ZIP Beep #50
ANNIVERSARY ISSUE EXTRA: AWARDS OF QUESTION
by Don Fitzwater

The year was 1984, the month was September, and the event was introduction of ZIP Beep magazine.

Now, here we are at our 50th anniversary party...that is to say, the party marking the fourth anniversary of our magazine, a magazine that has now reached (through some strange twist of fate and numbers -- believe me, you don't want to know) issue number 50.

We decided to celebrate our 50th anniversary now because you never really know what might happen in 46 years, and we don't want to miss the fun.

Okay, it's a questionable argument. So let's go off on another tangent, a questionable tangent to be sure, and jump right into the event marking the event: ZIP Beep's Awards of Question.

The film industry has the Oscar, television has the Grammy, theater has both the Tony and Obie awards, SF writers have the Hugo, mystery writers the Edgar, and even commercials have their own award, the Cleo. But what of all those high profile folks in the public eye that don't fit into one of these existing award ceremonies and have entertained us throughout the year? Where is the public recognition for their contributions to American life?

Well ask no more. Finally, each of these heretofore overlooked celebrities will get what they so richly deserve: a "Questie."

Nominations are made by an incredibly objective panel which consists solely of me. The votes are tallied by me, and the results are kept locked in a manila folder lost somewhere on my desk until the moment of the actual awards ceremony, give or take a day or two.

And now our first category.

The nominees for MOST DISGUSTING PUBLIC FALL FROM GRACE are:

Jim Bakker, star of PTL and Heritage U.S.A. - It turns out that more than his attitude was "holier than thou." Millions of dollars and much moral integrity seemed to slip through all kinds of holes in his life. Whether or not he wins here today, Jim has a good chance of being nominated again next year as well. It appears he's trying to buy back PTL & Heritage U.S.A. so can a sequel be far behind?

Gary Hart - Initially the leading man for the Democrats in Campaign '88, it soon turned out he had something in common with President Reagan...only this monkey business wasn't very funny at all. Early press had him favored to capture the Questie in this category, but several later entries are definitely in contention.

Jimmy Swaggart - Always a favorite with the ladies, Jimmy is definitely pushing Hart and Bakker in this race. Cousin to rock and roll star "Killer" Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy seems to share Jerry's interest in the ladies. Lust for life and life for lust...if it's a sin, then these two cousins will be into it up to their...er, ah...necks.

Joseph Biden - Skilled with words (whether or not they're actually his), old Joe has charmed millions with his stirring renditions of a British Labor party candidate. If he wins tonight, we're sure to get an absolute classic acceptance speech. I just wonder who it will REALLY belong to.

Tonight's second category is BEST GRASP OF AMERICAN HISTORY, and the nominees are:

George Bush - In a rousing speech before the VFW, Vice President George Bush (a WWII veteran) demonstrated the kind of keen, razor sharp grasp of international politics and history we'll all be able to expect from him should he be elected President. Not since Ronald Reagan's famous "trees cause pollution" comment in the '80 campaign have we seen such a consummate and forceful delivery of seriously flawed information. Since George thinks Pearl Harbor Day is September 7th (a day that will surely live in infamy in George's personal account), can Christmas be far behind?

J. Danforth Quayle - Not content to let his running mate steal all of the historical limelight, Vice Presidential candidate Quayle has leapt into the fray with a most masterful presentation of his indepth knowledge of WWII, the Holocaust, and the past century of history. Before the election, I hope Dan learns which century he lives in, which side the Nazis were on in WWII, and what patriotism REALLY means.

Ronald Reagan - Well, the Gipper's nomination in this category is more for sentimental reasons, a last hurrah as it were. In any other year Ronnie's claim that we've just been humoring the Native Americans all these years would be a clear cut Questie winner. But this year, the Bush/Quayle team is absolutely dominating the balloting. Way to go boys, win one for the Gipper!

And now a perennial favorite...the nominees for UNTHINKING LOUDMOUTH are:

Morton Downey Jr. - What can I say? Never has so much viscious, unthinking, unfeeling, unintelligent garbage been spewed at such a volume and at such personal gain, as with this nominee and his syndicated show. One can imagine Morton Downey Sr., on a heavenly cloud next to Joe Pine, saying, "That's my son! I wonder what happened to his face?"

