Thursday, December 22, 2005

I Have a Dream #2: Hanna-Barbera Edition

As disconcerting as it is to awaken with a compulsion to recall the seating chart of my freshman English class (see below), at least that need is rooted in actual experience. By a conservative estimate, I spent at least 150 hours in that classroom. (For anyone interested in interviewing me for a management consultant position, I’ll be glad to talk you through how I arrived at that number, since it’s the process and not the answer that interests you.) That’s a significant amount of time, and even though it occurred twenty years ago, I can rationalize why some of it might still occupy my neurons.

Not the case, a few mornings ago, when I awoke with the phrase “Goober and the Ghost-Chasers” running through my head over and over. That lasted through my morning jog, my drive to work and about half my workday. Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, Goober and the Ghost-Chasers. Unpleasant, right? Especially since I had only a vague idea about what Goober and the Ghost-Chasers was until I did a little research.

What I did know was that Goober and the Ghost-Chasers was a Scooby Doo knockoff. I was never a Scooby fan as a kid, but I have certainly seen many episodes. Presumably, I’ve seen at least one episode of Goober and the Ghost-Chasers, though I have no conscious memory of it. According to
IMdB, not only was GatGC a Scooby knockoff, it was a knockoff created by Hanna-Barbera, the same creators of Scooby. No word on whether or not they sued themselves for copy write infringement. Whereas Scooby was a cowardly Great Dane who ran from danger, Goober was a cowardly greyhound that turned invisible in the face of danger. Also, Goober was green. Clever. Both hung out with investigative teens including, in the case of Goober, some of the Partridge family.

Paul Winchell performed the voice of Goober. Winchell’s IMdB page reveals an extensive cartoon voice career. Most notably, he was the voice of Gargamel in The Smurfs and of Tigger in numerous Winnie the Pooh TV specials and movies. Winchell died in June of this year, and this, I do vaguely remember, because the long time voice of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh, John Fiedler, died one day later. I’m certain, however, that no news articles chronicling this bizarre, macabre coincidence contained any tidbit like, …and of course, Winchell was the voice behind the much beloved, Goober, of Ghost-chaser fame.

mini biography page on IMdB is surreal. He attended Columbia University, then studied and practiced acupuncture and hypnosis. In the 1950s, he became “the most beloved ventriloquist of the children of the USA.” (Many conservatives in this country revere the 1950s as a simpler, better time. Americans should ask themselves if they really want to return to a time when any ventriloquist was beloved.) His puppet sidekicks, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, are now in the Smithsonian Institution. He published the book "Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit" in 1954. Don’t bother reading it, I’ve tried, without success, to have fun or make money with ventriloquism.

But wait, there’s more. Winchell was an amateur medical inventor who patented an artificial human heart! Holy shit! In addition, he held patents on over 30 devices including: a flameless cigarette lighter, an invisible garter belt, a method of breeding Tilapia fish so that poorer countries could feed their citizens, an indicator to show when frozen food had gone bad after a power outage, an automobile that runs on battery power, and the disposable razor which he neglected to patent. Like Wikipedia, IMdB is user edited, so I can’t help wondering if Mr. Winchell was a crazy liar that managed to slip in a fantastical biography for himself.

Whether he was or not, I’m still no closer to uncovering the reason for my fixation on Goober and the erstwhile chasers of ghosts.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I Have a Dream #1: I ♥ Diacritic Marks

Freudians take note. This may be a recurring posting topic. I don’t remember most of my dreams, but the ones I do are usually entertainingly bizarre. I’m not even certain I can call the ones I remember dreams, as usually, I’m partially awake and aware that I’m having them. Perhaps I should refer to them as notions that I can’t get out of my head during my first waking hour of the day.

A few weeks ago, I woke with the notion/compulsion of trying to remember the exact seating chart for Mrs. Hazard’s 9th grade English class, Louisville Male High School, 1984-1985, 6th (final) period. The class was arranged alphabetically, in six rows of five desks each. I sat in the last desk of the penultimate row. Since there were only 29 freshmen in the class, the desk to my immediate right was empty. Kären Wäntland sat in the final seat of that row. Her father was the Drug Czar of the Jefferson County school system. From there it gets hazy. Danny Präther sat directly in front of me? He was a good friend throughout high school so I should remember clearly. I do remember that he wrote a Snigglet (!) on the chalkboard everyday before class started. And yet I can’t help thinking that going from Präther to Shroät is too big a jump. So maybe, just maybe, he sat two seats ahead of me. I spent most of my morning jog trying to conjure a student with an R or S last name that might have separated us. But that’s not nearly as perplexing as trying to remember who sat to my immediate left. I can easily picture the front, left-hand portion of the room; Gilliän Ausländer, Chip Currëns, and Fred Bürczyk, among others. The rear, left side of the room? Complete memory blind spot, and it’s driving me fucking insane. I can’t remember a single M name from my English class? Days later, it’s still maddening. And I refuse to pull the yearbook off the shelf to supplement my memory.

So those of you who have wondered why I don’t do more with my life, here’s your answer. My brain has a fast processor, lots a RAM and a large hard drive. Unfortunately, the search engine is for shit. There’s no rhyme of reason for what pops to the top of the results page. You have no idea how much energy I spend on a daily basis trying to sort this shit out.

*Mrs. Hazard’s class was the only one in high school in which I received a B as my final grade. That was the difference between being one of the valedictorians (we had four, I would have been number five) and sitting in the audience at graduation. Still, I would been salutatorian, if not for the sly machinations of Därryl Fucking York. While I was taking college credit courses during the summer prior to senior year, he took an extra high school class (pussy) and of course received an A. And so, even though Därryl had also received one B during high school, just like me (and Dënise Dëvine and Elainë Härris), he now had one extra A to factor into his GPA, giving him the slight edge he needed. Thus, Elainë, Dënise and I had to listen to his nasally, lame ass speech in Broadbent Arena. Okay, now I remember where Dënise and Elainë sat in Mrs. Hazard’s class. But the row right next to mine…fuck?

**Ironically, though my only high school B came in an English class, I won the best writer award for my graduating class. Weird that I haven’t thought about that in many years. Sentence diagramming was my undoing with Mrs. Hazard.

***I didn’t go to high school in Germany. I’ve taken the liberty of umlauting the shit out of the proper names so as to avoid having self-Googlers stumble across this post. I don’t want to get emails or comments saying, “Why are you writing about me? What the fuck is the matter with you?”…from them.