Dog Gone People

“Why Wupewt, you’we pwastewed!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 12, 1960.

One fine day, Elmer gets a call from his boss. He’s asked to do a favor, and unlike most people, he’s genuinely happy to do some extra work for no pay. At least this way he can get into his boss’s good graces. I’m sure he has some, even if his name is Mr. Crabtree. Elmer is tasked with watching the boss’s dog. He doesn’t make the best impression, mistaking the beast for the man upon opening his door. (How long have you worked for this guy?) Actually, that IS a good thing as Rupert there thinks he IS a man. And Crabtree (who, if he isn’t wearing glasses, should really see a doctor about those cataracts) insists he be treated as such. (Which could potentially lead to horrible psychological scarring and years of therapy. Although, a sick part of me would love to see his reaction, should his owner decide to euthanize him. I’m not well.)

Elmer (Being voiced here by Hal Smith. I’m not quite sure if he’s doing a better job than Mel or not. No disrespect to your guy’s memories, but there was only ONE Arthur Q. Bryan.)  doesn’t really have a choice but to obey, because in whatever company he’s a part of, you get promoted or kicked to the curb. (I guess you aren’t allowed to keep your current position. They’re very productive at Idon’tknowwhatwedo Inc.) If Elmer does a good job, he might just make Vice President. With such a delicate task at mind, you’d think Fudd would be a little more careful about offending the dog. Instead, he offends him by turning the T.V. to “Classie”, serves dog food for dinner, and gets out a dog sized bed. Each time, Rupert threatens to leave, or he just straight up calls the boss. (Who probably can’t understand him anyway, but what I want to know is: if Rupert thinks he is a human, what does he think this whole staying with Elmer thing is? Grown men don’t have a lot of sleepovers, do they?)

Come the next morning, Elmer goes to make some breakfast. Rupert heard him gargling and decides to do the same. Because he can’t read, (I’m guessing that explains the next bit) he chooses some Bay rum instead, and being that he has a smaller body, it takes just that sip to get him drunk. Human or not, I don’t think Crabtree would approve of his dog drinking. (For all we know, he’s underage.) Elmer thinks that a drive would be good for the dog, but I guess the dog isn’t as think as we drunk he is, and he takes the wheel. It’s not too long before they are pulled over and arrested. Crabtree does bail the two out, and isn’t actually going to fire Elmer. He’s definitely going up in the company. By which I mean painting a flagpole on the building. Despite the drunk driving, Rupert gets the Vice President position. It pays to be the man’s best friend.

Favorite Part: Rupert at the wheel. A drunk, non-anthropomorphized, dog joyriding in a car that isn’t his. This, my friends is comedy.

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

“Fasten you seat belts! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”

Written by Duane Poole, Tom Swale; Directed by Milton Gray, Marsh Lamore, Bob Shellhorn, Mike Svayko, Karen Peterson (supervising); Starring the voices of Ross Bagdasarian, Jeff Bergman, Townsend Coleman, Wayne Collins, Jim Cummings, Jody Dedio, Paul Fusco, Danny Goldman, Georgi Irene, Janice Karman, Aaron Lohr, Jason Marsden, Don Messick, Lorenzo Music, Laurie O’Brien, Lindsay Parker, George C. Scott, Russi Taylor, and Frank Welker. Theme music composed by Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans, Paul Buckmaster, Bill Reichenbach, Bob Mann, Guy Moon, and Alan Menken. A TV special aired on April 21, 1990.

How dare I discuss this when so many others with notoriety have before me? Well, unlike them, I actually LIKE this. Unironically even. Since the plot is relatively well known, I’ll keep that part to a minimum and just give my overall opinion on it.

Many find this special disappointing. With its title, you’d think it’s some kind of action-packed thrill ride with the greatest heroes animation has to offer. I can see why most would feel let down, but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t born when this special aired. In fact, I wasn’t aware of the thing until 2007. I happened to catch a glimpse of it during a cartoon music video, and wondered what it was. My best guess was that it was some promotional ad for a TV network. I mean, why else would all these toons owned by different companies all be here?

Luckily, someone in the comments also was clueless and asked what the source was. Now with title in hand, I looked it up. So I knew it was an anti-drug thing the whole time.  While I agree that it would have been so much cooler as that aforementioned thrill ride, I think this is still a work of genius. Aren’t kids much more likely to listen to cartoons? And we’ve got a good mix of characters. Let’s run through them.

The Smurfs: never really saw them. (Especially not those horrific life action films. Don’t people know that cartoons are drawn because they look horrifying in realistic styles?) Considering how profitable they had been around the time, I think they were a good choice.

Alf: Can’t say this was a smart choice. You really wanted Alf as part of your anti drug squad? His live action series had just barely ended, and I’m guessing his popularity was ending. If this had come out a few years earlier, I’d have less problems. But it’s hard for me to hate a guy who munchs cats. And yes, I do get a kick out of him threatening to eat…

Garfield: I love this guy! Have ever since I was a kid. Garfield and Friends was something I watched every morning before school. He deserves to be here.

