Charles Dickens, in a Preface to The Christmas Carol

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.......” Charles Dickens, in a Preface to A Christmas Carol

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Sound of Music-Still Sweet on its 46th Anniversary of Success-With pictures from Department 56 Alpine Village Series

40th Anniversary Edition of Rogers and
Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music"

On April 28, 1966 the incomparable Rogers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music was named "Best Picture" of the year  at the Academy Awards.  Based loosely on the book by Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, the movie also won four other Academy Awards and was the highest grossing film up to its time. It is not overstating to say that The Sound of Music captured the heart of America.

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"Danube Music Publishers," #56173

Directed and produced by Robert Wise and starring Jullie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film had all of the elements of a great movie:  romance, humor and fun, gorgeous, wonderful costumes, talented actors, and a great story and score.

Department 56 has memorialized this movie with a series of Alpine Village pieces that would allow a collector to create a wonderful Sound of Music display.

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"Mozart Monument," #56313

The Sound of Music takes place in Salzburg Austria, a beautiful town in the shadow of the Alps that has a long tradition of music, especially since it is the birth place Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"The Sound of Music Wedding Church," #56211

It is the story of Maria, played by Julie Andrews, who is a postulant (or candidate for entry) in an abbey in Austria.  It is by no means certain, to Maria, the other nuns, or the Mother Superior, that Maria is a good candidate to enter the order.

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"Sisters of the Abbey," 56213

In an early scene, a group of nuns expresses their frustration over Maria's carefree nature, and questions her suitability for taking vows.  Hammerstein wrote some of the most evocative lyrics in this song entitled "Maria," sung by the nuns.  Referring to Maria, Hammerstein writes,  "How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"  "How do you keep a wave upon the sand?" "How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?"  To see a clip of the nuns from the movie singing "Maria," click on this YouTube link:

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"The Sound of Music von Trapp Villa," #56178

To give Maria time to consider whether or not she is suited for convent life, the Mother Superior sends her to act as a governess to Captain Von Trapp's 7 mischievous children.  Welcomed with a pinecone on her chair and a frog in her pocket, Maria has her hands full.  The 7 brothers and sisters have had their share of nannies, and they have decided Maria will be the next in a series to leave unexpectedly.  During a loud and frightening thunderstorm, however, Maria welcomes the children into her bedroom and sings the famous "My Favorite Things," with more of Hammerstein's wonderful images:  "Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings"and "Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes."  This, of course, wins the children's affection.  To see Julie Andrews singing "My Favorite Things" in the movie, click on this link:

Julie Andrews playing Maria in
The Sound of Music,
The real Maria von Trapp is in the background
on the left.

By the way, in the scene where Maria leaves the convent for the von Trapp home, she goes through beautiful scenes in Salzburg singing "I Have Confidence."  At the moment she crosses through a high arch, three people in the background cross the street.  Those are the real Maria von Trapp and two of her daughters.  The family had visited the set when the scene was being filmed, and the director asked them if they would like a cameo in the movie!

Julie Andrews, singing "Do-Re-Mi" from
The Sound of Music

Maria begins to teach the children about music, using the popular rendition of "Do-Re- Mi."  To see a clip of one of the renditions of "Do-Re-Mi" from the movie, click here: 

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"Kukkuck Uhren Alpine," 56191

A popular song that the children perform, while operating puppets, is "The Lonely Goatherd." The children's first public performance, however, is at a lavish party at the Von Trapp Family home. Just before the children leave the party for the evening, they sing "So long, Farewell." One of the memorable moments of the act is when the little children pop from behind their older brothers and sisters to sing "cuckoo," reminiscent of a traditional Black Forest cuckoo clock.   To see a clip of this great song from the movie, clink on this link:

Maria and Captain von Trapp dancing,
The Sound of Music
Despite the fact that Captain von Trapp is aloof and distant from his children, he cannot help but notice the affection they begin to display for Maria.  At the von Trapp gala, the Captain and Maria dance a traditional Austria together, and they realize they are attracted.  Mortified, Maria returns to the Abbey to take her vows.   Click here to see the traditional Austrian dance with the Captain and Maria:

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"Here Comes the Bride," #56300

The Abbey's Mother Superior understands that Maria is frightened and running away from a man she has grown to love.  She tells Maria to return to the von Trapp family.  By now, the Captain's fiance realizes he is in love with Maria, and she leaves.  Maria and the Captain, with full approval of the children and the nuns, marry in the Abbey.

