Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Pop Culture Haikus: Disney Renaiisance Edition

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

When I was growing up during the 1990s, there were a lot of great entertainment options available to me.  Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, and Kids WB all had great lineups of live-action and cartoon shows that could keep me entertained for hours before and after school.  I subscribed to a host of interesting magazines (Nick Mag and Disney Adventures, you will be missed!) and read through an endlessly-growing collection of books.  One of the most memorable entertainment sources for me during this time, though, was the long string of fantastic animated films released by Disney during this time.  This period has become known as the Disney Renaiisance because the quality of the animation, artistry, music, and other elements of these films were amazingly high; I was a bit too young to appreciate such finer details, but I did really like these movies.  As a small tribute to this period from 1989 to 1999, I present the following Pop Culture Haikus, one seventeen-syllable poem for each film released during this time.

The Little Mermaid

Sea girl meets nice boy./Mean witch steals ocean girl’s voice./Witch becomes fish food.  Nice boy is confused./”Why does the nice girl have fins?”/Just kiss the girl, boy!

The Rescuers Down Under

Aussie boy is kidnapped./Cute U.N. mice rescue him./Boy saved by vermin!  This had an eagle/that the Aussie boy flew on./That’s all I recall.  (Still, that eagle ruled!/Come on, a freaking eagle!/I ride eagle next?)

Beauty and the Beast

Girl meets furry boy./Beast defends her, loves her true./Aw, they got married!  Gaston was a jerk./He didn’t treat Belle nice much./Furry boy much nicer!  Feel bad for Gaston, though./Being thrown off cliff must hurt./Hope landing was soft!

Aladdin

Boy meets nice princess./Boy uses magic to impress./Girl likes real men more.  Jafar wants power./Magic makes him more snake-like./Audience: “Boo!  Hiss!”  Genie is funny./True, he turns into weird things./Still, he’s pretty nice.

The Lion King

Mufasa has son,/Dies at hands of jerk brother./Can son become king?  Son gets two new friends./They tell him, “Not to worry.”/I think he should care.  Simba faces Scar,/Surrounded by hot lava./Better than Ali fight!  Peace reigns in Pride Lands/Because Simba won the battle./Life’s circle rolls on!

Pocahantas

Princess meets nice boy./It’s reverse of Aladdin!/Disney recycles plots!  John Smith is nice man./He loves native princess much./Doesn’t quite get girl.  Radcliffe big, greedy./Cares nothing for natives, only gold./He’s a blowhard jerk!  Pokey and John meet,/Get along though differences/Keep them both apart.

Hercules

A kid from the gods:/”Greece is chock-full of monsters./Let me save it, please?”  Hades, big bad guy:/”Jerkules wins, I burn up./Get me an aspirin!”  I like the muses much./Best Greek chorus ever filmed!/”That’s the gospel truth!”  Pegasus was neat./Large white winged horse impressed all./Rainbow Dash still coolest!

Mulan

Legendary girl/Saved China from the Hun hordes,/Also found husband.  Mushu is cute help./He’s rivals with small cricket./They’ll soon get along fine.  Shang is big captain/In fledgling Chinese army./First big test is Huns.  Mulan can help out./She’ll go as a boy soldier./She’s tougher than most!

Tarzan

Legendary man/Raised by apes, king of jungle/Heard this all before?  Terk’s Tarzan’s best friend./Brooklyn accent in Africa?/Normal for Rosie!  “Trashin’ the Camp” song/Backstreet Boys sing great doo-wop!/Too bad the camp’s trashed…  Clayton hunts big apes/Tarzan says, “That’s not okay!/This hunt is postponed!”  Ape man meets Jane girl/Ape man likes Jane girl heap lots/Maybe they’ll elope?

Do you like Disney?/How about these haikus?  Hmm?/Leave comments below.

Pop Culture Questions: Pest Control Edition

Friday, July 5th, 2013
Say "cheese," Ronald! See what I did there?

This little rat was thankfully spared during the most recent dungeon raid. He is currently enjoying a steady recovery at Dr. Rodent’s Rat Rehab, home of the world-famous “Vermin Swimmin’ Spa,” in Reno, Nevada.