The Chipmunks: I was also rather fond of these guys as a child. Mostly because of “The Chipmunk Adventure” (I rented that movie every time I visited the local video rental place. Those were good times.) Not as big a fan as I once was, but I’m glad they’re here.

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger: Pooh is my favorite Disney character. I’m pleased as punch to find him in this. Tigger is also great. Another two solid picks.

Baby Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo: I’m also quite the Muppets fan. Sadly, their adult counterparts wouldn’t fit in, being live action and all. I’ll settle for this version of them. At least it allows Kermit the frog to share the screen with Garfield and Pooh.

Slimer: I’m not really a Ghostbusters fan. Granted, I’ve yet to see the animated series they’re borrowing from. I have seen the movie. It’s not bad, but I don’t find it funny or really all that entertaining. But the franchise was still doing great at the time, it’d be idiotic to NOT include anyone from it.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck: The reason we are discussing this. With a title like “Cartoon ALL-STARS” you darn well better have at least one Looney Tune. Two is better than that. They had to pick the two most popular,  and they did. (Wile E is also mentioned. Too bad he didn’t show his face)

Michelangelo: Also not much of a TMNT fan. I’d like to watch the 80’s series. Someday. Again, being the profitable series it was, they made a good choice of picking a turtle. They chose the kids favorite too.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie: It would have been cooler if Mickey, Donald and Goofy had been chosen, like they were originally intended to be, but these three are a good second choice. I like Ducktales.

So, that’s the lot. (Despite the fact Smurfette appears on the VHS cover) Overall, I like the selection. However, the special is definitely not perfect. The toons seem to keep changing size without explanation, and the majority of the characters feel very underutilized. Slimer disappears after everybody leaves the house. (At least he got one line) And Daffy doesn’t show up until the final few minutes. Also, most of them don’t contribute much to the problem at hand. It’s a good thing they all join in the song. (Most of them anyway. As stated, Slimer is gone by this point and most of the smurfs are too. He was probably eating them. And Alf steals Bugs’ line. Prick)

It doesn’t flow too naturally, either. The “human” characters disappear and warp around the world as needed. I guess it simulates how one feels on drugs? (“How’d I get back to my room? My weed must’ve given me super powers.”) Everything just seems to end too fast. It’s a shame they only got a half hour to tell their story. This would’ve been much more informative at twice the length.

Despite these complaints, there are some good parts to be had. Our villain isn’t terrible. He may just be a cloud of smoke named Smoke (despite no name being given during the run time) but he’s evil enough to suit his purpose. Does a good job of not giving a crap about anyone or caring. Just like real drugs! Also, this is the first time Bugs and Daffy aren’t being voiced by the voice god, Mel. Jeff Bergman is a good replacement. (Not a great one. There is no such person aside from Noel. Even then, he wouldn’t  be perfect. No offense Mr. Blanc.)

All in all, this wasn’t the best it could be, but I think it came out fairly decent. I’m sure it was hard enough just getting everyone to agree to let their characters join in the fun. (It’s odd that the parents can’t get along as well as the children. Bugs and Mickey visit each other every Christmas and birthday.) If they had been given more time, I’m sure this could have been remembered more fondly. Anti-drug message and all.

Favorite part: I’m tempted to choose the few scenes showing our main character has a Looney Tunes poster in his room, but unfortunately, it’s too blurry to make out. ( I think it contains Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Taz and Porky) If only I could SEE IT! Instead, my pick goes to the song. It’s catchy and brings everyone together. (Just what every crossover gourmand wants.)

Bartholomew Versus the Wheel

“He might’ve been mixed up, but he wasn’t dumb.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by John Dunn; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder; Layouts by: Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Leslie Barrings; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 29, 1964.

Reason why today’s short is interesting: McKimson is trying out a different visual style than usual. Looking a lot like the works of James Thurber. (Which means many people’s bodies blend into their clothing.) The only downside is that it’s about a decade too late to be considered “new” and “fresh.” For what it’s worth, it’s cute.

A rather ugly little boy narrates the story about his dog, Bartholomew. He’s a dog, therefore he is adorable. He also sounds a lot like Dino when he’s young. (I always suspected the snorkasaurus was the ancient ancestor that evolved into modern day canines, but nobody believed me.) He’s rather well behaved too. So calm is he, that he doesn’t do anything when the jerk cat he lives with steals his food and attention.

Other than the cat, things seem rather great for the pup, but there was the one day he made an enemy. Some inconsiderate prick child rode a scooter over his tail. (Weirdly enough, he doesn’t react until the second wheel runs over it) Since the dog is man’s best friend, the kid is spared this time. All of Bartholomew’s ire goes toward the wheel. The wheel must die! (Just the second one. The first is still cool.) Barty rips the wheel off (which I guess kills it) but this isn’t enough to satiate his wheel lust. He also rips them off a toy train and takes them all to be buried. (It looks like he already has a stash. I suppose this could just be the fabled wheel graveyard we’ve all wondered about)

Since Bartholomew is only a puppy, he can only attack rather small prey. But he grows. And grows. And with each growth, he goes for larger and larger game. (Towering over certain cars at one point! He seems to shrink by the end of the short. I don’t have an answer) He’s pretty much got his reputation as the wheel warrior down, but there is one wheel he has yet to catch: an airplane wheel. He’s never going to catch one just watching the things, so he digs into the airport and gives chase.

