NOT THAT YOU'D LIKELY CARE ABOUT MY CURRENT "PROJECT"...
...but the first installment in my ridiculously-long and exhaustively-researched Super Gals! episode guides
is up over at RottenTomatoes.com. I like the new feature at RottenTomatoes.com that lets you start a fansite "journal" for virtually any movie or DVD. It's a great place to put your thoughts on a show if you're like me and are too cheap to want to buy your own webspace for a proper site.
Since these things take forever for a procrastinator like me to write, I plan on doing no more than two a week, and that's if I up my pace. I'm not going to stop blogging, though. Not that I've said much of value lately...
I still need to make screencaps to add to this guide, but I'll do that on Saturday.
STEAMBOY TO BE EDITED?
Originally posted here, with minor edits.
I've seen a rumour1
reported several places on the Internet, though not from any sources I know well enough to completely trust, that Sony will cut 20 minutes from the domestic theatrical release of Steamboy
. If true, I believe this would be the most significant editing of a theatrical anime film for domestic release, excluding, perhaps, the franchise films (re: Pokémon
), since the days of Warriors of the Wind
nearly 20 years ago (which was done by Roger Corman's New World Pictures, damnit, not Disney! Why do so many people think Disney did it?). The lack of outrage expressed over this on anime boards is remarkable... maybe most of the complainers just haven't heard yet?
Someone on the ANN board who I think is Japanese linked me to this Japanese blog about Steamboy
which seems to confirm it, though my Japanese reading skills are very limited, but I don't know if that's an official site or just a fan site. And that page seems to be from August, so, even if it's Katsuhiro Otomo himself writing it based on what Sony was telling him about the English dub back then, it's very dated information that I didn't see reported anywhere in English when it was "fresh".
One one hand, according to many of the reviews I've read about the film, the pacing of the normal narrative arc is very distorted so that the "climax" goes on almost for an hour of continual destruction and chaos, to the point where what would be very cool and exciting in smaller bites gets to be just plodding overkill after a while, so it could just be that the movie needed to be significantly trimmed when it was still being put together. I have the Dawn of the Dead boxset
, with three different cuts of the film, and I was excited that the Original Cut had 20 minutes more material than the theatrical cut, thinking it would be 20 minutes of kewlness, but when I saw it, the 20 minutes were mostly just slightly extended versions of scenes, mostly very unimportant stuff, and everything worth watching was in the North American theatrical cut, which is *much* tighter and better-paced and the cut that Romero actually prefers.
But on the other hand, of the few non-franchise anime films that have actually made it to North American theatres over the past decade or so, I don't think any of them were edited from the Japanese theatrical cut, at least in terms of animation. (I don't count audio edits, like having a character say they're drinking cocoa when they are, in fact, drinking coffee. That sort of minor discrepancy doesn't bother me in the slightest.) So, if the rumour is true, and I'm not saying it is, I wouldn't like the precedent.
1 In Canada, "rumor" is spelt with an extra "U", like it is in English in most of the rest of the world.
LAME MYSTERIES OF THE NIGHT... SOLVED!
My parents had the minister from the church they go to come over this afternoon for tea. I sat with them for a little while, but the dogs, who were holed up in my parent's bedroom were so noisy that I had to deal with them. But I didn't actually go into the bedroom with them. In the house where I live now, the hallway with the 3 bedrooms and the main bathroom itself has a doorway that separates it from the intersection of the passage to the kitchen and the hallway that goes past the entryway and to the dining and living room. So I went into the bedroom area and passed them rawhide strips under the door and let them sniff my fingers few minutes. The fact that there was someone in that area of the house seemed to be enough to quiet them down a fair bit.
I got bored, and went into my bedroom to watch my bedroom TV, which is a portable television/radio combo from Radio Shack's Genexxa line, with a 5-inch black-and-white screen. I could have gotten a colour set if I wanted, and my battery-powered Casio television I keep in my bag is colour, but, for some reason, in the bedroom, I prefer the ambience of black-and-white. It seems less intrusive somehow. I realized that, as far as I could remember, that was the first time I had used that particular television since I moved in.
