbit suit,” “Porky’s Hare Hunt” was born, and so was Bugs Bunny. Continue reading

Ending on a High Note: Celebrating 15 Seasons of American Idol

1000px-American_Idol_logo.svg.pngIn the summer of 2002, I was in high school, rocking spiky hair and a puka shell necklace while playing Snake on my lightning bolt face-plated Nokia 5110. Little did I know, FOX was about to change the face of American television, pop culture and the music industry. As a small-town girl from Burleson, Texas took the stage in front of the entire nation, a star was born, along with a franchise. This…was American Idol. And I was hooked.

On Thursday night, the confetti will rain down for the final time at the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre. One talented singer will live on in history as the “bookend to Kelly Clarkson.” As a loyal fan throughout all 15 seasons, I must say that Idol’s departure leaves me with mixed emotions. Whether you’re an Idol super fan like me (I might have attended the Season 5 American Idols LIVE! tour) or you tuned out years ago, it’s hard to deny the impact this show has made. So, let’s take a look back at Idol’s legacy. Kieran, dim the lights, here we go… Continue reading

So Human: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Most people who get to know me – and all of my nerdy obsessions – are surprised to hear that I’ve never been to a sci-fi convention. One of the reasons why is because I’ve never had an interest in meeting the people who gave life to my childhood heroes. I avoid following celebrities on social media or reading behind-the-scenes gossip for the same reason: to keep art separate from the artist, to avoid knowing that these people are just as flawed and human as the rest of us.

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I regret, though, never meeting Leonard Nimoy, despite having several opportunities to see him in person. If I had met him, I would’ve only taken a few seconds of his time. No autographs, no pictures, no questions – just an opportunity to say “Thanks for everything” and be on my way.

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10 Things We Can Learn From Fred Rogers to Celebrate Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day

In honor of Fred Rogers’ birth, March 20 is Be My Neighbor Day.

Generations of children – anyone growing up in the 70s, 80s or 90s – likely watched the public television children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or was influenced by Fred Rogers work. Through his soft-spoken words, delightful songs and whimsical puppets, he imparted countless life lessons.

Here’s my simple roundup of 10 things we can all learn from Mister Rogers, regardless of our age.

1. We should feel all the feelings.
Our feelings – happiness, sadness, anger and frustration – are all part of who we are. By acknowledging our feelings, it’s easier “…to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.” Be honest with yourself and how you feel about a situation or problem. Mister Rogers also said, “It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”

2. We should surround ourselves with people who appreciate us just as we are.
Mister Rogers’ uplifting song lyrics said it so simply, “It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair. But it’s you I like, the way you are right now, the way down deep inside you […] I hope you’ll remember even when you’re feeling blue that it’s you I like…”

 3. We should not let any person demean us or those around us.
Part of the reason Fred Rogers chose to get into television was to change what was on the air for the greater good. He said, “I saw people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and that’s such demeaning behavior. And if there’s anything that bothers me, it’s one person demeaning another.”

 4. We find success through kindness.
It’s a simple philosophy for life that Fred Rogers shared with all of us. He believed, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

5. We find success by doing what we love.
Find the work that you love, in a place that brings you joy, and then do that work to the best of your abilities. In a commencement address, Mister Rogers once said, “The thing I remember best about the truly successful people I’ve met is their obvious delight in what they do. Such honest, enthusiastic living of their lives.”

 6. We possess such power with imagination.
Have you ever grown anything in the garden of your mind? Enjoy this brilliant Mister Rogers remix of “Garden of Your Mind” – video courtesy of PBS Digital Studios.

7. We can always find help.
Mister Rogers firmly believed that we should reach out to others when we needed help. He reassured us that we were not alone and there was someone there to talk to about our feelings. He once shared, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

 8. We are all a product of those who have loved us.
The nurturing encouragement and support of those around us shapes our view of the world and our view of ourselves. Those people “loved us into being.” As Fred Rogers said, “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

 9. We all may have regrets, but you just have to move forward.
Even Fred Rogers had regrets. When talking about his show, he said, “I awoke one morning around 1981 and was struct with the sudden realization that it had been a terrible idea to name the mailman ‘Mr. McFeely.’ By then, though, it was far too late. Far too late.”

 10. We should make the most of the present.
In Fred’s own way, he espoused Carpe Diem. From the familiar theme song of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” come these lyrics – “…Let’s make the most of this beautiful day…”

The legacy of Fred Rogers lives on for another generation to enjoy with the PBS show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is geared towards preschoolers. Just as Fred Rogers did, the new animated cast of Daniel Tiger in his land of make believe are teaching young children life lessons through catchy tunes and catch phrases. The engaging episodes teach great early lessons for toddlers about safety, emotions, sharing and more. Just watch a few episodes and before long you and your tots will be able to sing along – “stop and listen to stay safe,” “grown ups come back,” “try new foods ‘cause they might taste good,” and “keep trying, you’ll get better.”

Have a beautiful day, neighbors!

Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

HPB Book Club: Interview with a Magician

BookClub-logoFor the next few months, we’ll be reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Grab a copy at your local HPB and participate in the discussion on the HPB Facebook page through February and March. The Magicians has been adapted into a Syfy TV series. Our very own Assistant Buyer at Half Price Books, Kristen B., knows lead actor Jason Ralph in The Magicians TV series had the chance to ask him a few questions about his experience with the show so far.

When Jason Ralph moved to McKinney, Texas in middle school, he was a quiet kid. He barely spoke, but he would always get my notebook back for me when another classmate would steal it. Therefore, we became instant friends. As we both grew older and moved on to high school, Jason started to come out of his shell and we both became involved in high school theatre. Once Jason started acting on stage, it was clear that he was destined for greatness. With his good looks, charming charisma, and heart of gold, he was the guy that every girl wanted. Throughout the years we have stayed in touch, even when he went on stage as Peter in Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway.

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