Friday, December 31, 2010

The Holiday(s)

Whether or not saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is considerate or a war on Christmas is not something I wish to get into- everyone knows that the majority of the American population celebrates Christmas and a couple of substitute words isn't going to threaten it.

I only wonder why many of the commercials I see this year ('10) on television have people saying "Happy Holiday", using the singular rather than the plural. I actually think this is more offensive than the plural, because it implies that there's only one holiday. What they really mean is "Happy Holiday Season", I think- which is what everyone is celebrating, unless you're an atheist (or Scrooge).

What bugs me more than anything is when people set up a "holiday" celebration- calling it a "Holiday Festival" or something- and everything about it is Christmas related. There's Santa Claus, there's Christmas trees, Christmas music, Christmas this and Christmas that, and maybe even a Nativity scene. There are no menorahs or kinaras (although there are plenty of semi-pagan symbols), so claiming that their festivities are wintertime holiday neutral isn't the truth.

This actually happened to one festival we usually go to every year, once called "The Festival of the Trees" because it was primarily a display of artists' decorated trees- its name was changed to "Holiday Festival". There aren't any dreidels or anything, and the old name didn't even have the word "Christmas" in it!

The same can happen on television- a channel will claim to play "your favorite holiday movies", and all they play are Christmas movies and specials, and not a single Hanukkah special. Part of the problem here is that there aren't very many Hanukkah specials, but still. I'd just prefer a little honesty, that's all.

Actually, all this pales in comparison to my irritation with the mudslide of commercials using traditional carols with rewritten lyrics about their stores and products, telling me that I haven't been buying presents the right way. It was sort of funny two years ago, but now it's getting annoying.

Half-baked DVDs

As a child of the '90s, I grew up with a lot of cartoons on television that were part of the churning, creative and prolific phenomenon that was the Renaissance Age of Animation. Some of the world's greatest and most impressive animated movies and TV shows were born in the 1990's.
Now that we're entering the 2010's, this leaves me in the curious position of being part of a generation that is no longer new. My age group was about the same age as Andy from Toy Story when it was new, and we've all grown up like Andy did in Toy Story 3. This makes my generation officially a nostalgic one, and therefore we are a niche market for nostalgic '90s product.

I personally subsisted primarily on three food groups: Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and cartoons produced by Steven Spielberg. When it comes to Disney, we mostly saw the most popular movies on tape, and were a little skimpy on Disney Afternoon.
Like every other television viewer, there are plenty of shows that we watched that were extremely popular, and others that weren't. The biggest problem with that is that DVD releases are very inconsistent.

So it frustrates me to no end that even popular shows like Animaniacs don't get every season released. The Spielberg cartoons show no sign of getting further volumes, and many lesser known shows that I like either get incomplete releases (including so-called "best of's") or none at all.
It's like... what's the point? Okay, I get that sales aren't as good as the copyright holders would like, but the people who were buying them would surely want to buy more. Why start something and not finish? Those who would want to see most of a television series would surely want to see all of it.

So here's a list of cartoons I wish would have proper DVD releases or further season box sets:
  • The rest of season 3, and seasons 4 and 5 of Animaniacs (UPDATE: At long last! Volume 4 has been released!)
  • Seasons 2 and 3 of Tiny Toon Adventures (ideally with a bonus disc of the specials, Pinky, Elmyra and The Brain and the unique episode of The Plucky Duck Show)
  • Rocko's Modern Life (UPDATE: Luckily, this show has since had seasons 1-2 released, and 3-4 are also slated, but unfortunately they're the censored versions.)
  • The Angry Beavers (UPDATE: This series, thank God, is now being released, with seasons 1-2 and half of season 3 already out and the rest currently not yet announced.)
  • Sheep in the Big City (okay, so maybe this one's from the early '00s, but it's still underrated)
  • Bonkers
  • Goof Troop and Quack Pack
  • Beetlejuice
(UPDATE: I suppose by now this post is outdated, but my point still stands- it took WAY too long for this stuff to come out on DVD.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CG versus Traditional: No contest

I'm frankly getting tired of people feeling hatred for CG animation. I understand where you guys are coming from, because you love traditional animation and don't want it to be replaced, but there's something you don't understand about CG.

The most ignorant of CG-haters seem to think that the computers animate for you. Like the days when the original Tron was new, there are those who consider using a computer to animate "cheating", as if it's at all easier to do. Let me tell you, I've watched lots and lots of making-of documentaries- especially for Pixar films- and the animation process is just like traditional, except you're using a computer cursor instead of a pencil, moving the model around like clay.

The same principles established by the Nine Old Men still hold true in CG animation. The most primitive CG animation (such as the video for "Money For Nothing") resembles stiff plastic puppets, because they couldn't make them move any more fluidly. It takes effort to apply squash-and-stretch and make the characters seem as malleable and flexible as real life, and create detailed texture- the models don't move for you, all on their own.
In fact, the only thing that's any easier in CG is foreshortening and perspective shots.

I've also seen people call CG "too perfect", or simply dislike the aesthetic. I don't understand where they're coming from. For one thing, traditional animation doesn't seek to be flawed, nor does CG seek to be flawless. Yes, there are inherent inconsistencies of proportion, perspective, and foreshortening in traditional animation- and I suppose you can find some charm in those errors- but those are hardly intentional.
I think the best example of classic cartoon physics and squash-and-stretch being used in a CG production is Horton Hears A Who, although I wouldn't blame you if you thought the adaptation of the book could be better.

I think the difference between CG and traditional is merely a matter of what materials are used- like the difference between using clay and wooden puppets- and the resulting look and feel of their respective processes. If you think there's an inequality of beauty and effort between them, then you're not paying attention.

And to be honest, I think it's about time traditional animation caught up with CG, when it comes to sheer spectacle, detail, and cinematography. I don't expect any traditional animation to look like da Vinci, but I think more tricky angles and such would make traditional more of a competitor these days. Maybe if The Thief and the Cobbler was properly released...

Oh, and the Robert Zemeckis animated features? You can still rant about those. Those have terrible texture...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Artifacts of our Childhood: The Nutcracker Prince

I used to be one of those many people who recognized Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite", from Disney's Fantasia no less, but only had an inkling of what the story was supposed to be.

We got most of our inklings from seeing the 1990 film The Nutcracker Prince. Although it inevitably uses Tchaikovsky's score, it seems to be the most faithful adaptation out there of E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".

There's a feeling of post-Secret of NIMH animated audacity in the film, because there are onscreen deaths and actual blood, which is probably why we remember scenes from it so vividly. In particular, I recall the flashback in which we see the princess become ugly, where everyone is drawn in a more stylized '60s-ish way for some reason. The Mouse Queen is voiced by Phyllis Diller (Ha ha HAAA) of all people, which makes things even stranger.

And despite the Mouse King sounding remarkably like Tom "Spongebob" Kenny (it isn't), he is by far the most gosh darn scary Mouse King ever. Watch the climax and you'll see what I mean.

Everybody's Doing It: My Yogi Bear rant

I can sort of get over the fact that the new Yogi Bear movie is live-action and CG, despite the fact that every attempt at adapting a cartoon character to a live-action environment has failed here in America. Garfield and Marmaduke didn't do well domestically, and yet we're getting The Smurfs and rumors of a Family Circus and a Bugs Bunny feature as well. Why Hollywood continues this madness is anybody's guess.

But what bugs me the most is that the writers and advertisers for Yogi seem to think that Yogi's eating habits are the focus of his personality. Excessive indulgence is the heart and soul of the cartoon, right? The last thing I want to see in a movie is a CG bear covered in CG cheese and grease and bread crumbs, fulfilling somebody's fantasies of Yogi Bear food porn.

I don't understand where the writers got the idea that Yogi pulls fantastic stunts and builds crazy gadgets, either. I've watched the original cartoons since my childhood, and although I admit I haven't seen every episode, the show's theme strikes me as being the relationship between Ranger Smith and Yogi, and their conflicts for control. And where the heck is Cindy Bear??

...Something that really bugs me, though, is the completely random turtle in the trailers. It has a frog tongue. A freakin' frog tongue. It's like somebody in the story department honestly thought that turtles are amphibians, and that they had long tongues like frogs and toads, and persisted that they keep the gag despite arguments from the slightly smarter writers. Or worse, no one noticed even through rewrites, filming, animating it, and editing.
And they have the gall to swing that turtle around like nobody's business, shoving its anatomical FAIL in our faces in eye-popping 3D. I find it really disturbing and gross, actually. It makes me kind of wince.