Dept. 56, Alpine Village Series,
"The Sound of Music Gazebo," #56212

Among the various subplots of the movie is the budding romance between Rolf, the young man who is adopting Naziism, and Captain von Trapp's oldest daughter Liesle.  The two perform a duet in the pagoda, that in 1966 seemed sweet, and now strikes me as dated.  "You need someone older and wiser, telling you what to do.  I am 17 going on 18, I'll take care of you."   If someone said that to my daughter, I would say, "Run for the hills."  I would be right, or course, because ultimately, Rolf betrays the family to the Gestapo, and the family hides in the Abbey before escaping over the mountains to Switzerland.

In 2001 the US Library of Congress placed the film of The Sound of Music in the National Film Registry, as it was considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. It continues to be one of the most beloved musicals of all time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eating My Way Through Tennessee-With Images from Dept. 56 Christmas in the City

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"East Harbor Fish Co.," #58946

I just returned from a first-time visit to Memphis, Chattanooga, and Nashville.  Given that I am on Jenny Craig, it should come as no surprise that some of my fondest memories of our trip include fried chicken, fried catfish, fried eggplant, fried corn, fried sweet potatoes, and that newly-discovered delicacy, fried pickles.  You must admit, though, that southern chefs hold back when they merely grill the romaine, instead of frying it.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"American Diner" 799939

The most finger-lickin' moment, however, was dipping into my first-ever rubbed rib at Rendezvous in Memphis.  Now, I am as near to being vegetarian, without being vegetarian, as you can get, and those ribs made me forget.  There was a sticky squeeze bottle of bar-b-q sauce on the table, and we added just a tiny line of it along the rib.  Then, daintily, with nary a dribble on my blouse, I nibbled the meat off the bone.  Why have I never done this before?  For the same reason, I shall probably never do it again, though the memory of the taste will linger in my mind far longer than it lingered on my tongue.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Johnson's Grocery and Deli," #58886

Of course, there were other temptations:  ...the chocolate chess pie at Puckett's Grocery in Nashville.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Molly O'Brien's Irish Pub," #58952

...three different kinds of pretzels at the Flying Saucer in Memphis, including the one drizzled in honey.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"The Prescott Hotel," #805536

...the biscuits in our hotel in Nashville, without the gravy that I could have slathered on, which proves I am still on a diet.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Wintergarten Cafe," #58948

...and, oh, that fried corn and coconut cream pie at Sylvan Park Cafe!

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Jambalaya Cafe," #59265

Now, just to prove that I have not gone overboard, I state unequivocally that I did not like the luke-warm gumbo in Memphis, though I hold out the possibility that it may have been this particular preparation, though they advertised it as the "Best Gumbo in Memphis." The patio music somewhat made up for the food.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"DeFazio's Pizzeria," #58949

And I did not like the frozen pizza in our hotel bar in Chattanooga, though the bartender was funny and nice and opened our own bottle(s) of Pinot with great verve and no corkage fee.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Hank's Market," #59706

Beyond salads, green items are not allowed on menus in Tennessee.  If a green vegetable has the audacity to present itself to the kitchen, the chef gently adds a brown fried veneer, or, as in the case of my turnip greens, transforms the bright Kelly green leaves into a soggy army fatigue green glob that is turned bitter by the experience.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"Ferrar Bakery and Cafe," #59272

My next blog will be about the music scene in Memphis.  Actually this blog was supposed to be about the music scene in Memphis, but I have not yet had my delicious Jenny Craig Sunshine Sandwich this morning, so my thoughts naturally turned elsewhere.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Favorite Things in My Easter Basket (with Pictures from Dept. 56 New England Village)

Thanks to for
photo of the basket!

