Thursday, April 26, 2012

the lyrics to the H R Pufnstuf theme song

As a child, naturally enough, I watched a lot of television and it being the early 1970s when I was a child, I watched a lot of what is now known as 70s television. With a bit of 60s thrown in too, probably. There were shows that apparently were just tiny almost unregisterable blips in the television stratosphere which to me were a huge part of what television meant - I was very attached, if memory serves, to a show called The Godfathers and in my recollection this shortlived program has become part of the smorgasbord of what constitutes Television Programs. Evidence of its existence are now barely apparent.

Another show, which still means a lot to people, is H. R. Pufnstuff. Of course it was also made into a film, which makes a big difference. The film in particular registered Mama Cass on my awareness of the world, though I think she was dead by the time the film came out or, at least, by the time I saw it. 

Yesterday, prompted by I can't remember what, I thought through the lyrics to the theme song. There were always bits and pieces of this song I didn't quite understand, and so today I was moved to check out the lyrics online (I'm aware that this is just as likely someone else's interpretation of the songwords after hearing them sung, but even that can be useful).

First up, the suggestion that H. R. Pufnstuf 'Can't do a little cause he can't do enough' always bothered me when I enjoyed the show, and presumably HRP as a character. Looking at it now, I realise that 'he can't do enough' was about HRP's value as a good friend, as in, he can't do enough for the people he cares about. 40 years ago I thought this was an unfair estimation of HRP and his abilities, and that the singers of the theme song were somehow dissing him.

The rest of the song tells a story about Jimmy and the magic flute (even then of course I appreciated the flute represented the call of adult male sexuality). I had forgotten until I looked at the opening credits again (available for your viewing pleasure here)  that the boat was actually very appealing as a playmate, and apparently betrayed Jimmy almost from the outset, though we don't see its face a second time once it goes bad or get any kind of character motivation explanation here (also, I don't know what my 7 year old self would have thought of the fact that, although the song says the beautiful boat 'was gone', actually it's all still very much there, until Jimmy bails). Even the song is contradictory there, because although it says the boat's gone, it then 'sails on and on and on and on.' A more correct line might have been 'the beauty of the boat was gone'. I propose a recall! 

The next verse was the one that really caused me trouble when young. It was the line that 

He saw the witch's boat attack
And as the boy was fighting back 

Actually, I think it's not 'boat attack' but 'bold attack', but the ringtone website where I found the words is still going on about the boat. But the bit that bothered me was the line 'as the boy was fighting back.' First impressions count for a lot and for years and years, well into adulthood, I really saw this as a value judgment. I thought that Pufnstuff only saved Jimmy once he satisfied himself that he was fighting back - that is, 'as (because) the boy was fighting back' HRP figured Jimmy was plucky and deserving. One day it dawned on me that this merely meant, 'while the boy was fighting back', that is, 'as (during the time that) the boy was fighting back'. You can see how the title song really gave me mixed feelings about Pufnstuff - firstly, his theme song singers think he's crap and he can't do enough, and then he himself makes a whole thing out of whether Jimmy is worth saving. Incidentally, in the film accompanying the song, Jimmy is not fighting back at all - unless you count jumping out of the beautiful boat as fighting - and in the song itself they claim he is washed ashore, when we clearly see him swimming ashore. 

No kudos should be accorded to my younger self, as I clearly simply observed these inconsistencies and displayed no curiosity or interest in the discrepancies, unless perhaps I asked adults around me who had no interest in the deeper questions and so I decided it was better to sublimate these problems until middle age, or unless it was all resolved for me at the time and I then forgot, leading me to worry about it again in middle age. Hard to know. 

By the way I can remember the titles and the theme song, but I have absolutely no recollection of any of the storylines of any H. R. Pufnstuff episode. I see there are some on YouTube, I bet I couldn't last a minute trying to watch any of them. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Last night at about 6.30pm we saw fireworks across in Gladstone Park, sort of unannounced and we never would have known except we were in the park with the dogs and they just unfolded out there in the view. A couple of hours later one of my sisters had come by and we were just conversing and we heard banging and I assumed once again fireworks. We mused about what people might find to celebrate on this particular weekend (cat's birthday seems a common excuse). Anyway about half an hour later a very freakin' noisy helicopter above, which hung around for a long time and then about an hour later I put two and two together and checked the Age website and, yes, there had been a shooting in our street. A man in his twenties was shot below the waist and is in a critical condition in hospital. Police were still at the scene last night, the Age said, so I went out to look in our little section of LC but couldn't see anything. This morning I went the length of the street and couldn't see any evidence - you know, police tape or whatever.  There was a brief interview on the radio this morning with a neighbour who came to the aid of the man who was shot, but no further details, and there probably won't be - we'll have to rely on local gossip.

