The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Popeye's moral lesson was simple: any problem can be solved with a combination of violence and nutrition. Except, apparently, the problems of severe facial disfiguration, hypertrophy of the forearms, and nicotine addiction. I think the low point of Popeye's career was when he was signed up to hawk Quaker oats, which was humiliating for both him and the Quakers. At any rate, while I can't condone his approach to problem-solving, I do admire his taste in tattoos. B

Bluto was also known as Brutus, for reasons I can't fathom. It kind of ruined my appreciation for "Julius Caesar," though, because I always expect Caesar to pull out a can of spinach and start doing some hornpipe-backed ass-kicking. And then I get into this whole mental fugue with Olive Oyl wailing "Beware the Ides of Maaaaarch" and Wimpy asking the Romans to lend him their ears until Tuesday and then the whole Betty Boop thing sets in and it's just a bad scene all around. C

Olive Oyl
Did you see the movie version of Popeye? Wasn't the resemblance between Olive Oyl and Shelly Duvall amazing? Duvall is obviously a woman who's willing to play on her strengths no matter what they are. This just goes to show the importance of style: presumably Olive Oyl could have been in "Roxanne" if she didn't shop at the same boutique as "Nancy." But as-is, Olive Oyl is not much of a role model. Even those who consider push-up bras an empowering statement on the power of the feminine would have tough time fitting a screeching anorexic career victim -- Rapunzel sans decent hairdo -- into a coherent post-feminist ethic. C-

My clearest memory of Wimpy is from the Sinbad-based short where Wimpy spends the entire cartoon following some sort of a bird with a meat grinder, while Popeye and Bluto/Brutus/Sinbad do the usual pugilistic love triangle thing with Olive. It's kind of a gruesome image, when you think about it; if Wimpy had actually caught up with the bird he would have ground it alive, the bird screaming as its blood and innards soiled Wimpy's natty outfit. It's not the sort of thing you would figure Wimpy would be into, but in the end I wouldn't be at all surprised if Wimpy were to snap like a store-brand pretzel and mow down the entire Popeye cast, shouting "It's Tuesday, people! Payback time!" C+

Nothing like an androgynous bastard with no visible feet to liven up a cartoon. For God's sake, why don't cartoon characters just have kids of their own? Popeye, Mickey, Donald, it's nephews and foundlings. Makes you wonder if they don't have something to hide. Swee'pea is obviously not Olive's kid -- whatever "child-bearing hips" are, hers aren't -- but it's not inconceivable that the kid could be the result of Popeye's brief tryst with an extremely wiry prostitute in some exotic port of call. I'd point out that there's kind of a bad-gene-pool resemblance between the two, but frankly everyone is Popeye's little world looks like they got up on the wrong side of the genetic code. D+

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