PLEASE NOTE: This is my first article here on RJ, so PLEASE watch yourselves on what you say about this.

How's everyone shakin'?

Now, I've been on RetroJunk for about 4 years or so, just hanging around, adding random quotes and even a show or two, and reading the top-notch articles (especially those by our elite mainstays--you all know who you are). But when I get an idea to actually DO an article of my own, there's just so much to talk about, I just can't even THINK of where to begin! I know have a lot of stuff of the retro sort, no matter what its era was. I'm interested in stuff mainly for the younger set myself, because of my young-at-heart nature. So, here goes nothin'...

I'll start my first article by talking about one special audio cassette I have in my collection out of many. It's grown to become one of my favorites ever since I first got it in preschool. And get this: you just might learn a little something from it, too! This cassette is none other than:

"GETTING ALONG STORIES AND SONGS"!

This particular book-and-cassette combo, released in 1988, chronicles the various escapades of ten animals who have their own distinct problems with either themselves or their friends/significant others. In time, as you'd expect from any children's story, they finally solve that problem, thereby teaching the kid(s) reading this book a certain life lesson, such as dealing with one's attitudes or solving problems without fighting. With every story, there's also a song that goes with it at the end, performed by various kids - most of them complete with some NEAT-O dialogue.


They were all composed by Rita Abrams, a lesser-known composer/humorist (you can find out about her at http://www.ritaabrams.com). But Rita wasn't the only one behind this big life-lesson-lollapalooza--oh, no. Aside from her share of writing the songs and narrating some of the stories on the tape, also on hand were: celebrated children's storyteller Kendall Haven (the main author/narrator), and Dr. Parker Page, Ph.D., founder and owner of the company behind this book, CTREC - The Children's Television and Resource Education Center, in San Francisco. Dr. Page was busy researching the effects of TV on kids' lives. Unfortunately, despite its dumbing down, it still left a bad impact on the kids. That being said, Page immediately turned to Kendall and Rita to encourage them to take part in this project that could very well serve as a perfect alternative. Naturally, "Getting Along" immediately caught on with schools and libraries everywhere, and proved to be quite a hit. I was first introduced to this back when I went to the Children's Center at North Broadway United Methodist Church in preschool. And frankly, I liked it so much I begged my mom to get me my own copy- and I still have both the book and the tape with me today. WHOO-EEEEEE!!!



Other than the life lessons, I like this cassette mainly for the music, not to mention Rita and Kendall's ca-razy acting in his share of the stories. So let's get this going, with a complete rundown of this tape!


JUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET
Characters: Alfa and Albert Aardvark
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Teasing one another
Song: "When You Make Fun of Me"

___________________________________________

Here begins Side 1 of the tape:

Poor Alfa Aardvark! He really hates- no, I mean LOATHES- baseball. That's because when he plays with his brother, Albert, he has to wear the latter's rather immense baseball glove. Did I mention he can't even catch a ball that Albert just threw at him with it on? ("The ball whizzed by, inches above my head, (falling SFX) ripped the glove off my arm, and carried it into left field. (bumping SFX)") Of course, Albert just cracks up big-time, criticizing Alfa's catching efforts. What a pinhead, that Albert!

Really angry, Alfa storms back in, deciding a little snack might help him forget Albert's ways. He finds some milk and leftover soup in the fridge, but to make matters worse, Alfa accidentally drops the milk and the carton bursts, splashing milk everywhere, thereby leaving the kitchen in SUCH a state! Alfa feels down, hopefully thinking he could clean this mess up before anyone found out, but Albert soon arrives inside and keeps on laughing his ass off about the mess Alfa made.

Alfa sinks even lower with his brother's constant teasing, but then he gets serious and tells him his troubles, plus orders him to do something that isn't cruel. Albert suggests dropping cookies out of the cookie jar, at first ("And then you'll have cookies AND milk! HA-ha-ha-ha!"), but, to Alfa, that would only make it worse. After another order, Albert finally stares funnily at him and says he can do something better than laugh at him. He then proceeds to clean up the mess with a mop and bucket. Alfa is finally relieved that Albert did as he was told, and Albert promises to coach him on baseball more.

The song that follows, "When You Make Fun of Me", chronicles a similar take: there's this girl named Lucy, who's being ridiculed by a group of boys because she can't hold a baseball bat the right way. She then proceeds to sing about what they do best, complete with this melancholy question:

Why should we be mean? I don't know.
Why should we be cruel? I don't know.
Why don't you be good to me, and I'll be good to you?