I brought my hand to the volume dial to turn it on, but I didn't hear a click. I already was slightly "on", in radio mode, tuned to a classic rock station. I didn't notice that the unit was on because the television screen wasn't on and the radio setting wasn't on loud enough for me to notice except when it was really, really quiet, like, say, around 3 or 4 a.m., when I kept on hearing this vague noise that sounded like it could be indistinct music on a really distant radio. The first time I heard it, I thought it might have been a battery-powered radio somewhere in the house and it would stop when the batteries wear out. But I heard the noise again several days later, so it wasn't that kind of radio. But it certainly wasn't my clock radio. I eventually concluded that it was something running in the house 24 hours a day, possibly the gas-powered furnace, where the noise of it working, for whatever reason, just sounded like a distant radio.
But, as it turned out, it was just a radio after all. I guess I just never thought of checking to see if it was the television because I think of the radio in my bedroom as being the Sanyo CD-Clock radio and half-forgot that the TV is also a radio. What a disappointingly lame and uninteresting explanation for that particular mystery that was.
LAME MYSTERIES OF ABC TELEVISION... SOLVED?
After the spectacular big-budget plane crash in the opening, that ABC show Lost
was taking a while to hold my attention since it was very plot-heavy from the get-go, continually going back to scenes of the characters' lives before they got on the fateful plane flight. That's probably the strength of the show, but, if you're the kind of person like I am who usually watches television while typing crap on the computer, it's kind of hard to follow as it's a show that demands your complete attention span. But now that I'm a little more familiar with the characters, it's beginning to grow on me.
However, I've heard a rumour about where the show is going, about the mystery of the island, and, if true, it would be, as Roger Ebert would put it, the worst "shaggy dog story" since, at the very least, the twist in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village
. It wasn't a complete spoiler summary (which I would read if I could find one), in fact it was just a title of a certain other film or television programme from a few years back, but one that, if you remember what went on in that production, could actually kind of apply to what's happening here. I won't say the title, but, if you're curious and don't mind allegedly spoiling yourself, here is the link to the IMDb entry for the production in question
. But it's just another "rumor on the Internets", I wouldn't put too much stock in it, just that, if it's true, it would be a very disappointing twist.
I SUPPOSE I GOTTA WRITE ABOUT THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS CONTROVERSY...
I know that I'm a few days late to the blogging party on this particular news item, but I didn't think I had enough to say on it to warrant writing something. I changed my mind, though.
Excerpted from "SpongeBob's Recruitment Drive?", by Joal Ryan of E! Online
"Barney, Big Bird and Clifford the Big Red Dog are in cahoots with reputedly flamboyant sea creature SpongeBob SquarePants to promote the "pro-homosexual" agenda to children.
So goes the accusation from James C. Dobson, the popular radio commentator and founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family.
Addressing members of Congress at the "Values Victory Dinner" in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night, Dobson asked the power brokers, "Does anybody here know SpongeBob?"
Dobson went on to decry a toon-town remake of the 1979 Sister Sledge disco hit, "We Are Family," in which the frolicsome Bikini Bottom dweller appears alongside Barney, Big Bird, Clifford and other fictional stars of children's TV.
The music video, produced by the non-profit We Are Family Foundation, is to be distributed on DVD to 61,000 public and private elementary schools on March 11. Its stated aim is to promote diversity; its stated agenda is to have future March 11s declared National We Are Family Day.
But according to Dobson, his remarks recounted by the New York Times, what's unsaid is that the "We Are Family" project is a "pro-homosexual video."
Dobson based his charge on a "tolerance pledge" found on the We Are Family Foundation Website. The two paragraph statement seeks "respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own."
"...Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity' within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," a statement from Focus on the Family says.
To the Times, Paul Batura, an assistant to Dobson, was even more scathing: "We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids. It is a classic bait and switch.""
There are basically two aspects to this story, the claims about SpongeBob Squarepants
itself, and the concerns about the tolerance pledge.
