Monday, October 31, 2011


That's what he looks like to me!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Many people celebrate Halloween by applying disgusting and unpleasant things to their faces. I'm celebrating by removing one from mine. You see, all this month I have been participating in the Octobeard challenge at BuzzFeed. Today was the end of the month, so I was finally able to rid myself of this crumb-collecting, itchy, bristly, uncomfortable monstrosity.

Just for the sake of history, though, I decided to commemorate the death of the Octobeard with a little movie. Enjoy!

And here's a little photo montage, tracing the Octobeard from its beginning to its end.

The evolution of itchiness.

Those last two pictures were taken today, about 20 minutes apart.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tomorrow, November 1, 2011, is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. Once again, I will be participating in this event and will therefore have less time to spend on this blog for the next 30 days. But that doesn't mean I'll be going away. I plan to keep doing occasional Zomby cartoons, for instance, and there will (hopefully) be updates now and again on my NaNoWriMo progress. So stay tuned!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I love the festive gray-on-gray can.

Ah, another "rotting corpses sure do stink" joke. Is there any more dignified way for this blog to turn 2?

Yes, folks, today marks the two-year anniversary since the beginning of this blog. I'd like to thank absolutely anyone who has ever read this blog, especially those nice folks who took the time to leave comments. October 2011 has been the blog's best-ever in terms of traffic, and I hope you will continue checking in to Dead 2 Rights regularly for updates. This would be a great time to thank Chris Toohey, who originally set this blog up and has provided technical support along the way, and Scott Cole, who designed the gorgeous Dead 2 Rights logo.

Chris' site is right here!

And Scott's site is right here!

And, of course, we cannot forget Brother D and Miss Bren of the Mail Order Zombie podcast, without whom none of this would exist. MOZ is on hiatus for the rest of 2011, but I'm looking forward to contributing to the show when it relaunches in 2012.

And now, if you'll forgive me, I'd like to share a few of my favorite posts from the first two years of this blog:



If all this feels a tad self-indulgent, well, I put an absurd amount of time and effort into this nonsense so I want to get as much mileage out of this stuff as I possibly can. By the way, don't think that these are the only decent posts in two years. I've posted well over 400 various items to this blog, each one a gem of its own kind. Like that one about cartoon shows based on pop groups, for instance. Why I didn't get the Internet equivalent of a Pulitzer for that, I'll never know.

Mourn me til you join me!

Wayne Kotke,
President, Spokesman, and Founder of Dead 2 Rights

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lest we forget: A Halloween Tribute To Sweet Lady Sugar

"I got hooked on the white stuff in the '70s" - DISCO STU

Witches, vampires, ghosts... sure, these things are fine. But let's not forget what Halloween is truly all about. I'm referring of course to sugar! It's a holiday devoted to consuming as much candy as is humanly possible.

And what better way to pay tribute to Sweet Lady Sugar than with a bunch of versions of that all-time classic song, "Sugar Sugar"? Written in 1969 by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, the song has gone on to become one of the cornerstones of Western Civilization, as evidenced by the truly astonishing variety of remakes there have been over the years.

Journey back with me, won't you? BONUS: How often has this song been recorded in the key of D?


Where exactly is Zomby now?

Only two more days until that holiday of holidays, Halloween! And you know what that means! Yes, it's time for vehemently anti-Halloween invective!

Above: Carol Kornacki is not, in fact, having a stroke.

Some people seem to have beamed in our world directly from the realm of sketch comedy, and such a person is televangelist and author Carol Kornacki. In her voice, her mannerisms, and her message, she seems for all the world like some ridiculously over-the-top comedic caricature from late night television. But she's quite real, I assure you. Apart from her books and her appearances on religious TV shows like Benny Hinn and The 700 Club, Ms. Kornacki likes to spread her particular and peculiar version of God's message through YouTube videos. Her self-related backstory is astonishing, as she describes a childhood of eating out of garbage cans and washing blood off the walls of the family homestead.

In other words, Carol Kornacki is too good to be true. God bless this woman. Go visit her website, right now!

One of Ms. Kornacki's specialties is speaking out against the evils of Halloween. I thought that today, as we're all preparing for the Big Day, I'd ask you to spend a few minutes -- or hours, whatever -- listening to Carol's many, many arguments against the seemingly "innocent" holiday. Who knows? You might even change your mind. She's very entertaining either way. If she'd been called by the Law instead of the Lord, she might very well have been another Judge Judy.

And there's so much more where this came from! Check out "The DARK TRUTH about Halloween," part one and part two!

Friday, October 28, 2011

(today's zomby) AND BEANS!!!!!!

Third thought: Not even MasterCard!