If I were to create my favorite Easter basket, what would I put in it?  For those of you who know me, you will be surprised that chocolate is not first on my list, though it is on the list. As I was thinking about it, my list got serious very quickly.  Easter is a time of endings and beginnings. While I love to laugh, this year I find the thought of endings and beginnings a cause for sadness, though also for hope and joy.

Here goes:  If I were to create my favorite Easter basket, I would put in the following:
Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Boardwalk Sunday Stroll," #56681

1.  My family.  I love my family, with all of their talents and gifts and warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks.  In fact, the warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks make me love them, at least in part.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Harper's Farmhouse," #56612

And I love that they acknowledge and accept mine, though my warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks are not as pronounced and annoying as theirs.  But beyond the odd, I love their talents, and graces, and loveliness, and humor.  My life would not be of so great a worth without them.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Let's Go One more Time," #56621

2.  My friends.  Because my family is small, the role of my friends is great.  In fact, my close friends have merged into my family, and I hold them as dear, if not dearer, than some blood relatives.  My friends, too, have warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks, along with talents and graces.  They counsel me and guide me and laugh at me, and I would not wish to lose any one of them.  You know who you are.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Stoney Brook Town Hall," #56448

3.  My wider circles of acquaintances.  I belong to Rotary, a lunch group, a book group, a circle around my husband's work.  I have acquaintances in these arenas that I do not know well, but I am inspired by aspects of their lives that I do know.  I am inspired by their intelligence, ideas, audacity in thought and action, their courage, and their work.  I don't have to know each of them in every phase of their life.  I can pick elements of their life that are accessible to me, and regard it with awe.  I would be less rich without my acquaintances.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Milking the Cow," #56683

4.  Our cat, Hemmingway.  Hemmingway had a tough start. When he came to us he was a "red tag," meaning....well, you can imagine what it means to carry a red tag.  He was so thin  we didn't like to pet him, because his spine stuck out so far.  He had a respiratory problem, his eye dripped, and he had ring worm, though we didn't recognize what it was until I got it also....on my cheek.  Hemmingway was not very civilized.  He didn't like to be held, and one friend, said, with skepticism, that he might not turn out very well.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Not Too Fast, Please," #57110

Hemmingway has turned out very well, indeed.  He is a large strapping fellow who prowls the perimeter of the yard several times a day, lopes across the grass with his huge feet splayed ahead of him, and has accepted as his right to sleep on every soft surface of the house, including silk pillows.

Hemmingway, sitting outside my window,
controlling me.

He still doesn't like to be held, but he sits outside my office window, on the kayak, and cries until I go out and pet him.  I am intelligent, and he has taught me well.  He joins us each night in bed, and at 3AM promptly, he wakes us with loud purring and slobbering and kneading.  He is promptly ejected from the bedroom, and still loves us in the morning.  Hemmingway brings great joy to us, but not to the rats, mice, birds, and even occasional possum in the yard.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Bobwhite Cottage," #56576

5. Good memories.  I would wish everyone's Easter basket to overflow with good memories.  Years ago our family was in a building at the University of Virginia.  We ran into a nice, elderly gentleman, who said to us.  "You're building memories."  We asked what he meant.  He said that he used to travel with his family when his children were young, and he still carries all of those wonderful memories with him, and that they are some of the best things he has in life.