The practice has paid off and he catches his target. But he is unable to remove it from the rest of the body, and the plane takes off with him for the ride. He lands in the Sahara desert, (I’m guessing. That’s usually the desert you wander into, in fiction.) His disappearance is felt at home, and the whole friggin’ neighborhood accuses the dogcatcher of taking him away. Barty is sad. He’s doing okay physically, but he doesn’t have any friends, and there are no wheels to chase, (in fact, the only transportation seems to consist of blue elephants and camels with boneless legs) and he’s a little weirded out by how little clothing the people wear.

One day, he sees a poster for the USA. (Which he somehow knows is his home location. Dogs are smart, but… actually no ellipses. Dogs are smart. End of story.) He heads off to the airport and catches another ride home. (Literally in this case. On another note, the guy guarding seems a bit TOO amazed at the planes takeoff. Is it his first day on the job?) Despite not knowing where he ended up, the town knows that Bartholomew is coming home and a celebration is thrown. He even gets a parade! Having learned his lesson, he apologizes to every wheel and their owners. In fact, now he only hates what dogs were meant to hate: cats. Which leads to:

My favorite part: When he sees the jerk cat eating his food once more, he barks hard enough to kill it. (It is definitely dead. It did not survive.)

Wild Wild World

“Even then, movies were their best entertainment.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 27, 1960.

There are many reasons why I am jealous of Toons, but the reason related to today’s short is that they got to interact with dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaurs. And as the zoologist that I am, it saddens me to think I’ll never have a chance to examine how they really lived.

Good thing this short exists then! Our narrator fills us in on what this is all about. (His little globe image seems to be having some problems with its Antarctica. It keeps disappearing.) Apparently, the following was part of a film that had been buried in the Gobi desert, and dates back millions of years. (A similar plot to the earlier “Pre-hysterical Hare.” On another note, this narrator is dull! His voice drones and drones like a person who has never discovered the joys that can be found in caffeine/adrenaline.)

In said film, we see how primitive man existed. Some of them made a living by hunting the large animals that roamed around. They are clearly inept hunters, as it only takes one failure for them to switch targets. They’re also tiny. About the size of a cockroach when compared to their prey. (I will give a compliment where it is due. The one using a bow seems to have infinite arrows to fire. That’s pretty impressive.)

Speaking of weapons, one of the most useful was the boomerang, because not only could it assist in killing, but if one should miss, it can return to the thrower; whereupon they can try again. It has more uses than that, though. Say your wife is trying to run away from you again. The handy boomerang can return her to you. (Just be sure that she isn’t currently carrying a rolling pin.)

Even in these older times, Los Angeles was around. There were apartments just like today (made out of stone) and theaters too. (Those were housed in volcanoes) The ancient people even had celebrities! Cary Granite and Dinah Saur were two of the biggest names in the business. Department stores were another feature that these people had in their society. With elevators even! Since electricity wasn’t an option, (which does lead one to wonder how all this footage was supposed to be filmed) they had to use simpler means. One person would throw a rock with their desired floor printed on it, up to the elevator operator. In turn, he would load up a basket with an amount of stones required to get the patron to the floor of their choosing. With the wonder that is the pulley, it was a foolproof way to get you where you wanted to go. (Going down was even easier. They’d just cut the wire.)

Before we go, one does wonder how those hunters made out. One of their prey choices evades death by pointing out the day is Friday. (Even the Gregorian calendar was around back then? The B.C. era never ceases to amaze!) Friday is also fish day, so the trio head to the local lake to partake in some angling. Fish grew larger back then, and were more ferocious too, so it’s no surprise that they all end up in the belly of the beast. This is the worst fish day ever.

Favorite part: It’s not a joke, but there is a dinosaur that appears twice in this picture who I think earns the title of my favorite. He is easily identified by his buck teeth that makes him look like horse. His very appearance makes me smile.

Punch Trunk

“I did see an elephant in my birdbath.”

 

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on December 19, 1953.

Welcome. New year. Yadda-yadda. From this time on, I’ll be listing my favorite part of each short. We’re getting into the territory of cartoons I’ve seen few times or not at all.

At the harbor, a ship has just come in. (I like that it’s called the “S. S. Michael Maltese.” You have no choice but to remember the name now.) But there is something stirring in the bananas. Normally, it’s a rat or a wandering spider, but for once, it’s an elephant. He’s a full grown bull, but he’s only five inches tall! He’s adorable! Evidently though, people don’t seem to agree as the bulk of this short’s jokes are seeing how everyone freaks out at the sight. Doing what introduced species do, he heads off to explore his new home. (Seeing as how there is only one of him, he probably won’t do TOO much damage.)

