4. The Hiiills are alive……

There’s a hole in my soul where “The Sound of Music” is supposed to go. I’ve never seen it. It doesn’t bother me. It’s not like I’ve lost a limb or anything. I just lack something that seems to unite the whole of the rest of the world.

These children never saw "Oklahoma".

These children never saw “Oklahoma”.

Why am I telling you this? Our household watched the musical “Annie” yesterday. Twice. I couldn’t walk past my wife without her twirling around and singing things at me about what a hard knock life it is. Our dog was renamed Sandy, and the four-year-old lurked behind doors, jazz-hands at the ready, waiting to leap out and hit me with her favourite (and indeed only) line; “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!” I tried to take refuge with my son, but he sideswiped me by singing me Australian PSA songs about rail safety. It was a long day.

We grew up, for the first part of our childhood, without television. It did me far more good than harm. It turned me into a reader, and I’m one of the few members of my generation who knows what a radio play is. But I did miss out on large chunks of popular culture. I had to bite my tongue and wait for the storm to pass each morning as my friends breathlessly relived the previous day’s episode of “Knight Rider” or “Airwolf”. And I missed most of the musicals.

Because, I missed out on this, I have never mastered the art of being cool.

Because I missed out on this, I have never mastered the art of being cool.

I’ve never seen “Mary Poppins”, or “Cabaret”, or “My fair Lady”. I haven’t even seen “The Wizard of Oz”. This robs me of a whole lot of cultural references, and means that I don’t have a well-rounded education. I can’t tell you how little this bothers me. As I said, I missed most of the musicals. Not all.

When we were younger, my parents got hold of “West Side Story”. They came home breathless with excitement and plugged it into our newly acquired TV. This, they told us, was going to be hardcore. A gritty tale of the mean streets. There would be gang-fights. Knives would be brandished. It would be cool!

It would be gangster.

It would be gangster.

It wasn’t. It was odd. I can forgive a movie for being a little dated; times change. What I battle to get my head around is the absolute battering the fourth wall takes in a musical. I know I’m supposed to be transported by the joy of song, and caught up in the campy fun of it all, but my brain just can’t adjust. Two gangs stalk up to each other in a darkened alleyway, all bravado and threat. Hands drop to switchblades. Trouble. This could be a pivotal moment in the story. Someone might get hurt.

It wasn't gangster.

It wasn’t gangster.

Then everyone leaps into a Bollywood dance formation and sings a little ditty about how super it is to be a Jet. WTF? These guys aren’t scary gangsters. They should be wearing pastel jerseys and singing in a barbershop quartet at the local youth centre. They might as well have stopped the movie, turned to the audience and said “Just give us a minute here, please. The script says we need to do a little formation dancing and sing a song about how much we love our gang. Don’t worry. We fully intend to go back to being menacing as soon as we’re done.”

So very, very not gangster.

So very, very not gangster.

We glanced over at our parents, but they refused to make eye contact. I rather suspect that time had clouded the true nature of “West Side Story” for them, and they too were thinking “WTF?” They weren’t cured though. Not quite. A few months later they made us watch “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, which turned out to be a movie about how seven enormous, bearded gingers built a barn through the medium of dance before breaking it down and seducing seven young women using the magic of Stockholm syndrome. That did the trick. They never showed us a musical again.

The rugged outdoorsmen of the wild, wild west.

The rugged outdoorsmen of the wild, wild west.

And I thank them for it. But now I find myself ill prepared. My wife smells blood in the water. I catch her staring at me at odd moments, a malicious grin on her face. She’s plotting. It’ll be “Mary Poppins” this weekend, I guarantee it. Then “South Pacific”. And before you know it, the suburbs will be alive with the “Sound of Music”.

I, too, will be running away and looking over my shoulder!

I, too, will be running away and looking over my shoulder!

39 thoughts on “4. The Hiiills are alive……

  1. dalo2013 says:

    Funny, funny and great post. I use to complain to my parents when my sisters insisted on watching the Sound of Music (an annual event), as that is what boys/brothers are suppose to do…but deep inside, I was thrilled to watch it. It is simply beautiful.

  2. mrsgillies says:

    Oh i love “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”! I love musicals though 😉

  3. narf77 says:

    (Number 4…Don’t panic…I KNOW that means 96 more to come but you can do it…pace yourself…) I, too, grew up without a television for most of the first 10 years of my life on 100 acres of farmland that bordered the sea. I read copiously and explored my environment in bare feet (you should have seen the problems mum had getting me into shoes for school 😉 ) and I remember my nana and her daily episodes of “Portia faces life” huddled around the radio with my uncle and if we made a single NOISE around her when she was listening she could throw a shoe at 50 paces and ALWAYS hit home (nana was magic…we were scared of her…and Portia…). I must admit I have watched most of the musicals you mentioned here along with Night Rider and “Airwolf” AND “Starsky and Hutch”…I even dabbled in “Charlies Angels” for a bit but decided that I prefered the lamb chop to the karate chop (much to nana and Portia’s relief…). Even if I wanted to watch a bucket of musicals I don’t know how to use the remote control for the television and if I even hint at wanting to watch anything other than “Action”; “Thriller” or “Horror” I think Steve’s eyes will just glaze over. Anyway, I can always mainline the soundtracks online should I ever want to slowly euthanase my brain to sleep along the lines of lobsters in the freezer…

  4. My parents wouldn’t let us watch the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” but we were allowed to watch “The Evil Dead” and that Bruce Lee movie where all the bodies get chopped up and come out of a conveyor in blocks of ice, for some reason. But when the woman in the Bruce Lee movie took her shirt off we had to put our blankets over our heads (we were at the drive-ins.

