Friday, March 2, 2012

Sweet Dreams, Daydream Believer

First, Whitney Houston, now, this? 2012 is not off to a good start so far. This year, as you know, is a leap year, but this is not how I wanted to mark the occasion. I, of course, am talking about the passing of Davy Jones of the Monkees due to a heart attack this past February 29. Davy and the rest of the Monkees had lots of hit singles and a fun TV show. I'll spare the old "Davy Jones' Locker" jokes (because I respect him) and just sum up by saying that Davy, you will be missed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

V For Valentine

Tom Ruegger, senior producer of "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs", recently posted on his blog fun Valentines cards in honor of Valentines Day: A group of cards from the Tiny Toons and a special "Hello, Nurse" from Yakko and Wakko Warner. I still have "TTA" and "Animaniacs" Valentines left over from over a decade ago or so, but don't have them scanned in for the time being, so, I can't really show 'em off. So, for now, here's hoping you have a happy and fun Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston

Those of you who read this blog regularly may recall when I posted about Michael Jackson's death back in 2009. Now, we've lost another beloved singer. Whitney Houston had been found dead yesterday (February 11). The cause of death is still unknown, but she had been one of my favorite artists growing up and shall greatly be missed. Let's all take a moment of silence for what many believe to be (if you'll pardon the pun, though it seems appropriate here) "the greatest love of all".

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crushin' on Cartoons

In my previous two posts, I mentioned that Yakko Warner of "Animaniacs" was my second cartoon crush. So, you must be wondering who was my first. Well, he happens to be a real stinker. Yes, my first crush is none other than Pepé Le Pew!

(Image from a Google search.) This French skunk (who just turned 67 this past January 6th) won my heart years before "Animaniacs" came to the TV screens, when I would frequently watch "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" cartoons on my CBS affiliate and later, on Nickelodeon and ABC. Being French, Pepé was always giving romantic lines to the object of his desire which was usually a black cat with a white stripe painted on the back, but Pepé didn't know that. (Luckily, those cats were female, in most of the cartoons, anyway.) And Pepé was always determined to keep his lover, usually chasing after her with that bouncing prance of his. And although he may be a skunk, he does look quite handsome (at least, to me). And his voice, as given to him by the late Mel Blanc, was very soothing to the ears, French accent and all, especially when he sings. I still remember that one scene in the cartoon "Scent-imental Romeo" when he sings "Baby Face" to his "beloved" while both were walking across that brick fence. The cat may not have wanted to even get close to him, but I sure swooned over his serenade. And now that all 15 of Pepé's cartoons are on DVD (along with a couple bonus 'toons), I can see my favorite skunk work his charms on his femme fatales whenever I want. (You online shoppers can get your copy through Amazon by going here.)

Pepé Le Pew was my first crush, but like I said before, Yakko Warner is my second. He, too, is handsome himself. And his voice, as provided by Rob Paulsen, is attractive as well, whether he talks or sings. Yes, he's real clever, being able to talk his way through any situation. He always seems to be in control, especially when leading his younger siblings, Wakko and Dot. Yakko's got a great wit, that's for sure. And as I mentioned in my earlier post on him (hyperlinked in the first paragraph of this post), he's a very talented musician, especially on the piano. Sure, he may not be the most well behaved around attractive women (such as Hello Nurse and Minerva Mink), but it doesn't make me love him any less. (Screenshot from a Google image search.)

Yakko is indeed my second cartoon crush, but he isn't the last. "You mean there's more?" I hear you asking. Well, as of right now, there's only one more and he's more of a video game character than a cartoon character:

It all started as I was getting back into the "Sonic the Hedgehog" games from watching the "Sonic X" anime. (Sonic just turned 20 last year and I neglected to mention the milestone. Sorry, Sonic. Read about his 17th and Garfield's 30th here.) One game I added to my collection was "Sonic Adventure 2 Battle" (for the Nintendo Gamecube which I had at the time) and it was that particular game that introduced me to one Shadow the Hedgehog. Yes, even I have a thing for bad boys, or in this case, bad hedgehogs. And boy, was he bad! He thinks most humans are pathetic and he doesn't hang out with Sonic and the others very often. But he has his reasons: He was created as the ultimate life form by Professor Gerald Robotnik (Eggman's grandfather) aboard the space colony ARK. His closest friend was the professor's granddaughter, Maria Robotnik. Then, one day, the ARK was being invaded and Maria sacrificed her life so that Shadow could survive on the Earth below. That's enough of a reason to keep to himself. I'm smart enough to keep my distance from him (his ability to use Chaos Control and his powerful Chaos-based attacks are beyond compare), but I'll always admire the dark hedgehog. (Image from a Google search.)

