Sunday, January 30, 2011

Genus Athleticus: A Traveler's Guidebook to the Wild Sports of North America

So I had an odd idea whilst driving home along the Verrazano Bridge one day: what if one were to classify sports as animals, giving tendencies and traits, geographical and seasonal locations and behaviors, and such?  I immediately pictured a voiceover with a heavy Australian accent, talking about tracking the wild "Baseball" and "Football," citing where each was indigenous and exploring their tendencies.  I knew that I would need to come up with more appropriate, faux-scientific names for the sports, as well as other sub-species to flesh out what would essentially be a "Traveler's Guidebook to the Wild Sports of North America"

It seemed interesting, so I decided to give it a whirl (those seaside girls!).

So, without further ado...

The Genera of Wild North American Sports

Pasttimeus Americanus
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Pasttimeus Americanus fossils have been discovered in North America dating back as far as the nineteenth century A.D.  It appears that the beast migrated to North America from the European Continent where it is believed to have first appeared on earth during the fourteenth century; for those of you counting at home, the year 1301 occurred approximately 22,376,240,501.92 seconds ago--or,  TWENTY-TWO BILLION THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX MILLION TWO HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND ONE PLUS SECONDS!!!

For comparison, the age of the universe is estimated to be approximately 13.5 billion years old.  13.5 billion as compared to TWENTY TWO BILLION!? 

There is no comparison.

Bottom line: Pasttimeus Americanus is old, playa!

Pasttimeus Americanus has changed relatively little over the course of its history in North America.  It could easily be categorized as omnivorous, given its diet, which consists primarily of wood from the Ash tree (almost exclusively), the hide of indigenous bovines, small quantities of cork or rubber, sunflower seeds, and bubble gum.


A few rare, younger species have also been known to eat aluminum, causing Pasttimeus Americanus to emit a loud, resonating "PING!" when struck.

Pasttimeus Americanus can be found throughout the majority of the continental United States; it tends to reside in the most highly populated cities in the states where it makes its home (such as New York City in New York state and Los Angeles in California).  The appearance of Pasttimeus Americanus (known hereafter as PA) has changed little since first arriving on the North American continent; it differs only in plumage, which, in turn, is determined based upon its regionality.  PA ranges in height from approximately sixty inches to as many as eighty-four inches in height!


To put it in perspective, the largest PA specimen ever found in North America was roughly eighty-four inches in height.  That would be like stacking EIGHTY-FOUR inch-long [insert random inanimate object for comparative purposes; I'm going with "atoms"], one on top of the other, to a height of eighty-four inches.


PA's colorful outer appearance remains constant throughout the year, changing only once (generally) in July during a period of rest and merriment for the great beast.  The leaders of the packs (sometimes called "managers") often display the same feathering, though, admittedly, it looks quite silly given their often pudgy and decrepit appearances.

If one were to observe PA, one would note that it often travels in groups of twenty five to forty members.  Each collection of PA's (usually referred to as a "team") is semi-nomadic and highly sociable, traveling from region to region while making frequent if not regular return trips to their home lairs (called "Fields" or "Stadiums").  They are active between March and October although lately, likely because of global warming (or the need for corporate advertising dollars) they have been spotted as late in the year as November.  Generally, of the thirty known species of PA, only eight remain active through the beginning of October and, of those, only two can still be observed by the end of the month (and as late as the beginning of November).  The remaining groups begin their long slumber, often referred to as "the off-season," which will last through the cold winter months of December and January, ending only in late February.  At this point of the year, most, if not all, PA teams will migrate to warmer climes to graze and replenish their fat stores (like all birds with bear-like habits).

PA is generally a peaceful creature engaging in very little physical contact with other members of its kind.  When observing PA beasts at play, one will note that they follow a simple set of rules, easily discernible to the new fanatic.  They will play only in groups of eighteen and only in favourable weather; on rainy days they will simply sit inside of a cave-like protrusion and watch the precipitation lazily and dreamily whilst consuming large quantities of their preferred snack, sunflower seeds.

On fair-weather days, PA can be a joy to watch, although, after a few minutes, it can become quite boring and repetitive, indeed!  One creature, dubbed the "pitcher" will use a detachable, round, leather orb (often confused as an egg produced by the female gender), by throwing it towards another beast (called the "catcher," often somewhat heavily padded and protected by a solid mask), situated behind a point exactly sixty-feet and six inches away from where the pitcher stands.  A third animal stands between the two on either side of said point (but never on it!) and will swing a long wooden appendage called a "bat" in an attempt to hit the ball.  The goal of this animal (called, cleverly enough, the "batter") is to hit the ball away from or in between the seven other PA's (called "infielders" and "outfielders" depending upon whether they are closer "in" or further "out" (seriously--whoever came up with these names was employing some serious brain-cell power from the right neural hemisphere)) who are scattered about the playing area.  Watching these creatures, in particular, in between pitches can be mind-numbingly boring as they will generally just stand still, doing nothing.  Occasionally, though, one will reach back and scratch at its anus or scrotal region, discarding with a flicking motion whatever breaks free.

Should the batter make contact with the ball and it is not caught in the leathery glove-like appendage of a fielder, it will then travel to a point ninety feet from the home point and will remain there, safely, on "base," like in many other human children's games.  If the batter is fleet enough of foot, he can attempt to travel to another base, located ninety feet away from the first one but on a diagonal leading off at a right angle to the left; the third base is located by following the same route from the second, and then the home point is returned to by completing the diamond-shape with one final left turn.

Play continues until three batters have been tagged "out" by a fielder (including the pitcher and catcher), forced "out" (meaning that one of the fielders has stepped on one of three other special points
If one were to observe Pasttimeus Americanus, one would note that it often groups itself in large numbers, but no more than eighteen.  Describe the activities of the individual members.  In their play, members of Pasttimeus Americanus generally work individually, rather than collaboratively to achieve their aims.  Their play consists of a relatively simple set of rules, easily understood by any observer.  The terminology used to communicate said rules sound like barks, "Outs," "Innings," etc.

They are beneath only "Umpirus Homeplatus" (and others) on the food chain.  Their guttural utterances, when confronted by a group of Ump Homes, sound like "Killtheump" (or they smack their flabby rumps to make the sound).

Overall, the observation of PA at play can take anywhere from two to more than four hours.  It's not always an action-packed experience...but it's still worth the time if you're in the area!

Pigskinus Lombardius
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Lombardius, indigenous to the United States, is arguably the heartiest and most thrilling of the four major wild sports in North America (though there are two weaker species found in Canada and in Europe, neither can truly be called Pigskinus Lombardius).  PL is observable in its full numbers for a mere seventeen weeks--easily the shortest active cycle of all of the wild sports.  Speaking to its durability and adaptability, PL has no geographical preference nor does it hide from adverse weather conditions (unlike its wussy counterparts like Americanus Pasttimeus who can't stand even a little rain); it can be seen in extreme cold and heat, torrential downpours of rain and snow, and even in the smog of Los Angeles.

PL most closely resembles a hybrid of ankylosaurus and army ants (or certain types of hornets and bees), given its heavily armored appearance and its ability to work in close formation, executing complex cooperative maneuvers on the battlefield.  While Pasttimeus Americanus is content simply to romp around with others of its kind, the viking-like PL is a beast of bloodlust--an unquenchable thirst for violence and ass-smacking.  The epic battles PL engages in can be heard from miles away with observers saying that the mighty clashes of the helmet-like skulls of the largest beasts sound like thunder ripping through the halls of Valhalla.  Mighty Thor approves, indeed!

PL operate with great precision when engaging in their legendary skirmishes, all of which are confined to a rectangular area three hundred and sixty feet long and one hundred sixty feet wide.  The object of each battle is simply to preserve one's territory by holding one's ground and thwarting any forward progress on the part of the attacker.  Each warring faction will employ the services of eleven members at one time, though each subspecies has its own specialized role. Some of the more heavily musculatured members are built to defend or to attack (depending upon which side they line up on) the leader of the offending team.  Others have immense hindquarters allowing them to run either with great strength or speed.  Still others are slender and lean, utilizing their length and great striding ability practically to fly up the field of battle in an attempt to "move the chains."
Battles will last for sixty minutes, though, in observed time it is closer to three hours, and will end when one side has reached the protected ground of the other more times than its enemy.  In rare instances there will be an equal number of penetrations and an additional fifteen minutes (up to forty five for the observer) of activity will be engaged in.  Surprisingly and in direct opposition to what an observer's intuition would say about PL, the great beasts will lumber off in an amicable truce should a winner not be declared during this additional time frame (unless it is January or February, in which case they will fight to the death).  In even rarer cases, certain subspecies of PL will not understand that said truce will be reached, most notably by Donovanus McNabbicus.

PL do not eat but gain their strength by engaging in extremely taxing physical activity such as "Picking things up and putting them down."  The only fluid they ingest is Gatorade.  Occasionally, in an odd and unnecessary gesture, younger combatants will douse one of the elders of the group in a bath of Gatorade, often in near-freezing conditions when said old dude could clearly catch pneumonia and die.  Dumbasses.

Bottom line: Pigskinus Lombardius effin' rules and is the greatest sport in the world.  Observe it.  Love it.

Hoopus Naismithus
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Hoopus Naismithus has arguably the widest dispersion rate among all of the four major wild sports of North America.  Evolving from a peach basket in the late 1800s, HN is found in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike (though the urban environment is often where the best observation can take place).  Members of the HN genus are generally quite tall and spend nearly 100% of their time upright (unlike Pigskinus Lombardius which spends much of its time on three limbs); they are most easily compared to lithe, graceful animals like the gazelle and cheetah. 

HN are generally active between the months of October and June but, given that the vast majority of their activity occurs within the confines of indoor lairs, there is no period of dormancy; the wildest strains can be observed year round, in particular Matthewus Beneckeus, which has been observed playing on ice in the dead of winter in a hoodie and a pair of basketball shorts and even in the pitch black of night, unable to see yet still throwing up and sinking J after J.  True story, kids: dedication and hard-work will get you places.  Fuck the weather and keep shooting those free throws in the dark.

Anyway, HN is arguably the most fun-loving and carefree of the four major wild sports.  Members will team up five at a time and play along an area ninety-four feet long and fifty feet wide.  After bouncing or throwing a gigantic orange-like orb amongst each other along the area of play, HN will then attempt to insert the globe into a round disc-like protrusion positioned ten feet in the air called a hoop.  Such activity will endure for forty-eight minutes (despite feeling like more than two hours to the observer).  Smaller members of the genus are more likely to be quicker and to attempt to fling the great orb into the hoop whereas the larger members will use their girth to get in close and simply dunk it in, much like a delicious Oreo cookie commingling with a glass of milk.

HN is growing in numbers on the Asian continent, in China in particular.  In the twenty-first century it is projected that the quantity of Chinese HN will surpass that of the United States.  Of course, the number of Chinese anything is likely to be higher there than anywhere else given its ridiculous population.

Just sayin'.

Puckus Canadianus
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Canadianus...graceful but is the fastest of all of the wild beasts.  An anomaly in that it is found all across North America (specifically north of the Mexican border), regardless of local climate, and yet it can exist almost solely in cold conditions.  In some geographic areas it is possible for the PC to be observed outdoors but even then it is likely to be confined solely to the coldest months of the year.

PC most closely resembles the thickly padded Pigskinus Lombardius in its appearance though there is far less diversity in the overall size of each individual creature.  The most striking characteristic that is unique to PC is the fact that many, if not all, are missing teeth, usually front ones, and almost universally because of the violent nature of its play.  It should be noted that pairs of PC will often break off in the middle of play to engage in brutal hand-to-hand combat (yet another cause of said missing teeth); it is the only of the four sports to offer pugilism as an almost-regular part of its ritualistic behavior.

PC is active throughout the year on a time frame almost identical to that of Hoopus Naismithus.  Despite existing in strong numbers throughout the United States, the population of PC in Canada is truly prolific.  The nature of its behavior is static between the two populations, however, with groups of five facing off with an additional, heavily padded member serving as the protector of the goal of their play.  Group members will attempt to place a small, frozen discus into a net-like area on either end of the frozen arena in which they play (with each end belonging a respective side). 

The blazing speed of the game is a treat for any observer though there are frequent and often obnoxious interruptions that some have dubbed "Icing."  In general, it is quite a treat to observe the graceful, expedient movements of PC as they traverse the frozen battlefield, attempting to sink the frozen discus in its enemy's protected zone.

The genetic makeup of many PC group members can be traced back to Russia, Canada, Sweden, and other Scandinavian areas.

The more you know ::cue music::

Soccerus Ballus

Just kidding.  No one gives a shit about soccer, especially not me.

(Soccer clip art courtesy of

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Productive Procrastination: A Tale of Dreams Deferred (At Least Until They Are Picked Up Again)

I might just be the most productive procrastinator in all the land.  I feel like everyone, at one point or another, puts things off to some degree or for some length of time.  It could be an academic or professional task, a chore, a medical checkup of some sort...but no matter what, everybody puts off something.  I'm no different--haven't been since I started elementary school.  If I had homework or a project/report due Monday, it got done Sunday.  I was never as bad as some of my friends though, who would start their work Sunday night and stay up until five in the morning on Monday doing it...but I still waited until "the last minute."  I always argued that I worked better under the pressure of a time constraint (which was true, to some degree), that I knew how much time I would need to complete a given task, and that I would rather enjoy my time up front instead of getting the work out of the way. 

Somewhere along the way, though, either towards the end of high school or the beginning of college, something changed.  I suspect it was the latter because I believe that this changed was motivated by a fear of being overwhelmed with work and being unable to perform to the high standards I have always held myself to.  I believe, also, that it was a result of getting all of my work up front via the course syllabus.  I found myself completing work on Friday instead of Sunday...and then a week or two ahead...and then, in some cases, a month or more in advance.  I suppose that, by that point, I had hit my groove and knew that I would be able to complete the work early and then make adjustments as needed, thus freeing myself up during those tense final days before said work (or studying) needed to be done; I became much calmer and found myself enjoying the semesters that much more.