UPDATE: I now have a very definite reason to not like this movie. According to Jim Hill Media, the Animation Supervisor Alex Orrelle said this:

"I have to admit that that was one of the real challenges of working on 'Yogi Bear.' Trying to figure how to take this character that had been created back in 1958 and then make him work for 2010 audiences," Orrelle continued. "I realized that this was going to be a real challenge when I showed some of the original 'Yogi Bear' cartoons to my kids and -- after 5 minutes - they walked out of the room because they were bored."

I think this clearly indicates three things:
  1. His kids are really lame and have no taste in humor.
  2. If his kids are at all typical of their generation, it means that kids today don't like Yogi Bear, and therefore don't want to see a movie about him. So it was a bad idea in the first place.
  3. Orrelle felt compelled to retool the character so that people who don't like Yogi Bear would want to see the movie. This has never been a good strategy: if The Monkees were trying to appeal to non-Monkees fans with their film Head, they learned that their non-fans wouldn't trust them as far they could throw them, and that their fans would be disappointed with the changes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's it all about, Charlie Brown?

There's an enormous irony I've observed while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas this year, and seeing all the mushy and sentimental Peanuts merchandise. The classic special, in fact, teaches us one of the biggest lessons of them all:

Anti-commercialism sells.

I was pretty appalled when a few years back they were selling Charlie Brown Christmas trees, with an enormous red ornament dangling downward and everything. Somehow or another, Christmas' greatest symbol of modesty this side of the Virgin Mary on a donkey and the Christ Child born in a manger has become a product.

I'm not very angry about it, actually, because Miracle on 34th Street taught us this irony too. It only strikes me as odd that millions of people watch Charlie Brown Christmas and get all dewy-eyed when they talk about how much they relate to Charlie Brown, and yet the sentiments don't really carry over into real life.
What's especially odd is that the special is so very overtly Christian, and yet only so many people who watch it feel the same way that Linus does. Does this speech simply go over people's head? Do they go "Oh yeah, some people celebrate Christmas because of that Jesus guy"?

I also find it interesting that there are some sentiments in A Charlie Brown Christmas that aren't necessarily relevant anymore. Take for instance Snoopy's dog house decorations- the moral here is that Snoopy is being excessive and greedy, going all out to win the contest prize money.
These days I doubt that many people decorate lavishly and elaborately for the sake of winning a prize. I've seen a lot of television shows about the subject, and if anything, people who decorate that way are expressing their sheer exuberance through creativity. Heck, we've got a neighborhood only a few miles away from where I live called Sleepy Hollow, where residents for several blocks go all out with their decorations, and there's a sense of unity and community.
Schulz's second example of commercialism and phoniness is the aluminum Christmas tree. Lately, ironic hipsters and nostalgic baby-boomers have brought this bright and gaudy decoration back from the depths of "forbidden non-naturalistic decorations", as we shall call it. I blame Charles Schulz for making metallic trees out of style for many decades, and making real Douglas Firs the trendy tree. But nowadays aluminum trees pose no real threat to the real deal, and instead represent a fondness for the aesthetics of mid-century Christmases.

I still love A Charlie Brown Christmas for its message and humor, but perhaps its not so timeless as we once thought, nor as persuasive.

Mexican Hot Cocoa

Recently I've come to enjoy these Mexican cocoa brands that usually come in candy-bar-like chocolate discs that you're supposed to grind into a powder with a grater. They do sometimes come in powder form, but usually you have to put in a little extra work to get a cocoa that always includes at least cinnamon and sugar for a spicier cup of cocoa. It's not quite as sweet or creamy as your usual powder mix, but the cinnamon makes up for it.

You'll recognize them by their hexagon-shaped packages.

The two brands I've tried are called Abuelita and Don Gustavo- which seem to deliberately be the "feminine" and "masculine" brands, respectively, because the former has a smiling, charming and quaint grandma wearing antiquated clothing on the box, and the latter has a 50-60-year-old Mexican man who looks like somebody who works on a farm. Not only that, Don Gustavo has darker chocolate and tiny bits of peanuts in it.

Santa Claus outsmarts the Devil

I watched a 1959 film called Santa Claus the other day, which is a dubbed Mexican film about Satan sending out a devil to tempt children into doing evil and foul up Santa's deliveries, including scenes of letters to Santa floating out of a post office incinerator, Merlin giving him magical objects to help him, and a red-bearded, topless blacksmith creating a magical skeleton key for him.

...And I thought to myself, "Darn! Somebody beat me to it."

Monday, December 6, 2010

"We're a Couple of Misfits" versus "Fame and Fortune"

I don't remember ever seeing the "Fame and Fortune" segment in Rudolph, despite it apparently, supposedly, having been in there since 1965 and surviving until 1997. True, I was only eight years old at the time, but I tend to have vivid memories of things I watched on TV. Also, my mom doesn't remember ever seeing it either. And she saw the original airing in 1964.

What I'd really like to see restored back into the special, though- or at least included as a bonus feature- is the so-called "Peppermint Mine" scene with Yukon Cornelius. This is because it plays a fairly significant role in the continuity of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.

EDIT: Whoops! Apparently that scene was in a recent restoration, and it's included on the Blu-ray.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gothic Afterlife

I realized very recently that Tim Burton's concept of the afterlife isn't exactly Christian. As can be seen in Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride, he likes to imagine it being some sort of green and purple Charles Addams art gallery, and the former explicitly disregards any concept of heaven and hell. The concept of eternal justice is only addressed subconsciously at best.

Now, I'm not gonna go on some rant on Tim Burton's secular views here. I still enjoy those movies quite a lot. It's just that it strikes me as strange that he should be so solidly entrenched in the off-white moralities of macabre indulgence and extravagance, unmoving, and paint such an uncertain and dimly-lit portrait of what happens to your soul when you die. He in fact seems to prefer to think that one's cadaver simply gets up and walks away.

It seems to me that this vision is based on views held by religions and spiritualities that have a catch-all afterlife realm where every soul went no matter what, like the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Sure, those religions had justice in the afterlife, but it was one place. There is also the popular secular view that is suggested by ghost stories and haunted house movies, especially those that involve séances, that being dead simply means living on a different existential plane... This view strikes me as vague, using terms like "contact", "the other side", and "the spirit world" that suggest that these dead are someplace else, rather than among us.

Tim Burton seems to want to define what that place is like, but I still don't feel satisfied by it, somehow. His ideals strike me as strange sometimes. What seems to appeal to everyone is the idea that scary can be fun, but what lies deeper in his works is the idea that it is better to be a decaying body than it is to be alive. In Corpse Bride especially, he suggests that it is a wonderful feeling to be uninhibited by things like a heartbeat, breathing, and any mortal diseases. I don't know about anyone else, but I rather like having physical sensations, and wouldn't care much for numbness. Isn't this a physical state that Dracula longed for? Still, I notice the dead in that movie still drink booze.

In particular, the last I watched Corpse Bride, I started feeling a little squeamish during the "Tears to Shed" sequence, because its lyrics put down said physical sensations and further emphasize the movie's preference for the coldness and stillness of death which... quite frankly, is bordering on necrophilia. Making light of that sort of thing isn't my cup of tea anymore. What of the heat and the surging of hormones that is sex?

Ultimately, I fall back on my perhaps nostalgia-colored fondness for The Nightmare Before Christmas. It emphasizes the fun there is to be had from getting scared, puts down doing actual physical harm, and sends a message that praises and encourages love in the end. There's a warmth surrounding the chills, one that reminds me of the happy feelings I get when keeping warm during the winter, that in my opinion is a bit lacking in many of Tim Burton's other films. I still stand by my feeling that Nightmare is Burton's artistic peak.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Scooby-Doo, aren't we through with you?

I'm pretty amazed that the Scooby-Doo franchise is making a comeback and seems to be getting popular again. While the various series throughout the years were never any of my favorites, I understand its camp appeal and why people like the characters (I certainly do), and Cartoon Network used to play them A LOT so I was always seeing them. I have a certain fondness for the music of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and for the sheer craziness that is The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo- seriously, who doesn't like Vincent Price's role in that?

I recall that Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island made a big deal out of the monsters being real, and in hindsight it was probably a pretty big step. The monsters were real in 13 Ghosts and all those movies from the '80s, but Zombie Island made it clear that this was a shocker (or at least highly abnormal), and that the gang didn't have to always unmask some yokel in a costume. Since then, it seems like the gang has been able to switch back and forth between fakes and genuine articles with ease. And why not? The whole unmasking was getting kinda jokey.

The direct-to-video and TV movies seemed to breathe some new life into the franchise, and so after so many years of messing with the formula and having to put up with Scrappy, we got the '02 live-action film... which is basically a big wish fulfillment for long-time fans. This was an era of pretending that the gang had reunited after a dry spell (something that certainly appealed to me), and so the logical conclusion was to create a throwback series, which gave us What's New, Scooby-Doo?.

