Sunday Reads: I’m ugly but I’m proud!

 

Nickelodeon

 

Good morning, I have to tell you from the beginning…this post is peppered with some of my favorite episodes of SpongeBob…. As you may know, the creator of this epic cartoon series passed away on November 26.

Stephen Hillenburg, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator, Dies at 57 – The New York Times

Stephen Hillenburg, the man behind “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with his creation at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2006.CreditCreditJunko Kimura/Getty Images

Stephen Hillenburg, a former marine biology teacher who created a children’s show that ballooned into an unlikely cultural phenomenon, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” died on Monday at his home in Southern California. He was 57.

Mr. Hillenburg announced last year that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurodegenerative condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Nickelodeon, the channel that has been the show’s home since its premiere in May 1999, announced his death.

“Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” the network said in its statement. “His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”

Bikini Bottom is the underwater home of the show’s title character, a good-natured yellow kitchen sponge, or sea creature, or both, who works as a fry cook, has a pet snail and lives in a pineapple.

With its frenetic 11-minute episodes (two per show), “SpongeBob” proved irresistible to the 12-and-under crowd, and eventually to many much older fans as well.

“Those 11-minute episodes of Hawaiian-slacker whimsy,” the critic David Edelstein wrote in The New York Times in 2004, “set against flower-cloud backdrops inspired by Polynesian fabrics and punctuated by ukulele music and SpongeBob’s dolphin-on-a-sugar-high chortle, have made Nickelodeon’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ a phenomenon not only with little kids, but also with big kids, college students, stoners, gays — pretty much everyone who walks on land or shells out, so to speak, for the tie-in merchandise.”

[…]

The “SpongeBob” juggernaut stretched far and wide.

“Someone recently sent me a link to a video of Russian soldiers singing the ‘SpongeBob’ theme song while marching around,” Mr. Hillenburg told The Times in 2013. “It wasn’t just one group, either. It was a bunch of them.”

As you can see, the show has reached a huge audience.

Stephen McDannell Hillenburg was born on Aug. 21, 1961, at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., where his father, Kelly, was based. His mother, Nancy (Dufour) Hillenburg, taught visually impaired students.

Mr. Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University in California in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in natural resource planning and interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources. He then taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute (now the Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, Calif.

He had always been interested in drawing as well, and he pursued studies in experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts, receiving a master of fine arts degree there in 1992.

From 1993 to 1996 he was a writer and director on the Nickelodeon series “Rocko’s Modern Life,” where he worked with a number of people who would help him develop “SpongeBob,” including Tom Kenny, who provides the voice of the title character. In a 2001 interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Hillenburg described how the world’s most famous yellow sponge came to be.

“A sponge is a funny animal to center a show on,” he said. “At first I drew a few natural sponges — amorphous shapes, blobs — which was the correct thing to do biologically as a marine science teacher. Then I drew a square sponge, and it looked so funny. I think as far as cartoon language goes he was easier to recognize. He seemed to fit the character type I was looking for — a somewhat nerdy, squeaky-clean oddball.”

He drew on the work of Jerry Lewis, Pee-wee Herman and Laurel and Hardy for inspiration, he often said.

 

The Music Of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Helped Me Make Friends As The New Kid In School & I’ll Never Forget It via Bustle

 

There was, and still is, a lot to love about SpongeBob. Created by Stephen Hillenburg— who passed away on this week — the show taught us all about the importance of friendship, about the joys of finding happiness and humor in everything, about finding your passion and taking pride in the things you do, and, perhaps most importantly, about embracing the things that made you an individual and maybe even a little weird. It was (and still remains, based on the proliferation of SpongeBobmemes all these years later) relatable and entertaining in equal measure. And in the early 2000s, there was no way to entertain a group of kids easier than to start singing one of the songs from SpongeBob SquarePants.

According to a DVD commentary by the show’s creative director, Derek Drymon, when developing the infamous SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, “Steve [Hillenbug]’s idea was to try to make the most annoying song you can, to — so when Saturday morning, when kids turn the TV on and parents are trying to sleep, you have this pirate screaming in the other room for the kids to jump on the floor.” That mix of obnoxious, childlike nature — the sing-song pattern of the dialogue and lyrics, the cheery, upbeat music, and the proliferation of jokes — exemplifies everything that makes SpongeBob so addicting and entertaining to kids of all ages.

