Mad as a Mars Hare*

“This joint makes Siberia look like Miami Beach.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, and Tom Ray; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on October 19, 1963.

We are not alone in space. Someone is watching us. Observing us. His name is Marvin. And for once in his life, he’s not waging any kind of war on Earth and its inhabitants. No, he’s a scientist in this picture. (His final one too.) And Earth has a good many species to look at. From the mighty, majestic mammals, to the small and oft-forgotten insects. Marvin has a particular interest in those. His favorite is the one called “man.”

Even more exciting though, is what appears to be some sort of fledgling species leaving Earth for the first time. It’s coming right toward Marvin too! After the crash, he decides that he must exterminate whatever is landing on his planet. It really is the only way to deal with invasive species. Might as well nip it in the bud, and have as little suffering as martianly possible.

We on Earth call this species a “rocket ship.” It’s hypothesized that they could take invasive species to new planets and give them new worlds to colonize, pillage, and maim. The downside being that we haven’t had much of a way to test it, and we sure as heck aren’t going to test it on our own kind. That’s why we send those like “Astro-rabbit” Bugs Bunny to do our dirty work. Now rabbits, they’re expendable.

Bugs wants no part in this and refuses to leave his ship. Mission control was prepared for this, and have prepared a fool-proof plan to get Bugs’ attention, and get him off the ship: a carrot. Bugs takes note, and his leave. (And his front teeth seem to be missing the line normally there to separate the two. Kinda makes them look like a large vampiric tongue.) Tricked again. Carrots lured him into Cape Canaveral in the first place, and worse,  he can’t even enjoy the one he’s just obtained. It’s aluminum.

Marvin shows up with a disintegration gun in hand. Bugs hardly bats an eye, and just takes the gun away. But it goes off anyhow, and Marvin isn’t even half the martian he used to be. This calls for a quick trip to the re-integrator, and a more powerful weapon: the time-space gun. With it, Marvin will be able to project Bugs forward in time where he’ll be a harmless, useful slave. So…what does that entail? Is it just supposed to age Bugs up? We’ve seen him that way. I don’t think he’d be complacent. Is it supposed to morph him into a higher stare of being? One that doesn’t believe in violence, and instead wishes to help those around it?

I ask these questions, because of what happens next. Marvin shoots Bugs all right, but he had the gun set in reverse, and Bugs has now become some frightening combination of rabbit and neanderthal. He’s not younger, and while I would count him as a more primitive species, I’d be more inclined to think he’d end up like this:

Maybe it just wasn’t built was Earth species.

Regardless of what I think, this new form works well in the rabbit’s favor, as he is able to snap the gun with his bare paws, and squish Marvin into his own helmet. Even better, his jaws have become powerful enough to munch on the metal carrot. Sure, he’s still stuck up here for the time being, but as soon as he DOES find a way back home, Elmer (who Bugs name drops despite the studio having retired him by this point) is going to be in for quite the surprise. All in all, things worked out quite nicely.

Favorite Part: Getting some introspection on Bugs and his love of carrots. He wonders why it is that he loves them so much. They’re dry and lacking figurative meat. Like life’s hardest questions, he can’t come up with an answer on the spot. (Personally, befitting his Grouchoesque tendencies, I always saw it as the carrot equivalent of a cigar. Dependencies are hard to give up.)

Personal Rating: 3, but that’s only for the common folk who expect and want mindless cartoon action. I think the more intellectual types can classify it with the 4’s.

*This definitely gets my vote for best pun title.

The Slick Chick

“Why that little monster of yorn, makes Dennis the Menace look like an angel!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonicksen, Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc and Julie Bennett; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on July 21, 1962.

A hen is looking for somebody to babysit her son while she goes to a hen party. (Her words.) Her name is probably Widowhen, seeing as how the two guys who address her, refer to her as “Widahen” and “Widerhen.” I’ve at least narrowed it down to those three. But Mr. Cackle, the elderly rooster on the farm, refuses to take part in babysitting. Junior there, gives chickens a bad name. (Worse than McNuggets?)

Having heard those remarks, Foghorn steps in to defend the kid. (I’m pretty sure Mel is just using his Tweety voice for this character, they just didn’t speed it up.) In Foggy’s words, there is no such thing as a “bad boy.” To prove it, HE will take over the sitting while W-hen is gone. Barely out of sight, and Junior pokes his sitter with a pin. Foghorn is ready to strangle, but he can’t let the cackling Cackle have the last cackle. Chalking it up to simple boyhood pranks, Foghorn takes his charge to find him some fun.

