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



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


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?