The franchise seems more popular than ever now, even going so far as having alternate continuities and reboots. I notice that The Mystery Begins doesn't mention anything about A Pup Named Scooby-Doo... It would seem that audiences have grown tired of pretending that the gang are continuing their adventures, and are more interested in them simply having new ones- so the universe has completely reinvented itself. Previously we had logical extensions of their base personalities, but now it seems as though WB wants to make them seem like they're real teenagers "just like you", de-emphasizing their outdated fashion sense and emphasizing romantic relationships.

I'm inclined to agree that starting with a clean slate is the best direction that Scooby-Doo can take, considering today's audiences. It was perhaps not the best idea to treat the series like an old fossil that needed cleaning up- as much as that has a certain ironic, nostalgic appeal- and that rather WB should peek at the subconscious decisions made by the original creators that show underneath the surface and expand on them- that is, use the basic personalities of the gang more realistically. Pre-teen and teenage TV viewers like relationships, it would seem.

It seems that Mystery Incorporated, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and soon Epic Mickey are heralding an era in animation built on reinvention- they're reinventing themselves by looking to the past and revitalizing what was already there but strangely overlooked. I think perhaps what gave these franchises their edge in the first place is what is often forgotten, and what audiences always wanted!

I certainly hope I can say the same thing about The Looney Tunes Show.
UPDATE: I can't.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Minty fresh

I'm kind of picky when it comes to mints.

See, the problem is that I associate spearmint with toothpaste and mouthwash, so when I have a Mint Julep or or chewing gum with that flavor, I don't like it so much. An exception would be mint chocolate chip ice cream, but that stuff uses peppermint a lot too, so I don't know what I'm usually tasting... and there are chocolate mint candies, and I have no idea what those are...
And usually peppermint doesn't usually taste right to me except during Christmastime, so I generally avoid those round candies unless they're offering it for free in a bowl, like in a restaurant. But I really things like Peppermint Patties and After Eights, so chocolate-covered peppermint is okay by me any time of year.
Things get stranger when you start talking about those modern chewing gum flavors with names like "Black Frost" and "Blue Mountain", which I don't think are natural mint flavors, and some of them are truly awful-tasting to me- like Arm & Hammer toothpaste on steroids.

Ultimately I prefer wintergreen over all of them. This is because my grandma always has wintergreen Life-Savers in her car, so I always have them when we visit her (and thus associate them with good feelings). Weirdly enough, it's not a true mint! And it's really irritating because they're not as easily available as spearmint or peppermint- only recently have wintergreen Altoids been available in nearby stores where we live.

I've been to a couple of gardens with mint plants, and plucked some bits off to smell them. I remember being pleased with the scent of Catmint (aka Catnip), and blown away by a particular cultivar of peppermint called "Chocolate Mint"- it seriously smells like chocolate and mint! I wonder if it's ever used for desserts...

Speaking of scents I associated with toiletries, my mom loves lavender-scented soap, so I always think of lavender as the generic soap smell. Because of this, any lavender-flavored candies I have is like putting soap in my mouth, so I find it extremely distasteful.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The main reason I feel comfortable watching horror movies and thinking Halloweeny thoughts after the 31st of October is because of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and these days, Haunted Mansion Holiday even more so.

Not everyone is a big fan of HMH, and I can see their reasoning, but personally I love it. Blurring the line between Halloween and Christmas can create tremendous beauty somehow, and I think HMH epitomizes it. I see that the main difference between Nightmare and HMH is that the film expresses how the majority of the American population doesn't care for scariness during Christmas, preferring the warm-and-fuzzies usually associated with it... while the ride expresses how when the right audience is targeted, a macabre Christmas can be a blast.

This is something that I think the so-called "Perky Goths" get right. Rather than dwell on doom and gloom or indulge one's bloodlust, a macabre Christmas and its fans represent a holdover from the camp horror comedies of the 1960s, bringing to life the values of corpse-painted joy and togetherness embodied in characters like the Addams Family and the Munsters. I love macabre humor, and I get joy out of watching vintage horror movies, listening to old-school horror rock, wearing costumes, and donning a slightly more mischievous personality.

Things like Silent Night, Deadly Night gets it wrong.

Because Nightmare Before Christmas is both about Halloween and Christmas, we used to make a tradition of watching it in October and December. And really, why not? The hybridization of the two holidays really isn't so much of a stretch when you think about it, and Tim Burton's film isn't the first time it was done.

There are a lot of Christmas traditions that border on the scary side of things. The most obvious example is A Christmas Carol, which centers around ghostly spirits and strange visions, not to mention a grim warning of impending death and eternal punishment. Ghost stories used to be a holiday tradition- even in recent history, the lyrics of the cheery 1963 song "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" has the words "there'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."
And if this book is any indication, 19th century Christmases were a lot weirder than today's. When we think of Christmas, we usually think of the saccharine holiday that the '40s, '50s, and '60s brought about.
And there's of course there's Black Peter, who is supposed to bring bundles of twigs to the parents of naughty children for the purpose of spanking them with it, or simply spirit away the children in a big bag. Krampus is a very similar character, and is a full-fledged demon.

Reefer Madness?

One thing people ought to know about me is that I'm pro-legalization when it comes to all forms of cannabis, marijuana, pot, what have you. I don't use it myself (I have no reason to), but I find it completely inoffensive. My reasons are simple: the pros of marijuana HUGELY outweigh the cons. The most it does is give you a cough and makes you act stupid.

The more I read about it, the more it amazes me that we demonize the drug at all. To paraphrase Paul McCartney (who I imagine still has a dealer) from his book Many Years From Now, pot makes you want to fall asleep rather than go out and commit acts of violence, like alcohol can do. It's incredible that things like alcohol and cigarettes are legal, when they're so effing dangerous! Heck, you know what drugs terrify me the most? Commercial medications! So many of them are obviously improperly tested, and they all seem to have wince-inducing side effects like stomach ulcers and having trouble breathing. I've seen several studies that show that pot doesn't have any more danger potential than caffeine, while alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous.

And the astonishing array of benefits the drug has just takes the cake. And that doesn't just include inducing relaxation, a peaceful mood, and an increased appetite. I could probably sing its praises, but I really only know about things like that from some cannabis magazines I've read, and not from personal experience. That, and modesty forbids (they tend to be things I feel awkward talking about).

That's why it really surprised me that Prop 19 didn't pass here in California- we have enough of a casual attitude towards it already, so why not get it over with? I'm told that there were some problems with defining its taxation, but I have to wonder whether or not we just got cold feet.

(UPDATE: I have recently learned that McCartney no longer does pot, simply because he doesn't need it anymore. Perfectly reasonable, really.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Random rant

The advertising for Adventure Time is really starting to bug me. The disconnected butchering of dialogue makes it sound like poorly written stream-of-consciousness poetry.

Ice King!
...cold-hearted marauders...!
Lumpy space princess.

I don't care much for the show. I get that it's supposed to be a pastiche of old-school fantasy video games, but for the life of me, I can't tell WHAT sort of fantasy video games they were trying to make fun of. You'd think after all these years of games based on the basic molds set down by Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and World of Warcraft, a parody of such things would be recognizable as such.

I find the art terribly unattractive- it's like the scribbles of a teenage girl from high school who decided to experiment with marijuana and confused Zelda with the Care Bears or Candyland or something.

I watched an episode and didn't really find it funny- it was more confusing than anything. Worse, the one part I was looking forward to, the scene with the Dream Fish wannabe owl, was a real let-down. I really thought it was going someplace clever, but then it didn't!

I sure hope the episodes with the teenage vampire aren't nearly as disappointing- I get the feeling that I'd like the character. I guess if I really want my fix of fantasy video game parodies, I should stick to webcomics.


"Sorry, no right-clicking allowed." You might find out that nearly all of the images are hotlinked! (And that the coding is horrible.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Toon Music: America Sings- Modern Times

I think the fourth and final act of America Sings is my least favorite. It covers approximately six-and-a-half decades from the '10s to the early '70s (with the '60s barely making a scratch), a period of accelerated musical evolution, and would be more aptly titled "The Jazz Era and Early Rock 'n' Roll squeezed together plus a recent hit tacked on to the end". It's fairly obvious that Buddy Baker (the musical director) and Marc Davis (the character designer), knew next to zip about rock music, evident in that they assigned the rock 'n' roll songs to hippy-dippy Summer-of-Love musicians. Oldies-revival music was only just beginning with such things as "Crocodile Rock" and American Graffiti. The fact that the '60s is almost completely glossed over also shows ignorance of the genre.

