My, But That Was A Long Nap….

22 Aug


by Rachel Newstead

Abandoned blogs annoy me–if they’re good blogs, it saddens me. So much potential wasted, be it from lack of interest, lack of focus, the demands of real life, or all three.

And I’m annoyed especially at myself, for having been one of the worst offenders. For all of the above reasons, in addition to simple exhaustion from trying to keep up a steady flow of posts. Many good bloggers don’t post daily, or even weekly, but I was damned and determined to. And of course, given what I do (lengthy reviews with as much inside information as I can cull from sources I can find) it’s simply impossible.

I’m sorry to say simple ego also played a part.

Back in 2010, I posted a Freeze Frame Friday entry detailing a sequence from “Service With A Guile” that I assumed to be by Jim Tyer. “Assumed”, as it turns out, is very much the operative word here: shortly thereafter, I happened upon Bob Jaques’ “Popeye Animators” blog. Specifically, this post in which he takes wannabe historians like me to task for spreading misinformation about cartoons, in particular attributing scenes to animators which they did not do.

I had no desire to contribute to the problem, so I sent off an e-mail to Mr. Jacques to try to confirm that the sequence I posted was indeed by Tyer. To my mortification, it wasn’t.

I was indeed one of those spreading information, and about Tyer, no less, an animator I can usually easily spot (let’s face it, Stevie Wonder could spot Tyer’s work). Therefore, my credibility was zero–or so I felt. Never mind that it was just one mistake. I had blown something simple, a mistake I knew better than to make. So in trying to earn the respect of my fellow animation enthusiasts (a hard thing to do when you’re a girl trying to get into the boys’ club) I was back to square one.

Now, I don’t blame Mr. Jacques. He simply corrected a bit of misinformation, for which I’m grateful. But my pride had been wounded.

My original plan was to lay low for a few weeks, so I could regroup, dust myself off, and pick up where I left off, with a renewed pledge to be more careful about what I said in future. But weeks turned into months, which turned into “maybe someday I’ll start again.” And all because of one thing, something which has lurked in the background of my life since I was ten years old–depression.

It’s not a subject I particularly enjoy talking about, as I open myself to judgmental comments from others, who feel I’m merely a “whiner” and need to “snap out of it already.” But depression is persistent, and it’s a lifelong battle–not something you can “snap out of” (any more than you can “snap out of” a severe flu). You can blunt it with drugs, you can stuff it down under a faux cheery demeanor and fake smiles, you can relegate it to the background. But you can’t–I repeat, can’t–cure it.

And when you have it, it’s all you can do to get the basic tasks of daily life accomplished. Doing anything creative is too much to hope for.

Right now I’m in a remission of sorts, following a bout which began about eight months ago, one complicated by the loss of my mother to cancer in March. It has made writing all the more difficult, as my sounding board has gone. Mom and I exchanged frequent letters via e-mail, particularly in the last three years of her life. She had a wickedly barbed sense of humor, and you had to be on your toes to spar with her verbally. In writing to her, I challenged myself to be as funny as I could, writing about my misadventures in northern Wisconsin. I could vent, I could laugh, I could cry, and know I would get reassuring words back.

Now those words have been silenced, and my creative energies have to be directed elsewhere. And I could think of no better place to which I can direct them than this blog.

You see, when I gave this blog up, I noticed an odd thing happening. People kept coming, and at a rate faster than when the blog was active.

Now, I will be the first to admit I’m no Jerry Beck, or Mark Kausler, or Mark Evanier. There are other blogs that do what I do, and do it far better, such as the fascinating, informative Yowp Yowp and Tralfaz blogs. I am just a middle-aged, disabled fangirl in front of a computer terminal in a tiny living room in Wisconsin. But this blog has something people like, and I won’t question it.

I cannot guarantee I’ll post every day, or even every week. I have no long-range plans for the future of this blog, but I have a few ideas I’d like to put to you readers. Please respond if there is something among them you wish to see here, and by all means, give me suggestions of your own.

Freeze Frame Friday will be gone, as it was one of the causes of this blog being abandoned. The feature required that I identify who did each scene, and that’s not something one can leave to educated guesses, as my debacle showed.