Later, one of the kids comes up and asks her for help in holding the bat, plus a little secret of how he was a much worse baseball player than her.

MY OPINION: This synth-heavy story was a real rib-tickler, from the sound effects on down. I cracked up greatly at the part where Albert threw the ball at Alfa, thereby sending the glove off his hand. And Lucy's experience and training was the icing on the cake. Overall, a real good story and song worth listening to again and again!


A HARE-RAISING TALE
Characters: Randy, Robert and Rodney Rabbit, Mr. Hoppy
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Taking turns
Song: "Bossy"

___________________________________________

Now we meet Randy Rabbit, who's very happy about going to school today, because he finished all of his homework and went to bed early- and he's practically itching to show Mr. Hoppy, his teacher, how smart he really was last night. But don't get too comfortable, guys- Randy's got an adversary of his own: his classmate Robert then bounds into class over to his desk, announcing he wants to answer all the homework questions today, jumping up and down all the while, yelling out "Me! Me! Me! ME! ME! ME!" Randy feels as if this is just not his day in class, what with THAT drudgery.

And so the homework review begins: "Who was the first rabbit in space?" asks Mr. Hoppy. "Was it: Rabbit Redford, Bunny Bono or Mata Hare-y?" Randy raises his hand to answer, having read all about it last night, but Robert immediately causes quite a scene, screaming for his turn. Mr. Hoppy then grants Robert that turn to speak, leaving Randy, and other his friend, Rodney, sore. It still doesn't help that Robert didn't know the answer.

Later, during recess time, Randy and Rodney confront Robert and complain of his bossiness and nobody would want to even come close to him if he didn't stop. Robert looks shocked and asks over and over if he really is being bossy, and they tell him really is. No, really. That's what he does the whole time. Whaddaya think this, the Spanish Inquisition?

Then the homework Q&A continues, with another question that Randy is eager to answer. Robert starts to do his "Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" thing again, but then becomes less sure of himself, casting Randy a nervous glance, and can't get the words out, despite his spasms. With nothing else to do, he slowly calms down. Mr. Hoppy calls on Randy and he gets it right on the nose. Robert then admits not knowing the question, and smiles at Randy. And so, Randy drives the point of the story home: "I got to answer a question, and I think I helped a friend."

And after that, comes its own corresponding song, entitled, naturally enough, "Bossy". It all starts with that same girl you just heard in "When You Make Fun of Me", but this time, she starts announcing what game that she, and whatever kids she even thought had the GALL to wrangle into her team, are going to play. When one of the kids interjects with that ordeal, that girl butts in, vowing to leave with all her stuff if things don't go the way she wants them. At this, the kids break out in chorus:

When you're bossy, and you tell me what to do,
When you're bossy, it's no fun to play with you.
When you're bossy, I'll be sorry--so will you.
There are better things to do than being bossy.


(And for that, I can't agree with the kids more!)

After singing about what's about to happen if this keeps up, one of the kids decides he and his pals have had but enough of the girl's leadership tactics and says goodbye. The girl then pleads to no avail, and sings her own verse that she's realized the error of her ways. Afterwards, everyone is asking one another what they want to do as the song ends.

MY OPINION: This story really lives up to its name, IMO. Kendall gets all gravely as his role of Randy Rabbit in this story. And Robert's spasms were just INSANE! Long story short: both Randy and I actually have something in common: neither of us likes bossy people. It just ain't right to tell someone what to do for the sake of their own selves!





MIKEY LOVES BASEBALL
Characters: Mikey and Maria Monkey
Narrator: Rita Abrams (introduced by Kendall Haven)
Life Lesson: Taking care of your things
Song: "Who Do You Think Would Do A Thing Like That?"

___________________________________________

Mikey Monkey LOVES lunchtime--because of one thing: baseball. (So I guess Alfa's not the only one who's been itchin' to pitchin'!) As the shortstop on the team, he's even got a trick up his fur: he can catch the ball with- catch this- TWO gloves! Yes, that's right- one glove on his left hand, and the other on his tail. One day, after finishing his lunch, he's just on his way out to be shortstop for the team, but he's overlooked ONE small detail: he didn't clean up his mess at the table for the next monkey!

