Archive for March 2008

Top Ten Reaons why I Love Rocket Robin Hood

March 31, 2008

rhood.jpg

 

 

 1.  The Theme Song

“Band of brothers marching together, heads held high in all kinds of weather.  With fiery blasts our roaring rockets rise…beyond the earth.   Beyond the skies! ….”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MfisiGqtEM

When I heard this as a kid, it sent shivers down my spine.   What a kick-ass song!   It just made me want to join Robin and blast off into space with him to blow up monsters and bad guys. (If the army today played something similar, I’m sure they’d have no problems getting recruits.)

What’s amazing is the high production quality (considering how cheesy the rest of the cartoon is).   I suspect that the producers blew most of their budget on the orchestra, choir and recording studio for the opening theme song, which didnt’ leave much left over for animation, storyboards and writing.

 2.  They actually beat up the bad guys

Back in the 60’s, there was none of this PC crap on TV.  Cartoons would routinely show the good guys actually beating up the bad guys.  And the animators on Rocket Robin Hood were only too glad to show this to the kids.   (If you dont’ believe me,  just watch the opening credits of the show).

There was plenty of direct fist-to-fist combat in Rocket Robin Hood.  The best scene I like is in one of those cartoon “interludes” they showed every show, when the narrator describes Rocket Robin to us: “He’s fun….he’s FANTASTIC”.    This is followed by scene in which Robin smiles at the camera, and his fist flies towards us and fills the entire TV screen.   We get a first hand view of what the bad guys might see…BAM!  

I’d like to see the Bernstein Bears or Caillou try that.

Man, they’d never dare make a cartoon like that today.

3. Little John shows Good-Hearted Kindness Towards all Living Creatures.

Like all the other “commercials” in the cartoon, they showed the same “Little John” clip every damned show.  The bad guys are trying to shoot him down with lasers, which he deflects with his “electro-quarterstaff” as he flies out of the sky, right into the bad guys, and clobbers the living shit out of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7pcqYtKwJs 

Then a squirrel comes along, and lands on Little John’s quarterstaff.  This is when we are shown Little John’s softer side…he laughs.  But the animation is so bad, there are mabye two frames of him laughing, played in an endless loop.  

In one of the frames, they must have forgotten to draw in his collar bone.   So it looked like one of his clavicles kept disappearing and re-appearing as he laughed.    

Even at six years old, I recognized this was bad animation.

 4.  Robins’ Skunk Hair

In this 10 second film clip, they’d sing about Robin Hood, and then his entire head would fill the TV screen.   He’s drawn with a white streak running down the middle of his hair. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksz2sdGXoFs

I suppose this was meant to look like slicked down jet-black hair.   But it looked like a skunk.   As kids, we’d all delightely point out to each other. “Skunk hair…skunk hair!”  

For some reason, we’d never get tired of this joke.

5. Really, Really Bad Science. 

Okay, I know its a cartoon, but come on!  There are limits!

 Geez, where do I even start?   The fact that Little John can walk around outer space wearing nothing but shorts, a tank top and a goldfish bowl on his head.   

How about Sherwood Asteroid flying through what appears to be a sunny partly cloudy sky (Ummm…where does the atmosphere come from?)  

I also like whenever a ship flies through space, the soundtrack plays these cheesy synthesizer sounds to let you know you’re in outer space.  

I guess the cartoon is so old (it pre-dates the moon landing) that back then, people still didnt’ have a clue what space was like..only that it must have sounded very…er… “space-like”. 

The best is that STUPID ARROW that Robin fires into Prince John’s money bag.   The arrow lands into the bag, comes to a dead stop, then accelerates away (with the bag attached) as Prince John looks on, perplexed.  

I never saw anything wrong with that, until one of the older kids in the neighbourhood told me this was physically impossible.

Lucky for  me, I forgot all the bad science from the show by the time I got my engineering degree.

6.  Blinking Eyes

This is one of the trademarks of the show.  To save on animation costs, the animators would show a close-up of someones’ face (just the eyes).    You’d hear the dialogue, but they’d just show the eyes.  Then the eyes would blink, and then you’d have a few more seconds of the eyes.