A man spots the petite pachyderm in his birdbath and calls the police. The elephant meanwhile is acting like an elephant at a crowded watering hole, and hogs it all. (How’d he even get up there?) The police in turn sent some people from the psych ward to take the man away. A different man walks out of the optometrist with a new pair of glasses. Seeing the little guy, he heads back in to give a punch. (No trunk)

Nights are sure to be unpleasant, so it’s not surprising to hear the elephant makes his way into a penthouse. (Okay, how did he get up there? Did a falcon pick him up and drop him?) A little girl discovers him and christens him Teeny. (Which is a cute name. I’m declaring it canon.) Due to her childhood innocence, she is not afraid of him and even tries to fill his tummy. (Elephants eat cake, right? It’s like 45% of their diet.) Because of the fainting mother though, Teeny continues being a drifter.

A really good joke is next. A drunk stumbles out of a bar and sees the animal. (And a great detail is how the background is drawn warped and surreal. Like we are seeing the way he is.) Seeing the animal doesn’t make him scream, faint, or lose his sh*t in any way. Instead, he just scolds the beast for being late. (Also musing about how he isn’t pink this time. Genius.)

Even his own kind freaks out at the sight of him. Finding a circus, he joins a parade of elephants. (Okay, maybe not his own kind as that would make these Asian elephants, but they look just like him, only bigger. Seems ole Chuck doesn’t know as much about elephants as moi. On another note, Teeny is just as cute dangling off the ground.) Even those who are trained to handle fears aren’t immune, as a psychiatrist (or psychologist. I’m pretty sure they’re interchangeable) switches places with his patient upon seeing the cutie.

People all over the city now have claimed to see the beast. So, is it really there? Scientists say no. In fact, one goes on TV to explain why it isn’t real. He doesn’t go into the fact that an elephant could not survive being so small. (Freezing to death I mean. Not being eaten by a cat) Instead, he just blames our troubled times. (Considering my parents weren’t even born as of his saying this, I’ll have to ask Grandpa if the times were really that bad.) Not very happy to be told he doesn’t exist, Teeny takes the microphone away. (If this short has taught me anything, it’s that if science could make a teacup elephant that could survive at such a size, I would get one.)

Favorite part: It’s not especially funny, but it IS sweet. A woman is doing her laundry and Teeny comes over and HELPS! He hands her the clothespins! So precious! Keep up the good work, sweetie!

Sleepy Time Possum

“I’d know’d I’d get some action!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Charles McKimson, Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Emery Hawkins, and John Carey; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 3, 1951.

Attention everyone! Opossums are NOT possums. They live on entirely different continents! Apart from both being marsupials, they are only distantly related! Look…

Possum. Poss-um.

Opossum. O-poss-um.

Now, why do I bother so much? Because as the Lorax speaks for the trees, I speak for the animals. Since they can not tell when someone is using the wrong name, (that ironically, humans gave them) I will have to do so. And today’s picture is full of this kind of mistake.

The mailbox at the beginning is the only time the creatures are given the correct name. Seeing as how they all have American accents, they are clearly opossums. Though, honestly, you can’t really tell. The two parents look like some subspecies of kinkajou and their son looks like Hippety Hopper. (  At least he’s another marsupial)

Speaking of the son, his mother is upset to find him sleeping. (I am also upset. Opossums DON’T sleep upside down! They don’t even hang that way! They’re too heavy to do so!) Her reason is a lot more poignant. He’s got chores to do! But the kid is so lazy, that as soon as he hangs down, he sleeps again. (I understand his motives at least. The best part of life is being unconscious.) Ma threatens to sic his father on him, but Junior doesn’t care and sleeps once more.

Ma makes good of her word and tells Pa. He agrees that their son needs some discipline, but reasons that talking will net no results. Good thing he has a hunting dog costume on standby. (Don’t we all? I can’t count all the times I’ve needed to dress up as a dog.) One session of son scaring will keep the kid awake for days! Seems to work too, as one look sends Ma into hysterics and has Junior running for his life. Still, lazy as he is, he doesn’t go far before he stops to sleep once more.  Run and sleep, run and sleep. It goes on like that for awhile before Pa gets his son cornered.

Junior decides to try something opossums actually do, and plays dead. Seeing as how he is one himself, Pa doesn’t fall for it and instead ties his offspring to a firecracker. (Wait, what is the point of this? I though you were trying to stop his nap habits, not KILL him.) Either way, Junior ties the rope around his dad’s ankles when he’s not looking and escapes again.

Finding him at the top of another tree, Pa ties another one down with a rock so he can use it as a bridge to get to his sleeping son. Of course, said son cuts the rope just when his dad is crossing and flings him miles away. Pa proves his Olympic training was worth the effort, and he runs back immediately to catch his kid.

Back home, Pa tells his wife that Junior is finally doing the potato peeling he was supposed to be doing this whole time. The scare tactic didn’t work, so Pa just tied a balloon around his son. Now, forced to be upright, Junior can’t fall asleep anymore.