Enter Mikey's friend Maria, who just called out to him about the situation. She takes over the narration from there, complaining about Mikey's mess, and orders him to clean up. Mikey, of course, shrugs this off, stating his love of being shortstop and not wanting to take care of the mess. Several other monkeys from the stands concur with Maria, stating that other monkeys have to eat there. At this, Mikey decides to forgo the chance and take care of the mess, still complaining he hates having to clean up. More monkeys crowd the stands ("about 40", according to Maria) to see. Seeing them there, Mikey decides to make quick work of the mess, by stretching out his tail and giving it a sweep across the table, but he doesn't realize he just made a bigger mess. Maria and the crowd interrupt his second exit, claiming he just "spread it out". And of course, more monkeys (betcha didn't see that coming!) join the crowd, and they and Maria chant for Mikey to "Clean it up! Clean it up! Clean it up!", complete with timpani! Embarrased, Mikey then does the right thing, but the ballgame- and lunch- just ends by the time his work is done.

But fear not, the next afternoon- Mikey arrives with a jim-dandy invention to help him clean up while eating lunch: "He had hooked a roll of paper towels onto his tail, and had tied a dust pan to the tip. A whisk broom was dangling from an elastic band around his right wrist." That way, Mikey would still get out there and be ready to be the shortstop so rightfully wanted to be. Heck, maybe Mikey could teach the boys at Telebrands a thing or two!

The following song, "Who Do You Think Would Do A Thing Like That?", showcases your average, everyday schedule at school, but this time, things have gone to hell around the whole school. First the balls and toys for recess have disappeared, then the painting area is a shambles, then books have pages torn out and the puzzles are mixed up! All the while the kids ask the titular question, knowing for sure that SOMEBODY is gonna have to fess up sooner or later. Then the boy who made those discoveries firsthand decides that affirmative action has to be taken:

So I called the kids together and I said, "Look here--
Our stuff's a wreck and something must be done!
If we take care of our things they will take care of us
And everything we do will be more fun!"


Afterwards, the kids vow to take better care of everything in their class, asking the same titular question, ending with a very fitting response: "US! (cheering and applause)"

MY OPINION: This particular story required both Kendall and Rita to do the narration. Which brings up one qualm: why'd Maria's (Rita) side of the story have to take up most of it? Couldn't they at least have Mikey (Kendall) offer a little more perspective here and there afterwards?






I CAN'T BELIEVE I SAID IT
Characters: Patrick and Philip Pig
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Bullying
Song: "Bully, Don't You Push Me Around"

___________________________________________

OK, now we shift our focus onto Patrick Pig, who likes most of his class. Everybody, that is, except the class bully, Philip. It's one day at pig school where everybody is drawing pictures (I never thought pigs liked art!) and Patrick is hoping he won't have to have Philip to sit next to him. He wishes he could ward him off, but can't get the words to come out (just like I can't find the right words to interject to anybody who wants me in trouble). But even stealing nearby Paco Pig's chair doesn't help matters- Philip still wants to sit next to Patrick, who still unwillingly wants to get into Philip's face with that threat.

Then Philip starts bullying Patrick to give up his blue pen, and the latter promises he'll do that in a minute. But Philip then yells he wants his pen right now! Poor Patrick is shaking, wondering what to do, but just as he's about meet Philip's demand, that scared feeling inside suddenly snaps, giving him the urge to finally say those words he truly coveted: "Philip Pig, don't you push me around. Go find your own pen." Patrick then braces for impact, expecting more of Philip's badmouthing- but to his amazement, Philip is caught by surprise at that phrase, Patrick thinks "his teeth might fall out". He finally decides he didn't want Patrick's pen anyway, so he goes to cupboard to find his own pen, "a red one", so he can do his own work of art.

As soon as they're nearly done with their own pics, Patrick and Philip choose to swap pens to make their pics even better. And to top it off, Patrick ultimately give his picture what I think must be greatest title anybody could give their own personal picture at school: "Mine wasn't the great picture, but after I had finally stood up to Philip, it became my favorite picture of the whole year." Hey, Patrick- if you're listening- MoMA just called... your picture would be fair game for this summer's exhibit in the children's wing!

And- guess what?- it's time to sing along again! "Bully, Don't You Push Me Around" provides a homage to the story by giving us another everyday recess moment: a bully threatens a young boy about playing on "his" playground. At first, the threatened boy asks if it's true, and the bully says so, with a further threat to find somewhere else to play-- or else! The song explains what bullies do best, and why they really do it...