I hadn't done a voodoo zombie one in a while. So here's one of those. Side note: Does anyone still have computer monitors that look like that? And speaking of clever segueways... Lewis Arquette loves beans!

I don't know what it is about this little speech from Waiting for Guffman, but I never get tired of it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art(lessness) of the Title: You Can't Do That on Television

A shot-by-shot breakdown of the You Can't Do That on Television credits.

The wonderful website Art of the Title offers its readers elegant and thought-provoking articles that break down and analyze the title sequences from prominent films and TV series. It's a fascinating site, and you owe it to yourself to spend some quality time there. But I figured it would be a long, long time before Art of the Title ever got around to doing You Can't Do That on Television, the decidedly lowbrow, kid-oriented Canadian sketch comedy series that aired on Nickelodeon in the 1980s. If anyone was going to analyze the show's memorable title sequence, it would have to be me.

While the series itself seemed to take most of its cues from American shows like Saturday Night Live and Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, albeit with a greater emphasis on pre-adolescent "gross out" humor, the opening title sequence of YCDTOTV is directly inspired by Monty Python's Flying Circus. Terry Gilliam's "cutout" animation, produced by taking actual cutouts (often photographs) and moving them frame by frame, became emblematic of the British sketch comedy series.

Paradoxically, Gilliam's anarchic work gave the series a sense of form and organization. A Gilliam cartoon could link two seemingly unrelated bits together, and the longer cartoons served as bits in and of themselves. Monty Python's ever-evolving title sequence, scored incongruously by Sousa's Liberty Bell March, wonderfully set the tone for each episode.

Here's how the title sequence looked during Season 2. As you can see, it's a series of non-sequitir visual jokes, with a parade of bizarre humanoid characters being mangled, reassambled, and crushed in a variety of creative ways:


The effect is manic and violent, but utterly cheerful nonetheless. The abundant silliness on display here undermines the seriousness of the often-dour source photos and the militaristic pomposity of the music. In about half a minute, we have a neat summary of the show's basic philosophy of life and its approach to comedy.

The title sequence for YCDTOTV is about the same length as the Monty Python titles, but it's more linear and narrative in the way it's laid out. Before we go any further, let me at least show you the darned thing. There were a few versions of the titles over the years, but the following clip is pretty representative:

Right away, you should see many motifs taken directly from Monty Python: factories, assembly lines, people being disassembled and reassembled, comedic subversion of familiar classical music (in this case Rossini's William Tell Overture), God-like hands reaching into the frame, "perfect" blue skies, and people's heads cracking open. And as I said before, there is something like a linear narrative here.

The credits begin with an ominous-looking building rising up against a pop-art landscape. It is the ghoulishly-named Children's Television Sausage Factory, an obvious swipe at Sesame Street's Children's Television Workshop. The building has a giant meat grinder on its roof, which suggests that the television business is brutal and impersonal and only interested in cranking out thousands upon thousands of identical copies. Inside the factory, the heads and torsos of children emerge from chutes and are carried along conveyer belts. The fully-assembled children emerge from a giant spigot that pours them directly into a school bus. It is interesting to note that Terry Gilliam's title sequence for Monty Python's the Meaning of Life also features a machine that cranks out millions of identical copies of "ideal" nuclear families.

Up to this point, the YCDTOTV credits have been fairly dark. Even the music is a little unsettling. It sounds at first like a Soviet military march punctuated with pained shrieks. But once the factory-made children are on that school bus (another symbol of childhood oppression), the music turns into a Dixieland-style gallop and the mood completely changes. For the rest of the running time, the titles are all about youth taking over adult institutions and totally overpowering the grownups who try to stop them. The school bus takes the kids to a very grim-looking building simply designated TELEVISION NETWORK, but the youngsters are not cowed one bit. They emerge joyously and chaotically from the bus. The doorman, a grouchy-looking old white guy, holds up his hands to stop them.

It's significant that this is the point at which the POV switches from objective to subjective. We are seeing this from the kids' point of view and are asked to identify with them as they trample the terrified, wide-eyed guard. Once inside the studio, the kids have seemingly seized control of the cameras. (We see one roll by of its own accord.)

The credits end with the final triumph of youth over old age and authority. A serious-looking, unsmiling man looks directly into the camera -- directly at us, in fact. He may well be the same guy who was guarding the door a few seconds ago. But he has scarcely made his presence known when a giant hand -- a kid's hand -- reaches into the frame and stamps the title of the show directly on the man's face. Totally defeated, the adult authority figure literally cracks up, and his head splits open to reveal the next scene of the show.

"You can't do that on television," say the adults.

"Just watch us," the kids respond.

