Friday, September 19, 2014

Back to school with Batman: “Are you being a Bill or a Bob?”

Educator (and foodie) Beth Shaum has shared very kind (and, if I may say, astute) comments about Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.


An excerpt:

Marc Nobleman has written an important story in Bill the Boy Wonder, not just for comics fans, but also as a lesson in giving credit where credit is due. I’m so grateful Katherine Sokolowski alerted me to this book in her presentation on building relationships at nErDcampMI, otherwise I’m sure I never would have read it. As someone who is not a fan of comics, why would I? But this book is so much more than a biography about a comic book creator. Bill the Boy Wonder is a perfect catalyst for talking with students about being gracious and fair, and a great question Katherine asks her students when conflict arises is, “Are you being a Bill or are you being a Bob?” It doesn’t get more simple and impactful for students than that.

Plus:

Not only does this book speak to lessons in doing the right thing, but it is also peppered with writing inspiration as well. 


And:


Bill the Boy Wonder is a book I will be sharing with my students at the start of the school year and one that I have a feeling we will reference often, just like Katherine does.

Thank you again, Beth and Katherine! And thank you yet again to all teachers who incorporate Bill the Boy Wonder into your classroom.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The greatest year in pop music: 1984

So says Rolling Stone, and I agree. 


In 1984, whether or not Big Brother was watching, I bet he was listening.

It’s (let’s go) crazy how many cool (it now) songs came out that year. It’s astounding that I knew almost every song on this Rolling Stone list of the 100 best singles of 1984, and even more astounding, that I like far more than half. I doubt I could say the same about most years since—and probably no year since the ‘80s closed up shop.

The boss of
84 was Prince. But there were tons of executive vice presidents.

Here are my favorites from the list—almost half, and hard to narrow down further:

99 Scandal feat. Patty Smyth, “The Warrior”
98 Dead or Alive, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”
95 Depeche Mode, “People Are People”
89 Steve Perry, “Oh Sherrie”
85 Bryan Adams, “Run to You”
78 The Cars, “You Might Think”
76 General Public, “Tenderness”
75 Billy Joel, “Uptown Girl”
72 Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Gonna Take it”
69 Ray Parker Jr., “Ghostbusters”
67 Madonna, “Like a Virgin”
66 Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
65 Laura Branigan, “Self Control”
64 Matthew Wilder, “Break My Stride”
63 ZZ Top, “Legs”
62 Animotion, “Obsession”
59 Pat Benatar, “Love Is a Battlefield”
57 Scorpions, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
50 Wham!, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
49 Huey Lewis and the News, “If This Is It”
48 The Go-Go’s, “Head Over Heels”
46 Eurythmics, “Here Comes the Rain Again”
45 Billy Ocean, “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)”
40 Duran Duran, “The Reflex”
36 Cyndi Lauper, “She Bop”
34 Night Ranger, “Sister Christian”
27 New Edition, “Cool It Now”
22 Culture Club, “Karma Chameleon”
21 The Cars, “Drive”
18 a-ha, “Take on Me”
15 Nena, “99 Luftballons”
10 Sheila E., “The Glamorous Life”
8 Prince and the Revolution, “Purple Rain”
7 Don Henley, “The Boys of Summer”
4 Prince and the Revolution, “Let’s Go Crazy”
1 Prince and the Revolution, “When Doves Cry”

You know it’s a hella good year when “The Warrior” is #99…though in some cases I have a quibble with the ranking. “Solid” by Ashford & Simpson (#19) higher than “Wrapped Around Your Finger by the Police (#86)—and top 20, no less?

But still, I’d take “Solid” over “Timber” any decade.

From where I jam, most of these songs not only still hold up but also surpass much of what makes the Top 40 today. For starters, not a one is about going clubbing.



Obsession indeed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Buster Jones, Black Vulcan voice actor, 1943-2014

Buster Jones, popular cartoon voice actor of the 1970s-80s, passed away on 9/16/14. I learned of this because his neighbor kindly notified his Facebook friends list one at a time. Buster was not married and had no children.

In 2011, I had the privilege of interviewing him for my Super Friends blog series. It was the first interview he gave about his animation voiceover work. His interview was one of the most candid of that (or any of my) series—in fact, one of his stories in particular is flat-out ribald. Buster had been out of the VO business for a while and was desperate for work. That interview got him invited to a cartoon convention in Texas, for which he got paid—and the royal treatment.