Welcome to another installment of my series, Pop Culture Questions.  This time, I’m going to tackle two conundrums involving things that I find annoying, irritating, or just a big old pest.  Get out the DDT and mousetraps because it’s time for some long-overdue extermination.

How come medieval dungeons are always filled with giant rats and spiders?

I have been playing a new game, Warhammer Quest, on my iPad and am repeatedly running into dungeons filled to the brim with orcs, goblins, and all sorts of other nasty creatures.  The most revolting creatures I’ve come up against so far, however, have been some grossly oversized rats and spiders.  It seems to me that in every castle dungeon I have ever seen, whether in movies, TV shows, or, lately, video games, I have always seen a healthy (or is that unhealthy?) assortment of jumbo-sized rats, spiders, bats, and other humongous vermin.  What compelled these critters to reside in such dark, dank, miserable places?  I think it’s probably due to the cold, moist environments and the steady supply of fresh meat in the form of traveling adventurers hapless enough to walk into the next random cave entrance only to find it’s a den of starving creatures waiting for a human feast.  The real question on my mind, though, as stated above, is: How come the majority of these rats, spiders, etc. are always of the “Triple Deluxe Whopper” variety?  From whence did these rodents and their disgusting friends gain the ability to grow to such a large size?  Someone must have left a magical potion lying around or been dumping something especially powerful into the sewage, because it looks like these huge monsters are here to stay, especially if they keep breeding like, well, rats.

What is “The Most Annoying Song in the World?”

A little while back, I came across a video for a song from the Disney TV show Phineas and Ferb called, “This Is the Most Annoying Song in the World (Woop Woop).”  Despite the claims of Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the show’s resident mad scientist and the lead singer here, that  his creation is the most mind-numbingly annoying song ever, I find that a bit hard to believe.  I think the song is actually quite catchy and pleasing to the ear.  In fact, I can come up with much more annoying songs than this pathetic attempt.  For instance, I personally don’t mind Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You, You Love Me,” but apparently there’s many other people who, if they don’t have any preschool-aged children around, set up bunkers and call civil defense authorities once this song starts playing on their TVs.  How about “The Song That Doesn’t End,” the classic that’s great for ending an episode of Lamb Chop’s Play Along  but turns into sheer torture when you’re forced to listen to it for 10 hours straight?  On that note, there’s also a lot of YouTube videos of annoying songs played on near-infinite loops, or at least as long as the person making the video can stand before finding something better to do with their time.  For example, have a taste of the “Nom Nom” song accompanied by 10 hours of hamsters and gerbils eating food, or for something a bit shorter, Pac-Man eating  dots for 58 seconds or one minute of some bizarrely cute Photoshops

I think I’ll pass this question on to you now, too.  Are there any songs that drive you up the wall any time you hear them?  Leave your songs in the comments, and if possible, give links to videos or sound files of the songs in question so I can hear them as well.  Hope you don’t find my request too annoying! 🙂

Considering Closing Credits

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

I was checking out YouTube the other night when I came across a video of the closing credits for one of my favorite shows from the past.  Watching it again, it moved me in a strange way and it caused me to think of other closing credit sequences which have stayed in my memories, in some cases long after the shows they were part of stopped airing.  The shows may now be over, but the curtains have never closed on these end title gems in my mind.

Astro Boy- 1st ending theme, Japan only

The video above is the one I was watching that inspired me to write this blog post.  It’s from the 2003 Astro Boy TV series that aired for only a short while in the U.S.  I’m a big fan of Osamu Tezuka’s Japanese robot hero, and I think this series is one of the best depictions of him ever done outside of the comics.  There were a lot of changes made to the series for its U.S. airing, though, including changing the closing credits sequence.  The end title sequence in the video (without all those annoying names in front) is one of the things that I was never able to see in the show’s original U.S. run, but I discovered it a few years later on YouTube, and boy, did we miss out on a real gem!  In the sequence itself, the main character, Astro the boy robot, is looking out over Metro City during a sunset, possibly contemplating some mystery of life judging from his tapping feet and his apparent wiping away of a tear (don’t laugh, he does shed a few tears in the show’s final episodes).  As the sequence ends, he looks over his shoulder at the viewer and gives a big smile, as if to say, “Don’t worry, it’s all right.  We’ll meet again soon.”  I find this sequence very moving in its simplicity, speaking volumes in a minute and a half.  I wonder why this sequence was never used in the U.S. version (or on the DVD either, for that matter).  Is it because Astro is sitting on top of a building and the show’s translators were afraid kids might duplicate such an action?  Darn shame, because I think this thing is just beautiful, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it used in some way if the series ever comes back on the air.