Mel Blanc

There are some people who can not be topped. You can paint a picture, but Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa. You can make be a ventriloquist, but Shari Lewis already has put all your talents to shame. This brings me to voice actors. There are no shortage of greats. Charles Adler, who I’m convinced has vocal chords of steel, because he can do voices that hurt one’s throat just by thinking about how many takes he must do. Tara Strong who possesses the title of “Person who can produce the cutest voice.” And Frank Welker, a man who I think has eaten various different animal voice boxes, because I can’t fathom how a human could create pitch perfect growls, grunts, and other guttural bellows.

Then there is Mel Blanc. As fantastic as those other three are, he tops them. He will always be the top of the voice acting pile. You can become a good voice actor. You can be a great voice actor. You can become the most sought after voice actor in the world. But you’ll never be the master. There was only one. And this is his story.

May 30, 1908. Melvin Jerome Blanc was born. Greatness starts small, so one could forgive him for not astounding us the moment he exited the womb. The lad was fascinated by sounds. Specifically, voices. He took to doing some of his own during his childhood years. Also, according to him, his last name was originally “Blank.” But during high school, some dick-douche of a teacher said Mel would forever be like his last name: a blank. (Is it some unspoken law of the universe, that if you are going to be among the best that humanity will ever offer, some jerk off isn’t going to praise you for your talents, but just go on about how you’ll never amount to anything? If this story is true, I’m hoping this teacher felt awful about themselves, and killed their whole family before offing themselves so the gene pool would no longer be contaminated by their asinine actions.)

After school, Mel began working on radio programs. Seems his constant practice had paid off, and he was well known as a man who could supply many different voices. In 1932, he moved to L.A. and met someone her name was Estelle Rosenbaum. Since “Mel and Estelle” has such a nice ring to it, it’s no surprise that the two were wed. They did their own radio show called “Cobweb and Nuts” They didn’t need anybody else’s help with voices. Estelle was plenty capable, so she supplied all female voices, Mel took the males.

Estelle was instrumental in the next part of Mel’s life, and helped make him into the legend he is today. She suggested he go to Warner Bros. and let them make use of his voice. He agreed, seeing as how their cartoons weren’t doing very well at the time, and bland, uninteresting. voices were playing a part in that. Mel did not have an agent. He strolled inside the building and asked to show his stuff. The moron out front would not let him in, stating that they had all the voices they needed. (They only needed -43? I’m impressed.) Mel left. He came back two weeks later. The answer did not change. Don’t worry, the dumb man payed dearly for repeatedly turning away a talking gold mine, as Mel was stubborn enough to come back every two weeks for 2 YEARS! (It makes me wonder if they ever became friends, looking forward to the time that occurred every fortnight.)

Finally, that guy died. (Oh, don’t act you were never glad to hear someone croak.) Mel came in and found not the ordinary guy, but Treg Brown. Treg was a good man and instead of just shoving Mel away, allowed him to perform. Treg was a talented sound man, and he knew that Mel would help make this company’s characters immortal. Mel was introduced to Tex Avery who was in need of a voice for a drunkard. And so in “Picador Porky” Mel made his WB debut.

After this one performance, Mel was given an opportunity any serious voice legend would kill for. The star role of the series. Porky’s original voice of Joe Dougherty had a real stammer and it was to expensive to record him. Plus, it kind of hurts to hear Porky talk in those shorts. He sounds like he is trying to choke himself to death. Mel decided he didn’t want to mess this up, so he went out to a pig farm to get some pointers from the pros. (This man went to hang out with pigs. That alone is worthy of making him one of my heroes) After coming back to the studio, (and bathing. That was an important detour) He told of what he learned. Pigs grunt. If they spoke English, there’d be a lot of grunting involved. Porky’s speech is based on the “oin-oin-oink” our universe’s pigs have.

The first short to have Mel be Porky was “Porky’s Duck Hunt.” As you probably guessed, this short gave another character a chance to be blessed with Mel’s pipes. Daffy made his debut here, and Mel provided him with a voice of his own. Now things were really getting good. Mel wasn’t just voicing for Warners; he also played a part at MGM (he’s grandpa squirrel in Hugh Harman’s magnum opus, “Peace on Earth.”) Walter Lantz studios (being the first voice of Woody Woodpecker and coining his laugh) and even Disney! (He was cast as Gideon the cat in Pinocchio. Sadly, the decision to have the cat be mute was chosen, and even sadder all the dialogue has been lost to time. All that’s left is a hiccup. But it’s a solid hiccup! I’m sure you can’t make one that good on command!)

Naturally, Mel’s most famous role was Bugs Bunny. When told how tough Bugs was, Mel considered the type of voice the rabbit would have. (That’s another thing Mel did. When seeing a character for the first time, he stopped and thought about how they would talk) He considered the two toughest accents he knew: Brooklyn or the Bronx. Why not use both? Also, he suggested the rabbit not say “What’s cookin?” when “What’s up, doc?” was much more entertaining. And craziest of all: Mel was allergic to carrots. Yet, the crunch of these root vegetables were essential to the character, and it didn’t matter how many other kinds of produce they tried. Only carrots sound like carrots. Mel didn’t let any stupid thing like an allergy stop him! He took a bite, said the line, then spat the plant out. Every. Time. You can’t deny how many balls that takes.