Dept. 56., New England Village,
"Green Dragon Coffeehouse," #56678

We are so lucky to have our basket brimming with joyful memories of house exchange vacations, card games as we sipped coffee, touch football games during halftimes of the 49er games, swimming parties in our back yard, watching the July 4 children's parades...there are so many traditions and memories they burst the sides of the basket.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"The Winner by a Nose," #57115

6.  People who make us laugh.  Sometimes our friends say funny things, sometimes innocent things, and sometimes very nasty and incorrect things.  But they are very funny, occasionally, and we laugh until our sides hurt.  I put hurt sides in my Easter basket.  You cannot make these moments happen.  They have to happen spontaneously, and in the right time and place and with the right people, and when all these things come together, there is laughter, and laughter is soaked up by every other item in the Easter basket.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Woodbridge Gazette & Printing Office," #56673

7.  Things that make me think:  good books, good movies, good art, good talks. All these things make me think and add texture to my life.  I realize every time that my perspective is only one of many, and sometimes my preconceptions are just wrong.  Knowing that is very liberating.  That means there is even greater hope, for I can imagine better times.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Benjamin Bowman Violin Maker," #56663

8.  Beautiful things.  Green fresh-cut grass, fluffy clouds, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Rothko, sunlight glinting off water, the sound of a baby laughing, the smell of clean laundry, a beautiful piece of fabric, an Apple computer, mountain peaks, Motown music,  main streets of small there an end to beautiful things?  My Easter basket has to be very big.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"P.L. Wheeler's Bicycle Shop," #56613

9.  Being active.  Getting to the gym is awful.  Being at the gym, less awful.  Leaving the gym after a great workout, great.  Biking 25 miles with no wind and no falling is fabulous.  Hiking up a steep hill and panting at the end, awesome.  Kayaking without tipping over, superlative.  Even just walking to the post office, invigorating.  Moving has always been a part of my life.  I may move slower, less far, and with more effort, but I hope my Easter basket can't contain me.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Wheaton Christmas Bakery," #57001

10.  Chocolate.  Milk or white, plain or with nuts, big or little pieces, with or without intricate shapes.  I have never had bad chocolate, even this weekend in Healdsburg at the Pigs and Pinot event, where dessert was chocolate with bacon and chocolate with prosciutto.  Chocolate should be, and is, a major food group.  Dark chocolate is a concept foisted upon the public by masochistic doctors who don't want you to enjoy the very essence of a good life.  I hope every nook and cranny of my Easter basket is rich in chocolate pieces.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thomas Kinkade and Easter Art

Thomas Kinkade, "Cobblestone Christmas"
Thomas Kinkade,  the "Painter of Light," is a polarizing figure.  Some people love him, and some hate him.  How do I know this?  I went to Facebook and typed in Thomas Kinkade.  He brings out strong feelings on both sides. I am neutral about his paintings, but I can appreciate his table top pieces like the "Faith Mountain Story of Christ" and his "Easter Blessings Heirloom Porcelain Egg Tree."  Here is why.....

Thomas Kinkade, "Cobblestone Evening"

According to his own website, Thomas Kinkade has produced over 1000 paintings.  I am unwilling to judge if they are "good" or "bad."  In general, though, I find them too similar in mood, theme, style, and composition to one another.  I acknowledge that Kinkade may demonstrate painterly prowess, but in general, after I look at  the first one or two, they don't hold my attention.

Bartolome Esteban Murillo,
"The Virgin of Seville"

Some people criticize Kinkade because he is too "sweet" or too "kitchy."  Many people said the same about the 17th century Spanish artist Murillo.  Maybe Murillo was sweet.  I don't care.  I think Murillo's paintings are beautiful.  I withhold such regard from Kinkade paintings, not because he is sweet, but because there is no "stretch," so after the first few viewings, everything becomes emotionally flat.

Titian, "Bacchus and Ariadne"

If you think I am insulting Kinkade's work, I'm not.  I'm giving it a shrug.  I am perfectly willing to criticize some art.  For example, I don't like the 15th century Venetian Titian when he paints these huge epic myths.  Generations of art historians have thought that Titian is a great Venetian painter.  But I think there is just wayyyyyy too much going on.  Too many clouds being whipped across the sky.  Too much drapery rippling around in ways that you don't find even in modal dresses.  Too many people in odd poses.  And some epic Titians have too many angels flying around at such precipitous angles. I actively dislike Titian paintings like these.