Patrick Buchanon - Sounding like an endless tape loop of the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, Pat's "Evil Empires" and "Barbaric Thugs" can be heard from the Rockies to the Urals. Friends and foes alike refer to him as "the shout heard round the world."

A tight race in this category to be sure. Whoever wins, I'm sure we'll all lose.

We'd like to take a little break here now to present a special award. Recipients of this award are selected on the basis of outstanding accomplishments in the field of Questionable Achievement. In each subsequent year we'll recognize those individuals and organizations that have stretched the boundaries of Questionable Achievement past all reason.

May I have the envelope please... and the first recipient of the ZIP Beep Lifetime Achievement Questie is:

All 8 years of the Reagan administration! (The Carter administration came in a very close second, but due to the fact the Reagan administration had twice the amount of time to screw things up, we had to give the nod to Ronnie and his gang). Congratulations to all of you from all of us here at ZIP Beep. Due to the high number of convictions, indictments and resignations under a cloud of doubt, and this administration's unflagging efforts to roll back environmental protection and civil liberties, we had no choice but to award this Questie to the Reagan administration and all who served in it for these past 8 years.

You guys can stop by our offices to pickup your awards whenever you get out, make bail or score a parole.

As you can see, religion and politics have dominated awards so far. But that's not the whole story...

The nominees for the Questie in HIGH TECHNOLOGY are:

Lotus 1-2-3 - For their outstanding effort in demonstrating litigation as a useful deterrent to innovation and development.

IBM - A serious contender this year for several reasons. First their attempt to retroactively license "PC Technology" to all clone manufacturers. Then their insistence on Microchannel architecture as the new PC buss standard (although at this time it appears they have missed the bus, so to speak). And finally for selling an overpriced, memory glutton and incomplete operating system known as OS/2.

Apple Computer - Long striving to catch up to Big Blue, the folks from Cupertino may just have caught up and passed their rival in the field of corporate stupidity with their incredibly inept look and feel suits against IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

That's it for the big nominations. And the winners are: IT'S A TIE! Holy cow, I thought I voted on these things! I must have forgot. Hmmm. It's probably just as well. Anything as prestigious as ZIP Beep's Questies presentation ceremony would probably be too much for a single recipient in each category.

Unfortunately, we can't afford to book a hall big enough to fit everyone in. So if the winners would kindly agree to come by our offices sometime, we'll see if we can dig up a statue or two. Anybody got any design ideas?

ZIP Beep #50
MY WEEK AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF WOOD
by Dennis Wallaker

It's been an eventful week, involving a lot of activities.

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1) I was considered, hired and fired before I even got a chance to start the best job I ever had.

Freelance writing gig for a hip, rich guy who owns a hip, rich company...probably the hippest space I've ever been in: sand blasted inside a prairie architecture plum, five stories visibly set like an ant farm with a microwave here, an 800 year old antique there and computers every which way.

He dug me and I dug him; we'd both been heads in the past, neither of us wore socks, and he was hip and rich.

Then he and his partners decided to do a video instead, and the video people stipulated that they'd have to use their in-house staff for the writing.

I was out, though permanently on file. But as Edward D. Wood Jr., the writer, director and producer of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (starring Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi, and Vampira) said, "All of you of Earth are idiots...."

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2) While scrubbing the floors, I found two nail clippers and a dime that I assumed were lost forever.

I don't really want to go into it too much because it's kind of personal, but I do have a tendency to lose change and misplace nail clippers.

It's creepy. It's sick, there's no excuse for it and sometimes I feel like just cashing it all in.

When I was around four years old and my Ma used to cut my finger nails, I'd say, "Cut it out Mommy! It gives me that jittery feeling." That explains my Oedipal desire to nix the clippers, but then what about the change?