By this time, Mel and Estelle had been blessed with their own child, Noel. (Who is still alive as I write this, and if he ever happens to read this, let it be known that I’m not above a little butt kissery. Noel, your dad was too good for this Earth! And don’t think I don’t know how talented you are. Being the offspring, you do an amazing job of replicating your father. You rock!) Back on track: Mel went to Leon Schlesinger and asked for a raise. Leon didn’t comply, but he did do something for Blanc that voice actors had never gotten before: on screen credit. I’d say, in the long run, this was much more rewarding, as now people had no excuse to not know the name. In fact, Mel got the whole credit for the cartoons voices, even if he barely was in it. All those Roadrunner shorts where the only dialogue is Paul Julian going “Meep-meep?” Mel got the credit. (This was only at Warners. Mel had signed a contract that kept him away from other cartoon studios by this point.)

Mel was doing quite well for himself. Not only is he voicing the greatest characters in the world, but he is in several different radio series. (Even his own at one point) It was pretty much impossible to not hear his words. Even more astounding: this man smoked. A pack a day. If you talk to someone who smokes that much, not only does your nose recoil at their stench, but your ears tend to do the same thing when they speak. Mel didn’t have that problem. People listened to him. And loved him. When his parents opened up a fix-it shop, they named it after him and had him visit the crowds. This attracted business like you wouldn’t believe. (They bought things too. They weren’t just wasting Mel’s time.)

If you’re getting sick of me praising the man, you might as well leave as I don’t intend to stop. Instead, I’ll prove his talent. Watch “Rabbit Fire.”  At one point, Daffy pretends to be Bugs. In turn, Bugs pretends to be Daffy. Both of these voices are distinct from their normal selves, and even more astounding, each other. All you budding (and professional if you happen to read this) voice artists, try it. Have one of your characters imitate another one. And they can’t sound the same. It’s freaking impossible. And Mel did it.

Mel had standards. He didn’t like to copy others. When his colleague and friend, Arthur Q. Bryan died, Mel was asked to take over Fudd. He wasn’t happy, but he did voice Elmer for the rest of the toon’s appearances. (If I have to say one thing slightly negative about the voice god, his Elmer isn’t as great as the original. I’ll give him second place. Now don’t ever make me do that again!)

By 1960, his exclusive contract had expired, so he was free to breathe life into other toons. Hanna Barbera took advantage of this, and Mel began voicing many of their characters. Barney Rubble, Cosmo Spacely, Dino, Speed Buggy, Secret Squirrel, and Captain Caveman. (Of course there were more.) In addition, he did some sound effects for the Tom and Jerry shorts that were being made at this time, as well as giving a voice to the first appearance of Toucan Sam. But something else happened this decade. Something terrible.

On January 24, 1961, Mel left to do some more recording that he was so good at. He didn’t arrive. Turns out, he was caught in a car accident. (I’m putting all blame on the other guy, Arthur Rolston. Don’t try and defend him. He wasn’t killed, and for what he did to Mel, that’s unforgivable.) It was not a pretty sight. Nearly every one of Mel’s bones were broken. Worse yet, he was in a coma. And he wouldn’t come out of it. (Another fitting punishment for Rolston. A shame we all shared it.) Finally, one of the doctor’s had a brilliant idea! He asked Bugs if he heard him. Mel responded in Bug’s voice. That’s proof enough for me that toons exist in some way. Mel was probably going to be pronounced dead, but Bugs saved him.

Mel didn’t die that time, but he did spend the next months doing recordings in a full body cast. Warner’s had tried to get Stan Freberg to do Mel’s work for a time. Stan also had standards, and refused. (Hanna Barbera just had Daws Butler voice Barney. He could have said no, but didn’t. The round goes to Stan)

Even though he was beginning to get on in years, Mel did not stop entertaining. He visited children’s hospitals, answered every bit of fan mail, heck, he would call you up if it was your birthday and wish you a good one as your favorite character. He felt that as long as someone smiled, that was payment enough. Mel was a saint. He’s like if Charlie Brown got the admiration he deserves.

As time went on, Mel eventually had to drop his smoking habit. At age 77, he was diagnosed with emphysema. But you better believe that he did not quit acting! And good thing too, as a new movie was coming out that wouldn’t be as perfect as it ended up being, if it couldn’t have Mel. That was “Who framed Roger Rabbit.”  And I can not think of a better film for him to leave us on.

Sadly it’s true. Even legends can’t live forever. After doing a car commercial with Noel, it was suggested that he visit a doctor as he was coughing an awful lot. While there, it was suggested he stay the night to recover. Things didn’t go as they should have, some dumb bass didn’t put rails on Mel’s bed, and he fell out. Also, it was revealed that he had advanced coronary artery disease. On July 10, 1989, at 81 years old, Mel departed this world and left behind a void that could never be completely filled.

