Monday, November 30, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Shy Guy

The most iconic character of the American version of Super Mario 2, Shy Guy, has survived three decades as a member of the cast of Super Mario Bros characters. In fact, these days, Shy Guy is generally depicted as one of Bowser's minions, despite that Super Mario 2 featured a completely different antagonist from Bowser, and the entire game turned out to be Mario having a dream in the end.

As a kid, I always wondered why Mario 2 was so different from any other Mario game; a completely different cast of bad guys, enemies that you can hop on and ride, or pick up and throw, rather than enemies that die when you hop on them, pulling vegetables from the ground instead of hitting blocks in the air, a life meter, digging levels instead of swimming levels, selectable characters with different abilities, no fire flowers, no two-player mode, and a very distinct Middle Eastern vibe. 

 

Eventually, I found out that this is because, America's Mario 2 wasn't the actual Mario 2. Nintendo of America felt that Japan's Super Mario Brothers 2, which was identical in appearance to, but much more difficult from the original Super Mario Brothers, would be too difficult for Westerners. So, they took a completely different game, an Arabian themed game called "Doki Doki Panic", reskinned the playable characters into Mario characters, and released it in the U.S. as "Super Mario Brothers 2".

So, Shy Guy, despite being a character designed for a completely different game, has survived for three decades as a Mario character, and been adopted as one of Bowser's minions.

Also, when I first saw Shy Guy as a kid, I thought he was a walking loaf of bread with a face.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Request From 2007

 

There's a particular tune I've been trying to figure out since I was in High School, over two decades ago. Something from my childhood that I just can't figure out where it's from.

Back in 2007, I filmed a video in three clips, in which I play the tune on a keyboard. I intended to edit the video into one clip, upload it to YouTube as a private video, and send the link to my friend Adam, who I grew up with, to see if he recognized the tune. I never actually got around to doing this, and the three video clips have been sitting around in a file on my computer ever since. 

The other day, I was organizing my files, and came across these three clips, so I decided, "what the hell". After all these years, I edited them together and uploaded them to YouTube as an unlisted video, and sent the link to Adam, despite the fact that we've already discussed this since the time that I filmed the video. I also decided to add some background music that I commonly used in my videos in 2007-2008, just to give it that 2007sy touch.

What do you think it is? It has an 8-bit sound to it, with a pulsing beat. My thoughts are, either some old game, either NES or Arcade, or some local (Portland metro area) commercial for a dealership or furniture store, or something. Leave a comment if this tune is familiar to you.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Captain Bartholomew Gosnold

It's Thanksgiving week in the United States, so I thought I would feature someone who you've likely never heard of, despite the fact that he's only the guy who started the English migration to the Americas in the first place.

Everybody who grew up in the United States, grew up with the Thanksgiving story, about how the ancestors of the U.S. migrated to the Americas to escape religious persecution, sat down and had a lovely turkey dinner with the locals, then one two skip a few, and suddenly there's thirteen colonies going to war with the British.

Of course, if your history background is a little more extensive than what you learned in grade school, then you might be aware that Virginia colony was already well established in North America by the time our Thanksgiving pilgrims made their trek across the Atlantic, which is where our whole "Jamestown, John Smith, Poccahontas" story comes in. Actually, everything in North America that was claimed by the British was referred to as "Virginia" at the time. That is until John Smith, having been banned from Virginia colony, mapped the northern part of this area, and gave a little sales pitch to would-be English settlers, calling the newly charted area "New England". 

Many Puritan settlers had already migrated to Virginia colony for the promise of religious freedom. The pilgrims who boarded the Mayflower, agreed to partake in John Smith's New England project, starting a new colony in the New England territory, rather than settling in the already established Virginia colony. If anything, the Thanksgiving story is the story of why we have a "United States" rather than simply a "State of Virginia".

After the U.S. Civil War, the Union decided to focus on a northern based origin story for the United States, rather than a southern one, and so Thanksgiving was established, focusing on the pilgrims who migrated to New England, rather than the earlier foundation of the southern state of Virginia.