Good thing Foghorn has a box of toys for the little scamp. He can play, and Foghorn can nap. (The best way to babysit. Only neglectful types talk on the phone while they’re in charge.)

Admit it. You’ve always hated her too.

Junior is upset to find this box intended to entertain little children only contains things to entertain little children. He decides to take a peek in the barn because “There’s always something exciting in a barn.” (Man, if I had couple hundred dollars for every time I saw that on a T-shirt.) To his delight, he finds a cement mixer and uses it to rig up a little trap. Then, playing phony phireman, he wakes Foghorn up with a phake emergency that sends him running right into the mix.

Once free of the concrete prison, Foggy threatens to tell the kid’s mother. Junior has blackmail of his own though, and he threatens to tell his mom about Foghorn’s crippling horse race addiction. Foghorn denies such things, but he can’t resist once the kid starts imitating one. The rooster angrily tells the kid to go play in the freeway. Which I only bring up so I had an excuse to make this:

Yes, well, anyway…

Junior finds a balloon to play with. It’s the weather variety, so he attaches it to Foghorn’s hammock and cuts it loose, lifting the big bird into the stratosphere. Naturally, Foggy wants down. The boy shoots him down, and provides him with a landing pad as well. It’s the land mine variety, so Foghorn blows up. And yet, he still claims there is no such thing as a “bad boy.” Mostly because this boy is the “worst.”

Favorite Part: The fact that Junior was upset with the toy selection, when one of said toys was a gun. I don’t care if it was still a toy, he could have modified it!

Personal Rating: 3

A Taste of Catnip

“Hello? Oh, Señor Duck! Como sta?”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Michael O’Connor; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Bob Matz, Manny Perez, Norm McCabe, George Grandpre, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc and Gonzales Gonzales; Musical Direction by Walter Greene. A Merrie Melody released on December 3, 1966.

At Guadalajara Medical centre, you won’t find a better shrink than that of Dr. Manuel Jose Olvera Sebastian Rudolfo Ortiz Pancho Jiminez Perez III. (His friends call him Rudy.) He really is the top of his game, but he can’t help but point out how strange some of his clientele are behind their backs. Such as the time he helped out a fellow by the name of Daffy Duck.

It was about a year ago that Daffy entered the office with quite the peculiar neurosis. It all began when he was at the park. He saw Speedy walk by and he felt a powerful urge that he had never felt before. He wanted to eat Speedy. But that’s absurd, cartoon ducks don’t eat mice! And yet, every time Speedy crosses his path, Daffy has to avoid seeing him to keep his hunger pangs out of control. But things get worse as he finds himself desperately needing to do something else he’s never even conceived of thinking up. He rushes to the nearest trash receptacle, pokes his head in, and lets out a “meow”.

The symptoms worsen. He begins to stalk Speedy on all fours. His competion is not appreciated by Sylvester the cameo. (Marking this short as the cat’s final appearance during the golden era.) So why not just stay home, away from the source of the obsession? Well, Speedy has moved into Daffy’s house and tries to be neighborly, inviting the duck to dinner and everything.

And it’s not like the life of a cat is all overrated videos and lasagna. Daffy now has an instinctual fear of (color changing) dogs, and a need to lap milk from a saucer. That he kept in an unrefrigerated hiding place on top of a hanging lamp. From a color-changing carton. As if drinking milk wasn’t gross enough! (And yes, I’m aware that real cats aren’t supposed to be drinking the stuff either. No need to think you can try and teach me something.)

So, Daffy has come to Rudy for advice. First up, the Rorschach test. Daffy refuses to admit he sees a mouse, even though the doctor sees the same thing. Thus, he deduces that the problem isn’t mental, but physical. Which probably isn’t part of his profession, but what the hey. He enjoys looking with his microscope. He must have taken a blood sample at some point because he has some shocking news: Daffy’s blood catnip is 3.2%!

Wait…. his what?