The whole interval would last about three seconds, but this probably saved quite a few animation cels.  (Especially when the blinking eyes were repeated several times in any given episode).

Say what you want, but this was “pioneering” animation work that even Disney never came up with. (Can you name any cartoon show that has done anything similar, before or since?)

7. The fact that the show is still on the air

According to Wikipedia, the cartoon was made from 1966-1969.   I remember seeing for the first time, in the late 60’s when I was 5.   I remember the re-runs starting in the early 70’s.    It’s always been on TV in one form or another.   It’s still on today on the Retro Cartoon Channel.  How awesome is THAT?  

How many other cartoons can you name that are still on the air after 40 years?   (Sure, there’s Bugs Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones, Woody Woodpecker, etc.)  But those were created in world-class high-budget animation studios.  How many other cheesy low-budget Canadian shows fall into the same category?

8.  The Astro-Poor

This refers to when the narrator tells us “Robin robs from the cosmic rich, and gives to the astro-poor”.  And then they show these motionless people trying to catch poorly animated stop-action coins from the sky that Robin dropped.

Astro-poor.  Heh heh.   You gotta love it.  It’s in the future, so they can’t just be poor.  They have to be “astro” poor.  

The astro-poor probably have to live in solar slums, and have to pay the celestial-rent to the inter-planetary landlord. 

9.   Ahhh….the Animation!

In case I haven’t emphasized this enough, the animation is bad.  I mean, really really BAD.   I don’t know what’s more hilarious…. how bad the animation is, or the fact that the creators of the show had the balls to produce something as low budget as this and try to get away with it.     

It’s a well known fact that the human brain needs to see a minimum of 24 picture a second, in order to perceive continuous motion.   I’d say Rocket Robin Hood, on a good day, might have 6 frames a second.  Or maybe even less.  

Aside from the blinking eyes, the animators used other tricks to save money.  For example, repeating the same scenes over and over (similar to Spider Man or the Mighty Hercules).

In some cases, they didn’t even bother with this.  (How about zero frames per second?).  Seriously, there are often scenes where nothing moves, for seconds at a time (for example, a character might be shocked, or freezing in terror).   At this point, it stops becoming a cartoon, and it becomes a slide show.

When they did try animate, it wasn’t consistent.   Certain things would disappear and suddenly reappear (body parts, lines on a face, etc).   

Or the characters wouldn’t even look the same.  (For example, Friar Tuck could look like two completely different people within the same 2 minute segment.)  Geezus Christ, it’s like they had completely different groups of artists, who didnt’ even work together in the same studio, and had no idea what the other person was drawing. 

It’s almost like the show’s creators stopped caring.   Yet they still made the cartoons anyway for four years.

 10.  The Friar

I’ve saved the best till last.   I love Friar Tuck (He’s partly the reason why I’m called the “Friar”) Some of the lads at work gave me the nickname and it stuck. 

The best scene is when the Wicked Sheriff of N.O.T.T. (who thinks the Friar is fat, foolish)  sends two guards to go capture him.  But the Friar shows THEM…he shoves out his belly, and knocks them flying! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebsSyfHaIRY

Then the Friar sits down at his table, to start some serious eatin’.   As the dramatic music plays in the back ground, he gleefully grabs an apple, takes one bite, and throws it over his shoulder, and then a sausage, takes one bite, throws it over his shoulder, then grapes, then a chicken leg, then an apple, etc.

I must have seen that film clip 1000 times.  But I never get tired of it.

Sure, he’s a glutton when he eats like this.  But he can get away with this, because he’s The Friar, and he just clobbered two bad guys.

I was tempted to try that at our company picnic….I could just picture myself eating food and throwing it over my shoulder….It would have gotten a good laugh from the boys, but the boss probably wouldn’t have appreciated it.

Friar’s Artist Tips: Dont’ Listen to the Rule-Makers

March 30, 2008

As if there aren’t enough Rule-Makers in life (at the office, at church, at school), there are also Rule-Makers in the art world.  People who tell you how you “should”, or “shouldn’t” paint.     Don’t listen to them.

