Friday, August 26, 2011

Mount Cartoon

Cartoons are fun. They are entertaining. Sure they are mostly targeted at children but they can be enjoyed by all ages.

I grew up with cartoons in the 80’s. Saturday mornings were filled with shows like The Jetsons, Inspector Gadget, Voltron, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Transformers and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Muppet Babies bridged the gap into the 90’s. Some of you are saying, “The 90’s? You had to have been at least been a teenager by then, right?” Well yes I was, and shut your mouth. After a couple of short lived but quality cartoons like Duck Tales and Chip ‘n Dales Rescue Rangers went off the air there was a bit of a cartoon renaissance with shows like Doug, Tiny Toon Adventures, Batman: The animated series, TaleSpin and X-Men.

Then the unfortunate happened, for a little while it just became to uncool for me to regularly patronize such childish things; although on occasion I would catch Recess or Arthur under the guise of spending time with my little sister.

I’ll admit here that for a brief period of time, just out of high school, I watched Gargoyles nearly every day while eating a bowl of cereal before heading off to work the night shift. I don’t care if you judge me that was a good show.

As a parent, once my children grew out of the sometimes painful Blue’s Clues/Dora the Explorer phase, I was reintroduced to Arthur which is still going strong. From there in our house Nickelodeon had a pretty good run with The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, Avatar: The Last Airbender and (although my wife will cringe at its mention) SpongeBob SquarePants.

Throw in the fairly recent editions from the Cartoon Network of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Thundercats and you are pretty much up to date with some of my favorite cartoon shows of the past three decades with four purposeful exceptions.

Simply put, there are those that stand apart from the crowd. Look at it like this, say aliens land on our planet and we are not home, or humanity is forced underground for several hundred years and upon re-emerging they are curious about us. There is really only one way to ensure that important information is preserved. Carve a monument on the face of a mountain and tuck the critical data in the hall of records behind it. With that said there is obviously limited space so here are my nominations.

Looney Tunes

This one could get the nod purely on longevity having remained relevant for almost 80 years. Warner Bros. kicked off this animated treat in the early 1930’s introducing characters like Porky Pig and Daffy Ducky with the big cheese (or carrot as the case may be) bursting onto the scene in 1940. There’s not a person alive, in this country at least, between the ages of 8 and 80 who doesn’t know who you are quoting when you ask, “What’s up, doc?” This slapstick banter driven show has taken on many incarnations including major motion pictures. Bugs Bunny and friends recently returned to the Cartoon Network with The Looney Tunes Show introducing them to a whole new generation including my kids.

Memorable characters: Tweety and Sylvester, Marvin the Martian, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Taz, Elmer Fudd, Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Yosemite Sam and last but not least Lola Bunny

Classic Quotes: “You’re deth-picable!”, “Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits, He-e-e-e!”, “Suffering succotash!”, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!”, “Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba! Yii-hah!”, “Beep! Beep!”


I’m sure I’ll take some heat for this one but only from those who’ve never seen it. This short lived but brilliant show came about just at the right time for me. I wasn’t quite old enough to have abandon cartoons but was just old enough to get the old-fashioned wit as well as the pop culture references that were splattered about the content of the show. In some respects Animaniacs is the little brother of Looney Tunes, they are both Warner Bros. products but this was done in collaboration with Steve Spielberg. The show was full of wild characters that lived on the Warner Bros. lot and were always up to mischief; led by siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot who escaped from the Warner Bros. water tower where they’d been held since the 1930’s. Their irreverent comedy really struck a chord with not only small children but teens and pre-teens alike. Pinky and the Brain was pure gold and eventually spun off into their own show. Pinky: What are we going to do tonight brain? Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!

Memorable characters: Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, Ralph the Security Guard, Hello Nurse, Rita and Runt, Slappy Squirrell and The Goodfeathers

Classic Banter

Dot: Oh, oh, my heart aches with the sorrow of a thousand scouts. No merit badge. I mourn my loss.
Yakko: Say, those acting classes are really paying off.

Ned Flat: Why are you acting like this?
Yakko: We're not acting. We really are like this.

Ivan Bloski: Shhh. Shhh. Do you know what that means?
Yakko: You got a slow leak?

The Godfather: [to henchmen] Show these kids the door!
Yakko: That's OK, we can see it from here. Ooh, nice door.
Wakko: Faboo!
Dot: Great hinges.

Man: Do you know who I am?
Yakko: Why? Did you forget?

Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering? [repeated regularly with a non-sequitur reply from Pinky]
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but if we didn't have ears we'd look like weasels.
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but burlap chafes me so.
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but where are we going to find a duck and a garden hose at this time of night?
Pinky: Um, I think so, Brain, but why would anyone want to pierce Brosnan?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but bein' Pippi Longstocking, I mean, what would the children look like?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but isn't Regis Philbin already married?
Pinky: I think so Brain, but I can't memorize a whole opera in Yiddish!
Pinky: I think so Brain but how will we get the Spice Girls into the paella?