Yeah, it seems that Daffy’s got catnip on the brain, spine, and circulatory system. Rudy tells him to find the source, and upon returning home, Daffy notices something that he hadn’t before, but probably should have. (So self-centered!) There’s a catnip factory right across the street from his place, and the fumes have been doing things to him. Well, it must be stopped. Peaceful protests, letters to the C.E.O., and poisoning the workforce all take time. Daffy jumps straight to the ultimate solution: bombing.

Well, that problem is fixed, but Daffy is now on the hit list of every cat in the country. All three of them. (One of whom is Sylvester. I wish the other two were Claude and Conrad. What joy I would have!) Still, his feline urges have been suppressed, so I’d call it a happy ending. Rudy meanwhile, is on to his next patient. Speedy himself! And if the quacking is any indication, then I think Speedy thinks he’s a duck! Looks like a certain tape factory won’t be around too much longer.

Favorite Part: Daffy bombing the factory. Such an over-the-top solution for a minuscule problem. Exactly what how I’d expect Daffy to handle it.

Personal Rating: 3 Amazing quality considering when it was released. An interesting plot with nice jokes. (If not hilarious ones.)

Along Flirtation Walk

“21! 18! 36! 32! Hike!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Paul Smith; Musical Score by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on April 6, 1935.

Tomorrow is the big game! (Actual Big Game date may vary. Please consult a calendar instead of me to get your facts straight.) Good old Plymouth Rock College. So much better than that preppy Rhode Island Reds University. (Think they’re better than us, do they?) To hype everyone up for tomorrow’s event, a dance is being held. And quite the progressive one for the time period at that. Nowhere else in 1935 will you see a chicken dancing with a duck.

Sure, he’s civil when he meets her on the street.

Outside the dance is the perfect place for young couples to get some privacy. The poor bird on the end only looks like they’re lonely and alone. Actually, they’re just nervous about the game tomorrow as they’re competing. Romance doesn’t play any part in today’s story. (But it ties in so well with the title song.) Next day, game day! Our two teams are raring to go! Look at those fine specimens! The coaches should be really proud of those boys! What’s the event anyhow? Cockfighting? Crowing? Something masculi- why do they look ready to lay eggs?

Wait, those are hens? Good twist! Call me a sexist pig all you want, (I like being compared to swine.) but I wasn’t expecting an all female sports team in the 1930’s! Much less one that gets such a turnout. So that’s settles things then. The event is egg laying. Seems like something best kept private, but I should really learn to be more accepting of other cultures. But one thing that can’t be rebutted is that it looks painful. And people think women don’t want to play painful games.

So our little black hen from earlier is named by me! And I’ll name her Penelope. (Haven’t used that one yet. Not for a bird, anyway.) She wants to be on the field where the action is, buy the coach refuses. (Why is she here then? Answer me that, coach!) Comes back to bite him in the tail feathers by half-time. The opposition are leading by 58 points? Those rotten Reds! (It’s not racism, just schoolism.) And it looks like they have a sneaky way to hold on to the lead. They ingest billiard balls. (They’ll regret it tomorrow when they tear their cloacas apart. What a hemorrhoid.)

It’s working! The crowd can’t tell that eggs that look like billiards are often billiards, themselves. Things aren’t going much better for the Rocks as one of the players had a little too much fun with her boyfriend the previous night, and is now producing chicks. That’s a penalty. And it’s coming at such an inopportune time! There’s only five minutes left and the reds have such an insurmountable lead. Once more, Penelope begs to be part of the game. Seeing as how it’s one of those “nothing to lose, everything to gain” scenarios, Coach puts her in.

What an athlete! Barely on that nest for four minutes, and she’s already raised the total to 99! But the opposition has 100! Just a little more! Two hammers to the noggin equals two more eggs, (Not the Disney series. That sucked.) and thus ends the game! Up yours, Rhodes! All hail our new champion! She doesn’t need a trophy to remember this victory. Her bump will do nicely.

Favorite Part: While we’re looking along flirtation walk, we see a turkey couple ready to make out. Seeing our eager faces, the tom uses his fan as a chastity screen. Then he mocks us. (We deserve it.)

Personal Rating: 2

Hippydrome Tiger

“Get off my chariot.”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Tony Benedict; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Layouts by Jamie R. Diaz. Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 30, 1968.

Time once again for “Hunting Tigers” with your host, Colonel Rimfire.  Today, he will be hunting with his best friend that is making her second and final appearance, Ella the robot elephant. Yes, a mechanical, pink pachyderm is the man’s preferred mode of transportation. People only tend to laugh once, as one bullet is enough to silence them.

