Sunday, November 30, 2008

Steamboat Itchy

Itchy & Scratchy

The Itchy & Scratchy Show title card.

Format Animated Children's show
Created by Chester J. Lampwick
Starring June Bellamy
Homer Simpson (1997)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 80
producer(s) Roger Meyers, Jr.
Krusty the Clown
Running time 30 sec.
Original channel Channel 6
The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a segment or "side-show" featured on The Simpsons which usually appears as a portrayal of the fictional Krusty the Clown TV show, watched regularly by Bart and Lisa Simpson and other characters on the animated series. Itself an animated cartoon, The Itchy & Scratchy Show depicts an anthropomorphic blue mouse, Itchy (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) who mutilates an anthropomorphic black cat, Scratchy (voiced by Harry Shearer).

They first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. Their first appearance in the regular series was "There's No Disgrace Like Home".

Itchy and Scratchy subvert the "cat versus mouse" archetype popularized by Tom and Jerry in that there is no explicit aggressor; instead, both cat and mouse act as aggressors on occasion.[citation needed] Itchy and Scratchy features more gore and injury than its predecessor, in a send-up of the cartoon violence present in the original.[citation needed]

Contents [hide]
1 Fictional history within The Simpsons
1.1 Origins
1.2 "Past"
1.3 "Present"
1.3.1 Poochie
1.4 The Itchy and Scratchy Movie
1.4.1 The Simpsons Movie
2 Role in The Simpsons
3 Background
3.1 Origins
3.2 Development
4 Cultural influence
4.1 Video games
5 See also
6 References
7 External links

Fictional history within The Simpsons
The Itchy & Scratchy Show writing staff, caricatures of the staff of The Simpsons, along with Roger Myers Jr., Krusty and the prototype Lindsey Naegle. As shown in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show".According to the show, Chester J. Lampwick invented Itchy in 1919 and owns the rights to that character. Lampwick was also known as the "father of cartoon violence." (Before Lampwick started his work, cartoon animals only played the ukulele.) Roger Meyers, Sr. (1890–1985) plagiarized Itchy and established Itchy and Scratchy Studios in 1921. Originally Itchy was called "Itchy the Lucky Mouse" (a parody of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit).[1] He starred in his first cartoon made by Lampwick, "Manhattan Madness" depicting Itchy running an Irishman through a washing board and decapitating Theodore Roosevelt with an axe.

Scratchy starred in his first cartoon in 1928, entitled That Happy Cat. The film, which is about fourteen seconds of animation showing the cat whistling and tipping his hat, did very poorly. It is unknown who created Scratchy, or if he was plagiarized by Meyers Sr. in the same way that Itchy was.

Later that year, Itchy and Scratchy starred in their first cartoon together entitled "Steamboat Itchy" a violent parody of Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse.

Since The Simpsons exists in a form of floating timeline, "past" refers to events that occurred before the course of the series.

Along with the cartoon shorts, Itchy and Scratchy were featured in a wartime radio series,[2] at least two films - Pinitchio and Scratchtasia, (parodies of Pinocchio and Fantasia),[3] and television commercials for Laramie Cigarettes (spoofing The Flintstones).[4]

At one point, additional characters were added to the pair on a show titled Itchy & Scratchy & Friends Hour: Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat, Dinner Dog, Flatulent Fox, Ku Klux Klam, and Rich Uncle Skeleton. Bart and Lisa agree that these characters weren't very funny, although Bart (who remembers them better, as he is the older of the two) thinks that Disgruntled Goat had his moments. These characters parodied the addition of superfluous characters to TV shows in an effort to draw viewer interest.[3]

Since The Simpsons exists in a form of floating timeline, "present" refers to events that occurred during the course of the series.

Itchy and Scratchy Studios is currently run by Roger Meyers, Jr. (born 1956), the son of the cartoon's "creator." Itchy and Scratchy Studios was bankrupted after being sued by Lampwick for $800 million, but was saved after receiving a large cash settlement from the government over its use of Mr. ZIP.[1]

The Itchy and Scratchy Show airs as a segment on the Krusty the Klown show, though it moved to the Gabbo show during the latter's short-lived run.[5] The show underwent a non-violent retooling following a protest campaign led by Marge Simpson, but after Marge was later discredited, it returned to its original violent format.[6] The show has spawned an Academy Award-winning film adaptation,[7] amusement parks,[3] and a musical.[8]

The show is animated in South Korea, just like The Simpsons cartoon itself. June Bellamy (a takeoff on voice actress June Foray) voices both Itchy and Scratchy.[9]