Bullies want to frighten you so they can get their way.
They want to get attention too, but get it the wrong way.


...punctuated by the kids' reiterating plea. Then the boy returns to the bully's
playground, but this time, he's got backup- the bully asks him what's what, and the boy shows him it's everybody's playground, too- and again they order the plea to give up his ways. Soon, the whole playground lives happily ever after.

MY OPINION: Kendall really has a way with his voice-acting here, especially using a gruff voice for Philip. Honestly, I'm thankful Philip just bullied Patrick only once. Just like Patrick, normally I can't think of the right words to retaliate someone badmouthing me. Usually before can I think of what to say or do, I fall under that sway.







YOU CAN'T PLAY POSSUM
Characters: Penelope Possum (and various other possums)
Narrator: Rita Abrams
Life Lesson: Taking care of other's things
Song: "Take Care of My Things"

___________________________________________

Speaking of art, we've seen a school artist, but now let's meet a critic of school art: Penelope Possum, whose class had been on a trip to the farm, feels absolutely terrible, because her picture of what she and her class did on the farm really wasn't up to snuff with the others- in terms of quality. Worse yet, tonight is Parents' Night (you know, like the open houses at our school), with the main attraction being the farm pictures. Penelope, of course, is hesitant to put her failure up on display.

But during lunch that afternoon, she gets an idea: she would feel much better if everyone else felt as terrible as she was. That being said, she sneaks back into class, grabs a fat marker or two from off the teacher's desk (think Marsh 88), and ultimately lays waste on all those pictures, scribbling over every mark the other possums made. Not long afterward, they head back into class until they see the monster Penelope just created and turn out how she expected them to. Trouble is, Penelope feels much worse than ever.

She decides she doesn't want to confess about doing it and just "play possum". But later on in class she decides to go through with it. She stands up, and quickly confesses AND apologizes her cruelty: "Just because my picture didn't work out, I didn't have the right to wreck yours." Then, at the request of one of the other possums, she promises to get all the art supplies to everyone who wants to make a new picture, and hang them up back on the bulletin board. And sure enough, all's well that ends well, with the pictures back up before the big night.

On the story's heels comes the song, "Take Care of My Things". This features kids complaining about the damage and snooping of their prized possessions:

Look what you did to my artwork. Look what you did to my guitar.
What are you doing in my lunchbox? This time it's gone too far!
If you're gonna mess up my things--mess up my things, we'll have to go separate ways-
But if you take care of my things, then you can stay and play.


Overall, the kids are perpetrating a certain somebody (and hopefully it's not whoever's listening to the song) for this behavior, giving their own meaning to "my way or the
highway". Also, they say fighting can occur when one's things get wrecked by another, but taking care of it mends soon thereafter. And to prove this point, a certain boy pops up, apologizing and handing a just-repaired whatever-he-broke-or-ruined to a girl. Then the kids thank the kid for making things alright, with that stern warning to never to do such stuff again so everybody "can stay and play".

End of Side 1.

MY OPINION: Rita's handling of the story was spot-on, not to mention for that faltering in Penelope's voice when making that suggestion that the possums do their pictures over. And the voice of that one possum ("So what are you gonna do about it?") somehow tends to remind me more of a bully, much less a Clint Eastwood-wannabe. I felt Penelope's lesson was a little too rushed, what with the sudden change in feelings about how everyone else would feel, but it was worth it nonetheless.





A RACE WITH A SHOELACE
Characters: Ronald and Roland Raccoon
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Cooperation/teamwork
Song: "Stop! Wait! And Think!"

___________________________________________

This story kicks off Side 2 of the tape, introducing us to one Ronald Raccoon, who's just about had it with his friend, Roland. See, Roland won't stop making a contest out of everything they do together. The trouble begins during a sleepover date one Saturday night at Roland's house, where he gloats that he just beat Ronald to the table, chanting his more speedy nature in that "pitcher's-got-a-big-butt" jingle. And it gets worse, slowly but surely. Roland then proceeds to rattle off his boast-a-rama, claiming that he: has more French fries that Ronald, has a cleaner plate than Ronald's, eats his ice cream first, and even beats Ronald to "the best seat for TV", to boot!