Listening to the music from the cartoon, it reminds me of The Third Man….The Third Man / YMMV – TV Tropes

But back to the Bustle article:

“The show was sweet and kind-hearted, but not candy-assed in a Care Bears way,” Tom Kenny, who has voiced SpongeBob since the show’s first season in 1999, told The Guardian in 2016 about the show’s enduring appeal. “It had everything. It had this knockabout Three Stooges kind of comedy, but also had a Seinfeld vibe: a show about nothing. Sometimes episodes would just be about SpongeBob trying to tie his shoes, but other times he’d be going on quests to find lost cities. I loved that juxtaposition. There was nothing like that on TV, but nobody ever thought it would get this big.”

For me, SpongeBob is special because we started watching it at the very beginning…both my kids grew up with the show, and I have to admit, I loved watching it back then as well.

 

 

 

Ah, Sunday…. Easy like Sunday Morning…

Patrick, we aren’t ugly…we just stink!

Sticking with entertainment…All 17 Coen Brothers Movies Ranked From Worst To Best « Taste of Cinema – Movie Reviews and Classic Movie Lists

The Coen Brothers are one-of-a-kind filmmakers: this duo has created alternately some of the best comedy and drama films in the past 30 years without compromising their inimitable vision.

30 Years?

Wow…

These siblings are two of America’s premiere directors, and it seems the American spirit is represented in their work: always reinventing genres while also mixing seemingly incongruous ones together to form a melting pot of ideas, styles, and stories, the Coen Brothers’ films can best be described as eccentric.

Idiosyncratic and postmodern, surreal and ironic, their films pay homage to film genres–in particular film noir and the screwball comedy–while also reinventing staid conventions, often creating surreal, highly stylized work in the process.

[…]

But perhaps their greatest talent is in blending genres, resulting in dark humor in their dramas and pathos in their comedies, often giving their films a surreal quality that very few directors could recreate even once, much less multiple times, to great success.

Working in different capacities across their films, often as co-screenwriters with Joel taking the directing title and Ethan billed as producer (though working closely throughout the production), they are a singular team the likes of which may never be repeated again.

And although many of their films are incredible–some even outright masterpieces–they have made a few disappointing movies in their career. Keep in mind that lists of this nature are always subjective enterprises, and that more often than not they succeed at creating dynamic films.

See if you agree with the reviewer.

 

 

Rock Bottom

 

Attention art lovers:

Download 569 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Open Culture

You could pay $118 on Amazon for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s catalog The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry. Or you could pay $0 to download it at MetPublications, the site offering “five decades of Met Museum publications on art history available to read, download, and/or search for free.”

If that strikes you as an obvious choice, prepare to spend some serious time browsing MetPublications’ collection of free art books and catalogs.

 

 

Rock-a-Bye Bivalve

Just call me Daddy!

 

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ | Science | AAAS

Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.

Historians have long known that the middle of the sixth century was a dark hour in what used to be called the Dark Ages, but the source of the mysterious clouds has long been a puzzle. Now, an ultraprecise analysis of ice from a Swiss glacier by a team led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski at the Climate Change Institute of The University of Maine (UM) in Orono has fingered a culprit. At a workshop at Harvard this week, the team reported that a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed ash across the Northern Hemisphere early in 536. Two other massive eruptions followed, in 540 and 547. The repeated blows, followed by plague, plunged Europe into economic stagnation that lasted until 640, when another signal in the ice—a spike in airborne lead—marks a resurgence of silver mining, as the team reports in Antiquity this week.

A lot more to read in the article.

 

The teacher’s ace in the hole….extra credit!

 

This video gives a quick look at unwanted groping:

Mermaid Man (Ernest Borgnine) and Barnacle Boy (Tim Conway)

Drummer Sheila E. on Prince: “I Will Continue to Uplift His Music” | Miami New Times

In April 1985, Prince played the finale of his iconic Purple Rain tour at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The glamorous Sheila E. was by his side. After the show, Prince suggested they start their next musical phase with a new look: short hair.

“I went to his room, and when he opened the door, I saw he cut only a little bit of his hair, and I chopped my hair off to my neck,” she says of clipping her long, luscious locks that night in her Miami hotel room.

Although it was his idea, Prince seemed surprised. “He said, ‘You really cut your hair?” and I said, ‘You said, “Let’s change our look and cut our hair!”’” she says, laughing. “That was crazy. It was kind of like the Amadeus look.”

But the idea turned out to be a good one. Her short coif became a funky trend for the latter part of the ’80s.

Sheila E., whose given name is Sheila Escovedo, may be well known for her beauty, but it is raw talent that has cemented her place in the annals of music history for almost 35 years.