Luckily the songs in this act aren't nearly so obscure as past ones.

"Ja-Da", written by Bob Carleton in 1918.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Toon Music: America Sings- The Gay '90s

The era animators and other filmmakers love, an era of gentility, straw hats, handlebar mustaches, and ragtime piano. This is the era Disneyland's Main Street USA takes place in, though more recently that has been expanded to a broader "old-timey" era, with '00s-'20s and a little bit of '30s, as well as more recent throwbacks (you'll hear songs from The Music Man playing among the authentic tunes). Disney's lack of research shows through again as a few of these songs aren't even from the 1890s.

The third act begins with "She May Be Somebody's Mother", written by William C. Carleton, which is all that I could find out about it.

"The Bowery", music by Percy Gaunt, words by Charles H. Hoyt, part of the Broadway play A Trip to Chinatown.

Don't worry, it's in there somewhere.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The "songs stuck in my head" list

Being the weirdo that I am, I'm sure the songs that get stuck in my head are the strangest songs to ever get stuck in anyone's head ever. Usually it's something weird that is suddenly excavated from my memory, and has absolutely nothing to do with anything I've done, though about, or listened to recently. If I can figure out why it's playing, it won't go on this list.

So think of this as a peek into my pop-culture-addled mind.

  • "The Two of Us Together" by the Sugar Bears (Oct. 24 '09)

  • "Twinkle Twinkle Patrick Starr" from Spongebob Squarepants (Nov. 9 '09)

  • "Superlove" by the Cattanooga Cats (Nov. 14 '09)

  • "The Perfect Nanny" from Mary Poppins (Nov. 22 '09)

  • "The Dreidel Song" (Jan. 30, '10)

  • "Daddy" -some weird hybrid of Red Hot Riding Hood and Bobby Troup Trio (Mar. 9, '10)

  • "Frosty the Snowman" by ???, "Cool Dry Place" by The Traveling Wilburys (Mar. 18, '10)

  • "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" by Frank Sinatra (Mar. 22, '10)

  • "Silver and Gold" by Burl Ives (Mar. 25, '10)

  • "All Together Now" by the Beatles (Apr. 10, 2010)

  • "You Can't Catch Me" by John Lennon (May 5, 2010)

  • Great Giana Sisters overworld theme (May 14, 2010)

  • "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley, "Whistling Ping-Pong Game" by Andy Griffith (May 23, 2010)

  • "Hotel California" by the Eagles, "Real Love" and "Words of Love" by the Beatles (Jul. 2, 2010)

  • Soundtrack to Disney's Lullaby Land (Jul. 19, 2010)

  • "What More Can I Do?" by the Beagles (Jul. 31, 2010)

  • "Russian Dance" from the Nutcracker Suite (Sep. 8, 2010)

  • "Hibiscus Hula" from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Sep. 20, 2010, and sometime last week too, I think)

  • "Sugar and Spices" by Marshmallow Way (Sep. 26, 2010)

  • "I'm a Man" by the Spencer Davis Group (I think- I listened to it on YouTube and it doesn't sound right) (Oct. 1, 2010)

  • "I Just Don't Understand" by the Beatles and something else(?) (Oct. 7, 2010)

  • "Saturday's Child" by the Monkees (Oct. 18, 2010 and several times before that)

  • "Mashed Potato Time" by Dee Dee Sharp (Oct. 19, 2010)

  • "Sweeter Than Sugar" by Ohio Express, "The Good's Gone" by the Who (Oct. 24, 2010)

  • "Rainbow" by The Symbols (Oct. 29, 2010)

  • "We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo" by Big John Greer (Nov. 10, 2010)

  • "Don't Ever Change" by The Beatles (Nov. 13, 2010)

  • "Turn Around, Look at Me" by The Vogues (Nov. 16, 2010)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Toon Music: America Sings- The Old West

The Old West- where you couldn't throw a rock without hitting somebody singin' a song about hittin' the trail, workin' hard, or that ol' gal I left behind me. This was the time of the Westward Expansion, the Transcontinental Railroad and COWBOYS DADBURNIT.

"Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill", a railway song first published in 1888, and one of those folk tunes that changes lyrics and even melody depending on who's performing it, if these wildly different versions are any indication.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Toon Music: America Sings- The Deep South

America Sings first section showcases the songs of the Southern United States, where popular music began, dramatically shifting the focus of music from classical composers to the melodies of the common man. It was also during this period that the nationalism movement began, and fully orchestrated arrangements of folk tunes began cropping up.

Just a little warning: some lyrics are a tad racist.

"Dixie", traditionally attributed to one Dan Emmett, 1859. Wikipedia, as usual, provides a detailed history that I couldn't possibly summarize.

Toon Music: America Sings- Intro and Send-off

If you've never seen America Sings, here's the basic rundown: At Tomorrowland in Disneyland (Anaheim) from '74 to '88, in the old Carousel of Progress building, Sam the Eagle and Ollie the Owl presented a revue of America's music, from the earliest folk songs to the rock 'n' roll era, sung and performed by animatronic cartoon animals.
Yeah, I know, not exactly animation, but the characters designed by Imagineer Marc Davis for the show might just as well be three-dimensional cartoon characters as far as I'm concerned. And hey, it's Disney!

The show is long gone, but if you want to see it, there is a two-part video on YouTube of the complete farewell performance, or you can just ride Splash Mountain and see the reused characters sing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah".

In this first entry, I'll be covering the beginning and end of the show, which both focus on the earliest songs known to Americans, some of which were inherited from our ancestors from the British Isles.

First up: Yankee Doodle. I think Wikipedia can explain this better than I ever could.

"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", often heard and punned on in Looney Tunes. Written by Stephen Foster in 1854.

"Pop Goes the Weasel", another folk song of uncertain origins and even more uncertain meaning, best known as the tune that plays on every jack-in-the-box ever. Ollie sings the American lyrics, as any patriotic owl should. Alvin's first encounter with psychedelic drugs seems an oddly appropriate accompaniment:

"Auld Lang Syne", the "New Year's Eve song". Words written by Robert Burns in 1788, the music being a traditional melody. As she is wont, Julies Andrews provides a lovely, sincere rendition:

And finally, for the exit music, a lively '70s soul version of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever", which I've already covered in a previous entry.

Next up: the Ol' South!

The Beatles and musical history: "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise"

"The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" is another older song, first published in 1919, and of course recorded by The Beatles in 1960. Unfortunately, I can't find a version on YouTube. In the meantime, have a listen to the most recent and popular version by Les Paul and Mary Ford, from 1949:

Les Paul, as many people know, is the namesake for the world famous Gibson Les Paul guitar. He's truly one of the those pioneers of popular music, having a hand in inventing and developing the solidbody electric guitar, defining the role that the electric guitar had as a solo instrument, and being the first to use multitrack recording. His style was a speedy and perky jazz, twangy yet vastly smoother and more refined than his contemporaries, influencing the first rockabilly guitarists and many a rock 'n' roll guitarist beyond that, including Jimmy Page.

I'm not so sure how much of an influence Les Paul had on the Beatles, seeing as his playing was highly technical and often incoporated overdubbed harmonies, runs played at twice their original speed, and your usual (or perhaps idiosyncratic) jazz melodies. He did influence guitarists The Beatles admired, though, so I assume then that his influence was indirect.

George wouldn't forget this song, and sung some words quietly along with Carl Perkins as he gazed admiringly at Carl's fingers as he played a fingerpicking version from A Rockabilly Session:

The Beatles and musical history: "I Will Always Be in Love with You"

Among the lesser known songs recorded by the Beatles in the spring or summer of 1960, they did a "jazz standard" called "I Will Always Be in Love with You". According to one source I found, it was first done by somebody named Morton Downey in the late '20s, but it's been speculated that the Beatles learned it from the version by Fats Domino.

This song is an example of The Beatles performing songs that predate the rock 'n' roll era, which are mostly pop tunes on the jazzy side, and reflect the influence of the music their parents knew. In particular, there's some possibility that Paul's father, who performed in a jazz band, taught him the song- or it could very well have been John's mother, who knew some chords on the banjo.

From the sounds of it, John was trying to imitate Elvis.

Unfortunately, for the life of me, I cannot find any recorded version available to listen to that predates the Beatles version anywhere, so I guess if you wanna hear it, you'll have to buy some Fats Domino collection... which makes me dubious about it being called a "standard". I managed to hear at least a sample of it on Allmusic's entry for Bear Family's Out of New Orleans, which I recommend for completists like me. I'm not so sure if the Beatles were trying to copy it, what with the Elvis stutter, but I don't see why they couldn't have learned it from his version...

