Tuesday, July 13, 2010


by Josh

I didn’t watch Saturday morning cartoons.

It wasn’t from lack of interest or want of trying. I was as much a fan of Silly Symphonies as the next kid. The idea of curling up in front of a TV set with a bowl of cereal and all the time in the world sounded (and sounds) so appealing…and yet…

Because here’s the thing: I was raised in a conservative Jewish household. We didn’t keep kosher, per se, but we did attend Friday night and Saturday morning services on a regular basis. I had almost all the Hebrew prayers memorized by the time I was nine. Like most children of religion, I didn’t understand the prayers very well – but I could recite them.

By age 11, I was co-leading Junior Congregation. It was my responsibility to make sure that the service went well for the twenty or so other kids in our mini-sanctuary and I took my responsibility very seriously. Were there times that I wished I was at home watching Scooby-Doo? Oh God yes. But the choice wasn’t mine, and I accepted as well as any 11 year-old could.

To be sure, after Junior Congregation was over and we returned home, I went straight for the TV and spent the next few hours drooling in front of its colored lights. My TV show of choice was almost always the Creature Double Feature…but I’ve already written at length about that little obsession.

Once I became a bar mitzvah, my parents eased their mandate on my attending services. I still went, now and then, but more often than not I began to spend my Saturday mornings in my pajamas rather than a suit. I watched reruns. I watched Siskel & Ebert. I watched Casey Kasem’s Top 10 Countdown. I watched Saved by the Bell. I read.

It’s easy for me to look back at those years, especially through the lens of my current agnosticism, with regret for what I missed. After all, Junior Congregation was the reason I couldn’t join Little League (or at least that’s the excuse my father gave me, although I suspect the real reason has something to do with my physical limitations). On the other hand, though, I truly believe that every experience is important, and this cartoon-deprived experience has helped carve out the ill-adjusted human malapropism whose words you just read.


Graham Brown said...

Hey Josh - first off it was great spending time with you at Thrillerfest - I sugest we make lunch at Pershing Square a Crimninal Minds tradition - until they ask us not to come back which might happen rather quickly.

I fell your pain on the Saturday morning Scooby Doo deficit. I didn't watch much Saturday morning cartoons either - mostly because my dad would come downstairs, shut the TV off with authority and kick us out of the house. As far I know it was not a religious thing - except perhaps as a crusade agaist what he called the "Goggle Box" - usually after that though we would run around outside for hours inventing some new game or other. So I think it served us well in the end.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Josh, I loved meeting you last week! And you know exactly how I felt about the afterparty. (oh, just realized how it sounds....no people, it wasn't like that.)

Wasn't Casey Kasem addictive? He was so creepy but I just couldn't look away...and he made the whole countdown seem really really important...like world peace hung in the balance...

Kelli Stanley said...

Wonderful post, Josh! And it was really cool getting to hang out together at various places--Thrillerfest opening reception, closing party ... regaled by Sean's stories of cannibalism ... (ain't it wonderful to be a crime fiction writer?) ;)

By the way--haven't been able to get the images from your opening chapter out of my head yet ...

As for Saturday AM cartoons, Scooby was only good in the very beginning, when they had animated versions of guest-stars like Jonathan Winters. Silly Symphonies, as we know, is FOREVER cool.

My personal favorite--other than Looney Tunes classics (Yosemite Sam yelling "Yah, Mule!") is Rocky and Bullwinkle (along with Peabody and Sherman, Aesop, and the delightful Fractured Fairy Tales). Those animated extravaganzas were like Mad magazine come to life. And--thankfully--you can now get them on DVD!!

Next Thrillerfest--or Bouchercon in October--whenever there's a critical mass of CMs--we'll need to get together for much revelry!!


Shane Gericke said...

Josh, it was great to finally meet you. I wish I could have made the Pershing Square CM lunch, but duty called. Next year for sure.

Great post! Religion got in the way of morning cartoons, that's for sure. But hey, that's what YouTube is for ... all those golden moments you missed of Scoobie going "Ruh-roh."

Terry Stonecrop said...

Haha, I love the "ill-adjusted human malapropism!" That's what deprivation does for us.

Saturday was the one day of the week I didn't feel deprived. No school, no mass, no catechism.

Great post.

Gabi said...

Scooby Doo. Total sense and complete deprivation. Saved by the Bell? Not so much.

Shane Gericke said...

Saved by the Bell? Gahh! My eyes are melting. I wanted to strangle that smarmy little f---wad so bad I could taste it.