First of all? Is SpongeBob gay? I really have no idea, nor do I even give that much of a crap. I know I enjoy many cartoons aimed at people of different ages and genders, but, honestly, while I've been moderately amused by what I've seen of the show, SpongeBob Squarepants
just never really caught on with me the way the show'a predecessor, Rocko's Modern Life
, did. In fact, Rocko
is pretty much the most recent Nickelodeon cartoon I've enjoyed, and that one went out of production in 1996, though be aware that some Nicktoons, like Invader Zim
, never got picked up by YTV in Canada in the first place. I know the producers of the show deny that he is supposed to be gay
, but the show shares several writers and directors with the aforementioned Rocko's Modern Life
, and that show had plenty of adult innuendo snuck in, with episode titles like "Who Gives a Buck?" and "Schnit-Heads" and a fast-food chain called "Chokey Chicken" (as in "Choke your chicken", slang for masturbation), stuff that they'd never publically acknowledge as adult innuendo, since Nickelodeon's a children's station, but, given that there was undeniable innuendo in Rocko
, whether they admit it or not, it would not suprise me one bit if there was more substance to the gay innuendo rumours than the creators are allowed to 'fess up about.
Besides, speaking of gay cartoon characters, that "We Are Family" video also includes characters from Disney's Lilo & Stitch
series, based on the movie (that should have won Best Animated Feature two years ago, damnit!) co-directed by Chris Sanders and the openly "gay" (and Canadian!) Dean DeBlois, which included the male characters Dr. Jumba Jookiba and his assistant, Pleakley, who were quite the ambiguous male couple, with the crossdressing Pleakley, voiced by former Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald, playing the part of the "wife". Think I'm reading too much into that? Here, this gay-oriented review of Lilo & Stitch
admits it! How come we haven't heard any groups complaining about that one?
But, seriously, I know a lot of people decrying or mocking what they think James Dobson said over the past few days are painting all conservative Christian organizations that say anything about pop culture with the same brush, but Focus on the Family
, whether you agree with them or not, are one of those Christian groups that tend to be a lot more reasonable and pragmatic when it comes to entertainment-related issues. They aren't in constant all-out attack mode in dealing with mainstream pop culture in the same way that does, say, Reverend Donald Wildmon's American Family Association
, one of the primary instigators of the campaign against Howard Stern's advertisers and a continual supporter of the Disney Boycott. Focus on the Family isn't always positive when it discusses entertainment, like with the article "Manga and Anime: Inside Japan's Hottest Exports" by Rhonda Handlon
which I discussed in November
, but it's usually quite fair and doesn't often give marching orders, just guidance for Christian parents.
In an article written by Gary Schneeberger posted on the Focus on the Family website on Tuesday, James Dobson denies saying most of what has been attributed to him over the past weekened
in regards to SpongeBob's sexuality. His concerns is simply that SpongeBob, and around one hundred other popular characters, is being used in a music video that advertises a "tolerance" website that they feel, and I'm not saying you have to agree with them on this, subtly pushes an agenda that goes beyond mere tolerance and which is at odds with the general mainstream traditional conservative position on homosexuality.
"For example, a tolerance pledge, which the foundation says it is "pleased to provide" on its Web site, reads in part: "I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own."
And it's not the only piece of pro-homosexual content that has been posted on the group's Web site — some of it removed in recent days.
The curriculum booklet that will accompany the "We Are Family" DVD when it is sent to schools in March, for instance, is likely to contain resources for educators seeking to normalize homosexuality. Although that guide has not yet been made public, a 2003 manual, also associated with the "We Are Family" cartoon-character video, offered several exercises for educators that equate homosexuality with immutable characteristics, such as race or gender, and suggest it deserves limitless tolerance and acceptance.
Another previous curriculum posted on the We Are Family Foundation Web site, called "Writing for Change," includes exercises such as:
• Generating a Description - encourages students to discuss the definition of "lesbian."
• Talking About Being "Out" - offers worksheet questions and a discussion of "perceptions of sexual orientation."
• Uncovering Attitudes About Sexual Orientation - explores the impact of "homophobia" and "heterosexism."
• Developing definitions - presents a list of stereotypical definitions, including "compulsory heterosexuality." That is described "the assumption that women are naturally or innately drawn sexually and emotionally toward men, and men toward women; the view that heterosexuality is the "norm" for all sexual relationships."
