Posts Tagged ‘cartoons’

 

Sam and Tiff talk about everything and nothing as friends are want to do.

 

Bill-and-Ted-s-Excellent

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Sam and Nathan gush and lament the cartoons they love that were cancelled far too soon.

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And be sure to check out Heroes4Rachel! Let her know that her love of superheroes is nothing to be ashamed of!

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In this episode, Sam and Cara chat with Susan Eisenberg, the voice of Wonder Woman! The three talk about fan interaction through cons and twitter as well as the ins and outs of voice over work. Soap operas also come up!

P.S. The answer is Jodie Dallas.

 

Susan Eisenberg

Follow Susan @susaneisenberg1

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl

Sam is joined by her friends Sean and Cara to talk with Phil LaMarr and boy does it get nerdy! Phil is the nerd’s nerd, the geek’s geek and the group get into animation, Star Wars, comic books, Lord of the Rings, and other topics!

Phil LaMarr

Website: http://www.phillamarr.com
Twitter: @phillamarr

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl
http://mrshowl.bandcamp.com/
http://www.reverbnation.com/mrshowl

Sam has a pleasantly giddy conversation with Claire Hummel. The two talk about Disney, historical costuming, and then pretty much geek out over animation.

Links to Claire:

Website

deviantArt

Tumblr

Twitter

Into music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl

I’ve been mulling this one around in my head for some time now, mostly because I wasn’t sure if this was something I necessarily wanted to share with people, but fuck it, a website is nothing if not a platform for narcissism, so here I go!

For my and the preceding generation, The Simpsons was appointment television. At its best, the show lampooned the American Family with a combination of slapstick, satire, and sheer madness. As a kid, watching Homer fall down a canyon a couple times was hilarious. But as a teenager and an adult with a fair amount of education under my belt, references to movies, books(“Here’s the grapes. And here’s the wrath!”), music, history (“We had quitters during the Revolution, too. We called them…Kentuckians.”), and politics made me realize how smart the show was, which made me enjoy the show even more! Though, nowadays, the show makes me chuckle or smile every once and a while, there hasn’t been an episode since about 1998 that’s made me laugh from the gut and instilled in me the desire to quote it relentlessly.

And quote it I do! A lot! Fortunately, I’ve managed to find a group of friends with a similar inclination and nothing makes me happier than walking into a room, speaking the smallest piece of a Simpsons quote and knowing someone’s going to pick it up and finish the quote or laugh their ass off because I’ve reminded them of that particular episode. And thus begins either a discussion of how freakin’ awesome The Simpsons is or a sharing of quotes. Either way, fun to be had by all!

And while I could probably write a whole blog devoted to how great The Simpsons is, that’s not the point of this article. Instead, I’d like to talk about what happened after a viewing of an episode I hadn’t seen in years: Moaning Lisa.

 

The plot, for those who haven’t seen it or those who need a refresher, is split between the A Story and the B Story. In the A Story: Lisa is dealing with an existential crisis. She wakes up and just feels sad, unable to muster even the smallest bit of interest in anything. Unable to express herself and her feelings to her family, she finds an outlet through jazz with the help of Bleeding Gums Murphy. The B Story focuses on Homer’s obsessive competition with Bart over a boxing videogame. The B Story is there to balance out the A Story with a heavy dose of humor because the A Story is especially hard-hitting on an emotional level…at least it was for me this time around.

I don’t watch The Simpsons as religiously as I used to. Though I catch the occasional rerun, I usually have to wait a while until the station gets back to the earlier episodes since I have little interest in watching reruns of the newer seasons. And even then, I tend to avoid the first two seasons of The Simpsons mostly due to the rough animation, which is hard to watch sometimes. However, on this particular night, after a long day at work, I decided to just leave the show on in the background even if it was from the first season.

And I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. From the moment Lisa sighs her way through a day at school, uncaring, searching for an outlet through music only to be squashed creatively by her music teacher to the friendship she forms with Bleeding Gums Murphy, I could not focus on anything but the episode. Something clicked in my head and I felt the deepest and most sincere empathy for Lisa because, at one point in my life, I was just like her.