All through the night, Roland makes this sleepover a living hell for Ronald, declaring himself an all-out champion of sleepover activities. In fact, Ronald does get to do something first: do the dishes. But then Roland takes the wind out of his sails, claiming that he cheated. "Cheated?" ponders Ronald. "How can you cheat when you help someone with the dishes?" Then Roland adds more fuel to the fire, bragging that he got to sleep before Ronald did, leaving Ronald lying awake, thinking where that rivalry would end. At first he thinks of blowing this place if Roland brags about himself being better than him once more.

And as luck would have it, Roland wakes up the next morning, announcing that he got dressed faster than he did. Finally having enough, Ronald actually doesn't go home- he just threatens him they won't play with each other anymore if this nonsense doesn't end. And to prove it, he suggests the two do something together. Roland claims it's a race, but Ronald retaliates by saying it's a game "in which we're both on the same side and we don't have a winner and a loser." Which gives him a high idea: he challenges Roland to change his shoes while he changes Roland's. Naturally, Roland first bets he'll win if
he finishes first, but Ronald says no to that, as well as to a bet the winner is the one whoever ties the neatest bow. Then, amazingly, Roland gives up, asking who does win. "Whoever has a lot of fun," says Ronald. And so the shoe-change commences, and our two 'coons finally live it up like true friends.

"Stop! Wait! And Think!" follows the tale, talking about a race as it's nearing its end, and the girls egging on two kids, aptly named Rick and Tina, in which the latter is leading right now. Tina then breaks through the barrier, winning the race. She then sings her bragging rights, and how Rick cheated. Then the kids dampen her gloat with this refrain:

Stop! Wait! And think!
If we cooperate and share,
It's much more fun than to be one alone.
Let teamwork take us there.


Tina then comes up to Rick, saying she beat him- again. Rick says she won just because he let her. Then he boasts how much good he is as Tina, and the plea to "Stop! Wait! And think!" is reiterated to illustrate it. Rick ends the song, by suggesting Tina be on his team, so they can win together. "Yeah," agrees Tina, "or LOSE together!"

MY OPINION: This was actually the first ever "GA" story and song I heard when I was introduced to this book-and-cassette set. And believe me, Roland's non-stop "pitcher's-got-a-big-butt" attitude was quite a laughfest for me.




STRIPES DON'T COUNT
Characters: Zephyr, Zelda and Zed Zebra
Narrator: Rita Abrams
Life Lesson: Anti-discrimination
Song: "Great Big World"
___________________________________________

School is hard work, especially for zebras, just like our next star, Zephyr Zebra. And her teacher's birthday is no exception. All the zebras in Zephyr's class call together a meeting on how to go about celebrating that said day. But there's just one problem: Zephyr's the only one left out of the conversation. She calls out to them for her idea, but they gave her nasty looks and turn away and talk among each other instead. And why, do you ask, is poor Zephyr so left out? Well, I'll tell you: it's her stripes- they go horizontally, unlike the other zebras'. And it's all because of this they consider Zephyr a worthless piece of shit among zebras. She, of course, denies any mention of that.

Anyway, one of the other zebras, Zelda, suggests a birthday party- which is met with great unanimousness. But Zephyr, watching from afar, claims that's what SHE thought of in the first place. And of course, now that the party's been decided upon, what's left to do to plan it: the location, the invitations, the decorations, the food, and what have you... then Zelda halts the brainstorm, claiming it to be "too much like work!" But Zephyr thinks it's all quite simple, thanks in part to her past experiences with her mom. She really wants to show what ideas she has, but still has that dilemma about her friends' treatment. Finally, she decides to do it for her teacher's sake.

When Zephyr arrives and explains what's what, everyone just stares at her intimidatingly. But this doesn't stop Zephyr from bringing her ideas into play. But in response THIS time, another zebra, Zed, becomes enthralled with those ideas he and the other zebras simply forget all about her horizontal stripes, staring at her amazingly AND respectfully. And so with another "lesson given, lesson taken" moment- don't leave someone out just because they're unique- the party gets underway with almost all of Zephyr's ideas. Of course, she's still not so sure about being with the other zebras on the savanna, but hopes it'll pass soon. "For now, though, knowing that they finally respect me for who I am--just a regular zebra with different stripes--is a great feeling," she concludes. Attagirl, Zeph'!

To further illustrate the subject, a synth-heavy pop tune, "Great Big World", describes how special we- and the world we all live in- are. It shows that nobody's perfect, we're both different AND the same, and that if we continue to show the same love for everyone, this world will be twice as good. After all, as the song goes,

You and I live in a great big world.
We don't live in it alone.
There's all kinds of people that share our world,
'Cause it is a world we all own.