But wouldn’t you know it? Cool Cat isn’t around! He was kind enough to leave a note that says he’s going to Paris. Not knowing where the colonel is now, I can’t say how much of a trip he has to make, but make it he does and learns about the tiger’s whereabouts. C.C. has entered the Grand Prix because tigers are allowed to do that. And hunters are allowed to hunt them regardless of their race. (They were rather progressive like that.)

The race starts, and I hope you weren’t betting on any of the human racers. They’ve disappeared, and haven’t been seen since. (Though, I swear I caught sight of one at the mall.) Since Ella has wheels, Rimfire isn’t too far behind his prey. A little oil slick sends him into the drink, but since Ella has a trunk, it can be used as a periscope and they can find their way out. (Ugh. I don’t like how the thing looks now. Put the trunk down. PLEASE.)

Ella may have wheels and a trunk, but her steering leaves a good deal to be desired. When Cool Cat makes a 90 degree turn, the pursuers keep on going straight towards and over a cliff. But somehow, the track continues below, and Cool Cat was driving fast enough for the two to land on top of his vehicle. Naturally, the tiger tries to make a break for it, but ole Rimmy has a tight grip on the cat. He ends up getting pulled out of the car. Ella, being the sole occupant, is considered the winner once she crosses the finish.

With Cool Cat pinned up against a tree, Rimfire feels assured of victory. But the sporting thing is to offer the feline a final request, and Cool requests a light. Seems fair enough, but when the colonel’s back is turned, we see that the object to be lighted is a rocket that aims to blast the hunter away. It does too. C.C. heads to finish the race, but sees the elephant android receiving his victory parade. With nothing else to do and the short coming to a close, he allows the hunter to chase him once more.

Favorite Part: After Rimfire emerges from the lake, he fires a torpedo Cool Cat. The tiger freakin’ GRABS THE TORPEDO and throws it right back. Thus proving his cooliocity to you.

Personal Rating: 2

Beanstalk Bunny

“I smeww the bwood of an Engwish wabbit!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Abe Levitow, and Keith Darling. Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 12, 1955.

This is the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Only Jack isn’t a human, or mouse, or sailor, or dragon, or squirrel, or puddy-tat. He’s a duck. And unlike most every Jack ever in this story, he admits to himself that trading a full-grown cow for three beans was a pretty lousy idea. He throws them away, and they land in a rabbit hole. Which is underground, and when you place beans underground, they grow into a beanstalk. But in a story like this, it’s a beanstalk that is capable of climbing.

Jack is also privy enough to know that if he climbs the plant, he’ll find himself with a good amount of golden goods to gather. Climb he does, but the lad bumps his head on a bed that grew with the stalk. Bugs’s bed, actually. Jack wants all gold for himself, and throws Bugs off the other side. Angry, Bugs decides to join the story as well.

Because of the head start, Jack naturally gets up first. Which means he also has the privilege of seeing who would reside at such heights. Someone quite accustomed to them. A giant named Elmer Foot. Jack runs back with the giant close behind and Bugs coming towards them both. Bugs also keeps Jack from fleeing, with the promise of settling things. By which I mean he points out that the giant hunts Jack in this story, not a rabbit. And by the way, the duck is Jack. (Revenge is awesome.)

Elmer decides to just take the both of them for his flour needs. (I’ve wondered, would that work? More importantly, how would it taste?) He puts the two under glass while he looks for some tools that will grind. They easily get out via glass cutter, but the lead-up is so great that I’ll save the description for my “Favorite Part.” Elmer sees they’ve escaped, and gives chase. You’d think being so small in comparison, they’d have no problem hiding, but Bugs gives his location away when he sneezes in a snuff box. (Jack gives his away, when saying “Gesundheit.”)

The two dash into Elmer’s ears for safety. (And the animator’s remembered that there wouldn’t be much light in a body. Well done!) Elmer decides to smoke the two out, by corking up his ears, and lighting a cigarette. (Probably the first time in history a cigarette has been the correct answer.) Knowing that it would work, the two poke out of the cigarette to blow out the matches. This leads to them getting found once more. (Jack: “He’s Jack.”)

