Scrappy’s Beer Parade

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As regular readers will know, I’m a huge cartoon nerd. Today, March 8, 1933, the cartoon “Beer Parade” was released by Screen Gems, and created by the Charles Mintz Studio. It was a Scrappy cartoon.

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Here’s more about Scrappy, from Wikipedia:

Scrappy is a cartoon character created by Dick Huemer for Charles Mintz’s Krazy Kat Studio (distributed by Columbia Pictures). A little round-headed boy, Scrappy often found himself involved in off-beat neighborhood adventures. Usually paired with his little brother Oopy (originally Vontzy), Scrappy also had an on-again, off-again girlfriend named Margy and a Scotty dog named Yippy. In later shorts the annoying little girl Brat and pesky pet Petey Parrot also appeared. Huemer created the character in 1931, and he remained aboard Mintz’s studio until 1933. With Huemer’s departure, his colleagues Sid Marcus and Art Davis assumed control of the series. The final Scrappy cartoon, The Little Theatre was released in 1941.

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Posters for the “Beer Parade”
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Here’s the synopsis of the cartoon from its IMDb page:

Scrappy and Oopie, though little boys, happily celebrate the return of beer after fourteen years, with the help of brew-guzzling gnomes, apparently from the “Rip Van Winkle” story. They leave an allegorical “Prohibition” figure (ugly old man in stovepipe hat) stripped and chased off.

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Here’s another description from a user review at IMDb:

Scrappy and Oopie are partying with some gnomes who are enjoying beer from barrels. A mean Prohibition Agent appears and attacks the barrels with an axe, but Oopie will defend the right of people to enjoy their lager in this cartoon released a month before beer sales were legalized.

It had been a long fight and this typically bizarre Scrappy cartoon has the two children strongly in support of drinking. Although they do not partake themselves, they certainly use startlingly strange methods typical of Dick Huemer’s series. It is a pretty good one because it does not ease up in the second half. Dick and his staff certainly made it clear where their sympathies lay!

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This is from Scrappyland, a website dedicated to Scrappy:

Plot summary: Scrappy and Oopy joyfully serve beer by the barrelful to dozens of drunken elves until Old Man Prohibition shows up. The boys and the little men assault him from the ground and the air–even using explosives–until he chooses to bury himself. Whereupon the good times roll once more.

(I particularly like the moment when Oopy, having rigged up a rope to trip Old Man Prohibition, tugs at it to verify that it’s tight enough to do the job.)

The cartoon is an obvious allegory concerning prohibition and its repeal. But it was released on March 4, 1933, when the federal ban on alcoholic beverages was still in force, so its celebration of unrestrained imbibing was anticipatory.

FDR, who famously made repeal part of his campaign, had taken office in January; a couple of weeks after the cartoon debuted, he signed the Cullen-Harrison act, which permitted the sale of wine and 3.2 percent beer starting the following month. In December, prohibition on the federal level was fully repealed.

Prohibition was never enforced all that rigorously in cartoon land. The 1929 Silly Symphony The Merry Dwarfs presaged The Beer Parade by showing its title characters quaffing beer; 1931’s Lady Play Your Mandolin, the first Merrie Melody, takes place in a saloon and is full of tippling animals, although it’s possible that it’s set in Mexico. But the sheer quantity of beer in The Beer Parade–served by two small boys without any adult supervision–remains startling. It’s unimaginable that anyone would have made a cartoon with this theme a few years later. Or today.

(Scrappy and Oopy aren’t shown drinking in the cartoon, but they are depicted brandishing foamy mugs themselves, and do seem to be in an awfully exuberant good mood.)

He’s reviewing it from a YouTube video where someone at a public screening simply videotaped the cartoon and then uploaded it. But it’s subsequently been removed from YouTube. And as far as I can tell, Scrappy cartoons have not been released on either videotape or DVD. Which is a crying shame, because it looks like it was an amazing cartoon.

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This is from Scrappyland, a website dedicated to Scrappy:

Dr. Richard Huemer–the son of Scrappy’s creator–shared this New Years’ card which was sent to his father by Joe De Nat, the Mintz studio’s musical director. The card depicts Scrappy and his Mintz stablemate Krazy Kat pumping beer into a mug inhabited by a piano player and a mermaid (presumably representing Mr. and Mrs. De Nat). Assuming that the references to 1933 and the new year mean that the De Nats distributed this card around January 1, 1933, prohibition was still in effect, but the recent election of FDR meant that its days were clearly numbered.