When talking conversationally, Buster had a stutter. However, when he recorded, it went away.


A radio and on-air TV personality as well, Buster interviewed everyone from Bill Withers to Rosey Grier to Gladys Knight:





Earlier this year, my good friend Mike Fox kindly went to Buster’s on my behalf (I don’t live in Los Angeles) to take a photo of Buster with the action figure I’d sent him. It was his Super Friends character, Black Vulcan.


You were electric, Buster. RIP.

Addendum: Because Buster was not married and had no kids, I feared no one would submit an obituary to the media. (Sensitive issue for me; Bill Finger never got one.)

But thanks to my friend Jonathan Taylor, I reached the right person at Variety and results happened:


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kidlit mashups (AKA merged children’s book sequels)

First they revealed their superhero Halloween costumes.

Then they read aloud bad reviews...of their own books.

Now in yet another unlikely way, authors and illustrators of books for young people have come together. Well, not them...their creations.

In 2013, a phrase fusing two popular children’s book titles skidded into my head: “I Want My Cat in the Hat Back.” Perpetual tip of the hat to Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) and Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat).

It was
immediately followed by an image, which a talented designer friend named Tim Connor kindly made real:


Next thing I knew, I was hunting for other recurring words in titles of other beloved children’s and YA books to brainstorm more “merged sequels.”

The results feature a madcap mix of time-tested classics and modern favorites (plus one I wrote, because it worked). Another savvy designer friend, Derek Wolfford (also a musician and the curator of the Bill Finger Appreciation Group on Facebook), generously agreed to produce the sixteen concepts I came up with. (What I did as an attempt at a thank you
—scroll to last image.)

Twice upon a time...


















Disclaimer: All of these works are, of course, copyright their respective creators. As you saw, whichever book cover formed the backdrop of the mashup is the one whose author (and, when applicable, illustrator) credit is intact. This was due only to design logistics. Full credits:

  1. Fancy Nancy (Jane O’Connor/Robin Preiss Glasser) + Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene)
  2. Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson) + Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (Kevin Henkes)
  3. Curious George (H. A. and Margret Rey) + George and Martha (James Marshall)
  4. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Mo Willems) + The Magic School Bus series (Joanna Cole/Bruce Degen)
  5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst/Ray Cruz) + A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Philip C. Stead/Erin E. Stead)
  6. Stuart Little (E.B. White/Garth Williams) + Little Gorilla (Ruth Bornstein)
  7. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Jon Scieszka/Lane Smith) + The Story About Ping (Marjorie Flack/Kurt Wiese)
  8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling) + Harry the Dirty Dog (Gene Zion/Margaret Bloy Graham)
  9. Babymouse (Jennifer L. Holm/Matthew Holm) + The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)
  10. Clifford the Big Red Dog (Norman Bridwell) + The Big Red Lollipop (Rukhsana Khan/Sophie Blackall)
  11. Encyclopedia Brown (Donald J. Sobol/Leonard Shortall) + Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle)
  12. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) + Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)
  13. The Library Lion (Michelle Knudsen/Kevin Hawkes) + The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
  14. Skippyjon Jones (Judy Schachner) + Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Barbara Park/Denise Brunkus)
  15. Walk Two Moons (Sharon Creech) + Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd)
  16. Bill the Boy Wonder (me/Ty Templeton) + Wonder (R.J. Palacio)

Suggestions for more? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Everything Store

The Everything Store by journalist Brad Stone came out in 2013. It’s about Amazon.com, which launched in 1995. 


However, there was an Everything Store that predated both the book and the site.

“The Everything Store” was actually its nickname. Its name name was Towers Pharmacy.



It was in New Haven, CT. It had an old-fashioned, S-shaped, speckle-countered luncheonette. It had a post office. It had a Cheers-like cast of employees and regulars. It was popular with Yale faculty and students (including Flashdance actress Jennifer Beals, who once did a school photography assignment in the store) and Yale Repertory Theatre performers including James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken, Hal Linden, among many others.

the luncheonette

And from 1979 to 1987, it was my dad’s.

 the pharmacist at work, 1986

At least once I (age tween) helped the cook make eggs for a customer. On Saturday mornings, I took classes at the nearby Creative Arts Workshop and my sister and I would hang out at the store before and after; one of my jobs was cutting the plastic binds off the new stacks of newspapers. There was a small toy section in the back. I was excited when the store added a small spinner rack of cassettes. I’d eagerly anticipate trips to the nearby comic book store where I binged on new releases (60 cents apiece) and back issues alike. 