So now, I have written out an entire article, and haven't even mentioned the Superstar of the Week, yet. Basically, Bartholowmew Gosnold was the guy who had the vision of establishing an English colony in America. He started a company called the Virginia Company, and convinced the government and many would-be settlers that prosperity would be found by establishing a colony in America. John Smith referred to him as the "prime mover" of Virginia Colony. Once they reached  Virginia, Bartholowmew Gosnald became the first governor of Jamestown.

He dreamed of a happy utopia built by a union of  English colonists and native Americans. Of  course, it didn't quite go that way, as the natives were quite fine with their way of life, and not particularly interested in conforming to Engish civilization. And, the English weren't quite interested in taking "no" for an answer. But, Bartholowmew would never know this, as he only lived for a year after arriving in Virginia.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Blast From the Past

The Socrates 80s Educational Game Console

 

A friend of mine shared this video with me, which took me back a ways. In 1988, my family moved up to Oregon from California. The Nintendo Entertainment System was the latest and greatest thing that everyone had to have. I think I remember mentioning that I wanted video games for Christmas, or something. Sure enough, that Christmas I got a video game console. It was not an NES, or even an Atari. It was a Socrates educational console. 

This is where you may be expecting me to tell you how disappointed I was that I got a Go-Bot instead of a Transformer, like a spoiled ungrateful little punk first-worlder. No! I liked Go-Bots. Go-Bots were cool in a lesser than Transformers sort of way, and Socrates was cool in a lesser than Nintendo sort of way. I was excited to have some sort of gaming console that I could hook up to my TV like Nintendo.

Socrates had math games, and word games, and a hang-man, a music feature, and a "Super Painter", which was pretty much a rudimentary version of MS Paint. There were even cartridges we could purchase, which you could plug in for additional games. I had one that had really tough algebra that nobody could figure out. It also had a wireless control, which was pretty much a long bar with a keyboard and two pop-out controllers on the sides.

I pretty much gravitated toward the Super Painter, and also enjoyed the hang man game, which had different levels in which Socrates, an adorable little robot knockoff of Johnny 5, journeys from his home planet to Earth. There was also a two player game which involved competing Socrateses on a game board. I pretty much ignored the math and spelling games, but my friend Adam enjoyed them. He even spent a lot of time trying to solve the algebra game, even though we were fourth graders. He says he thought Socrates was cool because it was  different.

The next year, I got an actual Nintendo for Christmas, and Socrates became a dust collector. 


 

Monday, November 02, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Sean Connery

 Raise your hand, if you totally missed Sean Connery's passing on Halloween a few days ago. Maybe you've heard about it since then, but were unaware of it when it happened. Or, maybe you're reading this, years from now, and going, "Wait... What!?" 

That's how crazy this year is. Typically, when a celebrity passes away, we're bombarded with news of it all over the place. You can't miss it. It trends on Twitter, people share tributes all over Facebook. Sean Connery was huge! He was a major beloved icon who starred in over a million movies!* Yet, there's so much craziness this year, Sean Connery's passing was barely a blip in the media! You know, we also had the world's first commercial space flight this year. Any other year, that would have been one of the year's major stories, but this year, nobody cares about things like commercial space flights! There's too much else on our plates! It's crazy!

So, this Superstar of the Week pays tribute to Sean Connery, the star of Zardoz, and some other things. He went young, at 90, not even a full century, yet. 

Sean Connery 8/25/1930 - 10/31/2020

* The quantity of movies starring Sean Connery may have been exaggerated in this post.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

 People Swallow an Average of Eight Spiders a Year While Sleeping


 

FALSE 

I decided to go with this famous spider swallowing urban legend, for this Halloween edition of "This Week's Urban Legend", just because I've heard it so often and so many people seem to have accepted it as a scientifically proven fact. I've even seen it offered up as trivia on TV. Often times, it's shared as an attempt to make people feel uneasy. "It's  just one of those unpleasant truths we've gotta accept".