They dive into the giant’s clothes and give him a bit of a tickle, using the time to escape once more. With the giant in pursuit, Bugs proves that the simplest solution is always the best one, and sticks his foot out. Elmer trips and lands hard. He won’t be coming to for some time and Bugs suggests they flee while they can. Jack won’t have any of it. He’s going to stay and get some gold like he originally intended. Bugs leaves on his own, but stops short when he realizes that the carrots up here are also giant.

Six and a half of those carrots later, (however long that takes exactly, I’m not sure.) Bugs wonders what happened to Jack. In the castle, we see exactly what. The giant stuck him in a pocket watch, to use him as the hands. Harsh, but considering the other option, fair.

Favorite Part: When they’re under the glass. Jack is frantic, and begs for Bugs to get them out. Bugs doesn’t react, which leads to Jack turning angry. Still no response. Giving up, he adopts Bugs’s pose, at which point Bugs finally coughs up the goods. And all done with no dialogue!

Personal Rating: 4. Plenty of good gags, and Jack is lovably despicable. Is it as flawless as the hunting trilogy? If you had to ask that, you’re no longer welcome on this post. But it’s enjoyable all the same. Shame it’s not as well remembered.

A Scent of the Matterhorn

“Le grunt.”

Directeur et Story: M. Charl Jones; Animateurs: M. Tomme Ray, M. Cannes Harris, M. Dicque Thompson, M. Robaire Bransford; Lai-out: M. Maurice Nobelle; Le Ground Bacque, M. Philipe De Guard; Effex Specialitie: M. Harre Amour; Film Editeur: Docteur Treg Brown; Voix Characterization: M. Mel Blanc; Musique: M. Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on June 24, 1961.

While the road is in the middle of getting a fresh line painted through it, the machine responsible for doing so gets loose and rolls away, downhill as gravity intended. It paints what it passes, leaving a nice white line over countryside and livestock. And over a cat who is fleeing from a dog. The machine lands on the canine leaving the cat to escape with a pelt that one typically sees on skunks. Oh, the possibilities are expected.

If the title isn’t lying to us, then most of our short will be taking place on the Matterhorn. They’re known to speak French there, so the cast checks out. Shouldn’t Pepe be making some sort of appearance about now? There he is. Enjoying a stroll, and happily greeting the wildlife he meets along the way. (I love how his new frog friend reacts. Walks off with a look usually seen on Death Row inmates, lets loose a single scream, and has his eyes change color.)

Pepe spots Penelope and lets loose some pretty awesome pick-up lines. “Everyone should have a hobby. Mine is making love.” and “You may call me ‘Streetcar’ because of my desire for you.” If I thought I was worth dating, I’d totally use those. Yet Penelope just isn’t interested. Has she heard those before? Or is she just a little disturbed that one of Pepe’s feet disappeared when he grabbed her? Women are a mystery indeed.

Chase time! Penelope’s only got one option here, and it is called “up.” So that is where she goes. Pepe has no problem following her because he is muscular, and thinks her preparing to jump off a cliff is a sign of willing to commit suicide rather than be without him, because she is cute. Pepe is also quite savvy to how these kind of chases work out, as when she does jump he calmly notes that she will be back. And since the ground below was sloped like a bowl, she slides back up into his paws. (Pepe: “I told you so.”)

Well, now that Penelope has gone up, a new escape option called “down” is available. But this option is particularly slippery, and she ends up sliding into an ice cave. (Only some of the reflections of her move. Which makes me wonder: how many girls has Pepe already chased in here?) Penelope is now trapped, and seeing all the reflections really brightens Pepe’s day. Eet eez ow you say, a jackpot, no?

Favorite Part: The fact that was Penelope was painted, the dog wasn’t immediately scared away. The first time I saw this, I really expected him to, despite having seen her get painted with his own eyes. Good ole Chuck. Not insulting my intelligence.

Personal Rating: 3

Wake Up the Gypsy in Me

“The fools!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Larry Silverman; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on May 13, 1933.

I don’t know much about anything that isn’t related to zoology, so that means I don’t know an awful lot about Russia. But I do know that at the time of this short’s release, the country being portrayed here was known as the Soviet Union. With that said, I’ll still be referring to it as “Russia.”

