Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The New Sonic Youth Album

Is incredible. Slays. Best since A Thousand Leaves.

You want more in-depth review action from me, well, you'll just have to wait till June. The wait will be worth it though, when you see what I have in store.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Wilburs Revenge

Snoopy dance?

Seems like all the dudes on The Simpsons staff know their Nuts.

Liz and Linus.

Yeah
, but where's her Marcie equivalent?

How did I never play this game growing up? I played The Empire Strikes Back one to death after death.

This site looks absolutely incredible. I look forward to delving tonight.

More ball gags. Ya pervs!

I'll be moving and getting a new job this August. Still doing the real estate, kid.

Some Snoopy's Reunion reviews, ranging from yet another guy who traffics in preconceived notions about what he thinks a thing he did not create should be to people who just review the product.

I love when the ball gags are related to sports. Bart gets to sit up front 'cause he's a good guy at sports!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bea Arthur

Tall smart-ass broads are a breed apart. Bea Arthur had a sense of humor so dry her line deliveries were positively arid. She always struck me as one of those celebrities that I couldn't be paid to approach, not even to utter the words "Big fan" and scurry away with my forehead toward my feet. Total non-brooker of nonsense. That's the consistent vibe I got.

The two funniest Golden Girls are gone. Damn damn.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not To Be Confused With, "The Despairing of Apartness"

Let it be known, I am a big fan of the rapper Redman. Despite the fact that he has for seventeen years extolled little else other than the joys of marijuana--ecstasies that I am intentionally ignorant of--I look forward to his verses like the cast of The Girlie Show looks forward to Sandwich Day.

The impending Method Man/Redman album Blackout 2 means promotion. Which means interviews.

“Marijuana has always been that drug that united people. It’s always been on the verge of being legal. It’s hardly a drug really. When people look at marijuana, they look at it as an enjoyment of connecting,” says Redman.

A couple li'l things here.

I cannot stand when defenders of the "sacred herb" state that it is actually not even a drug. When it is. We here at Trapper Jenn MD (which is, um, me) normally approach citing Wikipedia with trepidation, but some of the articles on the site are credible. Whether you partake of it or not, you should be able to admit that marijuana is a drug.

Then we have that whole "enjoyment of connecting". I get what Red's trying to say here, but the terminology is hilarious. I've heard of "enjoyment by connecting" and "enjoyment while connecting", but never "enjoyment of connecting" by itself. "Enjoyment of connecting the input cable thus being able to hear the audio", yeah, that I get. But just those three words all by their lonesome, how pseudo-Zen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's "What the What?" Moment

Somehow at my job the topic of organ transplants came up. Usually it's American Idol and Desperate Housewives and shitty movies, so this was a welcome reprieve. On the surface.

"My aunt had a kidney transplant, and she says they just kept the bad one in her body."

Said seriously, and sworn by in the face of incredulous protestation.

No one pressed further. No one said the obvious. "Isn't the whole point of a transplant to remove an offending part of the body to make way for one that isn't toxic enough to kill you? Wouldn't this aunt of yours in fact have three kidneys in their body? Does it strike you at all how absolutely unbelievably stunningly ridiculous what you are saying sounds?"

No one said a word. We had work to do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hallmark of the Holidays

Those of us adamant on maintaining health-conscious lives greet the holiday season with ambivalence. The cookies of our heart are not warmed by those hardened circles of dough. We cannot have our cake and Edith, too. Sure we can have some extra chicken wings, or meatballs--if they're made with turkey. But the sweet stuff is verboten.

Leave it to Hallmark, then, to give everyone a guilt-free, tasty Christmas treat.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holy Crap, the Heat!

I missed it, I won't lie. By mid-August everyone 'round these parts will be bitching about it but for right now goddamnit, these sunny days are welcome. Among other benefits, I get to walk two miles total to and from work, and the blazing sun will help with my Vitamin D deficiency.

Yeah, that'll do.

My mother just put some fresh newspaper on the bottom of the bird cage for her unappreciative parakeet, Snowflake. It just so happened to be the comics section, featuring a vintage Peanuts where Snoopy is driven from the top of his doghouse by an imperceptible spider. I was looking at it to appreciate the irony/tragedy/comedy/something-y of a reprinted work of art put in place to catch bird droppings when I noticed that Snowflake has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There There, Fellas, Both Your Favorite Teams Suck

Washington D.C. Capital of America. Home of the government. Home of the Redskins.

The Dallas/Washington feud is hilarious, mainly because Cowboys fans take it nowhere near as seriously as the Skins faithful. Maybe at one time in history both fanbases were equal in the fervency of their dislike; but these days, Dallas fans are too into their soap opera storylines to worry about on-field "rivals".