One night there was a break-in and my dad had to go down there in the wee hours to assess the damage. One day he did the Heimlich maneuver on a choking customer and saved her life.

 preparations for Hurricane Gloria, 1985


(The photos here are the only known ones we have of Towers.)

When I was starting my sophomore year of high school, my dad sold the store. One September afternoon, my friends Mike and Seth and I went there to help pack up the inventory. My family hoarded quite a few birthday cards for future use.

After that, the building became, among other things, a Korean restaurant.

I don’t know what it is now.

But for a while during my childhood, it was everything.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's the difference? Whatever it is, embrace it

“Instead of always telling our children that we are all equal and the same, we should tell them that we are all different. Saying were the same naturally makes them look for differences. Conversely, saying were all different (in appearance, cultures, etc.) makes them instinctively look for ways were alike.”Erica L. Scott, Binghamton, NY, 2009 letter to Newsweek

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interview subjects who have died

Since 2006, I have interviewed numerous people for my books and this blog. Many were in their golden years, and some—even some who were not yet in their golden years—have since passed away. I’ll keep a running list/tribute here.


Also:

  • Janet Schulman, editor of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman; I did not interview her, but worked with her (of course), 2/11/11

Friday, September 5, 2014

Iowa Reading Association Conference 2014


On 6/24/14, I had the honor of delivering two keynotes at the Iowa Reading Association Conference in Ames, IA. It was was my first time to the state, though all I got to see was the stretch between airport and conference site.

I got to tell some of my favorite stories...in an appropriately named county:


I got to take home this gift, a piece of tag-cloud art customized to my work:


And I got to be humbled by many nice tweets afterward, such as these:






Thank you again to Deb Mortensen for inviting me, and to the educators who took the time to listen to me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Jimi Jamison (lead singer of Survivor), 1951-2014

Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the rock band Survivor (whose 1980s hits included “High on You,” “The Search Is Over,” and “Burning Heart”), died of an apparent heart attack on 8/31/14.

From: Jimi Jamison
To: Marc Tyler Nobleman
Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:23 PM
Subject: Re: Hi Jimi - interview with Lee Ann Marie from “I Can't Hold Back” video is up!

Fantastic Marc! Great stuff here.

I wish I had talked to her more. Great actress, dancer and a real lady. In the scenes on the “L,” I actually forgot we were shooting a video.

Thanks my friend,
Jimi Jamison


Jimi was also a grandfather. And part of an Emmy-nominated 2004 Starbucks commercial.


RIP Jimi. Though our interaction was brief, I could tell that you were a class act.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

“Greatest American Hero” theme singer interview: Joey Scarbury

Look at what’s happened to me.

You’d think by now the Internet would have provided us an interview with the singer of the 11th most popular pop song of 1981, but you’d be wrong…until now.



I love superheroes and I love music so it was only a matter of time before I arrived at this topic: Joey Scarbury, distinctive voice of “Believe It or Not,” theme of the memorable TV show The Greatest American Hero (a reboot was recently announced). Despite what seems like a fairly uncommon last name, he was not easy to find, and then it took a while to hear back from him, but once we connected, it was worth it.


The Greatest American Interview? I rarely use superlatives and try not to play favorites, but this is a fun one. (Conducted June 2014.)

How old were you when you sang the Greatest American Hero theme?

26.

What else were you doing professionally at the time?

I was touring, singing backgrounds with Loretta Lynn.

How did you get started doing that?

When I was young, my mom took me to talent contests. She was working at a furniture store in Thousand Oaks, CA and she met Bob Webb. She asked if he was related to [musician] Jimmy Webb, and it turned out that Jimmy was Bob’s son. Jimmy wrote many songs including “Macarthur Park.” I went to their house and sang for Jimmy. This was when I was 13. That started my singing career.

Where were you living at the time?

Thousand Oaks.

How were you hired to sing “Believe It or Not”?

Mike Post was my producer at the time. He and Stephen Geyer wrote the song with me in mind to sing it. Worked out great.

