::Dr. Indy comes out on stage, the huge Lifetime Achieve award statue rolling in behind him::
Dr. Indy: The Natasha Kashefipour Lifetime Achievement award is one that marks a Rangerphile as one of the “greats”. Not that any of us aren’t, but this award represents years of service and dedication to the community, as well as a quality of effort and behavior that is commensurate with all the ideals of the Rangerphiles.
::Dr. Indy gestures to the big screen, as it shows pictures
of himself, Jaleel and Julie Bihn::
Dr. Indy: Julie and Jaleel have moved on, but they share with me the singular honor this award represents. And now, I present to you this year’s Lifetime Achievement winner, Ray Jones!
::When Ray Jones walks out onto the stage, he finds that the podium has been replaced by a table. There is an empty chair behind the table, facing the audience. On this table are two more little tables, one on each side. On his right sit Gadget and Monty, and Zipper at a still smaller table on the little one. On his left sit Chip, Tammy, Dale, and Foxglove.
As Ray places his hands on the chair, the Rangers all stand up to applaud::
Ray: Oh, man - thanks guys!" he says, obviously very moved.
The Rangers: Speech, speech!
Ray: Well - I - let me sit down first.
::Seating himself, Ray puts his hands together::
Ray: First, let me thank everyone out there in the audience for this honor. It really *IS* an honor -thanks!
::He grins, and looks back and forth at the Rangers::
Ray: How to start? Well - okay - how does one become a Rangerphile? I think most of the people out there became Rangerphiles as young people. In my case, however the Rescue Rangers came on TV when I was older. When my boys were young, we would watch together. The show was on just before I had to go to work and I was a few minutes late more than once because it was hard to walk away.
Why this show? There were lots of other cartoons I personally enjoyed, from "Ruff and Reddy" (which only archaeologists would remember today) to "Samurai Jack". And there were other cartoons which we watched together. We all liked "The Bionic Six". But not one cartoon ever had the effect on me that this one did.
::Ray looks over at Chip and Dale::
I can sit here and tick off all the obvious appeals - firstly being the characters, of course. I confess that I did not especially like Chip and Dale in their original forms. No surprise to the boys, since I've said that before. But in their new Ranger personas, there is a profound sense that they have finally found themselves. All that frenetic energy of the earlier shorts has come into its place. Chip is the serious one, focused on problems and solutions. Dale is the happy-go-lucky, joyful one forever out of synch with the misery and unhappiness in the world. Together, they are a composite being. Focus of vision and purpose, plus humor and eternal optimism.
We need both in our lives, but it's so easy to lose sight of one or the other. By separating these qualities into two characters and then placing them into an eternal dynamic interaction with each other we *have* to see both. They are a visual symbol of this yin/yang – a reminder that life is not one or the other, but is instead the interaction between them.
::Next Ray focuses on Monty::
Ray: Monty is the soul and spirit of the good friend. Steady, reliable, trustworthy. He is direct action, vitality. And yet he has certain weaknesses that give him depth and - forgive the comparison - humanity. He is no Conan or other Olympian archetype, but a real, fallible person. A person whom we are honored to know. And every hero must have a sidekick - a quiet, humble hero in his own right - Zipper. His loyalty and his heart far larger than his diminutive body endear him to us all. His faith in his friends and his courage never fail.
::Monty tears up::
Monty: Ain’t it the truth!
::Ray looks over at Tammy::
Ray: Tammy. The patron goddess of the teenage crush. How you have grown up over the years! May you never lose your youthful heart.
::Tammy smiles back at him, and then Ray turns to Foxglove::
Ray: Foxy, what can I say? - others have drawn you and painted you in words and pictures far better than I can. You are the very soul itself of wild-born innocence. The appeal of your character and sweet nature has moved many of us to work long and hard for you.
::Foxy giggles in kind, and Ray turns his attention to Gadget::
Ray: And now I am not going to beat around the bush. If I have to name the one character whom has moved me to be a Rangerphile, it is you, Gadget. Your combination of sweet character, brilliance - I have always admired intelligent women and had the good fortune to marry one - your toughness and wonderful, endearing flakiness.... Everything combines perfectly to make you my ideal. You are music, Gadget. You are the exact combination of notes and rhythms that can send shivers down by back and - quite literally - bring tears to my eyes,
::Gadget smiles, tears starting to form::
Gadget: Oh, that’s so sweet, Ray. Thank you!