"The institutionalization of heterosexuality in all aspects of society includes the idealization of heterosexual orientation, romance, and marriage," the guide states. "Compulsory heterosexuality leads to the notion of women as inherently 'weak,' and the institutionalized inequality of power: power of men to control women's sexuality, labor, childbirth and childrearing, physical movement, safety, creativity, and access to knowledge. It can also include legal and social discrimination against homosexuals and the invisibility or intolerance of lesbian and gay existence.""
As someone who fully admits to not being 100% straight, though I'm feeling a lot straighter than I was last year, I don't particularly have a problem with homosexuality, and I stay completely neutral on gay marriage, though a lot of the activists of the left side of the gay spectrum annoy the crap out of me by insisting society bend over far more than it's willing to bend while, at the same time, refusing to make concessions to make the lifestyle more palatable to people who will never approve of it. Also, the "in your face" attitude of many of these activists is just abrasive and will never get them the approval of the people who disagree with them, and, as a strict "social constructionist" on the origins of homosexuality, I hate the continual advancement of the essentialist point of view, that homosexuality is innate and fixed, when I know from first hand experience that sexual orientation can be very fluid. (Anyway, I've talked about my constructionist views elsewhere at several points more in depth, like here
. This was just a little recap of where I stand, for the newbies.)
But, anyhow, as someone who takes a middle-of-the-road, very nuanced position on various gay and lesbian-related issues, I'm not necessarily endorsing the position of people like Dr. Dobson, but I feel that what he actually said has been very mischaracterized by his ideological opponents and a media more interested simply interested in the more "out of left field" aspects of what he allegedly said about SpongeBob. I don't like that the sincere concerns of one side of the debate, views shared by tens of millions of Americans of all traditional religious faiths (not ALL members of these faiths, but a sizable portion of them) as well as more secular people who don't particularly condone homosexuality for whatever reasons, vlid or invalid, are mercilessly mocked and dismissed out of hand by many commentators in the newspapers and on television and radio.
And I don't particularly care for the sort of politically-correct tolerance that the We Are Family Foundation
promotes. Not that I am against teaching "tolerance", by any means, but to me, tolerance should simply be about treating all people civilly. You don't have to agree with them or what they say, think, or believe. You don't even have to particularly like them. Just don't be a jerk towards other people unless they really deserve it. What the We Are Family Foundation is pushing in regards to sexual orientation, based on the evidence I've seen, is more akin to "acceptance", and, like Mr. Garrison said,
"Look, just because you have to tolerate something doesn't mean you have to approve of it! If you had to like it, it'd be called the Museum of Acceptance!"
Let's just show all the kids, or at least the older ones, the South Park
episode, "The Death Camp of Tolerance"
, which is one of the most brilliant pieces of satire ever animated which says absolutely everything anyone ever has to know about the idea "tolerance". Then they can take the Steve Brandon civility pledge instead:
"I pledge to act civil to people who are not doing anything illegal, even if I don't partlcularly like what they do in their bedrooms, or when they act foolish and wear fetish gear in public streets in their pride parades, public displays which often embarrass even other people who label themselves as being of the same "sexual orientation" as the paraders. If you wear your "sexual orientation" on your sleeve and you have a chip on your shoulder about it, I will chew you out on it, not for being gay, just for being obnoxious. Nor do I have to respect their faiths if they worship space aliens which the founders of their "religious movements" made up to get money and/or sexual favours from his easily-duped followers. I can "tolerate" that they believe what they believe, but I don't have to like it. And, while I'll stay colour-blind in most ordinary circumstances, if people from certain parts of the world start acting suspiciously on airplanes or on Israeli buses, damn right I'll notice, and I won't feel ashamed for noticing either, or for objecting when activists from the same general area of the world start acting as a disruptive force within my university, especially when they turn into thugs and prevent other groups from holding events with speakers they disagree with. All in all, I accept other people as human beings, but I don't have to buy the bill of goods they're selling if I disagree with it. Reasonable people can disagree."
I'm also biased against the video because "We Are Family" is one of the most annoying and overplayed songs this side of the John Lennon dirge, "Imagine". It's particularly cliché for its overuse in movie trailers, for virtually every inane comedy where you meet a character's wacky family.
