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November 26, 2007

Mexican Mouse Paradox

(Admin note: As promised, today’s post is 100% nonsense. If you’re looking for something profound, you’ll have to check back another day. It’s completely mindless stuff around here today, complete with a new bubble-gum rock song I’ve been listening to lately [on sidebar].

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge Looney Tunes fan; this post is Exhibit A. I also have a post about Bugs Bunny hopping around [sorry - bad pun] in my head for another day, and this could easily become a series of 4 or 5 posts if I don’t show a little restraint. Today’s post features a couple of “minor” characters who have always been dear to me – and it’s more than a little silly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)


This mouse should need no introduction:

He’s Speedy Gonzales. The fastest mouse in all Me-hi-co, as anyone will tell you. He’ll even tell you himself.

The little dude moves like lightning. He vanishes and reappears with nothing more than an "Andale!" and a cloud of dust. When he accidentally runs into Sylvester’s mouth, he blasts right through the cat’s tail to freedom. He often supplements his income by dodging bullets in a shooting gallery at the county fair.

(Even more impressive is how he does all of this while keeping his trademark yellow sombrero firmly in place. Actually, he’s not the only Looney Tunes character to defy physics this way – I’ve got a whole post on this topic someday.)

In short, he’s got the speed and stamina that many triathletes dream about - qualities that are especially interesting in comparison to one of his relatives.

[Footnote #1: Unless you own a DVD collection, It’s fairly difficult to see Speedy Gonzales cartoons on TV nowadays. About 10 years ago, Cartoon Network and some other channels decided that he represented a negative stereotype of the Mexican community, and no longer aired his cartoons. There was a resultant backlash led, ironically, by a large number of Mexican-Americans. So now the cartoons are occasionally televised - but far too infrequently, and in very remote time slots. I guess the lesson here is this: don’t speak for somebody you’re not, and don’t try to please everybody. Neither idea ever works.]

Speedy also has a lesser-known, but very intriguing cousin:

His name is Slowpoke Rodriguez. According to his cousin, Slowpoke is the slowest mouse in all Me-hi-co.

As his name implies, Slowpoke moves very slowly everywhere he goes. He always looks and sounds like he’s falling asleep. Yet his metabolism somehow sustains his constantly ravenous appetite.

Since he’s not particularly nimble, Slowpoke has developed other means of defending himself from cartoon predators. He is very skilled at hypnosis, and keeps a cool head in the face of danger. And if either of these strategies fail, there's a failsafe backup plan: he carries a loaded gun.

Slowpoke only appears alongside Speedy in two films – one of which is embedded below this post – but he’s become a favorite character of my 6-year-old daughter, who is also something of a Looney Tunes fanatic (I plead guilty on this one). He was also the inspiration for the following discussion my daughter and I had recently:

Daughter: I like how Slowpoke talks. He talks slow, like Speedy talks fast.

Me: Yeah … they both talk the same way they move.

Daughter: It’s funny how Speedy is the faster runner, since Slowpoke is a lot skinnier.

Me: Good point – I hadn’t thought of it that way.

Daughter: Why do you think Speedy is faster?

Me: You know what? I have no idea. That’s a great question.

I tucked that exchange away for a while, thinking I’d come back with a good answer in the next day or two. But the more I thought about it, the less sense it made – and I concluded that my daughter had stumbled into a whole paradox that continues to confound me.

Think of it this way: Let’s say I described two mice to you, and asked you to guess which one was a triathlete. If I were to characterize Mouse A as:

* Unusually thin
* Always hungry
* Seemingly lethargic all the time, but
* Possessed mental abilities to overcome difficult situations

Wouldn’t you think that was the one? I mean ... those first three items were me for about eight solid weeks before last summer's ironman, and the last item kind of goes with the territory. Furthermore, if I then told you that Mouse B spends most of his time:

* Hanging out at carnivals ...

* Chilling with the senorita mice ...

* Playing in mariachi bands (I tried to find a picture of this, but my screen grabbing skills are terrible. You’ll just have to trust me.), and ...