  5. Nope, I’ve never seen musicals nor do I feel the urge to. We had a telly, but I was too busy reading the Brontes, George Eliot, Austen, etc to watch it…not that I was some kind of weird outcast child *cough* I did watch ‘top of the pops’ though.

    • Marcia says:

      This is where being a very fast reader comes in handy, braith. I never gave up a single book, myself, especially not the Brontes. I just read like crazy and then watched everything I could, as well. Including, but not limited to, musicals. I still know the lyrics to many of the great ones, even after all these years, but I would never, ever have given up books for them. Or for anything else. I just cram it all in there, somewhere. I excel at crammage!

      • Oh, I read really fast too. I suspect it’s more to do with my parents not being interested in musicals so I never was exposed to them. Just loads of books in the house to tempt me!

      • Marcia says:

        I was tempted by it ALL, I guess. This is where my total lack of good taste and discrimation comes into play! *grin* I didn’t want to miss anything! Good, bad or indifferent. Still feel that way. Books, plays, movies, musicals, tv, (okay not so much tv these days), and more. Or as my husband says, my motto is, “Everything, All The Time!”

      • 🙂 if you don’t know it already you might like Rarasaur’s blog, she’s a fan of ‘doing ALL the things!’

      • Marcia says:

        I’ll check it out, Braith! And thanks for not pointing out my many typos. I’m having a lot of trouble with my eyes these days (they are as old as the rest of me, sadly) and I miss them. Until it’s too late. And then I SEEEE them! Ack! I love finding new and interesting blogs, so thanks for the recommendation. My other motto has always been, “All I want is all you got.”

  6. janelily7 says:

    You must say this in response. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!!!!

  7. You see! The whole world agrees that you need to watch The Sound of Music. I’m getting it TOMORROW. And in the words of the utterly charming Annie, “Toooomorrow, tomorrow, you’ll love it, tomorrow. It’s only a daaaaay aaaaaway.”

    I’m singing Edelweiss now too. You’re in big trouble.

    • Marcia says:

      I sang Edelweiss to both of my babies as their first lullabies. Oh, yeah, Tracy. Make those hills RING with the Sound of Music! Waltz around the house singing, “You Are Sixteen, Going on Seventeen” all day long!!! He’ll thank you for it in the end. Okay, maybe not. But still. Think of all the fun you’ll have! Take pictures!

    • 23thorns says:

      Damn! I just remembered that I need to go out and get my tyres rotated tomorrow. And get a haircut. But you can pencil me in for April next year. I’m quivering with antici

      pation. (Did you see what I did there? I’m all about the musicals!)

  8. amb says:

    I’m a huge, giant, musical theatre geek, and yeah … Seven Brides for Seven Brothers creeped even me out.

  9. onesizebigsi says:

    I was recently made to see an am/dram of the seven brothers thing. Was waiting for the social worker to appear. Very strange way of finding a partner.

  10. Joanna says:

    Mary P is the only one I like, the downfall of the Bank, dancing across the rooftops with Dick van Dyke, I can watch it over again. The Jungle Book is the other one. Other than those I am with you, musicals are just ridiculous

  11. Reblogged this on This is your real mother speaking… and commented:
    I LOVE musicals, but this was too funny.

  12. Marcia says:

    OMG, you sound just like my husband! Philistines, the both of you!! Hahaha. Myself, I love a good dancing, non-gangster gang of rowdies, pointing their toes and and yelling things like, “Krupp you!” Hey. It could be worse. They could be grabbing their crotches and yelling things like…oh, yeah. I can’t even repeat the things they might be yelling. On TV. In prime time. Gah.

    I was raised on musicals. Saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers IN THE THEATER. How old am I? (Answer: Ancient) I will admit, some of them do not stand the test of time very well. But mostly, I still love them, and there’s nothing you or my husband can do to make me change my mind. So there. (Good try, though.)

    *going off now, humming “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” under my breath, and wondering if I would look good as a dancing nun*

    • 23thorns says:

      Oh, God! Not you too. The more I hear about him the more I like your husband. He sounds like a good, solid, sensible man.

      • Marcia says:

        Good, solid, sensible, that’s him. Read, “Boring, staid, stodgy.” Read, “No soul or imagination.” Read, “Broken appliances, can do. Broken hearts, not really. Dancing gansters with broken hearts? Not at all!”

        (Of course, he brings home good paycheck every week and turns it over to me, so who’s complaining? Not me. Much.)

  13. artourway says:

    I grew up back stage watching my Mom do these musicals. Loved them live. Hope you finally get to see The Sound of Music. It is a fun show. It may give you some great new ideas 😉

  14. Tracey says:

    I applaud your wife, lol! being an avid lover of musical’s (and actually owning all of the one’s mentioned with the exception of seven brides for seven brothers), my advise would be sit back and pretend to enjoy the madness and loveliness that is a musical 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      Madness it is. She’s already singing “chim chimminy” at me, and making ominous threats about our plans for tomorrow.

      • Marcia says:

        Chim-Chimminy is nothing. Wait until you have A Spoonful of Sugar stuck in your head for six days or so!

      • 23thorns says:

        It’s not stuck in my head. It’s sitting next to me. This might be a very long six days.

      • Marcia says:

        Walk through the fire, 23! You’ll come out the other side, tempered and honed and sharp as steel…musically speaking, of course. And remember, “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last daying daaaaaay.” (I don’t know why you should remember that, exactly, but I like singing it, so there you have it.)

  15. you ARE brave to have written this. However, you must watch the Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, etc. Don’t write until you have witnessed their genius. have a great weekend!

    • 23thorns says:

      I am starting to think that I might have offended an entire subculture here. I’m not so sure about the weekend- I have to watch Mary Poppins!

  16. avian101 says:


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