Still in touch with Mike?

Occasionally.

Any funny stories from the recording?

Not really. Pretty cut-and-dried. I was touring and had to fly home from Fort Worth, TX to record it.

What did you think of the song?

I thought it was a really cool song. I had no idea it was going to become iconic. It’s almost a staple by now. There aren’t a lot of songs that are really happy (like the one by Pharrell) and that song is.

Musically did you like it?

I loved it musically. It was acrobatic vocally. It’s not an easy song to sing.



Had you seen any footage of the show at the time of the recording?

No. They’d shot some but I hadn’t seen it. There were also songs inside of the show. For the pilot I think we did “Rocket Man” and a David Bowie song but most after that were originals. Every week there was a song written for the show and I would perform it.

Were those songs released?

One was on the album [America
s Greatest Hero]. But they were snippets, only 30-45 seconds long.


What did you think of the show?

I thought it was fun. I was 26 years old. I was making money doing what I loved.

Did you meet any of the show’s stars?

Yes. At wrap parties.

Multiple times?

Three or four times.

Any photos from those parties?

No, not really.

What were highlights of being in the spotlight when the song was a hit (shows you appeared on, celebrities you met, honors you received, etc.)? I saw you on Solid Gold.

It was weird because when the song was released I was still on the road. A bunch of letters going to Stephen J. Cannell Productions asking where to buy the record, but I didn’t even have a record deal at the time so we had to do that very fast. It wasn’t drawn out and long. I had to quit working with Loretta.

How did Loretta take that?

She was happy as a lark. She was phenomenal.

Still in touch with her?

No, not in quite some time.

What were you paid to record the song?

I was paid union scale to record the actual record. I don't remember the amount. But I made the money back a hundredfold in residuals and royalties. And I did get paid for doing the songs for the show every week.

Do you still earn royalties on the song?

Oh yeah. They’ve used it in so many different things—commercials, TV shows, movies.

Do you have any idea how much you’ll make in any given royalty period?

I’ll go a year and make $3,000 and the next year tens of thousands.

Where did your career go after that?

We took a while to release the album because there were some legal issues. Warner Bros. was suing Cannell for rights infringement for Superman and couldn’t release it till that was handled. By then the [song’s peak] was pretty much over.

I kept singing themes for TV, commercials. Went to Nashville and started writing. I wrote a song with Even Stevens, “No Matter How High,” which went to #1 for the Oak Ridge Boys in 1989.

At that point I decided to stay home with my children, coach baseball. I did that for about 15 years.

Have you had any fun Greatest American Hero moments since (i.e. a reaction when someone you meet discovers you sang the theme)?

Happens all the time. People are blown away. The song is not obscure and I don’t say that to toot my own horn. It’s still relevant. When my kids were in high school (20 years after the song was a hit), their friends knew the song. They were so impressed that I was the dad. (laughs) Things don’t usually last that long.

Did you see how Seinfeld referenced the song?




It’s funny, I wasn’t a big fan of the show so I didn’t see it. I went into the recording studio the day after it and everyone was talking about it. I didn’t make any money on that because they didn’t use my voice. I was surprised to hear it in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and did get paid for that.

Have you kept in touch with anyone connected to the show or the song?

I’m not really in the music business per se anymore. I sing a few demos for people every once in a while but unfortunately it kind of outgrew me.

What are you doing these days?

I am the manager at a Lexus dealership in Santa Monica.


with his wife (and a lion cub, natch), 2013

How did you end up in that business?

That’s a long story. I was bored and sitting around doing nothing and a buddy of mine said come down and work for me and I did it.

When was that?

About 20 years ago.

Between colleagues and customers, how often does it come up that you sang—

Every day.

How would it come with a customer?

If they’re older and see my name. Where I work there are a lot of people in the industry.

How often do they ask if you can you sing a bit of the song?

All the time but I don’t.

When was the last time you sang it?

In its entirety? About six years ago a New York radio station called me because they were doing a revival of theme songs at the China Club. Singers of three or four other songs were there. Can’t remember who or the name of radio station, but it was an ABC affiliate that played oldies [WPLJ, in 2005]. That was live with an audience.

How did that feel?

It was a kick. I’m pretty reclusive. Not the easiest guy to get ahold of.

I noticed.