The Simpsons

Speaking of irreverent, this show redefined the word. The Simpsons didn’t target children at all. It was a prime time television show that happened to be a cartoon. Centered around a stereotypical dysfunctional family we follow the lives of Marge, Homer, Lisa, Bart and Maggie in the fictional town of Springfield. Started in the 1989 it’s difficult to measure its impact on pop culture and society as a whole because it’s so ingrained in both. The Simpsons have won Emmys, Annies and a Peabody if you can believe that. In 1999 Time Magazine named it the 20th century’s best television series. The show is still running today with no end in sight.

Memorable characters: Moes, Charles Montgomery Burns, Krusty the Clown, Ned Flanders, Barney, Nelson Muntz, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Grampa Simpson, Chief Wiggum, Groundskeeper Willie and (my personal favorite) Ralph Wiggum

Classic Quotes: “D’oh!”, “Ay Caramba”, “Okily Dokily”, “Excellent”, “Ha Ha”, “Eat my shorts”, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible”, “I’ve done everything the Bible says — even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff”, “I’m normally not a praying man but if you’re up there please save me Superman”, “Oh, loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix”, “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try”, “You don’t win friends with salad”, “Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?”, “Kids, kids. I’m not going to die. That only happens to bad people”, “I hope I didn’t brain my damage”

Phineas and Ferb

This show is a late comer but just as strong as its predecessors; once again returning to a kid targeted show but with brilliant writing that appeals to all ages. You are hooked almost from the opening credits. The beauty is that the format never changes but is always new. You know what to expect but can’t wait to see what they are going to do today. It follows Phineas Flynn and his English step brother Ferb Fletcher through their daily adventures in summer vacation with their older sister Candace trying to bust them. Their pet secret agent platypus (you read that right) Perry always disappears at the beginning of the day to thwart whatever n’ator driven evil scheme Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz has cooked up. Somehow the two stories overlap with Agent P and Doofenshmirtz unwittingly erasing all evidence of Phineas and Ferb’s latest invention just before their mother comes home. If you haven’t seen it do yourself a favor and check out this Disney masterpiece.

Memorable characters: Baljeet, Carl, Isabella, Stacy, Jeremy Johnson, Buford, Lawrence Fletcher, Linda Flynn-Fletcher, Vanessa Doofenshmirtz, Norm, Major Monogram and the Fireside girls.

Classic catchphrases: “Hey, where’s Perry?”, “Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!”, “Whatcha doing?”, “Well that can’t be good”, “Yes, yes we are”, “Oh, there you are Perry”, “Curse you Perry the Platypus!”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Remove Far From Me

You’re so vain; you probably think this blog is about you. You’re so vain; I’ll bet you think this blog is about you. Don’t you? Don’t you?

Well it is if you are one of the millions...AND MILLIONS of Americans that have shelled out your hard earned cash for a customized license plate.

Personalized plates, vanity plates, prestige plates, specialty plates, I DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR PLATE IS! The only thing that matters is that this trend has grown into an epidemic. A 2007 survey showed that 9.7 million Americans paid extra for their very own “special” plate. I’d wager that number is much higher now because I can’t drive to or from work without spotting 4 or 5 of these bad boys every day.

I’m certain the Motor Vehicle Division appreciates your contribution too. Here in Arizona its $25 for the initial fee and $25 annually to maintain your vanity (if you get a sports team or college plate $17 of those dollars does go to charity so that’s something). Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money, if it’s important to you to have REALTOR on your PT cruiser so that everybody knows you sell homes then so be it. If you’ve got to tell the world that you are a HOTGRL driving around in your convertible Mazda Miata, fine.

Personally I think everyone who applies for a vanity plate should be issued the same plate because most times I’m thinking the same thing when I read them, but that would be problematic trying to distinguish one from the next.

Don’t get me wrong some are necessary like NOT OJ on your white Ford Bronco. Some are clever like ICU2COP and some are funny like LUV2FRT or IFLNGPU (fart and poo are always funny). Still others are redundant like BUG on a VW Beetle or MNICUPR on a Mini Cooper; we see what you are driving we don’t need to read about it. Then there are those that are just flat out annoying like COOL GUY (unless you’re being ironic) or LAKERS (because everybody knows Laker fans are obnoxious).

I’m not totally against the personalized plate but I’d like to set forth some guidelines that might help everyone involved.

First, BE ORIGINAL. If you can’t get FXYLDY please do not settle for FXYLDY3. If CATLVR is already taken do not reach for CATSLVR or worse CATZLVR. And if some cool guy beats you to COOL GUY do not, I repeat DO NOT, talk yourself into KOOL GUY.

