We come to the first of the Trio of Important Letters Near The End of The Alphabet of R, S and T. Today we focus on the letter R.
R is for Readers, which are many, as it seems. Thursday happened to be my best day ever, with 106 visits and 163 page views. I may say this often, as every week or so there seems to a new Best Day Ever, and each one becomes the New Minimum upon which all proceeding days will be judged. And usually after each Best Day Ever, the number of views seem to be nowhere near that good, despite being one of the only blogs on my blogroll with daily updates (which will thankfully end with the Z entry). I've thought that the entry for P would get more responses than it did (currently 0 as of writing this entry).
I get kind of sad that none of my usual blogs have been updated for at least two days, but I must be upping their view count when I obsessively check each and every one of them at least 10 times a day.
Here are some other things that start with R.
Ribs: Especially in Baby Back form. They are among one of my favorite foods ever. Some people wonder why people go through so much work for the "little meat" on both Ribs and Chicken Wings, but the work, if done right, always pays off. It's all a matter of both quality and quantity when it comes to these kinds of foods. Ribs were originally the "Junk Part" of the pig that was given to slaves way back when, but thanks to their intuition and patience, smoking the meat for a long time made it taste really damn good. When Ribs are good, they're awesome, and when they're bad...you'll know.
Baby Backs are smaller ribs with less meat than others, but you get more of them per rack and they're the most common form that you find in restaurants. My other favorite kind are St. Louis Ribs, which are larger and have more meat on them. They come in either "wet" or "dry" varieties. "Wet" is how one normally would get ribs, with the sauce slathered all over it, causing a big ol' yummy mess before one even takes a bite. "Dry" is prepared basically the same as "wet," only instead of getting sauced, a spice rub is put on the meat shortly before one finishes cooking them. I like this was better for some reason, but my philosophy towards it is "If it's good, who cares?"
My favorite Rib place is a local LI place called Smokin' Als. I haven't been there in a while due to lack of time & money. I also don't try to go there on weekends, as it's a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that fills up to capacity around 5pm, even earlier if there is a concert going on at the nearby YMCA Theater a few doors down the same night.
Robot Chicken: Another favorite show of mine. Co-created by Seth Green, the show is basically a 11-minute sketch show on [adult swim] that skewers all of pop culture, mainly from the 80's. The thing that sets this show apart is that all of the sketches are performed with stop-motion animation, usually involving the original toys based on the subjects getting riffed. If possible, the original voices of their respective characters are tracked down to guest star on the show. We've seen Hulk Hogan, Dom DeLuise, Burt Reynolds, Christian Slater, Mark Hamill, George Lucas, the entire casts of That 70's Show, Family Guy & Buffy, Phyllis Diller, Corey's Haim & Feldman, Conan O'Brien, Pat O'Brien, Don Knotts, John Moschitta, Danny Goldman (Brainy Smurf), several members of the GI Joe cast, and Frank Welker reprising Megatron, Soundwave, and Dr. Claw! That's pretty impressive. The beauty of the show is that the sketches don't last that long, ranging from 5 seconds to the longest clocking in at around 6 minutes. The sketches end up not dragging out, so you don't get too bored of them.
You name something from the 80's, they've made fun of it. I seriously believe that they've riffed almost every cartoon and toy line from that decade. They even made fun of Sectaurs, Turbo Teen, and Defenders of The Earth for crying out loud! That's pretty damn low on the "Obscure 80's Reference" ladder. Frequent subjects include the Thundercats, GI Joe, and Transformers.
I've had most fun introducing this show to others, especially to ones that aren't too familiar with its brand of humor to see their horrified reactions. I call it "De-Pruding."
Rocko's Modern Life: One of the best cartoons that Nickelodeon ever had. It was about a wallaby named Rocko who attempts to live in his insane world with his best friends Heffer (a fat steer who was adopted by a family of wolves) and Filburt (a nerdish, neurotic turtle), his neighbors The Bigheads, and his dog Spunky. Created by Joe Murray and first airing in 1993, it had this outrageous charm that could rarely have been matched. You see, Ren & Stimpy had premiered a few years earlier, and all of the Execs and Soccer Moms were decrying it for its outrageousness. Little did they know that this cartoon did basically the same thing, only its brand of "outrageous" humor was smuggled well below the radar for anyone to actually notice until years later. For instance, in one episode the gang plays the board game "Spank The Monkey," complete with an actual monkey on the game board along with some paddles. Another episode had a crab that yelled a phrase in Spanish that roughly translated to "my ass itches!" Rocko's dog is named Spunky of all things, and once had an intimate relationship with a mop. His favorite hobby is "Jackhammering"...I don't think I need to spoil the innuendo for that one. A reoccurring character was the superhero "Really Really Big Man," whose special powers included his "Nipples of The Future." I don't think I need to explain any more of that.The show would also take infrequent trips to Hell, headed by a black-cloaked demon named "Peaches." The gang's favorite hangout? A restaurant called Chokey Chicken (which was sadly later renamed "Chewy Chicken.") Neutering, nudity, and implied cannibalism were the subject of several jokes during the show's run.
Then there's the Bigheads, who indulge in some bizarre sexual fetishes, including breaking plates with their tongues, turning each other on with fake noses, and one chasing the other around in a giant hamster ball.
The show also had its share of infamous moments, which I like to refer as "moments that the Execs managed to catch." One of these was when Rocko and Heffer took a trip to Rocko's Uncle's Farm, and Heffer is "milked," so to speak. Another is a now-banned episode in which Mrs. Bighead spends the entire episode attempting to seduce Rocko, which also includes a rather gratuitous shot of a giant fly sitting on a toilet.
Rocko is also notable for being one of the first major cartoons featuring the voice work of both Carlos Alazraqui (Rocko, others) and Tom Kenny (Heffer, other various characters), with the cast being rounded out by Doug Lawrence (Filburt, various others) and Charlie Adler (Mr & Mrs. Bighead, Mr. Wolfe, various). If it wasn't for this show, its crew would not have moved on to contribute to Family Guy, Billy & Mandy, Chowder, Spongebob, Camp Lazlo, and Phineas & Ferb, to name a few. They all owe a deep debt of gratitude to this great show, and I am attempting to register its lack of a DVD release as a crime against humanity.
The best episode by far is "Wacky Delly." It aired late in the show's run, but was probably one of the best episodes to ever air on Nickelodeon. You see, the Bigheads have a son named Ralph (voiced by creator Joe Murray) who is a cartoonist. After work is complete on his main show, the Fatheads (a parody cartoon about his parents), he is contractually obligated to produce a pilot for another show. Due to him not wanting to be in the business anymore, he hires Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt to produce the show instead. What they produced was this:
What Ralph thought was the biggest piece of crap that would get him released from his contract, the Execs ended up loving it and the resulting show becomes a major hit. After numerous failed attempts at sabotaging the show, including airing an overexposed episode and an episode consisting only of a 10-minute still shot of a jar of mayonnaise, he realizes that he could produce the show in his own vision. The show is then cancelled mid-episode. I always figured that this episode satirized the animation industry as a whole, especially towards the fate of Ren & Stimpy. "Wacky Delly" was an extraordinary awful idea that became popular, with the Execs only keeping it on because it was popular and made money. I especially link this to Ren & Stimpy as a ten-year flash-forward has Ralph meet up with a fan of "Wacky Delly," who inadvertently refers to him as "that new guy that ruined it."
So, no re-runs from me 'til tomorrow (unless you want to read this again...then by all means scroll up to the top)
"Raspberry! There's only one man who would dare give me the Raspberry...LONE STARR!!"