Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

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I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


That's Not All, Folks!

Mel Blanc (1989)

 

After being attended to all night by a team of eight doctors at the nearby UCLA Medical Center, my chances of survival were put at a scant one thousand to one. With odds like that, it was no wonder why the next day's Honolulu Herald carried my obituary, claiming voice-man Mel Blanc, fifty-two, was dead. The paper wasn't that far off. Comatose, and entombed in a heavy full-body cast, it indeed seemed that Porky Pig's signature "That's all, folks!" was about to become my epitaph.
For three weeks I lay there, breathing but silent, though my throat had miraculously been spared from injury. Doctors spoke in hushed tones about the prolonged semicoma possibly leading to brain damage. Meanwhile, my wife, Estelle, and my twenty-two-year-old only son, Noel, kept vigil at my bed side. With anguish etched on their faces, they tried desperately to rouse me out of my unconscious state, calling my name over and over, but to no avail.
That was until the twenty-first day, when Dr. Louis Conway glanced up from my medical chart to see my most popular animated creation, the irrepressible Bugs Bunny, cavorting across the room's black-and-white TV screen. Inspiration struck. Had this been a Warner Bros. cartoon, a light bulb might have blinked on above the neurosurgeon's head. Leaning over the bed, he asked, "How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?" And from within the thick mass of bandages swathing my head came the reply, "Eh, just fine, Doc. How're you?" The voice was faint but unmistakably Bugs's. Then he inquired, "And Porky Pig, how are you feeling?"
"J- uh-ju- uh-just f-fine, th-th-thanks!" I stuttered. It was as though Bugs and Porky, into whom I had breathed life three decades earlier, were returning the favor. I may have been on the verge of death, but they were very much alive inside me. (2)

After more than sixty years in show business, this "Man of a Thousand Voices" has a million memories to share with you. And here's a switch: I will do so using my own voice which, for the record, sounds like Sylvester's, but without the thspray. (4)

My talents were not appreciated by all, however, in particular a crotchety old teacher by the name of Washburn. When I broke up a classroom discussion by giving an answer in four different voices, she reprimanded me sternly; too sternly, if you ask me. "You'll never amount to anything," she said scornfully. "You're just like your last name: blank." Her stinging insult so shamed me that when I was sixteen, I started spelling my surname with a c instead of a k. Later, as an adult, I changed it legally. After I became a familiar name on national radio programs and in cartoons, I often wondered if Mrs. Washburn associated Mel Blanc with that young student she'd ridiculed so many years before. (10)

I accidentally discovered Woody Woodpecker's voice in a high-school hallway. Obviously, adolescent boredom has its practical applications. (58)

Porky's voice was tinkered with accordingly. The pig's stutter was Friz's idea, one for which he initially tolerated a good deal of criticism. But he wanted to distinguish Porky from the many homogenous animated-film characters, and in hindsight the distinctive speech impediment did just that. Originally the role went to Joe Dougherty, a debonair actor whose film credits included The Jazz Singer. Talk about typecasting: Dougherty stuttered. For real.
It must have seemed ideal at first—need a stammering cartoon pig, hire a stammering actor. But problems unfolded. Recording was still done on expensive optical film, and Dougherty's inability to come in on cue wasted a lot of it, irritating a budget-minded Leon Schlessinger. (66)

To help capture the characters' facial expressions and to match lip movement to the sound track, the animators kept a tape recorder and a mirror on each of their desks. Repeating the prerecorded dialogue aloud, they used their own reflections, as models. And physical movements were often acted out for accuracy. (81)

As you know, Bugs literally helped save my life after my near-fatal 1961 car accident. But he's gotten me out of other scrapes as well. Some years ago I was driving on Interstate 10 near Tucson when a policeman pulled me over. The car, a brand new Rolls-Royce, handled so smoothly that I hadn't even realized I was speeding.
The officer peered down at my license, then at my face. "Are you the Mel Blanc?" he asked warily.
About the best proof I could offer was to reply affirmatively in Bug's voice.
His face broke out in a grin.
"Well, I guess I'm going to have to let you off with a warning," he said. "My kids would never forgive me if I gave a ticket to Bugs Bunny!"
Thanks again, old buddy. (84)