I will be interested to hear what non-local people have to tell us in the next week or two about our 'rough neighbourhood'. It still has a long way to go to match the last place we lived in West Brunswick - both in terms of gun-related crime and crime generally.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The 50th Anniversary of my grandfather Norm having his picture taken at a David Syme Ltd vs Herald and Weekly Times Ltd bowling match at South Melbourne. And thirty years later he was dead; let that be a warning.

This picture is part of the Mavis collection.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

neighbours 2012

Well, for once I got to watch a bit of Neighbours. It was/is interesting. Summer is writing some expose of Paul or something? In the Erinsborough News? To get over that she broke up with Andrew? And she's looking for someone called Conrad Jackson? Or is it Comrade Jackson? Oh, it looks like she's found him - or is it Paul's nom de anarchie?

Nice establishing shots - it seems Andrew or someone sleeps in a bed with Hollywood Boulevarde on the bedhead. Now Andrew has found something that's relevant, but I don't know why, because I haven't watched the show for a long time, number plates, seemingly commemorating his 18th birthday, but was this recent? Because the second half of the number plate was '1983', and that makes no sense. And whatever this Comrade Jackson thing is, I don't get it at all.

I enjoyed the show though. I think I might go back and look at some past episodes on the website.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Technically speaking this is my 1500th post, though technically speaking it also isn't, because I shaved a couple of months off the beginning of this blog, I'm not sure I know why I did that, it was no better or worse than the rest of the thing - it was some idea I had. Anyway, I kept all that (who knows why I did that either) but can't put it back at the beginning - so, gee whiz, society and culture's loss I guess. So as things currently stand, this is my 1500th post, thanks for being here. The last couple of days have been spent largely at home though I did take the three beagles (Barry's mother Taffy is still hanging here and in fact has a couple more weeks - it's been a very satisfactory arrangement - she and Barry get on very well and there's no more pressure on Charlie to entertain Barry who is a very demanding companion) to the toxic waste dump yesterday. It's a wonderland for beagles. I gather there is no actual exposed toxic waste there these days. I wouldn't want to live on it (or would I? Hmmm...) but I am not worried about the toxicity of hanging out there once every few months. Lot of thistles. Last night we watched 4 episodes of Boardwalk Empire until Dog Day Afternoon came on. I'd never seen it. You know one thing about this film that surprised me is that it seems pretty nonjudgemental on gayness, which is as it should be but perhaps not what you'd expect from a film made in 1975. I vaguely remember it being on at the movies when I was ten or eleven, and I don't know what it was rated, but I probably couldn't go even if I wanted to, I don't recall much about it. Maybe it was also on at the Valhalla when I was a little older. Oh well I say it was nonjudgemental on gayness I suppose that element of the storyline was a bit weird, with the Leon character accepting uncritically a psychiatrists's suggestion that he have a sex change, etc. But it was Sonny's relationship with his female wife (as typified by the phone conversation) that seemed like a throwback to the 1950s... and her complete lack of engagement with his other 'marriage,' in fact, I don't think she mentioned it once, she seemed like an idiot automaton. Not that the Leon character wasn't a bit of a cliche. But the Sonny character, I have to say, probably wasn't a cliche at all. There were a lot of resonances in this film with the present day concerns with the news cycle, media manipulation etc (and also relatively contemporary mediafear/media critique movies like Newsfront). Anyway I liked it. It was a beautiful print they showed on Channel 9 last night, too. I wonder if it was the director's cut. Boardwalk Empire is a decent soap (thanks Annabel for lending us this) and made me more interested from a perspective of my other interests (urban history stuff) of prohibition and its day-to-day implications. The linking of prohibition with women's suffrage is really great historically. The (often heavy handed, though how could it be anything else? the similarities are so vivid) comparison with the current war on drugs is utterly pertinent. Also while I was cleaning out the drawer I came across a laserpointer that Mia's sister Kerstin gave us a few years ago, and said it was fun to play with cats with it. I don't think I was able to interest Bela or Asha in it then but wow, it is Butterball's raison d'etre now. He can't get enough and is entirely entranced, and will chase that light everywhere. In fact he is sitting a few feet away from me right now possibly just hoping I'll turn it on again. Bela and Asha are so uninterested in the laser light they apparently cannot even believe it exists, so when Butterball comes to close to them when he's chasing it they think he's being inappropriate and cuff or bite him. For his part, he only has eyes for the light so doesn't care at all. There was a moment I have to say though that I thought maybe be had come to associate the 'click' of me turning the pointer on with the light, and was more interested in looking at the pointer itself than the light on the ground/wall/furniture. He is smart. But surely not that smart? Today? More dog walking. We have almost no money to last us the next few days, so I guess we will just amuse ourselves with artistic endeavours. It's for the best.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

renewing my vows

Today I will totally be home in time to watch Neighbours (I was home in time yesterday but Gig was visiting so I decided against turning on the TV. Mind you we put it on for the "News"). I haven't watched Neighbours for about ten days now I think so it will be interesting to see if Toadie and Sonia are still in the front yard with that watermelon. I bet they are.