Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Yakov Smirnoff

Remember Yakov Smirnoff? I don't. But, I do remember a period of time when it suddenly became popular to imitate his comedy routine, in which things in Soviet Russia do things to you, instead of the other way around.

"In Soviet Russia, old-school blog read you."

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

Lemmings Commit Mass Suicides by Jumping off of Cliffs


The phrase, "don't be a lemming" is often used similarly to "don't be a sheep". It's a derogatory, meaning, "don't just follow the heard without thinking for yourself". "Lemming", however, can have a worse connotation than "sheep", the idea being that lemmings ritualistically follow each other to their own deaths, off of cliffs, and into the sea. The irony here, is that lemmings don't actually do this. It could be said that someone who uses the phrase "don't be a lemming" is being a lemming, in that the phrase is based on an urban legend that isn't true.

There were studies done showing rapid declines in lemming populations. One hypothesis to this mystery, was that perhaps lemmings had some ingrained self destructive instinct. A Disney nature film called "White Wilderness" attempted to depict this, by staging lemming suicides. The film makers purchased lemmings, and filmed them forcedly falling into a river (supposedly the Arctic Sea). The narrator explained that the lemmings were following migratory instincts from an age where migrating in that direction would have once brought them to land, but now only leads to death by sea.

It is now known that lemmings do not in fact migrate off cliffs, as staged in this Disney video, but years of classrooms using this video as an educational video has left this idea ingrained in people's minds.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Wise of the Wabbit

The history of Looney Tunes
If you were a viewer of J-Dubb's Theatre videos, you may remember a video I did a few years ago, where I talked about the history of Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons. It was the video where an anvil fell on my head, and I saw little birdies flying around. As a history buff, I find it interesting to go back to the old song and dance, Bosko cartoons, and trace them forward through time, until I start to see a familiar picture unfold. Since I know a little more about the subject now, than I did before, I thought I'd write about it.

One thing that I didn't know at the time that I made the video, is that it all started with a small-time cartoonist, named Walt Disney. Now days, you know Disney as the mega corporation that owns 75% of everything there is. But back when young Walt owned a small animation studio that was struggling to get by, he employed two animators by the names Hugh Harmon and Rudolph Ising.

Disney made a deal with Universal, pitching a new character named Oswald the rabbit. Harmon and Ising, who had previously estranged from Disney in a failed attempt to start their own animation studio, returned to animate Oswald cartoons for Disney. Eventually, Universal ended their contract with Disney. Harman and Ising continued to animate Oswald for Universal, and Disney, no longer holding the rights to Oswald, was forced to come up with a mouse character to replace Oswald. Poor Disney.

Let's face it. Oswald was a long-eared Mickey.

Eventually, Universal started their own animation studio, putting Harmon and Ising out of work. The duo went to Leon Schlesinger from Warner Brother's studios, and pitched a new character named Bosko. They created a cutting edge animation, in which Bosko, from his page on the drawing easel, interacts with his live action animator. This impressed Schlesinger, who hired the pair to create Bosko cartoons for a series called "Looney Tunes", a play on the name of Disney's "Silly Symphonies".
Bosko was, well...  essentially a black-face character who, at first, spoke in stereotypical 1920s "black speech". After the first cartoon, however, they gave him more of a high pitched voice, similar to Mickey's. The first cartoon, "Sinking in the Bathtub", began with Bosko, taking a bath while singing "Singing in the bathtub". He then winds up his Model T, and drives to his girlfriend, Honey, who is also singing in the bathtub. Honey joins Bosko on a wacky road trip.

Meanwhile, Schlesinger and the animation team were contracted to start a second animation studio, Merry Melodies. Merry Melodies cartoons were intended to showcase Warner Brother's music. The first few cartoons featured a cast of characters, but the studio eventually decided that Merry Melodies would not feature recurring characters, like their Looney Tunes counterpart. After a few years, Merry Melodies began to produce cartoons in color, while Looney Tunes would continue in black in white for some time.

Harmon and Ising animated Bosko for the Warner Brother's from 1930 to 1933, when they split from the WB, taking the rights for Bosko with them. Meanwhile, Warner Brother's studios needed a new star for their Looney Tunes cartoons. The replacements for Bosko and Honey, were Buddy and Cookie; essentially, whiter, duller versions of Bosko and Honey. Their first cartoon even featured Buddy and Cookie taking a road trip in their Model T, as if to reboot the Bosko cartoons.
Buddy and Cookie were the worst things to come out of Warner Brother's cartoon studios. They were dull. Watching Buddy cartoons, I find myself vocalizing, "What even is the point of  this cartoon?" Audiences of the 1930s agreed with me.

