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December 4, 1999
A PEANUTS TRIVIA Q&A
By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service
Q. What does Charlie Brown's dad do for a living?
A. That's easy - he's a barber.
Q. When did Snoopy begin talking?
A. Trick question. Snoopy never has talked. Readers can see what he's thinking via thought balloons, but he isn't actually shown to be speaking. During the strip's first few years, Snoopy was an excitable but fairly conventional beagle without a thought or word in his head. Later the thought balloons ushered in a whole new dimension for Schulz and his characters - now Snoopy could be seen fantasizing about flying Sopwith Camels in battles with the Red Baron during World War I, etc.
Q. How did modernist writer Gertrude Stein inspire a Peanuts strip?
A. Linus, noting Snoopy lying on the lawn, stops and remarks, 'Beagles on the grass, alas." This is a paraphrase of Stein's famous phrase, "Pigeons on the grass, alas," from the opera libretto "Four Saints in Three Acts."
Q. How did Peanuts inspire a Beatles song?
A. Indirectly but decisively. John Lennon once saw a firearms ad in a Soldier of Fortune-type magazine with the headline, "Happiness is a Warm Gun” - a play on the famous Peanuts adage, "Happiness is a warm puppy." So incensed was the peacenik rocker that he penned the tune, "Happiness is a Warm Gun," which is included on "The Beatles,” a.k.a. The White Album.
"When I hold you in my arms,
And I feel my finger on your trigger,
I know, I know no one can do me no harm, because happiness is a warm gun."
Q. What famous psychedelic band employed a keyboardist named after a Peanuts character?
A. The Grateful Dead. Pigpen, a founding member of the band who sang blues and played organ, died at age 27.
Q. Where are Charlie Brown's and Lucy's parents?
A. You just can't see them. During a brief period in the 1960s, the characters' moms and dads were sometimes shown from the legs down and were even afforded an occasional dialog balloon. No doubt realizing his mistake, Schulz soon restored the strip to what it had been and ever shall be - a world where children are so engrossed with themselves, each other, and their problems that moms and dads don't even appear on the radar.
Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News
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