I prefer it that way. The radio station called me in California and flew my wife and me out.

Have you done the song at private events, like the wedding of a family member?

No. I’ve sung at funerals, but songs like the Lord’s Prayer. I used to do the national anthem at local sporting events. Three times at Dodgers games.

Are you still singing/recording?

I still sing—very rarely—but don’t record.

Do you miss it?

A little bit. I like singing. I still sing recreationally. Performing I don’t miss a whole lot. I was mostly a studio singer who became a performer.

What performance was the most memorable?

The thing we did at the Universal Amphitheater about 1982. It was a charity event but I can’t remember what it was for. Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell were there. Everyone sang individually.

Where do you live?

I live in Acton, CA. It’s very rural.

Did you marry before or after the song?

I was already married. I met my wife at Sears; we both worked in the catalog department. I hadn’t started touring with Loretta yet.

How many kids do you have? What do they think of your connection to this song?

Three: Cody 31, Jeremy 27, Katelyn 23. I don’t know—they think it’s cool. They’re proud of me. They weren’t there when it happened.

When was the last time you watched an episode of the show?

Someone contacted me about year ago because he had made a compilation on DVD of every song written for the show. He sent it to me—66 songs! Kind of cool. He was doing it just for fun.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

Again, I stay to myself and was apprehensive at first, but you were persistent so I agreed.

Has anyone else ever interviewed about this? If so, when and for what publication?

Mostly back in the day.

Do you have any of those clippings?

I’m not a big memorabilia guy. I have my gold record and only a few magazines hanging on the wall.

Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs?

No.

Would you?

Maybe.

How do you look back on the experience?

Once in a lifetime. How many people can say they have a beautiful family and had a number one record and a gold record and made a living doing what they love? I didn’t let it get to my head. Luckiest guy in the world.

Look at what’s happened to you.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The funnest school names

I have the privilege of speaking in schools around the world.

I have not yet had the privilege of speaking in any of these schools—but I’d love to:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Words and phrases coined on this blog

pionerds (nerd pioneers)
ficture book (fiction picture book)
smarticulate 
sunlighting
funconventional
sellhole
oddsend
biosong
pinkienail
infabled (infamously fabled)
searchiness
super-ation
mo-created (mostly created)
heydecade (as opposed to heyday)

Batman-related:

Bobstacle (Bob Kane obstacle)
Billain (Bill Finger as villain)
Billography
Billding (a building where Bill Finger lived)
Batmanhattan
batload

And, of course: 

Noblemania

I didn’t coin this but do shamelessly co-opt it:

Noblemanuscripts

I am not claiming I am the first ever to use these words. With the exception of “pionerds” (which I do remember finding elsewhere), I haven’t checked.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Unpublished pitches for “Nickelodeon” Magazine, part 5

From 2001 to its demise in 2009, I was a regular writer—and an even more regular pitcher—for the peerless Nickelodeon Magazine.


The editors had great taste, and I’m not saying that just because many became my friends. However, they made the occasional misstep…such as when they passed on the following ideas I pitched. (Warning: be prepared for the occasional outdated pop culture/technology reference.)

NOTE: Thou shalt not steal rejected ideas. Please ask permission to repost.


A Cold Reception

Useful signs to post at the entrance of your snow fort:

  • Sled Parking in Rear
  • Snow Scarves, Snow Boots, Snow Entrance
  • Leave Hot Cocoa Outside
  • Don’t Bother Wiping Feet
  • Snowmen Eat Free
  • Too Small? Build Your Own
  • Ice to Meet You
  • Management Not Responsible for Yellow Snow

Bored, the Plane

Travel magazines and barf bags are diverting for only so long. What else could airlines stick in the seat pocket in front of you to keep you entertained for the whole flight?