And with this simple yet eloquent title sequence, YCDTOTV may well have radicalized an entire generation. Is it overreaching to suggest that the protesters currently occupying Wall Street are people who grew up watching Nickelodeon...? Perhaps it was this humble sketch comedy show that convinced them that they, not the old-school elite, were the ones with real power.


Who's he talking to? Who am I talking to?

Before you jump to conclusions, the word "it" could refer to any number of things. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Speaking of which...

The boys are back.

Beavis and Butt-head returns to MTV tonight after a 14-year absence. I thought it was an appropriate time, then, to revisit a cartoon which to me seems like a clear antecedent of Mike Judge's animated creation. I'm referring to Jac Mac & Rad Boy Go!, a 1985 student film by then-up-and-coming animator Wes Archer. This is a film I remember seeing on cable TV in the 1980s, and it's uncanny in the way it anticipates Beavis in both its humor and its character designs. I'm not sure if Mike Judge saw this cartoon, but he later hired Archer to work on two of his series, King of the Hill and The Goode Family. Archer's greatest claim to fame is as one of the original animators for The Simpsons, dating back to the Tracey Ullman Show days. Archer went on to direct several Simpsons and Futurama episodes. What can I say? The guy's a one-man animation studio!

But, hey, enough of my yakkin'. It's cartoon time!

Wow, after Alley to Bali and Apple Andy, this is the third cartoon I've featured on my blog with characters being tortured in hell for their sins! That must be a resonant theme for me!

Before we leave this topic, I'd like to play you a song which has always reminded me of Beavis & Butt-head. It's a track by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention called "Let's Make the Water Turn Black," and it appeared on the group's legendary 1968 anti-hippie album We're Only In It For the Money. (Warning: This song is pretty disgusting.)

Strange but True: Zappa based this song on the antics of two acquaintances, guitarist Ronnie Williams and his brother Kenny. Apparently, Ronny and Kenny lived together in a little shed on their mother's property and really did do some of the gross stuff mentioned in the song. Sadly, Kenny died of a drug overdose some time during the 1970s (his drug problem is mentioned in the song), but Ronnie is alive and living in Arizona. Here's a picture of Ronnie in his younger days, holding a white Stratocaster:

And he looks so hygienic, too!

Gaze, children, upon the original Beavis!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(today's zomby) AND THE MOST emotionally BRUTAL FILM I'VE EVER SEEN!

I've heard it's for the birds! HA! Get it? For the birds? 'Cause he's a... aw, forget it.

Hello, moviegoers!

So you think you're tough, eh? Jaded? Hardened? Impervious to mildew and rot? Is that the idea? You say you snickered at Salo, scoffed at A Serbian Film, and snoozed through Saw? Well, let me tell you something, cream puff! You haven't seen anything yet.

Prepare yourself for the unrelenting cinematic torture test that is... Habit Patterns.

And this is how the film starts!

Habit Patterns is a 14-minute-long educational film produced in 1954 by Knickerbocker Productions for the McGraw-Hill textbook company. (McGraw is still around. Knickerbocker? Long gone.) It is also quite possibly the most brutal film I've ever seen. The difference is that, in contrast to most films we consider "violent," the brutality on display in Habit Patterns is entirely emotional. Neil LaBute on his most misanthropic day could not conceive of a film this gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

If you think that the 1950s were all poodle skirts and sock hops or if Grease has convinced you it would be a lot of fun to be a middle-class suburban teenager in Eisenhower's America, then Habit Patterns will be a valuable education for you.

What we have here is a day in the life of Barbara, a sweetly insecure teenage girl who is punished without mercy for her sloppy habits. She endures a gauntlet of humiliation throughout the film and is harangued non-stop by a pitiless female narrator. Indeed, the film's first line of narration has acquired an infamous reputation: "It's a little late for tears, isn't it, Barbara?"

The narrator -- and everyone else in the movie -- would like Barbara to imitate the example set by one of her peers, Helen, a bloodless, soulless conformist automaton whom the movie treats as the "perfect" teenager. Barbara is the only person in the movie with a hint of a personality. In fact, she's the only one in the movie even recognizable as a human being. That makes her ordeal all the more painful to witness.

The movie's queasy score makes things worse. As the strings ominously descend the chromatic scale each time Barbara screws up or feels uneasy, I could not help but think of Pino Dinaggio's score for Carrie, another film about a vulnerable teenage girl who is berated and humiliated because she does not conform.

Watch if you dare!

Phew! That was an emotional workout. Honestly, few films have ever affected me as strongly as Habit Patterns did. I first learned of the film through Ken Smith's wonderful book, Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970, which really is a must-read, and by luck the film was included on the companion video for the book. Still today, even after at least a dozen viewings, I cringe when I watch it. Credits for the film are hard to come by, so I don't know who played whom, but I felt bad for the actress playing Barbara. She does a great job, though, portraying the character's emotional torment.

