That old black magic that you weave so well

My sisters and I didn’t watch a lot of TV as children.

For many years our television set didn’t even pick up basic cable, so whatever cartoons we were watching came in the form of The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Movie or The Three Caballeros (or whatever we owned on VHS at that specific time.)

One time we discovered our mother’s Jane Fonda’s Workout video and we absolutely killed ourselves laughing at the clothing/hair-dos as we danced around half-heartedly mimicking the exercises.

Every Friday night we were allowed to rent one film and goodness knows there was a period of time when we must have watched Mary Poppins for upwards three years straight. Steppin’ time is RIGHT, Bert.

Also, for what it’s worth – those Bugs Bunny cartoons still crack me the heck up. I am pretty much incapacitated by giggles every time I hear things like “What a way to run a railroad,” I’ve also started to re-populate my vocabulary with some of his saltier insults, and I have been using “should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque” since time immemorial (or you know, grade school.)

However, there was a time when we finally entered the 20th century, and procured a television set that was neither steam powered, nor cable intolerant, and I was introduced to all the magic and majesty that was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s children-friendly programming.

(For only two hours every Saturday, mind you.  After all there were limits on how far my parents were willing to travel into said new century.)

Still, limited hours or no, we were introduced to the brilliant likes of Under the Umbrella Tree, The Polka Dot Door, Fred Penner, and Sharon Lois and Bram – seriously folks, this stuff is the stuff of legends.

Take the opening credits to F. Penner & Co.:



Good grief.

I still remember my favourite episode – it was the one where he found a four leaf clover, and the whole episode revolved around teaching us kidlets about good luck and superstition.

Through song. SONG!

One of my most favourite shows however (and one that not a whole lot of people my age seem to remember) was called Today’s Special, which was set in a downtown Toronto department store, after closing hours.

You see, once the place shut down for the night, a mannequin named Jeff would come to life with the aid of his magic hat. (Oh, and someone had to say “hocus pocus alimagocus”.)

What? Like that’s weird or something?

If the hat ever came off of his head – POOF – he turned back into a mannequin.

(This often resulted in a huge number of shenanigans.)

The remainder of the cast was made of up Jodie, the store manager (and Jeff’s totally badass “human” mentor), Sam, the store’s security guard (a puppet, mind you), and Muffy Mouse, the resident rhyming rodent.

To say that I loved this show would be totally oversimplifying it.

I dug it so hard, that if I was actually going through the motions I would have made it all the way to China and back.

I really believed that magic – magic like what was needed to bring Jeff to life every night – was real. It was just up to me to find the right source, and figure out what role it should play in my life (beside of course making me invisible, giving me the power to fly, and helping me learn everything I could possibly learn about everything in the world in – oh, about a day and a half.)

As you could imagine, I was a pretty laid-back kid.

I’ve been thinking about this part of my life quite a bit – a childhood not only wrapped up in enchantment, but the never-ending search for magic – because in the past two weeks I have read Dandelion Wine and The Magician’s Apprentice, and at present I am currently halfway through The Magicians – and it seems as though I cannot stop reading about it.

I cannot stop reading about magic.

These are three (very different) books, but they are all compelling and heartbreaking in their own way.

Dandelion Wine had me shedding tears every morning as I rode the rickety skytrain into work – I felt as though my heart was going to burst out of my chest, so overwhelming was my nostalgia for a life I have never lived, but knew so well – almost as if the words themselves were already etched into my heart, punch drunk on the possibility of an endless summer, so many long years ago.

The Magician’s Apprentice is a fabulous read, but almost deceptive in its outward simplicity – much like a magic trick. But like said trick, it stays with you the long after it is finished, and you find yourself going over it, again and again in your mind – trying to figure it out, and understand it – trying to relive it.

I am not yet done The Magicians, but I am enjoying it very much. I am realizing that should I ever have had that chance to find my magic as a child, I may not necessarily have been in control of this power.

(I will keep you posted once I am finished.)

In the meantime, we sun-dipped mortals (or is it muggles?) are racing about this ball of blue, full speed, arms akimbo, waiting on the next adventure.

We found this feather on the Sunshine Coast. I am sure it has magical properties.

We’ll pick a card.

Any card.

Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

14 thoughts on “That old black magic that you weave so well”

  1. clearly we shared the same childhood and dreams. I LOVED TODAY’S SPECIAL!!! and all of the others but for so long i couldnt remember the name of the show and i called it the one with the mannequin. ha! Now here it is in all its glory. FANTASTIC

  2. 1. If you love magic, you must read The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It’s filled with lots of lovely and magical elements, and there’s a love story! And a circus!! What could be better?

    2. It’s funny that you should blog about magic today, as last night one of my dear friends came over for dinner and hang outs, and we watched Hocus Pocus. Normally, it’s my go-to Halloween night movie, but it’s summer and we’re bored, so who cares. Anyhow, I decided, after the viewing, that I really, really wish magic and witches of that sort were real. I’d totally be one.

    3. Today is the first day in over two weeks that we’ve been online, because we moved and the cable company is mean. This means you’ll probably have more comments from me, on other blogs, as I’ve been on Rant and Roll withdrawal and I have to read all the recently published ones tonight, completely, and immediately.


    1. Ooooer, that book sounds amazing! I will definitely check it out. Haha, I too loved Hocus Pocus! I always though SJP was so beautiful in that movie – I always wanted to be her despite that fact that she was kind of a ditz. Glad you enjoyed it summer and all. I also hope everything went super smoothly with the move!

      And thank you so much! Your comment brought a HUGE smile to my face :)

  3. Bugs Bunny is the proverbial shiznit. The day after i ran the SD marathon, we were sitting in the hotel room (I piled high with ice bags) and “What’s Opera, Doc?” came on TV! The hubs and I sang along with the whole thing.

  4. A fellow Bugs Bunny aficionado!!

    I love that you’re getting to read these books and reconnect with the magic of your childhood again. And I think that magic is still out there to be found really, it just takes a bit of a different form as we get older. :)

    Great post, love it!

    1. Isn’t he the best? Seriously, I will never, ever tire of him and his crazy pack of pals.

      And I think you are completely correct! It just evolves right along with us.

  5. Oh sweet nostalgia. Fred Penner was the man! The intro song is less full-on that I recall! i guess over the years I remembered it much grander than it was. But it always gets stuck in my head and whenever I hear a mouth harp (is that what makes all those boing-ing noises?) it makes me think of it.

    Today’s Special was sweet! I also really liked Under the Umbrella Tree. Female rodents are always so glamorous on TV! Did you ever watch Kidstreet or those other kid game shows that had all the obstacles and slime – Double Dare I think one was? Dustin had never heard of Kidstreet so when I started clapping over my head one day, it was lost on him. Showing him a you tube clip didn’t work because being introduced to it as an adult just doesn’t work the same.

    I am still completely amazed by magic. Last year we went to a community event that had a magician. The show was for the kids but damned if I’m going to miss out on a bit of magic! Yes, I was taunted for days about sitting through the kids magic show (with no children I was supervising to blame my attendance on) but it was worth it! Bibbidy bobbidy boo!

  6. what? no mention of Canada’s finest? Red Green?
    (we also used to infrequently stumble upon, um, SCTV? — something like that — “Canada’s answer to Sattidi Nite live”)
    that last pixure, u and the magick feat-her, that i suppose is the sunshine coast. ahh… a definite candidate for my family’s long-overdue group sojourn at the ocean). thanx !

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