from the "Wendelsewhere" Dept.

2009
Sep
8

With Great Power Comes Long Blog Posts

I can’t believe how long I spent on assembling “A Mickey Marvel Operation”. 41 of the best (and a few worst) mashups collected from all over the web. And it was all worth it when I got to the last one… Tigger…

AND NOW A WORD FROM SOMEBODY WHO MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ME...
2009
Aug
13

Garfield Minus Wendell

I have another contribution up at “Square Root of Minus Garfield”, the comic strip mashup that has become so popular (with contributors) that it expanded from 3 to 5 days a week and still took 7 weeks to get around to mine. But I did send in several at once, which means in the very near future, you will get a chance to see my interpretations of Garfield meeting the Laugh Out Loud Cats, Garfield dealing with his ‘boss’, Jim Davis and other things the Square Rooters may or may have the nerve to show the world. If they don’t, I will. We’ll see. Anyway, go there, now, and see how ol’ Gar dovetails with the depiction of cats in “9 Chickweed Lane”.

2008
Dec
5

Be My Guest (Strip Project)

My infamous Photoslop abilities are again featured at another location, this time the accurately-named Guest Strip Project, which has regular characters (a motley police crew) and an ongoing storyline, but no regular cartoonist. And during December, it was expanded from twice a week to every day as long as the content was Holiday-Season-Related. Mine features the crusty old Captain (using a photo of myself with an artificially embellished mustache) and Schultz, the police dog who talks and drives (just a pic of a dawg I found on the net), as well as a reference to a Christmas Classic AND the current economic mess. It was so obvious, I wish it were funnier.

Speaking of “wishing”, the whole Guest Strip Project is being done to help support Make A Wish International, so please give something as you click your way thriough. I even tossed a couple bucks in via the site’s Project Wonderful ads (as you can see above, I’m getting into Project Wonderful myself, but only for my own selfish gain – more on that later).

2008
Jun
11

More MSNBC.com Mumblings from Me

After my long lay-off, my second piece on TV for the big news site in one week…

It was a tough TV season for Regis, ‘Trek’ alums

Not my choice of title; my editor rejected various ‘cute’ titling attempts like…
TV’s Power(less) Players
The Running-On-E-List
Power Players With Low Batteries
They Are So Last Season
TV’s biggest names off the top of their games
Next Year’s Comebacks?

Please read, and don’t forget the little “Rate Story” widget at the bottom lets you show some Wendellove…

2008
Jun
7

Hey! I Wrote This!

It’s the first piece I’ve gotten webpublished at MSNBC.com in months (or webyears) and I like how it came out (with a little help from TV Editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper).

Class of ’08: Awarding Honors in a Television Yearbook

Just trying a different way to do the “best of the TV season” blahblah, and since it mostly corresponds to the American school year, why not? And while the editing did actually improve my writing a bit, two bits were cut out that I’ll provide to my blog audience if you click this link:
Is that all? Of course that’s not all! Click Here.

1999
Nov
22

But Seriously Folks: “The President’s Analyst” Knows Too Much

Originally published, and surprisingly still accessible at epinions.com

Pros
Still funny, still lots to think about

Cons
Some of the anachronisms can be distracting

Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie’s plot

In 1967, James Bondian secret agents were all over the media, Cold War paranoia was at its peak, and a large percentage of the American people were asking “Is President Johnson NUTS?!?”
Into that atmosphere, James Coburn, who had already spoofed the superspy in “Our Man Flint”, headlined an under-appreciated classic of on-target satire that hasn’t lost its relevance yet.

The movie starts with the recruiting of Coburn, playing a New York pychoanalyst, into secret duty as the (unseen) President’s personal Freudian sounding-board, and his ultimate inability to adjust to the overwhelming demands of the job – being constantly on-call, entrusted with world-shaking secrets, and subjected to paranoid and paranoia-inducing security. A lesser movie would have stayed in D.C. and simply played off that paranoia, but “TPA” had far bigger plans. The already neurotic analyst freaks out and engineers a plan for escape that turns the film into a comic road trip into American ’60s culture, from a so-called typical suburban family headed by a young William (“St. Elsewhere”, “Knight Rider”) Daniels, to a hippie rock band led by ’60s rock icon Barry (“Eve of Destruction”) McGuire, to the secret headquarters of the most evil organization on earth… but, I’ll save that spoiler for later.

The plot plays well off the concept that America’s competing intelligence agencies (renamed the FBR and CEA to protect the guilty) are a greater threat to each other than to any outside enemy. And, though some will claim “TPA” is too soft on them Commie Russians (after all, it was the sixties), it scores comic bulls-eyes on topics from a family of spies “purging” each other to undercover Russians in America with stock portfolios.