  • science lab kit to analyze what your chicken or pasta really is
  • bullhorn so you can make your own announcements to fellow passengers
  • mini-bowling set (ball and pins), for use in the aisle when “fasten seatbelt” sign is off
  • mini-juggling set (balls and pins) for use when “fasten seatbelt” sign is on
  • video camera so you can make your own airplane safety video
  • earplugs—for your neighbors, when you sing

Halloween Year Round

Halloween has become so popular that other holidays are now combining Halloween customs with their own:

  • Thanksgiving—bobbing for apple pie
  • Independence Day—going door-to-door setting off fireworks
  • Groundhog Day—dressing rodents in costumes before they predict the weather
  • Valentine’s Day—giving chocolates to your sweetheart, and 200 neighborhood kids
  • Earth Day—Zombie-American Parade, saluting our undead citizens who live in the earth

Weather—or Not—to Forecast

How well do weather forecasters do when they’re trying to predict other things? Pretty well—sort of.



forecaster
prediction
correct?
Storm Wilson
“I will win the lottery.”
Yes. He won $3 on a scratch off ticket (payable in 12 installments).
Storm Povlaki
“I will get promoted.”
Yes. Now he covers weather for his whole town, not just one street.
Storm Lopez
“I will meet someone famous.”
Yes. At the bank, she stood in line behind the woman who records the prompts of cell phone voice mail.
Storm Tormé
“I will go to the gym more often.”
Yes. His wife joined and he picks her up there every other night.
Storm Bates
“I will narrowly escape death.”
Yes. She got out of her son’s room just before the stench of dirty socks overpowered her.
Storm McStorm
“I will never get a weather forecast wrong.”
No. On Monday, he said it would be partly cloudy. It was partly sunny.

Sweaty Birthday to You

Not only do July and August birthdays miss out on school parties, they’re much, much hotter. Here are some cards to send your poor pals whose world premieres were in the middle of summer.

Outside: Sorry I forgot your birthday, but it IS during summer vacation.
Inside: Then again, I would forget it if it was during the school year, too.

O: Since you have a summer birthday, this card is also a gift.
I: Wave it back and forth in front of your face. Ta-da! Instant fan.

O: Hope your birthday at the beach is more fun than mine was.
I: How could it not? I was born in January.

O: It’s going to be so hot on your birthday…
I: …that I bet the candles on your cake will just burst into flame without a match.

O: I didn’t forget your birthday! In fact, I got you a cake…
I: …which, since I’m in sleepover camp all summer, I can’t give you until the first day of school. Hope it stays fresh!

O: I’ll understand if you don’t invite me back to your birthday pool party this year…
I: …but I swear I didn’t know that ice cream cake melts in water.

Dum Dum Dum Tweedledum

Short, squat, and ready to chat! For the first time ever, Tweedledee of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland fame sat down for an interview, and it was conducted by none other than Tweedledum.

Tweedledum: So are we A) twins, B) clones, or C) just friends with an odd resemblance?
Tweedledee: D.
Dum: I didn’t give you a choice D.
Dee: Drat.
Dum: Tell me something about you that everyone already knows.
Dee: Debonair.
Dum: I don’t know what that means. I need a—
Dee: Dictionary.
Dum: I was going to say “different word.”
Dee: Dummy.
Dum: Why are you named Tweedledee and not, say, Tweedledum?
Dee: Duh.
Dum: What is your favorite leafy vegetable?
Dee: Delicious.
Dum: Could you train a weasel to do a cartwheel?
Dee: Doubtful.
Dum: When I flick my own nose, do you find that funny?
Dee: Definitely.
Dum: What about when I flick your—
Dee: Don’t.

Teacher’s Pet’s Peeves

Teachers have pets, pets have peeves, so it’s only natural that teacher’s pets have peeves:
  • when a math teacher’s centipede is forced to demonstrate the metric system to the class
  • when an English teacher’s English sheepdog is criticized for barking ungrammatically
  • when a science teacher’s guinea pig gets less attention than the ones at the lab
  • when a gym teacher’s chimp must do laps twice—once running, once swinging
  • when a history teacher’s snake can’t slither anywhere without someone yelling “I won’t tread on you!”

Think Inside the Box

At zoos, the only thing you’ll see more than animals is signs—signs by humans, for humans. But a peek inside the cages reveals that signs are also posted by animals, for animals.

  • Hide for Photographs
  • No Shirt, No Shoes, Service
  • When Flinging Poop, Aim for the Head
  • Trainer Brings Food, NOT Trainer IS Food
  • They Paid to See You—Demand a Tip
  • If You Escape, Free the Rest Too
  • Do Not Even Think of Barking Here

Weather Vain

News stations like to promote their meteorologists by shouting exciting phrases about them in their TV promos. Are these weather forecasters really as good as the descriptions—or rather, are the descriptions really as good as they sound? To find out, read each one aloud in your best TV announcer voice.