Jacopo Tintoretto, "Miracle of the Slave"

I have the same dislike of the 16th century Venetian painter Tintoretto.  Wayyyyy too much going on.  Too many bodies at odd angles, seemingly inserted to show off the artist's ability.  Just too hard to focus on the story being told.

Thomas Kinkade, "Christmas Moonlight"

Nope, can't say that about Kinkade.  I just think he has told his same story over and over.

What I really like about Kinkade, however, are his small tabletop pieces.  First, pragmatically, they are compact, tell a story in one fell swoop, and are easy to use.  You put them out for an occasion.  Afterwards, you box them up, plant them in a closet, and you're done.

Thomas Kinkade, "Story of Christ" Illuminated Sculpture,
"Faith Mountain"

Occasionally one of Kinkade's tabletop pieces is a tour de force.  I think the "Story of Christ" Illuminated Sculpture is one of those, and for a Christian, the subject matter is very important. First of all, it is a 3-d depiction with 13 individual scenes and 45 sculpted figures, all hand-painted.  That is pretty impressive, given it is only 15" in height.  Its price tag of $135 seems reasonable to me, given what went into designing  and producing such a detailed piece. Collectors of miniature villages have to appreciate the fact that it is a complete town scene in one piece.

Thomas Kinkade, "Easter Blessings
Heirloom Porcelain Egg Tree"

Kinkade's "Easter Blessing Heirloom Porcelain Egg Tree" is also a wonderful idea.  First of all, it celebrates the traditional art of Easter egg decoration.  It is light and airy and uses traditional pastels, which get you in the mood for spring.  And it remains true to its Kinkade roots, with comforting scenes on porcelain eggs.  Not only that, each scene portrays a "blessing," and you have to be really cynical not to be touched by the ideas of "hope," "serenity," "health," and "wisdom."  You are not allowed to forget Kinkade ever-present commercialism, when the Bradford Exchange urges you to order early, and offers 3 installments. "Free Returns for 365 Days" takes away of bit of the sting, however.

Thomas Kinkade, "Visions of Christ" Music Box

 The Thomas Kinkade "Visions of Christ" Music box is another interesting example of applied art.  In just 7"X4.25"X5.25", Kinkade has developed a series of scenes of the death and resurrection of Christ.  Made of Mahogany, the music box has Kinkade's artwork for "Sunrise" on the underside of the lid, along with a Bible verse, and it plays "Amazing Grace."  That is a very well-conceived commercial piece.

Thomas Kinkade, "Tranquil Mountain Village Tabletop Tree"

Village collectors might also like "Tranquil Mountain Village Tree."  Again, it has an extraordinary series of buildings and over 20 villagers engaged in traditional summer activities like camping and swimming.  There are lakes and streams and waterfalls and trees and flowers, and no emotional appeal for me.  Too much detail saying too little.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hal Roach, Irish Humor, and Department 56

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"A Little Irish Jig," #4025247

When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay,
And when Irish eyes are smiling, 
Sure, they steal your heart away.

Irish comedian Hal Roach

And yet, on Feb. 28 of this year, Irish eyes were not smiling.  Indeed, they were welling up at the loss of Hal Roach himself.  One of Ireland's prominent comedians, Hal Roach spent over 60 years in show business, 28 of it at Jury's Irish Cabaret in Dublin.  Hal Roach made a living making people laugh.  But he didn't have to be mean or ill-spirited.  He relied on simple stories, impeccable timing, an understanding of our inherent foibles, and a love of ordinary people.   For some years Hal Roach was my driving companion, mile after mile, as I fed disc after disc into the player, chuckling aloud time after time, in an otherwise empty car.  As USA Today reported, "Nearly two hours of humor and not one off-color joke.  What a blessing."