It’s time for fun! Who likes dancing? And singing? And having a good time with their neighbors? I don’t, so I’m not sure how authentic this get together is. But everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, which is what I always thought happened in situations like this. But the festivities can’t really get started until an actual Gypsy joins the fun. Here she comes now. I’ll call her Kurabie. (Nobody else seems happy to see her. Rather they’re shocked and or appalled? Or just hungry? I’ve seen young blue tits make the same face.)

Look guys! It’s Kurabie!

While they continue to enjoy themselves, let’s follow what looks to be three kids in a trench coat, but is actually a little person and four bombs. They’re on their way to the residence of Rice Puddin’ AKA The Mad Monk. Clever name. Kids aren’t one to pick up on it, so they won’t know we’re making fun of someone who really existed. And here I thought the ire towards the guy didn’t start until 1997.

R.P. is just doing a jigsaw puzzle. A great way to spend one’s time. (And the bomb guy disappears after he gets inside. He was a waste of story if not animation.) Rice spies Kurabie and wants her. Despite the fact she looks to be about 8. These old shorts just suck at portraying age. Rice isn’t going to get her himself, though. He’s not very popular around these parts. He sends a guard to go and get the girl, while he stays behind and enjoys a cigar. (Helpfully lit by Mickey Clone number 551.)

When the girl is brought back by a completely different person, (Unless he stopped to shave off the rest of his stubble hair.) Rice sends him away (via trapdoor) so he can enjoy her “company.” If you know what I mean. Yet, she doesn’t appear into him. But why? He’s got a nice position of power. Well, I think it’s because of his run cycle. The animators really wanted to make him look like a Bauk. Lumbering, slobbering, and cackling. Such turnoffs.

But Kurabie’s calls for help were heard and a revolution was quickly formed. Rice tries to make an escape via donkey-copter, but the revolutionists were able to get at least one bomb in his attire. The resulting explosion makes him look a lot like that Indian guy, Candi. (No disrespect intended, but if Rasputin’s real name isn’t going to be used, then I don’t see why Gandhi shouldn’t get similar treatment.)

Favorite Part: Not only does Rice Puddin’ cheat at his jigsaw puzzles by cutting out the shapes he needs, but he isn’t shy of where he gets the material from. So we end up with a picture of a horse with the czar’s head on it’s butt. Political commentary!

Personal Rating:2

The Timid Toreador

“Who’s afraid of hot?”

Supervision by Robert Clampett and Norman McCabe; Animation by I. Ellis; Story by Melvin Miller; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on December 21, 1940.

Today is Bullfight day. The day when everyone who wants to, can go watch a bull fight a man. Doesn’t sound like much of a contes- oh, the man gets a sword? That poor bull! But Porky has no time for such inhumane tomfoolery. He is a firm believer in the old adage of work coming before pleasure. To H-E-L-hockey stick with those who say otherwise! (*Glares at the dictionary.*)

Porky’s job is tamale merchant. And it looks to me like business is slow. I mean, why advertise your product as “hot” when the air temperature is already high enough to get a pig to sweat? (Don’t tell me that Toon pigs can do that. I have  a degree in Cartoozoology.) But I don’t know whether the “hot” equates to its temperature or spice. But it must be one of the two, as a rooster sneaks one, eats it wrapper and all, and is instantly ready for my dinner table. (Love Porky’s annoyed look. “Don’t d-d-expire near my ware-ware-merchandise.”)

As for that fight, we have our matador, Punchy Pancho, versus our bull, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbull. (Which is pretty near the top of my list of best names ever. Still can’t overtake “Schmidlap” though.) S.M.B. is not one to B.S. around, and P.P. is quick to realize that the bull probably isn’t going to be the one leaving the arena as hamburger meat. And if the announcer is any indication, this has happened plenty before. Note how he doesn’t even watch the match. I think he memorized a script, and recites it every time. Switching out names as needed.

It’s a crappy arena anyway, as Porky is able to waltz right inside with no problems. Slapsie isn’t one to discriminate. He’s willing to kill anyone who enters his ring. (Not the one in his nose. Don’t make this weird.) Porky does his best to fight back, but he’s just not cut out for cutting out bull hearts and so he tries to just take his wares and run. Slapsie blocks the way, but then he catches scent of a delicious waft. Something around here smells tasty! Like a good meaty filling wrapped in a corn flour wrap! Tamales! A whole box of them!

