Blog Archives

San Diego Comic Con 2012 Recap

Confused Rod Serling

“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.

–Rod Serling

The last thing the Internet needs is another silly image meme, but I have decided to officially throw that conclusion to the four winds in favour of this:

If you’d like to make your own Confused Rod Serling internet meme, you can get the original image here or here.

Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

There once was this here fella who was so talented that he made his way from a-recitin’ monologues–that’s whar a feller commenced to talkin’ to th’ audience when thar was no one else on stage.  Well, he went from recitin’ monologues in fronta jest a few folks all the way up t’ becomin’ a big ol’ Hollywood star!  A biiiiiig star!  Bigger’n ol’ Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy combined!

The world lost a superb actor and comedian yesterday and I lost a prominent figure from my childhood.  I remember watching The Andy Griffith Show evenings on “Channel 17” (WTBS, Atlanta) or, more often, on homemade VHS “marathon tapes” (usually recorded from a TBS “Eight Great Hours of Andy” marathon).  In high school, I managed to use his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet to ace a class project and quoting his recollection of the story of the American revolution landed me extra points in college.  I most recently rediscovered my love of his work when I watched No Time For Sergeants, and began using some of his monologues from the film in audition pieces.

To eulogize anyone has really been outside of my realm of expertise, but I feel like a celebration of his career is in order.  To wit, here is a short list of my favourite bits from Andy Griffith to enjoy.

The Heart of The TARDIS (Valentine)

Someone has finally located the true Heart of the TARDIS.  No, I’m not talking about that glowing light and mass of Huron particles that Rose Tyler used to brink Jack Harkness back to life, nor am I talking about the daffy lady in the blue bustier on the planet in the Bubble Universe.  I’m talking about the true heart and soul of the TARDIS, the one thing that has kept The Doctor travelling through time and space for almost fifty years, the one thing that brings Whovians together more strongly than the gravitational pull of a black hole, the one thing that will never blink in times of trouble:  love.

Congratulations to lastone2sherlockisasissy on making the best Valentine card ever, and enjoy the whole of time and space with your companion (or use this card to find one)!

2 Stupid Dogs Combines Childhood Slapstick With Adult Innuendo

If you were a kid in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, chances are you probably (didn’t) watch a little cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera studios featuring the antics of two highly-stylised and intellectually-challenged canines. The show in question, 2 Stupid Dogs, is one of the rare, unappreciated gems that helped herald the new renaissance in American animation and gave way to later unbridled shows–such as The Oblongs, Superjail, and Robot Chicken (pretty-much the entire Adult Swim lineup)–that have come to define a humour for an entire generation.

The show was the brainchild of Disney house animator Donovan Cook who had worked on several feature films while finishing his degree at CalArts.  In addition to Cook’s demented sense of humour, Spümcø president John Kricfalusi (“John K.” of Ren and Stimpy fame) as well as other Spümcø writers and artists would often contribute story and artistic elements (Kricfalusi was even credited with contributing “Tidbits of Poor Taste” in some episodes).  The series also helped launch the career of some of the biggest names in animation in the 1990’s and 2000’s:  Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory), Craig McCracken (The PowerPuff Girls), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents), and Rob Renzetti (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), to name but a few.  The writing was fresh and often topical, appealing to a mature audience while silliness, gross humour, and slapstick appealed to the “target” audience.

The sheer brilliance of the series laid not only in its razor-sharp wit, but also in its unusual “retro” style.  The cartoon was drawn the the very simplistic, stylised manner of cartoons common in the 1950’s and 60’s, considered to be the golden age of television animation; the show also employed many conventions that had fallen by the wayside during the 1980’s such as absurdism, irrelevant sound effects, and wild takes.  The show also employed a gaggle of celebrated voice actors, some of which were legends in their own right (June Foray, Carol Channing, Casey Kasem, Frank Welker), and some of which were just beginning to get noticed (Ben Stiller, and Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett).

Though only 36 shorts were produced (a paltry 4.5 hours of content compared to other shows at the time), they are packed full of quality content with absolutely no “throw away” episodes.  2 Stupid Dogs guarantees to appeal to both the classic animation lover and to the casual aficionado of cheap jokes and hearty guffaws.

P.S.: This is quite possibly the best line in the series.