...but what does this have to do with procrastinating?

Despite beginning my work early, I could never sit and complete a given amount of work uninterrupted.  Invariably, I would get antsy and would need some sort of diversion.  Often times, before I found my panacea for the ailment, Writer's Block would force me to halt my progress and to take up another activity in order to clear my mental cache and obtain a fresh start.  Usually, the more intimidating the paper, the more frequent my stops would be.  My breaks might include a simple stretch and a snack or something more complex like a full workout or video game session.  Of course, the projects that loomed most ominously caused me the most stress and, consequently, made me the most productive.  The papers I was most afraid of starting led me to complete the most amazing tasks in my procrastination: I would clean my room (or the whole house, if it was after July 2007); I would finally tackle any number of computer projects that I had been meaning to work on; I would practice guitar for hours on end; or, as noted earlier, I might do the exercising I had been putting off.

I bring this all up because I realized yesterday that I have been procrastinating terribly lately, putting off two things that you would think I would enjoy (and which I am sure that I will).  The first is the reading of a Stephen King novel; the second is continuing to write my third novel.  The two issues interrelated as I will explain now.

For a while, Stephen King was my all-time favorite author.  He still might be...but there's a problem that's arisen over the past few years with regards to his books, or, rather, my reading of his books.  My Mom has every book King has ever written and, consequently, I have read most of those books.  I've always been into horror novels, enjoying the Goosebumps series immensely as a kid.  Naturally, when I outgrew those tales, Stephen King's novels were ripe for the picking.  I remember staying up for hours after I should have been asleep, reading his stories, simply unable to put them down.  I've re-read The Stand more times than I've re-read any other book (and I've seen the film version more times than I've seen any other movie...which is saying a lot since the television mini-series is eight hours in length and yet, still, I've rewatched it almost ten times) and I had my mind blown by The Dark Tower series.  I've enjoyed IT, The Eyes of the Dragon, Insomnia, and 'Salem's Lot among literally dozens of other tales...

...but a few years ago, it all changed.  I don't remember exactly what the last Stephen King story was that I read.  It might've been From a Buick 8 but I'm not entirely sure.  The problem is that, in a way, I ruined the books for myself by starting to write.  Stephen King inspired me by stoking the fires of my imagination with his tale of the macabre and the supernatural; he even helped me to improve my writing with On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.  But, somewhere along the way, I had a thought--a thought that continued to grow, eating at my mind like a virus (much like Arthur and Cobb discuss in the movie "Inception.")  The thought was destructive; it was pervasive and unshakable; it was, "I can do better than this."

Ever since I first had that thought, I haven't been able to read a Stephen King story from a non-critical stance.  Where I used to enjoy the story simply for its plot and characters, I suddenly began finding fault in the writing itself, thinking of how I would have written it.  It seems ludicrous: Stephen King has sold more than 350 million books worldwide; me...not so much.  And yet here I am, criticizing his work.  It must also seem incredibly arrogant...but there's no boastful pride on my part.  In fact, I think it is quite the opposite; I think the thought came from the reverence that I held for King.

Think of it this way: you grow up idolizing a particular athlete, let's say a basketball player.  You watch him with awe and dream that, someday, you'll be as good as he is.  He inspires you to start playing and, as you develop, you dream of mimicking his every move.  You picture yourself as him every time you drive to the hoop--every time you pull up for a jump shot.  You dream of playing on a team with him, or perhaps even being him, every night...until the moment that it happens: you realize that you want to be better than him.  Maybe you've gotten good enough that you feel that you can compete at his level, and, maybe, contemporaneously, his skills are diminishing; suddenly, you think you can take him.  Instead of being motivated to be just like him, you desire nothing more than to dismantle him on the court--to embarrass him in front of the entire world.

In a sense, it's just like that.  Suddenly, I felt that my writing was good enough to be enjoyed by a wide audience and I began to criticize his work.  The reason that I began finding fault in his writing, though, was motivated more by my own frustrated ambition: I wanted my work to be better than his and to be enjoyed by more people...but I was afraid that it wouldn't be.

Which leads me to the second thing I've been putting off: getting back to writing my third novel.  Boy have I been productive in putting this off: I've done a complete back-up of my computer, have worked at figuring out an entire album by ear, I've finished reading War & Peace and am almost done with Ulysses, and I've completed any other number of miniature projects that I've been working on (like my Beer and Whiskey lists, respectively).  The problem, though, is that I'm running out of things to work on, much like I'm running out of things to read instead of another Stephen King book.  Sure, I could read any of the scores of classics that I have...but I need something less intellectually taxing to balance out whatever literary legend I am trying to tackle.  Ironically enough, I'm reading the last of the Dark Tower graphic novels.  The next thing I'll read will probably be the newest of the graphic novels in The Stand story arch.  Ironic that, in avoiding King, I am still under his sphere of influence.

As for my own writing, though, I've been finding every excuse not to work on it.  Granted, taking care of Timmy has impacted my writing process to a great deal...but if I only got up earlier I would have at least a few hours every day of uninterrupted writing time.  The problem is that I know that and won't do it because of the very fact that I would be making progress.

See, in part, the issue is that this novel would complete the Kosmogonia arch and thus put an end to my first collection of serious fiction writing; in a sense, I don't want it to end.  However, I am aware of the fact that this one book will likely be longer than both of my first two novels combined if not twice as long as their combined length.  Basically, I have PLENTY of time before it will be done.

So why put it off?

Because of the nine hundred pound gorilla in the room: what comes after I finish.  After I finished writing The Lion in the Desert, I felt a great sense of accomplishment because I had achieved two major goals: I finished writing a novel and I had a printed copy of it.  Then I started to write The Walking Ghosts and I looked back at the first book...and was horrified.  I couldn't believe how terrible the prose was and I realized that, if I was ever going to attempt to get a literary agent, I would need to revamp the entire first book.  I decided to finish writing the second novel, make it through the third in its entirety, and then go back and re-write the first novel (this way any inconsistencies, of which there will hopefully be few, if any, would be taken care). 

So basically, once I finish writing the third book (the hard part) I would then have to go back and revamp the first book (the easy part) and then draft a query letter (the hardest part). 

I've wrestled with the notion of being a writer since the first novel came out.  My friends and family called me a writer but I bucked the moniker because I felt it was unwarranted.  Though I had written a novel, I did so more as a hobbyist than a writer.  Then I wrote the second book and I started to feel more like a writer despite the fact that my status had not changed: I wasn't getting paid for it and I still wasn't officially published.  I've embraced the title, though, because I have come to realize that writing has always been something I have loved to do, going back to the third grade when I wrote my first series of stories called "My Alien Friends."  The interest has always been there, I've officially written two novels, I have ideas for numerous stories and future novels, and I'm working on completing the longest single piece of literature I've ever crafted.  I suppose, in a sense, that makes me a writer.

But I still can't flaunt the title with the pride I would if I were published.  It's the same thing as me recording a CD and uploading it to iTunes or CD Baby for sale and then telling everyone I'm a professional musician.  I'd still just be a guitar player with an album's worth of original material...without a recording contract, much like I am a writer with two plus novels' worth of original writing...without a publishing contract.  I am deathly afraid of attempting to get an agent (and, then, hopefully, a deal with a publishing house) because of the sheer statistical improbability of it all; it's like trying to make it as an actor, comedian, or professional athlete; there's a certain element of fate or good fortune that will ultimately separate you from the pack.

But, I suppose, even if I try and fail, at least I can say that I did try and I can show my son, by example, what it means to follow one's dreams.

I guess I'll be picking up Under the Dome after all then...because, once I do that, I know I'll be itching to pick up the pen once again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's In A Name?

Everyone had their special techniques that they used as kids to make it through the seemingly endless hours of boring class that comprised their education.  I'm not talking about Gym or Chem Lab--but rather (probably) about History, Math, and English.  Depending on the teacher, those latter classes could be among the most fun (like they were with Mr. Chalke, Mrs. Bendrihem, and Mr. Gori) or they could be mind-numbingly dull and unengaging (like they were with many, many other teachers).  In order to survive those moments without attempting to drive a pencil through your eye simply so that you could excuse yourself to the nurse's office, certain approaches needed to be applied.  If you were lucky, you could be a sleeper (I once sat next to a kid who claimed to have arthritis (at thirteen) and all sorts of chest and bone ailments...I was GLAD when he went to sleep!) but depending up on the teacher, the layout of the classroom, and your location in it, this could be difficult to impossible.  I was not so lucky because I was paranoid about getting into trouble and I figured that the one time I would fall asleep would be the time something important would actually be discussed.

For me, having a watch was of the utmost importance, especially in junior high school.  I hated junior high and couldn't wait to be done with each individual day let alone the three years of hell I had to endure.  As such, I knew the bell schedule by heart and would calculate it down to the second when the bell would ring and when to start packing up.  Sometimes I used this knowledge to my advantage by asking a series of inane questions (usually on Fridays) that seemed relevant (or feigned an interest in the topic at hand) hoping to stall the teacher, usually because he or she had threatened us with homework for the weekend.  I'm sure it seems mean-spirited to some but at the time I felt like a temporal Robin Hood, stealing time from the teacher and giving it back to me and my classmates in the form of free time on the weekends.

Note to all teachers: never assign homework as a least not if you want your kids to actually do whatever else you assign throughout the year!

Second note to all teachers: even your nicest students will connive against you at one point or another.  It doesn't mean they don't like's just in their evil, pubescent nature.

With that said, there has been one tried and true technique that I have used throughout the years to survive the most boring of classes.  It began as a genuine exercise in edification (or at least in memorization) but it grew into a way to disconnect myself completely from my surroundings and focus entirely on this single task-at-hand; in essence, I have trained myself to reach a completely meditative state (without chanting Ohm!) while maintaining an awareness of my surroundings and the goings-on therein.  The activity was attempting to name all (then) twenty-nine professional basketball franchises and its genesis was found in a genuine interest in learning all of the different teams.

It was a great least at first.  You see, the problem with trying to do this more than once a day is that you will invariably continue to forget the same teams and frustrate yourself by being unable to recall them, or, more likely, you will come to remember them all and the activity thus loses its lustre (British spelling, holla!)  I think I started to do this in eighth grade, which was good because the time I got to high school I really opened up my sports palette.  As a natural evolution, I began attempting to list baseball and football teams as well.  I knew things were bad (meaning having yet another terrible teacher in a terrible class) when I attempted the most difficult of all (for non-NHL fans): listing hockey franchises.

I could lose myself for a good ten to fifteen minutes attempting to do all of the teams, which might not sound like a lot (in terms of time) but it represented anywhere from 20-30% of an entire class session.  If employed at the right time, it could get me through the bulk of the worst part of any given class (the middle twenty - thirty minutes), which, on some days, was like a godsend.  I'm sure to some if not most of the people who will read this entry, this mundane task seems more like a chore than a fun activity, or, perhaps, even more boring than the class I was trying to escape; I suppose it all comes down to one's nature.  Mine is always to challenge myself to improve my memory the speed with which I can recall information.  I enjoy examining data, finding patterns, and discovering their meanings, if any.  Though I abhorred doing research throughout my elementary and secondary school years, by the time I reached my undergraduate collegiate years, I grew to enjoy it and, by the time I reached graduate school, I found that I loved it. 

I remember a moment during my student-teaching when my cooperating teacher asked me what I liked to read.  He mentioned non-fiction and I made a face and shook my head, citing fiction as my preferred medium.  Ironically, since that moment, I have read far more non-fiction than fiction for pleasure let alone pedagogical pursuits or requirements.  I suppose that I enjoy learning as much as I possibly can and I have found that non-fiction affords that in ways that fiction either can't or won't.  There is always a natural sequence that one can follow when reading non-fiction that is perhaps endless.  My first professor in graduate school said that the most important part of any paper (or piece of research) is the footnotes--often the source text.  It makes a great deal of sense when you think about it: you're reading a paper that someone wrote and who, in their research, read other works to influence or inform their writing; eventually, you will always reach the source text, which, in many ways, is likely the most important and interesting material that you'll come across anyway.

A moment's digression, if you will.

Throughout my life I have had numerous, "Hey, I wonder if..." moments that have led to some great inquisitions and results.  One of my pet peeves has always been people who I share these moments with and who respond, almost invariably, with "Wow you've got too much time on your hands?" or "Who thinks of stuff like that? or "Where do you come up with this?"  Most of the time I just laugh or shrug it off because I'm too polite to tell them that, if, perhaps, just once, they removed their heads from their asses, then perhaps they, too, could reach such intellectual heights--that they, like all of the other worker bees seem content to buzz about without so much as glancing skyward and wondering and insodoing lose an essential part of the very fabric that makes them human...

But yeah, moral of the diatribe: the next time someone shares something with you and your immediate reaction is to say something like the two asinine questions or statements above, realize that you're belying your own sheep-like mentality and would, therefore, probably be better off just smiling politely and saying "Wow, that's interesting.  Didn't know that."

With that said, said interest in research, in conjunction with my inborn curiosity, helped me professionally as well.  Towards the end of my time at Baruch, I began thinking on a grander scope about how I could help to improve the program that I worked for.  I would sit down during the slow moments and try to think of ways that we could improve either the service that we provided our current students with as well as our potential future ones and those who had already moved on from the program.  I wound up drafting an ambitious research project that took me weeks to complete but that, I believe, was quite fruitful.  I wound up assessing a few thousand students, selecting those who had come through our program and who then went on to enroll in the college.  I analyzed their grades in our courses to see whether or not they would serve as a good indicator of potential future success; it turned out there was a strong correlation between the grades earned and the GPAs these students went on to accrue (not to mention the correlation between the subject matter of the courses they took pre-college through our program and the majors they went on to explore and degrees they ultimately attained).

With that said, the whole sports franchise recollection activity appealed to me on numerous levels.  For one, it also conjured up images of the various logos of the teams (which I enjoyed attempting to draw in my notebook during my frequent doodling sessions...yeah that sounded bad lol), reinforced my knowledge of United States geography (by helping me to recall cities and their respective locations), and, ultimately, could lead to other similar activities such as then attempting to name the quarterbacks for all of the NFL teams, the starting five for all of the NBA teams, and/or pitchers for each of the MLB teams.