This
is a lesson in the misguided passion of those who root root root for the home squad. How fitting it took place on L Street, 'cause an "L" is precisely what the flag-snatcher took.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Plundering With Tavaris and Sage

Sounds like I'm about to season some protein, but no, the NFL 2009 schedule came out today, and the Minnesota Vikings have, on the surface, an easy run of it.

Sunday Sept 13, 12 pm CT @ Cleveland Browns (FOX)

Sunday Sept 20, 12 pm CT @ Detroit Lions (FOX)

Sunday Sept 27, 12 pm CT vs. San Francisco 49ers (FOX)

Monday Oct 5, 7:30 pm CT vs. Green Bay Packers (ESPN)

Sunday Oct 11, 12 pm CT @ St. Louis Rams (FOX)

Sunday Oct 18, 12 pm CT vs. Baltimore Ravens (CBS)

Sunday Oct 25, 12 pm CT @ Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX)

Sunday Nov 1, 12 pm CT @ Green Bay Packers (FOX)

BYE

Sunday Nov 15, 12 pm CT vs. Detroit Lions (FOX)

Sunday Nov 22, 12 pm CT vs. Seattle Seahawks (FOX)

Sunday Nov 29, 12 pm CT vs. Chicago Bears (FOX)

Sunday Dec 6, 3:15 pm CT @ Arizona Cardinals (FOX)

Sunday Dec 13, 12 pm CT vs. Cincinnati Bengals (CBS)

Sunday Dec 20, 7:20 pm CT @ Carolina Panthers (NBC)

Monday Dec 28, 7:30 pm CT @ Chicago Bears (ESPN)

Sunday Jan 3, 12 pm CT vs. New York Giants (FOX)

Starting off against the Browns, Lions and Niners? Two MNF games? Makes up for having to face the Ravens and Steelers back-to-back. Does not make up for the fact that Minnesota's QB corps is just one step above Bobby Hebert/Bubby Brister.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Easter Eggs and Turkey Slices

People doing Snoopy dances.

Actually, Lucy has been known to raise her prices as circumstances demand.

In fact It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown was the last special to feature new Guaraldi music.

Snoopy gets down.

The bloom is off the rose. Tina Fey won't save you now.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown

AIRDATE: 4/16/84

STORY: What do you say about a 25-year-old special that was recently reborn on DVD?

Charles Schulz watches Flashdance, and dedicates a single solitary strip to Snoopy updating his classic dance style as "Flashbeagle". The drawing of a Bealsy beagle proved too tempting and within the next year the world would have It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.

(This is a clear take-off of the Flashdance phenomenon, not disco, as some people have claimed. Certain scenes mimic Saturday Night Fever, but that's it. The music is not disco at all.)

The "story" is flimsy as a dryer sheet in a tornado. The first images we see are of a football game between Snoopy's smash squad and P. Pat's preteen pounders. After each TD, Snoopy dances hilariously. Apparently, the shaking of the groove thing has become an obsession for Snoop, 'cause when he gets back home, he pulls a boom box out of his doghouse and proceeds to burn up the grass underneath his feet.

Back to Peppermint Patty, in school with Marcie. She falls asleep, sits on her best friend's head, and gets her little Jimmy Durante nose caught in her binder. Straight from the strip are these vignettes, but if you're curious as to how this advances any sort of plot, well...it doesn't. Songs, not sighing existentialism, provides the beef of this show. You might be a vegetarian.

It starts with Patty leading the gang in an invigorating workout while warbling "I'm In Shape"; Lucy takes over a hoary party game and turns it into "Lucy Says"; then it's time to blow the filthy jug and do the "Pig Pen Hoedown".

Charlie Brown doesn't have his own song, but he does have a fishing rod up his ass--again--about Snoopy's independence and general un-dog tendencies. Go cry, round headed kid.

The culmination of all this randomness is one of the most extraordinary, hilarious sequences in Peanuts animation. It's enough to see Snoopy in the bathroom, blow drying his ears to Rage-worthy afro puffs. It's great watching him get dressed, turning an orange turtleneck into a hot dance outfit. But to witness this ineffably cool character moving his little John Travolta legs down the sidewalk as the soundtrack blares, stopping only to stomp his feet and clap his hands to either Franklin or Franklin's twin brother breakdance, then finally entering a club bursting with decidedly grown-up characters and just destroying that fucking game of Simon doubling as a dance floor, blowing everyone else away with impregnable arrogance, undeniable skill, unflappable cool--y'all, I don't know if it was the intention of Schulz and crew to encapsulate everything that was hysterically brilliant about the most O.T.T decade of human history but they did it. Fantastically.