Jeez, another essay-length essay I originally intended to be much shorter. :P
WHAT DO WINKLEBOTTOM GNOMES AND TEAM ZISSOU ROM CLASSIC ADIDAS SNEAKERS HAVE IN COMMON?
They're both items featured on TV shows or movies, King of the Hill
and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
respectively, that people seem to want to have, even though they don't actually exist in the real world.
I've been getting a lot of hits for "Winklebottom" (and a couple for "Figgleforth"), ever since yesterday, when Google archived my comments on Sunday's episode of King of the Hill
. It won't be a record-setting spike by any stretch of the imagination, but I will probably get more hits today than I've received any day over the past month or so.
The difference between Steve Zissou's Adidas Rom shoes and Winklebottom garden gnomes is that Adidas is a real-life company, so, if you want Team Zissou Roms badly enough, you can always agitate for Adidas to make them
. I really don't know who you'd write to if you want a Winklebottom garden gnome, since there is no manufacturer of garden gnomes named "Winklebottom" as far as I can tell. I guess you could always try Kimmel Gnomes
and see if they could get the license from Fox. Or just go straight to the horse's mouth and leave a post on the official FOX King of the Hill message board
, asking them to consider licensing them out.
THE OSCAR NOMINEES: BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
(Okay, I admit I was very wrong last year)
The Oscar nominations are in
, and the Best Animated Feature nominees are:
- The Incredibles
- Shark Tale
- Shrek 2
In one of my first blog entries
two years ago, not only was I correct about Spirited Away
winning Best Animated Feature before it was even nominated (and that, even with the Oscar, Hayao Miyazaki would not be a household name in America), but I was correct that Finding Nemo
would win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature the following year.
Last year, after the Oscars, I predicted this
"Also, you heard it here first: Best Animated Feature next year, The Polar Express will defeat at least The Incredibles and Shrek 2."
Yeah, I got egg in my face on that one. Way too much hubris. Well, from watching the teaser trailer for The Polar Express
, which looked stunning, I assumed that everyone who loves animation would be all agog about the film, but, in the end, the film received very mixed reviews, and the "Uncanny Valley" factor
, where the closer animated characters come to looking real, the more the tiny differences that betray its artificiality become glaring, creeped out a lot of people, and there were complaints that the story was too treacly and schmaltzy and that Steven Tyler should not be a singing elf. The film wasn't a total bomb, but it took a while to pick up some steam at the box office (buoyed somewhat by the IMAX version), and the final box office tally was still disappointing. (I never got around to seeing it myself.)
I never got around to seeing Shark Tale
either, but I thought that the film was too critcally-panned to stand a chance at being nominated. But, critics aside, the film did very well for an animated feature released in October, outside the traditional summer and Christmas movie seasons when the biggest animated films of the year are released.
So, while Shark Tale
and Polar Express
both made $160 million at the domestic box office, box office expectations were much higher for The Polar Express
, which cost approximately $150 million to make compared to Shark Tale
's estimated $75 million budget, so The Polar Express
didn't even really break even when you take into account the tens of millions spent on the marketing, while Shark Tale
made a tidy profit and that's why it seems like a bigger success story, and I guess that's what gave the film enough momentum to snag the third nomination slot, even if it has no real chance of winning.
A lot of anime fans were expecting that Mamoru Oshii's Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
would be nominated, but I knew it wouldn't. Dreamworks gave Innocence: GitS2
such a limited release that hardly any important critics noticed it and, as a result, it had zero momentum, and, for a foreign animated film, critical momentum is necessary to get the attention of the Academy members who might not otherwise be aware of it due to lack of mainstream publicity. Spirited Away
had momentum. The Triplets of Belleville
had momentum. Innocence
was D.O.A. in terms of buzz. It was the most successful non-merchandising based spin-off cartoon anime movie not distributed by Disney, but it still only played on 55 screens a weekend at its widest, and didn't break even $1 million at the domestic box office.
