Category Archives: Books

Zachary D. Switzer Needs Your Help!

Carl SwitzerOn July 24 I told you all about a new Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer project in the works.  One of Carl’s cousins, Zachary D. Switzer, is in the process of releasing a series of e-books on the Switzer Legacy.  This is undoubtedly fantastic news for anyone who is a fan of Alfalfa and the Our Gang series.

Switzer’s fans have waited for years for someone—anyone—to release something on his life that isn’t full of lies, and now they have the chance to own something that is honest and heartfelt coming straight from one of his family members.

How exciting is that?

Sunday evening Zach contacted me and said that there is a possibility that the Switzer Legacy could be published as a book in the near future, but he needs some help from you, the fans.  The following comes straight from Mr. Switzer himself:

Hello, my dear friends here is some promising news! I was talking with an editor/author about the Switzer poem legacy book! She says I’m going to have to write a letter to the President of a publishing company she has experience with and that there might be a chance of having it published in book form!

But, here’s the caveat, and where I need you all the most! She says, if I can get enough people interested in it and buying it, that this book will be a big hit! Let’s give the Switzers justice! So, will you please work with me and make this a great success? If not, I won’t be mad, I’ll respect and love you just the same! That’s what Carl, Fred and Harold would want! And, that’s what the Switzers were built on! The love for one another and the altruism that comes with helping a stranger! Thank you all for reading this! My love and eternal blessings!

If you love Alfalfa, do you think you can give Zach some support with his new project?  It would be greatly appreciated.  What can you do to help this project move forward?  I (and Mr. Switzer) would love some feedback on this with any ideas you might have.  We need to show that Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer’s legacy is still important to film history.  What do you say?

Feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, or Twitter and let me know what you think.  And, of course, you can also leave comments on this post.  I look forward to hearing from you!

The Switzer Legacy

Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa in the "Club S...

Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa in the “Club Spanky” dream sequence from the 1937 short Our Gang Follies of 1938 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a big announcement, my darlings.  Back in April I told you that a new biography was in the works for Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer of Our Gang fame.  In late June, plans for the book were off and I pulled all support from the project in early July.

No other full-length biographies on the little boy with a cowlick who won the hearts of so many little girls the world over have been released as far as I know, so this was something that many were looking forward to.  If you were disappointed by the news that the project has been scrapped, then you will be happy to know that one of Carl Switzer’s cousins, Zachary D. Switzer, is planning a series of e-books on the Switzer legacy.

Here is what he says about the project:

I’m going to be releasing a Switzer legacy e-book on January 21, 2014 to coincide with Alfie’s 55th anniversary of his death! After that, I plan to release 4 more e-books prior to August 7, 2014, his birthday! These 4 e-books will have 360 haiku and 45 full-length poems each! All e-books (including the Legacy) will be set at $4.99 each e-book! One last thing, if these e-books sell 5,000,000+ on December 1, 2014, I’m going to be buying and designing a limited edition of 500 t-shirts! Each t-shirt will be personally signed by me!

These e-books will be released on Kindle through Amazon.com, so keep your eye out for them, my babies!

And thank you, Zachary, for keeping Alfie’s legacy alive and well!

An Emotional Attachment to Works of Fiction

Cover of "The Crack-Up"

I think we have all cracked up. Yeah?

On the surface, it sounds completely insane to become so wrapped up in characters or story lines in works of fiction that you become emotionally attached to them.  But millions of people all over the world are afflicted by this every day.

Just take a look at super religious types.  They are so emotionally attached to their holy books that they believe they are written by a divine entity.  They are ruled by their books.  They make them, and the stories in them, real.

I know I will catch a lot of flak for that from the religious folk out there, but you know it is true.  And I know that there has to be a name for this “disorder” (if you want to call it that) out there, but I will be danged if I know what it is. (If anyone knows, please tell me…)

I am a vicious little heathen, but I can relate to an observant religious person’s unyielding love for well-written and compelling works of fiction.  But instead of the heroes in the Bible, or any holy book of one’s choice, I am more attracted to the anti-hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, or horrible, brutal villains in Peter Lorre films.

Make no mistake, darlings, I always root for the bad guys.  I’m wicked that way.

Whatever the case might be, this is something that affects most of us.  And why do you think that is?  Why do we place such importance on people and things that do not really exist?

Is it because we see ourselves in characters and situations portrayed in books and on film?  Or is it something else entirely?

Colonel Gimpy Crack-Up

Look at that face. Who wouldn’t fall head over heels? ;) (Peter Lorre as Colonel Gimpy in the 1936 film Crack-Up.)

My best friend tells me that when I describe the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald works, or my beloved Colonel Gimpy from the movie Crack-Up, I sound like the biggest, most faithful religious zealot in the world.  I treat them not as works of fiction, but as people and situations that are real, and that I have somehow personally experienced what is going on.

I feel compelled to convert everyone into fans of what I love, just like a Missionary in Africa wants to convert the “lost” in some remote African village (or something) to their religion so their heathen souls go on to paradise in the afterlife.

What’s more, it is a compulsion that I do not want to get rid of.  Indeed, I want to feed it and make it grow.  And it is something that I have plenty of enablers for, believe it or not.  I ask for people to justify my mania and they do.  All the time.

By now you are probably either thinking I am completely insane—or you are nodding your head and completely identifying with everything I have said.  So what are your thoughts?  I will ask again:  what is it you think is the reason, if any, behind people’s emotional attachment to works of fiction?  Is it a mental disorder or is it something that is a completely normal part of being human?

(By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Play The Crack-Up and Peter Lorre’s film Crack-Up are not in any way related…)

No Hope for the Kid with the Cowlick

English: Screenshot from Our Gang Italiano: Sc...