In one final nod to the strip, Sally takes a beleaguered beagle to school for Show and Tell. It's all rather dull till some weird kid takes a boom box out of his desk and gets everyone dancing. Which pisses off Chuck when he finds out, but baby sister will hear none of his grief: "You just leave him alone. That's the first time I've ever got an A in Show and Tell." Snoopy is the coolest.

This is the most dated Peanuts special ever--and it's not even close. But later you'll read why I don't think that's a negative. 8.5.

ANIMATION: 8. Jittery in places, and the colors don't have much life to them. I'd rank it a 7 if not for the Flashbeagle sequence, where the animators seemed to put all their resources and energy.

For those not up on their 80s trivia, Marine Jahan was the real Flashdancer, performing all the moves in film while Jennifer Beals got all the credit. You just gotta love Schulz and 'em, 'cause if they were gonna do a goddamn show based on Flashdance, they were gonna get the real deal. Using Jahan's moves as their model, the animators used rotoscoping--the process of drawing a character over live action--to make Snoopy a dancing wonder. See some of the magic here.

MUSIC: I am an 80s freak. I was born in '77, and my childhood was MTV coming through the non-HD set late at night after my dad left for work and my brother busted out the illegal cable converter. Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Prince, of course we loved the legends. But our hearts had room for the endless parade of one-hit wonders as well: Rockwell, A Flock of Seagulls, Big Country (any band that puts their name in the title of one of their songs is winning). I loved it then as a stupid kid, and love it now as a somewhat-wiser adult. Supra-pop, baby. So how do you think I feel about the tuneskis here?

The kids solo numbers are not as terrible as you may hear. (I have a Peppermint Patty fanatic friend who loathes these.) It's jarring to see Patty in leotards, but the idea is pristine: Jill Schulz was apparently quite the aerobicizer. "I'm In Shape" is innocuous fun, right down to that wholesale "Mickey" jack in the middle.

"Lucy Says" is the best of the bunch, because it fits the character totally. Lucy putting her peers on notice and bossing them around makes absolute sense.

"Pig Pen Hoedown", eh? Schulz never cared for the young filthmeister much; too one-note. Couldn't really get great ideas out of a kid whose whole schtick was he was just dirty all the time, and not just dirty but like spectacularly foul. Pig Pen made a fantastic impression by just being who he was, but name a great story in the strip with him. I can't. He had no unrequited love, no particular emotional quirk, he was just grubby. Awesome for giving nicknames to hippies, but little else. Also I've never been much on hoedowns unless Homer Simpson is leading them.

Then we have the theme song. Composed by future weddeds Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette (the latter of whom shares singing duties with Joey "Last American Hero" Scarbury), "Flashbeagle" is not on the level of "Hungry Like the Wolf" (the pinnacle of 80s pop) but is definitely the superior of "(Don't You) Forget About Me" (the nadir of 80s soundtrack pop--apologies to those of you who still reminisce on your first broken heart to that song). It's a clear take-off on Michael Sembello's "Maniac"--peep those stabbing piano chords--and the lyrics are just unbelievably great.

He steps on the floor without making a sound
Then he starts feeling the beat
You would think the floor was greased
By the way he's moving his feet


He's a champion
He is the best
Impossible to tame
People say that he's obsessed
Listen to the sound of his name
They call him Flash- Flash- Flash- Flash- Flaaaashbeagle
When he goes around the whole room starts to reel
You know he's Flash- Flash- Flash- Flash- Flaaaashbeagle
When he jumps up high he glides like a wild eagle

Lightning flashes when he leaps up
He's got everybody shouting for more
Thunder crashes when he hits the ground
He's burning up the dancin' floor

(repeat chorus)

From the fur on his feet to the tip of his nose
He's got rhythm pumping all through his veins
He spins like a top that'll never stop
With the power of a hurricane

Just awesome. 9

VOICES: Brett Johnson is a rather workaday Charlie B. (7.5), but he's so put-on. Dog cooler than him, he has to sing Pig Pen's song. Aw man. Gary Goren does Schroeder, and I'm as impressed as you'd imagine. 5. Gini Holtzman (Patty) and Keri Houlihan (Marcie) are flawless as the best pair of buddies in the Peanuts universe (yep, even better than Snoop & 'Stock). Patty in particular steals what of the dialogue there is to steal: "I'm so dumb I wish all classes were gym" (said, mind you, with utter glee) and the ready-for-sampling "Art is next".

Stacy Ferguson as Sally. Yeah. You know that she grew up to become "Fergie", the chick in Black Eyed Peas, who certainly did not need her help to suck. Then she went on to great solo success. Far from feigning any sort embarrassment, Fergie actually openly talks about her Peanuts past.

BLENDER: WHAT'S THE COOLEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?

FERGIE
: Being the voice of Sally for a Peanuts cartoon. I actually have a thing that Charles Schulz wrote me. He drew Snoopy and it says, "To our best Sally ever -- Schulz." That's cool! Schulz called me the best Sally ever.