True story: A guy I work with had the license plate E8. When asked what the significance of E8 was he explained that originally he wanted E, being that his name was Eric. That was taken so he decided E1 would be just as good, nope that was gone too; as was E2-E7. That’s right, eight other bozos had the same idea and still he thought that E8 was worthy of $50 out of his pocket for a “personalized” plate. Come on!

Second, BE CREATIVE (and/or funny). Now there’s nothing wrong with something simple like BACON or SUNSHINE (especially if either of those is a nickname or an obsession) but you are mounting this on the back of your car for others to see so why not put some thought into it. Something like GIVETHX, or BACKOFF, or something uplifting like U R NXT on the back of a hearse. If it’s got to be about you make it something interesting like D-WIFED or ATHEIST; you know something that tells us a little about yourself besides that fact that you are extremely self absorbed (the specialty plate already tells us that).

Finally, BE CLEAR. I can’t tell you how many plates I see where I have no idea what they mean. Through years of self affirmation I’ve convinced myself that I’m of above average intelligence and like to think I can figure out even a coded message on a vanity plate but some of you use it as a mobile billboard for inside jokes or acronyms that only you and your significant other understand. Why? These plague me for the rest of the day, sometimes I even Google them to no avail. It’s maddening. Please, I beg you, don’t go too far in your attempt to be original and creative and sacrifice clarity. Missing on No. 3 can cancel out No. 1 and No. 2.

Well that’s it. If a random government issued set of numbers and letters just doesn’t do it for you, if the urge to tell the world that IM CUTE or that you are 2WICKED or a LTL CRZY is just too great then I guess there’s no stopping you. Just keep in mind the poor souls behind you laboring to get to work or struggling to return home and B GENTL.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Everybody Poops

Almost every topic I cover here is triggered by recent events and colored by past experience. Such is the case with the following men’s room monologue.

Several years ago I attended football camp at the University of Nevada Reno between my sophomore and junior year. We stayed in dorms right on campus and it was there I first experienced stall talk (that’s not a typo, I meant stall talk). I entered an empty stall between two occupied stalls and set about doing what I came there to do. Those on either side of me were engaged in conversation and soon became aware of my presence.

Teammate #1 said, “Who’s that?”

I replied, “It’s Blaylock.”

Teammate #2, “Blaylock, what’s up man?!”

I replied, “Not a lot. What’s up with you?”
It never struck me as on odd place to have a conversation; flash forward several years to the MTC in Provo, UT. It seemed that the monotonous routine of eat, sit, eat, sit, eat, sit, sleep had somehow synchronized the poo patterns of our entire district as we often found ourselves commoding at the same time. Without hesitation I openly engaged my bottomless brethren in stall talk small talk. Some readily answered back while others seemed nervous and a little bothered by it.

Over the years I’ve had multiple companions and roommates who refused to make conversation during my daily defecation. This has always been a source of great amusement to me personally.

Those who know me know that the word poop and nearly all potty humor really tickles my figurative funny bone. I have no problem speaking of it and relish the chance to joke about it. I am however, aware that this subject is unappealing to most and completely taboo to many.

The longer I live the more opportunities I find for commode communication. I accept the fact that, with rare exceptions, in a business environment bathroom banter is frowned upon. Even with close personal friends a little powder room powwow can be unwelcome.

My question is why?

I’m not saying I hit the head looking for idle porcelain palaver but why is john jargon in any form off limits?

This opposition becomes especially peculiar to me when it comes to talking on the phone or texting. If you keep in regular or semi-regular contact with me via phone, text or email there’s a good chance you’ve unknowingly engaged in a little can chat with yours truly. A little fecal phone if you will (that felt over the line. Too far? Maybe. Let’s plop I mean plod on). That’s just the way it is and I fail to see what makes people so agitated upon learning of this potty parley.

What’s the big flop’n deal?

Look everybody does it. And by “it” I mean make twozy. It’s as natural as…well I actually can’t think of anything more natural. So where did this unspoken routine of the unspoken latrine come from?

Is it the unpleasant aroma, the business of doing your business or the public pantlessness that causes gigantic grievance over this lavatory parlance?

My friends, together we can break the chains of silent oppression against the occasional outhouse oration. I envision a day when we can without shame correspond with our throne adjacent stall mates without fear of rebuke or reprisal. A day where it is socially acceptable for a little comfort station confab. (Okay I’m fresh out of toilet talk euphemisms so I’ll end with this thought) If you are shocked, appalled or offended by these restroom rap sessions (alright, so I had one more) then you probably should see a physician because I’d wager you’ve got more than just a stiff stool sample blocking up your bowels if you know what I mean.

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