I underestimated severely how good The Incredibles
turned out to be. Initially, I thought it was just going to be a computer-generated rip-off of every other superhero spoof ever created, like The Tick
, but I should have had a lot more faith in Pixar and Iron Giant
director Brad Bird. I knew that the superhero character had a family in this film, but I thought that the kids were just going to be of the "wacky" variety, pretty much just accessory characters, but, nope, they were fully-developed and fleshed-out characters and the family dynamic was very realistic and believable, to the point where the film was pretty much about a family that just happened to be superheroes, rather than about a bunch of superheroes that are allegedly a family.
is the best animated film I've seen in years, easily better than anything Ghibli has produced since Kiki's Delivery Service
. It deserves to win, and it will win.
As for Shrek 2
... well, my parents liked it.
In case you missed it, I gave my thoughts on the Best Animated Feature race for this coming year at the bottom of this article
. I'm beginning to change my mind about The Corpse Bride
. The more I see of it, the more I think it will get at least a nomination, no matter whether there are three or five slots next year.
As for the nominees in the Oscar categories most other people care about
, I'm very happy to see The Aviator
leading the Oscar pack with 11 nominations. Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Howard Hughes, is a damn fine actor and it's a damn shame that too many movie message board snipers stereotype him as a talentless prettyboy like, say, Freddie Prinze Jr. And since this is, pretty much by default, my favourite Martin Scorsese film, I'm kind of hoping he wins. I wish that Bill Murray had been nominated for Best Actor for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
, but, like with The Royal Tenenbaums
, Wes Anderson proved to be too quirky for the Academy crowd, and, unlike TRT
didn't even get a token Original Screenplay nod.
I saw Bill Plympton
at the Comedia festival in Montreal in 2001 where he screened the rather odd Mutant Aliens
, and he was a very personable guy who is one of the most successful American animators operating outside of the studio system, so I'm kind of rooting for Guard Dog
to win Best Animated Short.
I'm hoping to see at least Sideways
, which I really, really, really wanted to see but I postponed seeing it because I was distracted by moving and, by the time I got around to getting ready to see it, it was out of Ottawa theatres. I hope it gets a re-release now that it's been nominated.
I was disappointed that The Life Aquatic
wasn't nominated for anything. Same with Napoleon Dynamite
and Shaun of the Dead
, but I wasn't really expecting them to be nominated for anything. Spider-Man 2
should have gotten more than technical nominations. I was on the borderline of wanting Team America
to be nominated for Best Animated Feature, but I guess puppetry isn't technically animation.
At least Fahrenheit 9/11
didn't get nominated for anything, though that's mainly because Michael Moore got too full of himself and wanted it nominated Best Picture rather than Best Documentary. I'm sure he might have had a crack at Best Picture if Bush had lost the election, but Bush won, therefore Moore's film was irrelevant. I'm dismayed that Fahrenheit 9/11
wasn't nominated for the "Worst Picture" Razzie
, even though the Razzie guy got politically juvenile and chose George W. Bush as "Worst Actor", George W. Bush & EITHER Condoleeza Rice OR His Pet Goat as "Worst Screen Couple", Condoleeza Rice as "Worst Actress", and Donald Rumsfeld as "Worst Supporting Actor". I guess the Razzie guy is a Democratic Underground Idiotarian type.
A new King of the Hill
! And it wasn't pre-empted by Fox for football for a fucking change! Well, that would have to do with the NFL season winding down, and there wasn't an NFL game directly preceding it, but, finally, the first new episode I've seen since the beginning of November.
In this one, Peggy got jealous of Hank because people passing by would always compliment him on his perfect lawn and the hinges on his doors, while Peggy hasn't contributed anything to the front yard, so she tries her hand at gardening. But, as you may recall from the seventh season episode, "I Never Promised You an Organic Garden", Peggy has kind of a brown thumb when it comes to gardening (or does she? In the aforementioned episode, the plants all sprang to life when she secretly began using pesticides to control an insect infestation... maybe she forgot the pesticide secret). So, at an estate garage sale, Peggy spots the perfect thing for the garden, something she doesn't have to worry about killing... a garden gnome, one which a garden gnome enthusiast spots and tells her is an authentic Winkelbottom, handcrafted in Germany in the 1930s. Peggy takes the garden gnome as a source of pride, though Hank's embarrassed by the sort of attention that the gnome is receiving. (The Fed Ex guy starts referring to the Hill House as "The house with the gnome"), and, when Bobby accidentally breaks off the ear while playing one of his weird games where he's acting like a Secret Service bodyguard to Winklebottom, Hank uses the minor mishap as an excuse to take the gnome to the forest and bury it in a shallow grave, running it over with his Ford F-150 pickup truck and telling Bobby to lie and say that they were out mini-golfing, however, Peggy gets a lot more distraught over the loss of the gnome than he expected, so he has to find a way to make everything right again.