In the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", Poochie was a dog character added to the Itchy & Scratchy lineup. According to the show's plot, the producers believed the cartoons were getting stale, and needed a new character to reinvigorate the show, despite the objections of one of the show's writers, who "at the risk of sounding pretentious", felt that Itchy and Scratchy comprised "a dramaturgical dyad". Homer Simpson gets the job of voicing Poochie, who is introduced in the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, The Beagle Has Landed. A product of marketing department thinking, Poochie was near-universally despised, and was killed off in his second appearance, despite Homer's objections. Both plots were a reference to TV shows which added new characters purportedly to reinvigorate the show (often in the show's waning years and/or to replace stars who had either departed or, if they were child actors, grown up). However, Poochie was seen and spoke in the second segment of "Treehouse of Horror IX", where he was seen riding on a skateboard down the road and suddenly get hit by Itchy & Scratchy chasing Bart and Lisa Simpson. Dan Castellaneta again voiced Poochie for this appearance. Another Poochie appearance was made as one of Scratchy's mourners in the installment Tears Of A Clone.

The Itchy and Scratchy Movie
The title card for The Itchy & Scratchy Movie.In the season four episode, "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie," the cat and mouse duo release a movie that ran for eight months, becoming a commercial and critical favorite. Forty years in the future, it would be hailed as a "Classic of Animation". The novelization of the movie was written by Norman Mailer. Lisa described it as the defining event of her generation and compared it to the moon landing. One scene involves Itchy training to be a railroad engineer for the sole purpose of running Scratchy over with a train.[10]

The Simpsons Movie
At the start of The Simpsons Movie, the Simpson family are seen attending another Itchy and Scratchy movie. In this movie, Scratchy and Itchy go to the moon, but Itchy stabs Scratchy repeatedly with the point of an American flag then leaves him for dead. Itchy then moves on to go back to Earth and become President and to raise a happy family. But then, one day, Itchy finds out that Scratchy is still alive, and is threatening to expose the truth (Itchy told the media that Scratchy died of an accident and that he "tried to save him"). Itchy contemplates over how to deal with Scratchy and decides to blow up the moon with nuclear arms launching a bunch of missiles into Scratchy's open mouth causing him to inflate, a tiny boot kicks one of the missiles in Scratchy's stomach causing them all to detonate and to blow Scratchy up from the inside. Homer then interrupts the movie and breaks the fourth wall by saying “Everyone in this theatre is a giant sucker, especially you!” and pointing to the audience.

Role in The Simpsons
Many aspects of The Itchy & Scratchy show are a parody of Walt Disney movies and include shorts such as "Steamboat Itchy", a parody of Steamboat Willie; "Scratchtasia", a parody of Fantasia; and "Pinitchio", a parody of Pinocchio.[11]

Itchy and Scratchy often play out an exaggerated form of the conflict in the surrounding episode. For example, when the Simpson children are taken into foster care, they watch an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon with a similar theme[12], and when Homer is recruited by NASA, he watches an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon which directly (and gruesomely) parodies the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.[13]

Itchy and Scratchy have occasionally been used to parody the work of famous directors specifically. One episode, "Reservoir Cats" is supposedly guest-directed by Quentin Tarantino and parodies Tarantino's films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Another cartoon was "guest directed" by Oliver Stone and shows Itchy shooting Scratchy in a manner similar to Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, in reference to Stone's film JFK.

In the episode "The Day the Violence Died" there was a clip from a 1970s-era X-rated Itchy & Scratchy cartoon titled "Itchy & Scratchy meet Fritz the Cat". According to Comic Book Guy only bootleg copies are available "because of its frank depiction of sex and narcotic consumption".

The Itchy & Scratchy Show first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. They are based on Tom and Jerry and other cat and mouse cartoons. As a kid, series creator Matt Groening and his friends would fantasize about an ultra violent cartoon and how much fun it would be to work on a show like that.[14] The names "Itchy" and "Scratchy" were inspired by "Pixie and Dixie", who were mice on the cartoon show Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks.[14] David Silverman, a director and producer for The Simpsons, states that the show is based on Herman and Katnip.[15]

"Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons are often added when a show needs expanding[16] or when there is an issue that the writers wish to satirize.[17] The shorts are often hard for the writers and take a long time to develop and come up with a title for the short and in the end they do not fill up a large amount of time.[18] Writing the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons is quite often a group effort, with it being pitched out one gag after another.[19] Itchy & Scratchy are a favourite of John Swartzwelder, who has written many of the episodes that centre around them and quite often pitches the ideas for the shorts.[18] In several episodes centering around the production of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, such as "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", the show's staff are shown. Almost all of them are caricatures of the actual staff of The Simpsons. In the first scene at the production table the person in the lower right corner, wearing a squid T-shirt, is David X. Cohen. On the left side, the furthest away is Bill Oakley with Josh Weinstein next to him. Next to Weinstein is George Meyer, who is the writer who speaks out and gets fired. The animator shown designing Poochie is supervising director David Silverman. Others who appear include Dan McGrath, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Donick Cary, Ron Hauge, Ned Goldreyer and Mike Scully, who had to be added in later, as the animators "didn't have his photo" from which to get an accurate likeness.