* Eating an enormous amount of cheese

Wouldn’t the whole exercise seem like a no-brainer? You’d pick Mouse A, right? Well, guess what … Mouse A is Slowpoke!

[Footnote #2: there’s been some speculation that Slowpoke’s affect is attributable to either drunkenness or drug use. There's an urban legend that in an early version of one cartoon, he slips the word “marijuana” into his version of “La Cucaracha”. Don’t ask me how I know these things. Just know that drug use doesn’t automatically preclude his identity as a triathlete – as we know all too well.]

So let's now revisit the original question … just why IS Speedy the faster runner?

Sure, he spends a lot of time running, and I suppose that counts for something. Clearly, he has a passion for the sport. It makes me wonder just how much Speedier he could be if only he had a little bit of self-discipline in other aspects of his life. Besides, don’t you think that that as he grows older, those other lifestyle habits are going to catch up with him?

There are only so many cervezas a guy can run off before the caloric deposits outgain the expenditure of exercise. It seems merely a matter of time before some young, impoverished mouse hungry for nothing but success comes along to challenge Speedy for the “Fastest in All Me-hi-co” title.

Luckily, Speedy doesn’t have to worry, and that’s the beauty of cartoons: the world you know and love will never change. Speedy will always be the fastest. He’ll continue to be divertido and loco and suave, and he’ll never worry about his skills falling victim to the demons of time. Slowpoke will continue to be his lethargic, enigmatic second-fiddle, content to bask in Speedy's reflected glory.

And I’ll always wonder which one would win if they ever toed the line in a triathlon somewhere in Me-hi-co.


Backofpack 11/26/07, 7:59 PM  

I miss all the old characters - remember Quickdraw McGraw? Huckleberry Hound? Yogi Bear? Hours and hours of great cartoons...

Paul 11/26/07, 9:28 PM  

LMAO that is one of my favorites. "Slowpoke Rodriguez, he pack a guuun". I just bought a 5 disc dvd set of Looney Toons, uncut...It totally rocks. Doesn't get much better than an inebriated duck

rick 11/27/07, 12:48 AM  

Yeah Speedy is fast but how is he on the hills:) Mmm... those hills, the bane of many a great road runner. Speaking of which, I'd like to see a race between the road runner and speedy. Sure the road runner's got a longer stride but speedy's turnover rate hovers on humming bird level.

I hope you get in to Western. Good luck to both us but I wish more for you. I've already experienced it once, a great experience despite the suffering.

Anne 11/27/07, 4:35 AM  

Why, I don't think I'll be able to look at these characters the same way again now. And I once was at a venue where Angels & Airwaves was playing live (they're a local band); I too thought of the band as bubble-gum rock until I saw the bulk of their fans. their Some of those tats crawling up their necks were nasty looking :-).

Jeremy 11/27/07, 8:08 AM  

Slowpoke may be all spindly limbs, but if you look closely, he's got a bit of a belly on 'im.

Of course, if he exercised, maybe he'd melt that gut off and then he'd have no excuse....

Deene 11/27/07, 11:58 AM  

funny stuff - finally as a grown up i get to watch older shows with my kid.

Makita 11/28/07, 12:11 AM  

Love it! I miss those old cartoons! I should add the DVDs to my wish list. :)

I hope Speedy is with me on Sunday...

Cliff Tam 11/29/07, 7:35 PM  

So are we to say..don't judge mouse (and people) by their shape.. :)

momo 11/30/07, 10:21 AM  

things that make you go hm? hm?

maybe we're not getting the full story. maybe speedy is speedy BECAUSE he's so suave with the senoritas - he's learned to correr rapido (pardon the spanish here) because the seniorita's boyfriends are always chasing him!

Anonymous,  12/26/07, 6:42 PM  

I like Slowpoke Rodriguez more than Speedy Gonzalez. Gun advocates should really consider Rodriguez as a role model. Because he has nothing to be afraid of. He can just walk slowly in the most dangerous feline infested areas safely. Why? Because he carry a gun. Just what we need in this unstable world.

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