Archive for the ‘Songs’ 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.

Random Top Five: Snoopy Personas

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
"Contact!" he shouts.

Here’s the World War I Flying Ace, looking proud on his Sopwith Camel featured on an emblem for the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron.

One of my favorite characters in all of popular culture is Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s beagle from the Peanuts franchise.  Ever since I first laid my eyes on him in a videotape recording of A Charlie Brown Christmas, I have grown to love Snoopy immensely and take great pleasure from seeing his antics.  I like the idea of a dog standing up on his hind legs, walking around, and hanging out with a little yellow bird.  The one aspect of Snoopy that I love the most, however, is that he has an overactive imagination.  Not content with being merely a dog, Snoopy has decided to fill the dull moments of his life with fantastic adventures in which he is the hero of epic stories, usually taking on some truly iconic identities in the process.  It is these alternate personas of his that stand out the most in my mind whenever I think of Snoopy.  Here is a small appreciation of five of Snoopy’s most famous personas and why I like them so much.

5. The World-Famous Novelist, a.k.a. The Literary Ace

“It was a dark and stormy night.  Suddenly, a shot rang out!”  If you’re reading a Peanuts strip, chances are you will see these words hovering over Snoopy’s head while he is banging on the keys of a typewriter on top of his doghouse.  You will then have witnessed one of the most harrowing moments in all of literature: here is the World-Famous Novelist making another attempt at writing the Great American Novel.  It’s just unfortunate, though, that he is borrowing his opening line (the “dark and stormy” part, anyway) from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford, an 1830 work whose beginning sentence is apparently considered one of the world’s worst story starters.  Despite the continuous stream of rejection letters that arrive from various editors and publishers, Snoopy still persists in writing, always with that line as his lead-off hitter. 

I was inspired to become a writer partly because of Snoopy’s attempts to be a writer.  I admired how he never gave up on his dream despite everyone else telling him he should stop.  He kept on writing anyway just because he was that dedicated to his craft.  It just so happens that his work has been published at least one time, believe it or not, and I acquired a copy of it myself a couple of years ago.  The year 1971 saw the publication of It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, a book based on several different Novelist storylines and featured a special reprint of Snoopy’s written work.  I highly recommend hunting a copy down for yourself on Amazon, especially because of the beagle’s account of a surprisingly awesome pirate fight.

4. Legal Beagle

Snoopy has a secret second life separate from his regular existence as a dog and even from his other personas.  In this other life, he is one of the USA’s most elite trial lawyers.  Here is the world-famous lawyer, easily recognized by his bowler hat, bow tie, and carrying a briefcase filled with legal papers (and doughnuts and cookies).  This stalwart defender of truth and justice, sometimes seconded by loyal assistants Linus and Rerun Van Pelt, has had an ecclectic list of clients, including most notably Peter Rabbit (It turns out Mr. McGregor can be far more deadly with a lawsuit than he ever was with a shotgun and rabbit traps.) and the Knave of Hearts (who may have stolen some tarts, but the evidence seems to be circumstantial; it may be that Snoopy himself had a nibble of some of the tarts in question). 

I like this persona mostly because of the absurdity of Snoopy being a part of the legal world and all of the unusual situations that would bring about, and also because I have seen it more in the comics than in the TV specials which makes it stick out more in my mind.  I wonder what would happen if Snoopy went up against Phoenix Wright in a real “trial by fire?”

3. Beagle Scout

When Woodstock and his identical yellow bird friends want to go camping, hiking, sailing, or engaging in nearly any other outdoor activity they can think of, they know the beagle to call.  Snoopy is the loyal den dog to the Beagle Scouts, a group of young birds working to earn merit badges in a variety of disciplines.  Sometimes their excursions take them out onto the neighborhood golf course, marching through sand traps and around holes, frequently taking some treacherous hiking paths through the nearby woods.  There is plenty of risk of being hit with flying golf balls or being chased off the course by its owners or by Charlie Brown and the gang, but the experience of being outdoors is well worth the effort to Snoopy and his young scouts.  The rest of the time, they hike and set up camp through some beautiful countryside; how much of this is really part of the neighborhood or just part of Snoopy’s imagination, the world may never know.

The Beagle Scout persona is a Snoopy persona I can particularly admire because he and his bird friends get to walk through some exquisite outdoor settings.  Charles M. Schultz drew amazing depictions of lush forests, wide meadows, craggy mountain passes, sheer cliffs, calm rivers and streams, and other outdoor locales for the Beagle Scouts to explore, ones which remind me a lot of nearby parks and woods near my home.  They look well-suited for places to spread out one’s sleeping bag and stare up at the stars.  Snoopy is truly an appreciative outdoorsman (or is that outdoorsdog?).