To honor Hal Roach and all Irish everywhere,  I am going to tell you some of his jokes, and garnish them with some wonderful Department 56 pieces from Dickens' Village, Snow Village, North Pole, and Christmas in the City.  At the end of this blog are some links to YouTube where you can see Hal Roach himself in action.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"St. Mary's Church," # 799996

Father O'Shea is the priest in a little village in County cork.  Last week he phoned the Pope in Rome and and said "I don't know how to tell you this, but the good Lord Jesus himself is walking down the street of our village.  I don't know what to do."  And the Pope said to Father O'Shea, "Look busy!"

Dept. 56, Dickens' Village,
"Pub Patrons," #4020192

They opened a little cabaret bar in County Donegal last year.  They tried to make it like a miniature Las Vegas.  All the disco lights flashing on and off.   All the lovely decor.  But the most unique feature of the bar was that, from ceiling to floor, mirrors went all around the pub.  Casey and Flanigan had been there all evening celebrating with a good few pints. Casey looked across the pub, forgetting the walls were mirrored, and did a double take. He turned to Flanigan and said, "Flanigan, you're not going to believe this, but there's a fellow sitting over at that table that looks just like you."  Flanigan said, "You're right! And the fellow sitting with him looks just like you."  So Casey stands up and says, "Come on, we'll go over and buy them a drink."  And Flanigan said, "Sit down! I think they're coming over here."

Dept. 56, Dickens Village,
"The Hoops," #4020181
This fellow Murphy in County Kerry won 60,000 pounds on the Irish sweepstakes and went to visit his brother in Boston.  On the way home the pilot of his plane made an announcement, "There is an emergency on board and we may have to ditch the plane into the sea. Say a little prayer that we get down safely."  So Murphy is thinking, "Oh, my God, I've just won 60,000 pounds and I'll be stone dead before I can spend it."  So he got down on his knees and prayed, "Lord, if you save me, I will give half of my fortune to you and the church."  Well, the plane landed safely, and as Murphy was getting off, a priest came up behind him and said, "I couldn't help overhearing what you said, that if the plane got down safely you would give half of your fortune to the Lord and his church.  I suppose you would like to start right away." "No, Father,"  said Murphy, "After the plane landed I made a better deal with God.  I told him if I ever went up in a plane again, he could have it all!"

Dept. 56, "North Pole,
"McElfin's Irish Restaurant and Gifts," #56755

The children were in a history lesson.  The teacher asked a little boy, "Where was Anne Boleyn beheaded?"   The little boy answered, "Below the chin."

Dept. 56, North Pole,
"An Irish Cheer for Santa," #56848

A little lad came to his father.  "Daddy, is it true that we come from dust, and to dust we shall return?" asked a little boy.  His father said, "Yes, 'tis true.  Why do you ask?"  And the kid said, "Well, you better look under my bed.  There's somebody there either coming or going!"

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"St. Mary's Church," #799996

When the Bishop is confirming the boys and girls, it is traditional for him to ask them questions about religion.  So the Bishop said to the boy, "What is the definition of the blessed Trinity?"  And the boy said, "One in three, and three in one."  And the Bishop said, "I don't understand."  And the boy said, "You're not supposed to understand.  It's a mystery."

Dept. 56, Snow Village,
"School Children," #51187

 The teacher was giving a class on drawing, and said, "I want you to draw for me a picture of the flight into Egypt."  And this little girl drew three people and a black spot.  The teacher said, "Who are the three people in the picture?"  And the child said, "That's Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus."  The teacher said, "Nice.  What's the black spot?"  The little girl said, "That's a flea."  The teacher said, "A flea?  What's a flea got to do with it?" And the little girl said, "The angel said to Joseph, 'Take Mary and the baby and flee into Egypt.'"

Dept. 56, Dickens' Village,
"Potts Pub," #4020182

Part of Hal Roach's attraction was his own self delight in the nature of the Irish humor he delivered.  At the end of many a good line, he would add,  "Oh, dear God, write it down.  It's a good one!"  Your life, Hal.... it was a good one, too. 

To see Hal Roach himself in action, click on these links: