What is it about trains that fascinate children so? My nephew, Christopher, loved trains more than anyone I’ve ever known. Anytime he heard a train, whether on television, the radio or real life, his face brightened as he bellowed out, “CHOO-CHOO!” And if he saw one in person? Oh forget it – the excitement this kid experienced would make anyone smile. Just the thought of him bouncing up and down in his car seat while stopped at a crossing and hollering “CHOO-CHOO!” still makes me smile.

So I was thinking of my nephew last week when we went to the train station, wondering if I should have asked if he wanted to go. But at age 16 now, I highly doubt he would have wanted to go for the same reason he did at age 6. Then I wondered, did this love of trains stem from the popularity of name-brand talking toy trains, or have children always had a thing for the locomotive?

My guess is that trains are just neat.


Animation Domination Anyone?

Have you ever wondered why the conception of adult cartoons for television didn’t happen until “Generation X” came on the scene? I have, so I googled it. It turns out that the proper name is adult animation, I’m guessing because cartoons are for kids. I also discovered that while this generation was the first to bring adult animation to television, animation geared toward adults has been around on film since the 1920’s. The Motion Picture Association of America was established in 1922 due to the public’s objections to adult content in films – specifically, it seems, animated films that contained sexual innuendo and references to drug and alcohol use and profanity.

When it comes to animated sitcoms on television, we can thank the so-called Generation X, however, I thought the first one to air in prime time was about twenty years before. I had believed this honor belonged to The Simpsons, airing in 1989, but I was wrong. An adult-oriented animated sitcom in the style of All in the Family aired from 1972 – 1974 called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

It is possible, however, to have seen the The Simpsons prior to 1989. You could have been watching The Tracey Ullman Show where shorts of The Simpsons became a part of the show in 1987 and remained as such until it’s own debut in ’89. Some statistics about the show surprised me a bit, like, not only is it the longest-running American animated program, it is the longest-running American sitcom, surpassing Gunsmoke in 2009 as the longest-running American scripted prime-time television series.

I want to age like Marge. Marge Simpson, that is, not Marge my grandmother. I played the part of Marge Simpson in 1995, and our family won second-place in a costume contest that Halloween!