So what does all this have to do with the title of the blog or the overall thrust of the entry overall?

I (once again) recently had a, "Gee, I wonder what..." moment in thinking about the names of various sports franchises.  The inspiration for the thought came (appropriately enough, I suppose) from the seeding for the NFL playoffs this season.  I realized that the Ravens, Eagles, Falcons, and Seahawks all made the playoffs and that the only team named after a bird not to make it was the Cardinals.  I then wondered if they ever had all five bird-teams in the playoffs at the same time and I realized that, though it hasn't happened and is unlikely to happen anytime soon (given the state of the NFC West), it is possible: the Ravens are the only AFC team of the bunch, so they could make it without issue (meaning they would win the AFC North or one of the two AFC wildcards); the Eagles and Falcons would have to win the NFC East and NFC South, respectively; and the Cardinals and Seahawks would have either to split the NFC West and the NFC wildcard or both earn the NFC wildcard.  As I said, it's entirely unlikely, specifically because of the deplorable state of the latter's division but it is possible.

The next thought was the one that sent me off on my mission.  I wondered simultaneously how many other sports franchises were named after birds, if any single team name spanned all four major sports (Professional Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey), and, in thinking about how many teams there are named after birds, what team name-category was the most popular throughout the four major sports.  I realized after some brief cogitation that there was no way a single team name spanned three sports, let alone four but I still wondered about the categories and thus the histories behind each team names.  Some are obvious (Philadelphia Phillies?), some are notorious for their anachronistic current nature despite making sense in previous locations (Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, for two), but many seemed to have an interesting story to tell (San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints, for two more).  I knew of some of the stories behind the franchises (such as the Dodgers) and was able to piece together some others from ancillary knowledge (the Vikings, for one) but others still had me scratching my head or at least needing confirmation (such as the Twins).

So I did what I enjoy doing: I spent some time researching it, compiled the data, and then analyzed it.  I was surprised by what I learned about the various teams (and the way the names are distributed across a series of categories).  I must note though that there are two somewhat major flaws in my methodology (with regards to the categories.  The first flaw is that the categories are completely arbitrary, meaning that they are not the sole, absolute possible categories that the team names could be broken up into.  The second flaw is a subdivision of the first in that some teams could have fit multiple categories and were thus arbitrarily placed based on my caprice.  As such, I cannot vouch for the scientific validity of my research...

...but let's be real, it's a list of friggin' sports teams broken up into categories, all of which pertain to said teams without any question.  Plus, there wasn't a single team that didn't fit into at least one category.

Anyway, the categories, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

City Nickname
Local History
Local Industry
Local Miscellaneous
Local People
Native American

It reads like some sort of crazy list of Mad Lib responses, doesn't it?  Okay, so most of these categories are self-explanatory but some could use a little explication.  For all of the animal ones the decision was made to place the teams in that category if either the team name is explicitly an animal (the Chicago Bears, for example) or if its logo has a distinct animal in it, the name implies an animal, and the history of the team's name notes specifically the animal in question.

As for the other names, here they go:

City Nickname: if the name of the team applies specifically to an established nickname for the city it plays in

Geography: if the name of the team refers to a geographical feature

Local History: if the name of the team is in reference to something of American historical importance localized in that particular city or region (e.g. San Francisco 49ers referring to the Gold Rush of 1849 in California)

Local Industry: if the name of the team refers directly to an industry that is identified or linked explicitly with the area (e.g. Milwaukee Brewers and beer)

Local Miscellaneous: if the name of the team refers to something that pertains to the city that it plays in but that which cannot be easily or separately listed in another category

Local People: if the name of the team refers specifically (usually as a nickname) to the people who reside in that city or locale

Miscellaneous: the dreaded catch-all category that captures the misfits that did not fit neatly into any of the other categories

Transportation: if the name of the team refers specifically to some form of transportation or something related intricately to a mode of transportation

So my approach to discussing my results will be to identify each category and the teams that comprise them in increasing size order (from smallest number of teams to the largest), to elucidate why the teams are either so named and/or are included in that particular category, and then to provide my reaction to the results.

NB: all information regarding the history of the team names came from each team's individual Wikipedia page.  Where reliable information was lacking or where suspicious naming histories were present, further research was performed.  If consensus was found regarding the origin of a team name (and it seemed legitimate) then said team was categorized accordingly; all teams for which reliable histories could not be located were designated "Miscellaneous" and placed in the eponymous category.

New Orleans (née Charlotte) Hornets 

Colorado Rockies

Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards

Utah (née New Orleans) Jazz
St. Louis Blues

Most basketball fans are aware of the fact that the "Utah" Jazz makes no sense because the team originated in New Orleans--the origin site of the musical form--and then moved to Utah whilst keeping the team name.

The St. Louis Blues (again, according to Wikipedia) are named after the W.C. Handy tune of the same name.

Toronto Raptors
Arizona Diamondbacks

Indianapolis (née Baltimore) Colts
Denver Broncos

Here we have the first controversy in terms of my categorizing.  The Colts (originating in Baltimore) were so named for "...the city's long history of horse racing and breeding," according to the Baltimore Colts' Wikipedia page.  As a result, I faced a dilemma: do I place the Colts in one of the "Local" categories or in the more obvious one of Equines (since their logos blatantly belie an association with the animal).  I went with the latter for two reasons.  First, pretty much every team is named because of something that has local relevancy and, if I were to begin taking that relevancy into consideration for every team, almost all of them would wind up in the "Local" categories (Florida Panthers being so named because of the indigenous population of said cats in said state).  Second, the question regarding the name is, "What do people associate most with the team name?"  If it's some sort of local history or relevance (say, with the '49ers), then they should be so placed...but if the most obvious category is with an animal, type of transportation, or whathaveyou, then I felt that the team should be placed in that category.

The Denver Broncos, for instance, were named based upon a naming contest that was held (as were MANY teams, as I have come to find).  Now, though Colorado is renown for its populations of wild horses, should THAT fact be the associative element taking the greatest level of import with the team name?  NO!  Clearly, in this case, the Broncos are associated with the eponymous animal, particularly as a result of their various logos (aside from the hideous orange color of their uniforms...but that's a separate issue entirely).

Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Coyotes

New York [sic] Jets
Los Angeles Clippers

I had a difficult time categorizing the Jets and the Clippers and ultimately had to go with the information that I found.  The Jets were originally the Titans and changed their name only when they moved into Shea Stadium.  Now, Shea's proximity to LaGuardia (and, to a lesser extent, JFK) Airport might have influenced the team's name, which would thus render it a local industry category.  However, I couldn't find ANYTHING to support this other than my own analysis, so I went with the transportation category.

The Clippers' name-origin is even more esoteric.  The best I could come up with for them was that, when they left Buffalo (originally as the Braves) and moved to San Diego (thus becoming the San Diego Clippers) the name referred to the local prevalence of ships known as as "clippers" in the bay.  Indeed their early logo seems to render three sails, thus referencing the boating nomenclature:

Again, though, I felt that the best course of action was to place the team in the transportation category since, literally, the terms Jets and Clippers both refer to types of vehicles used in transportation.

FISH:  2
Florida Marlins
San Jose Sharks

Minnesota Wild
Miami Dolphins

There is a huge debate over what animal, in particular, is on the Wild's logo.  At first I thought it was a large cat but then I thought it kind of looked like a bear.  Since I couldn't conclude on which of the two it was (but being confident that it depicts some kind of existing mammal) I opted for that category.

Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds

Seriously--what is more lame than being named after a part of your uniform?  Failure of a maximum degree here.

Tennessee Titans
New York [sic] Giants
San Francisco Giants

The stories behind both Giants teams are pretty lame.  The Titans one was interesting and gave me a moment's pause.  Supposedly, part of why they are called the Tennessee Titans is because of Nashville's colloquial nickname as being "The Athens of the South."  Presumably this, in some way, also refers to the mythological Titans, which would then just cycle back to the designation of "Giant Creature" or, more simply, "Giants."

Los Angeles Kings
Sacramento Kings
Kansas City Royals

...because when you think of "Sports Royalty," the most deserving candidates are the L.A. Kings (0 championships), Sacramento Kings (0 championships), and the Kansas City Royals (one title).

Pittsburgh Pirates
Oakland Raiders
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sadly, Oakland was named through a contest and Pittsburgh...well...Pirates?  Really?  Tampa Bay's really the only one that could pull it off.  Wicked stadium / pirate ship too.

St. Louis Rams
Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks

I really wanted to include the Broncos and Colts here too since they're ungulates as well but, of the five, they were the only two that were directly related and could sustain their own category.

Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Dallas Stars
Los Angeles (née Minneapolis) Lakers

Along with the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers comprise the two most confusingly monikered teams in the league...unless you're privy to the history.  The Lakers originated in Minneapolis, a key city in the state of Minnesota, which, as you might know, is the "State of 10,000 Lakes."  Hence the Lakers.  And since Minneapolis and St. Paul are referred to as "The Twin Cities," you get a two-fer with the Twins' name.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim used to be the Anaheim Angels...and then the Los Angeles Angels again before that.  L.A. is the "City of Angels," hence the team name...

...but what about the Dallas Stars.  Surely there must be some connection with the star on the side of the Dallas Cowboys' helmet, no?


For the Stars' history we return, once AGAIN, to Minnesota.  Originally, the Stars were the North Stars and, originally again, they played in Minnesota.  Another of Minnesota's million and a half nicknames is "The Star of the North," thus, the North Stars.

Minnesota: not JUST the home of collapsing football stadiums.

Washington Nationals
Ottawa Senators
Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs

I really couldn't come up with a better name for this category, so it's kind of a catch-all.  The Nationals are here because the name refers to Americans, overall, which is somewhat political.  The Maple Leaf is on the Canadian me some slack for this one.

Chicago Cubs
Memphis Grizzlies
Boston Bruins
Chicago Bears

Really, Chicago?  You had to double-dip in the bear category?

Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Cowboys
San Antonio Spurs
Cleveland Cavaliers

I know--"The Cavaliers"?  I couldn't find anything in particular that explained their history adequately (seriously--wtf is up with basketball teams not having this sort of information readily available?)  Since their logo has swords and the term Cavalier refers to a type of cowboy, it seemed fitting that they got placed here.

Cleveland Indians
Atlanta Braves
Chicago Blackhawks
Kansas City Chiefs
Washington Redskins
Golden State Warriors

I know again: I was surprised by the Warriors too.  Apparently, they started out in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Warriors and this was their logo:

Pretty self-explanatory, no?

Native Americans: because the first thing you associate them with is basketball.

Seattle Mariners
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Rockets
Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers

Though this one should be self-explanatory, some brief explication: Seattle's core industry for ages was based upon its ports and fishing; the Packers were named after a local packing company; Pittsburgh = steel city; Milwaukee, home of the Miller Brewery (and other beer related awesomeness); Houston--we wouldn't have a space program without it; Detroit Pistons?  Nuff said.  Ditto for Indiana and Pace(ca)rs.

Miami Heat
Tampa Bay Rays
Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns
Carolina Hurricanes
Tampa Bay Lightning
Colorado Avalanche

Let's welcome the Tampa Bay Rays with a warm round of applause to our Weather category.  They USED to be the Devil Rays but, one look at their uniforms will confirm for you that they are now the (Sun) Rays.  It's interesting that two of Tampa's major sports franchises are named after seemingly conflicting weather phenomena: sunshine and lightning.

I wasn't too sure that the Avalanche belonged here because I couldn't decide whether or not it fell under the weather or geological category (or something else entirely).  I went with Weather because it is related directly to snow, which is a weather phenomenon; no snow = no avalanche.

San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots
Texas Rangers
Philadelphia 76ers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Denver Nuggets
Houston Astros

Another category that gave me great difficulty.  I decided to set up my specifications for inclusion in this category as "relation to important events in American history with a heavy local association with a city, area, or region."  Here's my reasoning:

49ers = the Gold Rush of 1849 in California
Patriots = Boston being a hub of activity during the Revolutionary War
Rangers = a specific reference to the famed Texas Rangers police force
76ers = Philadelphia being another hub of activity and the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776
Blue Jackets = Copied from the team's Wikipedia page:

The name "Blue Jackets" was chosen to celebrate "patriotism, pride, and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and city of Columbus."[59] When President Abraham Lincoln requested that Ohio raise ten regiments at the outbreak of the Civil War, the state responded by raising a total of 23 volunteer infantry regiments for three months of service. Ohio also produced a number of great Civil War figures, including William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, and George Custer. Columbus itself was host to large military bases, Camp Chase and Camp Thomas, which saw hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers and thousands of Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. There was also a Shawnee leader named Blue Jacket in the Ohio Country after the American Revolutionary War.

Nuggets = no reliable information could be found but I am presuming the reference to be to gold found in Denver during the 1849 (or some other) gold rush
Astros = again referencing Houston's importance in the development of the space program

Minnesota Vikings
New Jersey Devils
Boston Celtics
Cleveland Browns
San Diego Padres
New Orleans Saints
Calgary Flames

The second worst catch-all category behind the dreaded "Miscellaneous," this one has the commonality that the teams are all named for things that pertain to their locality...except there is nothing linking the themes of each individual name. 

The Vikings are so-named for the large contingent of Scandinavian-Americans living in Minnesota...but likely also for the theoretical historical visits of the Norse Vikings.  Caught an awesome program about that on the History Channel.  I love Vikings.

The Devils are named after the fictitious(?) supernatural creature, cleverly called "The New Jersey Devil."  Surprisingly it does not refer either to Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen.

The Celtics had no information so I'm presuming that it refers to the large population of Irish-Americans living in Boston.

The Browns are named after coach Paul Brown of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  No, stop laughing, I'm serious.  Dead ass--the Browns are named after ONE GUY.  Even Indiana wouldn't stoop that low and THAT would be an improvement!  (Get it--replacing Hoosiers with "Knights"!?)

The Padres are (supposedly) named after the priests that founded the city of San Diego.

