It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for What Makes a Puppet a Muppet? – #446.
Is the Texas A&M dog inbred?
While individual breeding practices may vary among breeders and it is true that the rough collie breed is commonly the victim of forced inbreeding, there is no evidence to suggest that any Reveille has come from a compromised lineage. Given that several Reveilles can trace their lineage to a recognized, and registered, show breed lines which have been geographically separated by sometimes thousands of miles, it is extremely unlikely that inbreeding has been involved.
The definitive guide to next, last, this, and past?
I suppose there should be some sort of trigger warning prefacing this section as everyone seems to be an expert or at least seem to be really confident in their opinions. I should also point out that, like the question below, the rules that govern this logic do tend to be a bit more "guideline-y" than strict rule sets. All that out of the way, let's attempt to make this as painless as possible.
Firstly, past and last, are the same thing. Whether you are saying, "past two weeks" or "last two weeks," in both cases, the words are interchangeable. This makes things a bit easier since we now only have three words to arbitrarily define the usage of.
Arguably, the easier of the three is LAST but to make it easier to keep track, we are going to, fittingly, cover that last. I am sure you can guess which comes next so, first up is "this". Across all of these words, the common thread of complexity is the incorrect interpretation of another's use of the specific word. If everyone would acknowledge that the simplest definition and usage of the word is, naturally, the best, then there would be no confusion. In the case of "this," the confusion most often occurs when discussing days of the week. If I say, "this year is going quick," it is pretty obvious that I mean 2017. Just as if I were to demand that my kid, "come here this instant," that they are expected to come immediately before the instant passes. The complexity we most often experience happens when I say, on a Thursday, "this Tuesday is a good day." The reason for the confusion is actually caused by the incorrect tenses present, or not, in the statement. The sentence, "this Tuesday is a good day," in almost all cases, should actually be "this Tuesday is going to be a good day," OR "this Tuesday was a good day." The only grammatically correct use of "this Tuesday is a good day," is a direct response to a question such as "what day is good for you." In this case, the use of "this" serves the same purpose as "next" in that it is referring to the very next occurrence of whatever moment was named.
As mentioned above, "next" is referring to the very next occurrence of the moment mentioned. For example, if I say, on a Monday, that "next Tuesday is good for me," I am actually referring to tomorrow. I think we can all agree that the logic behind using that phrase rather than simply saying "tomorrow" is pretty flawed but that doesn't make the expected usage and definition of the preposition any different. At least it shouldn't.
As promised, there are a few caveats with this but the quick summary is that if you use "last" without using the definitive article "the" and following it with a specific event, or number, then it is referring to the described moment (day, week, year, etc.) which occurred directly before the current one. That means that if, on a Monday, you say, "last Tuesday was a good day," you are referring to the Tuesday exactly six days prior. It also means that if, on that Monday, you say, "last Sunday's episode of Day 5 was amazing!" you mean that yesterday's (being the most recent occurred Sunday) episode was amazing. While this is incorrectly, and often, made complicated by a person's assumption that a person would say "yesterday" rather than use "last" it does not make it any less correct and using, or expecting it to be used, in any other way is just wrong.
For me, it is perhaps the slow changing of perception when these various words are used which is the most interesting. Despite the rules governing their correct usage being pretty ingrained in what some may perceive as common sense, we tend to over-complicate their usage almost immediately. Our assumptions that someone would use other relevant words like "yesterday" or "tomorrow" where appropriate leads to a confusing bastardization of language rules. Language, more than any other area of human study, is the one which falls "victim" to the "majority correctness" we discussed a few weeks back. The idea that if enough people believe your statement is correct, it becomes so, is a dangerous one. But it is even more concerning when involving language as changes in the expected uses of certain words over time can lead to incorrect interpretations of older texts or just complete confusion during the daily discussion.
To summarize, in a way which perhaps only Becca can truly appreciate, we should all strive to be "language purists," force it to be used correctly by yourself and those around you or we are all doomed to eventually not have a fucking clue what anyone else is actually talking about.
P.S. The number of grammatical errors in these last few paragraphs it not lost on me. We all make mistakes :P
What is a couple vs. a few?