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Beer Birthday: Emily Sauter

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Today is the 34th birthday of the extraordinary Emily Sauter, who by day works for Two Roads Brewing as their Social Media and Communications Manager, where on Two Roads’ website she reveals an intense love of soup but an equally powerful dislike of broccoli. I wonder how broccoli soup fits in with that? By night she dons the cape and cowl to draw Pints and Panels, her blog of beer reviews, done in a comic strip style, putting to good use her education from Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies. Emily’s become one of my favorite people to hang out with at beer events, a kindred spirit. Join me in wishing Emily a very happy birthday.

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Stan Hieronymus and Emily at GABF last year.

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At the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego, opening a bottle of Crazy Pucker.

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Sam Calagione, Emily and me at Belmont Station in Portland during CBC last year.

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Earlier this year at Russian River for the release of Pliny the Younger.

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Suited up, chicken hat included, for Oktoberfest in 2014 (photo purloined from Facebook).


And finally, couch trippin’ through the Lagunitas bottling line at the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego last year. Here’s me, Emily, and Fred Abercrombie, riding the sofa roller coaster.

Beer In Ads #2195: Heineken Refreshes Don Martin


Wednesday’s ad is for Heineken, from the 1970s. In the later 1970s, Heineken embarked on a series of ads with the tagline “Heineken Refreshes the Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach.” Many of the ads were in a sequential panel, or comic strip, format and they were intended to be humorous.

In this ad, a three-panel format, drawn by cartoonist Don Martin, who was best known for his work in MAD Magazine, a chef looks tired, as evidenced by his hat falling limp behind his head, so he’s drinking a mug of beer. Which — FWOT! — makes his hat stand up stiffly at attention. But in the last panel, once he’s removed his hat, his hair is standing up too, with a part down the center. So that’s where the changed text comes in: it’s not “parts,” but “partings” in this ad. Unfortunately, this was the best resolution of the ad I could find.

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Beer In Ads #2141: It’s Double-Dry


Friday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, again from 1942. It’s another fairly odd cartoon with our two intrepid window washers, all in red, back again. This time they’re again jumping down off a building, but it must have been shorter since they’re not using buckets as parachutes. The pun-filled ad is again titled “‘DOUBLE-HOPPED’ is why it’s DOUBLE DRY .. and Double-Flavored, too!” The ad copy certainly suggests they were emphasizing the beer’s hop character, and then even mention the brewing process for this beer, or at least part of it, and it’s only slightly altered from the first of these I found two days ago. “Here’s how it’s DOUBLE-HOPPED to double your refreshment. 1. Hops are added in the brew kettles, the usual way. 2. Then, in a unique process, additional hops are suspended in tanks where the ale ages. Slowly, these tender young blossoms add their fragrance and flavor…giving double the tangy dryness, double the delicious aroma and distinctive flavor.” I don’t know how unique that was, it sounds pretty much like dry-hopping, though maybe it was unusual in the U.S. at the time. Or could simply have been adspeak hyperbole. But they’re not done, and end with this pun. “Hop To It and See!”

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Beer In Ads #2139: Hop … Hop … Hooray


Wednesday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1942. It’s a fairly odd cartoon with two window washers, all in red, jumping off a building and using their buckets as parachutes, just so they get a couple of beer. The pun-filled ad is actually titled “‘DOUBLE-HOPPED’ is why it’s DOUBLE DRY .. and Double-Flavored, too!” I don’t think I realized that Pabst had made an ale, and it was called “Pabst Blue Ribbon Double-Dry Ale,” no less. The ad copy certainly suggests they were emphasizing the beer’s hop character, and then even mention the brewing process for this beer, or at least part of it. “First, you see, hops are added as usual, in the brew kettles. Then, in a unique and costly process, huge sacks of succulent young hop blossoms are suspended in the tanks as the ale ages.” I don’t know how unique that was, it sounds pretty much like dry-hopping, though maybe it was unusual in the U.S. at the time. Or could simply have been adspeak hyperbole.

