U is for Uluru, dingoes and pop culture

The public couldn’t believe how casually the mother described the scenario, so, they assumed she was guilty.

Uluru or Ayers Rock is a national park in a central part of Australia, located in the Northern Territory. What does this have to do with this cartoon, which I saw on Facebook?

The graphic is called Trouble Brewing from The Far Side by Gary Larson. Someone theorized that it was inspired by an episode of the US TV show Seinfeld called The Stranded from season 3 (November 27, 1991), in which Jerry and Elaine are bored at a Long Island party that George invited them to. “Elaine confronts a woman because of her fur coat,” and in a mock Australian accent exclaims “Maybe the dingo ate your baby?”

In fact, Elaine was parodying Meryl Streep in the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark, in which she played a woman who claimed a dingo took her baby. You didn’t need to have seen the movie – though I did – just the trailer, to have heard the iconic dialogue.

Was Larson inspired by the movie clip, the TV show, or both? I don’t know when the cartoon was first published, though it had to be before January 1, 1995, when he retired. The cartoon then shows up in the 2005 desk calendar.

I’m fascinated how the phrase became a pop-culture joke, but more that people are unaware that it was based on a true story.

“August 17, 1980 was like any other hot and sticky Summer night in Australia. Lindy and Michael Chamberlain took their family camping in Uluru… Hours after setting up camp, [they] were having a barbecue with other campers when they heard cries coming from their tent. It was their 2-month old daughter, Azaria. When Lindy approached the tent, she saw a wild animal shaking its head violently and growling. The animal fled, and Lindy was shocked to learn Azaria was missing from the tent…

“Immediately, police were suspicious of Lindy. When the mother appeared on local news, she described her daughter’s apparent death in horrifying detail. Even more concerning, the public couldn’t believe how casually the mother described the scenario… So, they assumed she was guilty…

“It was another person’s disappearance that would lead to the truth behind Azaria’s death… The Chamberlains were released from prison, but the state didn’t confirm their version of events until 32 years later. The couple was rewarded $1.3 million for their wrongful imprisonment…

“It’s not far off from the influence media has had on cases in the U.S. From the Menendez Brothers to OJ Simpson, and even Casey Anthony, we’ve fed off real-life crimes like they were written for us to consume…”

Finally, an interesting take on The Far Side: “Much of what Larson endeavors to satirize is the communal understanding of one another by pitting two individuals against each other psychologically…”

Re: “Trouble Brewing”: “The reader can appreciate each perspective in the panel: the hunger and wily aspect of the dingo, and the benign unawareness of the toddlers. Each perspective lets us ponder what it must be like to be the Other in a given circumstance, especially the numerous strips featuring an anthropomorphic Judeo-Christian god creating the world, and other assorted creatures.”

For ABC Wednesday

Who starred with whom, and where?

The IMDB has an advanced search function.

There is this list of the five best television series of all time, compiled by ABC News and People Magazine, and conveniently broadcast on ABC in the past couple of weeks. Interestingly, all were comedies, none of them were broadcast on ABC, and the latter four would probably be canceled quickly these days because the early ratings were not particularly good. The list included:
I LOVE LUCY (CBS)
SEINFELD (NBC)
MASH (CBS)
ALL IN THE FAMILY (CBS)
CHEERS (NBC)

I read about it on Ken Levine’s blog. He (pictured) mentioned this because he was a writer for two of the shows, MASH and Cheers, which I suppose I’d consider for my list as well. I’d also pick Lucy, if only because it was seminal in the development of the TV rerun. All in the Family, which I did enjoy at the time, did not age well, though. And Seinfeld I liked for a few seasons, but grew tired of it, about the time the character Susan died from licking an envelope. There are plenty of dramatic shows (Twilight Zone, Hill Street Blues, among others) I’d put on the list, but if I were limiting it just to comedies, certainly the Dick Van Dyke Show would be on the roster.

What was most interesting to me, though, is that someone asked Levine: “Other than you and David [Isaacs, Levine’s writing partner], is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group.” Levine named some writers. He also noted that “George Wendt and Shelley Long [of Cheers] both did guest stints on MASH.” In the comments section, a guy noted that the IMDB has an advanced search function – go to Collaborations and Overlaps – so that one can discover, e.g., that there are 16 people with credits on both The Dick Van Dyke Show and MASH, starting with Jamie Farr and Bernard Fox. Or that five people were affiliated with both the Van Dyke program and Cheers, including Ann Morgan Guilbert and Sheldon Leonard.

One can also put in Dick Van Dyke and Ted Danson to discover that Van Dyke appeared on Danson’s show Becker, as Becker’s father, and Danson was a guest on Van Dyke’s Diagnosis: Murder, as himself, both in 1999. I will definitely make more use of this feature.
***
Ken Levine’s thoughts on the GQ CHEERS article.

July Ramblin’

A dedicated to Sir Mick

I was moved by this:
Why didn’t I scream when I was raped?
I was 15 when it happened. Now, after a career as a terrorism expert, I want to find out what took place, and why, By Jessica Stern

I was encouraged by this:

There are now about 250 million people worldwide living in jurisdictions that provide for marriage equity, as this colorful chart will help to demonstrate.
The big spike you see in 2008 is California recognizing gay marriage through the courts, and then un-recognizing it through the passage of Proposition 8. Right now, it’s possible to marry your same-sex partner in Buenos Aires, in Mexico City, in Ames, Iowa, and in Pretoria, South Africa, but not in San Francisco. With countries like Argentina and Portugal now recognizing same-sex marriages, however, the global trajectory has returned to its slow but steady upward pace.

I had forgotten about this:

Evanier noted correctly that the last name of the Dennis the Menace creator is Ketcham, not Ketchum, as the copyright notice on the stamps suggests. While verifying the spelling, I came across arguably, the most awkward moment in Dennis the Menace history.

I was frustrated by this:
Stop the Madness: Education’s foremost historian on where NCLB went wrong, ending the testing regime, and why we need neighborhood schools.
Adapted from The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, by Diane Ravitch (Basic Books, 2010).

When I was having insomnia, just watching this help relax me enough to go to sleep:
water therapy

These made me laugh:
Star Wars on the bagpipes while riding a unicycle (well, of course)
Ken Levine and Hells Angels
Life lessons from a Disney mermaid!
I felt uncomfortable laughing at this:
Suicide Jumper
And this, while well crafted, just didn’t make me laugh at all:
Seinfeld drama

In honor of Mick Jagger’s birthday this month, I listened to this cover:
Ollabelle – I Am Waiting
For a reason listed above, listening to this song by the Box Tops: Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March, which I only vaguely recall. It got to #28 in early 1969.

I hope to be listening to this soon:

Music Legend Brian Wilson Completes Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, A New Disney Pearl CD of George and Ira Gershwin Classics Set For Release August 17. Highlights include two new songs Wilson crafted from previously unpublished George Gershwin music