This may seem like your average anti-discrimination song, but it's done with such finesse- and the synths really give it such class.

MY OPINION: I also heard this when I first became exposed to this project. Needless to say, seeing zebras together on one savanna is nothing new, but I never knew how different zebras looked. But those early feelings surely don't match up with how well Rita portrays Zephyr.




THERE "OTTER" BE A BETTER WAY
Characters: Owen and Oscar Otter
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Fighting
Song: "Do You Fight?"
___________________________________________

It's another red-letter day here at school, (I wonder if this probably the same school that Patrick, Penelope, Mikey and Randy go to...) what with the debut of "The Otter's Odyssey", a collection of favorite adventure stories by a class of- who else?- otters. The story's main star, Owen Otter, is lucky enough to have his story be the first one in the book, and to sign his name in it. Now that the cover's done and the teacher bound the whole nine yards together the night before, it's on display at the "New Book" shelf in the school library, and Owen is gung-ho to read this book first.

But uh-oh, guys: another otter, named Oscar, supposedly with that book in hand, catches young Owen's eye as he comes close. He then stops Oscar, asking him what book he's got with him. Oscar snaps back, claiming it to be just a book. Owen thinks that's "The Otter's Odyssey", and tells him he wanted it first. "So what, Owen?" scoffs Oscar. "It's mine nowwwww." Normally, Owen is a coolheaded otter, or so he says, because he gets really mad in a whiz. He then orders Oscar to hand over the book again, but Oscar just laughs again. All this draws a crowd of other otters, but Owen is caught in the plight of this. So with nothing else to do, there's only thing he has TO do:


(in my best Shao Kahn voice) "Round 1... FIGHT!"

Yes, fellow RetroJunkers, you read right. A fight ensues, with fists and fur flying everywhere, and "The Otter's Odyssey" caught in the middle of it. Finally the two combatants grab either end of the cover, only to have the binder come apart and the pages become torn. Soon Owen and Oscar become tired, with the book being much the worse for wear. The crowd of otters complain that the two of them just made it worse, claiming that now NOBODY can read or even look at "The Otter's Odyssey". Both otters feel embarrassed about their acts, but then after a while, Owen suggests that he and Oscar share the "Otter's Odyssey", with him reading the even-numbered pages, and Oscar the odd-numbered pages. Oscar himself decides they fix it, and so they do, despite the chore of taping the torn pages back together again. Owen learns that he could have been reading "The Otter's Odyssey" instead of fixing it, if only he and Oscar hadn't battled it out, claw to claw. "Next time... next time," Owen decides as our story draws to a close, "I think I'll try to do it differently." Nicely said, Owen. Hopefully Oscar knows it too.

Following on ITS heels this time, is "Do You Fight?", a song that really plays hard as much as it illustrates. A girl fumes her mad feelings to start the song, and then the song asks if the listener really does fight, and also that if (s)he understands that someone could get hurt that way. Then kids pitch in with how mad they get, with sound effects punctuating their point - but it illustrates the wrong way ain't the best way:

But hurting someone is always a mistake
That you discover after it's too late.


Then the song asks the listener if (s)he can learn to not fight, and the good feeling that comes with it.

MY OPINION: This story's title also lives up to its name, just like "A Hare-Raising Tale". But what if there were a story in the "Otter's Odyssey" about that fight? Maybe Owen or Oscar could have written about it and put it in there, too. Again, Kendall gets all caught up in the excitement of the battle that the otters had over the book. Besides, what if Oscar eavesdropped on Owen and the teacher about his plans? So many questions, so little time!



THE TALLEST TOWER EVER BUILT
Characters: Tina, Terence, Tammy, Toby and Ralph Turtle
Narrator: Rita Abrams
Life Lesson: Roughhousing against others' will
Song: "You're Playing Too Rough"

___________________________________________

Tina Turtle and her friends, Tammy, Toby, Terrence and Ralph have been itching to build the biggest block tower so that "turtles would be able to see it 30 miles out to the ocean". Everybody brings their own blocks over to Tina's house, since she reserves all her own for the bluffs heading leeward. Soon everyone is hard at work on the tower. Well, almost everyone- Ralph always pretends whatever block he finds is a raygun. He then proceeds to become engrossed in a superhero-battle-type game, pretending to shoot everyone (OR should I say everything) that stands in his way. Everyone else, naturally, ignores this and continues building the tower.

