Cartoons

Blog No. 88

This week totally got me. I’ve spent many days demolishing my brother’s basement, working, finishing the zine (which is all done but the printing) going to writing and drawing groups, and watching cartoons. I know some of that is just me wasting time and making poor decisions, but here I am, trying to write a blog post with no topic. So I figured I may as well just write about something that took up all my time this week and, while tearing down walls is fun (for the first hour or so) I doubt I could write a whole post about it. Therefore, cartoons it is. Also, something about back to the future.

When I was a little one in grade school, my life revolved around TV. Back then Network TV was where it’s at. Cable had some specialty channels and showed unedited movies, but over-the-air stuff was still king. Every morning before school, there were cartoons (usually not the cream of the crop). One station would play old Scooby-Doo episodes, another Dennis the Menace. Maybe there’d be one of those toy commercials that were disguised as a cartoon. I would watch over my shoulder at the kitchen table while my cereal got soggy. After the shows I would have just enough time to fight for the bathroom to brush my teeth and run to school (a block and a half away).

All day at school I would think about the cartoons that would be on when I got home. Tragically they started before I got home, so I always caught the end of one before the others started. The injustice of this was that I was a walker. I didn’t have to take a bus home, but I still had to wait until the buses were gone before I left, lest I run under one and get squished. There were a number of bells and announcements that notified when we should pack up our things, line up in the hallway, who could leave next, and what bus had arrived. I would sneak out as quickly as I could at the first bell, ninja my way down the hallway (past the sometimes open doors of other classrooms). Slip out the back door and sprint across the field to the back gate. Both the school and my house shared a fence with St Clair College. I could slip into the College fields, run the short distance to my back yard, climb the fence before my parents got home (they didn’t like us climbing the back fence) and be watching cartoons before I was supposed to be let out of school.

It sounds terrible now that a little kid was able to just flee school so easily, but it really was a different time. With so many students running around at the end of the day (and the teachers eager to get home themselves) I was able to just slip through the cracks. It wasn’t always possible every year. Some teachers were more diligent and some classrooms were harder to sneak out of. As I got older I think the grip of TV lessened and the gossip of my pears (and the development of the girls) became more important. But for many years, after school cartoons were my greatest joy. It was the early 90s and there were some great ones. Duck Tales, Animaniacs, Doug, Batman, and so many more. From three to five the TV was mine and I was free.

When I was even younger my brother and I had a Saturday morning ritual. He would sneak into my room at something like five in the morning, and wake me up. I would listen through the floor to hear if anyone was up downstairs, and we would creep down to the living room. I would turn on the TV (by pulling out the knob, but making sure the volume was all the way down, then creeping up the sound so we could just hear it. He would climb the cupboards to get some cookies or licorice for us. We would catch the end of a cheesy science show called Kids Beat, then bounce around as the Muppet Show started. The morning would end when we either had to go to hockey (one of ours or our brother’s) or bad movies would come on at noon. As we got older we slept in later and he started to find different interests. I started watching alone, but the shows got better, so I didn’t mind so much.

Even when I got into high school, cartoons were a big part of my routine, but I eventually followed my brother’s path and more interests crept in. I got older and busier and a lot of the shows were stupid or made for little kids. But a funny thing happened. I started finding (or were shown by friends) new cartoons that were geared for me. Some were about high school or college students, or adults or were way too adult for children. The internet became a big thing and cartoons popped up all over on there. Some were terrible, but some were just as important as the ones I rushed home to see as a kid. I’m a lot older now, but I still love cartoons. There are a lot more choices of shows for adults now, so I don’t think I’m alone. And I have a new routine with my brother. We download or stream the cartoons we want to watch and have a beer and watch way too late. So I guess cartoons are still running my life.

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