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Chuck Jones’ Rules for Writing Road Runner Cartoons

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Film director Amos Posner shared this photo taken at the What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York:

Jones' rules, first made public when he published them in his 1999 autobiography Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, are probably pretty familiar to animation students and Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote fanatics. They are a fascinating testament to the need for clearly defined systems within a wacky creative process. 

Fun fact: In an interview for the book Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age, Michael Maltese, a writer who worked for Jones on the Roadrunner series, said that he had never heard of these rules.

Here's a slightly longer version of the rules that Jason Kottke shared a few years back:

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "meep, meep."

2. No outside force can harm the Coyote -- only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.

3. The Coyote could stop anytime -- if he were not a fanatic.

4. No dialogue ever, except "meep, meep" and yowling in pain.

5. The Road Runner must stay on the road -- for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.

6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters -- the southwest American desert.

7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.

9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

10. The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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