After this happened, a piece of tribute art to Mel was painted. Titled “Speechless,” it shows many of his greatest roles, heads bowed in respect at the loss of a irreplaceable treasure.

I’m proud to say I have one of these.

Mel was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where he has the most fitting epitaph he could possibly have, “That’s All Folks.” (He had stated that he wanted this in his will.)

Do not weep for the loss of Mel. He knew he would die one day, and never feared death. (Shame that he died before I had the chance to be born. It would have been cool to hear him recording new lines on Cartoon Network.) Mel was a great man who can not and should not ever be replaced. It’s a crying shame that his name no longer is remembered as he once was. But all one has to do is watch some classic cartoons, for about seven minutes at a time, Mel can live again. And while the body may be gone, the spirit isn’t. Rest easy, Mel. You had a wonderful life, and everyone who knew you benefited from it.

Norman Normal

“♪ He looks a lot like you. ♪”

Directed by Alex Lovy. Story and voice Characterization by N. Paul Stookey and Dave Dixon; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by John Freeman; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams and Ralph Penn; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Musical Direction by William Lava; Produced by William L. Hendricks and N. Paul Stookey. A Cartoon Special released on February 3, 1968.

Yep. This short isn’t technically a Looney Tune or a Merrie Melody, but it was produced by Warner Bros. so it is one of their cartoons. It’s an interesting one. More of a satire on social behavior than anything else. It was also a collaboration with folk singer, Paul Stookey. With a musical origin, it’s no surprise that our short opens with a song. The main character, Norman, shuts the band in a room, promising us we’ll hear them again at the end. (I hope so. That was catchy)

Norman seems to exist in world of doors. Entering one, he comes to his boss’s office. Seems that the ball-bearing company Norman works for is having a hard time getting a potential client interested in their product. Said client has a weakness: alcohol. It will be Norman’s job to take the man and get him drunk so they can get a signature out of him. Understandably, Norman is a bit uncomfortable doing this.

As the boss argues with him, they both get younger. Reflecting how immature this whole thing is while the argument shifts to Norman having to do something to be part of the boss’s gang. (He doesn’t have a name. Unless Boss is his name.) Seeing as Norman is a child now, the boss reverts to his original age and plays the reverse psychology card. Norman is clearly not mature enough to handle such a responsibility. This ploy works and Norman agrees to it while growing back to normal Norman. The boss sends him on his way.

Back in the dimension of doors, Norman once more resolves to not do it. It’s not right, but who is to say what is right? In such puzzling situations, turning to a parent is a good way to at least think things out. Luckily, Norman senior can also be found in a door here, so Norman enters and asks for advice. His dad chooses to instead waste time telling stories from his youth. It’s too bad he’s not being more helpful. Norman is having some serious thoughts about what is right and what is wrong, and how others have differing opinions on it. His dad ultimately disperses some half decent advice: that being to not make waves and fit it. (Translation: Conform. Society is never wrong.) Norman exits.

Rather than exiting back into the door area, Norman finds himself at a party. (Where some guy repeatedly says “Approval?” over and over like some kind of Pokemon. Since he has a lampshade on his head, we can assume this is purely alcohol based behavior.) Seems that this party is taking place later, as one person congratulates him on the sell. (We don’t get to find out if Norman did the morally sound option or not) The man also tries to tell a joke, but we miss most of it because Norman has to ask if it’s a joke about minorities to make them all fell superior. From the punchline, I’m guessing it was a pretty crappy joke, but everyone seems to find some humor in it. Even Norman.

The bartender tries to give Norman a drink. Norman doesn’t want one, saying he’s had enough. (Not sure if he really had any or not.) The bartender gets hostile and begans accusing Norman of not liking himself when drunk. The true him, that doesn’t have to abide by society’s rules and isn’t ruled by his common sense. Angry, Norman storms out.

Back in the familiar door land, Norman apologizes for getting us mixed up in his problems, and as promised, lets us hear the band once more. Before the short ends, we see the whole thing has been taking place in Norman’s mind. How existential. Stookey wanted to have Norman appear in more cartoons, but the studios closure the following year prevented this from happening.

Apologies to anyone who might have wondered where this post was last week. The website was down, and so was I. So down in fact, that I didn’t feel like updating for the rest of the week. While nothing has changed, I don’t feel you should suffer for my personal problems. (Then again, with all the comments I get, nobody probably even noticed my absence.)

Page Miss Glory

“Call for Miss Glory!”

Supervised by Tex Avery; Words and music by Warren & Dubin; Modern Art Conceived and Designed by Leodora Congdon. 3/C. A Merrie Melody released on March 7,  1936.

Another one of the 100 greatest. The oldest one in fact.

Hicksville is a pretty slow, country town. It’s the kind of place where one can’t open their mouth without a yawn jumping out. So, the slightest event will really catch the populace’s attention. In this case, a celebrity is coming to town. Her name is Miss Glory, and since this is such a big occasion, the entire town is pitching in to make the place worthy. She will be staying at the only hotel in the place, where the staff is also prettying up for her.