Blue’s Clues– Clap, Sweep, Clap, Clap, Clap

I loved Blue’s Clues when it started airing in 1996.  It’s combination of simplistic problem solving, cute visuals, and the seemingly naivete of host Steven Burns was very appealing to me for the longest time, and I’ll still watch an episode from time to time for nostalgia’s sake.  One part that I think a lot of people forget about when they talk about the show, however, is the closing credits right after Steve’s “Now It’s Time for So Long” song.  Most viewers might flip to another channel after that song, but not me.  I stuck around just to see Blue, Tickety Tock, Mr. Salt, Mrs. Pepper, and all the other characters dancing around while the credits rolled, something you don’t really see these days because they speed the credits up to add more commercials.  Also, I wanted to hear what instruments or sounds would be added to the theme’s basic bass line and “clap, sweep, clap, clap, clap.”  Depending on the subject being addressed in that particular episode, you could hear anything from wind chimes to industrial machinery to an energetic piano solo.  It was an extra thing that made each show that much more special for me, like a unique snowflake.

The Flintstones/The Jetsons– Pet Peeves

I am attracted to closing credits that give the viewer something extra beyond just listing the names of the show’s production crew.  In the case of The Flintstones and The Jetsons, I was able to see a few more minutes of funny cartoon scenes, an awesome way to end a show.  Both of these shows’ iconic ending sequences involve household pets.  Fred Flintstone gets locked out of his house by a smart-aleck saber-toothed cat, pathetically calling out, “Wilma!”  George Jetson gets stuck on the treadmill while Astro the dog (Wow, Astro’s both the name of a robot boy and a dog!  That name sure gets around the cartoon world!) and an unnamed cat watch with delight as George calls out pathetically, “Jane!  Stop this crazy thing!” (You’d think she would; maybe she lets it happen to deal out some kind of cosmic justice to George or something.  It certainly couldn’t be for his health.)  These things will happen every single episode until the end of time (or until people get sick of watching these shows, but I don’t think that’ll happen for a long time).  I have never thought that these endings were particularly funny in any way, but I do smile when I see them.  They’re like comfort food, one last warm feeling before heading back to the present day where cats don’t have saber teeth and treadmills don’t normally suck people under them repeatedly (and don’t hang out in midair on the outside of a building, for that matter).

Spongebob Squarepants– Ukelele Ditty

You may not know it from watching it today, but Nickelodeon shows used to have closing credit sequences, too.  A few years back, though, they stopped showing these for some strange reason, probably to fit in more commercials, I guess.  It’s too bad, though; I used to enjoy listening to the familiar strains of some of them, but none more so than the Spongebob Squarepants closing music.  It plays over a static screen of flower print and standard credits, but I feel that the music is much more outstanding than the visuals.  It’s a continuous ukelele riff that was sometimes used as background music within the show itself, and I guarantee that you’d likely know what show it’s from just from hearing it.  In my mind, it’s an encapsulation of all of the happiness and simple pleasures I have gotten from watching Spongebob’s antics for the first, tenth, hundredth, maybe even thousandth time.  The only place I usually see this sequence now is in “Nick on Demand” showings of Spongebob on digital cable systems and on DVD compilations.  It’s quite the reversal from how often I saw it just a few years ago.  May it rest in peace, floating ever on through the flotsam and jetsam of TV’s past.

Before this discussion of closing credits comes to a close, I’d like to know: Do you have a favorite TV closing credit sequence?  What do you like about it?  Do you still see it anymore?  Open up about your favorite closings in the comments.