A Trip to Warner Brothers Studios

So, my buddy Suraj (“Surge” to his friends) called me up shortly after my arrival in California wanting to know if I would like to attend a taping of Conan with him.  Who, honestly, could say no to that?

This is how I usually answer the phone when he calls.

Seriously, I’ve been in Los Angeles for about two weeks and I’m already going to see television stars…LIVE! IN PERSON! I must be living the dream!

Anyway, we loaded up his Mustang, and headed for Burbank–the homeland of some of my childhood heroes:

Well, I’ve already been to New York looking for turtles.

Honestly, I think I was far more excited about the remote possibility of seeing the Warners being chased around by Ralph the Guard than watching Conan O’Brien perform tell jokes and chat with other celebrities. That being the case, Animaniacs became the joke of the day–even so much addressing all security guards as “Ralph” and driving around listening to “Yakko’s World” while on a quest to find the water tower.  In all, I gotta say that everyone at the Warner lot was really cool, Conan O’Brien was as professional as always, and the Basic Cable Band are one of my new favourite groups (after watching them live, about 6 feet from their stand).  Cameras were prohibited inside the studios, but I managed to get a few fun snapshots around the area.

Gate 4 at Warner Brothers Studios circa 1990’s (left) and today (right). A tree has grown since the Animaniacs opening was shot.
Yep, there I am on basic cable. Of course, back in Atlanta, TBS is a broadcast station.

To finish, enjoy these clips from the July 21, 2011 Conan show:

Conan’s Monologue

This Hand Vagina Is Really Getting A Lot Of Work

Astronauts Dis Joe Biden

Ventriloquist Dummies React To Eden Wood

Super Dave’s Lips Freak Everybody Out

Lisa Kudrow Interview

Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal Interview

And, as a special bonus:

TV a la carte? I’ll Buy That For A Dollar!

According to anonymous sources via The Wall Street Journal, Apple is possibly in the process of wooing at least CBS and Disney into a subscription service for streaming television.  The basic rundown is that the customer could subscribe to a program stream without having to deal with those messy, customer-unfriendly cable companies that everyone I know loathes and despises in a vein similar to their affections for Terrorists and Nazi Zombies.

I, for one, am ecstatic about the prospect of only having to pay for the small handful of channels I watch (when I actually sit down and watch television).  If I want The Military History Channel, I don’t want to have to purchase Golf TV, BET, Lifetime, etc. when I will practically never find myself actively watching such tripe.  Of course, this is something we’ve all been subjected to since the advent and explosion of the format since the 1980’s.  I remember talk during the late 90’s about the FCC kicking around the idea of “TV a la carte” wherein, thanks to programmable receivers, consumers would be able to purchase subscriptions only for networks they actually watch.  Lobbies representing the cable providers (namely Comcast and Verizon, if memory serves correctly) immediately went into action championing the plight of the niche-market TV networks–small, usually locally-oriented, stations that have little to no widespread appeal (think low-power UHF stations of old)–saying they would inevitably be destroyed if no one had the opportunity to stumble upon them.  Thankfully, we now have Web 2.0.  With its proliferation of on-demand services such as RSS, YouTube, Twitter, etc., the “no one will ever see this” excuse is practically eliminated.

I think this is certainly the start of something new and necessary for the growth of entertainment, information, and technology.  With seemingly limitless options provided by the Interweb, television doesn’t have to be held hostage to timeslots…or location-specific receivers, for that matter.  My only concern is the fact that Apple might keep a stranglehold on the market–is there a way to make sure that the receiver software stays open?  I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes just to keep up with 24 or Doctor Who.  Frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes, period, but that’s a subject for another time.

In the meantime:  Streaming media to your set-top box, laptop, or phone?  Yes, please.

“I, Don Quixote” from Man of La Mancha

Hear me now,
Oh thou bleak and unbearable world,
Thou art base and debauched as can be;
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!

I am I, Don Quixote,
The lord of La Mancha!
My destiny calls and I go,
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward,
Oh whithersoever they blow!
Whithersoever they blow,
Onward to glory I go!

Hear me, heathens and wizards
And serpents of sin!
All your dastardly doings are past,
For a holy endeavour is now to begin,
And virtue shall triumph at last!

I am I, Don Quixote,
The lord of La Mancha!
My destiny calls and I go,
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward,
Oh whithersoever they blow!
Whithersoever they blow,
Onward to glory I go!
Yes, onward to glory I go!