Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let's Get Small

Photo thanks to the Kuklapolitan website,

With a move most likely in my future, I am "slimming down" the things on my shelves and in my closets: books and VHS especially. The books were relatively easy to get through, but harder to part with. Despite donating two big boxes of books that I know I will never read to Goodwill (and a third one ready to go), I still have shelves overflowing with them and stacks of them against the walls of my rooms. Not to mention all of my mother's books, some of which I will want to keep.

But the VHS tapes are a process, and a productive one -- I'm duping everything I can to DVD and getting rid of the bulkier tapes. Already there is much more elbow room where the tapes are stored. My Laurel and Hardy collection is saved for posterity, and it takes up about a half-inch on the shelf instead of two feet!

As a part of the process, this week I got to revisit some old friends: Kukla the Clown, Oliver J. Dragon, Fran Allison and all of the Kulapolitan players.

How would a kid react to this today? No special effects, no CGI, very little in the way of sets -- but also no preaching. no condescension, no potty jokes. Just one man standing behind a screen, talking and singing with one women through the cast of dozens that he wore on his hands.

Most of the characters don't even have articulated mouths or eyes. Like the Punch and Judy shows from which Kukla, Fran and Ollie derives, this is street performance -- in a studio.

It's hard to find anything so charming on the airwaves today. And it was good to revisit these kind-hearted friends from my childhood. I'm glad that I've finally got them in a permanent format, though I will miss the colorful box.

-- Freder.

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