For example, there are   “pleine air” purists” who will tell you that you can’t possibly paint from a photo.  The colors aren’t natural, in order to gain the full experience, you have to go outdoors to actually “be there in person” to get a sense of the painting.

Well, if your idea is sitting outside on a hard rock, fighting bugs, in constantly changing sunlight, and waiting for the damp paper to dry, then go right ahead.  Whatever floats your boat.

Personally, my best work has personally been done sitting at my well-lit desk, in a comfortable chair, at home.

Then there are the purists who say never paint from a photo.   I had a teacher tell me you can look at a picture, look at it over and over again, memorize it, become intimately familiar with it, and only THEN…go back to your studio and paint from memory.

Gee…studying a picture over and over.  How much fun is THAT?   

Maybe if you’ve done this all your life, and you’re that good, fine.  But if you’re learning (like we all are), how can you possibly be expected to draw a perfect rendition of a cow or a sailboat from memory?   Come on! 

When I tried to listen to this boson and paint from memory, I ended up with garbage.   Then I found a better teacher, and went back to painting from photos, and I started to improve.   Actually, that’s the point at which I started selling my work.    

Or what about “Never buy green paint.  Always mix your own greens from blue and yellow”?

Well, sorry.  I happen to like Sap Green, it’s one of the pigments I use the most.  It makes my life easy, and my paintings turn out nice, and people buy them.  (What are they  gonna do, have me arrested by the Pigment Police?)

Or what about framing and matting?  Some art shows wont’ allow colored mattes.   Some will.    It all depends on the rules that some old Aunt McBiddy might have arbitrarily made up on the Lady Auxiliary Arts Committee.  

(Whatever.) I’ll frame things the way I want.  If they allow it,  fine.  If they don’t, well, then I won’t enter that art show.  

There are lots of examples like this.   So who’s opinions are  right?  The Rule Makers’, or your own? 

The answer is “yes”.

Nobody says you have to listen to the Rule Makers.   You can paint anyway you want to, there is no right or wrong way.  

After all, isnt’ that the whole point of art?  The rules are there are no rules.    

Now go paint something and have fun.

Water Color #4: Bad Art

March 29, 2008

burning-house-lakeshore-road.jpg

Not all of my paintings are “masterpieces”.   

I did this one in art class a few years ago.   After it was done, I realized that I had gotten the perspective of the house wrong, and my teacher agreed.  And since this was watercolor, I couldn’t erase my mistakes.  The painting was a dud.  

To make matters worse, another student (who actually was a terrible painter) gleefully kept pointing out to the class that she knew my painting was wrong,  that she told me so, again and again, but I wouldn’t listen to her, etc. etc.  The woman just would not shut up.

I wanted to smack that witch, but I bit my tongue.  Instead, I decided to set fire to my house.     After all, I might as well get some amusement out of it. 

Everyone loved the burning house, (except the witch, of course).

Water Color #3: Double-O Arch, Utah.

March 26, 2008

doulbe-oarch_smudge.jpg

Fisherman’s Etiquette at the Marina

March 26, 2008

Fishing at the Splat Creek Marina was slow that evening.  I ended up chatting with an old guy called Harry, who was quite the character.  Every second word was a curse.   **#%$ $!!  @$%^%**#!! Harry was telling me stories of working up in the bush up north when he was young, and how he’d pick fights in the bar, get thrown in jail and get in trouble with the !@#&* RCMP.

 

Despite his rough edges, I actually couldn’t help but like this guy.  He had a sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye.   It was kind of like talking to your grandfather (that is, if your grandfather cursed like a sailor and had a criminal record).

 

Harry went on, and he was in his element.  He cheerfully desribed how he went into a bar room once, and swung two chairs, one in each hand, and tried to clobber any @#*# Son of an Oar who’d challenge him. @#$%!  Goddamn @#$%!**!  *&$# mother @#&!

 

Then suddenly, this sailboat slowly started approaching the harbor diagonally, instead of straight in, and threatens to cut right across our fishing lines.  A lot of irate fisherman asked the boat to “move away” but the boat kept its course.  