I disagree with Mr. Schulz (the original Sally is still the best to my ears) but let not the future retroactively taint my opinion of a young girl wetting her beak in the hectic world of voice-over acting. God help us all, but Fergie's Sally is very cute and very fun. My humps my humps. Damnit! 9

But wait! There's more! Two more, in fact. There's additional "sung by" credits for four young'uns, but I only care about Brad Kesten as Chuck and Jessie Lee Smith as Lucy. Smith's star turn beats anything I've heard outta Fergie, and is exactly how I would imagine Lucy to sing: just belting it out living-room Broadway style. 9.5. Kesten is saddled with the worst of the songs, "Pig Pen Hoedown" but does his best (I assume). 7.5. Not really his fault.

(I'm always curious to find out what the adult versions of these kid actors thought about the whole Peanuts experience. For Kesten's take on Flashbeagle check out the Youtube comments here. "Sucked balls"? That's harsh, dude.)

AND STILL I NEVER REALLY LET GO OF THE DREAM

--Saw them open for SY in Milwaukee a few years back. They were like a bunch of Peppermint Pattys up on stage. Too bad the crowd was like all Thibaults and Mad Punters.

--

Nothing to say.

--"Dated" does not automatically equal "shit."

These days I fall asleep to reruns of The Golden Girls on the Hallmark Channel (yeah, they have a channel). TGG is another thing from the 80s that I loved--that a lot of people loved--that I can still enjoy now in the 21st century. (Of all the things that entertained my young self in that decade, sitcoms have aged the worst. By far.) Who wouldn't dig on four old broads bitching? And man is it dated. References to Dan Quayle, Jessica Hahn, Miami Vice. And the clothes! All puffy and bright, even more glaring than the Miami sun they studiously avoided. In spite of such era-defining elements, the show does not live and die by the period in which it was produced. There is a definite timelessness in oversexed Blanche and sweet-as-curry-dumb-as-rocks Rose.

You could say the same about Peanuts. The latest installment of The Complete Peanuts has a strip that references Johnny Horizon. Who? Don't forget other panels where Schulz namedrops Annette Funicello, Rod McKuen and the 30th birthday of Bob Dylan. What's positive about putting in references that threaten to alienate future readers/viewers/listeners is that just maybe you inspire them to find out what the hell you're talking about. Like when I searched the Internet for Johnny Horizon. I had to find out who the hell he was and why Schulz would put him in his strip.

--
"...and don't think I feel sorry for you 'cause your daddy died. My father came back from the Korean War with his brains so scrambled, he thought he was Jesus! They put him in a nuthouse for five years, when he came out, he didn't think he was Jesus no more, he thought he was God. Which made me Jesus. This shit got pretty heavy!"


--

To my mind, one of the top ten moments in Peanuts animated history. This is not comparable to Frankin's deathless rap in It's Spring Training. That shit almost made my brain ooze out of my eyes. It was obviously forced into the special. Flashbeagle is the special. This is an 80s thing, you'll either like it or you won't. It's no barometer of your overall intelligence or coolness no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

No matter how many years I log on this globe, how much harsh Japanese noise I listen to, my young girls soul will always be in front of the TV, eating a McDonalds Value Meal and watching Purple Rain.

FAMILY GUY IS AS FUNNY AS DANE COOK. NOW HERE'S THREE MINUTES OF CONWAY TWITTY.

See, I just dated this whole post.

--If I read one more review talking about how the Peanuts mythology (whatever the hell that is) was ruined by the presence of adults....

Flashbeagle was the not the first--or last--Peanuts special to show adults. She's a Good Skate actually had adults talking. Which these reviewers would know if they did research and actually understood their subject. Schulz had adults in the strip, the infamous "Lucy in the golf tournament" storyline. He later expressed regret over his decision, but so it was, right there in black and white. Know of what you speak. There is a whole rich history. Acquaint yourself with it if you choose to speak on the subject with such ambition.

The Simpsons do yearly Treehouse of Horror episodes wherein they use Halloween as creative license to go apeshit with their characters. People turn into monsters, die, the world ends, it's madness. The fans understand that the producers use TOH as a playground for their wildest imaginations, so no one bitches when Homer gets turned into a jack-in-the-box. I would urge anyone watching Peanuts specials to divorce them from whatever you know of the comics. Much as they may be inspired by the strips, they are not canon. Schulz made this abundantly clear in his lifetime. Thus, he could do stuff that would be verboten in the strip (which was held sacrosanct): give Franklin and Marcie last names, show redhaired girls, show and/or voice adult characters. It's pretty simple.