The bellhop is a young man named Abner. He is excited to be a part of everything and practices bellhop manners. Everything is ready, now all we need is the guest of honor. If the clock is to be believed, several days have passed without her showing. (Pft. Celebrities.) As the time passes, Abner sleeps and dreams. In his dreams, not only is he less ugly, (Getting some clothes that actually fit, a haircut, losing his ugly buck teeth) but the hotel becomes an art-deco place of beauty. And Miss Glory is here in Abner’s dreams too.

Being a bellhop, he is asked to page the titular woman. While we are treated to the title song, we do get some gags thrown in as well. After Abner stands on a guest’s train, it tears off of her. She rolls with it and does a fan dance. (If only she was 50 years younger, it would be okay to be turned on by this) Another highlight is the patron getting served a mountain of food, but only eating a bite of an olive.

Abner is not having much luck finding the woman, and things only get more complicated as the hotel announces that Glory is at the hotel. This attracts the attention of every single man in the place, who storms in her direction. Clogging the elevators, Abner is unable to follow and perform his duties. He does eventually get in one, but the operator heads out on his lunch break. Abner decides to send himself up, but due to coming from a world where hotels are not more than one story high, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and sends the elevator up and down at a high speed. Eventually popping out of the building, and landing him in front of a streetcar.

But that bell isn’t just part of a dream! It’s his boss! Miss Glory has finally arrived! (She must be a big deal. If the crowd is any indication, Clampett, Avery, Jones, and Melvin Millar have all shown up to catch a glimpse of her.) Abner prepares to do what he was meant to do, but the question remains: Is Glory as hot as he dreamed? Not unless you’re a pedophile. Miss is an appropriate title, as the woman in question is at max, six years old.

Martian through Georgia

“MONSTER!”

Directed by Chuck Jones and Abe Levitow; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by Carl Kohler and Chuck Jones; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Dilm Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Ed Prentise; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on December 29, 1962.

Way, way out in space there is a planet. Even though it is yellow, I think we call it Mars. I mean, the indigenous lifeforms are called “Martians.” (I guess the universe is big enough for two Mars’s) They are really interesting. Like humans, they come in two genders: male and female. The males seem to be quite comfortable in their birthday suits, while the females are clad in purple jumpsuits. (Or they just have a purple coloration that covers their entire bodies, save for their faces.) They are a happy race. Well, except for one. And we’ll call that one: Al.

Poor Al. He is depressed. And he is depressed because he is bored. Both activities that martians typically partake in (levitating and though projection) bore him. (How can you be bored when you have constant access to pig pictures? And do martian pigs really resemble our Earth ones?) His depression must be really bad, because a woman tries flirting with him and he doesn’t give a crap. (And given by her heartbroken reaction, I think she was really into him.)

Al goes to a doctor. No martian speaks in this short, (which makes sense if you think about it. If you had thought projection abilities, what use would talking be?) so they communicate via their antenna. The doc thinks that traveling would be a good way to relieve his boredom and though Al doesn’t really think it will help, (I mean, he is still sulking as he leaves) he leaves. As he travels, he comes across a new planet. One full of simple, ignorant, life forms. (I’m stumped. What planet could that be?) Looking at this sad excuse of civilization, he finds a new purpose within him. He will shares his gifts with them! Finally feeling something close to joy, he heads down.

Things don’t seem to be off to a great start. Many people run away in fear, and those that don’t take him away for parking in a “no parking zone.” They send him to his new house, (a prison cell) but he has no time to stay. He must continue his mission! So he easily leaves. This gets everyone in a panic, and soon everyone knows of a monster that is on the loose. (The letters seem to be coming off that newspaper) Everyone except Al. When he does hear about it, he decides this is a good place to start helping these folks, and he soon finds the creature that everyone must be afraid of. I mean, it’s eaten a guy! (I think they are called “eggskahvayters”) He uses his atom re-arranger that he always had on him, and turns the beast into a cow/dragon/ cat. (Don’t worry, it’s friendly)

Satisfied, he begins to look for more wrongs to right, when a youth speaks to him. The child seems friendly enough, but he drops a bombshell: Al is the monster that everyone has been afraid of. According to the kid’s comic book, monsters are easily identified by their lack of noses. (That’s it, huh? So… birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, mand\y mammals and every invertebrate are a kind of monster? The people of this planet are self-entitled pricks!) Al can make his antenna look like a nose, but it doesn’t change anyone’s opinion. (I think that kid is also a monster. His hands temporarily turn green) Even more miserable than before, he finds no other option. Suicide is the only answer. I mean, what else can one do when no one loves you?

Wait! Someone clearly did love him! (Although, after that cruel rejection of his, would she really still want him? Actually, the martians seem like quite the nice species. But I bet if they were both like the people on this planet, she wouldn’t give him another chance.) Realizing that as long as someone loves you, life is indeed worth living, he heads home. Seems the trip really did help him. (And that goes for non-romantic love too. No more suicide! You’re just hurting others.)