But they don't get very far when Ralph gets the urge to jump onto a nearby chair, exclaiming: (cue lasers and space-related SFX) "Now let's play a wrecking game. It's time for the Captain Destructo show! Just like on TV. Prepare the gorgo-laser! Ne-ah-ah-ah-ah!" Tina, Terence, Tammy and Toby scream for Ralph to cut out the foolishness, but to no avail. He simply "locks on" the tower, and with one big "F-A-B-L-O-O-M!!", dives right into it, sending blocks FLYING every-which-way, helter-skelter, wall-to-wall, knock-down-drag-out across the living room! The other turtles are no doubt incensed at the wreck Ralph made, but Ralph shrugs it off. Tina confronts Ralph, claiming that he never asked THEM to ruin the tower- so they didn't do it. Then she waxes seethingly that Ralph's ways aren't the same as on TV--that sort of behavior is just make-believe. However, when Ralph does play roughly for real, everything- and everyone- is likely to get hurt, and the turtles hate that. And to top it all off, she orders him to go and play alone if he continues this charade. Ralph becomes embarrassed at this, claiming it was actually fun to begin with. Tina, Terence, Tammy and Toby threaten him again with the same order Tina gave him. Ralph pleads that they "could all smash it together", but they don't still care what he thinks. "Ralph! LEAVE!!" they order.

Vowing not to give up, Ralph, ever the trooper, decides it to be better if they build the tower and leave it alone. Terrence agrees, but on one caveat: Ralph has to rebuild the tower how it was _before_ he turned into Captain Destructo. Plus, he and the other turtles decide to get a snack while he's at it. Later on, Ralph DOES rebuild the tower before the wreck, and the turtles add on more blocks to make it even bigger. And despite never getting a good view from there, Tina feels quite sure that southbound turtles can see that tower, "even 30 miles out to sea." Now there's no tower I know of that can be seen by turtles--especially one made of blocks. I tell you, guys, Yertle the Turtle would be jealous!

And for an even bigger lowdown on rough play, there's the song, "You're Playing Too Rough", where we some girl playing a superhero with laser powers, pretending to do her friends in, till one of the victims- er, kids- calls out, "Hey!" and they tell her she's getting to be rough with kind of thing, claiming she's been watching too much TV, and, of course, the vow to no longer play with her if she doesn't stop. Then the boy who just stopped the girl from the roughhousing then expands on it a little bit:

Don't want to shoot or hit, blow anyone to bits.
No, I don't want to play dead.
That stuff is really dumb. Why can't we have some fun?
Play something else instead.


Then the ex-hero girl suggests they do something not as rough, such as: bike, hike, skate or write some sort of play or story. Finally, after singing about there being enough playing rough, the kids finally settle on a game of Spud.

MY OPINION: Everybody likes to build, especially me. And I do like superhero play, too. But even with these turtles, these two just don't mix. Rita's portrayal of Ralph doing that Captain Destructo bit (first done as "Captain Exterminator") was a little heady. Though I must say, she could do better if Tammy or Toby had more lines, but then again, who's writing this review?




ONE FOR ME, AND ONE FOR ME
Characters: Brenda and Bert Bear
Narrator: Kendall Haven
Life Lesson: Sharing
Song: "Excuse Me"
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"There's something about a bear trying to creep unnoticed between the long library bookshelves on his tiptoes that catches your eye," begins Brenda Bear, in the last story of "Getting Along". She's obviously speaking about her best friend, Bert, who tends be quite selfish. But she doesn't like it when he gets more selfish than before. To give an idea, Bert has his arms full of books as tiptoes away from the shelf, not noticing the rule: "Take ONE Book Only." Of course, Brenda spots Bert, and asks him why he's sneaking out. Bert responds with a wide, goofy grin, denying that accusation. Brenda then asks Bert where he's going with all those books. Still grinning, Bert becomes proud of his bundle, and makes quick work of displaying his bounty: "I've got all the good books, Brenda: I've got "Bear Facts". I've got "Moby Bear". I've got "Root Bear's Float", and "Straw-Beary Sunrise". I've got them all!" Brenda agrees, then asks what other the bears are gonna read. Bert doesn't care- Brenda's open to any book, except Bert's. She interjects there's only one book left one the shelf. He suggests that she read it, since she's the one following the rules.

