I highly recommend “The Horse Boy,” an extraordinary documentary about a family that traveled to the other side of the world to help their autistic son and found all of their lives changed.
Rowan Isaacson was diagnosed with autism in 2004. The two-year-old his family thought they knew seemed to disappear. He lost the words he had learned.
He began to flap his arms and babble, to obsessively line up his toys, to retreat into himself for hours at a time, to avoid eye contact, to scream uncontrollably, inconsolably, as his nervous system erupted like a series of volcanoes, searing him with burning, with pain, terrifying him, traumatizing him, causing him to ‘fly away’ into an otherworld far from the reaches of his distraught, grieving parents.
But when he was put on horse, he was calm, peaceful, happy. He even started to talk. And so, in 2007, Rowan’s family took him to a place where he could be with horses and healers — Mongolia. Watch this with your families and then talk about what it tells us about love, hope, families, who we are, and what it means to be normal.
Errol Flynn is the definitive Robin Hood in this glorious Technicolor version of the classic story, one of the most thrillingly entertaining films of all time.
King Richard the Lion-Hearted, off fighting in the Crusades, has been captured and held for ransom. His unscrupulous brother John (Claude Rains) schemes to make sure Richard never returns, so he can take over as king. All of the knights offer their support but one, Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn), who vows to raise the ransom money himself. He and his followers use Sherwood Forest as cover so they can steal from the rich and powerful to help the poor and raise the ransom money. They capture a group of travelers that includes the Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper), Sir Guy of Gisboume (Basil Rathbone), and the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), the King’s ward. Marian is at first scornful, but when she learns that Robin and his men are loyal to Richard, and sees how the Normans have abused the Saxons, she becomes sympathetic. In order to capture Robin, the Sheriff plans an archery contest, with the prize to be awarded by Marian. They know Robin will not be able to resist. He enters in disguise, but his superb skill reveals his identity, and he is caught and put in the dungeon. With the help of his men and Marian, however, he is rescued in time to help save Richard from John’s plot to have him assassinated.
In this story, Robin is the only one of the knights to stay loyal to Richard. Though he is a Norman, he is willing to lose everything he has to protect the poor Saxons. His loyalty is not limited to his own people; rather, he sees everyone who behaves justly as his people. “It’s injustice I hate, not the Normans,” he tells Marian.
Robin is not only the world’s greatest archer and a master swashbuckler. He has a complex and multi-layered character, revealed in his interactions with Marian and with his men. He has a strong and clear sense of fairness and honor. He is always respectful of those who deserve it, including the peasants. He is confident and direct, but also unpretentious and even irreverent. When he tells Marian that her manners are not as pretty as her looks, Prince John laughs that this is quite a contrast to Sir Guy, whose feelings for Marian leave him tongue-tied. In the scene where he meets Little John, Robin fights him for the right to cross the river first, just for the fun of it. When Little John wins, tossing him into the water, Robin is delighted. “I love a man that can best me!”
Robin is not especially concerned with goodness or piety; he even steals food from Friar Tuck. But with the poor and weak, he is gentle and considerate and he is, above all, loyal. When he finds that the people who appear to be traveling monks are loyal to Richard, he
says he will only take half of what they have. At the end, when the king asks him what he wants as a reward, all he asks for is amnesty for his men.
This is also a good movie to use for a discussion of what makes a leader. Robin’s confidence in himself inspires the confidence of others. In one of history’s finest pairings of actor and role, Errol Flynn brings his own assurance, grace, and passionate enjoyment to a part that added courage, integrity, and lively dialogue, creating one of the screen’s greatest heroes.
Forty-nine years ago today my father, Newton Minow, in his first speech as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in the Kennedy administration, gave a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters that has been widely quoted and anthologized as one of the most memorable and influential speeches of the 20th century. It has even been featured on game shows like “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and board games like “Trivial Pursuit” and on the SAT. And it led to his being “honored” by the creators of “Gilligan’s Island” — they named the sinking ship after him: the S.S. Minnow.
This is the part of the speech most often quoted:
When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.
Is there one person in this room who claims that broadcasting can’t do better?
The speech is well worth reading or listening to again. Dad says that the two words everyone remembers are “vast wasteland,” but the two words he wishes everyone would remember are “public interest.”
Here is a 2003 interview with Dad about the speech. He is often asked whether he thinks television is still a vast wasteland. He says that parts of it have become a toxic waste dump. But he still loves television and never missed an episode of “The Sopranos.” His favorite show is CBS Sunday Morning.
Dad’s most recent book was published in 2008: Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future. He has been involved in planning every Presidential debate between party nominees and independent candidates in American history, starting with Kennedy-Nixon in 1960 and currently serves as vice-chairman of the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates, which most recently assisted the UK in holding its first-ever televised debates between the party leaders.
I’m very, very proud of him. And he’s the world’s best dad, too!
When I was a kid, the cartoon theme songs were light pop jingles and we could all sing along.
But then some of them got more electric, more rock power ballad-style, even some hip-hop.
Listen to the sweet original theme of “Sesame Street”
And here’s the bouncier update:
And here it is, sung by an R&B superstar.
Compare the opening song for the 1950’s Mickey Mouse Club with the more energetic 90’s version or the two versions of the PBS kids’ show, “Zoom.”