Fortunately, we don't gotta accept it, because it isn't actually true. It's a fake statistic that was actually made up and sent out via email in the 90s for the purpose of demonstrating how easily people accept whatever absurd information they read on the Internet. Ironically, it's proven its own point, by becoming one of the most widely circulated pieces of misinformation. In actuality, it's highly improbable that a spider will make its way into your mouth while you're asleep once in your lifetime, let alone eight times in a year. This person trolled, just to show how easily people are trolled, and YOU fell for it, didn't you?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Nosferatu VII













In previous editions of Nosferatu, I have written about things that drain one's life force in some way, such as Vampires, Chupacabra, Lampreys, Bank of America, and College tuition and fees. Last Halloween season, I read the classic Dracula, by Bram Stoker, for the first time. It turns out, book Dracula is a way cooler villain than the traditional "Bwa bwa, I vant to suck your blood" Dracula we see every Halloween. So, for this year's Nosferatu, I've decided to separate book Dracula from the familiar Halloween Dracula.

Beginning with his appearance, Dracula is already a lot different from the familiar Count Chokula Dracula we're used to. Even the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula with the eccentric hair cut, portrayed by Gary Oldman, and parodied by Mr. Burns in a Simpson's Treehouse of Horror episode, differed from the book description. In the book, Dracula de-ages, giving him three appearances. In the first scene, the "Dracula's Castle" scene, he is described as a pale old man with white hair and a long white mustache. At the end of the castle scene, Jonathan Harker sees Dracula laying immobile in his coffin, after having just engorged himself with blood. He is now younger, with fuller gray hair, and is not so withered. In London, Dracula is described as having dark hair, and a pointed beard with silver streaks. Essentially, the classic "evil magician" look.

As far as dress, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason for Dracula to wear a tuxedo with a shiny red and black cape. Actually, the reason for this attire, is that it was used for Dracula in 1920s theatrical performances, where it was common to wear flashy and flowy attire for stage performances, where the actors on stage appear small to the audience. This attire was carried by Bela Lagosi from the stage to the screen in his iconic 1931 film appearance. From there, the look sort of stuck as the iconic look.

In the book, Dracula's clothing description was vague. In both his young and old appearances, he is described as wearing all black. Dracula was a Romanian nobleman, so I looked up what his attire would look like. It would basically be a gown with a high mandarin type collar. The book didn't specify a change of clothes for young Dracula. However, in the beginning of the book, Dracula mentioned to Jonathan his intention to fit in with the London crowd. So I figured he would have changed his clothes to 1890s London attire, think Charles Dickens, as the Romanian noble attire would have stood out.

Who is Dracula? Traditional tellings don't really give you a backstory for Dracula. You know he's a vampire from Transylvania who comes to England and haunts the Harkers, but you don't know anything beyond that. The 1992 film, the more recent "Dracula Untold", as well as "Blade 3" fabricate backstories for the Count, but they all differ from the backstory given in the actual novel.

First of all, it's become popular to refer to Dracula as "Vlad" for his first name, referring to the historical figure "Vlad the Impaler". The 1992 film did it, "Dracula Untold" did it, and I've even seen a children's book about a skateboarding vampire named "Vlad the Rad". I'm sure most of us have read or heard something or other about the fictitious Count Dracula being based on Vlad the Impaler. This is a bit of a stretched truth. Bram Stoker did not base Dracula on Vlad the Impaler, nor was the name "Vlad" mentioned anywhere in the book. The name "Dracula", however, may have been inspired by Vlad's nickname "Dracul" (Dragon), and some of Dracula's mortal heritage, as a nobleman warrior from Wachovia, is similar to Vlad's. However, the Dracula character was originally conceived as a character named "Count Wampyr" with no correlation to Vlad. While some elements do seem to have taken inspiration from Vlad, the two characters are far from synonymous.

In the 1992 film, Dracula was a warrior who found out that his fiance committed suicide. After a priest told him that she was now damned to Hell forever, Dracula cursed God, and in doing so, was transformed into a vampire. God is a real a-hole in that version. In "Dracula Untold" He was a warrior who gained powers from a pre-existing vampire in order to help him fell an enemy. In "Blade 3" he's some sort of ancient alien, or something.