A tough little stinker, ain't he?" Hardaway remarked while admiring his portrait of the new Bugs.
A tough little stinker ... In my mind I heard a Brooklyn accent; not to insult the integrity of those living there. But to anyone living west of the Hudson River at that time, Brooklynites were associated with con artists and crooks. Without a doubt the stereotype was derived from the many motion picture gangsters who always seemed to speak in Flatbush Avenue-ese. Consequently the new, improved Bugs Bunny wouldn't say jerk, he'd say joik. And the boisterous laugh I'd originally given him no longer fit. It was redeposited in my memory bank, to be withdrawn several years later for another Ben Hardaway creation: Woody Woodpecker. Likewise, a hepcat such as Bugs wouldn't say, "What's cookin'?"—which originally was to be his singular phrase—he'd employ something more contemporary.
"What's up, Doc?" became the most famous ad-lib of my career. It was incomplete, however, without the sound of the rabbit nibbling on a carrot, which presented problems. First of all, I don't especially like carrots, at least not raw. And second, I found it impossible to chew, swallow, and be ready to say my next line. We tried substituting other vegetables, including apples and celery, but with unsatisfactory results. The solution was to stop recording so that I could spit out the carrot into a wastebasket and then proceed with the script. In the course of a recording session I usually went through enough carrots to fill several. (87)

To further emphasize his battiness, he was drawn with mad, gleaming eyes and a long bill. The latter characteristic figured prominently in creating Daffy's voice. It seemed to me that such an extended mandible would hinder his speech, particularly on words containing an s sound. Thus "despicable" became "desthpicable." (95)

While recording Sylvester cartoons, my scripts would get so covered with saliva I'd repeatedly have to wipe them clean. (102)

Because the Roadrunner's scripts, such as they were, didn't change the least bit from cartoon to cartoon, I had to tape "Mbeep-mbeep!" but once, for the second Roadrunner-Wile E. Coyote short, Beep Beep (1952). In the duo's debut, 1949's Fast and Furry-ous, sound-effects man Treg Brown used an electronic horn called a claxon. But in the nearly three years between cartoons it had been misplaced. When production for Beep Beep was under way, he nabbed me in a Termite Terrace hallway to ask if I could mimic the sound vocally. I could, I did, and I never had to do it again. (106)

Far more triumphant with the opposite sex was my final Warner Bros. leading character, Speedy Gonzales the Mexican mouse. In his second cartoon a handful of rodents are discussing his romantic exploits.
"Speedy Gonzales friend of my seester," says one, prompting another to add, "Speedy Gonzales friend of everybody's seester!" (115)

As is true of most success stories, several factors contributed to the cartoons' everlasting appeal: obviously the writing, the animation, and the characters themselves. However, I think it's chiefly the playfulness and irreverence with which we approached our work. Hell, compared to the staff at Walt Disney's production house, we were downright anarchists. Just compare the characters most associated with each studio: Disney's ingenuous Mickey Mouse and our shrewd Bugs Bunny. (122-4)

Between all the shows and rehearsals, sometimes the pace became so dizzying I'd forget which brand of tobacco I was smoking. That may not sound terribly important, but with many series sponsored by savagely competitive cigarette manufacturers, believe me, it was. Lucky Strike sponsored Jack Benny's show; Chesterfield, Bing Crosby's; and Camel, Abbott and Costello's, as well as "Blondie." To play it safe, I used to keep a pack of each on my Packard's dashboard.
Absurd, isn't it? Especially since this was radio; who could tell which brand you were smoking? But the companies were so insistent that actors comply, they even hired inspectors, who carried out their duties with gestapo-like zeal.
"Excuse me, Mr. Blanc, but what are you smoking there?" an inspector at "The Jack Benny Program" asked me one time.
"Uh, Pall Mall," I replied absentmindedly, engrossed in studying my script.
"Dammit, Mel," he snapped, "this is a Lucky Strike show, and you sure as hell had better have that Lucky green in your pocket the next time I come around." It becomes even more preposterous when you consider that both brands were manufactured by the American Tobacco Company. (133-4)

In spite of the war America maintained its sense of humor; even Jack L. Warner. With the mighty Lockheed Aircraft plant located close to his Burbank studio, the Warner's vice president had his set painters inscribe a twenty-foot arrow on a soundstage roof. And painted in giant block letters was "Lockheed: That-Away," for the benefit of any incoming Japanese pilots. (196)


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