Shadow is my third and most recent crush. Doesn't mean he'll be the last. As time marches on, there will be other male cartoon characters that will catch my fangirlish attention someday. And no, Goofy and Strong Bad don't count: Goofy is more like a father figure to me and Strong Bad, while being super cool and all (at least, he thinks so), doesn't seem like boyfriend material for me no matter how many times my mom (who I live with) teases me about it! And yet, out of the three crushes I just mentioned that I have thus far, I don't seem to see myself hooking up with any of them anytime soon:
Pepé will continue chasing female skunks (even if they're really cats with white stripes painted on them) and Shadow is just not willing to have any girl cling to him (or anybody else for that matter), which leaves Yakko free, but I'm not gonna take my chances since he's got his eyes on a certain fan character (namely, Kikko Aulstar, as created by Keshia Anders a.k.a. Sony-Mae on devaintART). So, for now, I can at least settle for watching these three cartoon crushes do what they do best, even if I'm not looking for an actual boyfriend. (Sorry, fellas, this gal plans to stay single for a long, long time.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yakko Tickles the Ivories ...and the Funny Bones

First of all, my apologies for not updating my blog as often as I used to. Real life kept me busy. well as surfin' the web, playin' video games, watchin' TV, etc. Now, for the first post of the new year:

Following up on my previous post on "Animaniacs", I want to highlight my favorite trait of my second ever cartoon crush, Yakko Warner. (Image found on a Google search.) As those of you who've seen the show know, he's named "Yakko" because he's able to talk a lot without missing a beat (thanks to his voice actor, Rob Paulsen). But what I like best about him is that he's able to sing and sing well. ("Yakko's World" is positive poof pf that. Rob still performs that song live.) Yakko's also a talented musician as seen in various "Animaniacs" episodes. He can play just about every musical instrument in the northern hemisphere. (At least, as far as we've seen.) But there is one instrument I always think of to associate with Yakko: The piano!
(Screenshot by me.) He has been seen playing the piano to accompany his brother, Wakko, during "The Great Wakkorotti" segments and his sister, Dot, while she's singing to Beethoven in "Roll Over, Beethoven" (the "Animaniacs" cartoon, not the Beatles song). However, of all the times I've seen Yakko at the piano during "Animaniacs" run (it was 99 episodes long, by the way), I've never seen him singing as he plays the piano. Yakko is a talented singer and musician and the piano is one of the few musical instruments to allow the player to play and sing at the same time. Because of this, I've had to imagine Yakko singing while playing piano whenever listen to certain songs on my iPod such as Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" or Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity". (Yes, I want to hear Yakko sing this, it suits him, being an "Animaniac" and all.)

There were times he came close to singing while playing the piano. The first instance was by the end of "Piano Rag" when he and his siblings were playing the piano and singing... well, Yakko was at the piano singing a verse, but Wakko and Dot seemed to be doing all the piano playing, both singing a respective verse while playing. Dang. What a wasted opportunity for Yakko.

The second time he almost sang while playing the piano, almost being the key word here, was in "Hercule Yakko". Here, Yakko was a detective called Hercule Yakko (in case you didn't know by the cartoon's title), trying to figure out who stole Marita Hippo's diamond. (Marita and her husband, Flabio, a.k.a. the Hip Hippos, were among the cast of "Animaniacs".) He asks Flabio and Marita if they had any enemies to which they said no. Yakko then asks if they had any creditors and they said no to this, too. Then, as part of the gag, Yakko, dressed as a lounge singer (Wayne Newton, I assume) and at the piano, asks if they had any requests. At first, he seems to be playing the piano, but when he picks up takes the microphone and sings "Down Upon The Nile River" (a parody of "Swany River"), the hand he does have free (since he's holding the mic with one hand) doesn't touch the piano keys (as seen in the screenshot, captured by me), although piano music is heard as he sings, so, it counts as the cartoon's musical score.

(Screenshot by me.) The last time Yakko's officially seen playing the piano was in the last episode of "Animaniacs", in the cartoon "The Scoring Session". The whole "Animaniacs" cast is the studio's orchestra to score a cartoon while being conducted by guest conductor, a rhino named Neivel Nosenest. (Tee hee, "Nosenest".) During the session, Wakko bangs on a gong which makes Neivel scold him. Neivel proceeds to tell Wakko that the score says "piano" since piano means "soft". So, Neivel says to play piano and this prompts Yakko to play the piano as part of the joke (since the instrument is commonly called a piano which is short for pianoforte). It would've been cool to see Yakko sing while playing the piano (preferably Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano"), but just seeing him play instrumental jazz on the piano works well. The cartoon used to be on Youtube, but now, we'll just have to wait 'til the WB releases episodes 76-99 on DVD as "Animaniacs Volume 4".

