Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Monday, April 30, 2007


And so this is the last day of my vacation. My actual vacation was last week (with one day where I had to work), but yesterday and today were days off. In any event, this has been a nice experience, certainly a step up from last year.

It's just plain nice to have some decompression time from the drudgery and annoyance of work. Wish me luck when I have to return tomorrow.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Favorite Themes - Part XIX

Score: The Black Cauldron by Elmer Bernstein (The Great Escape)

About the film: A mystical cauldron that can raise the dead is sought by the evil Horned King. It falls to an assistant pig keeper named Taran to save the land. One of Disney’s most expensive (and most obscure) animated features, this is an uneven, but entertaining movie. Far from a masterpiece, but still worth seeing.

Title: “The Horned King”. The villain of the film manages to be menacing even without really doing anything, and a menacing presence deserves a theme to match. A pair of descending three-note motifs blare on horns (and sometimes organ), augmented by truly evocative swooshing from the Ondes Martenot. (Note: this score is heavy in the instrument, so if you’re not a fan, you won’t like it as much as I do. I believe that Cynthia Millar - the instrument’s performer - earned her paycheck a hundredfold with her work here.)

Other themes of interest: Much like The Punisher, this is a score rich in enjoyable melodies. There’s Taran’s six note struggling-for-heroism theme, the appropriately fluttering theme for the Fairfolk, a lovely five-note melody on Ondes for heroine Eilonwy, a bombastic, heroic motif for a magic sword, a wafting clairnet theme for sniveling minion Creeper (and, for some reason, a frenzied, trilling motif for when he’s being choked by the King), a sprightly march-like melody for Gurgi, a pseudo waltz for The Morva and two organ-based sub-themes for the evil forces: a three-note idea and an eerie drone.

Availability: One of Varese Sarabande’s first CD releases (way back in ‘85), it goes for ludicrous prices these days. The film (now a Toon Disney staple) is your best bet for a listening experience.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

"...and you smell like one, too!"

To the likes of Jack Nicholson, Aaron Spelling, Glen Campbell, Ryan Stiles, John Waters, Peter Frampton, Charlotte Rae, Bettie Page and, well,'s hoping we've all enjoyed this special day.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Still 'Beavers' after all these years.

Nickelodeon had produced a lot of cartoons in their history. Some good, some bad, some average and others unremarkable. Still, in the nearly 16-year history of Nicktoons, one show stands up above the rest. That show is "The Angry Beavers", which debuted on Nickelodeon a decade ago today.

Created by Mitch Schauer (a veteran of "Bobby's World" and "Freakazoid!"), the show was about two beaver brothers: the laid-back Norbert (voiced by Nick Bakay) and the hyperactive Daggett (voiced by Richard Horvitz). The boys were forced to move out of their parents' dam (there can only be one pair of children living there, and Mom just had twin girls) and strike out on their least, that's how it was at the outset.

Now, a number of shows gradually move away from their initial premise, for better or worse. "The Angry Beavers" was no exception, ultimately turning into a story about two beaver brothers, only, in this incarnation, one (when he wasn't stuffing extra syllables into every second word) would grow continually exasperated by his childlike sibling's shenanigans. It may sound like a cause for alarm, but, in my opinion, that's when the show got funnier.

One need look no further than "Ugly Roomers" - written by Micah Wright ("Oh, Brother?", "Omega Beaver", "Dag's List") - for proof of this.

BTW, for the curious, here are my favorite episodes:

* "Dag for Night" - The boys find a monster movie (they love those things), but it doesn't have an ending. They figure, why not make one ourselves? Why, indeed?

* "Dag's List" - Daggett wants to remember the names of those that "muss him up". Norbert gets him "The Priorganizer". Dag, however, gets hung up on the various features.

* "Das Spoot" - The boys travel to the depths of the lake (!) in a toy sub (!!). An archetypal episode if ever there was one, with funny banter and a wild climax.

* "Gonna Getcha" - During a game, Dag goes too far, causing Norb to swear revenge. Sure, there's (off-screen, thankfully) toilet humor, but it's put to an amusing end.

* "Home Loners" - Neither of the boys are aware that the other is in the dam, leading to some crazy conclusions. Horvitz's line delivery during Dag's bathroom rant is a riot.

* "The Legend of Kid Friendly" - The boys head out West and meet Kid Friendly. The lyrics to the ballad don't really rhyme, but coming out of Waylon Jennings, that's perfectly forgivable. The references to the first two Terminator films are a delightful surprise.

* "Omega Beaver" - Dag is convinced that the Radioactive Howler Leeches have eaten Norb, making him "the last beaver on Earth!". If only for Dag's methods of fending off the Leeches, this is a must-see.