As near as I can tell, it happened when I was seven and got a dime for allowance every week. Then they raised the price of Superman comics from 10 cents to 12 cents. I had no choice but to walk away with two nickel BIG TIME candy bars. It occurred to me that money wasn't worth that much. As Edward D. Wood Jr., the writer and director of GLEN OR GLENDA (starring Lyle Talbot, Bela Lugosi and Daniel Davis [Edward D. Wood Jr.]) said, "Our whole existence is one big problem after another."

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3) I called the fire department at three in the morning to come over to my place which was not burning.

It was not an irrational act. Fire alarms were going off all over the building and the residents of this joint were out on the sidewalk, smoking cigarettes and wearing some of the most Blaze Starr kind of nightgowns I've ever seen.

The women were also looking pretty nifty!

I asked if anyone had called 911 but none of the other Cryptettes had a phone. So I called, told them I didn't see any smoke and asked them if they could send a squad car over to turn off the alarm.

Three minutes later the alarms stopped by themselves. Two minutes after that, five fire engines and assorted vehicles showed up at the lovely Laurel Apartments.

They were curious to find out who had called them.

I confessed, they checked the building and muttered stuff about "the skinny, long haired dork," who was me, and I was embarrassed.

I felt like the old man in Edward D. Wood Jr.'s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE when Criswell the psychic narrator says, "The old man...his feet encased in the same thick, tight fitting leather that his shoes are made of."

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4) I was reminded that I never liked answering the door or phone after 1:00 AM especially on a school night unless Mom & Dad are downstairs robbing a gas station or even if they weren't.

There is no good news after 1:00 AM be it at the door or on that damn phone.

I've got people that call me up at two in the morning because they are bored. They figure if I'm up this late, I'm probably bored and if I'm asleep this early, I must really be bored.

They'll knock on the door because they see the cats in the window and figure if they're awake, I must be, too.

So it's either a bleary eyed in person rap or else a late night phone marathon interspersed with nature calls. I let it happen. Why not? After doing all this figuring, I figure they need to relax and chill out a bit.

If, just once, it was a beautiful lady who had just moved in next door and wanted to talk a bit 'cause she was really lonely and I seemed like a nice guy and etc....

But as Edward D. Wood Jr. wrote for the film BRIDE AND THE BEAST, "Like I say: marry 'em; leave 'em out in the middle of nowhere; take their shoes away; and you've got a wife that will do very nicely."

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5) I wrote a song that is more than vaguely reminiscent of everything I've written over the past 10 years.

I got the four track recorder primed, cranked up the bass synthesizer, tinkled on the electric piano (old, old joke) and set the drum computer on puree.

I counted to four and out came the same old stuff.

Maybe I've reached the point in my artistic development where "Oh my God, that was fantastic" has turned into "Oh my God, that was almost OK."

I sat in the dark mulling over different sets of lyrics with only the light of the T.V. to illuminate my thoughts. (Ain't that fancy! I must have some of Oscar Wilde in me and I'm leaving that joke right there.) Then the Morton Downey Jr. Show comes on and I realize this is what I want to do.

I don't want to yell at people or be a hedonistic redneck, but I would like to smoke on T.V. Smoking is something I do real good but very few people allow me to do it in their houses, let alone in their T.V. sets.

But as Mr. Wood wrote for REVENGE OF THE DEAD (starring Paul Marco as Kelton the Cop, and Criswell, once again as the narrator) -

HE: This is the Twentieth Century.
SHE: Don't count on it.

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6) I let Rios come over here and complain about how rotten his blind dates are.

At least I can sympathize with him this time.

Rio's friend's fiancee figured that since Rios is Puerto Rican, he might enjoy the company of a Puerto Rican lady.

This lady turns out to be a body builder who's not necessarily interested in members of the opposite sex, but who doesn't like to spend Friday nights alone, and who is not averse to ordering the most expensive hootch in the house.

He wants to get me involved in one of these double dating maneuvers but I'm a mainland American and I know how to Just Say No.

He says life is boring without women but I figure he's crazy. He's got as many books and records as I do plus musical instruments, sound equipment and we just got him a T.V. a couple weeks ago. Geez.

Maybe it's like it says in the Bible. "It is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is to convince a Latino that True Romance is dead." Something like that anyway.