Brenda then complains that Bert's hogging all those books, and it brings up a similar event in which the two of them were coloring and Bert hogged all the crayons, leaving Brenda with just one orange crayon to work with. And Bert's excellent review of her picture doesn't help--this just makes Brenda even angrier. "Those books are for everyone!" she finalizes. Bert soon pouts at this, promising that Brenda can have a go at any of his books, but just as she's to congratulate him, he then adds on that she can see them AFTER he's done with them: "These are mine. They're for me first! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!"

Hey, wait a minute, has Bert been taking lessons from Robert Rabbit?

Oh, well- returning to the story... Brenda stops Bert's selfishness spree, by deciding to reason with him, suggesting he be fair by taking just one book and reading it before getting another. Bert interjects, asking that somebody else might beat him to all those books, leaving HIM with none to pick when he returns. Brenda reassures him that every bear will get a book if one bear takes just one book, reads it, and then returns it afterwards. On top of that, Brenda says she and Bert can't be BFF's unless Bert learns to share, because if Bert keeps his selfish attitude up, he might be alone. Embarrassed, Bert decides the better part of valor - to put the books he took back on the shelf. Just as he turns to go, he doesn't realize that he put back only one of the books. So he puts back one more, one at a time, whenever Brenda calls out Bert's name as he turns to go again. Soon afterwards, Bert is now pouting like he's never pouted, claiming to have only one book. Brenda commends him on this, claiming that she, he, and all the bears in the world are open to a book- and they're still good friends. But Bert isn't so sure about that: "But are you sure there will be one here for me later? Maybe I should take just one more..." "BERT!!!" yells Brenda, catching Bert in the act once more. Bert chuckles that it was all a joke, and then decides one book is plenty for him.

And now, with the last story, comes the last song: "Excuse Me", which sounds like a combination-bossa nova-and-two step tune, claiming that a girl wants to share something with a boy, with just one simple request, "Excuse me..." In this first case, it's a red crayon. At first the boy doesn't feel like sharing it with the girl - twice. Then the kids all reprimand him in song:

If we're going to be good friends, we need to get along.
If we're going to get along, we need to share.
Being selfish means you just might end up all alone.
Looking for a friend, but no one will be there...


Then the girl asks the boy to move over, and the boy reluctantly agrees with her. Again the chorus gets to the boy. The song then reaches its climax with the girl asking for a ball. This time the boy cheerfully agrees to share it with her. And the chorus changes, showing that they now know who to share.

And with all that out of the way, so ends the mecca of education that is "Getting Along Stories and Songs".

MY OPINION: The piano and keyboard really know how to coincide to with Kendall's voice for Bert. One thing bugged me: Brenda's a girl, so why is he voiced by Kendall and not Rita? And yes, I know, whenever I see somebody with something I don't have or think is cool, they just don't wanna share it with me. It's time like this I wish I could get in their face, and snap like that lizard puppet in the Eggo Waffles commercial: "YOU'VE GOT SOME SERIOUS ISSUES, PAL!" This should DEFINITELY be a role model for all stories that teach kids how to share.




PLUS...

One other thing you'll notice in the book are similar stories that feature different situations as told by kids. Then the reader's urged to come up with his or her own personal ending to the situation. Some of these stories include: a boy named Warren drawing a picture of flag and not sharing his blue crayon with an arriving kid, two brothers fighting over whether they want to listen to the TV or the radio, and a boy being for bullied for a dessert from his lunchbag. Now, I never dabbled in this part of the book much, save for a few endings on the last two stories ("Stop it!" and "get the white crayon") so I can't say for sure how much that does for me. But not to worry, every story has its own ending in connection with the opening problem.


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Well, this concludes my first article here for RetroJunk. I hope to come out with more if I get any inspiration, so keep your dial set here. Like I said, there's so much for me to share about MY retro memories, it's absolutely hard to know just where to start!

Right now, though, how well do _you_ remember "Getting Along Stories and Songs"? For those of you who do, there's probably a copy at your local library. You can also get it online as well- it's now available on iTunes or Amazon. Any way you do it is just fine.

Comments welcome FWIW. But again, DO go easy, because this IS my first crack at an RJ article. Of course, I'm open to any suggestions. And just so you know, the pictures I found were as accurate as I could make them.

That being said, until we're together again, in the immortal words of Punchinello the Clown... "It only happens if you're young at heart!"

M.A.L.T.Y. - Much Anime Love To You!