  

The Captain (Sail Master) coasted by and he wasn’t apologetic at all. In fact, he ended up running right over everyone lines, tangling us all up, and cutting old Harry’s line.   And in Fisherman’s Etiquette at the marina, this is a major Cardinal Sin.

   

Suddenly Harry was no longer the kindly grampa-type.   He started some serious yelling about the Goddamn Son of an Oar cut my line $%$**,  sonnavabitch @#%**!, why I ought to drill a hole in his boat, he’s lucky I dont’ go over there and punch him out, the @#%$!$*#@.   I should go there at night and find the plug in his hull, and pull it out and sink the @$*#suckers boat. 

Captain Sail Master went on to moor his boat, while I politely listened to Harry rant while trying to keep a straight face. 

Then an hour later, Round Two.  The Sail Master walked up to us and asked us who was the one calling him names.  Harry stood up and proceeded to tear a strip off him. @#%$!  *&#%!   Son of an Oar! You goddam cut my line, etc. etc. **#$%@!

Suddenly Harry had help.   Another old dude (Fisherman Bud), who was quiet all this time, joined in.  Now there were two grumpy old men yelling at the Sail Master.  

Sail Master didn’t stand a chance, yet he still tried to apply reason to these two.  He commented to Harry and Fisherman Bud that they had the whole  river to fish in, but when he was sailing, he only had the harbour. We could always move elsewhere, but couldn’t.  Therefore, he had the right-of-way. 

” Right-of-way, my @#$**!,you godamn don’t know how to $%*ing  sail”  Harry replied.   

The Sail Master informed the group that he had in fact, recieved his Sail Master Instructor Certificate, and that he did know a little bit about maneuvering a sail boat.

Despite these high qualifications, the old geezers remained unimpressed. Fisherman Bud informed the Sail Master what he thought of his nautical skills: “You dont’ know sh** from a hole in the ground”.

There is no need to use this language, the Sail Master said.

(…meanwhile, I’m hiding behind the light house, bursting a blood vessel trying not laugh).

You knew the Sail Master was gonna loose the argument, but I had to admire his determination.  He was not only trying to hold his ground in front of a bunch of pissed-off locals, but he was trying to educate them on the rules and etiquette of sailing. (Ummm…yeahhh.  Good luck with that!)

Harry and Bud continued to ream him out, they were tag-teaming now, and the Sail Master was getting it in stereo. “Don’t you know how to drive a Goddamn boat?   Don’t you have any courtesy?  You’re bloody ignorant, thats what you are, etc. etc”. 

I almost (but not quite) felt sorry for Captain Sail Master, but at least the argument seemed to be calming down. 

When things seemed normal, Fisherman Bud calmly told the Sail Master that next time, maybe you might consider not pissing off everyone.  

The Sail Master asked “Are you threatening me?”.  

“No”, said  Fisherman Bud, “…but if you keep doing ignorant shit like this, sooner or later you might end up having your boat sunk.” (…and somehow I didn’t doubt it).

After the Sail Master left, Harry informed me that it’s a good thing he was old and more frail, because if he was younger, he’d have grabbed that that *&#%&#$  into the water and only one of them would have come up. 

Lucky Harry was 70 and walked with a cane. I suspect if he was 20 years younger, he probably would, in fact, have gone after the poor Captain.

I guess all this arguing got him worked him, because Harry had to take a leak.   He was diabetic, he explained to me, so it “comes on suddenly”.   Yes, quite suddenly, because he then knelt down 2 feet away from me, unzipped, and let’er rip!   The huge puddle continued to spread inches away from my feet.   (Good thing I had moved my tackle box) .

Nobody else seems to notice, or seemed to mind.  Apparently this is all part of Fisherman’s Etiquette at the Splat Creek Marina.  

I learned two things that evening.  1)  Never, EVER cross the old guys at the marina , and 2) never stand where Harry was fishing.

Watercolor #2: Colorado Aspen

March 21, 2008

colorado_aspen_df.jpg

Watercolor #1: Tipper’s Trillium

March 20, 2008

Tippers Trillium