I want to do “theme” days, perhaps a “Flintstones” Friday, in which I review one of the 166 episodes, as well as the movies and specials that came after. I intend to do the same with shows such as “The Jetsons” (especially the “classic 24” from ’62-63).

I’d like to add a separate Essays page, in which I write in depth about about an animator, director, or series, along the lines of the “Before He Was Tex” essay posted here. Fortunately, WordPress makes that rather easy.

My original intent in starting this blog was to go beyond the subject of animated cartoons, and I hope to do that in months to come, talking about comic books, comic strips, and live-action TV shows.

As to the Facebook page, I have no plans as yet. My hope is to do video podcasts in which I review an individual cartoon. As I do not have the quality of video equipment I feel I need, however, that might have to wait.

Beyond that, I have only one other thing to say to the blogosphere, and my fellow geeks out there.

I’m still here.


Do Not Fold, Spindle, Mutilate, Stretch Or Squash Me: The Spirit Of My Favorite Cartoons Realized As Flesh-and-Blood Personalities….

11 Apr
CGI version of Yogi Bear

Need there be any better example of why "updated", live-action versions of our favorite cartoons don't work? From

by Kevin Wollenweber

There has been talk on so many cartoon or classic movie-related websites coming from disgruntled fans of older animated characters who justifiably wince at these beloved older characters being reinvented as live action figures, in some way believable by a more sophisticated movie-going audience.  I know I cringe at the possibilities on the table of yet another reincarnation and reinvention of Tom & Jerry, now as CGI figures, along with Yogi Bear, with Booboo being rumored to receive the voice talents of Justin Timberlake!!  Huh?

Continue reading

Freeze Frame Friday 4/9/10: Ripples Of Tiles, Waves of Wheat

9 Apr

Grandpa Mouse "swimming" in a flood of grain

Fantastic effects: A cantankerous old mouse swims desperately against literal "amber waves" of grain, the highlight of the occasionally confusing THE FIELD MOUSE (above); meanwhile, the Wallace Beery-inspired Papa Bear holds his own against a similar "tide" in A RAINY DAY ( below, right)

by Rachel NewsteadPapa Bear fights a "tide" of roofing shingles

If ever there were an argument for the full restoration of the Harman-Ising MGM cartoons, it can be found not only in that favorite of  Kevin and mine, Circus Daze, but in the two cartoons we’ll be discussing this week: The Field Mouse (1941) and A Rainy Day (1940). The grainy images I’ve included here hardly  do them justice; I can’t begin to image how they must have appeared on movie-theater screens. Continue reading

Going Upscale

7 Apr

Frame of pampered cat from "The Aristo-Cat"

Houston, we have a domain.

Because we wish to attract more traffic–and because the old URL was so devilishly hard to type–the Test Pattern has moved to a pricier neighborhood, so to speak. As of midnight last night, the address is Fortunately, those of you who have our old address bookmarked (if there are any out there) will still be able to use it–you’ll be rerouted here.

You may already have noticed the blog has a different look. This is a new WordPress template called “ChaoticSoul”, and not only is it sleeker than the one we were using, it’s the only new template that didn’t require us to put our “Cecil as test pattern” header up all over again.

We’re planning a few more “tweaks” as finances permit–like the ability to embed our own video and audio–but for now, make yourself comfortable in the new surroundings.

“Remember…Keep Smiling!”: It’ll Be Hard NOT To In EASTER YEGGS (1947)

4 Apr
Bugs and the sad-eyed rabbit from EASTER YEGGS

If Bugs knew what he was in for, he'd be even more skeptical than he is in this scene from EASTER YEGGS (1947).

by Rachel Newstead

Easter Yeggs

Release Date: June 28, 1947

Director: Bob McKimson

Writer: Warren Foster

In Short: If you sub for the Easter Bunny, make sure you have a good hospital plan and a bullet-proof vest….

Every Easter, I have a tradition.

I do my hair, put on my makeup, select my best outfit and go to the local Radisson for brunch. Then I come home and watch today’s cartoon.