Cultural influence
In a 2006 article ranked Itchy & Scratchy in tenth position on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters", citing that "the Itchy & Scratchy Show shines a nice mirror on cartoons, showing just how funny cartoon violence really is."[20] In 2007, Vanity Fair named "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" the sixth best episode in the show's history, describing it as "a classic satire of network influence, obsessed TV fans, and programs that survive long after the shark has been jumped, the episode is a meta-celebration, a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to everyone who claimed that the quality of The Simpsons had declined over the years."[21] Todd Gilchrist called it a masterpiece, stating it "could easily be packaged and sold by [itself]."[22] Comic Book Guy's phrase "Worst. Episode. Ever" was named as a quote that could be used in everyday life, as well as being one of the most popular quotes from the show, by The A.V. Club.[23]

Video games
A video game named The Itchy and Scratchy Game was released for Sega Mega Drive, Game Gear, Super NES and Game Boy.[24] Another game, Itchy and Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness, was released for Game Boy.[25] A level of the SNES/Genesis game Bart's Nightmare also prominently features Itchy and Scratchy. In The Simpsons Hit and Run, if you cllect all of the collectible cards, you can then go and watch a 3D Itchy and Scratchy episode. Itchy and Scratchy play roles in "Grand Theft Scratchy" section in The Simpsons Game.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Criss Angel

Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos (born December 19, 1967), better known by his stage name Criss Angel is an American of Greek descent. He is a magician, illusionist, musician, escapologist, and stunt performer. Angel was raised in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. He is best known for starring in his own television show, Criss Angel Mindfreak

Criss Angel Mindfreak
Main article: Criss Angel Mindfreak
Criss Angel is the star and creator of the A&E Network show Criss Angel Mindfreak. Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed at the The Aladdin in Las Vegas, with Season 3 at the Luxor Hotel. Premiering on July 20, 2005, the illusions have included walking on water, levitating above the Luxor Hotel (in the light of 39 lightbulbs that can be seen from space), floating between two buildings, causing a Lamborghini to disappear, surviving in an exploding C4 Crate, cutting himself in half in full view of an audience and getting run over by a steamroller while lying stomach down on a bed of glass.[1] Season 4 of Mindfreak debuted on July 23, 2008, and the show is scheduled to run for two more seasons after that.

Criss Angel Believe
Criss Angel collaborated with Cirque du Soleil to create Criss Angel Believe, a live show at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, which stars Angel, who is billed as "co-writer, illusions creator and designer, original concept creator and star."[2]

Angel originally tried to develop the show for a Broadway run, as well as other casinos. Eventually, what became Believe came together when he entered a partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the Luxor's parent company, MGM Mirage Resorts, financed the show with $100 million.[2]

After several delays, the show was set for a Gala opening on October 31, 2008, with preview shows in late September.[3][4][5] The initial preview was not well received, with thoroughly negative audience reactions.[6][7] The show opened to equally harsh reviews which cited a lack of the magic Angel is known for, as well as a confusing and uninteresting theme. Reviewers felt neither Angel nor Cirque du Soleil were able to perform their capabilities.[8][9][10][11]

Main article: Phenomenon (TV series)
Starting in October 2007 he appeared as a judge on Phenomenon, with Uri Geller and in a CNN interview about the show he told Larry King "no one has the ability, that I'm aware of, to do anything supernatural, psychic, talk to the dead. And that was what I said I was going to do with Phenomenon. If somebody goes on that show and claims to have supernatural psychic ability, I'm going to bust [him] live and on television."[12]

Wikinews has related news:
Criss Angel challenges Uri Geller and Jim Callahan over paranormal claimsOn the October 31, 2007 episode of the reality show Phenomenon, Paranormalist Jim Callahan performed a summoning, purportedly of author Raymond Hill, to help discover the contents of a locked box.[13] Although fellow judge Uri Geller praised the performance, Angel called it "comical" and subsequently challenged both Callahan and Geller to guess the contents of two envelopes he pulled out of his pocket, offering a million dollars of his own money to whomever could do so. This led to an argument between Callahan and Angel, during which Callahan accused Angel of being an "ideological bigot", and after Angel rose from his chair and approached Callahan, the two were pulled apart as the show promptly went to a commercial break. Angel has since revealed the contents of one envelope and at the unveiling he challenged Geller one more time. Geller was unsuccessful, and the envelope was revealed to contain an index card with the numbers "911" printed on it for September 11, 2001. Criss' explanation was this: "If on 9-10 somebody could have predicted that 9-11 was going to happen, they could have saved thousands of lives". The other envelope's contents will be revealed on the first episode of Season 4 of Criss Angel: Mindfreak.