Warner Brothers needed to ditch Buddy. While still creating Buddy cartoons for Looney Tunes, the animators created a Merrie Melodies cartoon called, "Haven't got a Hat". The film was inspired by the Little Rascals, featuring a group of kids performing for a school talent show, including Beans the Cat, Porky Pig, and others. This cartoon essentially doubled as an audition of characters to potentially replace Buddy.
Beans the Cat was chosen to be the next Looney Tune star. At this point, the style of Looney Tunes cartoons began to change. In the beginning, the cartoons mostly revolved around the music. Animations would dance, cannons would expand cartoonishly, and fire off to the beat, sandwiches would sing, ect. With Beans, cartoons became more plot focused.

Beans, in his cartoons, would pair off with other characters from "Haven't got a Hat", including Porky. Beans was short lived, however, as animators realized that audiences preferred Porky. Beans and the other "Haven't got a Hat" characters were phased out, and Porky became the solo star of  Looney Tunes cartoons.

With Porky, Looney Tunes finally had a success. During this time, Porky went through a lot of changes. In "Haven't got a hat", he was depicted as a school child, and his stuttering voice was a sped up recording. In his second appearance, he was an adult with a deep voice. The original reason for Porky's stutter, is that his voice actor, Joe Dougherty stuttered. By the time Mel Blanc replaced Dougherty, becoming the more iconic voice of Porky, the stutter had become synonymous with the character. Porky's design and age changed from artist to artist, until all artists came to agree on one design.
One day, Porky decided to go duck hunting, where he found himself tormented by a goofy, insane duck. Apparently, this wacky duck was unlike anything that had been seen in a cartoon up to this point, and audiences wanted more. Meanwhile, the contract with Merry Melodies, requiring the studio to showcase WB music, ended. Merry Melodies introduced a character named Egghead. In his third appearance, Egghead was paired with the newly named Daffy Duck, in a cartoon very similar to Porky's Duckhunt.
Daffy went back to Looney Tunes, partnering up with Porky. Audiences liked Daffy even better than Porky. Before long, Daffy became the Looney Tunes star. The animators could have phased Porky out, as had happened with Beans, but Porky had become too beloved as a character. Instead, they paired him with Daffy as the straight man and the funny man, a style of humor that refined Looney Tunes humor even more into the brand that we're familiar with.

In one cartoon, Daffy and Porky jumped out of paintings within the live action Warner Brother's studio, where Daffy made a deal with the studio to make him the star instead of Porky. This is somewhat poetic, as the old Looney Tunes era was ushered in by Bosko interacting with his live-action animator, the new era of Looney Tunes, symbolized by Daffy, was similarly ushered in by Daffy interacting with the animators. This also signified a personality change, in which Daffy became less the insane hooting and hollering duck, and more the glory seeking, quick to anger Daffy.

While Daffy was being introduced, Porky starred in a cartoon called "Porky's Hare Hunt", setting him opposite a crazy white rabbit. This white rabbit was featured again in a Merrie Melodies cartoon. No longer restricted to the black and white of Looney Tunes, he was recolored as a gray and white rabbit, and paired with Egghead, in a familiar "foiling the hunter" series of gags.

The gray and white rabbit appeared in a cartoon with a character named Elmer, who looked a lot like Egghead, and dressed like Egghead, but spoke with a peculiar lisp, substituting W's for R's and L's.
From here, a grey and white anthropomorphic rabbit was designed with a Bronx accent and much more laid back personality than the proto-Bug's rabbit. Elmer Fudd was redesigned as a hunter and placed as the antagonist to, and recipient of, Bug's Bunny's gags. Bug's became the star of Merrie Melodies. After they started producing cartoons in color, Looney Tunes began producing Bug's Bunny cartoons, and Merrie Melodies began producing Daffy and Porky cartoons, and the two studios became interchangeable. Eventually, Bug's Bunny stole the role of "Star of Looney Tunes".

More characters were added to the roster, such as Sylvester and Tweety, Foghorn Leghorn, Coyote and Roadrunner, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, and Marvin the Martian. Today, all these characters are referred to under the blanket term "Looney Tunes", with Bug's Bunny being the figurehead.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Monday, August 03, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Don S. Davis

Don S. Davis, 1942 - 2008, known for roles such as Air Force General George Hammond, from Stargate SG1, and Air Force Major Garland Briggs from Twin Peaks.  Above, you can see him pictured in his role as General Hammond...  or is that Major Briggs?

Friday, July 31, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

Hand sanitizer may combust if left in a hot car.


A fire district in Wisconsin posted a warning that clear plastic bottles left in your car can act as a magnifier for sunlight, and potentially start a fire. They later warned about keeping hand sanitizer in direct sunlight, for the same reason, adding that hand sanitizer is flammable. Several news stories picked up on this, reporting that hand sanitizer left in a hot car  may combust. This was combined with an image of a melted car door, which is not linked to hand sanitizer or clear plastic bottles.

This fire department later stated that the warning was intended to be about leaving clear plastic bottles in sunlight, not exploding hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer in and of itself will not explode in a hot car.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Occupiers are Leaving Portland

Federal Officers Downtown Portland

These last few weeks have been interesting.

...Funny. It's 2020, and I just said "these last few weeks have been interesting".

