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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26, 1995

We interrupt this edition of "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE" retrospective to bring you a special edition of the Tuesday Timeline.  I made it a mission to do one Timeline entry for each day of the year, and I think I'm getting fairly close to making that happen. 

Of course, to keep with the spirit of the month long feature, I have decided that every Tuesday Timeline until June 9 will feature a date between 1981 and 2015.  After all, those are the years that I've been alive for!

That being said, I found it difficult to find a suitable topic for May 26.  All the good events that took place seemed to happen before I was even born!  I had to get a little creative, and take a look at the box office listings of the last thirty-four years to get inspired.

So, that's your only clue.  The Tuesday Timeline has to do with a movie.  But which one?  Well, we'll get to that in a moment.  In the meantime, what's say we have a look at the other events of May 26.

1293 - 30,000 are killed in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan after an earthquake strikes

1647 - Alse Young is hanged in Hartford, Connecticut - the first person in New England to be executed after being accused of being a witch

1783 - A Grand Jubilee Day is held at North Stratford, Connecticut, celebrating the end of fighting at the American Revolution

1805 - Napoleon Bonaparte assumes the title of King of Italy

1822 - In Norway, the Grue Church fire takes place, killing 116

1857 - American slave Dred Scott is emancipated by the Blow family - his original owners

1896 - Charles Dow publishes the very first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average

1897 - Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is published for the first time

1906 - London's Vauxhall Bridge is opened to the public

1920 - American singer Peggy Lee (d. 2002) is born in Jamestown, North Dakota

1923 - Actor James Arness (d. 2011) is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota

1926 - American trumpet player Miles Davis (d. 1991) is born in Alton, Illinois

1928 - Controversial pathologist Jack Kevorkian (d. 2011) is born in Pontiac, Michigan

1942 - The Battle of Gazala takes place during World War II

1951 - Astronaut Sally Ride (d. 2012) is born in Los Angeles, California

1972 - The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

1977 - George Willig becomes the first person to climb the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City

1983 - Thousands are injured and at least 103 people are killed when a 7.7 earthquake which spawned a tsunami strikes Japan

1998 - The very first "National Sorry Day" is held in Australia

2004 - Terry Nichols - an accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings - is found guilty of 161 state murder charges

2008 - Actor/director Sydney Pollack passes away at the age of 73

2010 - Radio/television show host Art Linkletter dies at the age of 97

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older; Roy Dotrice, Alec McCowan, Brent Musburger, Stevie Nicks, Pam Grier, Philip Michael Thomas, Hank Williams Jr., Kristina Olsen, Margaret Colin, Doug Hutchison, Genie Francis, Bobcat Goldthwait, Lenny Kravitz, Helena Bonham Carter, Kevin Moore, John Baird, Matt Stone, Patsy Palmer, Nicki Aycox, Lauryn Hill, Jason Manford, Isaac Slade, and Kerry Ingram.

And now for today's date.

Ah...looks like twenty years ago.  May 26, 1995.

So, I already mentioned beforehand that today's date is linked to a movie.  And May 26, 1995 was the date that one particular movie was released.

And I have a personal story to tell you that is linked to this movie - although at first, it might seem like a story where I was being picked on.  Trust me, it wasn't the case.

For starters, the person who was doing the picking on was a second grade kid.  I was in the eighth grade at the time.  He would always come towards me and run up to me and call me "Fatso", which at first I didn't know what the heck that was all about.  I mean, I have always had issues with my weight for as long as I could remember, and certainly back in 1995, I was considered "chunky".  I was after all just under six feet tall back then.

But still, this mystery of this second grade kid calling me Fatso was a little bit strange.  Even more strange was the fact that this didn't start happening until the end of the school year - right around May 26, to be exact.

So, I did a little bit of investigating, and I come to find out that this kid had a sister in the seventh grade.  And being that all of our Grade 7/8 classes were split that year, it was really easy to find her.  So, I point blank asked her what was up with her kid brother and why he kept calling me that name even though I never knew him.