I reiterate that the 1950s were probably not nearly so fun as Back to the Future and Sha Na Na have led us to believe. As an antidote for Habit Patterns, I happily present this wonderful parody version, apparently staged as part of a show called Industrials by the Ministry of Cultural Warfare at the 2003 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Habit Patterns from Matthew Foster on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


So now we know what Zomby watches on television, which as I argued previously may well be the truest, most accurate way of gauging one's soul.

But what kind of music does Zomby listen to? My best guess: Phil Collins. I think of Phil Collins as the patron saint of the lonely and heartbroken, mainly due to a 2007 radio story from This American Life called "Dr. Phil" by Starlee Kine.

Phil Collins was famous for turning his real-life romantic setbacks into popular songs,"In the Air Tonight" and "Against All Odds" chief among them. Back in the 1980s, a satirical British puppet show called Spitting Image took Mr. Collins to task for this and produced this scathing, dead-on parody:

Eerie, isn't it? "I'm So Lonely" may be the ultimate Phil Collins song, even though Phil didn't write it. It certainly works as a good theme song for both Ziggy and Zomby, both of whom can relate to the themes of loneliness and male pattern baldness.

Incidentally, one of the side effects of British comedy is that it occasionally forces you to look up some of the more obscure references. I'm sure we all know who Bob Hoskins is, but the other British celebs named in the song are not so well-known here in the States. For the record, Mel Smith is a British comedian and actor probably best known to American audiences as The Albino in The Princess Bride.

And Eddy Shah? Well, he's a rather infamous UK newspaper tycoon who very recently was arrested in connection with a sex scandal. At the time of the Spitting Image broadcast, though, he was just a famous businessman.

Now don't you feel better informed about the world? Incidentally, there was no bad blood between Phil Collins and Spitting Image. In fact, not long after this parody aired, the puppeteers were hired to do the deeply weird video for "Land of Confusion," a song by Phil's band Genesis.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Ouch! Well, regardless, I'm still occasionally taking Ziggy cartoons and improving them by removing Ziggy himself and any other disagreeable elements. Here, for instance, is a before-and-after comparison of yesterday's Ziggy:

Isn't that second version nice -- sort of peaceful and contemplative? I find it's really soothing and therapeutic to remove Ziggy from his own cartoon. And speaking of things which bring me comfort, if however fleeting....

Local news shows are a source of great amusement to me. They're definitely a relic of the pre-Internet era, and they still rely on shameless exploitation of human misery, cheap fear-mongering, and appalling sentimentality for ratings. The news anchors and reporters, with their inflated egos and perfectly-coiffed hair, are always good for a laugh... as everyone from The Simpsons to Will Ferrell have demonstrated. One of my dearest guilty pleasures, I will admit, is watching news bloopers, which are available in abundance on YouTube. Here are some examples of what I mean. You will see some of the same clips repeated, but all these compilations are worth watching. A few Fox News clips are in there, too, which is only fitting since Fox is essentially a national network with the "local news" mindset.

If you want cheap laughs at the expense of contemptible people, look no further.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Is good ol' Zom an Uncle Tom?

He certainly seems to be appeasing his human oppressors by mimicking their behavior, dress, love of iced tea, etc. Oh, well. By selling out, Zomby is in good company. Tom Lehrer will kindly elaborate:

But enough of that! Citizens, I have a theory (which is mine) about Tim Robbins' hair. I call it... get this...


Catchy name, no? So what's this theory of mine? Well, the gist of it is that actor Tim Robbins has two basic modes:

MODE A: Amiable doofus
MODE B: Arrogant jerk

The easiest way to tell whether Mr. Robbins is operating in Mode A or Mode B is by -- you guessed it -- his hair! If Tim has floppy hair, he's in Mode A. If he has slicked-back hair, he's in Mode B. Just look at this handy comparison chart:

In fact, one could say that the trustworthiness of a Tim Robbins character is entirely dependent upon the actor's follicles. The more he lets his hair flop around, the more you can trust him. In The Hudsucker Proxy, it is entirely possible to trace his character's moral progression through his hairstyle. Observe...

Which of these men do you trust? If you said the one on the right, you haven't been paying attention.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


And speaking of cartoon characters in despair....

