Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer (really, all season ) Talk Shows

This being summer camp season it was inevitable someone would write about “care package wars,” the one-upsmanship parents engage in to be recognized as the best providers of treats and tech products to little Johnnie or Janie to make their stay more comfortable at sleep-away camp. They're also engaged in spy worthy subterfuge to get around camp restrictions on sending care packages to their little loved one (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/fashion/the-care-package-wars.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).

I had low expectations during my nine camper years. My parents were not the type to indulge their kiddies with goodies beyond what they brought with them when they visited camp. I settled for letters or post cards as visible evidence they missed and cared about me. Truth is, my parents weren't big writers, either. They did, however, trek to the Poconos more often than the two visiting days sanctioned by Camp Massad Aleph. They’d spend several weekends during my first five years at summer camp soaking up the culture and heritage of our Zionist camp, enjoying the singing Friday night and the leisurely pace of each Saturday. 

Our son Dan went off to Camp Laurelwood when he was nine. I don’t recall if it was his second or third year there that we copied an ingenious plan to overcome our loneliness at not hearing his voice and possibly his sadness at not hearing ours. We sent him to camp with a tape recorder with instructions to mail back eyewitness audio reports on what was happening in camp. We, in turn, would ship tapes to him of our daily activities. 

A quarter of a century later we updated this idea for our grandson Finley. Browsing through the Hallmark store one day I came across a book of nursery rhymes, each page of which could be recorded by the reader. Gilda and I took turns reading and recording the ditties. Finley has independently taken the book off the shelf to listen to our voices, Allison has told us. 

On the subject of summer camps, I found it quite incredulous to believe this next item, that a Massachusetts camp expelled a teenage girl for kissing her boyfriend. Her parents at first sued the camp and then withdrew the suit. The story has made headlines and newscasts over the last two days. I am sure there is more to this story, but the idea that camp romances could result in expulsion (she was led out of camp by a police officer) besmirches most of my summer memories. 

More From Mel: Here are two more assaults on my given name by Mel Brooks. 

During a February 13, 1975, broadcast of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, Brooks was talking about his movie Young Frankenstein. He said it was an homage to James Whale who directed “all those wonderful Frankenstein movies: Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Son of Frankenstein, The House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Friend, Murray ...”

During one of his 2,000-Year-Old Man routines with Carl Reiner, Brooks recounted how he knew Shakespeare. After insisting Shakespeare was a lousy writer (because of his poor penmanship), Brooks disputed Reiner’s assertion Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. 

Thirty-eight, Brooks insisted. The additional play was titled “Queen Alexandra and Murray.” It bombed. “It closed in Egypt,” said Brooks.