--Imagine if Schulz had watched Sophie's Choice and cooked up a story where the Van Pelts are approached by a mysterious stranger who makes Lucy choose which of her brothers to keep and which to hand over?

--So is the background supposed to pan backwards as Snoopy pounds the pave?

----------------------------------------------------------------

Flashbeagle is now on DVD, as a "bonus feature" on the Snoopys Reunion release. The soundtrack is available here, along with proof that not everyone thought this show was a wretched abomination. Wow, maybe it even made them laugh.

Anyone who thinks this is the worst Peanuts ever put on TV has never seen It's the Pied Piper. That review is gonna be painful.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Loss In the Sports World

Close to home, this. He wasn't even expected to make the Angels rotation so soon, but the team needed his arm, and last night Adenhart proved his mettle with six scoreless innings. A no-decision, but a big "yes" to the question of whether or not he had the tools to hang in the big leagues.

Then he's gone.

Adenhart's signing with L.A. was a big deal in Hagerstown and Williamsport, much pride and hope for a talented guy that by all accounts was also a decent young man. My deepest sympathies to everyone that will miss Nick Adenhart in their lives.

Life is short.

Drunk drivers suck.

Spam of Doom

A while ago I took a quiz at one of those specialty sites...can't even remember what for now. Anyway, I had to be reminded to take myself off their email list when I received an email from them in my spam folder entitled "when will you die jenn". They want you to take the ever-popular predict-your-death-age quiz, of course, but I just couldn't get over the morbidity of it all. What a hell of a thing to see on your screen!

Today at the gym, while warming up for my weight circuit routine, I put a 17.5 lb. dumbbell back on the rack improperly. It fell seven or eight inches onto my right foot. It didn't hurt anywhere near as much you'd think or fear, probably due to my sneakers, which are more padded than the dancers butts in that new BK Spongebob ad (whatever they paid Sir Mix-a-Lot, it wasn't enough). I was able to do my hour-long workout without any pain (only occasional discomfort when walking), which is a great sign. I sit here now typing with the "hillbilly icepack" on: a Ziploc bag filled with cubes, kept tight in place around my bruised limb with duct tape.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Watch Easter Beagle Tomorrow on ABC

Good grief for really real.

Saw the footage of Bristol Palin's former fuck-buddy on Tyra Banks while I was doing cardio at the gym. Their daughter has no chance.

Boooo.

This all sounds great, but they better do it up for summer.

I really don't care where these kids know Snoopy from, so long as they know him. "Cutest Comic Character", no shit.

I can't believe that I, first, missed this article, and second, didn't pick up on the references when I saw Rushmore.

Comes out tomorrow, y'all. Don't neglect Flashbeagle! So eighties!

Maybe the Charlie Brown moment of all time.

The new Nixon? I...those words together confuse me, and maybe even make me a little wary.

PEOPLE, I AM SERIOUS! Watch this! Can you do any less? I cannot wait to review that special.

Can't believe I missed more "Patty and Marcie are dykes" action on SNL.

Schulz wouldn't believe how old Zimmerman is now.

North Korea is playing the Cat Next Door right now. Japan is straight Woodstock status.

You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown

Pigpen! 5! And all your favorites in Peanuts Christ Superstar!

AIRDATE: 3/19/79

STORY: The Junior Olympics are coming! They're like the Special Olympics, but world leaders don't feel as comfortable making jokes about them. At whatever hell school the gang attends, events are filling up quick, but no one has come forth to rep their education-house in the (gulp) decathlon, that ten-headed Greek monster of athletic competence. Lucy, Linus, Marcie and Peppermint Patty want no part (and per the strip, the latter two don't even attend the same school as the other kids). Too taxing, goes the room consensus. Then in comes Charlie. Early birds get worms, late birds get wormy little girls talking up the decathlon like it's the bestest thing since the printing press. (Lucy's not bad; she's just drawn that way.) Despite Linus' attempts at protestation, Chuck is sold when Lucy explains, "You don't have to be good at any one thing in particular."

Well, if he's going to be participating in runs of 100, 400 and 1500-meters, 110-meter high hurdles, javelin and discus throws, shot put, pole vault, high jump, and long jump, he'll need a trainer. P. Pat like Jim Dandy! Under her trainers eye, Chuck endures calisthenics and weight training, as Snoopy tags along frivolously. Also in attendance is Patty's shadow Marcie, who seems in awe of Charlie Brown's determination. Still Patty is unconvinced that she has molded him into a kick-ass warrior, and recruits Marcie to the competition as back up. Going against them will be Freddy Fabulous from Fremont and the Masked Marvel, repping Ace Obedience School.

After a trying first day, Charlie Brown sits in a respectable third. This imbues his spirit with hope, a feeling he's far from accustomed to. Inevitably, the second and final day begins disastrously when he places dead last in the cursed hurdles. P. Pat is propelled into paroxysms of perturbedness. Resisting his natural urge--to go sink to the bottom with all the other lees--he grabs first place in both discus and javelin.