Andy Panda in his 1940s heyday

The unfortunate Walter Tetley
I have written before of my appreciation for the bizarre and underrated cartoons of Walter Lantz. Last time, I praised the 1954 Woody Woodpecker cartoon Alley to Bali, but this time I want to shine the spotlight on Apple Andy (1946), a vehicle for one of Lantz's lesser-known creations, Andy Panda. Frankly, Andy is not too terribly interesting as a character. He's just a plucky and mildly mischievous young panda bear with a regrettably low IQ. What personality he has is bestowed upon him by Walter Tetley, a familiar radio and cartoon actor (he was Sherman in Peabody's Improbable History) whose voice remained in a perpetual state of preadolescence, allowing him to play child parts well into adulthood. The exact cause of Tetley's odd voice is unclear; it is generally thought to be the result of a medical condition, though one of his costars claims the actor had been castrated! Walter Lantz seemed to have a knack for cartoons about characters being tortured for their indiscretions, and Apple Andy is another superb example. As in Alley to Bali, our protagonist is tempted into committing one of the Deadly Sins by another character, then is cast into Hell and undergoes a series of strange punishments before escaping at the very end. Woody Woodpecker's sin was Lust, while Andy's is Gluttony. While the woodpecker wanted to make time with a mysterious Balinese woman, Andy just wants to steal some apples. In classic cartoon fashion, an angel and a devil materialize and wage a war for Andy's soul. But like Woody before him, Andy is morally weak and gives into temptation. Goaded by a satanic fellow panda, Andy eats a pile of green (meaning unripe) apples which have been spray-painted red. This is where the cartoon takes a turn for the surreal and disturbing. I don't want to give away any of the surprises, but listen for the great song "Up Jumped The Devil (In the White Nightgown)" along the way and keep an eye out for some weirdly sexualized apple cores:

The bizarrely alluring "Apple Core-Us Girls" from Apple Andy

You can watch the whole cartoon right here.

If you liked Apple Andy, be sure to check out these terrific studies over at the Screwy Sketchblog!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi: His first interview as a zombie!

Artwork by ScrappySCREAMER of Deviant Art

The world learned this week of the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the infamous Libyan dictator who held power in his country from 1969 to 2011. In yet another journalistic coup, the Dead 2 Rights blog has managed to wrangle an exclusive interview with Mr. Gaddafi in his first week as a member of the living impaired community. It is presented here in the interest of fostering peace throughout the world.

WK: Hello, Mr. Gaddafi.

MG: Colonel Gaddafi.

Excuse me?

I demand to be addressed by my military title. You will call me "Colonel Gaddafi."

Uh... aren't you retired now?

Never! And I notice you are not genuflecting. Why are you not genuflecting?

As a zombie, it's kind of difficult for me to genuflect. Rigor mortis and all, you know. And I'm fresh out of Osteo Bi-Flex, darn the luck. You'll find out about all that soon. But getting back to your career... a 42-year reign of terror. You've gotta be happy with that.

First off, I'm not comfortable with that term "reign of terror." I prefer "glorious and honorable stewardship of my beloved country." Secondly, are you implying that my reign is over?

I'm not implying it. I'm saying it. You're dead. The game's over.

The game is not over, my friend. This is merely halftime.

I'm not comfortable with the term "my friend." I prefer "guy who happens to be sitting across from you." And with all due respect, I don't think the people in Libya would want you back, even if you were alive.

This is where you are wrong, my trusted comrade.

I am even less comfortable with the term "my trusted comrade." I met you, like, 20 minutes ago.

It is true that I shall have to work my way back to the top by degrees. I plan to begin "Phase 2" of my career with a brutal takeover... I mean, glorious and honorable stewardship of a Starbucks in Sarasota. The world has not seen the last of Muammar Gaddafi.

Yes, it has.

Again, you are mistaken, my most cherished advisor.

I'm your "cherished advisor" now? You know what? This interview has gotten too creepy even for me. I'm outta here.

No hug?



What can I say, folks? They can't always be funny. Speaking of which...

Lately, I've been reading a fascinating book called Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad. It came out in 1986 and covers in great detail the early years of SNL -- the controversy, the backbiting, the infighting, the truly staggering intake of cocaine, etc. I'm just at the part when the original SNL is ending after five tumultuous seasons. This prompts the question, "Is there life after Saturday Night Live?" For the show's on-air performers, the answer is: "Maybe, if you're lucky." The question is a little trickier for the show's behind-the-scenes talent. Today, you and I are going to take a look at a clip by two talented men who struggled a bit after their SNL days were over, namely writer Michael O'Donoghue and filmmaker Walter Williams.