2. Joe Cool

Snoopy’s salute to the BMOC (Big Man on Campus), Joe Cool is undoubtedly one of the hippest (in his own mind) personas the beagle has.  The sweater-wearing, sunglasses-sporting “student” is not as concerned with making good grades as he is with making a name for himself around Charlie Brown’s school, hanging around the water fountain and flirting with the girls.  Whether this approach makes Snoopy/Joe any more popular is up for debate; if You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown is any indication, he certainly isn’t popular with teachers and other faculty who do not want a beagle leaving pawprints all over the school. 

Personally, I think Joe Cool lives up to his name, if only in that he knows how to make a sweater with one’s name plastered on it look like the coolest sweater in the world.  This somehow, by extension, makes the wearer himself look cool, so maybe the beagle is on to something here.

1. World War I Flying Ace

Here is what is undoubtedly Snoopy’s most famous persona, immortalized through his show-stealing appearance in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Royal Guardsmen’s top musical hits “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” and “Snoopy’s Christmas,” and even a couple of video games (a different Snoopy vs. The Red Baron and Snoopy Flying Ace).  The World War I Flying Ace is a living tribute to all of the men and women in the armed forces, a pilot who is still fighting the war even though it officially ended when Germany signed an armistice on November 11, 1918.  The Flying Ace climbs on his Sopwith Camel and flies once more into the wild grey yonder (it would’ve been blue if only all those guns stopped blasting ordnance for a second), searching for the “bloody” Red Baron.  Even though the Baron is credited with a long string of successful wins in dogfights, his winning streak of  “ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or more” pales in comparison to his legendary rivalry with that ace of aces, Snoopy.  Thank goodness it’s a relatively bloodless rivalry.  Every time they meet, the Baron just shoots a few holes through the doghouse and forces his opponent to make a rough landing, free to repair his “plane’s” smoking (?) fuselage while shaking his fist (It’s astonishing that dog is even capable of making a fist.  Cartoons, gotta love ’em.) and shouting, “Curse you, Red Baron!”  Snoopy and the Baron even seem to have come to an uneasy truce: every Christmas, they land their planes and share a cup of tea together, wish each other a Merry Christmas, then fly away until their next aerial clash. 

This part of the Flying Ace’s legend is one that I really like to reflect on.  How cool is it that even though they’re such fierce rivals usually intent on “rolling out the score,” Snoopy and the Baron have enough respect for each other to reenact the famous “Christmas truce” from the 1914 portion of the War to End All Wars every single year?  It makes me hope that others will be willing to take up the cause of “…bringing peace to all the world/And goodwill to me-e-e-en.”

I have read many times that Charles Schultz stated that people could interpret his work however they wanted; that all he was trying to do with Peanuts was to make people laugh once a day every day for fifty years.  Well, he certainly made this reader think a lot about life while he was laughing.  In regards to Snoopy, Schultz said that despite the character’s sensational popularity, he himself tried his darndest not to let the beagle completely hijack the strip.  However, I personally believe that Snoopy is the best part of Peanuts.  His boundless imagination and creative flights of fancy are a wonderful respite from the usual storylines of Charlie Brown’s hangups and everyone else’s insecurities.  Snoopy is almost never depressed; he is astoundingly happy all the time and completely engrossed in his fantastic adventures.  Even if the rest of Schultz’s Peanuts work is forgotten over time, I hope Snoopy will remain popular for a long time to come.  I think the world would just be a lot sadder without him.

What do you think of Snoopy and his numerous personas?  Which one is your favorite?  Make sure to fly over to the comments and leave your thoughts, and here’s to hoping you don’t have any “dark and stormy nights” anytime soon!

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! 🙂

Thomas the Tank Engine: A Sodor Sing-Along

Monday, March 25th, 2013
All aboard!