I was a bit surprised to learn that there are no actual rules governing the use of “couple,” “few,” “some,” “several,” and “many.” There do exist various guidelines which can be used to help you make a judgment call on what "sounds correct" given the situation. While most would likely say that "couple" is referring to two of something, the appropriate number word for more than two can be a bit subjective. Of all the available number words, "few" is probably one of the most complicated. This is because of its negative use case. For example, the statement "I have few dollars remaining" can be interpreted various ways because of the lack of "a" or "too". Adding one of those words can immediately change the way the sentence is consumed. The connotation of "I have too few dollars remaining" is absolutely less than "I have a few dollars remaining." Language is strange like that.
It is for this reason that it is important to keep the word's usage in perspective and understand that it is largely dependent upon the circumstance and person using the word. I am far more interested in your thoughts than my own opinions on this one and don't want to sway you in any way by making an argument for, or against, a specific number word's use. However, in my research for this, I did stumble across the below original short poem written, as far as I can tell, by a random forum contributor. Again, I look forward to sharing my thoughts as responses to your comments in order to avoid influence but the poem was too good not to share.
A thing is just one thing
and a couple things are two
and if you have three things
then you say you have a few
And you start to say there’s several
after you have four
and keep on saying several
even after you have more
But at some point, you’ll have many
and that’s the word to choose
when you have so many things
that there’s no other word to use
Did TJ Miller say that women aren't funny?
In a midsummer interview, following the announcement of his resignation from Silicon Valley, Miller told The Hollywood Reporter and, later, Vulture his thoughts on women. Explaining that, "They’re taught to suppress their sense of humor during their formative years," and that this is why they are "less funny" than men. Naturally, this did not go over well and the internet quickly reacted with fervor.
A few days after the publication, Miller clarified his position on Twitter. Stating across several tweets the following:
"Okay, I guess everyone and their parents missed the point—#feminist SOCIETY *suppresses* humor in women bc it is a sign of intelligence...that is THREATENING to men, & so women are taught to suppress those intimidations. It is about SOCIETY's ills, the misogyny of women's humor...Don't get it twisted. The world gets better the more we empower our literal better half."
Personally, my thought is that the clarification he made on Twitter are probably his actual thoughts on the subject and his original statement was intentionally crafted to cause a rise. He, in a way, alludes to this at an earlier moment in the interview when discussing his Silicon Valley exit and interviews he has given since "It’s more important to be polarizing than neutralizing. That’s my position."
Aladdin in Robin Williams' will?
Shortly after Williams' death, a Disney studio executive revealed that the quick-witted comic had left enough jokes and material on the cutting room floor during his original time as the Genie for at least one more full-length Aladdin film to feature the iconic blue hero. Unfortunately, as mentioned on the Podcast, a clause in Williams' will prevents the use of his name, performances, or voice recordings for 25 years after his death. It should be noted that this, despite his tumultuous relationship with Disney, is not an exclusive limitation levied on Disney but rather applied to ANY publishing house that may own copies of his previous work. The rationale behind this clause is to prevent his family from being forced to pay exorbitant posthumous inheritance taxes on money made from his past works.
Why did Kermit get fired?
According to a follow-up, Hollywood Reporter interview with Jim Henson's son and the current chairman of the Jim Henson Company, Brian Henson, letting Steve Whitmire go was an inevitability. He went on to state that the puppeteer would make "outrageous demands" and used the example of, "I am now Kermit and if you want the Muppets, you better make me happy because the Muppets are Kermit." Finishing up the interview with a confirmation that Whitmire had been warned several times since the mid-1990s that he was taking it too far and needed to settle down.
Whitmire, for his part, claims that he was always respectful but was quick to give "lots of definitive notes via emails to this small group about character integrity and always tried to offer alternative solutions." I was unable to find any follow-up comments or responses to the specific statements made by Henson and still holds that the reason for his removal had more to do with a disagreement on union issues than anything else.
Brian Henson has also stated that Whitmire's portrayal of Kermit over the last 27 years has gotten progressively flatter. Citing his father's legacy and thoughts on innovation, specifically regarding the cancellation of The Muppet Show.