All he has to do is win the 1500 meter race to take the overall gold.

Just like You're a Good Sport..., Charlie Brown could actually win.

Flying high upon the wings of love, our knobby-kneed half-a-hero breaks ahead of the pack. Cheers in his ears, empty race track before his eyes, Jeffrey Osborne in that part of his brain that traps songs for up to several hours at a time, Charlie Brown submits. He permits his eyes full closure and allows his mind to drift off into a daydream nation where no red-haired little girl can resist a Pumpkinhead Rain King.

This is his moment. Undeniable. Unquestionable. Everyone will love, no, adore him. Charlie Brown! It's hero time, which is like Hammer Time with shorts instead of parachute pants.

Then he runs clear off the track, right off the school grounds.


Later, sitting under a resplendent tree with Peppermint Patty (the setting for so many wonderful strips), Chuck learns that his stupidity was Marcie's shining moment, as she took both the race and decathlon. Her other opponents, The Marvel and Alliteration Boy, remained conscious of their surroundings, but got into a fight mid-race, which also helped her cause. If only that had been animated!

Cue Marcie to walk up on her friends and redefine the term "gracious winner", bestowing all sorts of florid praise on the clearly-cursed Charles. Then, to his pleasure, Patty's ambivalence, and the viewers shock, Marcie lifts her glasses (revealing her eyes for the first and only time) and winks at the boy she loves who could never love her. 8.5

ANIMATION: On the cusp of the 80s, you know, so you already know the colors are saturated. Everything has to just jump out and grab ya like abracadabra! The difference between this and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the difference between Cyndi Lauper and Petula Clark. Nice job with Marcie's incessant, disarmingly adorable smiling, though. 7.5

MUSIC: By now my readers should understand that when I say "Bogas and Munsen" I mean "loud and repetitive". 7. Y'all..that wah-wack guitar part when Freddy's about to high jump? Do I smell effort?

VOICES: Arrin Skelley got an 8 from me in First Kiss, and so here. Same with Michelle Muller's Lucy, who sounds very mature. Tim Hall gets one too, for not making Freddy Alliteration Boy sound like a bully from Race For Your Life.

Linus doesn't appear much, so a 7 for Daniel Anderson is relative. Patricia Patts, a repeat performer with a fantastic name, earns an 8.5. But as in the decathlon, Marcie takes top honors, scoring as 9. Casey Carlson is a joy here. Marcie comes across as sweet and supportive, not saccharine and obsequious. ("You are strong", she tells Charlie Brown as he trains. She may be the only one who believes it.)

(Final note: Chuck's grunts whilst hefting the barbell are courtesy an uncredited Mel Blanc, taken from the Looney Tunes cartoon "Tease For Two".)

SHOT PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER

--Freddy is big and dismissive. He's here to win damnit, and has little time for all this "Good Grief"-ness and overall existential muhlally. His meanest act is calling Charlie Brown "Pumpkinhead"--nice call-back to You're a Good Sport--but really, that's not an insult to make Dorothy Parker cry.

--We get to see a Jenn-you-win Snoopy dance!

--Good thing nobody in the neighborhood drives, or Charlie Brown could have been in real trouble at the end.

YOU CAN'T COMPETE IN THE DISCUS TILL YOU FILL UP YOUR PISS CUP

--Oh heavenly stars, an adult announcers voice?! That's not Peanuts! Stop parking on my memories! Oh the whole show is ruined for me now!

If you feel this way, you probably also think your mother and father lost their virginity to each other.

--Neither Charlie Brown or Peppermint Patty have heard of Ace Obedience School. However, hardcore fans know that there is extensive evidence to the contrary.

Ladies and gentlemen...here tonight...hailing from 1976, weighing in at 37 strips...the longest storyline in Peanuts history!









































































Schulz once said that Peppermint Patty could make a great comic strip series on her own, and that run proves him right.

--Bill Melendez coaches the voice actors, and I would have loved to know the story behind the lack of uniformity in the pronunciation of "decathlon". Lucy says "lon", while the other kids say "linn" (the latter is correct, incidentally). However, when Charlie Brown says it for the last time, while under the tree, he says "lon" at the end.

--Is Peppermint Patty's look of consternation after Marcie's wink out of jealousy, or anger, or disappointment? Is she peeved to have a rival for Chuck's heart, or does she feel for her friend, knowing that Charlie Brown will never return either of the girls feelings?

Charlie Brown could never love a girl who kicks his ass at sports, or a girl who wears glasses. You Just Made Two Little Girls Into Lesbians, Charlie Brown.