With Prince, Escovedo pumped out hit after hit, including “Glamorous Life,” “A Love Bizarre,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Erotic City.”

“I wasn’t expecting to sing,” she says of the recording session with Prince for “Erotic City.” “He called me in the studio, and I thought I was playing percussion or drums, and he said he wanted me to sing a duet with him.”

Prince saw something special in Escovedo, who went on to become a Grammy-nominated singer in addition to being an iconic percussionist in a field dominated by men.

Click on the link to read more about this 80’s icon.

It is the panty raid episode:

Mr. Krabs does his best impersonation of a “wild and crazy guy.”

For another article about an 80’s band that was one of my favorites: Simply Red: how we made Holding Back the Years | Music | The Guardian

Mick Hucknall, singer-songwriter

I wrote the song in 1978, while I was a teenager. At art school, a teacher said: “The best paintings are when you get lost in a piece of work and start painting in a stream of consciousness.” I wanted to do music, not art, so started writing lyrics that way. The first song I wrote was called Ice Cream and Wafers. The next was Holding Back the Years.

I didn’t realise what it was about until I’d finished it. It’s about that moment where you know you have to leave home and make your mark, but the outside world is scary. So you’re holding back the years.

The line “Strangled by the wishes of pater” is my dad screaming at me: “When are you going to get a decent job? Tidy up after yourself!” The line “Hoping for the arms of mater” rhymes with pater, but I didn’t know what it was like to have a mother. My mum left when I was three and my dad never remarried.

[..]

After Holding Back the Years became a hit, my mum tracked me down, but I thought: “My dad was there every day. Cooked my meals, wiped my arse and where were you? You think you can walk back into my life and it be OK?” My seeing her was making my dad unhappy. I realised that there was no future in it.

More at the link…

 

And the last video…

This has the song that has become cause celeb for the Super Bowl as a tribute to Stephen Hillenburg:

Over 50,000 Fans Want the Super Bowl to Play This ‘SpongeBob’ Song at Halftime – VICE

On Monday, marine biologist-turned-SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg died at 57. Hillenburg’s iconic cartoon about a porous yellow rectangle brought some light and optimism to our dark world, and even taught at least one kid how to do the Heimlich maneuver. So in honor of his passing, one brilliant fan hatched a plan to celebrate Hillenburg in the best way he knew how: by getting the song from that episode where Spongebob plays a halftime show into the actual 2019 Super Bowl.

The fan, Isreal Colunga, hopped on Change.org and launched a petition calling for “Sweet Victory” to be featured in the upcoming halftime show “as a tribute to [Hillenburg’s] legacy, his contributions to a generation of children, and to truly showcase the greatness of this song.” Apparently, the world agreed—the petition has already pulled in more than 50,000 signatures since it launched on Tuesday, and it’s still climbing.

For those pitiful few who don’t know the entire SpongeBob oeuvre by heart, the song comes from an episode called “Band Geeks,” in which SpongeBob and the gang venture up onto dry land to perform during halftime at the Bubble Bowl.

If you don’t want to see the full episode:

“Sweet Victory” is a truly ripping 80s power ballad, like something Foreigner might’ve written in their heyday if they woke up one morning magically transformed into cartoon sea creatures, and by God, it is exactly the thing the Super Bowl halftime show needs.

“It’s a hugely inspirational song that I listen to when working out and boosting confidence, but besides that I want it played at the Super Bowl to honor the man who gave us one of the greatest and most quotable cartoons of all time,” a petition supporter named Jonathan Hersey said. “I need it,” another wrote simply.

‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Want A Super Bowl Tribute For The Iconic Cartoon’s Creator For This Sweet Reason

In the wake of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg’s death on Nov. 26, fans of the Nickelodeon cartoon are rallying to honor the legendary animator. SpongeBob fans want a Super Bowl tribute to Hillenburg, and they’ve started a Change.org petition in hopes of making it happen. While it may seem like a strange request, there’s a meaningful reason behind their mission to have the song “Sweet Victory” played in honor of the man who made the iconic animated character a reality.

“Sweet Victory” comes from the SpongeBob Squarepants episode “Band Geeks.” And it’s the perfect song to play during the Super Bowl, because of the sweet moment it accompanied on the show. In the episode, SpongeBob sings the song in front of an arena during the halftime show at a sporting event that’s basically the Super Bowl, so it would only make sense.

 

This is an open thread…

Hey, here is an extra episode…just for the road:

“Dirty Dan!”

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