Coburn holds his own comically, with an over-the-top performance highlighted by flashes of the biggest, toothiest, most garish smile captured on film before Kai’s Power Goo. And when not trying to hold that smile, his teeth are madly chewing the scenery, reacting to the various outrages around him with lines like “I’m not crazy! You are all spies!” In counterpoint, two great comic actors underplay their secret agent roles: Godfrey Cambridge (in one his few color-blind roles) as a CEA agent trying to protect the therapist who’s helped him overcome his guilt over assassination assignments, and Severn Darden (one of the first generation of Second City) as a pragmatic Russian spy who works out his issues with his “purged” father while transporting Coburn to the Kremlin. It’s that role reversal, with the flamboyant analyst played by an experienced action hero and the low-key “real-life” spies that raises “The President’s Analyst” above being just a comedy of cultural references (some now quaintly outdated, some still annoyingly current).

But it’s the final plot turns that (while losing some other critics) really made this movie one of my all-time favorite comedies. (Major spoiler ahead, big deal.) The ultimate threat to our lives and liberties is not the Communist juggernaut or sinister forces in our own government or some power-mad Dr. Evil-type villain. It’s the (then safely monopolistic) Telephone Company, depicted as run by robots (with Pat Harrington up front) and trying to achieve a world-dominating communications system by having microscopic phone transceivers implanted into our brains at birth and substituting permanent phone numbers for names. The concept was purely sci-fi fantasy in 1967, but today we’re carrying mobile phones whose inner workings could fit between brain and skull without discomfort.

In 1999, with James Bond, Austin Powers and G. Gordon Liddy still cashing in on the spy mystique, new Cold War revelations being de-classified daily, the current President going through “spiritual counseling” but bristling at suggestions of more serious therapy, and the latest big bad monopoly (Microsoft) getting the regulatory treatment while AT&T returns to the role of local monopoly as owner of cable TV systems, this wacky comedy, 30 years out-of-date in hairstyles and tie-widths, may be more timely today than it ever was.

1999
Oct
22

Eagles May Soar, But Weasels Don’t Get Sucked Into Jet Engines

originally published, and incredibly still accessible at epinions.com

Pros
Positive role model and practical life lessons

Cons
Too much baboon butt

Some other epinionators have cast negative aspersions (or should I say e-spersions) upon what may be the best program on Cartoon Network today: “I AM WEASEL”.
The toon’s semi-eponymous protagonist, I. M. Weasel, is clearly the finest animated role model on television ever. Just think of some of the flawed personalities infesting most of CN’s characters: Johnny Bravo is an idiot, Scooby Doo is a coward, Daffy Duck is a greedy schemer, and Ed Edd and Eddy are all of the above (in that order).
In contrast, I. M. Weasel is defined by his upstanding honor and high achievement, having been, in various episodes of his series: doctor, architect, judge, diplomat, medical researcher (at least twice), ping-pong champion, and foremost authority on volcanos. Even in the rare installment where he portrayed a mere grocery clerk, he was employee of the month for five years straight.
Truly a high irony, and hopefully an intentional one, in light of the (might I say undeserved) lowly reputation of the weasel. Considering that one of the two species of weasel in North America (mustela frenata) is on the endangered list, and the other (mustela erminea) is being used to make ermine coats, the weasel needs every PR break it can get, and I. M.’s PR is AOK.
Not to mention the noble toon has a strikingly un-cartoon-like voice, a positively stentorian baritone provided by actor-of-color Michael Dorn, also known for his long-running role as the noblest Klingon in the history of “Star Trek” (the fact that I am a life-long trekkie and collector of Klingon memorabilia has nothing to do with my opinion of I. M. Weasel; I would admire him even if he had the voice of that Ferengi bartender on DS9).
Of almost equal import to the quality of the I AM WEASEL cartoon is its fun-house-mirror-image antagonist to the honorable Weasel, the grammatically incorrect I. R. Baboon. Possessing almost all the negative characteristics of the rest of the CN program lineup in one, he functions to provide useful life lessons in two ways. In one common scenario, he incompetently attempts to compete with the far superior I. M., ultimately resorting to cheating, at which he is also incompetent, proving that, if you’re not smart enough to compete fairly, you’re probably not smart enough to get away with competing unfairly either. In the other, I. R. is hierarchially subservient to I. M., and envious of his position, an envy which drives him to try to prove his nonexistent worth in a way that ultimately sabotages both of their efforts, to the detriment of the entire world – an important lesson to all of us: some people know what they’re doing, so get out of their way!
Now, I must admit there are negative aspects to everything, even to the I AM WEASEL show. As others have accurately noted, the program’s creator/producer, David Feiss, often places an obsessive focus on grossness in general and prominent body parts, like I. R. Baboon’s red butt, in particular. He shows the same flaw in his other Cartoon Network series, “Cow and Chicken”, where his depiction of Cow as the rarest-of-rare, a fully-realized multi-dimensional female cartoon character, is diminished by an animated overemphasis on her udders. I am sure this problem originates with some traumatic experience in Mr. Feiss’s childhood, and a program of appropriate cognitive and behavioral therapy would do him a world of good and he can produce even superior cartoons in the future.
But let us not denigrate what is certainly one of the most life-affirming programs for children and adults, and a much-needed positive influences in today’s media. Let us hold the banner high for “I AM WEASEL” and sing its praises, so everyone will know and understand, and I can use my I AM WEASEL screensaver without some poophead asking me “What’s that on your computer? A ferret?”