Of course, if you're desperate, there are a couple covers on YouTube made after 1960.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Beatles and musical history: "Matchbox"

And so now we come to one of The Beatles' biggest influences: Carl Perkins. Carl Perkins is considered one of the many pioneers of rock 'n' roll, and is essential listening for any rockabilly fan. George Harrison was a particularly big fan of his, and his early guitar-playing style shows that Perkins' style was a strong influence- an admiration that lasted throughout his career, and clearly expressed by his involvement with the 1985 Carl Perkins special Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session, where he played alongside with his hero.

The Beatles would play many of his songs early in their career, and "Matchbox" is the first that was recorded, as part of the 1960 home recordings.

Interestingly, Carl Perkins partially derived the song from Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Match Box Blues". If you can make out his thick accent, you'll notice the opening lines from "Matchbox" make up the second verse:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Toon Music: "Kingdom Coming"/"The Year of Jubilo"

Song whistled by Daws Butler's wolf in the Tex Avery cartoons The Three Little Pups and Billy-Boy. Composed by Henry Clay Work c. 1863.

Sheet music:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Toon Music: Hi-ho, Tinfoil!

The William Tell Overture, composed by Gioachino Rossini in 1829, best known as the theme song for the Lone Ranger.

First and second movements:

The second movement should be instantly recognizable, and is pretty much always used to accompany wild thunderstorms.

Third and fourth movements:

Again, both movements are instantly recognizable, being used to accompany daybreak and Western action, respectively.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jetsons secret code

Having a strong fondness for invented words and constructed languages, we've put together the coded phrases from The Jetsons episode "A Date with Jet Screamer". There doesn't seem to be any transcriptions of the episode, nor a list of these words, and since two of the phrases are only mentioned in passing, we figured it would help fans of the show to be able to refer to a written list rather than relying on memorizing George's quickly spoken lines. Despite the hundreds of times we've seen the episode, we never memorized the other phrases.

eep opp ork ah ah - meet me tonight / I love you

bloop boppa bip blip boppa boop - don't be late

wham bam bop - we're late for dinner; your mother's gonna bop us

I think George's phrase "wham bam bop" is much more economical than "bloop boppa bip blip boppa boop", don't you think? That's an awful mouthful for such a simple sentence. But that may have been the point.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toon Music: The Minah Bird

Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Op. 26 (aka Fingal's Cave), composed in 1830, as heard in Chuck Jones' series of Inki cartoons, accompanying the odd yet menacing skip of the mynah bird.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I just realized that no one ever criticizes another person unless they think they're doing something better and the other isn't. So if you're criticizing someone for always criticizing something just because they think they're better than what they're criticizing, you're doing exact same thing as the person you're criticizing.

Try and wrap your brain around that.

So what really matters is how much better you think you are and how aware of it you are. The degree of the feeling of superiority is what really counts. If you criticize only because you think you're better than whoever you're criticizing and want to stroke your ego, but are unaware of it, then you're a hypocrite.

I've often come across people who insult, belittle, and criticize to inflate their ego and won't admit it because they don't know it. And far too often, it indicates that they have the exact same flaw they're accussing the person they're criticizing to possess, only more so.
Of course, it's different when a person criticizes another person's accomplishments as opposed to their character, and unless they have similar abilities, more often than not they can't do any better. The usual response to this is "I'd like to see you do better". This sort of criticism only works if it's constructive criticism, and the person doing the criticising actually has valid points. Otherwise, your words are bound to be ignored or defied.

The key here, I think, is that to criticize, one must be honest with themselves and have some degree of modesty. For instance, I criticize people whilst being fully aware that it is because I think that I'm doing better. If I wasn't honest with myself about that, then I would be a hypocrite. Criticizing others should also mean criticizing yourself to some degree.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The curious tale of Ringy Roonga and Freddy Fox

Children's comic books have the uncanny tendency to transform licensed characters who- in their original medium, be it film, TV, what have you- typically did little beyond get into a conflict of some sort and proceed to do some gags around the premise for about 9 minutes. Plots weren't exactly complex. In the comics, your favorite characters, ranging from Donald Duck to Howdy Doody, traveled to far-off lands, encountered fantastic creatures, and met strange people for up to 56 pages. As near as I can tell, this trend began in 1930 with the first Mickey Mouse newspaper strips, which took Plane Crazy and eventually turned it into Mickey winding up lost on a desert island (although it wouldn't be until "Race to Death Valley" that it would move beyond the gag-a-day format). The animated Donald throws a tantrum over a box of cake mix, whereas comic book Donald discovers the lost city of Camdenia.

Even more remarkable is when these writers and artists take these characters and breathe such life into them as to create their own universe with a full cast of characters and places that last for years and even decades in print, without ever being seen on the big or small screen in motion. Famous as he is, Scrooge McDuck only appeared once animated in his long career before DuckTales and Mickey's Christmas Carol even existed (Scrooge McDuck and Money, 1967), and one need only take a look at his page on INDUCKS to see his worldwide popularity- with thousands and maybe even more appearances in comics the world over. It's hard to believe that he was originally created by one man as a one-off villain.

One curious off-shoot of this phenomenon is that every now and then the characters chosen aren't very popular or even that well-known. They may have appeared only once, and the average person will never know that their adventures continued elsewhere, hidden from them between the pages of an old comic lying about in some antique store, often not even in English. One of the best-known examples would have to be Sniffles and Mary Jane, who appeared in Dell's Looney Tunes comics for many years.

Sometimes, characters who never even appeared alongside each other on celluloid will team up together and create a surprisingly coherent whole- Disney comics in particular have succesfully blended the worlds of the Three Little Pigs, Brer Rabbit, and Chip 'n' Dale, with the worlds of Snow White, Bambi, and even Bongo occassionally making appearances, all living within the same presumably massive woods.
(These don't always work out, however, and such pairings such as Supergoof and The Jungle Book will pop up, making one wonder how these could have possibly been conceived without the aid of hallucinogens.)

Licensed children's comics are odd ducks. Suffice to say, this particular entry is about one of the odder ducks.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I wish people wouldn't fling around the word "immature" as if they themselves lacked immaturity and the recipient didn't. (Most of the time when one accuses another of a character flaw, they themselves have that same flaw, and are therefore hypocrites.) One of the problems with society today is that everyone seems to expect the other guy to be mature, but no one is in mutual agreement as to what the definition of maturity actually is. I can infer that today's version of maturity is generally acting like a Vulcan, and anything resembling impulsive emotions is immature, but I think we all know deep down how very wrong that is.

I can therefore conclude that maturity is of no real value in today's Western world, and therefore I do away with any attempts on my part to achieve it, and focus instead on being a good person.

You know, love and kindness and turning the other cheek and all that.

I do know a couple of things maturity isn't: being inconsiderate and self-centered. But I don't see what having a bit of passion has to do with anything...

Horror rock

You know that sort of cheesy rock music they play on the radio every Halloween and stick on CD compilations? No doubt you've heard some of the classics: "Monster Mash", "Purple People Eater", "Witch Doctor", "The Munsters Theme"... this type of music represents a brief fad that lasted from about the late '50s to the mid-'60s, where everyone loved cheesy horror films and liked to poke fun at it. You know, like the Addams Family.
(Now, this style really lasted longer than that, and never really died out, but that's a subject for another time.)

You've probably also noticed that there are a lot of bands that recreate some of the vibes these songs had, mostly working in the psychobilly, deathrock, goth rock, horror punk, and New Wave styles. But the thing is is that I'm fairly certain that these sort of musicians recreated a style that was almost nonexistent.

Why do I say that?

Well, so far I haven't found very many examples of this type of music dating back to its origins. These are the ones I can name:

  • Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who released "I Put a Spell on You" in 1956 (arguably the first)

  • "Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll" by Billy Lee Riley, 1957

  • "Witch Doctor", by David Seville, 1958

  • "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley, 1958

  • "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor" by Big Bopper, 1958

  • "Jack the Ripper" by Link Wray, 1961

  • Screaming Lord Sutch, who released "'Til the Following Night" in 1961

  • The Undertakers, by a stretch, who dressed as... well, undertakers

  • Bobby "Boris" Pickett, who released "Monster Mash" in 1962

  • "My Baby's Got a Crush on Frankenstein" by Soupy Sales, 1962

  • "Trick or Treat" by Chuck Berry, 1963

  • The Munsters theme, 1964

  • It's Monster Surfing Time by The Deadly Ones, 1964

  • "Monster Shindig" and "Monster Jerk", from the Hanna-Barbera album Monster Shindig, 1965

  • Frankie Stein and his Ghouls, who released Introducing Frankie Stein and his Ghouls (and four other albums) in 1965

  • "The Mummy" from Mad Monster Party, 1967

...And that's about it. There are examples from later years, such as the Groovie Goolies in the '70s (not the punk band), but I'm specifically talking about the "first wave", so to speak. My point is that it wasn't exactly a movement in the usual sense.
It's difficult for me to include songs from the psychedelic era, because by that point they don't have that "oldies" sound that I'm using as my criteria (but a shout-out to "Spooky" by Classics IV from 1968 seems necessary).