In the novel, Dracula was a member of an old Romanian noble class, called a Boyar, something he seems to be proud of, and mentions his status as a Boyar multiple times. He was a warrior, and mentions that the Draculas had a love of war and bloodshed. He was initiated as a student into a satanic school of sorcery. But the catch-22, every 10th student initiated is claimed by the devil. Guess who turned out to be a 10th student. And that's how Dracula became a Vampire.

So, what is a Vampire in the Dracula novel? Every vampire franchise has a slightly different idea of what a vampire is. In the Blade and Underworld series, vampirism is a virus that mutates people. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, somebody who gets bitten by a vampire dies, and their body becomes possessed by a demon. In the Anne Rice novels, vampires are people who have had their blood fused with some ancient spirit thing, by being fed the blood of a pre-existing vampire. I don't know what they are in Twilight, and I don't want to know. In Dracula, when a person gets bitten, they get really sick and die. The soul, however, becomes bound to the body, unable to move on, and every night, the dead person is reanimated and hunts for blood.

Vampire weaknesses differ a bit from what we're used to. In just about every vampire franchise, the one surefire way to kill a vampire, is sunlight. Exposure causes them to burst into flames, and turn to ash. Then, there's those ones who get sparkly, but lets not go there. In the Dracula novel, however, vampires are perfectly fine with sunlight. Typically, vampires are in a coma during the day and alive at night, but when they do find themselves in the daylight, they are perfectly fine.

A stake through the heart plus beheading will do in a vampire. This generally has to be done while they are in a coma in their coffin, due to their exceptional strength. Also, garlic will ward off vampires, only in the novel, they use garlic blossoms, not garlic bulbs.

Crucifixes also have an effect, however it doesn't seem to harm the vampire or cause them to hiss and cower. In the book, a crucifix quells the vampires blood lust. It's also noted that symbols from other religions work, too, which is surprising, considering the highly Christian dogma of the book.

Vampire abilities can be a bit sketchy. Considering that Dracula was a sorcerer, it can be difficult to sort out what abilities are part of his sorcery and what comes with being a vampire. Dracula himself can transform into a bat, or a big dog, can communicate with wolves, and can crawl up and down walls, or turn a living person into a slave by making them drink his blood. These may or may not be common vampire abilities. Things we see other vampires do is squeeze out of tight spaces, such as closed coffins and closed doors, despite being solid matter, and transforming into mist.

And for a final bit of trivia: Van Helsing. Van Helsing was not an action hero monster hunter, nor was he a vampire expert. He was an old doctor who had been called in to assist in the case of a girl who was sick and dying for unknown reasons. When he had exhausted all possible medical explanations for Lucy's sickness, open-minded Van Helsing turned to the occult. In his research, he discovered a match between Lucy's symptoms, and the symptoms of a vampire victim. From there, he studied further on vampirism, to attempt to help Lucy, and later, thwart Dracula.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

J-Dubb's Moral of the Week

When making a big investment, such as buying a new house, make sure you have an exit plan, just in case.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Slimer

Halloween week is back on J-Dubb's Theatre, starting off with Slimer, as the Superstar of the Week. Slimer had a small role in the Ghosbuster's movies. In the original film, he was in a minor, yet memorable scene, in which he was haunting a hotel. He ate a lot, and slimed Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), a scene which actually coined the phrase "being slimed". You're welcome, 80s Nickelodeon. 

It was the 80s cartoon, "The Real Ghostbusters", that made Slimer a main character, giving him a name, and placing him in the role of comic relief sidekick that all 80s cartoons had to have. (Think Snarf from the Thundercats, or Orko from He-Man). The second Ghostbusters film brought back Slimer in a cameo, due to his popularity from the cartoon, despite that the cartoon was not a part of movie continuity. The more recent reboot featured a cameo of Slimer, as well. I wonder if the new Ghostbuster's movie, which has been delayed due to Covid, will feature Slimer, as well.

