Monday, April 05, 2010

RINGLING CLOWN ALLEY: Herald Square (4/2/10)

The first few photos to emerge from last Friday's Ringling PR in which Al Rios, Watson Kawecki, Mike Richter, Joel Jeske, Peter Strauss and I set up our trunks, on a beautiful spring day, in front of Macy's in Herald Square and proceeded to turn it into Clown Alley. We made up, joked and even had a "high card" (I won!) and when we were all finished we worked the crowd, sat for 10,000 photos and were escorted back to the Garden by the two prettiest officers in the whole NYPD...

Watching from the sidelines were Ruth Chaddock, Alan Miller, Jennifer Jo, Amy Alter, the Barney family and my very Plonsky friend, Michael Karp. I hope I'm not leaving anybody out!

And with that, gentle readers, takes a one week Spring Break.

See you next week!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

HAPPY EASTER: "Easter Yeggs" (1947)

The kids are all asleep now? Good! Let's all watch a cartoon made the way cartoons were made back when the used to make cartoons the way cartoons ought to be made!

Easter Yeggs (1947) is a 1946 Looney Tunes animated short originally released theatrically on June 28, 1947. Story by Warren Foster, with Layouts by Cornett Wood, and Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas. Animation by Charles McKimson, Dick Bickenbach, and I. Ellis. Directed by Robert McKimson. It is that director's second Bugs Bunny effort (following the previous year's Acrobatty Bunny), and his first Bugs & Elmer cartoon. (Arthur Q. Bryan plays Elmer; all other voices are by Mel Blanc.)

The title is a play on "Easter eggs" and on "yegg", a slang term for a burglar or safecracker.

This was the 500th cartoon short released by Warner Bros., they would release exactly 500 more after this.


Bugs Bunny finds the Easter Bunny (also called the "Easter Rabbit" throughout this cartoon) sitting on a rock, crying. The Easter Bunny tells Bugs that his feet are sore, so he cannot deliver the Easter eggs. Bugs takes up the job, not knowing that, every year, the Easter Bunny gets some "dumb bunny" to do his work for him.

The first house the "joyous bunny" visits bears a name by the door: Dead End Kid, and the mean little red-haired kid who lives inside throws the egg at Bugs' face, bites him and beats Bugs up before body slamming him on the floor. Bugs loses his cool and grabs the kid's arm. Unfortunately, Dead End Kid screams and three huge thugs rush in on Bugs while aiming guns at him. Bugs barely escapes the hail of bullets. When Bugs rushes back to the Easter Bunny telling him he quits, the Easter Bunny gets him to "try once more".

Unfortunately, the next house is that of Elmer Fudd, the veteran wabbit-hater. Fudd sets up an elaborate welcome and, disguised as a baby, hides his gun in a bassinet and climbs in. Just then Bugs arrives, but this time he's prepared for toddler resistance: he cracks the egg in Elmer's hands. Thus commences the classic chase until Bugs manages to sic Dead End Kid on Elmer (who beats Elmer on the head repeatedly with a hammer). Finally, Bugs plants a bomb painted like an easter egg and leaves it for the Easter Bunny. When he picks it up to finish his job, Bugs lights the fuse, proclaiming to the audience "it's the suspense that gets me," and the bomb explodes on the Easter Bunny, leaving the hapless hen-fruit handler hanging high up in a tree. Bugs' parting shot: "Remember, Doc, keep smiling!" The cartoon irises out as Bugs starts laughing.

Annotations and subreferences

* The main titles are set to the quaint old pop-tune "Some Sunday Morning".

* Despite the obvious Easter theme, the cartoon was released in June.

* The Easter Rabbit's despondent voice and his therefore ironic catch phrase, "Keep Smiling!", are a takeoff of a character created by Mel Blanc for George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio show during the 1940s; Mel's character was called "The Happy Postman".

* The funny little snicker used first by the Easter Rabbit, and then by Bugs at the end of the cartoon, "A-heh-heh!" is borrowed directly from Blanc's other employer, Jack Benny.

* Carl Stalling's scoring of this cartoon includes a rendition of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to accompany Fudd's welcome of the "Technicolor hen fruit" courier.

* Dead End Kid and his complaint, "He bwoke my widdow awm!!", is a takeoff of Red Skelton's popular radio character Junior the Mean Widdle Kid. Blanc would use a similar line with Tweety Bird in A Tale of Two Kitties: "Aw, da poor putty tat - he cwushed his widdow head!"