Screenshot of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer from Our Gang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in mid-April I posted about the first comprehensive biography on the life and career of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer being written by Joan L. Collins. This post is to give you an update about the plans for this project.

You might remember Switzer in his role as the adorable little freckled boy with the cowlick in the Hal Roach series Our Gang from the 1930s.  His life ended in tragedy with a fatal gunshot wound to the groin on January 21, 1959 at the tender age of 31.

The book was to detail the facts surrounding his untimely death, and finally clear up all the misinformation circulating about it, and Switzer, for more than five decades.  But on June 29, 2013, Collins announced she has suspended plans for the Switzer biography indefinitely and unpublished her fan page called The Alfie Project on Facebook.

I do not know if Collins plans on continuing the biography and her fan page in the future, but this is the last thing I am going to say about it here…or anywhere else.  Any support I gave her in the past for her research and writing is finished. Members of Switzer’s family have also pulled all support.

I will not go into any further details here, but I wanted people to know that I am no longer associated with Collins or her work.

If any of Switzer’s fans or family members have an interest in getting his story out there, I will be more than happy to support their projects…with their permission, of course.  I think his life and his legacy are very important to the entertainment world and should never be forgotten.

A 21st Century Flapper and a Kid with a Cowlick

21st Century Flapper Joan L. Collins

21st Century Flapper Joan L. Collins

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, a young woman by the name of Joan L. Collins.

Like me, Joan collects vintage clothes (and vintage reproductions), bobs her hair, and has assumed the role of a 21st century flapper, as you can see in the picture to the right.  (Doesn’t she look like someone who just stepped out of 1925?)

In addition to being a fan of the Jazz Age and perfectly recreating the look and feel of the era with her wardrobe and makeup, Joan is also an up-and-coming writer.  Right now, she is in the middle of writing the first full-length biography of actor Carl Switzer. Continue reading

Words That Will Tenderly Tear Your Heart Out

Cover of "Tender Is the Night"

Cover of Tender Is the Night

For many years I have been torn on whether I should consider Tender is the Night or The Great Gatsby as my all-time favorite novel.  Both were written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and both are masterpieces of the English language.

As I come from a fresh re-reading of Tender, I am definitely leaning toward it taking the place of my beloved Gatsby.  I almost feel dirty for even considering cheating on what has been my favorite novel for over 20 years…but Tender is the Night does something to me that Gatsby, nor any other book (fiction or nonfiction) can do…

It causes deep physical and emotional reactions in me that last for days after I have finished reading it.

It is that well-written. That touching. Continue reading

The Curious Case of Craptastic Hollywood

f scott fizgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald being gorgeous in the sun.

Today I am continuing on with what I have dubbed “F. Scotty Fitz Week” with another post focusing on the literary genius of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In addition to novels that were outright perfection, Scott also wrote many short stories that originally appeared in publications such as Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post.

One of those stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was first published in the May 27, 1922 edition of Colliers magazine.

The story is a fantasy about a baby who was born an old man.  A grown-up old man with a white beard and yellowed teeth, who talks, smokes, drinks and scandalizes his parents.  As the years progress, he becomes younger and younger, and eventually his grown children have to care for him as if he is one of their own wee brats.

Overall, it is a beautiful story about one family’s ability to cope with a unique situation. In an age where people with special needs were treated rather inhumanely, Fitzgerald found a way to make a hero out of someone who, in reality, probably would have been hidden from the public. Continue reading

4 Things You Can Learn from Gatsby’s Mistakes

The Great Gatsby (1926 film)

Lobby card for the first screen adaption of The Great Gatsby (1926) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

88 years ago today one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written was published.  I am speaking, of course, of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short novel The Great Gatsby.

**SPOILER ALERT**

The novel, set in 1922 Long Island, centers around the mystery and obsessive nature of one man, Jay Gatsby.  He is in love with a rich woman named Daisy Buchanan, whom he met while he was in the service during World War I.

After a brief affair, Daisy dumped him because he did not have the money and security she felt she deserved.  She chose to marry the rich and powerful Tom Buchanan instead.

Her marriage meant nothing to Jay Gatsby.  He set out to do everything he could to win her affection.  All the money he made, all the parties he threw, all the dreams he had—everything—was to impress her and make her fall in love with him.  He even took the blame for the hit and run that killed Tom Buchanan’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson.

Nothing but having Daisy mattered to him. Even if it meant going to jail for a crime she committed. Continue reading

3 Must-Reads By F. Scott Fitzgerald

F Scott Fitzgerald

L-R: F. Scotty Fitz, his only child, a daughter, “Scottie”, and wife Zelda Sayre

In case you didn’t know by now, F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author.  Not only was he an amazing writer, but he was one of those figures in history that lived fast, died young(ish), and should have left a beautiful corpse (oh he was stunning to gawk at…even on bad hair days), but apparently the mortician didn’t do a very good job, slopping makeup everywhere. (Jerk!)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary works are known the world over for their heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions of one of the fastest decades in the 20th century—the 1920s.  And like most good writers, a lot of it (dare I say most of it) was based on his wild life with his wife Zelda Sayre. Continue reading

Does the World Really Need Another Gatsby?

The cover of the first edition of The Great Gatsby

The cover of the first edition of The Great Gatsby (1925) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 10, 1925, one of the world’s greatest literary works was released—F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald began writing the novel in June 1922, but used most of the original material in his short story Absolution, which dealt with sin, guilt, and the imagination—things that every Catholic schoolboy can identify with.

Gatsby was near and dear to Fitzgerald’s heart.  He wanted it to be perfect.  So he worked feverishly for the next two and a half years to create something he knew would make him a legend in the literary world. Continue reading