  • “Always right—somewhere in the world!”
  • “Now forecasting with special machines, not just by looking up!”
  • “Promises never to predict rain for the weekend, no matter what!”
  • “The most accurate forecast a couple times a week!”
  • “He’s never predicted a Hawaiian blizzard—and there’s never been one!”
  • “Forecasts worse but dresses better than the guy at WHUH-TV!”

Hot Jobs

What do people with summer jobs do during the winter? We asked a few.

  • lifeguard: “I save anyone who falls into the lobster tank at a seafood restaurant.”
  • amusement park ride operator: “I disassemble the Ferris wheel for storage. By the time I’m done, we’ve got to unpack it again.”
  • pool cleaner: “I clean bathtubs, but instead of leaves, it’s empty shampoo bottles and baby toys.”
  • camp counselor: “I eat all the kids’ care packages I confiscated last summer.”
  • ice cream truck driver: “I drive the same truck but to sell earmuffs. It’s not going well.”

If Kids Named Crayon Colors

  • bloody nose
  • booger green
  • Blu-ray
  • yellow snow
  • if it’s brown flush it down
  • black eye
  • white lie

PilgrIMing

Pilgrims and Native Americans may have been neighbors, but in some cases they weren’t exactly around the corner. How did they plan Thanksgiving without instant or text messaging? Even better—what if they did?

4father: what time do we eat?
inDin: when fire king has begun slow dance down sky
4father: ye huh?
inDin: 4 o’clock, gosh u pilgrims have no sense of nature
4father: we’ve got 2 rabbits and 1 fish, what u bringing?
inDin: 16 deer, 45 lobster, 18 barrels corn, 32 baskets squash
4father: ur tribe will have hands full taking all that
inDin: tribe? that’s just me, plus enough berries 2 fill mayflower
4father: well r governor will bring lots of sermons
inDin: ok but do u guys know how 2 cook?
4father: u guys taught us how 2 build, plant, fish, and hunt
inDin: plus swim, climb trees, make clothes, and dance
4father: uh, would b gr8 if u could show us how 2 start fire? (embarrassed smiley)

Lost Dough Flyers [“Lost Dog” with the “u” and “h” written in]

People who lose their dogs put up flyers. Why not people who lose their dough? Next time you find that sweet fiver or supersweet ten-spot in the parking lot, check around for flyers like these before you adopt it as your own:

example #1

LOST:
Five-Dollar Bill
serial number had a 4 in it, or maybe a 3
change from a ten I used to buy comic books
President Lincoln was honest. You should be too.

example #2:

LOST:
Nine One-Dollar Bills
last seen blowing down Park Lane
will not come when called and will not work in vending machines (too crumpled)
If found, throw in another single and I’ll give you a ten.

Leaving the Cel

When planning their first trip to Timbuktu, families often start by consulting a travel guidebook. When planning their first trip out of Timbuktoon, cartoons do the same! Here are some tips from No-Stress Visits to the Non-Animated World.

  • Be aware that every human being has the same catchphrase: “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
  • Don’t run through anyone’s door. Even if they think your body-shaped hole is amusing, they will still make you pay to fix it.
  • Do not stand still and wait for another scene when the digital street sign changes from a red hand to person walking. It is not entertainment.
  • If you have trouble chasing someone or being chased unless frantic music is playing, you will be disappointed time and again.
  • Be prepared to wait around more than you’re used to. Humans eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom more than you do.

Before History Was a Subject

Fakeologists recently unearthed the first prehistoric report card ever discovered. Using the latest technology, they also figured out the modern equivalent of each subject. Here’s an exclusive glimpse:

key:

NG = not good
G = good
MG = more good
BG = best good

Grunting (modern subject equivalent: English)—G
Spear Throwing (gym)—MG
Animal Skinning (home economics)—NG
Cave Painting (art)—G
Tablet Carving (handwriting)—MG
Working with Pebbles (math)—NG
Tossing Sticks Up and Watching Them Fall (science)—G
Foreign Grunting (foreign language)—MG
Walking Upright (health)—BG

Comments:

Frung is a delight to have in class. He does have some trouble counting pebbles (though is very good at eating them). Sometimes tries to skin animals while they are still alive. Overall, he is evolving nicely.
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