* Fudd's "Dick Twacy hat" refers to the popular comic-strip character from mid-20th-century America.

* This cartoon has even been seen aired (and vocally redubbed) in China, along with Gorilla My Dreams.

* The Dead End Kid would reappear in The Tiny Toons Spring Break Special in a cameo appearance where he attacks Ross Perot.


The song Bugs sings was a tune previously sung by the prototypical Bugs Bunny in Hare-um Scare-um. Partial lyrics in Easter Yeggs:

Here's the Easter Rabbit, hooray!
The happy Easter Rabbit, hooray!
I am getting Looney Tuney, touched in the head
This whole thing is gooney, I should-a stood in bed.

Partial lyrics in Hare-um Scare-um:

I'm going cuckoo, woo-woo!
Here comes the choo-choo, woo-woo!
I'm so gooney Looney Tuney, touched in the head
Please pass the ketchup, I think I'll go to bed

HAPPY EASTER: Lord Buckley performing "The Nazz"

"But I'm gonna put a cat on you ...was the coolest, grooviest, swingin'est, wailin'est, strumminest, swingin'est cat that ever stomped on this jumpin' green sphere.

And they called dis here cat ... Da Nazz!"

Well it's a kick anyway, isn't it? What a great thing it is to be alive!

M'Lords, M'Ladies ... beloveds,
would it embarrass you very much if I were to tell you ... that I love you?
It embarrasses you, doesn't it? Mmm.

(scat) Ah bah dzu row dzub, woo woo bah jeh, bah dee dee.

Now look at all you cats and kittys out there
whippin' and wailin' and jumpin' up and down
an suckin' up all dat juice pattin' each other on the back
an hippin' each other who the greatest cat in the world is ... eh-heh.

Mr. Malenkov,

Mr. Talenkov,

Mr. Eisenhower,

Mr. Whoozer-wheezer,

Mr. Whiser-whooser,

Mr. Woodhill, Mr. Beachhill, an' Mr. Churchill,

an all them other hills gon' get you straight,
and if they cain't getchu straight
they know a cat that knows a cat who'll straighten you.

But I'm gonna put a cat on you ...
was the coolest, grooviest, swingin'est, wailin'est,
strumminest, swingin'est cat that ever stomped on this jumpin' green sphere.

And they called dis here cat ... Da Nazz!

(low) He was a ...

He was a carpenter kittie.

Now, The Nazz was the kind of a cat that come on so cool
and so groovy and so with-it
that when he laid it down ...


... it ~stayed~ there.

Naturally all the rest of the cats said, "Man, look at that cat wail!
He's wailin' up a storm up there. Hey, I'm tellin' ya,
he layin' it down right, he..."

"Get off my back, Jack! What's the matter with you?
I'm tryin' to dig what the cat's puttin' down!"

They're pushin' The Nazz to dig his miracle lick.

And The Nazz say, "Cool, babies.
Tell ya' what I'm gonna do.
I ain't gonna take two, four six, eight of you cats,
but I'm gonna take all twelve of you studs
and straighten you all at the same time."

"Say, you cats look like you pretty hip."

He say, "You buddy with me."

So The Nazz and his buddies was goofin' off down the boulevard one day ...
and they run into a little cat with a bent frame.

So The Nazz look at this little cat with the bent frame
and he say, "Watsamatta wit' chew, baby?"

Little cat with the bent frame he said, "My frame is bent, Nazz."
Say, "It's been bent from in front."

So The Nazz look at the little cat with a bent frame
and he put the Golden Eyes of Love on this here little kittie
and he look right down into the window of the little cat's soul
and he say to the little cat ... he say, "STRAIGHTEN!"

Rooom - Boom!

Unbent that little cat like an arrow.

And everybody's jumpin' up and down
sayin' ...

"Look what The Nazz put on that boy!"

"You dug him before. Said redig him now!"

Everyone's talkin' about The Nazz.
What a great cat he was.
How he swung with the glory of love.
How he straighten out the squares.

How he stomp into the money changin' carts
and kicked the short change all over the place
and knockin' the corners off the squares.

How he put it down to the one cat, dug it.
Didn't dig it.
Put it down twice, dug it.
Didn't dig it.
Put it down a third time, dug it.
Walked away with his eyes buggin out in the air bumpin' into everybody.

And they're pullin' on The Nazz's coat tail.
They want him to sign the autograph.
They want him to do a gig here, do a gig there,
play the radio, play the video.
He can't make all that jazz!