The Saints...again, supposedly, are named because.  Shit.  I mean, this might even be worse than the Browns.  I really don't know.  They're named for the DAY they came into existence.  How sad is that?  Again, according to Wikipedia: 

"In December the team was named "Saints" due to its birthday on the Roman Catholic Church's All Saints Day--a fitting nickname for a team in the largely Catholic New Orleans area."

The Flames' name refers to their previous location in Atlanta, which, in turn, referred to the infamous burning of the city during the Civil War.  I really don't know about this you really want to name a sports franchise about a low-point in your city's history?  As terrible as the Knicks are, I can't ever see them being renamed the "New York 9-11s" or the "New York Governor Pattersons."

Detroit Tigers
Charlotte Bobcats
Florida Panthers
Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers
Jacksonville Jaguars
Cincinnati Bengals
Nashville Predators

Again, WEAK on Detroit's part for their double-dipping. 

Bobcats?  Seriously?

At least Bearcats are better than Statesmen.

New York Islanders
Philadelphia Phillies
Montreal Canadiens
Vancouver Canucks
Houston Texans
New York Knicks
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers

New York is the greatest city in the world...but is the absolute worst when it comes to picking names for its sports teams.  Out of nine teams in this category, FIVE are from New York at one point or another.

Self-aggrandizing?  You bet.  But there really are that many different ways to refer to people from New York (and those are just some of the NICE ones!)

People hate because they love.

San Diego Chargers
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Edmonton Oilers
New Jersey Nets
Portland Trail Blazers
Oakland Athletics

I hate that there are so many teams in this category but I suppose it was inevitable.  This cesspool has some real stinkers in it.  The Chargers have no discernible history with regards to their name (fitting, because they're one of the most pathetic teams in the history of sports).  The Rangers, Flyers, Red Wings, Sabres, Oilers, and Trail Blazers had their own individual wussy reasons for their names...but the Nets and the Athletics really take the cake. 

The Nets are named as such because the name rhymed with "Jets" and "Mets" (other local professional teams) but pertained specifically to the sport of basketball.


The Athletics are named after the Athletic Clubs that were fashionable in the 1800s.


Only the Bills have a semblance of cool associated with their name...even if it leaves you scratching your head.  (There is absolutely ZERO association between Buffalo Bill Cody and the city of Buffalo, New York).

BIRDS:  12
St. Louis Cardinals
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
Atlanta Hawks
Pittsburgh Penguins
Anaheim Ducks
Baltimore Ravens
Philadelphia Eagles
Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks
Atlanta Thrashers

There is a surprising amount of diversity here (only ONE repeat animal?) in a category that could have remained remarkably limited in its scope (choosing to focus only on birds of prey like the hawks, falcons, and eagles).  I suppose there is a certain level of irony that the category that sparked my initial quest wound up being the most-encompassing one.  I'm not sure of whether or not I am surprised, though I suppose I would have figured one of the miscellaneous categories might have had the most.  The only one that kind of surprised me (in terms of the team names) was the Thrashers.  I knew that the logo was of a bird but I wasn't aware that a thrasher was an actual bird, let alone the state bird of Georgia (the brown thrasher, specifically).

The Results
Far and away animals of all types dominated the totality of team names, comprising 36 of 122 total team names, or 29.5%--roughly one-third of the total.  I suppose it stands to reason though because, in general, animals are viewed as fearsome or intimidating--two characteristics that one would hope one's sports team would inspire in its opponents. 

Of course, every sports team has two elements to its name: the thing that it is named after and the city in which it plays.  The latter is of supreme importance (in most cases) because the pride that people take in their respective cities' teams is, in some ways, reflective of the pride that said residents have in their hometowns.  The stronger the team's success, the better and stronger the association is with the city; the same can be said for the inverse (Knicks fans are as proud of being Knicks fans as they are about being New York residents (by and large)).

The thing I was most disappointed with in reflecting on my research is just how many teams were named via naming contests.  I mean, on one hand, it does mean that some consensus was reached by the public as to the name...but it does seem to detract, at least a little bit, from the street credibility of the name.

At least for me.

Go Vikings/Heat/Mets/Ducks!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My All-Time Favorite Cartoons

It's no secret that I am a sucker for lists.  Top 10, Top 25, Top 100, hell, even the top 1,043 (songs by New York radio station Q104.3) make me happy.  I enjoy reminiscing through such lists (if they are nostalgic) and, quite often, arguing with or debating either the ordering or inclusion/exclusion whatever is being listed.  Since either side of New Year's is a wonderful time for reflection, I've decided to start the year off with my list of the Top 60 cartoons that I enjoyed as a child.  I'm electing to list cartoons because, despite still being less than a year old, Timmy has already developed preferences in terms of the shows that he likes.  Granted, his favorite programs, in order, are Sportscenter, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, the Scott Van Pelt show, and Sportsnation, he DOES have a soft spot for the occasional animated program.  HIS include Special Agent Oso (at the top of the list) as well as Handy Manny. 

Thinking about favorite cartoons led me to reflect back on my own favorite programs.  I remembered coming home from school and being excited about watching certain shows (primarily in elementary school) or looking forward to Saturday and Sunday mornings.  My list will surely surprise some, particularly the exclusions or the shows that I did not enjoy, but, hopefully, more than that, it will inspire some to travel back in time and to relive some of their favorite cartoons and the memories associated with them.

Note: All information regarding seasons, episodes, and air dates were taken from the respective Wikipedia pages for each cartoon.

THE TOP 60 CARTOONS OF MY CHILDHOOD ('83-'01 for technical purposes)

Note: The ordering of these cartoons is based upon an intricate ten-point, ten-category system.  Each cartoon is judged rigorously and is given a score reflective of its historical importance and overall impact on the furthering of mankind's positive aims.  And my all that I mean that the scores are completely arbitrary.  I even changed some scores today that I put in yesterday.  Just because.  Awesome!

The categories are as follows:

Opening Sequence (the sequence of images that opens each show--one of the most important and memorable aspects of identifying cartoons)
Theme Song (arguably the single most important element that one identifies with a show or cartoon (you could learn a thing or two from Friends...we're looking at YOU, LOST!))
Action Figures (let's be real--cartoons in the '80s were all about marketing; if a cartoon didn't have good action figures (or dolls) associated with it, it wasn't treading water very long)
Movies (along the same line as the action figures...but I've expanded it to include the full franchise, not necessarily that one incarnation of the cartoon)
Memorable (I know I know--I'm not getting into Mensa with these devilishly creative titles.  Memorable simply means how well each episode etched itself indelibly (is there any other way?) into your mind, heart, and/or soul.  Better cartoons have you remembering numerous episodes in their entirety or countless individual moments; worse ones have you looking shit up on Wikipedia in search of that moment of recall.)
Characters (The overall cast but the main protagonists in particular)
Villains (The foils or antagonists for the heroes, where applicable.  And where it wasn't applicable the shows got a big fat ZERO)
Artwork (Arguably the most important element overall.  Sure the characters and plot are important but who wants to watch a bunch of shittily drawn or animated characters enacting a plot on a shittily drawn or animated background?  I'm looking SQUARELY at you, South Park)
Storyline (Sadly there were no postmodern cartoons growing up (at least as far as I can remember) so plot was a necessary evil.  Storyline can refer either to an overarching storyline that persists from the beginning of the series until its end or a one-off storyline with recurring elements in which each individual episode has its own plot that shares common occurrences with other episodes)
Music/Sound (Unless you couldn't hear or didn't have the sound on, the music and sound effects used throughout each episode really gave it life (or drained it of its precious life-force).

#60 The Flintstones

Score: -3 / 100

Seasons: 6    Episodes: 166 

First Aired: 1960 - 1966

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "How could The Flintstones be last on the list!?"  Or maybe I'm not giving you enough credit and you're more mathematically minded and you're thinking, "You said the categories were scored on a ten point scale, blackguard!  What tomfoolery is this negative score you have here?  Rapscallion!"  See, the Flintstones is not simply a GREAT cartoon--it's a classic.  Hell, it's part of Americana (whatever that is).  Every red-blooded lumberjack tin-can-eating American knows who Fred Flintstone is.  They know he's married to Ginger, the red head from Gilligan's Island, and that he has a son and a daughter named Bam-Bam and Pebbles (though he might not always remember who is whom).  He might remember that Fred has a dog dinosaur named Dino...but he SURE AS HELL knows that the Flintstones live in Bedrock and that Fred's best pal is named Barney, who, incidentally, is married to Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island.

So what gives with the negative score?

Well...for starters, it got a low score for lacking memorability (you know all of those details about the show but can you remember a single episode's plot?  I can't!)  There aren't many if any villains and no good action figures.  But you didn't ask about the low asked about the negative score.

You can thank the movies for that one.

I gave The Flintstones a -40 out of 10 in the movies category even though I've never seen the movie(s).  I can't and won't.  Granted, I started out by giving it a 2 out of 10 in that category simply because they casted John Goodman as Fred Flintstone (GREAT selection) but then I was forced to give -22 because the movie co-starred Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble.  Seriously.  Rosie O'Donnell as Mary Ann.  I mean Betty Rubble.  Dammit!  See!!  That's why it deserves the negative score.

"Wait wait--what about the other -18 points?"

They made a sequel.  -8.  That starred Stephen Baldwin.  -10.   (I would've given more negative points but I was feeling magnanimous during my scoring.  A spot of decaffeinated Earl Grey tea in the evening will do that to a fellow!)

Seriously though--Stephen Baldwin.  That's only one Baldwin away from Billy.  Plus he's a Yabba Dabba Douchebag!

# 59 Bonkers

Score: 3 / 100

Seasons: 4    Episodes: 64 

First Aired: 1993 - 1995
Bonkers is one of those '90s shows that many '80s kids might remember and think they liked...until they try to recall any single thing about the show (other than the fact that Bonkers was a feline cop).  It's a bit like the conversation Cobb has with Ariadne outside of the cafe: you know you're outside of a cafe (or, in the case of Bonkers, that you used to watch the show) but when you try to remember how you got there (or any single detail about the cartoon) you find that you can't.

# 58 Freakazoid!
Score: 3 / 100

Season: 2  Episodes: 24 

First Aired: 1995 - 1997

When I tried to remember Freakazoid!, I kept thinking it started out as a skit in Animaniacs.  Maybe it did--I'm not really sure.  All I know is that I remember as much about Freakazoid! as I do about Bonkers.  Terrible.

# 57 Biker Mice From Mars

Score: 5 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 65 

First Aired: 1993 - 1996
I'm sure you're probably thinking, "What the hell is 'Biker Mice From Mars'"?  I can't blame you--I barely remember, myself.  I DO know they had an action figure line and that the show was filled with lots of things aimed at little boys: explosions, motorcycles, a hot babe ripe for the saving, and gigantic mice dudes.  Biker mice dudes, actually.  From Mars.

Random song Mars needing women...angry, red women:

# 56 Richie Rich
Score: 6 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 83

First Aired: 1980 - 1984

I don't ever remember watching Richie Rich...but I'm sure it happened.  It was probably one of those filler cartoons, either on Sunday morning before 9 o'clock or early on Saturdays.  Hell, as it stands, the only character I remember is Richie Rich and even that recollection is tenuous (I often confuse him with Dennis The Menace...the po' man's Richie Rich, I suppose).  The only reason Richie Rich even gets the bulk of its points is because of the movie version that came out 1994 and starred John Laroquette (who was great in Night Court...which I also watched as a kid) and Macaulay Culkin--a perfect fit for Richie Rich.  The person in charge of casting knew what he or she was doing--strike while the iron's hot!  Culkin was still riding his Home Alone fame at that point...before the drugs and dirty hookers started.

Or maybe not before?

# 55 Goof Troop

Score: 6 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 79

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

I barely remembered Goofy had a son in this show, let alone that he was all buddy-buddy with Pete and his kid.  The only reason I even watched this crap was because Goofy is my favorite of the Mickey Gang.

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Broccoli Snork?
# 54 Snorks

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 65 (108 cartoons)

First Aired: 1984 - 1989

I know--seven points?  I can't explain it either.  I suppose it's the novelty of them; they're like knock-off Smurfs but they live underwater.  Plus I had a Snork toy as a kid.  It's funny though because I realized that I couldn't remember much about this show either...and then I watched the intro.  Good Lord--what a shit-fest!  First of all, the song is absolutely terrible.  Second, it looks like the two dancing Snorks (at 0:08 in the video below) are about to get their grind on (it's like an underwater Studio 54!).  Third, if Snorks can breathe underwater and ride seahorses then why the hell would they need a submarine? (See 0:11-0:13)  Finally--what kind of smut is that at 0:23!?


# 53 The Smurfs

Score: 7/100

Seasons: 9  Episodes: 421

First Aired: 1981 - 1989

The Smurfs are arguably one of the most popular or at least ubiquitous cartoons to come out of the '80s...but, yet again, I can remember nothing about this show.  First of all, the Smurfs look like the Keebler Elves if all those fuckers did was huff paint fumes.  Second, depending on the intro you watch, you get VERY different results/impressions about the show.  One shows an evil wizard(?) and cat hellbent on destroying the little blue boogers.  The other one is like watching a knockoff Follow the Yellow Brick road performance on acid.  The only characters I vaguely remember are Smurfette (because she's the only girl and thus the concubine of the Smurf tribe) and the elder/old man Smurf (who has probably taken Smurfette as his wife...and if he hasn't he will.  Unless she's his daughter.  But even then...)

I gave this cartoon a -10 in the Movies category because though there's no Smurfs movie yet there appears to be one coming out this year.  And it's another 3-D piece of shit spectacle.  I guess they didn't learn from the Garfield experiment.

# 52 Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 13

First Aired: 1991
I'll best most of you are scratching your heads and wondering, "Who the hell is Bucky O'Hare?"  I have no idea how popular this show as but my guess is: not very.  The only reason it's ahead of the Smurfs is I remember asking for (and getting) at least one or two Bucky O'Hare action figures for either my birthday or Christmas.  I must've seen the show and potentially liked it at least a little yeah.