The two men could hardly be more different, temperamentally. Williams is the man behind the beloved Mr. Bill skits and other filmed pieces for SNL like Elvis Presley's Coat, in which the King's jacket goes on tour without him after the singer's death. By all accounts, Williams was a sweet, even-tempered guy, possibly a little naive when it came to the cutthroat ways of show business. O'Donoghue, on the other hand, was SNL's Dark Prince of Comedy, a temperamental but brilliant satirist who served as the show's first head writer and whose tantrums and mood swings were legendary. Some of O'Donoghue's problems may have been medical; he suffered severe migraines all his life and died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 54 in 1994.

A mere two years before his death, O'Donoghue wrote a pilot for a potential sketch comedy show on the Fox Network. Walter Williams was brought on to direct. Clearly, Fox was looking to replicate the success of the early SNL. The resulting show, simply called TV, was not picked up, and looking at the existing footage from the pilot, it's (unfortunately) easy to see why. O'Donoghue's script is tired, and Williams' direction is flat. Almost nothing works, although you do get to see cameos by such luminaries as Brian Keith and Rutger Hauer. I'm sure they didn't know what they were doing in this show either. TV is a near-total failure as comedy, but it's fascinating as a historical document. Here, have a look:

Thursday, October 20, 2011


One of the nice side effects of the extreme repetition of Ziggy is that it occasionally allows me to do small-scale story arcs. If Tom Wilson II does jokes about the same topic or uses the same settings for several days in a row, I try to turn it into a miniature plot. Back in February, for instance, I did a little story about Zomby's romance with a generic female functionary. And more recently, I did several cartoons about the ominous birdpocalypse. If Tom Wilson does more cartoons with Ziggy hanging around his house in a bathrobe in the next few days, I will continue to explore Zomby's spiral into depression triggered by NBC's cancellation of The Playboy Club. Of course, though, I'm completely at the mercy of Tom Wilson in this regard. If he changes course, so do I.

(Incidentally, the mention of Ron Paul was triggered by the fact that several of the man's campaign ads have mysteriously appeared on my blog in the last few weeks. Why Ron Paul would advertise here is beyond me. As a leader of Dead 2 Rights, I do not and cannot endorse any candidates. But I can now admit that Michelle Bachman and I used to party together in the '90s. Hard. Oh, how that woman could party.)

But getting back to the topic of comedic repetition...

He Cooked His Goose (1952) is one of the oddest Three Stooges shorts I have ever seen. It's the 140th of the 190 films they made for Columbia, and it's interesting to see how eager the boys were to experiment with the tried-and-true Stooge formula at this (relatively) late stage. It's the product of two Stooge stalwarts, writer Felix Adler and director Jules White, though Adler's writing is more adventurous than White's workmanlike directing. He Cooked His Goose is one of the rare Stooge shorts in which the lead role goes to Larry Fine, a very gifted comedic performer normally relegated to the part of victim. Not only is Larry the star, he gets to be evil in this one! He plays a lying, scheming, womanizing pet food supplier and does a great job with the villainous role. For this part, Larry gets a few special accessories from the prop and wardrobe departments, like a giant cigar and an oversized bow tie. (For whatever reason, he also has a trained clam named Cedric.) He even gets his own little music cue that pops up every time he has an evil thought!

Moe and Shemp (yes, this short is from the Shemp era so don't expect to see Curly) are also brilliantly cast against type in He Cooked His Goose: Shemp as the film's romantic hero and Moe as a passive, gullible klutz who is actually being cuckolded by Larry! This is one of the few Stooge films in which the boys are not playing any kind of a team. They're not brothers, coworkers, partners, teammates, etc. in this short. The Stooges are playing completely separate roles for one of the only times in their career. Larry and Shemp are romantic rivals, while Moe is a stranger to both of them! Stooge regular Mary Ainslee is also quite good here as Moe's wife (and Larry's paramour) Belle.

So please enjoy He Cooked His Goose. Along with the plot details described above, you also get a glimpse into American life circa 1952, back when door-to-door salesmen still existed and telephones were of the rotary type. You also get to see what Christmas trees and Christmas lights of that era looked like. Even some of the film's expository dialogue has a lost-era charm, as when Shemp gushes to Larry, "Oh, this'll make my Christmas dandy!"

Here's the short film on Veoh:

Watch He Cooked His Goose.divx in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It figures that Zomby would be the lone mourner of NBC's recent failed exercise in nostalgia.

And speaking of nostalgia and failure, I'd like to present this horrifying and yet fascinating photograph I found on Wikipedia. Apparently, a year after his enormously influential show ended and a mere two years before his death, the stoic emcee Ed Sullivan (a.k.a. "Old Stoneface") donned clown makeup for a TV special about... you guessed it, clowns. The results speak for themselves. I mean, just feast your Vulcan squinties on this:

And here's a close-up for you:

Good luck sleeping tonight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Relax, gentle reader. Our (disturbingly off-model) zombie friend is not really planning to cook and eat beloved American television personality Nancy Grace. He is merely speculating on when she'll be voted off Dancing With the Stars. (Zomby's been a staunch J.R. supporter all season.)