Ray: That brings us to the real reasons. 'The reasons of the heart which the reason cannot understand'. Our arrogant and insecure conscious minds must constantly spin reasons why *it* is choosing our loves and hates, our wants and dislikes. The *we* - our egos - have to pretend desperately to be 'in charge' when at some level they know they are not. The *I*, the ego, is only a fragile little raft drifting on an infinitely wide, infinitely deep and infinitely old ocean of unconscious activity.
Titanic forces move in those depths. Sometimes the wash of those movements throw the surface into turmoil – may even sink the *us* that does all this talking. But those unseen storms are also the generators, the creators of wonder, enthusiasm and of awe. It is out of those roiling depths that true inspiration comes and *we* - for all we hate to admit it - don't choose the form it takes.
::Ray spreads his hands to indicate the Rangers::
Ray: This is the form MY inspiration takes.
I can acknowledge many elements in the Rescue Rangers. Better than average animation for its time. Amusing and original story lines. Courage, loyalty. cleverness, cooperation, self-sacrifice. Things that still remain fresh and admirable today.
But whatever excuses my vain and controlling self might make, the fact is that THEY chose ME. And I'm certainly glad that they did!
::Ray returns his attention to an appreciative audience::
Ray: Change gears a bit here. Seven or eight years ago, if you had told me I would he here tonight, for the purpose of gratefully accepting this reward, I would surely have laughed at you. Talk about impossible! Yes, my boys were growing up and would before long be leaving home. I needed new outlets for my energy, and new interests. Yes, I'd had some disappointments in life. Although I managed to wind up with a career working in medical laboratories, I was never going to become the scientist I'd always dreamed of. Just had to face that.
I had enjoyed drawing as a boy, and as a teenager had a great taste for supernatural fiction, writing dreary and incompetent imitations of HP Lovecraft. I toyed with the idea of attempting to revive a career writing, but somehow the old inspiration was gone. I wanted the shiver of the supernatural - but today the only thing that seems to matter is body count. My interests in science and technology remained strong - I'd gotten a computer, gotten on the internet. Even set up a site called "Voices in the Walls" which would be for the horror and science fiction stories I never got around to writing. But nothing sparked.
I could feel this tremendous creative drive building up inside me. I had spent a lifetime accumulating images and ideas - maybe too many and too diverse, maybe that was the problem - they HAD to come out. I had passed the age when many of the people I most admired had completed their life's work and I had not put anything of me down. Make no mistake - I love Imelda more than every – I love and take pride in my boys more than ever. But there is something else inside me demanding self-expression.
::Ray looks to Gadget::
Ray: And then on the internet, I found Gadget again. When I saw her, after several years of seemingly forgetting all about her, something inside me went nova. THAT was the form for my self-expression. The Rescue Rangers.
I remember reading something once. It was a short essay written by a man who had become the minister of a small church. All his life, he had been a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. He did a little carpentry, a little farming, a little auto mechanics, a little house painting, and so on. He never stayed with anything long enough to get really good at it. As a result, he thought himself something of a failure, a person of wasted potential and limited abilities.
Then he finally became a minister. His church and his flock were rather poor and he often had to help out. He could help one elderly lady out by fixing her car. Help another poor family with house repairs, cook for yet another when they were sick. And then he had a great realization. All his life had been a preparation for this ministry. He was not a master plumber or professional carpenter or licensed mechanic. But he had picked up enough of each skill to be able to help out the people who needed help.
Something similar has happened to me. I never became a scientist or engineer, though I have tried (I worked briefly in the chemical industry before being laid off and having to return to the medical laboratory. I went back to school and earned an associate degree in electronics, but never was able to find an entry level job that would pay as much as I was making at the hospital - and I had a family to feed).