Rolling along the tracks of life…

I’ve been on a bit of a “Thomas the Tank Engine” kick lately.  Since the recent announcement of a new Thomas movie coming out in 2013, I’ve been hunting for Thomas videos and DVDs at garage sales and  bargain bins, looking to reconnect with a cherished piece of my childhood.  I’ve also tuned in weekly to the Thomas & Friends TV show to see what all the engines look like now that CGI is being used instead of the old model trains (I prefer the models, but the computer animation isn’t too bad).  I have rediscovered many wonderful friends on the island of Sodor, and I love seeing them all.  A couple of days ago, I bought a DVD full of songs from the TV show and spent a bit of last night appreciating just how good the songs were and the great memories they brought back.  Here’s a few of my favorite songs from the show along with links to YouTube videos featuring them.  Credit for most songs goes to series composers Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell who I feel gave just the right kind of lighthearted feel this series called for in terms of music.  The one exception is “Hear the Engines Coming” which was written by Robert Hartshorne.  Feel free to share them with your kids; I think these songs are too much fun to keep to yourself.

“Toby”

This song features one of my favorite engines in the whole Thomas universe (other than the big blue guy himself, of course).  It’s a three minute retelling of the story of how Toby the tram engine came to Thomas’s railway after being shut up in a shed for years.  That story almost always makes me cry a little at the thought of Toby being cut off from everyone for so long.  The song makes this thought even more unbearable for me because the kids singing it soon start wailing, “Toby, oh Toby,/What will become of you?/The world’s much nicer whenever we see you.”  I agree with them wholeheartedly: the whole world does seem a lot nicer whenever I see Toby’s big square body and cute little smile, and I’m glad that the song ends with him going out into the world again.  It also has a great melody taken from Toby’s signature upbeat musical theme which always precedes his appearances in the series and which I never tire of hearing.  No matter how old I might get, I’ll always cherish Toby’s presence in my life.  Like the song says, “Oldies but Goldies, we still care for you.”

“Sir Topham Hatt”

Please note that this is the 1994 song, not the 2010 rendition which covers virtually the same territory but with a light jazz motif which I really don’t like much at all, so, in my opinion, the lesser said about that one the better.  The 1994 song is a musical tribute to the big guy in the top hat and black coat who runs one of the most famous parts of the Sodor railway system.  Basically, the song covers Hatt’s rotund figure, his control of the railway, and recounts a few of his more iconic moments in the series.  It’s all sung to a melody that throws its weight around through heavy percussion beats and loud brass notes, just like the character it is dedicated to.  If you ever wanted to explain to someone who has never heard of the Thomas franchise who Sir Topham Hatt is, this song would be a good place to start.

“Hear the Engines Coming”

As I hinted at above, I generally don’t like a lot of the newer songs that have been written for the Thomas series.  Most of them tend to be written in Broadway, rock-and-roll, and light jazz styles which I think clash a lot with the old-fashioned setting of the series.  I do like this song from 2011, however.  It turns the puffs, whistles, clanks, bangs, and bashes of the engines’ work day into a fun, noisy song that made me smile the first time I heard it, possibly the first time I’d cracked a really big grin at anything I’ve seen during the CGI era.  I’ve always liked songs and stories that turn noise into a fun rhythm game, and this song hits that sweet spot for me.  I don’t think of it as a classic like the songs from when I was growing up, but it’s not half bad.

“Island Song”

I had actually never heard this song before (or at least I didn’t remember it from my childhood) until I picked up the DVD I talked about at the beginning of this post.  I felt myself crying a little bit as this song went on because it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Thomas the Tank Engine show in the first place.  In fact, that was pretty much how I felt after hearing the first verse: “Picture a land where the sky is so blue/A storybook land of wonder/A magical land just waiting for you/Island of Sodor will make your dreams come true.”  The show’s depiction of Sodor as a perpetually green in the summer (pristine white in winter) land full of talking train engines definitely left a strong impression on me when I was younger and has stayed with me for years.  As new generations discover Thomas for the first time, I feel compelled to join in with the chorus and tell those kids, “Children follow the dream/To the land of make believe.”  I am sure that dream will live on forever as long as kids care to dream it.

“Thomas’ Anthem”

We started with a song about one of my favorite engines, so now I’ll close with my absolute favorite song from the series, which coincidentally happens to be the first one ever featured in the series.  Like the title indicates, this song is pretty much the original Thomas theme song, using the music from the opening title sequence to back up its chorus, “Thomas the Tank Engine rolling along,/[whistling part – I don’t quite know how to do it all that well either for this post or in real life; you can hear it for yourself in the video, so bonus points if you can replicate it on your own]/All of his friends will be coming along/Thomas, we love you!”  I was actually surprised the original title sequence even had lyrics, but when I heard them, I thought to myself, “Yup, this one’s going to stay with me.”  I also kind of like the new intro song it’s been replaced with since my childhood, “Engine Rollcall,” but there’s a part of me that will always like the original theme the best.  I didn’t hear it until well after my formative years were over, but it reminds me of when I first saw the show, and that’s a great thing in my book.