Or maybe not...I'm starting to think the toys in question were actually from the Ninja Turtles line.  Maybe someone else had the toys.  Who knows.  7 / 100 points--seriously. 

# 51 Denver, the Last Dinosaur

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1988

The only reason this show even got to 7 points is because of its somewhat catchy opening song.  I remembered it quite clearly despite having watched the show probably a handful of times as a tot.  To be honest, I don't even really remember Denver...and I had NO idea that he played the electric guitar until I re-watched the intro on Youtube.

Denver, the Last Dinosaur--a run of FIFTY TWO episodes including Chef Denver, Fizzback's Follies, and Arabian Adventure.

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I am a tremendous purple loser, Hey Hey! =D

# 50 Widget

Score: 8 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1990 - 1991

So the intro to this gem is typical 80s garbage...but with a preachy message!  Because that's what I want to hear when I listen to 80s music: preachiness.  It's bad enough that Jon Bon Jovi thinks I gave love a bad name and Sting and the Police are watching every breath I take, now I have to hear this little civic minded prick tell me about how the planet's in trouble.  Plus the evil female poacher in one episode looks A LOT like Wendie Malick (of course I had to IMDB her name)

Anyway, the full title of this space hippie's show is "Widget the World Watcher."  He's a "Watcher" but is nowhere NEAR the level of Marvel's race of Watchers.  Hell, I'd even prefer Fringe's Powder-Lookalike Observer over this purple shape shifting turd.

# 49 Histeria!

Score: 8 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1998 - 2001
The only thing that I remember from this show is the weird baby.  I gave it 8 points though because it tries to make something potentially boring (History or "stuff that's already happened") fun and interesting.  I'm not too keen on the addition of the exclamation point at the end of the's almost as if they're trying to hard.  There's nothing like an attempt to exhibit unnecessary superlative faux excitement as a means of luring unsuspecting youth into thinking that they will actually enjoy the next thirty minutes (including commercials).

# 48 Yogi Bear

Score: 9

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 35

First Aired: 1961

Yogi Bear has his place among the most beloved characters of the 1960s and, as a result of his notoriety, he got some slack cut for him...because the cartoons were pretty terrible.  All I remember is that he wore a hat, stole picnic baskets, had a budding romance with a male park ranger, and lived in Jellystone National Park. 

They recently released a Yogi Bear movie.  Wanna see the real ending, not shown in theaters because the suits deemed it too graphic?


# 47 Dennis the Menace

Score: 12

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 78

First Aired: 1986 - 1988

Animation's original ne'er-do-well, Dennis the Menace is Bart Simpson's white, suburban, rambunctious predecessor.  I vaguely remember the dog and the Pee-Wee Herman looking kid.  Plus Dennis' Mom is SMOKIN' hot!!!  I remembered Mr. Wilson when I re-watched the intro but I did confuse him for Mr. Belvedere.

Apparently there was a movie that earned a score of 5 / 10 on IMDB but I'm giving it only a three because of the casting for Mr. Wilson.  They should've gotten Belevedere to play him.  Or Tom Selleck. 

Tell Walter Matthau to get rid of that weak ass 'stache. 

Update: It appears that he died in you don't have to tell him what I said about the 'stache...unless you see him...but if you see might wanna run...because it could be Zombie Matthau...or not...because maybe you're dead too...speaking of the Zombie Matthau many zombies can you picture with moustaches?!  Exactly!!!

I've discovered the cure for Zombieism: rock a 'stache when Armaggedon comes knockin'!

(I'm thinking it doesn't even have to be a kick-ass Selleck 'stache either since I haven't seen a Zombie Matthau terrorizing any cities...must mean he's still in the box.  A the box...nevermind lol)

Walter Matthau: Offering Maggot Moustache rides since '00!

# 46 Darkwing Duck

Score: 13 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 91

First Aired: 1991 - 1992

Our first double-digit scoring cartoon.  Darkwing Duck actually started as a character on Duck Tales and then scored his own spin-off show.  Lord only knows how his agent manipulated that one.  The show does have a certain panache to it.

Darkwing Duck...let's...get...DANGEROUS!

# 45 Woody Woodpecker

Score: 15 / 100

Woody Woodpecker...good Lord...thank God everyone knows that a woodpecker is a bird.  Right?  RIGHT?!  There's only two reasons this show is on this list: the intro song and that goddamned laugh that made that 'pecker famous.  The intro song isn't anything special other than the fact that it's not entirely in 4:4 time--something that stood out to me as I listened to all of these cartoons' themes.  The laugh was oft imitated and likely caused you to want to punch the person in the face when they did it.

I'm just waiting for some shitty 3-D film version of Woody the Woodpecker to revive that obnoxious throaty giggle.

# 44 Mega Man

Score: 23 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 27

First Aired: 1994 - 1995

I'm a little bit biased towards this cartoon because the Mega Man franchise one of the top ten of all time.  The cartoon was pretty good but never struck me as anything special.  The intro and opening song are pretty good and the artwork is typical anime-esque stuff...but still a solid show nonetheless.

# 43 Bobby's World

Score: 23 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 80

First Aired: 1990 - 1998

WOW!  I can't believe this show went SEVEN seasons!  It was a great cartoon...but I'm still surprised.  Anyway, Bobby's World kicked ass as one of those cutesy shows.  Bobby Generic (seriously that was his last name--bet you never realized it was spelled that way given its pronunciation on the show) views the world with the over-active imagination typical of children and users of various hallucinogenic substances.  Going along with the latter theme, every show involved a brief live-action moment that featured Howie Mandel, back when Howie was cool and had hair...and before he went all Howard Hughes "DON'T TOUCH ME OR I WILL CUT YOU" like he is today.  Creepy aspect of the show though is that Howie Mandel voiced Bobby.  If you can picture Bobby's voice...and then try to picture Howie Mandel's face scrunching up on that Jheri curled ass head of his, doing the voice.  Creepy indeed.

Creepier still: John Tesh composed the theme song for Bobby's World.  True story.

Bobby's World = '90s animated version of The Wonder Years.


# 42 Super Mario Brothers

Score: 24 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1989 - 1991

Oh boy...the Super Mario Brothers Super Show from the '80s.  Every episode opened and closed with a live-action bit featuring Captain Lou Albano and occasionally featured special guests; the list is pretty impressive and includes Nicole Eggert, Vanna White, Roddy Piper, and Sgt. Slaughter.  For our purposes, though, we are concerned only with the cartoon segment.  The animation was good and everything was pretty much what you'd expect from a Mario cartoon.  What prevented this from being rated higher are the opening to the show overall (Rap + Live Action Dancing over animated backgrounds by Captain Lou and the other guy = craptastic failure) as well as the sewage depository of a movie that was released in the mid-90s.  I know--the movie had nothing to do with the cartoon (or the franchise, if you ask me) but it was just so horrifically terrible that there's no way anything remotely related to Mario isn't at least mildly affected.

# 41 Challenge of the GoBots

Score: 27 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1984/1985

As the movie aspect of my scoring system hurt the Flintstones' placement on this list, so did the action figure category help the GoBots.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the GoBots, they are essentially the New York Mets to the Transformers' New York Yankees.  The GoBots were based on a different line of Japanese toys but the premise is the same as Transformers: sentient robots engaged in conflict that has a negative impact on human society.  Apparently they too had a movie called "GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords" that was released one month before the Transformers' movie.  I had no idea that they had a movie (and as for the Rock Lords--I only found out that this crappy ass rock-looking transforming figure that I procured for myself somewhere along the childhood highway was a Rock Lord and not some fake-ass wannabe bootleg Transformer or Go-Bot; I long suspected something was amiss as the quality of the plastic used was rather high (compared to the flimsy plastic that is used with the fake toys)) but apparently it seemed like it was at least somewhat of a lucrative opportunity.  Why do I say this?  Because it featured the voice acting of Roddy McDowall, Telly Savalas, and MARGOT KIDDER!  How can those three not be worth 5 points?

I also wound up giving the action figures a score of 8/10 because they weren't quite as good as Transformers figures but are a hell of a lot better than the knockoff transforming robots you'd find in stores.  Unfortunately, I don't remember anything from the show other than the leader of the good guys (a fighter jet named Leader-1), the leader of the bad guys (a motorcycle named Cy-Kill), and a red Vespa type dude named Scooter (I can only imagine the toll it took on the creative powers of the guys that named these characters).  The problem though is that I know these characters' names only because I had the I literally remember nothing about the show.  Squadootch.  Zip.  Nilch.  Nada. 

You hear that Widget and Bonkers? 

# 40 Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers

Score: 28 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1989 - 1990

I remembered the theme song to this show as soon as I started watching the intro, which was a major plus for the show.  I also remembered Chip, Dale, and Monterey Jack as being among the primary characters on the show.  I thought that there was a spin-off show that starred Monterey Jack...and also Chip and Dale...called Talespin.  Apparently that was a different show.  I was so embarrassed for Talespin that I could not include it on this list.

Interesting story: when I was in Disney World for my first and only visit I met the real Chip & Dale (got the autographs to prove it for all the haters) and I asked them what their relationship was like with Alvin and the other chipmunks.  Let me tell you--the look that I got from those gigantic furry dudes was crazy.  Daggers!  One of them grumbled and the other looked me straight in the eye, without blinking, and said, "We don't like their kind."

Racism: it exists even at the quantum chipmunk level.

# 39 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Score: 28 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1993

I can remember bits and pieces of a few episodes, which is somewhat of a first for the shows on this list thus far!  The show would have been rated higher if not for the weak-ass villains: Dr. Robotnik and his inept acolytes Scratch and Grounder.  I've always hated Dr. Robotnik, as much for his insanely difficult final machine battles in the videogames as his weak ass stature as a baddie.  Still, though, to have Jaleel White (yes, THAT Jaleel White!) voice Sonic...that's pretty impressive. 

# 38 The Tick

Score: 29 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 36

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

The Tick was a pretty epic cartoon that garnered a cult following.  Unfortunately, I cannot consider myself a full-fledged member; I might show up for the meeting but I wouldn't drink the Kool-Aid.  The Tick had some pretty interesting characters, particularly the villains, but I can't recall anyone in particular outside of Arthur and The Tick, himself.  It's hard not to like the Tick (Arthur not so much--he's like a wussier George Costanza.  I love George...but if he were as wussy as Arthur then I don't know...); he's charismatic, energetic, and an all-around likeable guy.  Plus his epic catchphrase is "SPOOOOOOOONNNN!"

I gave The Tick 3 points for the movie category and feel I should explain.  There is no Tick movie nor do I believe there ever will be.  There was, however, a live action Tick show that starred Puddy as the eponymous protagonist of the show.  Great call on the casting and worthy of three points.  HIGH FIVE!

# 37 Tom and Jerry

Score: 29 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 30

First Aired: 1980 - 1982

I labored over the placement of good ol' Tom and Jerry.  I feel like they should be higher...but at the same time I'm not sure that they were strong enough to stand out on their own against the likes of Looney Tunes.  Everyone remembers Tom and Jerry but I don't feel that their dynamic is quite as strong as Sylvester and Tweety.  Maybe it's the fact that neither of them speak.  Maybe it's the fact that Tom has a sinister air about him while Sylvester just seems driven but goofy.  Either way, this was a staple of my Saturday/Sunday morning cartoon time (much like many other red-blooded, well-muscled, whiskey-drinking, steak-eating, bacon-adoring American!)

# 36 Garfield and Friends

Score: 33 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 242 (Half were for U.S. Acres)

First Aired: 1988 - 1994

Garfield is a quintessential cartoon that was equally awesome as a comic strip in the newspaper.  It certainly wasn't a thinking man's show...but it didn't need to be.  You had the gluttonous Garfield constantly threatening to send the loveable Odie to Abu Dhabi.  Outside of that...I really don't recall much about the plot.  I know there were other supporting characters, a young chick and a chick still in its egg chiefly among them.  I remember the premise for their appearances seemed to center on hatching the chick and I remember in one episode they finally succeeded...only to find another eggshell underneath.  The only Garfield episode that I can recall with any reliability is a futuristic one...but that's pretty much it.

Garfield got a 0/10 in the movie category because they did make one--in 3-D, that combined live acting with the 3-D animated Garfield.  I didn't see it and hope I never have to.  IMDB gives it a 4.8 but that's 4.8 points too high for me.  TERRIBLE!

# 35 The Legend of Zelda

Score: 34 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 13

First Aired: 1989

Ahh...the Legend of Zelda.  One of the most successful video game franchises ever and arguably in the top five all time, let alone top ten (suck it Mega Man!)  This cartoon was also part of the Super Mario Brothers Superfantastic Happy Hour (or whatever it was called--I'm too lazy to look it up again or scroll up to see) but what made Zelda special (and thus earned it more points) is the fact that it was on only on Fridays.  The Super Mario Brothers cartoon would be on Monday through Thursday...but Friday's were ladies night...and by ladies night I mean Zelda afternoon.

Anyway, the opening is memorable for its famous "Excuuuuuuuuse me, Princess!" line.  Yeah, that's right: the ZELDA CARTOON INTRO is famous for that line.  It sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Of course it does!  Do you know why?  Because you've heard it before! 

"But I've never seen this Zelda cartoon could this be?!"  you think to yourself...because it's too tough to think to other people...unless you're telepathic like my cousin Cathy.  She told me to say that...with her thoughts!

Here's the original: (0:44 seconds for those who can't wait)

And here's the plagiarizing interloper:

Now people have said that the voice actor that performs Link's character in the Zelda cartoon sounds a lot like the one who voices Aladdin in the Disney cartoon.  I say, "Bollocks!"  It's two different dudes!  And I can remember distinctly Aladdin saying to to Jasmine in the cartoon if not in the movie.

Should we be surprised that Aladdin stole this line?  Not in the least.  I probably looked like a luscious piece of fruit to him and he did how he do.