I loved to draw as a boy, but never thought myself good enough to make any sort of living at it (still don't, but maybe by the time I am forced to retire and am hungry enough....) Took a stab at writing (I hope I don't have to face a tribunal of my favorite authors in the next world to account for my literary sins!) Even studied various subjects on my own with ultimately no result. But, like the minister, I had not found my focus yet.
That focus is the Rangers. THEY are the lens through which I can focus all the ideas and crowding images in my mind and project those ideas and images out into the world. They are my creative medium.
::Ray stands up::
And is this pathological? To make an old children's cartoon show the center of one's creative energies and efforts? It certainly seems weird. But how are we going to define pathology? Is it not a turning away from what is healthy, from what promotes growth and greater joy? By this definition it certainly is not pathological.
I have learned so much in pursuit of this avocation. It was the desire to set up a Rescue
Ranger website that got me into cyberspace, made me begin to learn, in however halting and inadequate a fashion, to function in the new 21st century world. It was my desire to express my ideas that have led me back to seriously trying to create art again - to buy books and materials, to sit down and draw and paint and wrestle with the complexities of Paint Shop Pro.
It is my inspiration to try, to learn, to expand my abilities. I have never been a big fan of detective fiction, but now I need to read some, to understand Chip's point of view for future works. I need to look at sculptural pieces and think in 3D terms for future sculpy pieces. I have to stay current on my scientific reading so I can start getting a weekly Gadget byte out on the latest developments.
I want her to be at home in my head, so I need to provide the sort of information she'll be interested in. There is so much more I want to learn and become and do – so much more I have to say about so many things, sometimes the excitement of it all makes it hard to sit still and work on it! All this, because in the Rescue Rangers, I have finally found the medium which was created for me to work with.
::Ray returns his attention to the Rangers::
And lastly, it is not pathological, because pathology drives its victims away from society and from personal relationships in the real world. Just the opposite has happened in my case. All my life, I was never what anyone would consider a "people person". I had few friends, no social life at all and wanted none. My own company was sufficient. Oh, I wanted a wife, of course - someone to love and to love me. Children were a theoretical possibility. Friends? Well, tolerable on a limited basis.
Marriage to my wonderful wife Imelda started a change. Over the years, we grew closer as we did when our children came along. You should not believe me or anyone else if we say it was idyllic. There were rocky times and I would give much of my remaining life if I could go back in time and change the way I handled some things. But we can't. We can only learn and go on.
::He then gestures to several Rangerphiles in the audience::
And I went on to the Acorn Cafe and found some people who I could interact with. I probably spend more time with friends here than I do with non-internet friends outside of work. That has probably been the most profound change in me which becoming a Rangerphile has brought about. I am far more social and open now than at any time in my life. I owe that to this community. Thank you.
And I must also thank Imelda, my wife of almost 30 years now. She has been amazingly tolerant of me - of all my weird habits and annoyances and eccentricities. Her support in this one is nothing short of sainthood. How many women with grown children do you know who would go to Anthrocon with their crazy husband and wear a Gadget costume she made herself? Not many. I love you, Imelda, and thank you!
Also to my two sons, Jackson and Jesse. While they may not be old enough yet to be in sympathy with an old man's peculiarities, they have not yet tried to have me committed - that's a lot, considering! Thanks guys, and I love you!
To all the great talent - artistic, literary, voice and managerial - that it took to create something like "Chip n Dale's Rescue Rangers" – thank you! You built better than you will ever realize.
::Ray looks back and forth at the Rangers::
Ray: There's nothing more to say but thank you.....
::Ray extends a finger and shakes paws with each Ranger in turn. When he extends his finger to Gadget, she gestures, lifting her palm up. He turns his hand and she steps onto his palm. Then she gestures for him to raise her up to his face””
Gadget: Golly, I hope Imelda won't be jealous, but....
::She kisses Ray on the cheek. The rest of the Rangers cheer while the crowd applauds::
Gadget (over the noise): I have a feeling that we're going to have a LONG run!
::Dr. Indy shakes Ray’s hand and gives him the normal-sized
version of his trophy to take home. He poses with the huge version of the
trophy then all of them start moving toward stage left::
Dr. Batorious: Stay in your seats, everyone. The big finale is soon to come…