So beginning with the glam rock of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the rockabilly revivalism of The Cramps, a new style of retro rock with campy horror themes emerged that had a very small foundation. I can imagine that perhaps rock and pop that had darker subjects (such as all those songs about teenagers dying in tragic accidents) also played a part in influencing these artists, but I think primarily they had to look at the very genres that these novelty songs sought to satirize in the first place.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pop culture at a standstill

Think for a moment. Besides the technology, what's really so different about today that makes it distinguishable from the '90s?

Here's the biggest changes I can think of: video games are much more complex, movie special effects have made leaps and bounds, portable computers are the norm, and the internet has changed the way we communicate and access information.
Aside from that, the biggest cultural change, I think, is our almost total abandonment of old-school cartooning, in favor of CG animation. Would you see a show like Animaniacs made today? Probably not. That sort of thing is slowly coming back again, but not so strongly as it did after Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

The world of entertainment tachnology is going strong, and progressing like a bullet train, and I'm totally in favor of it. But have you ever noticed how teenagers are still dressing like the latest blond diva or gangster rapper? Take a look at the comic strip Curtis- that kid has been dressing like a rapper since 1988, and his clothes are still in fashion. Perhaps clothes have become less colorful since the '90s, but I swear, I'm in my early twenties and I can't distinguish a kid from today from a kid I saw when I was eleven.

The 20th century tends to be subdivided into individual decades, and for good reason- they're clearly distinguishable from one another in regards to fashion, music, cinema, and the arts. You can always see a relationship between one decade and the next, and when you've done as much internet research as I have, they all start blurring together, but they're still distinguishable.
I didn't really find 2000-2009 terribly different from my childhood years of 1995-1999, culturally.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Finger on the pulse

Jaded fairy tale satire is on its way out.

Ironic retro futurism is in.

I'm predicting a darker and edgier old-school cartoon comeback once Epic Mickey comes out.

Melt your grandmother's wedding ring for CA$H!

Need money? Got some "worthless" gold jewelry lying around? Don't sell it at auction! Give it to us so we can melt it down and destroy priceless pieces of cultural history! It's totally not worth more intact, so don't sell it at a pawn shop or on eBay- you'll never get as much money, trust us*!

*This is a bald-faced lie. Cash4Gold is not responsible if you're a gullible schmuck.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Try and top THIS

I just realized that nostalgia is quite possibly in the top five of the most popular cultural phenomenons in the history of forever.

There's also the phenomenon of what I like to call "double nostalgia", which can be loosely described as being enthusiastic for a revivalist movement from the past. Like, say, reviving Pre-Raphaelite styles or 1970s retro rock, like "Crocodile Rock" or "The Time Warp".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Modern ghosts?

It's a curious thing: as far as I know, there are no ghosts who died in any time period after the 1950s or very early 1960s. We have some dating all the way back to Medieval times, but none from the '70s as far as I know...

The most recent ghosts I know of are Marilyn Monroe and possibly James Dean, whose car was supposedly cursed and caused several injuries or deaths before vanishing.

If you believe in ghosts, and I certainly am open to it, you could say that it takes several years before they appear or something like that, but these two examples don't really work with that theory. Personally, it seems to me that it's just because a ghost hippie simply wouldn't be very cool...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Confederate flags

If you prominently display a Confederate flag in whatever manner- like, say, hanging it up in your room or painting it on your guitar- as far as I'm concerned, you're supporting slavery. I don't know if it's the same as wearing plastic devil horns on your head or anything, but seriously... why would you even joke about it, just to look dangerous?

Why do you think they seceded in the first place? Isn't there a better way to show pride in your state in an edgy sort of manner without resorting to using a symbol of separatism?

I suppose I should talk, since I like skull and crossbones flags. But the original associations with them are long dead, and now we're more likely to associate it with Captain Jack Sparrow than real-life bloodthirsty thieves.

Ruin value

This is the ONLY good idea the Nazis ever had.

Mind you, they're still evil. But since this is an idea that isn't specifically tied to fascism (except, by a stretch, to their self-glorification), it's actually something I can get behind, in the context of creating beauty that lasts for millennia and leaving behind a legacy of artistry.

Too bad we don't have any giant blocks of stone lying around... at least ones that can be retrieved without damaging the environment.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Toon Music Special: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

"Stars and Stripes Forever", composed by John Philip Sousa in 1986 (briefly featured in an over-the-top rendition by a toon brass band in the Acme warehouse)-

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, S.244/2, composed by Franz Liszt in 1847. If there was a "national anthem" for toons, this would be one of the contenders. It first appeared in animation in Disney's 1929 short The Opry House, performed by Mickey Mouse. It's best known for appearing the Warner Bros. shorts Rhapsody in Rivets (1941) and Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), and MGM's The Cat Concerto (the same year- no one's sure who plagiarized who). It's been adapted to lyrics as "Freddy Get Ready" (sung by Bugs Bunny, Doris Day and Jack Carson) in My Dream is Yours (1949) and "Daffy Duck's Rhapsody" (1950, sung by you-know-who).

"Why Don't You Do Right?", written by Kansas Joe McCoy in 1936 (originally titled "Weed Smoker's Dream (Why Don't You Do Now)")-


"The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down", written by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin in 1937, best known as the theme tune of the Looney Tunes.


"Witchcraft", music by Cy Coleman, words by Carolyn Leigh, 1957 (exactly ten years after WFRR's 1947...)-


And finally, "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!", words by Chas O'Flynn and Jack Meskill, music by Max Rich, 1931. Disney probably chose the song because of its appearance in the '31 Merrie Melodie of the same name below:

Here's a little digression on the cartoon above:

And, the song itself-


That's all, folks!

Toon Music: "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady"

Look, I'm dancin'!

Written in 1917 by Walter Donaldson and Monty C. Brice, as featured in 1947's A Hare Grows in Manhattan. The song was also used as the title song of a 1950 Warner Bros. musical film:


Speaking of A Hare Grows in Manhattan, did you know that it was originally based on an illustrated feature in the Dec. 1945 issue of Coronet magazine?:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

My advice to everyone

One of top harsh lessons of reality is... being nice doesn't always work.

Yes, it helps- a lot- but there are those who find being nice foolish and even offensive, responding with contempt, mockery, and even aggression. Lucky for me I didn't learn this the hard way.

But my point is this: you can be the friendliest, most polite and courteous person alive, and while this will get you far, you will hit a brick wall if the person you're being nice dislikes you for any number of reasons. It isn't always justified, but let's face it- people tend to care more about finding people who agree with them and don't offend them than whether or not you're a nice guy.

Here's an example... say you're opening a door for a lady, and you smile and say "Good morning!" Sounds fail-safe, right? Now, let's say you wear a sleeveless shirt, and expose your many colorful and vibrant tattoos for all to see. What if the lady who you treat kindly really, really hates tattoos? She'll probably sneer at you.

Hyperbole, yes, but a lot of people are stubborn, whether they have a right to be or not. One thing I realized is that it's real easy to preach to the choir, but nigh impossible to preach to people who aren't in the choir.
If you wanna spread your message more, you're best off preaching to people who are thinking of joining the choir.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Twangshifters

I think Shaun Toman is officially one of my favorite guitarists now.

He plays stuff that I've only been able to hear in my head for a couple years now...

Magnatone vibrato

After acquainting myself with the sound of the Magnatone amps' "true vibrato" (which is awesome, by the way), I couldn't help but feel like I had heard it before. Like, in power pop or alternative music. My suspicion is that the musicians had either bought one- because, you know, lesser known vintage tube amps = rock cred- or that it was sitting around in the studio and they decided to play with it. There are two bands I can name that I'm pretty certain use it in their recordings: Letters to Cleo and Puffy AmiYumi. It's that distinctly wobbly sound that I'm thinking of...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Absolut Oxymoron

Vodka, now with açai, blueberry and pomegranate! It's got all three of the trendy antioxidant fruits! Wowsers! It must be healthy!


The viola d'amore's country cousin.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Greasy, fried flesh

I find it funny that Chik-fil-A has cows practically begging you to eat chicken instead of them, while Rally's has chickens who not only want you to eat them, but eat each other and make this a requirement to join their sick, cannibalistic society.