 Trivia: The 80s cartoon based off of the 1984 movie, "Ghostbusters", was  called  "The Real Ghostbusters". This is because there was already a cartoon airing at the time, called "Ghostbusters", which was unrelated to the 1984 film. This cartoon featured a group of two humans and a gorilla named Tracy, which hunted for ghosts. This cartoon was actually based off of a British television series of the same name, which predated the 1984 movie.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

15 Years Ago...










J-Dubb's Theatre has now been around for 15 years. In October of 2005, I decided to start a website, as a way of getting myself out there. I was talking to my friend, Jon, on my Sprint flip phone, out in the smoking area, while working a swing shift for my old security job. I mentioned that I was going to start a website, and so he did a Google (or possibly Yahoo) search for free sites, and found results for Blogger and MySpace. We both agreed that MySpace wasn't what I was looking for, so the next day, the first day of my weekend at that job, I logged on to Blogger and created a blog.

I named my new blog "J-Dubb's Blog", but shortly after, changed the name to J-Dubb's Theatre. I wrote, imagining the voice of a DJ from local radio station KUFO, named Tim Savage. My humor was that of a college-aged 20-something. My early blog posts often began with an introductory topic, before switching to the main topic, rather than just focusing on one topic. And from the beginning, I included the weekly features "Superstar of the Week", "Animal of the Week", and not fully thought-out "This Week's Moment in Evolution", which would evolve into "This Week's Moment in Natural Selection",  and finally, "Blooper of the Week". I also included "J-Dubb's Moral of the Week", and "Factoid of the Week/This Week's Urban Legend". Over the years, my writing style developed, as well as matured.

 Eventually, J-Dubb's Theatre expanded into a YouTube channel. J-Dubb's Theatre videos came to take prominence, and the blogging dwindled. In my videos, I often focused on the YouTube community, creating responses to other YouTubers. Eventually, I would attend VidCon, and talk to other YouTubers on a yearly basis. My early videos leaned more toward a sketch format, evlolving into a vlog format with sketch jump cuts, and eventually an educational type format with image and animation overlays. My videos had a good 10 year run, amassing a couple thousand subscribers, before I moved on to other things, and decided to pull the plug.

 During the following couple of years, the J-Dubb's Theatre blog existed as a place where I would occasionally reminisce about the old Internet, classic J-Dubb's Theatre trivia, or what I was doing 10 years ago. More recently, however, I've brought back the classic blogging format, an homage to early J-Dubb's Theatre, including Superstar of the Week, and other weekly features.

During this time, I've gone from a Security Officer, fresh out of the Air Force and studying Psychology part time, to a full time Psychology student, to a graphic design student, to a web design student, to a Web Designer/ Graphic Designer attempting to start my own business, to a Jo-Ann's employee attempting to get a web design job, to a YouTube Partner with a part time job at Jo-Ann's, to a married entrepreneur working various admin and insurance jobs.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Bob's Big Boy

Remember Bob's Big Boy? I was a pretty young kid, in Southern California, in the early 80s, so I barely remember Bob's Big Boy, aside from the big statue that looks like it jumped straight out of a 1930's Looney Tune's cartoon. (Writing that sentence, I realized how creepy it sounds to talk about that figure jumping out of something.) I also remember not really knowing the difference between a fast food restaurant, and a sit-down restaurant, and thinking of Bob's Big Boy as another kind of McDonald's, like Carl's Jr. and Burger King, even though Bob's was a sit down restaurant. I guess it was another burger place.

I thought of Bob's Big Boy, because I recently watched Austin Powers with my wife, for nostalgia sake, and Doctor Evil flies around in a Bob's Big Boy statue from the 60s. Remember that? It's funny; watching Austin Powers when it came out was humorous, because it was a 60s guy trying to work in the "modern" world. Now it's funny because of all the retro 90s stuff. Technically, a spy from the 90's could travel to the current decade, and it would be about the same time gap as a spy from the 60s traveling to the 90s.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Monday, August 24, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Keith Habersberger

Keith Habersberger, known for engineering a hot sauce that goes well with chicken, and some other things. My wife and I ordered a bottle of his chicken sauce. At first we tried it on ground beef tacos, and it wasn't that great. But then we had it on chicken, and it was pretty good. We need to order some more. Dangit! Now, I'm hungry for chicken with Keith's Chicken Sauce!

