18 P 23 / Nog days of summer

Sep. 22, about 4:30 P.M. EDT— did grocery shopping, picked up a carton of egg nog while I was there

Sep. 22, about 8:30 P.M. EDT— official start of autumn

I complain a lot about holidays being pushed on us early, (like when I bought that Cadbury's egg on New Year's Eve,) but I just bought egg nog in summer. Who is going to argue with me now?


18 P 09 / A critical hit!

On this, the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon TV series debuting in North America, here is a small ball of facts which can be rolled in the direction of anyone who underestimates the weight of the franchise's legacy in not just video game history but pop culture as well.

The United States of America has only ever had ten major commercial broadcast TV networks: CBS, Dumont, NBC, ABC, Fox, UPN, The WB, and The CW, plus the Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo. Given how things are going for television these days, that list may never get any larger, (though, one could include NET and PBS if the "commercial" qualifier is dropped.)

When the Pokemon series first aired in North America, it was syndicated and the first forty or fifty episodes premiered on weekday afternoons. These episodes aired on different networks in different media markets; in some areas, it was the local UPN affiliate, while the local station for The WB would air the show in others. Pokemon would even air on independent stations in some places, (these stations were starting to get scarce around this time, thanks to UPN and The WB snapping them up in the years prior.) After this first batch of episodes had all aired for a few months and Pokemon became a huge "next big thing", new episodes would start to premiere exclusively on The WB's Saturday morning programming block.

Twelve years ago, in mid-September of 2006, UPN and The WB gave up their ghosts and fused their networks together into a new venture called The CW. Their networks had only lasted about a decade.

Are there any TV series from either The WB's or UPN's arsenals which have had larger cultural influence than Pokemon has had? In the wake of this series' success, there was suddenly a very big rush to get anything seen as being similar to Pokemon on the air in the US. Yugi-Oh, Digimon, Medabots, and Cardcaptors were not far behind, to name just a few. After this, there were suddenly lots more Japanese series showing up on the airwaves— would Escaflowne, Flint The Time Detective, and Mon Colle Knights ever have stood a chance of airing on Saturday mornings in America had it not been for Pokemon? Of course, plenty of Japanese cartoons aired on American television before this, but this wasn't the same as before; those responsible for "Americanizing" these new shows were going out of their way to play up the Japanese angle rather than hide it. One example was the show known as Sunny Pig in many other countries being renamed Tokyo Pig for Anglophone audiences. That is how big a hit Pokemon was.

Of the ten American television networks listed above, Pokemon was the biggest hit that TWO of those networks ever had.


18 L 11 / I'm just tired of seeing Arbuckles wrongly accused of murder

The audience isn't shown every last excruciating detail of characters' lives as they watch a television program. It's safe to assume that the people involved in the story get close to eight hours of sleep each day, use the restroom, prepare meals, drive to and from work, et cetera. The sensible, unspoken understanding is that these characters' stories are edited down to just the parts which are entertaining yet still carry a narrative. Sitcoms are basically just sequences of scenes strung together for convenience.

Things deemed to be inconsequential have to be culled in order to make room for the story and the amusing bits. That's it. Just because the viewers neither see nor hear any mention of a character's parents, that doesn't automatically make said character an orphan by default, does it? Sure, half the cast didn't make it to the final season of Family Matters, but watchers aren't expected to assume they all just simply died, right?

So, here is a proposal, in light of all of the above: what if Lyman never left Jon Arbuckle's house? What if he was still there that whole time, but he just didn't appear in any of the strips because nothing strip-worthy happened to involve him or take place near him for the last 35 years?

Of course, it is possible that he did actually die and that this was just never related to the audience as it wasn't considered to be suitable material for the strip. An April 2013 installment shows a photograph of Lyman in a newspaper; perhaps it was accompanying his obituary?

Here's a fact for you: Lyman was named for lyme disease. Well, rather, he was named after a tick named Lyman from "Gnorm Gnat", a pre-Garfield strip by Jim Davis.


18 L 07 / Four quick things

A first-season episode of Ghost Writer contained a scene of Jamal and Alex at the library. They are shown looking through a book about criminals, and a photo of John Dillinger's corpse is shown. This was no accident; Alex remarks, "Hey, look! It's John Dillinger! Dead!" This was how the writers decided to sell the concept of libraries to kids: "Go to your local library— they have pictures of dead people!"

I mailed a scrap of paper to myself from a public mailbox this week. The envelope had nothing more than a 9-digit ZIP code as both the return address and the mailing address. It made it to its destination successfully. I actually tried this experiment in 2008 and it did not work.

Bought a vinyl Nabisco Thing wallet online last month. When it arrived, I found it contained two pieces of paper. Here they are: Number 1, Number 2.

These pages haven't been updated in 24 years. Enjoy.


18 K 04 / Killdozer Day

On this, the 14th anniversary of the Killdozer rampage, we finally have footage of Marv Heemeyer behind the wheel of his machine of destruction.

This may not be for the faint of heart.


18 G 23 / Cats' Entertainment

I've never liked Thundercats. It's not my thing. As a kid, I thought it looked boring, and it still doesn't seem like it would have any appeal to me as an adult, either. I'm not putting it down, I'm just saying it's not for me.

And none of that changes the fact that the new Lion-o has fingers the size of Johnsonville brats on one hand and five little M&M's on the other. (You know the picture I'm talking about.) Everything else aside— I don't care about the style of drawing or the pose or the technique or whether it's faithful to the series or whathaveya— just look at the hands. It's an insult to anyone who actually tries and/or cares about drawing.

To be honest, I think that lots of people are WAY too judgemental about cartoons these days. Some of them will nitpick anything less than perfection, even homing in on minor slip-ups and corner-cutting wherever it may be— zooming in on characters in the background which are less detailed than normal, for instance. It seems petty. But if those responsible for the new series are trying to hype it up and get people looking forward to it, are they really telling us THAT'S the best picture they have? Egad, man.

Speaking of cartoon cats, Garfield's fortieth "birthday" is on June 19. But, you knew that.


18 G 16 / IT IS MAY

"Back to school"

"Halloween candy"


18 D 30 / Full of Easter promise

I think we're safe now. The snow seems to have breathed its last, and the vernal season may now begin in earnest.


18 B 01 / Dating game

Here's an idea — go through the next ten checks in your checkbook and write this on the date line:

"    /    /18"

That'll prevent a few reflex-driven slip-ups.


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