They may be hot and/or spicy, but Slapsie doesn’t fear such threats. He downs the entire box. Well… tries to anyway. If my count is correct, he only got seven out of thirteen. Still worth a passing grade. And judging my what animals have happily devoured those today, I’m deducing that they aren’t chicken or beef tamales. Which leaves… Oh no! Porky! Did… did you just…

DID YOU JUST LET A BULL CONSUME VEAL? Ohhh, poor Slapsie Jr.

Oh, and the heat and/or spice does its magic and sends the bull running in pain. (Demolishing a good chunk of the audience too, I will add.) Hats off to Porky! He’s our new champion! This calls for an Oliver Hardy impression! (Something we already know Porky is quite good at.)

Favorite Part: A picador who laughs at the bull. Not only does he sound an awful lot like a laughing fish that I find hysterical, but the angry bovine ends up smashing the man and horse into one being. Hey! Now you can be in that “Fantasia” sequel Disney is planning! Shouldn’t be too much longer of a wait…

Personal Rating: 3

Shamrock and Roll

“Anything that green has to be Ireland.”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Jim Davis, Ed Solomon, and Norman McCabe; Layouts by Bob Givens, and Jaime Diaz; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on June 28, 1969.

You know, Merlin the magic mouse has spent every cartoon of his career so far in the USA. It really is a shame that he hoards his amazing feats of wonder (*cough*) away from the rest of the world. Aw, what the hey! For this, his final performance, he will perform in a different country. Picking one at random is the fun part!

Since he’s been a good sidekick, Merlin decides to let Second Banana be the one to pinpoint their destination for prestidigitation. He gives the kid a dart, and tells him to throw it at the spinning globe. After Merlin pulls the dart out of himself, he tells the kid they’ll just blindfold and spin him instead. After getting his eye poked, Merlin rescinds S.B.’s picking privileges, and decides they’re going to the emerald isle.

They travel by magic carpet, and it gets caught on a tree that I thought was part of the background. (It just goes by so fast!) This causes them to land on top of some shamrocks, and more importantly, some guy’s lawn. The lawn in question, belongs to a leprechaun named O’Reilly, who looks like kinda like a smurf that was designed by Dr. Seuss. I swear, just give the guy a couple of those half-moon pupils.

Don’t tell me you can’t see it

Anyhow, O.R. isn’t happy to see trespassers, and S.B. isn’t happy to be labeled as one. Does this guy know who he’s talking to? Merlin the magic mouse, that’s who! Maybe a demonstration of his powers is in order? Merlin’s got a great trick that a moose showed him once. You pull a rabbit out of a hat you see. But rabbits are a bit bigger than mice and leprechauns, so I can’t really be disappointed to find Merlin’s rabbit is a puppet.

The leprechaun isn’t impressed and decides to show the two a REAL trick. He makes Merlin’s watch disappear. When Merlin asks for it back, Reilly makes himself disappear. It was magic AND a trick! He’s keeping the watch, as he likes watches. Is that something leprechauns are known for? I thought they wasted their time hoarding cereal, and shining shoes.

O’Reilly says that if they can catch him, they can have the watch back. The mice chase the thief, but he leads them off a cliff. Merlin makes a paper airplane for them to ride in, and they crash into a tree. You’d think Merlin’s magic could be used to get a hold of that watch but he’s just going to use a trap instead. If you can believe it, Reilly actually falls for it. But I guess since the trap caught him, he doesn’t have to keep his end of the bargain, as he magics himself away.

His house was pretty close by, and Merlin once more demands the watch. (So angry is he, that he takes half a step back, rather than forward.) O’Reilly decides to make amends by giving the two a whole bag of watches. (He usually sells the things on the street at jacked up prices to unsuspecting brownies.) Merlin agrees to this, and he and his… son? (Are these two related?) are on their way again. (To another locale. The locals have cost Ireland its chance.)

Merlin has plans for these watches. He’ll sell them on the street at jacked up prices to unsuspecting voles! And it’s at that decision that the timepieces disappear. (Leprechauns are dicks.) But there is ticking up ahead! It’s Big Ben, and the mice visit him firsthand. And secondhand and hourhand too!

Favorite Part: Meeting O.R. When he says he’s a leprechaun, S.B. asks “Oh, really?” and is answered with “No, O’Reilly.” (Yeah, it’s a weak pun, but I’d never heard it before. And I happen to like puns.)

Personal Rating: 2