# 34 Fantastic Four

Score: 38 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

The 1990s incarnation of the Fantasic Four cartoon was pretty weak as far as superhero cartoons go (hence its position on this list).  The only character of the four that I enjoyed even mildly was the Human Torch...and even that was tenuous at best.  Dr. Doom was disappointing as the archnemesis BUT, what earns this cartoon its cool points is another recurring enemy: Galactus.  He's an eater of worlds--it doesn't get much more bad ass than that.  Plus Black Bolt was pretty cool too.  I remember those episodes a little bit (the ones that featured the Inhumans.  This show lasted only two seasons, much like some of the other bottom-feeders on the list.  This one, however, had only twenty-six episodes.  That's even less than Denver, the Last Dinosaur, for crying out loud! 

Surprised?  You shouldn't be.

# 33 Aladdin: The Series

Score: 41 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 86

First Aired: 1994 - 1995

I remember watching Aladdin on weekday afternoons; it was my first introduction to the Disney staple (I think).  For a cartoon based upon a movie it was pretty good and had some decent variations in the plot.  Jafar made for a good villain (though he was MUCH more wicked in Kingdom Hearts than in the show or the movie Aladdin).  The reason that this show placed so high was pretty much because of the movie, which got a 10/10.  C'mon--it's a Disney '90s classic!  If you were born in the early 80s then some of your first new movies were Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. 


# 32 Iron Man

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

Iron Man was a pretty cool show but was fairly pedestrian as a superhero cartoon, much like the Fantastic Four.  What really set Iron Man apart from the latter is its theme song.  Listen to it--how can this not get you jazzed up?

# 31 Transformers: Beast Wars

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1996 - 1999

I have a strange relationship with Beast Wars.  When it came on I was just beginning to move away from cartoons but I had always held a special place for Transformers.  The original show had moved to cable (I think the Sci-Fi channel) and, not having cable, I was unable to watch it.  Then Beast Wars came on...unexpectedly (at least for me)...and I was both stunned and hopeful that it would fill the void left by the original Transformers cartoons. 

Maybe my expectations or standards were too high...or maybe it was just that bad...but Beast Wars never could live up to its predecessor.  I collected some of the toys but it just wasn't the same.  I didn't think the animation was all that great, the writing was pretty poor (though there were some funny moments), and the storyline was ultimately weak (despite starting out somewhat strong).  In fact, the best moments of the show were where they crossed over with the original Transformers show (with Starscream's spark and when they find Optimus Prime).  Both the intro and the opening song were terribly half-assed--not a great way to start off a show

# 30 Batman Beyond

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1999 - 2002

Batman Beyond was one of the only cartoons that I can remember watching while I was in high school.  Granted, I didn't see it much but if I happened to be home and not playing basketball (a rarity in those days) then I might scope out that day's episode.  I think it ran at four o'clock during the week but I'm not entirely sure.  What I do know is that it had one kick-ass opening.

The music really dials in that futuristic feel that the show had; the opening sequence, overall, felt like an animated version of A Clockwork Orange.  How can you not want to watch a show that starts off like this:

The only episode I remember was when the kid playing Batman (Terry McGinnis, evidently) has a school project where he has to keep an egg safe and to treat it like an infant.  Apparently, the episode was called "The Eggbaby" so I guess I was on-point about that.  Anyway, the animation was great--the whole show had a dark, menacing feel to it.  I'm sure that if I was younger when this came out I definitely would've enjoyed it more.

# 29 Taz-Mania

Score: 43 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1991 - 1995

Taz is arguably every boy's favorite Looney Tunes character (unless you're a front-running Bugs Bunny fan, in which case I say to you: BAAAAAAAAAAAH  BAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) and he was well-deserving of his own spin-off show (get it?  "Spin-Off" Because he does the tornado spin thing?  GET IT!?)  Taken as a whole, the show was actually pretty impressive.  The opening sequence was great as was the intro song.  There was quite an ensemble of characters, including Taz's family, and the artwork was really spot-on.  I would've given the show at least 8 points for the Video Game category that I elected not to include because that Sega game was WICKED!  (The one with Marvin the Martian--MY favorite character).

Listen to Jonathan Davis of Korn doing his best Taz impersonation:

# 28 Exosquad

Score: 44 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1993 - 1994

Exosquad is one of my FAVORITE cartoons that I remember very little from without some prodding.  It was a space-epic G.I. Joe-ish show.  The plot was pretty good and I remember a few of the characters (the good and bad leaders, in particular).  What really made this show stand out was the action figures.  They were smaller than G.I. Joes but they came with these kick-ass exo-suits that were a lot like the thing Sigourney Weaver fights in in the Alien movies.

Speaking of movies, there never was an Exosquad movie...but I had to give it 7 / 10 anyway because I know if they HAD made one it would've been mind-blowingly awesome.

Speculative points FTW!

# 27 The Magic School Bus

Score: 44 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1994 - 1997

Okay, so if you were born around 1983, grew up in Gerritsen Beach, and went to P.S. 277 for elementary school, the odds are that you were first introduced to The Magic School Bus books through Readers are Leaders AND that you think that Mrs. Frizzle looked a lot like Mrs. Fromhartz, who, coincidentally, had frizzy hair!  This show was great because it was one of those programs that taught you things (science, specifically) without detracting from the overall enjoyment and appeal of the show.  I loved the episode(s?) that involved shrinking the bus down and entering/exploring the human body.  Great, great show.

# 26 Inspector Gadget

Score: 46 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 86

First Aired: 1983 - 1986

♫ Do-do-do-do-do Inspector Gadget! ♫  C'mon--who doesn't remember that theme song?  It was one of the catchiest, most memorable of the '80s cartoons.  Inspector Gadget wasn't much in the way of a hero but he did have some awesome contraptions.  It was cool that you never saw the villain; for what it's worth, Dr. Claw's claw was bad ass as was the castle he was often seen in.  That cat was wicked too.  Unfortunately for Inspector Gadget (like numerous cartoons on this list) they made a live-action movie in 1999 starring Matthew Broderick as the eponymous hero.  They might as well as have casted Brendan Frasier or that Mr. Bean douchebag instead; all three are terrible choices for the Inspector!

True story: this show would've been immensely more bad-ass if it was called "Inspektor Gädget" and Herr Inspektor spoke with a thick, gravelly German accent.

# 25 The Jetsons

Score: 46 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 90

First Aired: 1962 - 1963 (I watched the second run from 1985 - 1987)

This is another one of those "Americana" shows along with the Flintstones and Looney Tunes.  Who doesn't remember the names of all of the characters AND every lyric to the opening song?  The Jetsons inspired us to think big with regards to the future AND they managed to make it at least somewhat plausible: the Jetsons took place in 2062 whereas Transformers (I think) took place in 2010.  Although, to be fair, we are about as equally close to having flying cars as we are to dealing with sentient robots.

The only glaring problem I have with The Jetsons is its lack of memorable episodes.  Can anyone remember a single full episode's plot?  I sure can't.  I just know George's boss was Mr. Cogswell or Cogsworth or something similar.  Still, this cartoon deserves its place among the best.  Plus there was a Jetsons movie that I had no idea about.  It seems legit so I deferred to IMDB, which gave it a 5.1 / 10, so I went with a score of 5.

I am kind and generous, much like Natalie Merchant.

# 24 ThunderCats

Score: 49 - 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 130

First Aired: 1985 - 1989

This is definitely a cartoon that holds a special place in my heart.  To begin with, the phrases, "Thundercats-HO!" and "Sword of Omen, give me sight beyond sight!" are etched forever in my heart, especially the latter.

ThunderCats is one of the first cartoons I can ever remember watching--a fact that my Mom can readily attest to.  When I was really, really little I used to run around the house trying to say Lion-O's epic quote...except I couldn't say my esses properly, so it always wound up coming out as, "Hord of Omen Give Me Hight Beyond Hight!"  In order to understand why this recollection makes me and my Mom smile you'll have to realize that I didn't just run around the house saying it...I ran around the house screaming it at the top of my little lungs, as serious as could be.

It's a good thing I don't still speak like that...otherwise it would just seem cruel to laugh.

Anyway, I had only Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, and a bootleg Snark in terms of toys...but they were awesome.  Mumm-Ra (as far as I can recall) was a pretty terrifying dude.  Lion-O was heroic as far as the primary protagonists go...but he DID bear a strange resemblance'll see...

# 23 Conan The Adventurer

Score: 49 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

Conan is another cartoon that benefited greatly from an epic opening sequence.  What hot-blooded, virile, erudite, insouciant, jocund, perspicacious, youthful lad wouldn't feel a throb or two from watching this?

I remembered the plot after watching the above video, especially the parts where Conan gave those lizard dudes their comeuppance.  One thing detracting from the show is the fact that the major antagonist is a BLATANT rip-off of G.I. Joe's Serpentor:

# 22 The Incredible Hulk
Score: 53 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 21

First Aired: 1996 - 1997

There had been an earlier Hulk cartoon in 1982 the but the one I remember was this one.  What I remember most was the fact that it had a really sophisticated feel to the plot; it plucked the heartstrings in ways most superhero cartoons don't (and was almost on par with the X-Men cartoon of the '90s).  I'm surprised it lasted only 21 episodes because it was great.  The primary foe (General Ross) struck me as a blatant rip-off of J. Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman universe.

I was able to give the Hulk only five points for movies, which I think is abundantly fair and equitable.  The first Hulk movie (which I actually liked) got ripped apart by critics and moviegoers alike.  The second incarnation (which I have yet to see) starred the greatest actor of our generation, Mr. Edward Harrison Norton.  I figured if I gave a zero for the crapfest and a perfect ten for the Norton film, it would average out to a five.

Fourth-grade mathematics: it's not just for fourth graders...anymore!

# 21 King Arthur & The Knights of Justice

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

I've always been a sucker for anything knight-related, especially King Arthur stuff.  As a kid, one of my favorite books was The Castle in the Attic and its sequel The Battle for the Castle.  Many of my epic G.I. Joe battles were medieval in their theme, as were many of the stories I wrote as a kid.  With that said, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice was one AWESOME cartoon.  It combined the traditional elements of Arthurian lore with an updated angle; a group of high school football players are transported to Arthur's time by Merlin in an attempt to help said wizard extricate the original knights from their imprisonment.  Instead of keeping it strictly to a sword-and-shield sort of approach, each of the knights had a magical emblem on their armor or shield that would summon a mystical creature or provide them with some sort of thaumaturgic ability.  The main bad guy was pretty wicked (well, technically the main bad guy was a bad gal--Morgana, Merlin's foil, but her number one henchman was Lord Viper...quite the kick-ass dude). 

They never released a movie for the show but there WAS a video game that I never got the chance to play.  It looked pretty cool from the screen shots so perhaps at some point I will attempt to hit it up.


# 20 Dino-Riders

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 1   Episodes: 14

First Aired: 1988

Dino-Riders played on another of my interests as a wee lad: dinosaurs.  I feel like every naturalized, inoculated, undefenestrated, young American boy went through the following phases as they grew up (in no particular order): Astronaut/Space; Dinosaurs; Cowboys/Indians; Ninjas; Knights; Magic; and Racecars.  Dino-Riders appealed to a few of these phases.  The premise was awesome: good guys and bad guys modding dinosaurs with kick-ass technology and going to battle.  Every episode seemed to involve the good guys trying to remove the mind-control device on the T-Rex, as seen here around 8:19:

Anyway, the action figures were insanely awesome; the dinosaurs came with the equipment used to control them as well as a small figure of a character from the show. 

Random awesome fact # 1: Frank Welker voices the main baddie; Frankie Welks is the voice of Megatron from the Transformers show.

Random awesome fact # 2: Rex from Toy Story is actually modeled after the T-Rex from Dino-Riders.

# 19 Alvin & The Chipmunks

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 8  Episodes: 102

First Aired: 1983 - 1990

Alvin & The Chipmunks are among the most beloved '80s characters and cartoons and is arguably one of the most successful franchises to come out of the decade.  Everyone knows the intro song and is familiar with the Chipmunks' high-pitched singing.  Alvin was the archetypal bad-boy, Simon the nerd, and Theodore the corpulent but congenial chum. 

I don't remember many episodes from the Chipmunks but there is one that I will never forget.  Now there aren't very many villains to contend with from what I recall but the one featured in my unforgettable episode more than makes up for them.  They get ten points for the villain in ONE episode--the only one I can remember vividly: the one where they go looking for their mother. The Chipmunks came to live with Dave when he found them on his doorstep when they were infants.  One day, to settle an argument about their true birthday date, the chipmunks decide to go in search of their long-lost mother.  On their way they are attacked by a wild boar and saved by a hooded stranger (who turns out to be their mother).  That goddamned boar that attacked them was pretty scary to a kid watching this for the first time--especially when it pops up the second time and attacks the house. Worst of all the fucker winds up hurting their Mom really bad. Thankfully he gets his animal kingdom comeuppance when Nature bitchslaps him into the river.

This episode still gets me teary to this day, especially the scene with the Paul Simon song. It's probably because I was afraid MY Mom would get messed up by a boar as a kid. Meaning when I was a kid...not when she was a kid...that would just be worry about HER getting roughed up by a boar as a kid. Shit. That defies all KINDS of laws of physics: either she was boar-roughed up or she wasn't...right? WRONG! ENTER RICHARD FEYNMAN!

Feynman Histories.  Read up--you'll be glad you did: can see the episode referenced above here:
You're a stone-cold killer if you can watch that lullaby scene near the end of Part 1 and not feel at least a stirring of emotion (of course, Lois Lowry could probably Giver you a pill to fix that!)

# 18 Gargoyles

Score: 59 / 60

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 78

First Aired: 1994 - 1997

Gargoyles was an awesome show for a number of reasons.  First, the characters were straightforward and easy to get behind right away.  Goliath was Optimus Prime-esque in his leadership qualities and made for a great primary hero.  Though villain-wise, the show was a bit involved Avalon, magic, Gargoyles, technology, and human collaboration.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, I don't about Bill Fagerbakke (Tom Cullen from "The Stand" and Dauber on "Coach"), Ed Asner (from EVERYTHING AWESOME), and Frank Welker...again.

The most awesome episode I can remember is a two-parter that had some dude (I think it was Macbeth) becoming gigantic and stopping time...or some such thing.  Very cool stuff. 