Sunday, April 5, 2009

You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown

Baseball season starts today. Yep.

AIRDATE: 10/28/75

STORY: Immediately we are thrust into one of Charles Schulz' most beloved themes: sports. A yellow-clad beagle crosses a tennis court on his way to retrieve an automated ball-server. Somehow this turns into misadventure.

The first fourth of the story features Snoopy's foibles with a racket. It's only when the beleaguered beagle is yelled at by a kiddy-dyke on a motor bike that the "A story" begins. And what a story it is! (Har! I'm almost as funny as Seth MacFarlane.) A motocross race for the kids is imminent, and Peppermint Patty is determined to embarrass as many of her friends as she can on her way to certain victory. Her recruiting technique consists of selling potential racers on the increasing awesomosity of motocross ("the sport that's sweeping the nation!") and the irresistible grand prize--two tickets to the Pro Bowl! Wow. A homeless person would refuse that as a gift. ("I'd rather have the can of pumpkin mix.")

Forever-ass-fire Linus goes with Charlie Brown to purchase a bike that can do the job. They find the equivalent of a Section 7-G drone, a beat-up two-wheeler that may shatter if tipped over. Charlie Brown has already experienced one humiliation today--Lucy pulled the ball away again. He seems to be setting himself up for epic failure.

Especially when he arrives at the track and sees a flamingly sanguine Patty showing off her skills. And particularly when he sees the Masked Marvel. And especiaticulary when you see he has number 13.

After the first turn--the first turn! You scouted your own team!--Charlie Brown and the Marvel wipe out. One gets taken to the vet, the other to the hospital. A caged up blockhead comes to his senses, retrieves his pup, and returns to the race. How either has a realistic chance at winning after all that time elapsed is beyond my mind, I mean aren't there to laps to make up? Regardless.

The mudpits claim every racer save the boy and his dog. The Marvels sizable lead causes much rejoicing from the gathered throng, and he treats his adoring public with spins and wheelies. At which point his bike (#1) dies. Sputter sputter pfft! Luckily for the Marvel (and all those who enjoy watching animals best humans at competitive endeavors), the tennis court is right near the track! Such convenience you can't imagine! Some rejiggering later, and the Masked Marvel is plop atop his new vehicle--the automated ball-server. Not only is it swift enough to keep him ahead of the dwindled pack, it gives him the chance to turn around and fire balls at his enemies.

Unfortunately for the Marvel (and all those who enjoy watching animals best humans at competitive endeavors), the mudpit claims him as its last victim. As he sinks deep into the gurgling pudding, Charlie Brown sputters and shakes to victory.

What an improbable outcome! Surely some catch? No, blockhead wins. Boo, cry the Peanuts purists, Charlie Brown can't win! He's a loser! As sure as the sun rises and sets, as certainly as the planets circle the sun, as absolutely as the New York Yankees are ruining Major League Baseball, Charlie Brown must lose!

Fret not, dear faithful, for the mind of Charles Schulz never let us down.* Here comes Loretta, "The Motocross Queen", to present Charlie Brown with his hard-earned reward. However. The promised prize--Pro Bowl tickets--could not be acquired, so instead, Charlie Brown receives...five free haircuts!

"But my dad's a barber! And I don't have that much hair to cut!"

Oh Henry!

I give this one a 9. It won an Emmy, and should probably earn a retroactive Peabody considering all the detritus passing as "childrens programming" on today's glow-box.

ANIMATION: Classic 70s look. Superbly drawn and filled. Snoopy's canary-colored gear looks great contrasted with the blue-gray of the tennis court. The dirt tracks are a festival of ugly browns, culminating with those choco-pudding mudpits. Oh, and use of a single-color backdrop during scenes where someone loses their shit? Check.

The tennis game was done fantastically. Snoopy rushing end to end, exhausting himself for that final point--awesome awesome awesome. When he p-tuis the ball out of his mouth, hell, even the expectorate was done tastefully. 9.5

MUSIC: Instantly our ears are massaged by "Motocross", a brilliant Vince Guaraldi composition that surely ranks in his Top 5 (and is captured in untrammelled glory on this CD--buy it!). The hopscotch-drunk bass line barely has time to fill the shelves in your cortex before gentle key drops splash down from the clouds. The sun peeks through in the form of wishful washy synth. Synth in fact dominates throughout, which never did Bogas and Munsen any favors, but this is Guaraldi, people. The two of them couldn't measure up to half of that man. 10.

VOICES: It becomes difficult after so many reviews to explain precisely what makes voice acting either good or not good. I try.

Duncan Wilson gets 7.5 for his Charlie Brown. Did a good job considering he had a retainer glued to the inside of his mouth for the entire recording process. Stuart Brotman's double P scores 8.5 for sounding like the only kid in the world with smokers throat. Gets loud very suddenly--"A GOOD ATHLETE LIKE YOU!"