But speaking of dancing, why not get down and boogie to the chilly Eurotrash stylings of Telex? Here, direct to you from 1979, the puckish Belgian synth pop trio performs its slowed-down deconstruction of rock's unofficial national anthem, "Rock Around the Clock." Even more than other high-concept bands of the era, Telex seemed to delight in deliberately baffling and annoying its audience. Note how lead singer Michel Moers remains seated during the entire performance and even stops to casually take a drink of water and read a newspaper mid-song, while bandmates Marc Moulin and Dan Lacksman remain practically motionless throughout the performance. It's almost as if they're... living impaired! The band's aloof, too-cool-to-try attitude ticked off a lot of people at the time, and their clips (like this one) continue to inspire venomous YouTube comments today!

Update: Telex remained active (if "active" is the right word for what they did) from 1978 to 1986, when the group members simply wanted to move on to other projects. Apart from a brief flurry of activity in 2005 and 2006, the group has largely been dormant for the last quarter-century. Marc Moulin's death in 2008 seems to have precluded any further reunions. But, hey, there's still a very worthy discography to explore.

And the band's official website is pretty neat, too.

Monday, October 17, 2011


And today seems like as good a day as any to include The Rolling Stones' jingle for Kellogg's Rice Krispies. Yep, this happened.

For those interested in singing along, here are the lyrics (as best as I can make out):

Wake up in the morning, there's a slap around the face!
Wake up in the morning, there's a crack up in your vase!
Wake up in the morning, there's what Papa really sells!
Rice Krispies to you! And you, adieu!
We're on the eucalyptus, too, and Santa says it's nice!
We're on the milk-alicious to the crack whore of the right!
Get up in the morning to the pop that says it's nice!
Hear them talking, Chris? RICE KRISPIES!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


And speaking of cartoon animals and their hilarious antics...

The Ant and the Aardvark, one of my favorite under-appreciated cartoon series.

The Ant and the Aardvark (1969-1971) was a series of 17 short cartoons produced by DePatie-Freling Enterprises, the production company best known for the Pink Panther series. When Ol' Pinky's theatrical cartoons were repurposed as a TV show called The Pink Panther Show in 1970, the episodes were padded out with such back segments as The Ant and the Aardvark, The Inspector, The Tijuana Toads and various other DePatie-Freleng productions. The Pink Panther Show was one of my childhood favorites, and because it was not as widely-circulated or as heavily-merchandised as the Looney Tunes, it seemed almost a little exotic to me. These cartoons were produced during the waning years of animated theatrical shorts, but I was not bothered by their slight cheapness. In fact, these cartoons had a sort of funky, minimalist look that went very nicely with their hip humor.

The whole Pink Panther Show gang

Showbiz legend John Byner
In terms of its underlying premise, The Ant and the Aardvark is nothing out of the ordinary for cartoons. It's essentially another "big guy vs. little guy" scenario. The Aardvark tries ever more outlandish schemes to capture the Ant, but the wily insect always evades him. This was a setup that Warner Brothers and MGM had used dozens of times before in series like Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, The Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales. But largely thanks to its acting and writing, The Ant and the Aardvark does not feel like a retread of those other series. This was years before movies like Antz or A Bug's Life, so the Ant (Charlie Ant, to be specific) was probably the first of his kind to topline a major cartoon series, while the Aardvark was likely the only representative of his species to hit the big time in animation. So the series has novelty appeal going for it. Even better are the voices. Both main characters are played by comedian, impressionist, and actor John Byner.

From left to right: The Ant, The Aardvark
Byner gives the Ant the voice of swingin', laid-back crooner Dean Martin and the Aardvark the voice of cranky Borscht Belt comedian Jackie Mason. Until The Ren & Stimpy Show thought to pair up an ersatz Peter Lorre with a pseudo Larry Fine, this was probably the weirdest celebrity impersonation team-up in cartoon history. I mean, think about it -- Jackie Mason hunting Dean Martin! The writers for the series really have fun coming up with dialogue for these two characters, making the most of the stars' particular speech cadences and vocal tics.

So now, at long last, I am proud to present  6 glorious minutes of The Ant and the Aardvark. Stick around a while and spend some quality time with these two. You'll probably be imitating them both before long. Also take note of Doug Goodwin's super groovy theme song, which starts out as a Dixieland jazz number during the opening titles but gets a peppier, Herb Alpert-esque arrangement when used as a background cue.