Rob Paulsen mentioned in episode 20 of his podcast that he doesn't play a musical instrument himself (so much for seeing him accompanying himself on the piano while singing "Yakko's World" among other songs), but it doesn't hinder Yakko's musical abilities any. Still, since "Animaniacs" is no longer on the air (and with no new episodes), it's a shame we'll never get to see Yakko singing while playing the piano, but it does open up that possibility since he does both so well. But at least I still can imagine Yakko singing while playing the piano. Here's a list of songs I'd like to see Yakko sing while playing piano (in no particular order):

I Love A Piano (written by Irving Berlin)
A Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On (as performed by Jerry Lee Lewis)
Great Balls Of Fire (another Jerry Lee Lewis standard)
That's Just The Way It Is (as performed by Bruce Hornsby and the Range)
Virtual Insanity (as performed by Jamirroquai for the reason listed above)
Crocodile Rock (as performed by Elton John)
I'm Still Standing (another Elton John favorite of mine)
As Time Goes By (from the movie "Casablanca", made by the same studio that produced "Animaniacs")
Piano Man (written and performed by Billy Joel; you knew this song had to come up sometime)

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?
(Screenshot not captured by me, but found through a Google image search.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Feelin' "Zany to the Max"

Sorry I haven't been updating this blog very often, I was busy surfin' the web. I figure now would be a good time to post my latest thoughts.

It seems I've finally got off my Disney kick for a while now. The reason? A show I was obsessed with since 1993 called... wait for it... "Animaniacs"!

Yes, that show. And get this: it's from the same studio that brought us the "Looney Tunes" cartoons, namely, Warner Bros. It stars Yakko, Wakko, and Dot - the Warner Brothers (not the studio this time) and the Warner Sister - among others, but the siblings are my favorites (with Yakko being my most favorite... and second cartoon crush). Back then, I didn't live in Portland, Oregon. As such, I didn't have the WB (long before it became the CW) once "Animaniacs" moved there from FOX in 1995. I made do, of course, recording the episodes before the network switch and whenever I visited relatives who had the WB and Cartoon Network (when the show aired in reruns there). I was even lucky to get the direct to video movie "Wakko's Wish" (VHS only) for Christmas of 1999!

Time passed and now, I've got the first three volumes of the show on DVD as well as all three volumes of its spinoff "Pinky & the Brain" featuring the two titular lab mice who plan every night to try to take over the world! I'm still waiting for the WB studio to release volume four of "Animaniacs" (which includes the final episodes) and "Wakko's Wish" on DVD. Come on, guys, we're not gettin' any younger here! However, Tom Ruegger has a blog which you can visit and comment on called "Cartoonatics". And Rob Paulsen, who voices Yakko and Pinky, has a website of his own and a twitter account just to see what he's been up to. (He's been a very busy voice actor.)

Might as well end this post with this article from "Entertainment Weekly". Looks like I'm not the only one nostalgic for the show. On that note, allow me to quote Yakko by saying: "Goodnight, everybody!"

(Oh, and Homestar Runner hasn't updated his website since Decemberween last year. So, I got him beat there.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not Fair for the Fair

I was in WDW for my birthday (Feb. 16th) and thus, was there on that last night that Mickey's Toontown Fair was open (Feb. 11th). Not much happened to commemorate the event for us guests, but I did see some cast members dancing with some guests joining in at the County Bounty store. I took some pics of some of the buildings and got a chance to ride the Barnstormer with my mom one last time (before it becomes "The Great Goofini"). Although there's still a Toontown in Disneyland U.S.A. and Tokyo Disneyland, and Mickey and Minnie have got new meet and greet spots in Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and the Hall of Presidents at Liberty Square (mostly Mickey on his own here) before Exhibition Hall is ready for them, I feel there will never be another Toontown experience in WDW for a while. There was a ceremony for the cast members on the last night which you can see here on YouTube. (Courtesy of crushinator.) So, for my first blog post of the year, I'd like to dedicate this moment to what will become the Storybook Circus. Toontown Fair, you will be missed. June 18, 1988 (as Mickey's Birthdayland) - February 11, 2011.