These songs always bring back my childhood whenever I hear them, and I hope you enjoyed them, too.  What did you think of them?  What songs do you like?  Let me know in the comments, and keep puffing along!

Random Top Five: My Favorite Fives

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
One, two, three, four...guess what's next?

Coming in at Number Five!

Five is a number that is less than six, more than four, and number one in my heart.  The number five also turns up a lot in popular culture.  I wonder why that is.  I want to find out someday, but until that day comes, here are five of my favorite fives.

5. Subway’s “Five,  five dollar,  five dollar foot-long” jingle

I haven’t taken advantage of the deals being advertised in the Subway commercials featuring this jingle, but I do find the tune itself to be very catchy.  It’s got a simple thumping rhythm that makes me feel like I belong to something bigger.  Not bigger in a religious sense, mind you, just bigger in the sense that the jingle is welcoming me in.  It’s still “…g-g-going strong” for me!

4. The five starting members of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

Whenever I think of this exciting action show that I loved watching during the ’90s (even though I didn’t really understand what was going on), I tend to think of the five “teenagers with attitude” who were first selected to be on the team.  Jason, Kimberley, Zack, Trini, and Billy were a diverse group who always tried to do the right thing and made kicking alien butt in multicolored superhero costumes look very, very fun.  Tommy joined later as the Green Ranger, but I always viewed him as a side character whereas the other five kids were on the show all the time.  Ironically, Tommy is one of the few Power Rangers characters to have continued to make appearances in the franchise much later than his heyday and modern groups of Rangers have initially had as few as three members, but I feel those original five Rangers formed the blueprint for the team’s balance and will continue to inspire new groups well into the future.  Whatever happens to the Rangers next, I’m sure it will always be “Morphin’ Time!”

3. Counting by fives with Schoolhouse Rock’s “Ready or Not, Here I Come”

The video accompanying this song features a group of kids playing hide-and-seek in a field of rolling hills, grass, and trees while practicing counting by fives all the way up to one hundred.  I can’t really remember much about the song itself beyond the numbers being delivered very fast.  The video doesn’t have too many standout moments for me either beyond the setting and the kids recalling the numbers using their fingers.  I do find myself singing the “counting by fives” part for no particular reason sometimes, however, so I guess it must have worked its way into the deep recesses of my mind somehow.

2. Numbuh Five from Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door

The Kids Next Door are a group of kids who carry out secret-agent/commando missions to stop the fiendish plots of evil adults.  All of the members are very cool in their own ways, but in my view, Numbuh Five, Abigail Lincoln, was practically the definition of “cool.”  She always looked confident whenever she headed into battle, and her signature red hat and blue coat made her seem, to me,  able to handle the pressure, even if she may have actually felt scared or uncertain.  The other KND members often experienced embarrassing moments, but at least Abby was able to keep a level head most of the time.

1. Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5”

Some might call this song annoying (it ended up in AOL’s Top 100 Worst Songs list at #95), but it’s one of my favorite songs to listen to.  Whenever it comes on the radio, I turn the volume up and enjoy the awesome audio samples of brass bands which back up Lou’s vocals.  I’ve never been too crazy about the lyrics but I do feel they go perfectly with the music, making it sound like a lost Roaring Twenties jazz love song that somehow time traveled to 1999.  My favorite part comes when Lou calls for, “The trumpet!”  Some awesome horns are played in that section, probably the reason I love this song so much.  Incidentally, there’s a version of the song that played on Radio Disney back in the day where all of the girls’ names are replaced by Disney characters like Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.  I’ve listened to both and I prefer the original version (I don’t know why), but either way, the brass band still sounds good to me.

Do you have any favorite fives?  Give me your five cents’ worth of thoughts in the comments.

Pop Culture Questions (And An Autistic Mind’s Answers)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Questions

So many questions, so little time…

I love pop culture.  It is a language that I understand as fluently as English.  Sometimes, however, some parts of pop culture seem nonsensical or irrational to me.  They cause me to question the material and the internal logic driving it.  In my attempts to make sense out of them and have a little fun with it all, I have come up with some very unique questions and answers.  Here are a few examples of my pop culture “how comes.”