# 17 Tiny Toon Adventures

Score: 60 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 100 (98 plus 2 specials)

First Aired: 1990 - 1992

Tiny Toons was a technically perfect cartoon; it had everything you could ask for.  It was funny, had great songs and music, had phenomenal characters and artwork, it was based upon a previous foundation of success (i.e. Looney Tunes).  What really hurt the show in terms of my list is the fact that there were no action figures, movies, or solid villains (Elmyra and that other weiner kid?)  Who didn't love Plucky Duck's "I want to flush it again" or the interplay of Buster and Babs?  Baby Taz ruled too! 

Tiny Toons = the lovechild of Muppet Babies & Looney Tunes. 

You can take that to the bank.

# 16 The Real Ghostbusters

Score: 62 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 147

First Aired: 1986 - 1991

Another one of the holy trilogy (or perhaps quintology) of cartoon franchises from the '80s.  The success of the film launched the cartoon, which, in turn, launched just about everything else Ghostbusters-related that came thereafter.  It was almost as if, in the beginning, God created Ghostbusters the movie but saw that it was without form and void...yada yada...and then said, "Let there be Ghostbusters the cartoon" and there was Ghostbusters the cartoon and God saw the cartoon and that it was good...and then he made a bowl of microwave popcorn and sat down to watch that shit!

Anywho, there are almost too many awesome things about Ghostbusters to count.  The logo is amazing and speaks for itself.  Seriously--they should have included it on that disc they sent out into space--it's THAT identifiable.  The characters are great and the adversaries are even better.  Slimer is like an illiterate ghost-Yoda...which is still awesome.  You know why?  Because without Slimer there'd be no:

I can't imagine a single kid not wanting to be a Ghostbuster at least once between '86 and '91.  Hell, you still see Ghostbuster costumes today!  Maybe it's not because of the cartoon...per se...but it could be.  I remember asking for Ghostbusters toys for either my third or fourth birthday, getting up early on my special day, and opening up my first Ghostbusters toy, which was a hand-held viewfinder type toy that projected different pictures of ghosts onto the wall.  Who didn't want the Ghost Trap and Proton Pack as a kid???

Also one of the most amazing theme songs EVER.  I mean, it stood up on its own as a single--what could possibly be cooler than that?


The only thing that sucked about Ghostbusters was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Seriously?  THAT'S the face of your villains?

I mean, really, who's afraid of the big-bad-Michelin-Tire-Man?

Utterly reprehensible.

To make up for it, here's a recipe for an alcoholic version of Ecto Cooler:

2 oz Midori® melon liqueur

1/2 oz Blue Curacao liqueur

1/2 oz Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1/2 oz vodka

Splash amaretto almond liqueur

4 oz Tropicana Orange/Tangerine Juice

# 15 King of the Hill

Score: 62 / 100

Seasons: 13  Episodes: 259

First Aired: 1997 - 2010

King of the Hill was one of the few shows that I watched religiously when I was in high school.  The Hill family gave me many great moments to impersonate; I had most of the first two or three seasons memorized.  I still remember a ton of episodes from this show.  It's funny because it doesn't really stand out as anything special...but I loved it right out of the gate.  I still remember the Snipe hunt, all of the John Redcorn/Nancy/Dale moments, Dale menacing Peggy, Peggy's shoe size being revealed, Peggy winding up in a foot fetish video (no, not THIS one:, and tons of other great moments.

Surprisingly, there was never a King of the Hill movie...but I still had to give it points in the movie category.  Hank Hill's predecessor DID appear in Beavis & Butthead Do America (an oft underrated and overlooked cinematic masterpiece) shortly before KotH came out. My first Hank Hill impersonation came as a result of that character. His name was Tom Anderson and his exchange with Beavis is as follows:

Tom Anderson: What in the hell is that damn noise?

[goes inside his camper and sees Beavis]

Tom Anderson: What?

Beavis: Hey, how's it going?

Tom Anderson: Pull your damn pants up, boy! I don't want to see that. Damn it, get out of here!

Tom Anderson: [throws Beavis out of camper] And if I ever catch you whacking in here again, I'm gonna hogtie you.
It's not that Tom Anderson...but would you really be that surprised if it was?
# 14 Scooby-Doo

Score: 64 / 100

Seasons: 23  Episodes: 381

First Aired: (Watched in the 1980s)'s just ridiculous how many different Scooby Doo shows they've had.  I really had no way of narrowing down which one it was that I saw as a kid, so I'm leaving the general information for the franchise as a whole.  Scooby-Doo (whichever one it was) was one of those shows that had no overarching plot but rather followed the same format each episode: some sort of mystery is encountered and is attempted to be solved by the team of Scooby, Shaggy, Freddie, Daphne, and Velma.  The darker, mysterious characters are often meant to mislead the heroes (and, more specifically, the viewers) into thinking that one of them is the interloper.  By the end, the mystery is solved (usually but not always by Velma) and the true villain is revealed.

I always loved the theme song but the reason this show is as high on the list as it is is because it generated one of my nicknames that my parents used for me as a kid.  Sentimental value, let's call it.

Again, there was a live-action movie that I never saw but I'm starting to wish I did.  The cast featured some of the best young talent around (at the time) including Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Matthew Lillard.  Unfortunately, it also starred Rowan Atkinson (a.k.a. the Mr. Bean douchebag).

The universe has a way of balancing itself out though...since it ALSO starred Isla Fisher.  Good Lord that woman is gorgeous.  Did you SEE her in Wedding Crashers?  And she's married to Borat.  BORAT for crying out loud!

# 13 Looney Tunes

Score: 65 / 100

Seasons, Episodes, First Aired: ???

I'm mind is still trying to wrap itself around the fact that that hairy beast gets to tup that ivory beauty.  Ugh.

Anyway...I'm pretty sure that Looney Tunes was watched by EVERY kid in America, almost without regard for what decade that kid grew up in.  I remember Looney Tunes being on on Sundays but I'm sure it was on every day.  It was the most ubiquitous cartoon out there and featured every awesome character we all grew up with this side of the Disney border.  Whether it was Bugs and Elmer, Sylvester and Tweey, Daffy, Taz, Porky Pig...every episode was awesome.  My favorite one involved Sylvester being Porky's pet cat and them stopping to spend the night at a creepy looking castle/house/hotel.


# 12 Spider-Man

Score: 68 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1994 - 1998

This was a GREAT superhero cartoon--one of the best, to date.  Joe Perry performed the intro theme song, which is awesome.  It didn't stand out as doing anything fantastic or different with the franchise but what it did do was create a kick-ass animated rendition of the Spiderworld.  The Venom and later Carnage episodes were beyond amazing.

# 11 DuckTales

Score: 70 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 100

First Aired: 1987 - 1990

DuckTales had so many awesome elements to it.  Huey, Dewey, and Louie were like the counterparts/rivals of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore...and who didn't love Launchpad McQuack?  The Scrooge/Magica De Spell dynamic was great, as was the inclusion of Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys (reminiscent of the evil family in The Gonies).  Bubba the Caveduck kicked ass as did Gyro Gearloose (especially in the video game version of the DuckTales--a quintessential Nintendo game!)  The DuckTales theme song is instantly recognizable and almost impossible not to sing along with if you know the words (especially the "Woo-ooh"'s compulsory to sing those bits, just like performing air drums when the drums kick in at 3:16 into Phil Collins' mega-hit "In The Air Tonight."  Don't believe me?  Ask Alan's face:  )

I'll never forget the episode that dealt with inflation.  I can still picture the boys wheeling a wheelbarrow full of money just go buy a lollipop!  Imagine that?  I sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  Oh...wait...

Plus, the DuckTales movie was EPIC!  I still remember the penguin girl and the colorful scarf.  I wanna watch that movie again now lol

Acoustic rendition of the DuckTales theme:


# 10 Animaniacs

Score: 70 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 99

First Aired: 1993 - 1998

Wow...Animaniacs.  It was like Looney Tunes taken to the next level (you hear that Tiny Toons?  ANIMANIACS took it to the next level.  SUCK IT!)  The cast of characters was expansive and unforgettable, not to mention the characters in one-off skits.  It was like The Three Stooges meets Weekend Update meets Histeria! meets The Magic School Bus meets any other awesome cartoon that fits but that I cannot remember.  Plus it made water towers relevant again.

Seriously though--do you have any idea how many awesome characters there were?  You had Yakko, Wakko, Dot, Dr. Otto von Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse (she could've been on the cover of "Enema of the State"!), Ralph the security guard, Slappy & Skippy Squirrel, the Goodfeathers (Bobby, Squit, and Pesto), Rita and Runt, Buttons and Mindy, Chicken Boo, Katie Ka-Boom, and PINKY AND THE FREAKIN' BRAIN (not to mention Snowball, Millie, and Pharfignewton).

Now, naturally, Pinky & The Brain were my favorite (as I would imagine they were pretty much everyone's favorites) supporting characters and I looked forward to each episode that featured them.  Imagine my exhilarated enthusiasm when I found out they were going to have their own show...

...except I forgot about the Starburst principle.  I kinda just made up the name but I've had the principle in mind for awhile.  Anyway...what's everyone's favorite original Starburst flavor?  I bet you didn't even finish reading that question before you answered either "The Pink One" or "Strawberry."  And you'd be right.  The next question is, "Who hasn't, at one point or another, looked at a pack of Starburst and thought, 'Damn, I sure wish there were more pink/strawberry ones; they should come out with a pack of JUST the strawberry ones!'"  The answer is no one; EVERYONE who has eaten Starburst has had that thought (and thought that it was their own streak of genius).  Those self-same people undoubtedly sighed, chalking it up to a pipe dream...but it DID happen.  For awhile (assuming they still don't have it now) they released a special ALL strawberry pack of Starburst.

...and you know what?

It sucked.

You know why?

Too much of a good thing.

Ditto for Pinky & The Brain.  You needed the other flavors/characters to bolster and sustain the awesomeness of the pink/strawberry/Pinky & the Brain.

Animaniacs also solidified Rob Paulsen as arguably the best voice actor of cartoons aired in the '90s.  He was the voice of Mighty Max and literally SCORES of other unforgettable cartoon characters including Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Here's but a small sample of the shows that he's been featured on:

Batman: The Animated Series
Biker Mice from Mars
Darkwing Duck
G.I. Joe
Goof Troop
Handy Manny
Mighty Max
Sonic the Hedgehog
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron
The Smurfs
The Snorks
The Tick
Tiny Toon Adventures

I've mentioned Frank Welker a few times so far.  Let's look at a sampling of his voice-acting chops:

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman Beyond
Bobby's World
Challenge of the GoBots
Darkwing Duck
G.I. Joe
Garfield and Friends
Goof Troop
Inspector Gadget
The Jetsons
Muppet Babies
Mighty Max
The Real Ghostbusters
The Simpsons
The Smurfs
The Snorks
Sonic the Hedgehog
Tiny Toon Adventures
Tom and Jerry

Notice anything the bold cartoons have in common?  Exactly.  Rob Paulsen & Frank Welker FTW!

To finish off the Animaniacs section with a happy of the best parts of the show was the awesome songs they had.  I remember killing time in the library in high school memorizing the Countries of the World song.  Below are links to some of my favorite tunes from the show:

The Nations of the World:

The Names of All Fifty States and Their Capitols:

All the words in the English language:

# 09 Mighty Max
Score: 75 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 40

First Aired: 1993 - 1994

Mighty Max is a show that I liked when I watched it but that I've grown to love and appreciate even more since then.  The themes explored in each episode were really sophisticated, looking back.  I remember a bunch of different episodes but there are four that really stand out.  The two final episodes were just amazing and are among the best cartoon episodes of any action-ish animated show I've ever seen.  There was one episode that involved a megalomaniac genius taking evolution to the furthest degree possible (a pretty complex concept to tackle in a cartoon!).  I also remember an episode that dealt with the astral plane.  That one stuck with me and came to mind numerous times in later years as I explored the concept on my own.

Trivia Moment: that astral plane Mighty Max episode actually influenced part of my both of my novels: The Lion in the Desert and my second novel, The Walking Ghosts.

The premise for the show was pretty cool and appealed to any young boy dreaming of being special and imbued with magic and meaning.  The toys were pretty good and apparently preceded the show.  The only lame aspect of that is that the toys were a male version of the Polly Pocket toys...but the voice acting in the cartoon MORE than made up for it.  I mean, look at this cast:

Rob Paulsen (Max)
Richard Moll (Norman)    
Tim Curry (Skullmaster)
Tony Jay (Virgil)
Frank Welker (Warmonger)
Tress MacNeille (Max's Mom)

We've covered Rob Paulsen & Frank Welker already, Richard Moll played Bull on Night Court (the second Night Court star to appear on this list!), Tress MacNeille is of Simpsons renown, Tony Jay sounds like Shakespeare himself...and then there's the guy who played Skullmaster.  No joke, Frank Welker is AMAZING...but Tim Curry might just be the creepiest dude on the planet.  I mean, sure, Frankie Welks voices some wicked bad guys including Megatron...but, jeez, just LOOK at who Tim Curry has played:

Feeling brave?  Then enjoy!

# 08 Dragon Ball Z

Score: 75 / 100

Seasons: N/A  Episodes: 291

First Aired: (US) 1999 - 2003

Dragon Ball Z was the only cartoon that I watched RELIGIOUSLY in high school.  My best friend had cable and he would tape the episodes and then lend me the VHS or we'd watch the show together.  At the time, we were practicing martial arts with some regularity so watching the show served only to get us more pumped.

No joke--I don't think there has ever been a more exciting cartoon; it was like a testosterone explosion...multiplied by a million...and then taken to Super Saiyan proportions.  You'd be watching one of those fight scenes and would have to punch or destroy something just to release the build-up of manly energy inside of you.  Plus, each new storyline literally and figuratively took the show to new levels... was AWESOME.

The video games were phenomenal, the action figures were excellent to collect given the long-standing history of the franchise and thus quality of the memorabilia, and the characters in the show were unforgettable.  I loved that there was constantly newer, bigger, badder enemies that forced the heroes to improve themselves as well.  Plus their names are all based on inane things like vegetables and underwear.