But as Trent discussed with Edwards in Edward D. Wood Jr.'s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE -

TRENT: Modern Women.
EDWARDS: Yeah, they've been like that through the ages.

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7) I discovered a cache of clean underwear that I had assumed were gone forever.

There are few things quite as nice: Being out of smokes and finding half a pack in the freezer or being hungry and finding a can of chili behind the cleaning supplies.

These are nice, but not as nice as thinking you're out of clean underwear and discovering a whole sackful.

Bikini, standard, jockey, colorful boxers; I even found my old swimsuit in there, which works in a pinch except I don't need it 'cause I've got lots of clean underwear.

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8) Because I had a black cat on my shoulder, I got kicked out of a 7-11.

I have this black cat I call the Salted Nut Boy. I call him that because he snuck into an empty potato chip bag that was in a full hefty bag that I had thrown into the dumpster out back. I was five steps closer to a rerun of MY LITTLE MARGIE when I heard the meowing, forced myself past the grease and the groat clusters, and dove into the center of the aforementioned dumpster. I ripped open the bag and there he was, salted from head to tail. I washed both of us off and immediately started training him -- taught him how to come when called, how to hide in my shirt without scratching or complaining, and how to sing the high parts on certain Hall & Oates tunes. We became fast friends.

I take this cat with me to the galleries, the sculpture garden, certain stores and associated joints.

Most people think he's cute. There was one young born again who admonished me in the name of the Living Christ. But I put a satanic curse on him and pinched the Nut Boy's tail so he'd growl for effect, and the guy took off. I mean, he took off fast. The last I saw him, he was bee-lining towards the bathroom at the Texaco station.

Then the 7-11 incident. We walked in there to buy some cat food and the employees were on us like a bunch of angel-dusted pro-lifers. One of them reached for Salty, he bit the guy and the others started screaming. We decided to take our business elsewhere and I suggest you boycott 7-11, too.

But like Dr. Gregor said in Edward D. Wood Jr.'s film JAILBAIT, "Life is life."

That's the way this one works.

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For further info on the man and legend, write -

The Edward D. Wood Jr. Film Appreciation Society
2265 Westwood Blvd, Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Don't forget to tip your local homeless...he may be me.

ZIP Beep #50
OUGH BOUY! ING LITSCH!
by Ed Eubanks

Legend has it that when the first colonist tried to teach the King's lingo to the American Indians, he found his most earnest efforts rewarded with unmelodious "ughs." What that Englishman mistook for savage stupidity was merely the inability of the Indians to fathom the most difficult stumbling block in the English language the "ough."

Even the most British of the British, prenatally indoctrinated and manor-born, must admit to a bit of bewilderment when trying to master the incongruent complexities of his mother tongue. Henry Higgins laments, "Why can't the English learn to speak, the Russians taught his Russian, the Geek is taught his Geek...." Henry, the answer is simple. The Chinese may have to learn 10,000 characters, the Arabs may have to read backwards, the Bushman may have to learn a thousand different clicks and whistles, but all learn one set of rules. Not so with us English speakers. We first must learn the rule, then the exception to the rule, then the rule to the exception, and, finally, the exception to the exception.

Consider this poetic tidbit:

Though field be rough and fights the plough
though cough may shake my body through
Though trough be dry and lauder bare
Still will I keep the blessed land.
What was it they taught us in grade school about root sounds? You get to the 'ough' and it seems like you've entered the Twilight Zone. Though. Rough. Cough. Plough. Through. Trough. One root spelling, six words, and seven distinctly different sounds. Ough rhymes with everything but itself. It is a phonetic chameleon that has no character of its own. It is the George Bush of the English language.

Rough rhymes with stuff. That's easy enough.

Cough rhymes with off.

So does trough. Trough can rhyme with off and broth, both. Not with both mind you, but with both broth and off. Broth doesn't rhyme with both, but it is certainly spelled like it. While oath, which is not spelled like both at all, rhymes quite nicely. Such irregular growth.