Callahan later vented his anger toward Criss in an interview for "Phenomenon", saying that his demonstration of walking on water is "his way of proving Jesus Christ was fake." He also added, "Every Christian in the world should be angry with him."[14]

Afternoons In Utopia

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

USS Cygnus

From the 1979 Disney movie, The Black Hole.

$2 COE Lelong, Lelong!

TODAY, Tuesday, 25th November, 2008
Neo Chai Chin
IT WAS not just a case of window-shopping at car showrooms this past weekend. The crowds that descended after last week's historic $2 Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premium for small cars were keen enough that auto dealers finally had brisk business — racking up a 400 per cent increase in sales, at least in one instance — after the quiet of recent weeks.
More than 50 Chery cars were sold, said Mr Walter Koh, sales manager of Vertex Automobile, the distributor for the Chinese automobile brand. Vertex normally sells eight to 10 cars on weekends, but on Saturday and Sunday, its 20-odd salesmen were all kept busy.

Mitsubishi distributor Cycle & Carriage's sales "more than doubled", as showroom visitorship tripled, said Ms Loh Shurn Lin, Mitsubishi's marketing manager. The brand's smaller cars such as the 1.5-litre Lancer EX and 1.6l Lancer GLX were the top sellers.

While sales figures from Nissan and Toyota car distributors were unavailable, other dealers said buyers were keen to take advantage of car prices that had been cut by $4,000 to $10,000.
"People know they can get better deals now," said Fiat's marketing
manager Brandon Ong, adding that its sales shot up by 30 per cent.

One customer even joked about fishing out $5 to buy two COEs, related Vertex's Mr Koh. But the deal is not that sweet. Some showroom visitors were unaware that the $2 COEs were "yesterday's news", as one dealer put it. Those who bought cars over the weekend would likely have missed out on the $2 COEs and would have to make fresh bids, which some predict would see COEs for cars below 1,600cc bounce back to $8,000 to $10,000 levels.
While the auto dealers said there is "potential" for more buyers to bite, they cited two factors that could dampen interest — whether COE prices rebound and buyers can secure bank loans for their new purchases. Though banks are cautious about lending in the current economic climate, Vertex's Mr Koh felt that loans would be easier to come by for first-time buyers and those purchasing a second or third car. But drivers hoping to trade in their existing cars for new ones could face a situation where their outstanding loans would be higher than the paper value of their cars, leaving them out of pocket.
TODAY, Thursday, 20th November, 2008
Historic low reflects soft car market, uncertain economic climate: Motor traders
Leong Wee Keat
WITH barely three minutes left to the close of yesterday's bidding, Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices for small cars was $1. As bidding closed at 4pm, premiums inched up to $2 — still a stunning, historic low. That it happened in an 'open' bidding system, where bids can be monitored 'live', underscores three things, say motor traders: The car market has gone soft; there are too many COEs; and the economic uncertainty has grown sharply. The number of bids for small cars (Category A) was 1,852 — one more than the quota on offer. Just two weeks ago, prices for this category closed at $10,455, with 2,049 bids for the 1,848 COEs available then.
Yesterday, premiums fell in all categories. Prices for large cars (above 1,600cc) fell by 41 per cent, from $8,301 earlier this month to $4,889. In the Open Category, used mainly for cars, the drop was 34 per cent, from $10,490 to $6,889. In the goods vehicles and buses category, prices now stand at $6,189 compared to $8,889 and for motorcycles, at $1,012 from $1,509. The lower prices, especially for small cars, are unlikely to benefit car buyers in the long term, though, said Singapore Vehicle Traders Association president Neo Nam Heng.
Successful bidders will find it hard to sell their cars or otherwise face lower resale values, as the rebate paid out when a vehicle is deregistered before expiry of the COE is pro-rated to the Quota Premium. The last time COE prices plunged to rock bottom was last year, in the goods vehicles and buses category, where the premium stayed at $1 for five consecutive tenders after a new emissions requirement affected the supply of new models. For cars, the previous historic low was in December 1997, when the Asian financial crisis started, and premiums for big cars fell to $50. That was when COE bidding was conducted in a closed tender system in which bidders could not see the prevailing rate of other bids. The $50 COE was then
described as "just a fluke" and COE prices bounced back to previous levels. The last time the COE price plunged in the small car category — to $101 — was in 2001.
Will low prices for small cars continue over the next few months? Motor traders Today spoke to expect prices to rebound. Still, there is the possibility that non-car owners may be enticed by the low COE prices, said Group Exklusiv executive director Kevin Kwee. "They were prudent before but they may consider (an entry-level car) now," he said.
But with the reduction in the allowed vehicle growth rate taking effect in May, which would reduce the number of COEs available, there may be only a small window of opportunity.
"What happened (yesterday) is historic," said Mr Neo. "But it also goes to
show how weak the marketsentiment is."