* "Slap Happy" - Dag takes pleasure in slapping his tail, but Norb feels it's only for emergencies, and only their father can set them straight. Pure laughing gas, from the instructional film (narrated by Robert Stack!) to, perhaps, the single funniest hidden adult gag in the history of cartoons.

* "Ugly Roomers" - Disgusted by Dag's habits, Norb sets out to build his own room. The boys trying to outdo each other is always good for a laugh, and the exchange at the end is a terrific WTH?! moment.

* "Utter Nonsense" - The boys see who can go the longest without making any noise. The climax with the alternate means of speaking must be seen to be believed.

I would love, more than anything, to tell you to look for these episodes when they come on, but, at this writing, the show isn't airing on Nicktoons Network. And don't go looking for it on Nickelodeon, either. I cannot imagine why this fine show is being treated so shabbily. It's light-years better than what's currently airing on either network. Even more, it seems that the channel doesn't care about putting it on DVD. (Side bar: it would've been nice if the format had been invented during the show's heyday. Clearly, "Spongebob Squarepants" is benefitting from this 'strike while the iron is hot' way of thinking.) All that can be done is to hope that the network sees the error of their ways; figure out that no one cares that much about the likes of "El Tigre" or "Kappa Mikey" and free up some space on the schedule.

Okay, enough with the moping, for this is time of celebration. Let me just say that the fine VAs, animators, writers, storyboard artists, directors, producers and everyone in-between, not to mention Charlie Brissette's terrific underscoring (an appreciation of which I hope to have at this blog sooner or later) combined to create an enjoyable cartoon series, one which (let us hope) gets the respect accorded to a "Ren and Stimpy" or a "Spongebob".

Oh, and here's one of my favorite episodes, the aforementioned "Dag for Night". It was written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who also penned "Home Loners" and "Gonna Getcha", among other episodes (and later wrote Bad Santa). It serves as a good example of how nutty the show could be, and how the funniest of gags could come out of nowhere (the autographed pictures, the creature's speech patterns).

BTW, the voice at the end is that of Victor Wilson, another of the show's gifted writers ("Das Spoot", "Long Tall Daggy"). He went on to co-write and produce "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge". Not bad, I think.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

"Ooh. Does that hurt?"

"Danny Phantom's" last season is scattered around the world and the web. As is par for the course for Nickelodeon, the United States is the last one picked for this proverbial game of dodgeball.

In a sense, the message relayed here is the reason why it will likely take as early as 2009 for these episodes to wash up on our shores...if at all.

(BTW, I sincerely believe that the cartoon depicted in the above link is superior to DP in 'most every way.)

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Art of silence.

I had always wanted to go there, and today, I did. I visited the local art gallery. I just looked at the various exhibits without even pretending to know what their respective creators intended. A few exhibits caught my attention, though, like an intriguing series of connected miniature fire escapes grafted onto a wall, a mirrored room (more than likely, it's exactly what you're thinking) and a projected screen that was more than it seemed.

The one piece of art that really spoke to me was comprised of a field of sand and a rotating arm. One part creates a neat little pattern, while the other smooths the sand out. One can't help but draw parallels to life and how, in spite of your best efforts, what you do will eventually be ruined...leaving you to rebuild. At least, that's what I got from it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Open in case of emergency.

If you've had a lousy day that has you feeling lower than a snake's testicles or like the floor around a blind man's urinal, this is the ultimate pick-me-up.

But be advised: it is best not to be in too good a mood when you read this or you might die laughing.

I nearly did.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Quiet or I'll smack you with my ring hand."

Gregory Peck...Bette Davis...Spencer Tracy. All legendary actors and all share a birthday: today. No doubt about it; the scheduling department at Turner Classic Movies has a conniption about this every year.

Just another one of those weird little things I noticed.

BTW, the title comes from a typically apropos of nothing yet quite funny cutaway gag from a "Family Guy" episode. It involved Mr. Peck.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nostalgia issues.

Searching through YouTube, I ran across a series of montages featuring cartoon title sequences of the 1980s (something that makes me glad that I barely remember that era).

Seeing the title sequence of a show called "Galaxy High", I now have a Somewhere in Time/Laura-like fascination with Aimee, the female protagonist. Ah, the things that happen when you're bored...

Monday, April 02, 2007

No joke, folks.

I got lazy and didn't write a "My Favorite Themes" piece for March. It'll be up later in the week, back-dated, of course.

Also, Banana Cream Pie is fantastic. If you're ever lucky enough to get the opportunity to try it, do it.