Though broth does not rhyme with both, it does rhyme with cloth. It also rhymes with swath which rhymes with troth which does not always rhyme with broth but does sometimes rhyme with wrath which never rhymes with broth. Troth in fact can rhyme with wrath, clothe (which rhymes with loath which can be pronounced like oath and loathe both), growth, and swath (which can be pronounced like wrath or bathe).

Oh, one other thing. Trough can also rhyme with plough. If we plow into this muck we'll find things getting a whole lot curiouser and curiouser. Plough is a homonym of plow which has the same root spelling as blow which rhymes with dough. Consider the homonyms bow (to curtsy) and bow (what basketball players throw). 'Bow' rhymes with both plough and dough, so does sow. Sow does, but not sew which only rhymes with though but is spelled like new which only rhymes with through. Try telling this to a first year English student in Bulgaria: "Okay Dnjpzec, bow is spelled like bow but is pronounced like beau which rhymes with dough but not plough. Okay? Now on the other hand, bow though spelled like bow is pronounced like tao and rhymes with plough but not dough? Got that, Dnjpzec?" The poor guy will screem "Nyuts!" and go running into the arms of Ivan.

Fact is, the long o sound in English is achieved by various circuitous spellings. Beau, crow, dough, oh, quo, rho, hoe, sew. Change the consonants at the beginning of these words and you are faced with totally different sounds. Crow becomes prow. Rho becomes who. (Just for fun, turn the q in status quo to a d. Status duo. Now you're keeping up with the Joneses even if you aren't keeping up with my line of thought!)

Getting through the English becomes tough and made no easier by the English "through." Though almost the spitting image of though, through sounds totally different and introduces a whole 'nother set of beasty incongruities of the English tongue. The long u sound of through also is duplicated by a variety of spellings. Do, dieux, ewe, too, glue, few, sue, Sioux, view, nu, lieu, and ragout (which looks like rag out, no doubt, but rhymes with tattoo, it's true). Change the d in to do to g and you'll have to go. No crap. Drop the s from Mr. Shoe and he becomes who? No, Hoe.

This would all strike us as being hilarious if we were not sobered by the fact that all the rules that govern our lives, contract our pledges, and record our deeds are wrote in this jibberish. English is hard stuff. Unstructured, irregular, haphazard, and undisciplined. Small wonder. It's got to be made up of snippets of every language of the world. A lot of German, a good smack of French, some Dutch, a smidgeon of Norwegian, a wink of Kikuyu, Bengali, and Comanche, a hefty dose of Spanish, and a reluctant bit of Swedish. It's like we've thrown everything in the cupboard into the soup pot. No wonder Johnny can't read. No wonder Johnny's old man can't read.

I guess it serves a function. Them that finally master it end up as New York bankers and Philadelphia lawyers, and them that don't end up frying wings at the local Chicken Colonel's. It's a sort of linguistic Darwinism that separates the wheat from the chaff.

In California, the English-speaking protestants (who have mastered neither English nor Christianity) want the Spanish-speaking catholics to speak English. They've passed a law. They've passed a law full of words like "though," and "through," and "cough." It declares English to be the official language of the land. The Hispanics generally to ignore it. They seem comfortable clinging to a language that has no "oughs" where the h may be extraneous, but it is always extraneous. Consistent. Ordered. Blessed with their own beautiful language, they seem unwilling to abandon it for English. I can't blame them. No one has ever heard Spanish and said "Ugh!"

Few can study English and not be struck by its "Ugh!"-liness. Still, it's our native tongue and we muddle through it/muddle it up as we go along. Some say that one day English will evolve into a truly international language, reaching levels that Latin and Esperanto only aspired to. The day that happens will be the day that the world takes a quantum leap into chaos.

ZIP Beep #50
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS
movie review by Chuck Strinz

You've probably seen the crowds. Great hoards of angry Elvis followers, tramping past the doors of the local movie theater, carrying protest signs, shouting epithets like "Love Him Tender" or "Viva Las Vegas," sometimes angrily and sometimes lovingly attempting to turn movie-goers into would be movie-goers.

Of course, the protesters may just be living, animated billboards for THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS.