How come the lyric goes, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore?”  I’m pretty sure that the moon (or any other celestial object of considerable size) making an impact with one’s head would more likely generate sensations of pain rather than pleasure.  I assume it wouldn’t feel like a large pizza, either, which is a shame because I’d rather be hit by something soft and gooey than something hard and imposing.

How come the kids in the Boxcar Children book series are still referred to by that name by other people even though they have clearly not lived in a boxcar in quite some time?  They did manage to make a nice home for themselves in a boxcar in the first book, but I believe it might get tiresome for them to be constantly reminded of this point over and over again.  Besides, by now they’re probably better known as a mystery-solving family anyway.  I think they should embrace their new positions as “Scooby-Doo imitators” and go the whole nine yards.  If they really did want to keep the boxcar thing going, they could probably turn that boxcar into a Mystery Machine-type vehicle and go cross country.

How come Stephen Hawking says time travel doesn’t exist?  In a recent television special, Hawking carried out an experiment to test the validity of time travel.  Basically, he set up a party for time travelers and left an open invitation lying on the ground outside of the building where the party was being held.  According to him, any time travelers curious enough to attend the party would arrive on the spot and, seeing the invitation, would join Hawking inside.  Hawking waited for over an hour to see if anyone would show up, but no one did.  He then stated that he had just proven that time travel doesn’t exist.  By his reasoning, there should have been roughly a dozen people suddenly wandering around the room, but since there was no one else there, clearly time travel had not been invented yet or even perfected at any point in the future.

I think Hawking has a bit of faulty reasoning here.  It seems a bit arrogant to me to send out party invitations to a bunch of time travelers for a television special and expect them to show up instantaneously.  I feel it is safe to assume that they might have encountered problems in the space-time continuum while attempting to get to the party.  Also, they might have seen the special, or at least a rerun of it, in the future, felt insulted by Hawking’s demeaning portrayal of their activity, and decided not to attend to avoid being further insulted.  Some may have actually shown up, but, if certain time travel theories are to be believed, they were either moving too fast for the naked eye to normally observe or they showed up for different versions of the party in alternate universes.  The possibilities of time travel have been debated for generations in both academics and mass media.  Because of this, I believe that Hawking should have waited for more concrete evidence to show itself before passing judgment on something which could possibly exist in the future.

How come the henchmen in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus video game chase Sly around for a few moments if they see him, but if he gets away, they just go back to their regular patrol route without a second thought?  They know he’s lurking around the place stealing things willy-nilly, especially because their boss just told them so via the public address system.  However, they just retreat back to their normal walking patterns as soon as Sly is out of earshot.  One would think that if these minions used a little more common sense, they would expand their designated patrol areas and hunt Sly all over the map.  Instead, they stick to one solitary zone and leave it to their brethren to try to catch Sly.  The minions in the later Sly games at least have the sense to chase the raccoon over short distances before giving up the ghost.  Of course, all of the minions seem particularly susceptible to a few good whacks from Sly’s wooden cane, so maybe they are actually wise to keep away from their adversary.

How come you always see “endless runner” games on mobile devices but never “endless walkers?”  I have played quite a few endless runner games recently and each has been a delightful experience in and of itself.  However, it is clear to me that a twist on the genre could bring a great deal of excitement, or at least originality, if done correctly.  Instead of outrunning a giant wave of lava or a gargantuan monster, the player could be attempting to cross a busy street which just so happens to have a sidewalk always in the distance (you don’t have to be Frogger to have this sort of setting).  The player’s character could walk at a leisurely pace giving the player a chance to look at the beautiful graphics of the world around them.  The main problem with this idea is that there are very few places where such games could be played.  The Nintendo Wii has had a couple of walking games made which used the Wii Balance Board, but they have not resembled what I am picturing in my mind.  Smartphones and tablet computers, from which a number of endless runners originated, could support endless walkers, but the active portion of the genre might be a bit limited.  If an endless walker could be built into treadmills and implemented at health clubs, they may experience a surge in popularity.  Someone needs to get in on this genre now!

How come the song goes, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning?” Are there different levels of enjoyment in different states?  Do North and South Carolina offer different levels of early morning enjoyment?    Can happiness levels be considered equal in every part of a state as small as South Carolina?  Do you think taking songs literally leads to temporary madness?

These are just a few pop culture questions that have gone through my mind over the years.  Do you have a different take on the questions I have outlined above?  Are there pop culture queries that have driven you crazy?  Leave your thoughts in the comments; they might influence future posts.  Tune in next week, I’ll have more pop culture questions and answers!!