Anyways, it's been interesting, these last few weeks, seeing a lot of people who are nowhere near Portland, talk about what's been happening in Portland. Towards the beginning of July, Federal agents were sent with riot gear to quell the uprising of militant anarchists and Antifa terrorists who had taken control of Portland, and were destroying the city... 

Only, for me and my wife, as well as many other people around the area, our own eyes told us a different story. We've been all over Portland, both sides of the river, and have yet to find evidence of militant anarchists or terrorists destroying the city. The courthouse in downtown Portland has been heavily graffitied. Images of the graffitied courthouse are what news outlets like to tout as "Portland being destroyed". Anybody unfamiliar with the area, would not necessarily realize that these are images of one building, not a city.

For perspective, here's the city of Portland vs where the courthouse is.

A few days before the 4th of July, shortly after the Feds began arriving, there was a night where shit essentially hit the fan. There was a clash between protestors and Feds, in which some individuals began shooting fireworks at the agents. This lead to the agents taking refuge in the courthouse, inside which a fire was ignited by the fireworks. This is the incident news sources refer to repeatedly, in reporting on the "riots  in Portland". A funny thing that I discovered, was that news sites which prefer to spread the narrative of "Portland under siege by militarized anarchists" liked to word this as "launching explosives", "arson", or "fire-bombing", instead of "4th of July fireworks obviously purchased in Vancouver, because the ones sold in Oregon barely do anything".

Protests have been underway in Downtown Portland, ever since George Floyd's murder. Prior to the Feds arriving, protests had dwindled down to 100 or so people. Since the arrival of the Feds, protests had sprung up to thousands of people, including mom groups, dad groups, grandpa groups, teacher groups, lawyer groups, and veteran groups. Each night, the protest plays out like a big dance party in front of the courthouse, with music and barbeque, until the troops begin launching tear gas canisters into the crowds. People with homemade shields try to volley the tear gas away from the crowds, while dads with leaf blowers blow the gas, quite successfully, back toward the troops. This occurs until the Feds and police emerge from the gas clouds, and begin to push the protestors back. According to OPB, even some of the Federal Officers were admitting that their actions were only escalating violence amongst the crowds.

It can be frustrating seeing know-it-alls all over social media talking about something contrary to what I'm actually seeing. But where it gets particularly "funny" is when people who aren't even in the state  of Oregon try to argue with me about what's happening in Portland. Always with that sarcastic political tone, "And, I suppose the courthouse set itself on fire?" If they were to ask me respectfully to explain it, I would explain it. But if they hold the attitude that what they read on the Internet from their arm chair is more valid than what I've actually experienced, I typically respond, "I read somewhere that they blew off my left arm". To them, what I'm watching in my back yard is just another topic for squabble between the left and the right, just another political game to play.

Trump, from the opposite coast, has even claimed that the moms and dads groups are really anarchists pretending to be moms and dads.

A group of militant anarchists

The part that particularly gets to me, is the attempt to discredit the veterans. Some people speculate that they must be phony, and others call them disgraces. The same people who love to use veterans as political fodder to serve their purposes, claiming to honor and respect veterans, will throw veterans under the bus the minute they no longer serve their political bias.

All that said, no matter what people outside of Portland are saying, or how right they believe themselves to be, Oregon's leadership has finally managed to get rid of the Feds.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Orville Redenbacher

I'm not typically a big fan of popcorn, but this actually makes me want popcorn.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

Scientists recreated a T-Rex embryo using chicken DNA

I was hoping there would be some sort of misconstrued truth behind this story, like maybe, scientists looked into the similarities between Rexxy and chickens, and the whole story got blown out of proportion due to a misleading headline, or something. But it turns out the whole thing is just the fabrication of a gag news site, that got taken seriously, and the story comes back up every now and again. Kind of like how your Aunt copy and pastes warnings about Facebook hackers every two years.

On that note, don't forget, I once started my own campaign to breed back the dinosaurs: You May See Dinosaurs in Your Lifetime

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tale of the White Wyvern
Tale of the White Wyvern is a text based, high fantasy, sword and magic adventure mini-MMO that you can play with your friends! White Wyvern is a throwback to old school BBS games, like Legend of the Red Dragon.

Follow this link to defend the town of Wyrmdoor from the legendary White Wyvern:

But, be sure to prepare yourself by training to level up, chatting with players and NPCs, upgrading your weapons and armor, or taking a break to go fishing. Also, you may want to use the outhouse from time to time.

Follow the White Wyvern on Twitter, but don't make him angry. @the_whitewyvern

You can even purchase White Wyvern merch

Monday, July 20, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Roach

While posting my past videos to this blog's archives, I realized that Roach is my favorite J-Dubble. Floyd seems to be the most popular, along with Roger LeBlanc, and Professor Glenn Robbins. But Roach, despite his vacant exterior, seems to be the most loyal and helpful J-Dubble. When I had been indoctrinated into clown-hood, it was Roach who took action to make me right again. And when the other J-Dubbles didn't remember who I was, Roach was the one who reminded everyone.