The Quick 10: The Word on Woodstock

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You've probably heard in the news that we're coming up on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. But I'm not talking about that Woodstock "“ you'll probably hear more retrospectives on that this weekend than you would prefer. Nope, we're going to talk about a different Woodstock "“ namely, the little yellow avian sidekick.

WOODSTOCK1. Woodstock was, in fact, named after the three-day festival of peace and music. Charles Schulz had been doodling birds for years, and by the late "˜60s, he was confident enough in his bird sketches to introduce a nameless avian to the strip. When the Woodstock festival was everywhere in the news a couple of years later, a lightbulb went off in his head. According to an interview he gave to Penthouse in 1971, he decided "Why not?" and named the bird after the hippie-fest.
2. Ever wondered exactly what type of bird Snoopy's corn-colored companion is? You're not alone. But you're also not going to get an answer. Although it's long been assumed that Woodstock is some type of canary, or at least based on a canary, Schulz never specified Woodstock's exact lineage. Woodstock does, however, get quite angry when someone calls him the wrong type of bird.

3. There was speculation for quite some time about Woodstock's sex, but let's clear it up here: Woodstock is definitely a boy. Schulz once said that it actually would have been better if Woodstock had been a girl since he often functions as Snoopy's secretary (and if that rather sexist comment made your hackles rise, you're not alone).

beaglescouts4. That gang of birds that frequently accompanies Woodstock have names. They are Bill, Harriet, Olivier, Raymond, Fred, Roy and Conrad. Although Snoopy can tell the difference between them, we really can't, except for Raymond "“ he's a bit darker yellow than the rest of them. Harriet was once shown to have a full head of hair, but not always (perhaps it was a new cut). They all belong to the Beagle Scouts together.

5. According to a 1995 strip, Woodstock wears contacts. Your guess as to how he gets them in his eyes is as good as mine.

6. Every now and then, Woodstock emits more than just those chicken scratch marks that serve as his speech. He gives out "Z"s when he's sleeping, he sighs when he's exasperated, and "No" is represented by an "X" in his speech bubble. He also laughs and yawns on occasion.

7. Woodstock and Snoopy shared a voice. Bill Meléndez, an animator who worked on every Peanuts film and special, recorded Snoopy's voice by talking pure gibberish into a tape recorder and then playing it at high speed. He did the same thing for Woodstock but in a different register and speed. As a side note, Meléndez also animated for Disney and worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo. He died last year.

snoopy8. Snoopy and Woodstock began their storied relationship when Woodstock's mom built a nest on Snoopy's stomach. The other birds left when Snoopy flung the nest away like a Frisbee, but Woodstock kept coming back to visit. Perhaps Snoopy is responsible for Woodstock's wonky flight pattern?
9. Woodstock has reported that his income is four worms a day. I'm not sure what the going market rate for worms is, but hopefully he's able to earn a good living off of that. He must be "“ we've seen the inside of his birdhouse before and it was fully decked out in "˜70s-style, perhaps a nod to the origin of his name.

10. Whoopi Goldberg has Woodstock tattooed above her left breast. That might be more than you ever wanted to know about Whoopi Goldberg. Me too. Sorry.

So, Woodstock "“ Tweety Bird rip-off? Better than Tweety? Or no comparison between the two at all? I much prefer Woodstock, but I'm probably tainted by growing up in the early "˜90s, when Tweety and Taz dominated the clothing of every tween and teen in the U.S.

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August 13, 2009 - 11:28am
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