Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 3Rs, Dept.

As a wee little sobsister, I watched an assload of television.

I may have mentioned that.

Whatever was on the local independent channels in NYC. WPIX. WNEW. WWOR. So, I was weaned on hours and hours of F Troop and McHale's Navy, My Favorite Martian and I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The foundation stones of modern television comedy, such as it is. And along with all this was an double-scoop helping of cartoons. Warner Bros. and Fleischer and Disney and Hanna-Barbera and Gumby, whose surrealism unnerved me in a way I enjoyed but couldn't identify (never a huge fan of MGM or Terrytoons or Lantz, never particularly liked Tom and Jerry or Heckle and Jeckle or Woody Woodpecker; I watched them, though, because, really, what else was I to do as a 7-year-old? Hail a cab down to the Stork Club?). And a whole bunch of what I now know as anime.

Not the eyeglazing slickness of now, but a simpler version, exported and reshaped for what was perceived as the American sensibility. 8th Man and Gigantor and Speed Racer and, rarely, Kimba the White Lion.

And there's all manner of fascinating minutiae associated with the preceding, from Isao Tomita composing the theme song to Kimba to Ralph Bakshi doing the opening to the U.S. version of 8th Man. Enough for a Web site of its own, I'm sure. At any rate, along with these was an animated film I only recently discovered was titled Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon.


I happened upon it by searching YouTube for the phrase "rise, robots, rise," which I remembered from an animated film I watched several times back then and nothing to do with the great and obscure early '90s band. Having watched the clip and having it not only stir long-dormant memories, but intrigue me on its own terms, I now feel compelled to find the film and watch it in its entirety.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Rise Robots Rise's two videos on YT: "If I Only Knew" and "Talk Is Cheap". When first I heard this band back in that golden morning in America before Monica Lewinsky was baptized in presidential spooge (screen gets wavy; harp glissandi unspool), they'd been touted as "Steely Dan-like." I bought the CD and didn't hear the connection, so I set it aside. Returning to it now, I can see the slight resemblance, more attitudinal than musical, but also hear all the non-Steely Dan goodness in there, as well.

And if you order within the next thirty minutes, you will enjoy this collection of 1960s Marvel Superheroes TV cartoon theme songs. Your sobsister has hummed lyrically mangled versions of these since knee-high to a grasshopper.

No, don't thank me. It's my responsibility according to the wise and aged monk who gave me my powers

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