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Mickey Mouse In Arabia

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Today is the day when Steamboat Willie debuted in 1928, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the one that made the Disney company the entertainment powerhouse that it is today. But even though Steamboat Willie is the famous one, it actually wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon created. Plane Crazy was actually the first one made, and The Gallopin’ Gaucho was the second, but both were shelved to work on Steamboat Willie, and specifically to add a synchronized soundtrack, which is what helped make Mickey Mouse so famous. A couple of years ago, I posted Mickey Mouse Drinking A Beer, about when Mickey is seen drinking a beer in “The Gallopin’ Gaucho.”

So for Mickey Mouse’s birthday this year, I thought I’d show a different cartoon, this one a little later, from 1932. It’s maybe the 46th Mickey Mouse cartoon, called “Mickey in Arabia.” There are plenty of racial stereotypes in the cartoon, sadly typical for 1932. And while Mickey doesn’t actually drink in this one, the camel that he and Minnie ride does drink some from a barrel.

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After Minnie is abducted by a sultan and rides off on his camel, Mickey runs back to his camel, who’s apparently been drinking beer the entire time and is obviously inebriated.

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So first he has to chase the drunk camel.

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Finally, catching the camel, now he has to chase after the sultan, who’s taken Minnie.

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And riding a drunk camel is no picnic.

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The drunk camel even passes out at one point but continues on running upside down on its humps!

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Below is the whole cartoon, the relevant beer barrel drinking takes place just after 1:30 into the 7-minute video.

The Ballmer Peak

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I was unaware of the Ballmer Peak (named for Microsoft’s 30th employee and former CEO Steve Ballmer) until today, but it’s an interesting idea, although there are some who believe it just may be an elaborate joke. In a nutshell, it’s the idea “that having a BAC in the 0.129% – 0.138% range can improve your cognitive abilities,” and it’s supposedly an effective technique to help with computer programming. Another way it’s been described is that “alcohol improves cognitive ability, up to a point,” and that it’s apparently a variation of the Yerkes–Dodson law, which says “that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point.” xkcd described it with this cartoon:

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Obviously, it may sound like bunk, but there has been earlier evidence of Creativity & Beer and also Caffeine Vs. Alcohol: Which One Better Enhances Creativity?. There’s also a lot of anecdotal evidence that alcohol can trigger creativity and/or create the conditions for new types of thinking to occur if in that sweet spot of not too drunk, and not too sober. Certainly there’s a rich historical record of books and songs created by writers and composers who were under the influence. And there was a great Bill Hicks bit about how if you think there are no positive aspects to drugs, he suggests burning all of the music that you love, because so many of the musicians who wrote it were “really fucking high.” Naturally, Bill put it much better than I ever could:

“You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. ‘Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.”

Recently, however, there was an article in the Observer whose headline was “The Ballmer Peak Is Real, Study Says.”

A recent study at the University of Illinois tested the creative problem solving ability of a group of men who were given vodka cranberry and snacks and asked to solve brain teasers. The results were starkly different for the tispy group, which had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.075, versus the control group:

Astonishingly, those in the drinking group averaged nine correct questions to the six answers correct by the non-drinking group. It also took drunk men 11.5 seconds to answer a question, whereas non-drunk men needed 15.2 seconds to think. Both groups had comparable results on a similar exam before the alcohol consumption began.

The study notes that the Ballmer Peak effect was present for creative problem solving but not for working memory.

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Also, on the skeptics forum on Stack Exchange, someone asked if the Balmer Peak was real, and one of the answers posted was this:

[An] article by Norlander [link no longer working] specifically studies the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption (1.0ml/kg body weight) and creativity. According to my very rough calculations, this would correspond to a BAC in the range of 0.12–0.14 for a 73kg human. The paper concludes

…modest alcohol consumption inhibits aspects of creativity based mainly on the secondary process (preparation, certain parts of illumination, and verification), and disinhibits those based mainly on the primary process (incubation, certain parts of illumination, and restitution).

In other words, moderate alcohol consumption does improve certain types of creative thinking, while inhibiting other types of creative thinking. Since the skills required for computer programming are solely cognitive in nature (discounting the motor skills required to type, of course), and given that creativity is a large part of computer programming, it is at least plausible that one might gain some amount of improvement from alcohol consumption.