They're total opposites, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More random thoughts about music

I think Led Zeppelin is the pioneer of folk metal. Just listen to "The Battle of Evermore" and you'll see what I mean.

Also, is it just me, or does every reggae song by a English white guy sound more structurally interesting than the real deal? I mean, yes, Bob Marley is a pioneer, and I give him all the credit in the world and my appreciation, but stuff like Elton John's "Jamaica Jerk-Off", Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er", Paul McCartney's "C Moon", and Neil Innes' "Take Away" keeps my interest longer.

Amp distortion vs. pedal distortion

It's been my observation that, unless it's a ginormous stack of Marshalls (or a vintage Supro), a tube amp's distortion can't get much heavier than late '60s hard rock- and that doesn't include people like Hendrix, Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if you wanna get punk/metal distortion without blowing your ears off, you gotta get an amp with some sort of built-in distortion or a distortion pedal.

Speaking of incapability of metal, has anyone else noticed that the video for Taranchula's "Moving Very Slowly" has a Danelectro guitar in it? I'm pretty sure lipstick tube pickups- traditional ones, anyway- aren't hot enough for death metal.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John K

While I don't dislike John K as a person, as an artist he just turns me off, to tell you the truth. What he does is really just what underground comics did twenty years before Ren and Stimpy, and probably better...

See, my real problem with his art is that he can somehow make the music video for Weird Al's "Close But No Cigar" more violent and disturbing than "Weasel Stomping Day".

I've seen his blog and his comments on Looney Tunes, Preston Blair, and classic cartoons of many eras and mediums, and I must say that he has incredibly good taste when it comes to cartoons. He knows exactly how and why they work and what makes them good, different, and entertaining. I actually agree with the things he says! But from what I've observed, he doesn't apply these methods and philosophies to his own work- it's like the creative side of his brain refuses to listen to the logical side of his brain- what comes out of his pencil doesn't seem to reflect his knowledge and appreciation. He could draw well if he wanted to, but instead he just does everything squishy and distorted and lacking in basic construction.

Instead, in my opinion, he just rips off Bob Clampett and makes what he did as ugly and gross as possible, and makes the gags as disgusting and perverse as possible. Throw in some Basil Wolverton (never one of my favorites), Harvey Kurtzman and Robert Crumb, and you've basically got John K.

Here's the thing: while Clampett did some really insane, weird, and totally whacked-out drawings and gags, none of them fell into the category of gross-out humor. Clampett didn't refer to all the bodily functions and twist once innocent aspects of pop culture into something dark and sick- satire teases culture, it doesn't twist it to its own desires. Clampett just threw out rules of logic and Disney-style refinement and appeal.
And before you say anything, my opinion has nothing to do with a "safe and sanitized upbringing" or anything like that... Even as a small child I found Ren and Stimpy gross and barely watchable, simply because it was... well, gross. I only watched it when nothing else was on. Unlike other children, I didn't find any humor in poop and huge zits and farts- I just found it gross. It makes me wonder if most children try to soften the grossness of bodily functions by laughing at it...

(It's my theory that gross-out humor stems from nervous laughter in reaction to discomfort caused by a fart or a Garbage Pail Kids card, which is then falsely interpreted as genuine laughter. Over time, it becomes a conditioned response.)

I don't think John K's work is very original, either. I go by the philosophy of "there's nothing new under the sun", so it bugs me when they treat him like a pioneer or something, when, like I said, it's just a combination of childish potty humor and Clampett-ish animation. It gets worse when so many other artists copy him down to the last detail, which I doubt is what he ever wanted.
(I admit, though, that I liked his parodies of 1950s advertising and his use of vintage stock music.)

I prefer to go back to the original and actually try to capture some of its essence- I think it's a bad idea to only refer to the art and music of the past five or ten years (to use hyperbole), or even less than that.

Because of this, I find his criticisms of Tiny Toon Adventures to be rather ironic. According to Wikipedia (I wish they would include links to their citations in this case), he dislikes it mainly because the characters are directly based on Looney Tunes characters. Okay, so maybe they're essentially younger versions of them (no one ever said Tiny Toons was a masterpiece), but I personally find them distinguishable enough to not confuse them... it's not like they're the same thing as Baby Looney Tunes. But just because his characters are less specific- Ren is the angry straight man with a Peter Lorre voice, and Stimpy is your typical childish idiot with a Larry Fine voice- doesn't mean he's any less derivative.
He also has a problem with the fact that so many episodes were parodies of popular films. What, and Looney Tunes didn't do that? Parody is one of the staples of Looney Tunes humor. And can John K claim that he never parodied anything? I don't think so...

Myself, I never color myself as a pioneer when it comes to art- more of a "revivalist" than anything. I use art from the past as a springboard for my own ideas. I honestly think that artists should be more honest about themselves and admit that they take inspiration from other people...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Animated masterpieces

The Thief and the Cobbler is like the Yngwie Malsteem of animation. Extremely impressive, masterful, and technical, but a little lightweight on the emotion and storytelling.

Fantasia, on the other hand, is like Jimi Hendrix. Extremely experimental and colorful.

Pinocchio, I would say, is like Brian May, full of passion and emotion and grandeur.

The Lion King is B.B. King- soulful and emotional, yet fundamentally simple.

The Secret of NIMH is Robert Johnson- raw and bleeding, yet masterful.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is Brian Setzer. Madcap and old-school!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Early Beatles chord structures

One thing I'm beginning to notice about songs by the Beatles from approximately 1962 to 1965- the moptop era, more or less- is that they use the iii chord far more often than any other music writers I know.

For those of you who have a basic knowledge of music theory, you may remember that the iii chord is the least used diatonic chord in major keys. For those who don't know, the iii chord is the second chord in these examples, the first chord representing the root or key of a song: E to G#m, A to C#m, D to F#m, etc.

So perhaps this is one of the reasons why their tunes from this period sound so unusual compared to all other forms of pop music. Being rather unfamiliar with how chords other than the I, IV, V, and iv chords worked under normal circumstances (not to say that I didn't try to go beyond them...) until recently, even I never really thought of using the iii chord.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Non-Questionable Advertising: Tito's Tacos

This may not be the most expensive, clever or original commercial, but darnit, if it isn't successful!

Catchy jingle, charming elderly large-mustachioed Tito... it all makes you wanna go down to Tito's and get a taco. AND WE DON'T EVEN LIKE TACOS.

Friday, April 30, 2010

High-on-life metal

Stoner metal without the aid of marijuana.

Feel free to use this term.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yes, captain.

You know, I have this curious memory of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation late at night with my grandma as a little kid and wondering why everyone was calling each other "captain". Does anyone have an explanation for this?

Also, the series introduced me to the concept of acting. My mom tells me that I looked at LeVar Burton playing Geordi La Forge and asked, "Mom, why is the Reading Rainbow guy on a spaceship?"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to cut and paste in Mac OS X

Two words: Adobe Bridge.

It's got all the advantages of Windows Explorer without the instability!

Friday, April 9, 2010


You guys don't look at the links on the About page, do you?

Commission: Smartass
by ~tymime on deviantART

Dollars of Delight for a Dime
by ~tymime on deviantART

Bloody Groundhog Day poster
by ~tymime on deviantART

Vintage Chuckola Cola Ad
by ~tymime on deviantART

Alvaro of the Sea - Alvaro WIP
by ~tymime on deviantART

Viridian the Rat
by ~tymime on deviantART

They're Coming
by ~tymime on deviantART

More stuff about pedals ...and pedalboards

After doing some research, I can see that there was a lot I didn't know about the order in which I wanted all the effects I want to be connected. I'm still gonna have to look up each and every pedal to make sure of the sort of power supply I need (it actually didn't occur to me that I would need one at all), but I think I've cleaned up my plans a bit now.

Thing is, it's also pretty darn confusing sometimes. The article I used as reference said I needed a buffer- and gave me very good reasons why- but I was saying to myself, "Okay, I know what a buffer does, but what in God's name does one LOOK like?? Who makes them, anyway?"
I looked it up and immediately found what I believe I'm looking for. Not only that, it seems like I've taken care of finding a buffer, a clean boost, and a treble booster all in one fell swoop! (Although I realize now that if I really want to just merely boost my guitar's treble frequencies, I'd have to get an EQ pedal, which is not something I really want.)

Now if only I could figure out where to put it in the signal chain and whether or not I still need the clean boost I had found earlier...

My problem is that I'm not actually going to be able to put all these effects together for years, perhaps, because of my budget. I'm just trying to plan ahead, that's all- I'm finally deciding what I want to sound like!