Like I 'splained to you he's a carpenter kitty, got his own lick.

But when he know he should go and show and blow,
and can't go cause he got too much strain on him,
straightenin' out the squares,
he sends a couple of these cats that he's hippin'.

So came a little sixty-cent gig one day,
and The Nazz was in a bind,
and he put it on a couple of his boys.
He say, "Boys, take care of that for me, would ya?"

And they say, "You take it off your wig, Nazz, we'll cool it."

And they started out to straighten it out for The Nazz.

And they got about half way to where they were goin'
and they came to a little old twenty-cent pool of water
and they got right in the pool of water with the boat
and all of a sudden, Blam!,
the lightnin' flashin' and the thunder roarin'
and the boat is goin' up and down
and these poor cats figured every minute gonna be their last
and one cat look up and.... here come The Nazz!

Cool as anyone you see.
Right across the water.


And there was a little cat on board, I think his name was Jude.

He say, "Hey, Nazz, can I make it out there witcha?"

And The Nazz say, "Make it, Jude!"

Old Jude went stompin' off that boat,
took four steps,
dropped his whole cart,
and the Nazz had to stash him back on board.

So The Nazz say, "Say, what seem to be troublin' you boys?"

He say, "You hittin' on that' bell pretty hard.
You gonna bend that bell, knockin' on it like that."

One of the cats say, " 'What seems to be troublin' ya?!?!'
Can't ya see the storm's goin'
and the lightnin' flashin'
and the thunder roarin'...?"

And The Nazz say, "I told you to stay cool, didn't I, babies?"

To the people who don't know what it means to believe,
to "stay cool" is to be,
to have the sweet fragrance of serenity rock ya' away.

So now everybody's talkin' about The Nazz.

Oh, this beautiful, swingin' man.

How he's settin' the country on fire with great sparks of great love
like a swingin' non-stop satellite goin' through all the lands
and valleys and puttin' down the scene with such beauty
and such power and such charm
that there are now sparks seventy-five feet long shootin' out of the grapevine
and they now got five thousand of these little cats and kitties
in The Nazz's home town, where the cat live, lookin' to get straight.

Well, he knows he can't straighten them there.
It's too small a place to want to hang everybody up.

So The Nazz backed away a little bit
and he look at these cats and these kitties
and he say, "Come on, babies. Let's cut on out down the pike."

And there went The Nazz.

And these five thousand cats and kitties are stompin' up a storm.

Behind them there's a great love river of joy.
It's goin' like a great chain through these gorgeous cats and kitties
as they're swingin' along on the beat of the Nazz
and the birds are flyin' on one side
and singin' love songs to these cats and kitties
and there's a great jubilee of love.

And The Nazz talkin' about how pretty the hour, how pretty the flower,
how pretty you, how pretty me, how pretty the tree.
Nazz had them pretty eyes.
He wanted everybody to see with pretty eyes and see how pretty it was.

And they're havin' such a glorious swingin' time
that before you know it they were forty-two miles out of town
and ain't nobody got the foist biscuit.

So The Nazz look at them cats and kitties
and he say, "You hungry, ain't ya, babies?"

And the cats say, "Yea, Nazz."
Say, "We was diggin' so hard on what you was puttin' down
we didn't pre-pare." Say, "We goofed."

So The Nazz say, "Well we gotta take it easy here.
We wouldn't want to go ahead and order up something
you might not like, would we."

And they said, "Sweet double hipness, you put it down and we'll pick it up."

And the Nazz step away a little bit. And he put a glorious sound of love on.

He said, "Oh, sweet swingin' flowers of the field."

And they said, "Oh, great non-stop singular song to beauty."

And he said, "Stomp upon the terra." They did.

He said, "Lift your miracle the body." The body went up.

He said, "Lift your arms." The arms went up.

He said, "Higher." They went higher.

He said, "DIG INFINITY!" And they dug it!

And when they did, Whap!, there was a flash of thunder
and they looked in one hand was a great, big, stuffed, sweet, swingin', smoked fish.

And in the other a long, gone, crazy loaf
of that southern, home-made, honey-tastin', sweet bread.

Why, these poor cats flipped!

The Nazz never did nothin' simple.

When He laid it,
He laid it.

[Sings:] When the saints......Sweet Lord.

Let me hip you to something!

When you make Love make it!

Oh! Some of you brothers and sisters.

Hold outs!