Like most traditions, the roots for this one are long and deep; decades ago, long before I knew enough about animation to dislike Bob McKimson, Easter Yeggs would make me hold my sides with laughter. For me, such a reaction happens rarely enough that I make note of  it when it does;  if a cartoon makes me laugh repeatedly, I mentally enshrine it among the Classics, to be viewed and viewed again. Easter Yeggs has never failed to raise a laugh from me, not even after thirty-five years of viewing. Continue reading

Buddy Says ‘Bye-Bye’: Buddy The Gee Man (1935)

4 Apr
Buddy with false mustache, scowling in mirror

Agent Buddy examines his clever undercover disguise in BUDDY THE GEE MAN

by Rachel Newstead

Buddy The Gee Man

Release Date: Aug. 24, 1935

Director: Jack King

In Short: In his very last appearance, Buddy’s one of the Feds, and investigates a prison warden who hates music. An act, of course, unforgivable in a Buddy cartoon….

Say the name “Buddy” and “Looney Tunes” in the same sentence to an animation fan–try it. I dare you.

But before you do it, I highly recommend a good, solid industrial headset to drown the resulting eardrum-liquefying screech of outrage.

Let’s face it, of all the Looney Tunes characters, Buddy is not only the last one we’re likely to remember, but the one we most want to forget.

But how fair is that, really? It’s something I never really gave much thought, until this recent e-mail question from Kevin:

…do you really think that Buddy is a wholly uninteresting character? I guess I’m getting more out of the soundtracks than you are out of the visuals….

Such a simple question, yet so difficult to answer. Kevin has an annoying way of doing that with his questions, making me ask myself why I like what I like. I mean, there are Buddy cartoons I actually enjoy, but the character….

I suppose the best answer would be “yes”–with qualifications.  I do think Buddy is completely uninteresting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I dislike the cartoons that feature him. They can be quite enjoyable, almost despite themselves. But they would be just as enjoyable, I think, if Buddy weren’t there.

Continue reading

Still Here–And Boy, What I Have In Store….

2 Apr

by Rachel Newstead

If I have one flaw, it’s this: one little comment is often enough to send me into a depressive tailspin.

I didn’t react well to Bob Jaques’ recent comments on my recent Freeze Frame Friday post. Though I know, intellectually, that he was only trying to be helpful, I became so self-conscious over the last week or so that it has become difficult, if not impossible, to write anything without second-guessing myself. Consequently, I haven’t been around much lately.

Fortunately, the bout was temporary and my confidence has returned. It has not, however, returned quickly enough to do a Freeze Frame Friday this week. That feature will, however, return on April 9, with a look at a cartoon that is perhaps Hugh Harman’s single finest work, The Field Mouse. There’ll also be a bit of a surprise. What that will be, I’d rather not say–you’ll have to, as they used to say on TV, tune in next week.

I can, however, give you an idea of what’s in store over the next few days:

  • Buddy has to be the “Rodney Dangerfield” of cartoon characters, but is that reputation deserved? You’ll find out what I think tomorrow when I talk about the last–and possibly the best–Buddy cartoon, Buddy The Gee Man.
  • As you might have already guessed, I love early television as much as I do cartoons, and have a little piece for your consideration about the man who invented the home video recorder–in 1928.
  • If you ever needed proof that Pinto Colvig was as much an actor as a voice man, you need look no further than the 1942 Ding Dog Daddy, which I’m going to review.

The time I’ve spent away hasn’t been entirely unproductive–in addition to enjoying some unseasonably warm spring weather for Wisconsin, I’ve been haunting Stu Shostak’s Shokus Internet Radio site. I have to tell you, this is one of the net’s little undiscovered treasures, especially Shostak’s own Stu’s Show. This week our friend Mr. Shostak has as his guest the king of oddball radio, Dr. Demento–a man who introduced me to the novelty records of a fellow named Benny Bell.  It’s been airing since Wednesday, but repeats will run for the next few days.  I strongly urge you to catch Stu and The Demented One tomorrow at 7 PM Eastern Daylight Time. You were warned….