Tag Archives: children’s literature

Celebrity Babe of the Month: June

Sorry for the long hiatus; but let’s be honest, did any of you really notice?

And now, for the conclusion of our Celebrity Babe of the Month series…

Babe the Gallant Pig

One of four dozen piglets who played Babe in the 1995 movie

One of four dozen piglets who played Babe in the 1995 movie

Real name: Babe (known in sheepdog trials as Pig)

Babe-ification story:

When Farmer Hogget wins an infant pig at a fair and brings it back to the farm, the dog who takes care of the piglet asks its name. It responds that its mother called all her children Babe.

An illustration by Mary Rayner from the original book

An illustration by Mary Rayner from the original book

Celebrification story:

Mary Rayner illustration

Mary Rayner illustration

Just an orphan pig on a farm, Babe unknowingly avoids becoming Christmas dinner by proving himself a skilled herder of the other farm animals. He has learned from Fly, the friendly sheepdog who adopts the piglet as her own, but he eventually becomes the most efficient herder on the farm when he comes up with the idea to ask the sheep nicely if they wouldn’t mind going into the pen. Babe even saves the sheep from rustlers.

Farmer Hogget notices the pig’s uncanny talents and decides to enter him into the county sheep dog trials. They begin training, interrupted only by the brief suspicion that Babe has killed a sheep (turns out it was the only sheep he wasn’t able to save from wild dogs). Babe enters the trials armed with a password given to him by the farm sheep that will allow him to talk to the unfamiliar sheep he is herding in the competition. He does so well that the judges award him and Farmer Hogget the highest possible score.

Meta-celebrification story:

Babe book cover   Babe movie poster

In 1983, children’s author Dick King-Smith penned The Sheep-Pig (Babe, the Gallant Pig in the U.S.). In 1995, the book was turned into a movie called Babe, which was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and did extremely well at the box office, solidifying Babe’s place in history and canonizing Farmer Hogget’s sweet post-competition praise: “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.”

That'll do, Pig. That'll do.

That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

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Dr. Who?

Here are a few famous doctors to know about. MD not required.

Dr. Seuss

For a guy who didn’t even like kids, Theodor Seuss Geisel certainly made his mark among children. Luke Luck licks lakes.

Dr. Seuss postage stamp

Be hip about Dr. Seuss:

Importance: prolific author and illustrator of books for young children

Most well-known volumes: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Drop this at a party:

    • He wasn’t actually a doctor, and he purportedly wasn’t crazy about children.
    • A successful Broadway musical, Seussical!, is based on characters from his books.
    • He had a knack for astute social commentary disguised as children’s stories (check out The Lorax and The Star-Bellied Sneetches).

More on Dr. Seuss:

He was pursuing a Ph.D. in literature from Oxford, but dropped the course of study when he married his first wife, Helen, thus making him Nearly-Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Who

I am probably permanently banished from Comic-Cons worldwide for listing this one as Dr. Who. After all, as every self-respecting science fiction fan knows, the character is simply The Doctor.  The television series title, however, is Doctor Who, a reference to the cryptic ineffability of the main character. He travels across space and time in his TARDIS to do whatever needs doing in order to save the universe and its unaware residents.

the eleven faces of The Doctor

To date, eleven actors have portrayed The Doctor.

Be hip about The Doctor:

Importance: hero of the cult favorite BBC sci-fi series and its 2005 redux (ahem, reBOOT)

Drop this at a party: His time/space travel craft, which looks on the outside like an old British police call box, is called the Time and Relative Dimension in Space, or the TARDIS.

More on Dr. Who/The Doctor:

  • The original series, which aired on BBC television from 1963 to 1989, holds the Guinness World Record for longest-running science fiction television show in the world. It was rebooted in 2005 and is currently still in production.
  • The Doctor is a Time Lord, a species that can regenerate their bodies when they are about to die, thus lending credibility to the fact that The Doctor has been portrayed by eleven different actors over the course of the show’s run.
  • The Doctor’s most well-known recurring nemeses are the Daleks, a race created by a scientist to destroy all inferior beings (i.e., everyone else). In a UK series of postage stamps celebrating pop culture icons, one stamp featured a Dalek.
  • Spinoff series include Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and K-9, as well as innumerable single episodes, mini-series, books, stage plays, and two feature-length films.

Doc Watson

A legendary name in bluegrass, old time, and folk music, Arthel “Doc” Watson racked up seven Grammy Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement) and continued to play music all the way up until his death at age 89.

Be hip about Doc Watson:

Importance: blind guitarist credited by many with establishing the acoustic guitar as a lead instrument in folk and bluegrass music

Drop this at a party: “Applause is like an amplified friendly handshake.” –Doc Watson

More on Doc Watson:

  • Doc started Merlefest, an annual acoustic music festival named after his son (Merle), who often performed with his dad before he died in a tractor accident in 1985.
  • Watson’s career breakthrough came at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
  • The story of the nickname “Doc,” according to Watson himself: An announcer remarked during a live radio broadcast that Arthel was an odd name, and a nickname would be easier. An audience member volunteered the advice, “Call him Doc!” (a suggestion which may be an allusion to Sherlock Holmes’ assistant, Dr. Watson). It stuck.
  • Watson went blind before his first birthday due to an infection.
  • He was also proficient on the banjo.

Spin Doctors

Lowercase spin doctors are those clever, well-paid folks who take a terrible situation and convince the public to see it as a godsend. But capitally, the Spin Doctors were a rock n’ roll jam band significant enough to make the cover of the January 7, 1993, issue of Rolling Stone.

Be hip about the Spin Doctors:

Importance: American rock band with a couple of Billboard hits in the early ‘90’s

Drop this at a party:

    • The band’s biggest hit, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was “Two Princes,” off their first studio album, 1991’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
    • Original member John Popper left the Spin Doctors to focus on his other band, Blues Traveler.

More on the Spin Doctors:

  • The band’s first studio album was preceded by a live EP called Up for Grabs…Live.
  • Between 1991 and 2005, the Spin Doctors released five studio albums. Pocket Full of Kryptonite was the most successful commercially, going Triple Platinum and hitting #3 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.
  • The band is still playing shows.

Dr. Kevorkian

You may know him as Dr. Death.  The controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian served prison time for euthanizing over 130 terminal patients.

Be hip about Dr. Kevorkian (that sounds kinda weird):

Importance: championed the cause of, depending on which side you’re on, physician-assisted suicide or a patient’s right to die, bringing the issue of euthanasia to public attention

Drop this at a party: He was also a painter and a jazz instrumentalist who sold limited copies of his work, including a 1997 composition called The Kevorkian Suite: A Very Still Life.

More on Dr. Kevorkian:

  • If you’re keeping a list called Kevorkian’s Controversial Death-Related Positions, add to it his belief that inmates on death row should be able to opt for what amounted to death by scientific experimentation (as fully anesthetized patients in medical research).
  • Kevorkian died (unassisted) in 2011 at age 83.
  • The band Acid Bath used one of his paintings for their album Paegan Terrorism Tactics.

Note: I had a really hard time narrowing down doctors. So many good ones were left out – Dr. No (first James Bond movie villain, works for SPECTRE, metallic hand); Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget’s nemesis, works for MAD, only ever see his hand and his cat, spoof of Dr. No); Dr. Phil (spawned – er, launched – by Oprah’s daily talk show; professional good-advice-giver); Dr. Pepper (duh)… I wouldn’t rule out a Part 2 of this post at some point in the future.

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