"He is the guy who canceled The Muppet Show when it was the No. 1 show in the world after five seasons because he was worried he was going to start repeating himself. The last thing my dad would want is that Kermit just keeps doing the same thing over and over and over and is in the same circumstances and having the same attitude. The character needs to be stretched and maintain his heart."
He has assured fans that the replacement puppeteer, Matt Vogel, who has been with the Jim Henson Company since 1996 and has been responsible for several notable roles over the years including Big Bird and Ernie, is more than capable of providing the innovation that the role needs to make Jim Henson proud. You can be the judge. With Vogel's debut as the voice of Kermit just a few days ago, we all get to be couch-experts on the voice, and mannerisms, of the new Kermit T. Frog.
If you, like me, aren't really aware of how much of a difference that is because it's been several years since you actually paid attention to the Muppets, here is a quick comparison video a YouTuber put together which lets you hear how Vogel stacks up against Whitmire, Esposito (who voiced Kermit for a few years in the early 2000s), and Jim Henson himself.
My thoughts on Vogel, like many in the videos' comments have stated, is that he sounds much closer to the original Henson voice than either Whitmire or Esposito, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, we have had three generations of kids grow up not knowing Henson's voice as Kermit's. At some point, there is a good argument to be made for which voice is the "real" voice. This fact is driven home by some of the more vitriolic commenters and their passion for the NotMyKermit and BringBackSteve hashtags.
If nothing else, all of this drama surrounding a little frog just makes you realize how truly difficult it is to be green. Haha, I couldn't help it!
Has a female character ever been recast as a male?
While it certainly is not a common occurrence, there absolutely have been cases of female characters being recast as male. The most surprising fact, or perhaps not, about these recastings are the amount of them that very few people are ever made aware of, despite the popularity of the roles.
One of the more unknown, but crazy, recastings was that of Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. Gene Roddenberry had originally envisioned the second in command of the USS Enterprise to be a cold and calculating woman, named simply Number One. Star Trek fans will recognize the role's title and position would later be repurposed for Commander Riker in The Next Generation. NBC executives at the time were actually less concerned about the second main character of the show is a woman and more concerned that Roddenberry had cast his then-lover and eventual second wife, Majel Barrett, in the role. According to Roddenberry in a later interview, "[I] kept the Vulcan and married the woman, 'cause he didn't think Leonard [Nimoy] would have it the other way around." Barrett was demoted to the much smaller role of Nurse Chapel, however, the episode The Menagerie re-purposes several shots from the unaired pilot and Barrett as the original Number One can be seen briefly.
Another lesser known recasting that will occasionally find its way into trivia nights at the local bar is the fact that early versions of the original Star Wars screenplay were written with Luke Skywalker as a girl named Starkiller. Granted these were early versions which included, among other things, Han Solo as a giant lizard and Yoda as a literal giant. Somewhere along the way, the screenplay was slowly changed into what we all now know and love but the name Starkiller has lived on via the Dark Jedi apprentice's name in Force Unleashed as well as the star-eating planet sized base in Force Awakens.
Don't worry, though; space science fiction isn't the only genre to be affected by this atypical recasting choice. I'm sure plenty of Michael Crichton fans were yelling at their screens during the Podcast about the gender swap of Lex and Tim in the movie version of Jurassic Park. In the original story Tim was the older brother who was interested in computers and Lex was his younger sister. When asked about the gender switch, Spielberg stated that he really wanted to work with Joseph Mazzello, the 9-year-old who played Tim, and casting Lex as the teenage girl allowed for a subtle subplot involving her feelings toward Dr. Grant.
But perhaps the most surprising male-to-female gender swap I stumbled upon was that of Dory. Originally scripted as a forgetful male blue tang, director Andrew Stanton determined later that DeGeneres was the absolute best person to voice the character and completely recreated the character as a female in order to make that work. It should be noted that this rewrite was done before anyone actually approached Ellen to voice everyone's favorite amnesiac, so that was lucky.
What is a party kazoo called?
That works. So does party horn, party blower, screamer, squeaker, noise maker, mouth-extender, kazoo strip, and noise machine. Its etymology doesn't actually list a definitive title as it is not known consistently by any one word or variation of words.