They still tickle your funny bone

Remember when a trip to the movies included a cartoon that had adults as well as kids laughing out loud? My favorites were the “Looney Tunes” characters, like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Tweety Bird. One way to recover some of those wonderful memories is to buy or rent a DVD that collects a dozen or so classics.

I saw one the other day with 17 of the “Pepé Le Pew” series. One of the more exotic characters, this little French skunk always strolls around Paris in the springtime. Constantly seeking love, Pepé has two huge turnoffs to any prospective mates: his malodorous scent, and his refusal to take “no” for an answer. You see, he is blissfully convinced that the girl is flirting with him, even when she rejects his advances to the point of physically assaulting him.

The “Looney Tunes” series of theatrical cartoon shorts was produced from 1930 to 1969 during the Golden Age of American animation, as a competitor to Walt Disney’s stable of famous cartoon characters. The Saturday morning TV cartoon shows for kids are primitive compared to these classics.

My all-time favorite characters are Wile E. Coyote (better known as “the Coyote”) and Road Runner, created by Chuck Jones for Warner Bros. in 1949.

Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It,” in which Twain described the coyote as “a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton” that is “a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.” Jones said he created the Coyote-Road Runner cartoons as a parody of traditional “cat and mouse” cartoons such as Tom and Jerry.

The Coyote’s name of Wile E. is a play on the word “wily.” The “E” was said to stand for Ethelbert in one issue of a Looney Tunes comic book. Instead of animal senses and cunning, the Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions and elaborate plans to pursue his quarry. None of them ever work.

The Coyote is silent while Road Runner vocalizes only with a signature sound, “Beep, Beep,” and an occasional “popping-cork” tongue noise. Jones was surprised by the popularity of these characters, and he wound up making 48 episodes. They are also used in some TV ads.

Whenever they show up, Looney Tunes characters tickle my funny bone.

Happy birthday Tuesday to Trinity Hill, Aisha Frison, Joshua Harper, Keisha McKinney, Davina Watkins, Everette Barney and Don Eldredge, all of Sherman; Gary Martin and Kara Wimbish, both of Denison; Georgia Lee Wilkerson of Whitesboro; Tiffany Lallier and Jeremy Casteel, both of Howe; Antoya Lashelle Byers of Dallas; Dylan Powell of Durant, Okla.; Steve Johnson of Knollwood; Scott Bates of Pottsboro.

Happy anniversary Tuesday to Kevin and DeLinda Clinton of McKinney, 30 years.