Welcome back to Ask The A.V. Club, where this week we have a question so burning we're not going to waste any time getting to it.
More Songs About Munchkins And Scarecrows
Recently, a friend mentioned that she had heard rumors of a Talking Heads album that syncs up to The Wizard Of Oz from the point where Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon ends. This seemed intriguing enough to research, but I came up empty. There are a few synchronicity websites, but most of their suggestions seem like what's actually syncing up is coincidence and the effect of whatever drug they're taking rather than anything deliberate on the part of the artist. Is there anything to this? I suppose I could just try it with every Talking Heads album, but I feel I've wasted enough valuable time on this.
Maybe you've wasted enough time on this, Juan. But we haven't. But first, a little background for those unfamiliar with the "Dark Side Of The Rainbow" phenomenon. It arose in the mid-'90s, apparently bubbling up from Internet discussion boards. (At least, that's what Wikipedia, the apotheosis of Internet discussion boards, says.) The claim goes that if you start playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon at the first (or third) roar of the MGM lion, you will see incredible, impossible-to-dismiss coincidences. For instance, the song "Brain Damage" plays against the Scarecrow's "If I Only Had A Brain," and so on.
Is it a coincidence? Pink Floyd says it is, and The A.V. Club has always considered it a case of apophenia, the human tendency to seek out meaningful connections even when there are none to be found. (Please note: The A.V. Club only knows the word "apophenia" because we just read William Gibson's Pattern Recognition.) You've heard of the whole "Paul is dead" phenomenon, when a rumor spread that Paul McCartney had died, and everyone found mountains of "evidence" of his death? Apophenia. The connections between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations? Apophenia. It's too harsh to call them meaningless coincidences, since all creative acts of interpretation involve finding patterns and connections. An interpretive leap about the effects of some mold on bacteria gave us penicillin, after all. But sometimes those connections only exist in the mind.
Did that harsh your mellow? Sorry. Of course, we could be wrong. So with that in mind, we plunged ahead in our investigation of the theory that a Talking Heads album picks up where Dark Side Of The Moon left off. We armed our intrepid intern Kylene with a DVD of Oz and an iPod loaded with Talking Heads albums, and sent her to work. The ground rules were simple: Start 43 minutes after the first lion's roar—the point at which Dark Side fades out—and write down anything that could be a coincidence of the Dark Side Of The Rainbow variety. If three minutes or more passed without anything that might qualify, it was time to move on to the next album.
Here are her findings in their entirety.
"When you sync up Speaking In Tongues, David Byrne sings 'loosen up' while the Tin Man gets his legs oiled. That's. It."
Thanks, Kylene! Readers, can you do better than Kylene? Or is there some other album that syncs up? Help us, and Juan, out.
On the subject of '80s cartoons that might have been on USA Network:
I remember some cartoon that centered on hicks that lived in a huge tree? And drag cars that would race around the tree? The "hicks" were all different colors, like blue, green, and orange. This was around the time of the Snorks and Monchichi (which Wikipedia.com tells me was 1983). I only remember seeing it a few times, but it has deviled me ever since. Thanks,
Tasha Robinson responds:
Sadly, Mike, I remembered this one off the top of my head, without having to resort to frantic Internet memory-jogging. The series was called Trollkins, and it was a one-season non-wonder way back in 1981. Billed as sort of an animated fantasy version of The Dukes Of Hazzard, which was in its heyday at the time, it featured a lot of cornpone-accented, tree-dwelling trolls with troll-y names like Sheriff Trollsom and Deputroll Flake. They drag-raced around and got into trouble and inserted the word "troll" into their day-to-day conversation a lot, à la the Smurfs. Head writer Jeffrey Scott later went on to script a bunch of other low-rent cartoons, from Muppet Babies and Here Come The Littles to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He was still in the biz at least as of 1999's Dragon Tales.
And hey, when I went looking for Trollkins images on the web, one of the very few that popped up was this fine animation cel at vegalleries.com, which has since been harvested by many of the animation database sites out there. So if this if this response jogs your memory and stirs your nostalgia up to an unbearable pitch, you can visit that site and buy a little piece of Hanna-Barbera blandness from the past.
Stumped no more!
We got a ton of responses to this question:
I fuzzily recall a show from the '80s (I was probably around 6 when I saw maybe two episodes or so my dad recorded off broadcast TV) about a guy who wears a robot suit as a sort of superhero; I call him a superhero because nobody could recognize him when he was inside the robot suit, even though it had a clear plastic visor over his eyes so he could see. The opening credits had a narrator saying something like "The year is 2020 and the world is changed," and showed a bus exploding, I believe.
Your answers ranged from "this guy is confusing Robocop and V" to Mantis. But the most confident responses point to a show called Super Force, which ran for two seasons in syndication beginning in 1990. It starred Ken Olandt as an astronaut who turned vigilante to avenge his brother's death in the year 2020. Guest stars included Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy and porn superstar Ginger Lynn Allen. The Avengers' Patrick Macnee provided the voice of Olandt's computer.
Thanks for your help, readers!
Next week, more answers and more questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.