There have also been studies on the relationship between alcohol consumption and creative output. That study examined 34 well known, heavy drinking, 20th century writers, artists, and composers/performers. It concludes:

Analysis of this information yielded a number of interesting findings. Alcohol use proved detrimental to productivity in over 75% of the sample, especially in the latter phases of their drinking careers. However, it appeared to provide direct benefit for about 9% of the sample, indirect benefit for 50% and no appreciable effect for 40% at different times in their lives. Creative activity, conversely, can also affect drinking behavior, leading, for instance, to increased alcohol consumption in over 30% of the sample. Because of the complexities of this relationship, no simplistic conclusions are possible.

So for a small portion of people there was a notable increase in creative output as a result of alcohol intake. It does appear that the study did not control for the quantity of alcohol intake, though, so this may not be directly applicable to the Ballmer Peak.

The best study I was able to find on the subject was by Lapp, Collins, and Izzo. They gave subjects vodka tonics of varying strengths (by varying the ratio of tonic to vodka), some of which did not even contain any alcohol. The subjects believed that they were drinking a standard-strength vodka tonic. The subjects then were asked to perform a number of cognitively and creatively challenging tasks. Here is what they conclude:

The present results support the idea that creative people probably gain inspiration from consuming alcohol …, but show that this effect may be due to the expected rather than the pharmacological effects of the drug. … A convergence of evidence supported the idea that creativity is enhanced (at least in some aspects) by the expected effects of alcohol.

In other words, alcohol can improve certain aspects of one’s cognitive ability, but this effect is not likely due to any pharmacological process (i.e., it is often sufficient to merely believe that one is drinking alcohol in order to achieve the same benefit).

And remember: The Ballmer Peak, as it is currently understood, is but a two dimensional projection of what in reality is a higher dimensional space, vi&.

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The Ballmer Peak-a-Thon even has a Ballmer Calculator you can use to determine how much to drink to reach maximum effectiveness.

As Thirsty As A Fish

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Here’s an interesting bit of history from the 1860s. As far as I can tell, it was published in The Illustrated Times on October 10, 1863. It was drawn by Charles H. Bennett, a well-known Victorian cartoon artist, who worked for many publications, as well as providing art illustrating several books, as well. This was titled “As thirsty as a fish,” and was a satire on Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” which had just been published in 1859. Here’s how it was described. “Showing the evolution of a fish to a beer drinker, with his fin in his pocket, a few old rags, a convenient leaning post and committed to a constant thirst that no amount of beer can quench.”

And in the book, “Charles Darwin and Victorian Visual Culture,” by Jonathan Smith when “As Thirsty As A Fish” appeared in book form, it was accompanied by text indicating it “depicts the British workman as a drunkard who sees business, duty, and friendship merely as impediments to his indulgence.”

Apparently the “Origin of the Species” satires, known as “Development Drawings,” were pretty popular, as there were at least eighteen of them I turned up in a search of Yooniq Images. “As Thirsty As A Fish” appears to have been numbered “No. 20″ in the book, so it seems likely there were even more.

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They Liked A Pint

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This is a fun little find. In 2003, longtime graphic designer Harry Constantine retired from a career in London, and moved back to his home town of Nottinghamshire. His son was involved in starting up the Newark CAMRA chapter, and he joined him at one of their meetings. He was asked to help out with their newsletter, and ended up as the editor of the Beer Gutter Press, increasing its size from 8 to 20 pages during his tenure. There was a whole in the text one issue, and Constantine on the fly created a cartoon of Mother Theresa, titling it “They Liked A Pint” as a throwaway to fill it.

The cartoons proved to be a hit, and he continued doing them in each issue from then on, initially in black and white, but adding color later when the newsletter also added color. Since retiring from Beer Gutter Press, Constantine reminisced that only two of his cartoons drew objections, Jesus Christ and Abu Hamza, though they decided not to run the Hamza cartoon for fear of offending fundamentalist Muslims. I confess I don’t know who all the people are, and I suspect some of them are locals or at least Brits I’m unfamiliar with. But the ones I do know, and that’s about two-dozen of the forty cartoons, are pretty funny.

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