I love that the gnome enthusiast is a fat woman in a pink sweatsuit who spends her life discussing nonsensical things on message boards on the Internet. (She also likes Babylon 5
While King of the Hill
often includes real-life details and brand names, everything from Big Tex at the Texas State Fair to the premium Texas burger chain Whataburger
, in this particular case, "Winklebottom" seems to be a fictional creation, as is "Figgleforth", mentioned later in the episode.
Howcome, when the Winklebottom was in the yard, the gnome enthusiast pointed out that it was facing southwest when it should be facing north as gnomes like to look at the moss they use to make tea with, however, when they're aligning the "Figgleforth", they use a compass to ensure it's facing north, yet it's facing the exact same direction the Winklebottom was facing when it was facing southwest? What are we supposed to assume... that Hank rotated the house around just to align the gnome properly? I sure hope someone got fired for that one. :P (Plus, since moss grows on the north side of the trees, according to folklore, so, to look at it, shouldn't the gnome be facing south
The B-plot for this episode was that Joseph Gribble got one of those dangerous mini-bikes that aren't street legal (though, surely the alleyway doesn't count as a street). Has Joseph regressed in age? While Brittany Murphy, who is mainly the voice of Luanne Platter, hasn't gone back to providing his voice the way she did before it broke and Breckin Meyer took over, the character seems to be acting a lot more like a kid than he's been acting in years. I know the characters haven't aged at the rate of a year a season, but they still have been aging a bit (the kids must be at least 14 by now, while they were 12 when the series started), so Joseph going wild on a bike seems a bit out of character. But I guess they didn't have those bikes in 1997, when the series started.
All in all, it was a reasonably good episode, not Season Three stellar, but the quality of the average season 9 episode of King of the Hill
is still a lot higher than even the average episode from season 9 of The Simpsons
(1997-98). I hope that this show makes it to season 10, but Fox's putting it in the timeslot where it almost always gets pre-empted by football in the Eastern Time Zone doesn't give me much confidence.
R.I.P. JOHNNY CARSON
From MSNBC: "Johnny Carson, longtime host of ‘Tonight Show,’ dies at 79"
"Johnny Carson, the “Tonight Show” host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, died Sunday. He was 79.
“Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning,” his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. “He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable.”
He did not provide further details, but NBC said Carson died of emphysema at his Malibu home.
The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.
His wealth, the adoration of his guests — particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched — the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson’s air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy with viewers.
“Heeeeere’s Johnny!” was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as “Carnac the Magnificent.”
But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in May 1992."
Though I started watching late-night television around 1990, two years before Johnny Carson retired, Johnny Carson was someone I knew mainly from clips and appearances on and references to him on other TV shows. When I started watching late-night TV, I watched The Arsenio Hall Show
, because that was about the only late-night talk show I could get off the little antenna on the mini-television in my bedroom, since The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
was on WPTZ-5 in Plattsburgh NY, too far to watch from Pincourt without having your television hooked up to an outdoor aerial.
But, still, even if I don't honestly have many memories of watching Johnny Carson live, I still respected him for the massive television icon he was for three decades. He didn't invent late night television, but he made it mainstream so that those of us who aren't in bed by midnight have something to watch. And, as a very shy person myself, Johnny Carson, who never overcame his own shyness but who dealt with it successfully enough to appear casual and at ease on television talking to celebrities who would no doubt intimidate me, was kind of an inspiration.
Anyway, as my little tribute to Johnny Carson, I will link to the first chapter of Stephen King's unfinished novel, "The Reploids", about the host of the Tonight Show in a parellel universe somehow showing up on Johnny Carson's set in our own universe, not realizing that anything is amiss