Almost lost in the hubbub is the movie itself, and the question "Is it worth plunking down $5.50 to see THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS?"

Before addressing that question, let's examine the protest phenomenon more closely. Perhaps, with a better understanding of the view from both sides, the resulting synthesis will lead to a truer perception of what it takes to function together in a pluralistic society built upon commendable values and the constant struggle to live up to them.

First, the movie makers. The studio, A & P International, wants money. And lots of it. Millions have been spent to produce the film, millions to distribute it, millions went for publicity (although quite a bit was saved here), additional millions given to probably-sincere actors and auteurs who believed in their vision, but, of course, were willing to compromise to see the movie made.

So much for that side.

The protesters comprise a more disparate group. There is the fan, who has an image of Elvis that seems somehow compromised by a particular aspect of the film. Then there's the fanatic, who has built an entire life upon the hope and message of Elvis and the Myth of the Return.

But who was Elvis? Who was He really?

Elvis lived in a turbulent era. He inherited the lineage of a great people who had, at one time, declared themselves a separate nation, only to be subjugated by an emerging world power. The war that had decided the fate of the Southern people had been fought long before the birth of Elvis. One cannot help but speculate on what might have been if the Southerners had remained independent, and Elvis had been born into an aristocratic society.

But Elvis' nativity was humble. The massive underclass identified with Him, even when his own people rejected Him for refusing to wholely accept the teachings of the powerful Pharisees of Jim Crow.

Plowboy makes good. The lowly shall rise. Simple images like these opened the way for acceptance of other, more daring concepts. The concept of the Hound Dog, of the Mecca Las Vegas, of the Hip, of the Hips, of the place of sex in culture and, above all in historical terms, the revolutionary thoughts He inspired regarding Teen Love.

Much has been made of His use of illicit substances. But it must be remembered that He appears to have had legitimate physical needs that were addressed by physicians through legal means. He may or may not have subsequently obtained drugs through illegal channels. There is little doubt that He became physically dependant.

Here we leave the realm of historical fact and enter the domain of faith.

Even Elvis fanatics disagree on the physicality of Elvis. Was He a real man, or an ideal? Did He live and die? Or does He continue to walk the earth?

One thing is clear: Elvis lives in the hearts and souls of his followers. Astute scholars debate about Roxon, Gleason and the other writers of the Gospels. Down-and-out commoners buy oil-on-velvet paintings of Elvis, with eyes that open and close as you move across the room. The once and future King continues to hold court.

But THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS has its own followers. Many simply appreciate a good story. Others see new angles on the life of a legend. There is even a large contingent of fans and fanatics that say their personal relationship with Elvis is all the more profound by having experienced this movie.

The movie presents a liberal interpretation of the life of Elvis as we know it. For one thing, Elvis was a member of the Southern sect known as Hillbillies. Rufus, Bopper, Carl of Perkins, Johnny of Cash and other diciples of the Sun speak with words and tones corresponding with Hillbilly life. Elvis does not. This attempt to continue a misperception of Elvis does little to universalize the appeal of the movie, and much to make us question its authenticity.

But there are many moving scenes and wonderful portrayals of the stories we all know. I was particularly impressed with the treatment of the Prophet John (of Liverpool), the musical cousin of Elvis, whose role in the legend is often underemphasized. Many of his contemporaries believed John was the one they had awaited. John sets them straight in a moving passage containing his immortal quote, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

And few serious film students could dispute the power of the scene retelling the story of Elvis' sideburns, in which He gives his to the Centurians saying, "Render unto Ike the things that are Ike's."

Overall, whatever your faith, THE LAST TEMPTATION OF ELVIS is a moving portrayal of the man and the myth, regardless of its veracity. It will please many theomusicologists searching for new considerations for their theses on the Logia Mac (or Truck Log, the earliest known writings of Elvis) and other obscure texts. It will arouse intense anger in pilgrims to the Shrine of Graceland, and help pursuade them to buy every relic they can afford.

One final note: we can expect to go through all of this again next fall, when A & P releases the planned Saturday morning cartoon series.

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