I was reading an article on the life and times of Mel Blanc, and I found his life interesting, especially his headstone, which showed his sense of humor and perspective on both life and death. He was a remarkable person who led such an amazing life and left behind a tremendous legacy.
Mel Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. as the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil and many of the other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical short films, during the “Golden age of American animation”
On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Hit head-on, Blanc suffered a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for three weeks, along with sustaining fractures in both legs and the pelvis.
At the time of the accident Blanc was also serving as the voice of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones.
His absence from the show would be relatively brief; Daws Butler provided the voice of Barney for a few episodes, after which the show’s producers set up recording equipment in Blanc’s hospital room and later at his home to allow him to work from there.
Some of the recordings were made while he was in full-body cast as he lay flat on his back with the other Flintstones co-stars gathered around him. That is dedication.
Blanc’s will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, “THAT’S ALL FOLKS”. The phrase was a trademark of Blanc’s character Porky Pig.
When Blanc was sixteen, he changed the spelling from ‘Blank’ to ‘Blanc,’ because a teacher told him that he would amount to nothing and be like his name, a ‘blank.’
I find this interesting because it is a good example of the role teachers play in people’s lives, and I think sometimes this is severely underestimated. I mean here is a teenager that took the quip of a teacher so much to heart that he changed his name, as if he was trying to escape the prophecy of failure.
And I am not one of those people that think someone who is a bad teacher is necessarily a bad person, just maybe a good person in a job they do not like.
I was good at mathematics up to the age of 12, not a prodigy or a genius or anything like that, just good, tests were no problems. The teacher was great and encouraged it by offering what she called spot prizes if someone could answer a question correctly, sometimes I won these prizes and sometimes other students won them.
Then at the age of thirteen I left for Secondary school and met a horrendous teacher who taught mathematics and was feared throughout the school. Not one student had a good word to say about her.
She would teach algebra and if you did not understand, she would pick on you, call you up to the front of the class to solve some equation and when you made a mistake or even the slightest miscalculation, she pounced like a fecking ninja cat with super ninja cat powers.
Are you dyslexic? She would shout and this was one of her favorite rhetorical questions.
Then why can’t you do it?
Now being called dyslexic when you know you are not is water off a ducks back, but I often thought in a school that big she must have stumbled across some misfortunate person who was dyslexic and the damage she inflicted on them was both unnecessary and fucking horrible.
Imagine thinking you are stupid, or not as clever as your peers or just being a bit different and then having a teacher confirm it in front of the entire class. Kids have committed suicide over less.
My interest in math’s plummeted, so did my test results. It seemed whatever math’s skills I had previously, abandoned me in the face of this demonic woman. It was all downhill from there.
Clearly, this teacher was never cut out for the job she somehow ended up in.
I met this woman who is very funny and witty and has a sharp tongue. She is also the proof that the old saying; Patience is a virtue, have it if you can, always in a woman never in a man, is a load of nonsense.
She is notorious for her lack of patience. But we are all adults and give as good as we get, and we put up with her cantankerous ways.
One day, she told me she hopes to be a secondary school teacher.
And I said, rather predictable, you must like teaching and kids.
She sighed, rolled her eyes and said; no, but it’s a job, a pension, and it beats working in Tesco.
I remember thinking; I hope you fail and in the process find something you actually like and are good at.
Because I can imagine her in a classroom teaching some 13-year-old algebra or English or History and that sharp tongue and her impatience cutting some kid to ribbons because he has forgotten the name of a dead King or the Pythagoras Theorem.
A few years ago, around 2009, there was this teenage girl that did her Leaving Certificate and did fantastically well.
She got enough points to be able to go to College and study medicine in order to become a doctor. Which was what she wanted. Her father was a doctor, and her grandmother was also a doctor, so it was in the family.
It never happened though, because that year the government brought in a controversial aptitude test for anyone studying medicine.
The test had nothing to do with how much you knew but what kind of person you were, if you had empathy, understanding of delicate situations such as telling someone they had cancer or their daughter had just died in a car accident.
It was brought in because people’s complaints about doctors were that they lacked any kind of empathy, bedside manners and even nurses said that doctors mishandled situations in such a way that it made patient’s lives all the more difficult, and so they test was brought in.
The girl with the great results failed it. She was devastated. Because she was one of the first to do it or at least to fail it anyway, she received a lot of media attention at the time.
A few months ago, I read that they were changing the rules of the aptitude test so that there would not be a chance to do a second one if you flunked it, because most people were failing it and then passing a slightly but not hugely altered second version with great results, so basically they were given you the same test again.
I used to think it was kind of puzzling that people who have to be scoring high in every single subject in school can fail a test that simply requires you to show you have empathy with someone.
However, not anymore, because after a while, you meet people who are intelligent, but they are lousy at their job, mostly because it is not their job. It is simply, a job.