I’m not saying I was an eight-year-old genius with a talent for music. No, like Lisa, I too experienced undefined sadness. Coupled with some anger issues, my teenage years, let’s say…13 to 19, were not the happiest years of my life. I was fairly sensitive, hadn’t quite formed the thicker skin I sport now, had few if any friends, and some unresolved bullshit from my childhood decided to creep its way into my psyche at the most inopportune moment. Needless to say, there were several days that resulted in me bursting into tears for no apparent reason. And it freaked me out! I have some control issues (okay, a lot!), so a three-day crying jag that had, at the time, no discernable origin did nothing but exacerbate my sadness and anger. And thus, a vicious cycle was formed! And though I am a sensitive control freak, I am similarly, if not more so, stubborn as all hell! So, after a year of therapy and dealing with what was really bothering me head on, I stopped being sad all the time and the anger subsided…somewhat. I became a happier person for it, able to enjoy life more and roll with the punches.

So, with those experiences behind me and learned from, I was shocked at how easily I identified with Lisa and her struggle to find happiness. The episode aired on February 11, 1990, four days after I turned six-years-old, but only now, two decades later, do I truly understand. When Homer tries to tell Lisa to stop playing her saxophone and she bursts into tears simply because she’s sad, my heart ached because I was once Lisa in that moment.

Homer and Marge equally remind me of the struggles of not only my parents, but most parents with a child going through a similar ordeal. Homer attempts to help Lisa the only way he knows how: bouncing her on his knee and trying to wash over her sadness with advice only a father can give to a child experiencing something he doesn’t quite understand. In the same scene mentioned above, when Homer is about to tell Lisa to stop playing her saxophone, when Lisa bursts into unexplained tears the sheer devastation on Homer’s face is heartbreaking. It’s a father who doesn’t know how to help his daughter who’s obviously in pain. And the only thing Homer can do is tell Lisa to keep playing. Marge, though her intentions are good, tries to force Lisa into smiling for the day, hoping that the outside will eventually influence the inside…and take the heat off Marge for maybe being a bad mother according to some advice Mother Bouvier gave her when she too was a sad little girl. But when Marge witnesses how her daughter is mistreated just for being herself, she reneges her earlier advice and says to Lisa:

“Lisa, I apologize to you, I was wrong, I take it all back.  Always be yourself.  If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you.  And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll still be there.  From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.”

It’s the sagest advice any parent can give their child and it reminds me of many conversations I had with my own mother. Never did she tell me to knock it off or suck it up. My mother let me be sad, hopeful and confident that I would figure things out eventually. And I’m all the better for it because I had someone in my corner who understood.

What it boils down to is it’s less about the cartoon and more about the experiences that have shaped me into the person that I am today. Had I not gone through what I went through, I wouldn’t have felt as strongly as I do about the episode. And for a cartoon to create what is essentially the first Lisa-centered episode based around the character’s inherent sadness and struggle for acceptance is gutsy, to say the least.  But it’s satisfying to know that, before the zaniness of later episodes, the creators and writers of The Simpsons wanted Lisa’s perspective to always be slightly left-field of her family, yet still identifiable to the viewing audience. More so, I think, then Bart, Lisa Simpson is iconic for the struggles she faces and more clearly defines the feelings of a generation then her lovable scamp of a brother.

So, there you have it. It’s possible I’m over-thinking the matter or over-analyzing the episode, but it means something to me to share this with others. The fact that The Simpsons can still speak to me as a (mostly) mature adult gives me a greater appreciation for a show that is more than just a cartoon but a mainstay for anyone in need of laughs, wit, and heart.

 

But what about the rest of you out there? Ever come across something and identify with it more as an adult? Thoughts on the Simpsons? Always glad to get feedback!

Originally published at Noise Shark Media

I-Know-That-VoiceI don’t know about you, but cartoons and animation have been a part of my life since before I can remember. When I was younger, I watched Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, along with many of the classic cartoons of the 80s and 90s. I grew up during the Disney Renaissance of animated features while experiencing the psychological damage of the Don Bluth produced films at the same time, and my sense of humor evolved along with the Golden Age of The Simpsons. In my adult years, my love of animation remains in tact not just because the medium has gotten that much better (it has), but because I recognize and appreciate the work involved by voice actors to bring the characters I love to life on television, the big screen, or in video games. The legacy of voice acting is as old as animation, but it’s only been within the last few years that the actors themselves have started to get their long overdue accolades for the work they do. With the stage finally set for voice actors to have their moment in the spotlight, John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time) along with Director and Co-Producer Lawrence Shapiro and producer Tommy Reid bring us I Know That Voice – a documentary celebrating the talented men and women in the world of voice acting.