Japanese humor FTW!

Just a note: I gave DBZ a score of 75 / 100.  I gave the franchise a PERFECT score in the movies category...for the animated movies.  Unfortunately, they also released a live action film.  How could they have not known that it would be a terrible idea unless done perfectly?  Seriously--making a live action film version of Dragon Ball Z is just like doing the same for Stephen King's Dark Tower franchise: it has to be flawless otherwise it will get destroyed.  I wound up giving that ABORTION of a disasterpiece live action movie -20 because I had to

Imagine what that score could have been without that movie?

# 07 The Simpsons

Score: 82 / 100

Seasons: 22  Episodes: 474

First Aired: 1989 - Present

The Simpsons is arguably the greatest cartoon of all time and is certainly one of, if not the longest, lasting show out there.  Its ability to incorporate elements of pop culture and politics as well as a broad range of comedic stylings and devices renders it as an animated version of SNL.  Think about it--being "Simpsonized" as a guest character is on a comparable level as appearing as a guest host on SNL; both lists would read as a "Who's Who" of 20th and 21st century American (and in some cases, global) public figures.

I'll bet you can easily name at least twenty characters from the show off the top of your head without even trying.  Maybe even thirty.  How many other shows can you say that about?

Okay, money where my mouth is: Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, Santa's Little Helper, Snowball (any of them), Ned Flanders, Rod Flanders, Todd Flanders, Mr. Burns, Mr. Smithers, Carl, Moe, Police Chief Wiggum, Ralph Wiggum, Millhouse, Nelson, Cletus, Superintendent Chaumers, Principal Skinner, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Comic Book Shop Guy, Rainier Wolfcastle, Pimply Faced Teen, Apu, Patty, Selma, Troy McLure (R.I.P.), Kent Brockman.

Didn't even break a sweat.

My favorite part about the Simpsons has always been the Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials.  They've taken a BUNCH of material from the Twilight Zone (one of my top five favorite shows of all time) and I loved the alien characters. 

The Simpsons have withstood the test of time...but it's starting to feel like they've overstayed their welcome.  I would use the Rolling Stones or The Who as an example...but I have a better one: Brett Favre.  20 something seasons for both the player and the show, legions of fans, plenty of controversy (remember the writers demanding more money years ago?), both have had videos of themselves getting hit in the nuts by a football.

Interestingly enough, Brett Favre has never been featured on the Simpsons.


Maybe not.

Side note: I'm about to start reading Stephen King's Under the Dome and I can't help but wonder whether he got his idea from the Simpsons movie...or if it's the other way around...or, even stranger, if they've been able to exist completely separate from one another!

# 06 Batman: The Animated Series

Score: 85 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 85

First Aired: 1992 - 1995

This was far and away one of the most dark, suspenseful, amazing cartoons of its time.  I remember so many moments from the show, especially with the enemies Man-Bat and Clayface.  When the latter died in an episode I realized it was the first time I had ever seen a character actually die in a cartoon before.  The Mr. Freeze story was done really well too; they knew how to pluck the heartstrings with that one.

This was my first introduction to the DC world of Batman as a kid.  I never collected comics until only recently when Stephen King and Marvel teamed up to release graphic novels of a number of his works, so my knowledge of all things Marvel / DC came from cartoons rather than the printed page.  The characters' storylines were brought to life in the cartoon with great artistic skill and even better dialogue writing (think 1960s Adam West Batman...and then go to the exact opposite end of the spectrum).  Plus, just about every villain really holds his or her own.  Look at this list: 

The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill.  Yeah, THAT Mark Hamill!)
The Penguin
The Riddler
Mr. Freeze
Two-Face (Richard Moll again holllllaaaaaa!)
Poison Ivy
Harley Quinn
The Scarecrow
Killer Croc
The Mad Hatter
and the best of them all: Ra's al Ghul.

The storytelling was great, the music was great, the action figures were phenomenal.  An all-around fantastical piece of animation.

# 05 Muppet Babies

Score: 87 / 100

Seasons: 8  Episodes: 107

First Aired: 1984 - 1991

When I started this list I knew that the Muppet Babies would be near the top but I wasn't sure of how high it would be; I think it's a perfect start to the top five.  This was my ALL-TIME favorite show as a little kid.  I loved Gonzo first, then Kermit, then Fozzy, Rowlf, Animal, Beaker, Bunsen, Scooter, Skeeter, and Miss Piggy (I know, I know--it seems like a misogynistic list but it's just how it worked out.  Nothing against puppets with vaginas--I LOVED Avenue Q!)

The show had no overarching plot but rather followed how the babies' wild imaginations and infantile/toddleresque perspective of the world would influence their approaches to a variety of problems or situations such as overcoming a fear of the dark, deciding what to be when they grow up, and imagining what a trip to an amusement park might be like.  In essence, Bobby's World stole its premise from the Muppet Babies.

Now you would think that, having no natural predators, the Muppet Babies would be scored low in the Villains category...but you'd be wrong in your cogitation.  The reality is quite to the contrary: I gave them a 10 / 10 for Villains.  Why?  One word:  Nanny.  What's creepier than a striped-sock wearing giant lady whose face you NEVER SEE a single time in 107 episodes?


How awesome are the Muppet Babies?  In an upcoming film, Animal goes to anger management rehab and one DAVID ERIC GROHL sits in on the skins for him.  That's how bad ass Animal and his muppet pals are.

Dave Fucking Grohl.

Little Known Fact about Me: I once received a Rock-and-Roll enema courtesy of Dr. G himself once.

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Dave Grohl...or Jesus?  That's right!  There's no difference.

Original photo uploaded to  by Leahtwosaints  
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(327 KB)Leahtwosaints

# 04 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Score: 89 / 100

Seasons: 10  Episodes: 193

First Aired: 1987 - 1996

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Heroes in a half-shell!)--was there a bigger franchise to come out of the '80s?  (Maybe, but more on that later).  Everyone had their favorite turtle (I was a Raphael and Donatello guy early on, adding Leo into the mix later on) and bad guy.  The Shredder is one of the top cartoon villains of all time...Mr. Oroku Saki himself. 

TMNT was easily the most balanced franchise in terms of its forays into different media and venues; everything that TMNT touched (early on) was gold.  Great cartoon with solid characters, tons of action, a coherent and awesome storyline?  Check.  Strong comic book presence?  Check.  GREAT line of action figures?  Check.  Phenomenal trilogy of movies?  Check.  Some of the best side-scrolling/action video games in the history of the genre?  Check!!!   

The first Ninja Turtles game for the NES is one of the hardest games ever made; the second TMT game--"The Arcade Game" is one of the best.  The third game was decent but the fourth "Turtles in Time" is easily one of my all-time favorite games.

All three movies were great and involved animatronic live-action acting.  Frickin' A!!!  

# 03 X-Men

Score: 92 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 76

First Aired: 1992 - 1997

X-Men was my first introduction to the awesomeness that is Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, Sabretooth, Apocalypse, Archangel, and the scores of characters from the Marvel universe.  The storyline was great and somewhat steady (returning to earlier conflicts or unresolved issues in later episodes) while exploring microcosmic stories such as the love triangle between Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops or the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto. 

As would be expected from a Marvel show, the artwork was truly stellar.  The writing was great and the music really added much to the show; it was virtually perfect on the visual, intellectual, and auditory levels.  Everything about the show made it worth watching...over and over and over again.

The action figure line associated with the show is one of my all-time favorite; I still have a huge collection of toys that I will pass down to Timmy when he's old enough either to play with them or at least to appreciate them.  I had almost all eight incarnations of Wolverine as well as the old / new versions of most of the other X-Men. 

The show worked very well on an emotional level as well as on an entertainment and marketing ones.  You really felt for Rogue knowing that she could never love the way she would want to; you understood Wolverine's rage; and you were inspired by Professor X's altruism and idealistic nature.

I'm definitely looking forward to re-watching these episodes with Timmy when he's older; I hope he'll be as into them as I was (and probably still am!) 

Watching X-Men was like seeing a comic book come to life.

# 02 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Score: 99 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 95

First Aired: 1985 - 1987

G.I. Joe was, perhaps, the ideal cartoon for any little boy growing up in the '80s.  It had action, drama, suspense, mystery, action, romance, action, ninjas, Sgt. Slaughter, and action; the only thing that it lacked was bacon...but that's a separate issue.

G.I. Joe had some great heroes (screw Flint and Duke and all of the other frontrunners--I'm talking about bad-ass mofos like Roadblock, Gung-Ho...and Sgt. Slaughter) but C.O.B.R.A. had some really [insert superlative here] villains.  Cobra Commander and Destro were alright...but I'm talking Serpentor, Dr. Mindbender, Golobulus, Nemesis Enforcer, Cobra Ninja Viper, the Python Patrol, Night Creeper, Night Creeper Leader...oh yeah...

and Storm Shadow.

What toy was more coveted as a boy in the late '80s than the original Storm Shadow? 

Then, of course, there was Snake Eyes.  I can't think of a more kick-ass rivalry than the one these two shared.  Granted, you have Optimus/Megatron and Wolverine/Sabretooth...but come on...Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes.  Any episode that either of those dudes were in was unbelievable.

The best parts about the series, though, are the movie and the action figures.  The movie was great and introduced a completely new enemy in the Cobra-La sect.  It also had some pretty epic moments.  It was definitely an animated-cinematographic highlight of the time.

But let's be real...the real draw was the toys.  They were the perfect size and had the perfect amont of poseability to render them, truly, the perfect action figures.  They came with awesome accessories (and the occasional animal sidekick); even the packaging was great, giving biographical information for each figure.

I know it might seem odd to be so enthusiastic about these action figures...but I spent the great deal of my childhood playing with them, having them engage in epic battles or going on seemingly never-ending quests.

G.I. Joe gave me hours of enjoyment, whether it was watching the show or the movie, playing with the toys, or reading up about them, it really was one of the defining shows of my childhood...

# 01 Transformers

Score: 100 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 98

First Aired: 1984 - 1987

...but it wasn't THE defining show; that honor goes to Transformers.  Far and away the coolest cartoon ever and the greatest collection of action figures as well as an amazing movie.  The theatrical Transformers film was Orson Welles' final body of work before his death.  It also had a wicked song called "The Touch." 

I remember damn near every Transformers character and can recall tons of episodes.  Much like G.I. Joe, though, the best part about the show was its line of toys.  Transformers were the first toy that actually made you think; instead of just smashing them together you had to figure out how to transform them (and of course doing so was half the fun.  I probably made that transforming noise a million times when I was a kid!)  You had the primary characters from the show, then ones that combined into even bigger robots, and then gigantic bases (and even more gigantic bases, towards the end). 

The realistic design of the toys lent to their awesomeness, as did the sheer variety of Transformers characters.  You had cars, trucks, jets, dinosaurs, insects, mythical creatures, futuristic space things...and finally, recently, whole planets. 

How much of an impression did Transformers leave on me as a kid?  I waited almost twenty years for them to come out with a Unicron action figure and when I finally found it last year, I bought it in ebay.  It was expensive and I knew I'd never play with it...but I knew I had to have it; it fulfilled a childhood dream.

The show also featured a worthy adversary to Frank Welker: Peter Cullen--the voice of Optimus Prime.

The storyline of the show was flawless (unless you want to dock points for them not setting it far enough into the future, which I could understand) and seemed to get ever more expansive as the show continued to grow in terms of its cast and its scope.

Look at the success that the Transformers franchise has had, almost thirty years since its appearance on American television.  It's spawned numerous successful cartoon incarnations since the original show ended, it's launched two blockbuster films (with another one on the way), it's released wave after wave of timeless toys (indeed the '80s Transformers toys could stand up to the current assortment available today), and, in defiance of common thinking about franchises, it seems to have grown in popularity since the original show ended.  Sure, other franchises have attempted similar comebacks (TMNT and G.I. Joe among them)...but it's often forced by the suits seeking to turn a profit and thus said comebacks ultimately fall flat among consumers; not the Transformers though.

This is the greatest cartoon ever aired and is one I hope my son will cherish as much as I have throughout my life!


Well, not really.  I know what some of you are thinking.  If you're a female reader who fits the demographic age group I set out at the beginning, I'm sure there are numerous cartoons whose exclusion you are stunned by.  Of course, if you're a male who fits the demographic, I'm sure you're thinking one, if not two things:

Where the fuck is He-Man and/or Voltron?

Simple: I never got into either.  I missed the Voltron boat and just never watched He-Man.  I think I had a Skeletor was the only He-Man figure I had growing up...and it never struck me as anything special.

If you're more of a '90s kid, you might be wondering where Beavis & Butthead are on the list (or Ren & Stimpy, or any other similar show).  My response is simple: I didn't get cable until high school (almost the end, actually) so I had missed most of the cable cartoons and had outgrown them by the time I was able to watch Cartoon network.

There are two things that I need to mention though regarding two shows that didn't make the list.

Captain Planet and South Park are the two worst cartoons in the history of television.  Captain Planet appealed to some, I'm sure, but I absolutely hated it.  I don't remember why but I know I had a visceral response to seeing it on television--I abhorred it that much.

Then there's South Park. 

I've never seen a bigger piece of animated shit in my entire life; I've actually felt myself getting dumber every second I've wasted watching that show (thank God it's probably totaled sixty seconds or so, at most).  The animation (if you can call it that) is piss-poor terrible.  I know it's meant to be shitty but it really goes above and beyond.  The characters are obnoxious, the voices are even worse, and the various premises used on the show are ridiculous.  I know there's a HUGE following for South Park out there and I suppose it just comes down to a matter of taste.  I can't stand the show but I understand its relevance and importance (much to my chagrin) in terms of pop culture; it's almost on a level with the Simpsons but is probably closer to Family Guy in terms of its relevancy.

Speaking of--the only reason Family Guy wasn't included is that I didn't actually start watching it until 2004 or 2005 so I couldn't include it in the list.  My guess, though, is that it definitely would've landed in the top 25 if not higher.  Come on--what other cartoon has dared to have a character play Marco Polo with Helen Keller!?