On a related note, I'm not really sure why anyone would want to diminish the effects of their fuzz by putting a buffer in between your wah and your fuzz, or even putting those Foxrox Wah Retrofit things in. It sounds very strange to me. But I guess since I'm such a huge Hendrix fan, an untouched wah/fuzz combo is exactly what I want!

Also, I still don't know what the f$%^ an "effects loop" is. No one's explained it to me. When I think of "loops" in relation to music, I think of "Tomorrow Never Knows" and stuff like that- so the term confuses me. So far no one's given me any reason at all for wanting to use one, so quite frankly I don't care if I never find out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Rolling Stones = the fathers of punk?

Here's how I see it:

The Rolling Stones come out as an alternative to The Beatles, with a bad boy image and a simpler, more blues-oriented sound.

Just about every garage band in existence, from approximately 1965 to 1967, tries to imitate them. Just try to find one whose lead singer doesn't sound at least vaguely like Mick Jagger!

Most of these bands wind up on the Nuggets compilation.

Most first-wave punk bands take inspiration from this compilation. (This of course excludes bands that are inspired by MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, and the New York Dolls.)

And there you go!

Actually, it would seem that The Ramones are an exception to this, clearly taking inspiration from more poppy groups like The Beatles, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and girl groups produced by Phil Spector. But that's one reason I like them- ultimately I prefer catchy tunes over ranting and raving.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Drone doom

Meditative AND creepy!

The trouble with modern rock music, from a Christian's point of view

It's very annoying trying to find an awesome rock band of some punk, metal or alternative genre- basically, anything that isn't AM pop music from the late '70s onward- and not being able to understand the lyrics.

See, I generally have a relatively high tolerance of what I see or hear when it comes to pop culture. These are my limitations:

  • Sex: Innuendo is okay by me, but getting explicit is going too far and I don't like anything violent, overly aggressive, or homosexual. Thing is, most classic rock is either about partying or mutual fornication so it's kinda hard to avoid that- but if it glorifies lust and the objectifying of women, then I don't like it.

  • Drugs: Meh. Drugs don't interest me, so I doubt anyone can really say anything about it that will offend me. It frequently results in immoral behavior, though.

  • Violence: Jackie Chan movies are ideal. No gore, please!

  • Politics: As long as you're not a right-wing or left-wing lunatic- I usually prefer slightly left- and don't scream in rage and swear all the time, I can tolerate it. Crass is about as much as I can stand.

  • Religion: I wouldn't be caught dead listening to a Satanic and/or anti-Christian band. I have no interest in other religions besides Christianity.

  • Swearing: Don't overdo it.

  • Horror: See everything above.


Coffee is an acquired taste.

Why do I say that?

Well, over the years I've taken a liking to coffee more and more. At first, as a young teenager, I only liked things like coffee-flavored candy and ice cream, and I certainly like coffee cake (although those don't necessarily have coffee in them). Soon after, I took to having coffee with lots and lots of cream and sugar to emulate those desserts- which I'm sure a lot of younger people do- and I certainly had no qualms about those fancy-schmancy coffees served at Starbucks and such with all that whipped cream and chocolate and vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg and other miscellaneous flavorings normally associated with Christmas. I certainly do like mochas.
Thing is, over the years I've gotten used to the flavor of coffee, and have gradually lessened the amount of cream and sugar that I put in it. As of now I put at the very least three half-and-half creamers and about two small scoops of sugar in it- the minimum amount to cool the temperature to something that won't burn my tastebuds, and to disguise the bitter flavor of black coffee. I seriously doubt that I'll ever switch to pure black coffee.

I've even come to know what sort of coffee I like- anything that doesn't say "dark" or "french" in the name. Those taste burnt. From what I've had at the free samples at Trader Joe's, I like anything from exotic places like South America or some island that hovers around the equator, or something domestic, but not generic like Folger's. For some reason the latter tends to be Southwestern. Curiously enough, Trader Joe's Diner Blend seems to make what would normally be crummy, generic big-name-brand coffee and makes it actually taste good.
I've also taken a liking to iced coffee. I don't think there are any brands out there that don't have milk and sugar in them already, so I don't really have any preference. They have a ton of them in the local Japanese markets, so it would seem that the Japanese are crazy about it- I almost never see so many different brands of the same product in the same place!
There's also this brand of coffee soda called Java Pop, which is nice.

I don't think coffee affects my wakefulness at all- at least not noticeably so. The only time I ever feel hyper is after having large amounts of cane sugar- cane sugar, mind you, not corn syrup- especially cane sugar soda in glass bottles.
Although recently I made the mistake of having my own homemade iced coffee (I stuck a cup of it in the freezer) sometime in the late evening, and that gave me some pretty bad jitters.

Ultimately coffee isn't my first choice when it comes to sweet drinks, but I will have it at every opportunity. I certainly don't rely on it to wake myself up, because I definitely don't want to become an addict... I've got my own methods of waking myself up, and I feel fine once I do it.

UPDATE: Having taken note of my newfound interest in coffee, my mom recently bought me a small Mr. Coffee machine for me to use. We bought some "Smooth and Mellow" blend from Trader Joe's to grind, which has been very satisfactory. I've taken to having at least two cups per week, which I'm sure is WAY under the average amount...

UPDATE2: Chicory coffee is pretty nice. Not the best, since its darker and needs more sugar to suit my taste than usual, but still.
Actually, it seems that coffee makes me relaxed more than anything. I dunno if it's a placebo effect due to this story Criswell told me about a guy who gets sleepy when he has caffeine- he would be out like a light if he had an energy drink- but it's rather nice, and certainly better than being made jittery.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Curtis is psychic

I haven't been reading the comics much lately, so I dunno, maybe I'm missing something, but that's what it looks like.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


For some reason I've been having strong emotional reactions to overly sentimental pop ballads that are supposed to satirical of their style. It would seem that they're parodying the style a little too well.


  • "Elenore" by The Turtles (this one was definitely done too well- it was a huge hit.)

  • "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye" by The Juicy Fruits (Gaahhh, Eddie sacrificed himself for his little sister!! Waaaaahhh!!!)

  • "Where's Gary?" and "My Tighty Whiteys" by Spongebob and the Hi-Seas (if only they weren't about a snail and his underwear.)

Does anyone else feel this way or am I just that big a sap?

Oh no, not you too, Disney...

[caption id="attachment_777" align="aligncenter" width="792" caption="You must join the cult of the Firefox."][/caption]

Gee, I dunno, how about coding your page so that it displays correctly in ALL BROWSERS?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My final word on the Twilight franchise

You know, my problem with Twilight is not so much that it throws everything I find cool about vampires- traditions established centuries ago- out the window, or that everything I hear about the story itself makes it sound like a bad fanfiction writer's first attempt at something original. That's bad enough as it is, but...

What I really have a problem with is that if a Twilight fangirl met a real, Dracula-esque vampire... the vampire would win.

What this says about the moral depravity of today's young women is staggering.

Friday, March 26, 2010

6-string and 12-string basses

I don't like modern 6-string basses. Not only do they tend to be ugly, they either have four three-or-more-string courses- which seems pretty pointless to me, since it's application would be extremely limited- or they have six individual strings with the same thickness of a regular four-string, requiring the neck to be like three inches wide and look like a wooden plank with metal rods hovering over it. This makes them extremely unwieldy- your hands would have to be extremely flexible and dexterous to maneuver the fretboard. It just looks plain silly to me.

Now, 6-string basses from the '60s are a different matter altogether. The most famous one is probably the Fender VI, which I came to know about through it's use by John on the Let It Be album whenever Paul was playing piano. Now, the difference between a vintage 6-string and a modern 6-string is that a vintage one has approximately the same neck width of a normal guitar, but it uses a longer scale length, slightly thicker strings, and is of course tuned an octave below a regular guitar. So there's an obvious advantage to this: there's no need to train your fingers in order to play it if you're already familiar with a guitar neck.
Now, when it comes to guitars, my brother prefers wider necks because he learned to play guitar on a nylon string guitar. In contrast, I learned to play a tiny 1960s Silvertone acoustic, so I prefer thinner necks (although I can handle classical guitars and Gretsch guitars just fine). But there's a limit to how much width my brother's hands can take when playing guitar or bass, so a modern 6-string is out the question. None of them are aesthetically appealing to us anyway...
See, the plan is for my brother to eventually learn and compose some very technical basslines, which of course would include making use of bass' entire range. With an old-school 6-string, that range can be expanded even further, even going as far as using guitar techniques- not to mention the potential for using huge and heavy chords.
Thing is- every recording I've heard of a vintage 6-string is nigh indistinguishable from a regular vintage bass, save for the high notes, of course.