As a documentary, I Know That Voice has a very clear cut idea of what it wants to accomplish. You won’t find a sidestory about someone trying to make it in the industry, the camera following a few people as they audition ending with one or two getting a small part or a major role in an animated movie or television show. There’s no need to pad the story because DiMaggio, Reid, and Shapiro let the established veterans of the industry tell you themselves. This is a straight forward look at the people who, on a daily basis, will voice a multitude of characters, each of them different in their own way, in order to entertain audiences. And entertainment is the key here because what is stressed throughout the entire documentary isn’t the idea of never being recognized, or the need for fame and fortune, it’s about the passion these men and women have for their work. They’re the, until now, mostly unseen people who do far more than just make funny voices for money. They’re actors creating characters and without them we wouldn’t have the connections we hold dear to Bugs Bunny, Rocket J. Squirrel, Batman, Bubbles, Azula, Elmira, and even The Joker.

Voice ActorsThe amount of talent assembled is astounding. Close your eyes for a few minutes and you’ll hear characters from cartoons past and present. To give you a sample, I Know That Voice features June Foray, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Grey DeLisle, Cree Summer, Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, Steve Blum, Kath Soucie, Nancy Cartwright, Phil LaMarr, Tom Kenny, Jess Harnell, Nolan North, Hank Azaria, Lauren Tom, and Jennifer Hale. If you don’t know any of these people, look them up, along with the rest of the actors featured, on IMDB and be prepared to gawk at the laundry list of characters they’re responsible for voicing. Rightly so, the movie has a fitting tribute to the patriarch of voice over actors, Mel Blanc, the “Man of a Thousand Voices” and inspiration of many of the interviewees. It’s from Mel’s ability to create most of the Looney Tunes characters we know and love that the documentary dives into the actual work involved in the creation of animated characters.

For many, it starts with a drawing of the character because how the character looks based on gender, age, and any facial features can shape the voice. There’s also the repertoire of voices collected from people encountered in daily life or another actor with an interesting cadence that can fill in the holes and enrich the sound of a new character. The best examples featured are Billy West’s breakdown and buildup of Dr. Zoidberg’s unmistakable voice and Kath Soucie adjusting her voice based on the age and gender of the character. Even more impressive is watching Dee Bradley Baker alter his animal noises by changing how the air travels through his nose and throat. The techniques employed by each actor are amazing and watching them take us through the process of character creation essentially shows the audience the level of work involved in operating within the industry as a voice artist. For celebrities who get to dabble in animated features where they’re paid to sound like themselves, of course it’s a cakewalk, but DiMaggio, Reid, and Shapiro make sure to hammer it home that voice actors live and work by their ability to create new voices over and over again. Their paycheck comes from disappearing into a role.More Voice Actors

Interestingly enough, the film shows the rise in voice actor recognition with the prevalence of social media and conventions. Voice actors, now more than ever, have benefited from social media and interacting with the fans who are more aware of the people behind the voices. It’s a mutually beneficial interaction as fans get to meet and talk to the people responsible for their favorite characters while the actors get to see the size and scope of their fanbase. Conventions bring even more fan interaction with fandoms displayed for all to see as they reach across generations, many of them brought together by a voice they heard and never forgot. I can attest to that sentiment wholeheartedly.

Overall, I Know That Voice is a movie you want to see if you’re any kind of fan of animation or have the desire to go into voice acting. It’s informative, entertaining, and wonderfully nostalgic. Currently, you can buy or rent the film on iTunes and various media platforms. There are plans to eventually release it on DVD, but a date has yet to be announced.

If you’re also interested in listening to pretty much everyone interviewed in the documentary go into greater detail about their time in the industry, I’d recommend Rob Paulsen’s podcast Talkin’ Toons. And just for good measure, here’s the 2012 lineup of voice actors from Emerald City Comicon performing Star Wars using some of their well known characters to fill in the roles.