This blog post is sponsored by Keith's Chicken Sauce. Order yourself a bottle of Keith's Chicken sauce, because hey, why not?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

 Call #77 or 112 instead of 911

 

False 


Call 911 in an emergency. A story has gone around the internet, sometimes changing a few details. Ironically, the story usually starts with, "this isn't one of those Internet things that isn't true", or "this has been confirmed by the Somewheresville Police".

The story involves a lady named Lisa or Lauren who is driving at night in a secluded place with a weak signal. An unmarked car behind her puts on lights to pull her over. Instead of pulling over she calls an emergency number other than 911, for some reason. In some versions, the number is #77, and sometimes it's 112. The alternative number goes through, despite the weak signal, because it is more powerful than 911, even though that's not how cell phone signals work. The dispatcher verifies that the car is not a real cop. Real cops surround the fake cop, arrest him, and find out he's a rapist, and the young lady was saved by calling the alternative emergency number.

Despite the story's denial, it is in fact one of those Internet things that isn't true. #77 is not an emergency number. For some states, #77 connects to the highway patrol, but it isn't a universal emergency dispatch number. 117 is an emergency number in some places outside the  US, if you call it in some states, it will connect to 911. It is not universal to all states, and neither number is  more effective than 911. 

911 is designed to be a number anyone can remember and use anywhere. There are no secret superior emergency numbers, unless you're a Stonecutter like Leny and Carl from the Simpsons. It's always better to call 911, than listen to the story your concerned Aunt Helen posted to Facebook.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Was 2020 Osama bin Laden's Plan All Along?

Just a thought I was mulling around in my head earlier. People in America, and the Western world, are at each other's throats like never before. What if Osama was actually successful in causing the downfall of Western Civilization, but it's taking 20 years to pan out?

Nearly 20 years ago, Osama bin Laden was responsible for the worst attack America has ever seen. The intention of this attack was the downfall of Western Civilization. He chose to take out key targets that he believed were the pillars of the infrastructure of the Western world, removal of which, he intended, would cause the collapse of Western Civilization.

Well, he was wrong on that count. The loss of life was the devastating part, but the structures lost were not pillars holding together the Western World. But, what if those structures were merely the first dominoes in the overall plan?

I thought of this while I was remembering an old College Humor video, in which a guy from the 2010s is sent back to the 90s, thinking it'll be a nostalgia ride, only to find out that he's really there to stop 9-11 before it happens. 

9-11 drastically altered the political landscape from the 90s into the 2000s, ultimately shaping the face of politics today. What if somebody like this guy from the College Humor video really were to stop 911? Would there have been an alt right? Would there be a "deep state" conspiracy theory? Would Trump have been elected? Would the U.S. be so stubborn about curbing Covid, or would the outbreak even have happened? 

What if we had proceeded from the 90s into the 2000s without 9-11, the War on Terror, Islamophobia, Homeland Security, phone tapping, airport restrictions, Paris Hilton, the War in Iraq, or "9-11 was an inside job" conspiracy theories? George W's presidency would have gone a lot differently without the war. The political atmosphere would have been completely different for the following presidency. The 2016 elections would have had a completely different face within a completely different environment. 2020 would be a totally different year. What if this apocalyptic 2020 is really the end game of Osama's plan, finally hashing out?

You know, so many conspiracy theories have sprung up this past year, shaping peoples attitudes and decisions based on ungrounded hypotheses run amok. If we're going to make decisions based on unconfirmed nonsense, at least if we blame somebody who's already dead, nobody loses an eye.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Alphie the Alpaca from Adelaide

I was going to have Alphie as the Animal of the Week last week, but I decided it's more true to the template based on past iterations of Superstar/Animal of the Week, that if someone or something has an individual identity, it's a Superstar of the Week, whereas if it's a general collective representation, it's an Animal of the Week.

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

False

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.


False

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
False

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

https://thewhitewyvern.com/
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: thewhitewyvern.com

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