She laughed, and explained that it was not meant to be taken maliciously at all.  You see, he had gone to the movies with his family and one of the characters in the film was named "Fatso", and since he saw that movie, he kept running around the playground, calling people "Fatso".

Or sometimes, he'd call someone "Stretch", or "Stinkie".  Yeah, I suppose being called "Stinkie" would be much worse than "Fatso".  I could have ran with "Stretch" though.  I was one of the tallest students in the whole school.

So, I basically allowed the kid to call me "Fatso" for the rest of the school year.  After all, it was over in thirty days anyways.  Besides, I don't believe he was being mean about it.  He was just trying to play with the ghosts that appeared in the movie.  Kids have wild imaginations, after all.

(At least...that's what I TELL myself, anyway.)

I tell you, that kid was so into the "Fatso/Stinkie/Stretch" thing that I am amazed that he didn't start calling himself Casper!

After all, those three ghosts appeared in the movie adaptation of "Casper", which was released twenty years ago today!  Fatso, Stinkie, and Stretch just happened to be the names of Casper's uncles - known by most people as the "Ghostly Trio".

So, a brief history of Casper.  Casper the Friendly Ghost was one of the flagship characters of the various titles published by Harvey Comics along with Baby Huey, Little Lotta, Wendy the Good Witch, and Richie Rich.

(Come to think of it, there was a time in which I believed that Casper and Richie Rich were the same person, given that they look exactly alike in the comics.  Maybe poor Richie Rich ended up drowning in his own vault of cash?)

Now, the Casper that you saw in the comic books was slightly tweaked for the film version.  Sure, the spirit of the late Casper McFadden was still friendly, and all he really wanted was to have some friends.  Unfortunately, all he got were his uncles, who basically are so obnoxious and disgusting that they keep everybody away from their home.

In the movie, we learn that a vicious, self-centered young woman named Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty) has inherited the very house that Casper and his uncles call home - Whipstaff Manor, situated in the town of Friendship, Maine.  She is initially upset that she has been left the house and only the house by her late father, until she discovers that there is a hidden treasure somewhere inside.  But with Stretch, Fatso, and Stinkie (Joe Nipote, Brad Garrett, and Joe Alaskey respectively) causing all kinds of havoc, Carrigan is discovering that even getting inside the house would prove difficult. 

It is Casper (Malachi Pearson/Devon Sawa) who decides to intervene by manipulating the television so that Carrigan will contact a paranormal therapist named James Harvey (Bill Pullman), which Carrigan arranges to bring to the house so that he can use his skills to get rid of the ghosts.

Now, you probably are thinking that Casper has lost his mind.  After all, he basically sealed his own death warrant - um, no...wait.  Eviction notice.  Yes, that sounds better.  After all, Casper is already dead.  Well, the human version of Casper, anyway.


The real reason why Casper has such a fixation on the good doctor is because he happens to have a crush on the good doctor's daughter, Kat (Christina Ricci).  And as it turns out, there's conflict happening between father and daughter.  Before the events of the film, James' wife Amelia (Amy Brenneman) passes away, and James can't seem to let go.  He is convinced that because she died so young that she has unfinished business in the world, and he will not rest until he can resolve things with her.  This means that James has moved all over the country to try and find the spirit of his wife, meaning that Kat has a rather lonely life because of it.

So, you can probably expect the lonely in life Kat to befriend lonely in death Casper.  It's certainly a feeling that all of us have felt at one time or another, feeling completely alone and finding it difficult to make new friends because of the influences of other people.  I think that's why I enjoyed this movie a lot when I first watched it.  It truly is a story about friendship and how strong a bond it truly can be.  And believe me, Casper and Kat will need that bond to get through the rest of the story which includes an increasingly angry Carrigan, an incredibly stubborn James, and increasingly wacky antics by the Ghostly Trio.

Seriously check the film out.  At 20 years old, it's a real classic.

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