Gail Davis and Liam Martin get 8's for Sally and Linus. Melanie Kohn pulls a double shift as Lucy and Loretta, and gets a 9 for not being annoying. As my man Macca says, "It's a fine line."

The sole 10 goes to Jimmy Aherns, who also got a perfect score for the job he did in There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown. No hitches, no hiccups. The sequence where Marcie interviews all the racers as they prep, and cuts them of before they get a chance to utter their cliches, is absurd and wonderful.

WHOOP DE DOS

--The premise of this special was inspired by Craig Schulz, whose passion for motocross struck his father as great fodder for the Peanuts gang. A DVD extra features home video of young Craig doing his thing with his bike all around the family grounds, contrasted with adult Craig reflecting on that time. It's spooky how much he sounds like his pops.

--Charlie Brown's helmet bit the foot long in that collision with his dog, so Linus hops to the rescue, summoning forth one of the sincerest specimens from the whole patch and carving out some headgear that fits his pal to pumpkinhead perfection. (Remember that horror flick Pumpkinhead? All the shit went down when those older kids rolled in with their dirt bikes.)

--Snoopy's match runs from 2:13 to 6:10, with only score updates by a Linus-y voice breaking the silence. Up 6-5, Snoop blows his chance to win in a manner worthy of his conjectural master: repeated faults and shot-whiffing. Suitably, he reacts like Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe doing lines of coke with King Kong Bundy. It'll make your throat hurt from laughing, but your entire voice might go when the winner is revealed.

--

"See kid, that's 'meta'."

--

Jesus, even the screen capture kills me. The automated ball server should be an unlockable ground attack vehicle in the upcoming Flying Ace video game.

EVER HEARD OF "THE WALL", KIDS?

--A Sunday strip comes to animated life as Sally and her eternal infernal infuriator Linus shuffle off to the courts ("That's the only trouble with tennis", laments Linus. "You can't play it alone.")

Sally's apprehension of a full house sets Linus off. He hurls invective at those bastard "older kids" who get off on bullying the poor young'uns like them, why, "they'll play all day!" Shot through with vicarious outrage, Sally advances toward the (unseen) older kids and starts threatening them with the wrath of her "boyfriend". Who promptly goes from vengeful to gutless, leaving Sally alone on a bench to bemoan, "That's the only trouble with tennis. You can't play it alone."

--"How will I ever afford a motorbike? I'm not a millionaire." That's why I like babies over kids, babies don't say dumb stuff like that. Babies don't say, period. WINfants.

--Determined to keep the flame of triumph burning high and long, and to justify stenciling "BAD MOTHERFUCKER" in the zig zag of his shirt, Chuck Ol' Boy heads out to the mound and vows that this will be the end. That 980-game losing streak will end. That's the spirit! That's your clothes strewn all over the field!

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You're a Good Sport was fun to review. Great to watch, great to just listen to, without a single cringe worthy moment. Nah, even that "sweeping the nation" part was more hilariously cornball than groan-inducing. I've seen other reviews of the new DVD that come to similar conclusions. This is an overlooked treasure, especially appealing to the little Peanuts fan.


*Well, there was Pied Piper. But that was just the one time!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On the Sanctimony

You know what? I hope weed is legalized. Really. I've never used it, likely never will, but damnit, I want this drug legalized.

Because in my experience at parties, where I have turned down drug after drug (save for alcohol), no spurned would-be buddy responds with such haughty sanctimony as the weed user. I've been accused of buying into anti-pot propaganda, of being narrow-brained, of being scared, of being lame.

So I hope marijuana is made smokeable for all without punishment. Then, and only then, would the self-righteous tokers suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them. I hope they make fucking weed ads starring hot chicks with Juggalo face paint listening to Kottonmouth Kings. I hope an NFL quarterback explains an errant pass with, "I got hold of a potent strain before the game, you know?" I hope this sacrosanct plant becomes downright respectable.

Friday, April 3, 2009

You Think This Homer Nixon Is Any Relation?

Congratulations middling songstress Natasha Bedingfield, on your glorious weeping nuptials. Please take your husbands last name so I never again have to suffer through those inglorious moments when someone hears my last name and says, "Like the singer!"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Day After April Fools

Thankfully, I exist among a group of people for whom the lame April 1st joke is so declasse.

The Conficker virus is the new Mayan Calendar. The hype...don't believe it. Stay informed and protected and you're good.

I'll be hitting up two of the area's finer antique emporiums (har!) this Saturday: Remember When and Beaver Creek Antiques. The prey? Snoopy. And of course I'll keep y'all abreast of my findings. Of course! Pics and text and cookies and money and all sorts of things!