Alas, the Ant and the Aardvark were hauled from their graves in 2010 to appear in the Pink Panther's short-lived new TV show, The Pink Panther and Pals. They were redesigned and de-aged for the revival, and the Ant no longer sounds like Dean Martin. Their theme song is also AWOL. I don't like to think about it. Oy.

P.S. - Apparently in Europe, there were Ant and the Aardvark Pez dispensers! If you're thinking of getting me a gift, you could do worse.

These Pink Panther Show  PEZ dispensers include the Ant and the Aardark.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I call this one "Birdbrains" because... well, because The Unbearable Lightness of Being was taken!

But I want you to journey back with me now in time. Before Darren McGavin was Ralphie Parker's "old man" in A Christmas Story... even before he was Kolchak: The Night Stalker...

He was Mike Hammer.

That's right, Darren McGavin played the title role on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1958-1960), a detective series newly released on DVD. Here's "the old man" kicking Steve Ihnat's pasty ass. Enjoy.

Want more? Here's your chance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

(today's zomby) AND 18 DELIGHTFUL SECONDS!

(I don't really have to explain this reference, do I? No? Good.)

Sadly, our fridge demon friend does have one fact correct: many living impaired individuals do lack sensation in the gonads. It's tragic. Please give generously.

And now, your 18 delightful seconds. I love this woman and share her dream of sloth and lust.

The only disagreeable note is the incongruous promo for the ill-fated Knight Rider reboot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


First, a sequel to yesterday's cartoon.

I don't get this either. It's not just you.

Incidentally, the idea of breaking people's wills by having them stare at a blank wall for hours is something I picked up from the incredible film If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, which you can read about and see in its entirety right here! If you do nothing else in your life, see this film!

But enough of all that! What about those rapping Hitlers I promised you? Today I offer you the rare opportunity to gaze upon a trio rhyming Fuhrers and then judge which is the best.

1. Mel Brooks (1983)

2. The Whitest Kids You Know (2006)

3. Epic Rap Battles of History (2010)

So now you've seen the three rapping Hitlers. Now it's time to vote for the best.

May the best rapping Hitler win.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Track-by-track: Why Weird Al's debut album is an unheralded (punk) masterpiece

"Weird Al" as he appeared on the cover of his eponymous debut LP.

"My whole first album was recorded extremely quickly, and without a lot of attention to detail or production value. Basically, we didn't have any money, and we were doing it as quickly as we could. The perfectionist in me would like to just re-record that whole first album, although I don't have the George Lucas impulse to actually redo everything I've done in the past. I like to let things exist in their historical perspective. People like 'Another One Rides The Bus' the way that it is, with my drummer banging on the accordion case. I don't think they'd really want to hear it done with Pro Tools in a 98-track studio."
-"Weird Al" Yankovic in a 2007 interview with The AV Club

With a career now into its fourth decade, Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic has certainly exceeded all expectations for a novelty artist in terms of longevity and popularity. One of the keys to his success, one might argue, has been the ease with which he has adapted to changing musical styles and fads over the last 30 years. His recordings, videos, and stage act have all certainly become slicker and more technically polished over time. A song like "Pancreas" from his last studio album, Straight Outta Lynwood, might even be described as "pretty" with its stacked harmonies and fussy, Brian Wilson-inspired arrangement.
Al and his squeezebox in the raw, early days.
There is nothing "pretty" or "fussy" about Yankovic's eponymous 1983 album. Clocking in at a little over 32 minutes (virtually the same length as the Beatles' debut LP), "Weird Al" Yankovic is a half-hour of almost-undiluted musical ugliness, the closest thing to a punk album Yankovic has ever recorded. The rude, homely sounds of Yankovic's accordion are prominently heard on each of the album's twelve tracks, and Yankovic's singing voice is much more gravelly and nasal on this LP than it is today. The new-millennium Yankovic has no consistent comedic or musical persona. He's become a Zelig-like chameleon, shifting effortlessly between genres from song to song and changing his appearance and musical style as needed. But back in 1983, Yankovic did have a more-or-less consistent persona. He was the twitchy, hyperactive, seemingly-a-little-pissed-off child of American junk culture, a one-man museum of kitsch. Clad in defiantly tacky Hawaiian shirts and sporting a mustache-and-glasses combo which made him look like he was wearing a permanent Groucho Marx disguise, Yankovic sang about processed junk food and old TV reruns with an edgy, urgent intensity reminiscent of the original punk rock. Indeed, "Weird Al" Yankovic may be accurately described as novelty music's answer to Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Although it is pieced together from songs recorded between 1979 and 1982, there are even some common motifs running through the lyrics, almost giving this LP the feel of a "concept album."

But now, let us examine this album track by track: