book tags · Media

The Ren and Stimpy Book Tag

Ren and Stimpy Show cartoon
Here is a book tag I created that was inspired by the cult-status 1990s Nicktoon, “The Ren & Stimpy Show.”

If you’re a child of the 90s (or just happened to watch kid’s cartoons back then), then no doubt you’ll remember this uber-quirky cartoon. First airing in 1991 and lasting a total of five seasons, “The Ren & Stimpy Show” was truly one-of-a-kind and deserves to be remembered for its crazy animation style, bizarre characters, and absurd humor.

Ren and Stimpy happy happy joy joy
Story-wise, the show focused on two animal characters, Ren, a bug-eyed, mentally unstable chihuahua, and Stimpy, a pudgy, silly cat, both of whom made all sorts of mischief. Most episodes involved some sort of over-the-top scenario involving both Ren and Stimpy while offering up spoonfuls of absurdity, adult humor (but not *too* adult), and over-the-top cartoon violence. In fact, the show was often called on the carpet by Nickelodeon’s censors for pushing the envelope at times. Yet “The Ren & Stimpy Show” remained a Nicktoons staple and was enjoyed by both kids and adults. (For the record, an adult’s-only version featuring more explicit content was launched in 2003 on Spike TV but was pulled after just three episodes. While I’ve watched the original Nicktoon, I’ve never seen the adult version and haven’t sought it out, so I can’t comment on it.)

So how to best sum this show up?

Well, it’s a bit like a six year old kid on a perpetual sugar high who picks his nose, eats his own snot, and who probably has ingested some sort of questionable substance. In other words it’s utterly juvenile, completely chaotic, unabashedly disgusting, and certifiably insane. Looking back, I’m shocked such a cartoon was made and marketed for kids as it essentially flew in the face of everything else most children’s cartoons were doing at the time, from the animation style, to the humor and slapstick violence, to the intentional lack of any take-away moral. But despite this, “The Ren and Stimpy Show” became an instant hit and retains a cult following today.

So this book tag will highlight some wild and crazy moments from the original “The Ren & Stimpy Show.” Go don your lederhosen, grab a can of Powered Toast, settle down in your box of Pretty Kitty Kitty Litter, and enjoy!

Ren Ren and Stimpy
Ren, the psychotic chihuahua – Name the craziest character you’ve ever come across in a book.
My Pick: The Hatter (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)
When it comes to zaniness, you almost have to bring up Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (as well as Through the Looking-Glass). Quite frankly, nobody in these books is sane so it’s open season on who gets labeled the craziest. But the honor here goes to the Hatter (who’s never actually called the Mad Hatter in the books). The Hatter is just nuts – he recites nonsensical poetry, rambles on about nothing, and presents Alice with unanswerable riddles. It’s enough to drive Alice insane, but it’s all in good fun.

Stimpy Ren and Stimpy
Stimpy, the silly sidekick – Name a goofball sidekick character from a book.
My Pick: Fudge (from the Fudge series by Judy Blume)
Fudge (whose real name was Farley Drexel Hatcher) served as one of the young protagonists in Blume’s Fudge novels, which include Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge-a-Mania, and Superfudge. Fudge isn’t what I would consider stupid but he does engage in some silly antics, such as wanting to fly; pretending to be a dog (later a bird); and harboring all sorts of goofy obsessions, from dinosaurs, to monsters, to Myna birds. Fudge often acts as the comic foil to his older, more practical brother Peter, and he’s the perfect goofball to set off Peter’s more straight-laced ways.

Ren and Stimpy cartoon
Ren and Stimpy were one odd couple – Name the oddest odd couple you’ve ever read about.
My Pick: Yukiko and Buruu (from Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff)
When I think of odd couples, my mind envisions a combination that really shouldn’t work yet the fact it shouldn’t work means it does. Hence my choice here is Yukiko, a young, brave warrior woman, and Buruu, a griffin whom she retrieves and later rescues. In theory, this pairing screams opposition: Yukiko is human, a race of people who befoul their own world, and Burru is an ancient beast who instinctively hates humans for the environmental damage they’ve done. This relationship has disaster written all over it, yet it’s a great picture of two characters who, despite overwhelming differences, learn to work together and respect one another.

happy happy joy joy Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“Happy, happy! Joy, joy!” – Name book that makes you the happiest.
My Pick: The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart

I have professed my love for this middle grade trilogy quite a bit here, so I won’t repeat myself. But I just really love these books – and to think I almost didn’t even pick up the first novel (especially when I saw that it opens with one of the characters on his way to take a test, of all things). But I’m so glad I did. The characters are fun, the villains are cool, the plots have just the right amount of twists and turns, and the writing itself is a joy to read. Not to mention the chapter illustrations are just perfect. I make it a point to read this trilogy every year and it’s always a treat when I do. (You can read my review of The Mysterious Benedict Society here.)

You idiot Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“You, eediot!” – Name a book with an infuriatingly stupid character.
My Pick: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
I don’t think this is going to shock anyone when I say Bella Swan has to be one of the *ahem* less intelligent characters of all time. While her lack of common sense resonates throughout all of the novels (Breaking Dawn being a rare exception), it really gets its chance to shine in New Moon. After Edward’s departure, Bella spends pages wallowing in misery until her father (and, by proxy, the reader) yells at her to snap out of it and go outside and do something. So she rekindles a friendship with Jacob Black though her intentions are disingenuous as Jacob serves as a foil for her beloved Edward. Not to mention Bella purposely puts herself in harm’s way so she can hear Edward’s voice in her head, reveals that she’ll gladly give up her mortal soul to become a vampire (without giving that any ounce of thought), travels halfway around the globe without her father being any of the wiser, and asks to be made into a vampire while on a doggone plane! You eediot! indeed. (You can read my review of the Twilight saga here: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.)

History Eraser Button Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“It’s the History Eraser Button…you won’t touch it, will you?” – Name a book character who gets tempted.
My Pick: Summer and Bird (from Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull)
Seeing as this is a sister duo, I didn’t feel it would be fair to split them. Both sisters are eventually separated on their quest to locate their missing parents and are attacked by temptations unique to them. But the biggest temptation both sisters separately face is hopelessness – hopelessness in giving up their search for both their parents and each other. How each sister struggles with and seeks to overcome her respective temptation comprises the bulk of the story’s plot and it’s a fascinating look into how temptation isn’t a one-size-fits-all matter. I won’t reveal spoilers by sharing what happens or whether they overcome these struggles, but it’s totally worth reading to find out. (You can read my review of Summer and Bird here.)

Ice cream bar Ren and Stimpy cartoon
Ren once ate a bar of soap, confusing it for an ice cream bar  – Name a book that made you do (or want to do) something crazy.
My Pick: The End by Lemony Snicket
This final book in the expansive Series of Unfortunate Events was, to date, the first book I’ve ever read that made me want to literally heave it across the room. Talk about a book not only not worth reading in and of itself, but also was not worth reading the previous twelve books to get to it. The End just, well, ends – and that’s it. It also gives the three lead characters (Sunny, Violet, and Klaus) no breaks even though they rightfully deserved some kind of reprieve. I get that the Series of Unfortunate Events was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek depressing but, for me, something has to make up for that. This final novel most certainly did not accomplish that and made me feel like I had eaten a giant box of mildly tolerable cereal only to discover there was no toy at the bottom. Such disappointment and frustration will cause one to do strange things.

Ren and Stimpy cartoon praying
“Please give me a million dollars, and a fridge with a padlock and – oh yeah – huge pectoral muscles.” – Name a character from a book who has outrageous wishes or demands.
My Pick: Vivian’s mother (from I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore)
This novel ended up being a DNF for me due to its cyclical and increasing impossible plot, even considering the story’s circumstances. Vivian’s mother, while not a main character, has some pretty high demands of her daughter. Evidently, somebody once did her wrong, so she sends Vivian to a prestigious boarding school to exact revenge upon the son of the said someone who did her wrong.  Vivian’s mother is one seriously messed up person who abuses her daughter in multiple ways, plays twisted mind games, manipulates her daughter’s emotions, and cares little for human or even animal life. (Case in point: she once slit the throats of kittens just so she could drive fear into her daughter. Nice mom, isn’t she?) Thus, her desire to seek revenge is fueled seemingly by insanity and the inability to let bygones be bygones, and it’s her poor daughter who suffers for it.

Log Ren and Stimpy cartoon toyPowdered Toast Man Ren and Stimpy cartoon
Log and Powdered Toast Man were two product icons in the “Ren & Stimpy” universe – Name a book that features a unique product or icon.
My Pick: The Feyland and Feyguard series by Anthea Sharp
Both of these trilogies focus on Feyland, an expansive, immersive game where players enter a realistically rendered fantasy environment. However, Feyland is more than just a game – it’s actually a portal to the faerie realm that is ruled by a dark queen who is intent on entering the human world. We get to meet a wide variety of characters, from professional gamers to casual players, who engage Feyland on various levels. While Feyland is entirely fictional, these two trilogies do a great job presenting it as like a well-known, workable product icon within its story’s world.

Angry Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“You sick little monkey!” – Name a character from a book that is just flat-out messed up.
My Pick: Ezekiel (from Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer)
Fixmer’s novel examines a fictional cult called Righteous Path that’s led by Ezekiel. And let me tell you – this guy is seriously messed up (perhaps even more so than Vivian’s mother as mentioned above). Not only does he twist Biblical scripture and use it to mentally ensnare the people in his commune to get them to do what he wants, he also amasses a number of wives, fathers multiple children, and takes wives who are legally underage (so technically he’s a statutory rapist). Not to mention he makes sure nobody has any means of escape (such as money or vehicles) and keeps all weapons and supplies under lock and key. He treats women like property and forbids anyone to question him as he believes he is some sort of anointed prophet. Should anyone dare to question him, Ezekiel unleashes his wrath and it isn’t pleasant. Undoubtedly, he is one messed up character and you can’t wait for him to get his just desserts.

Ren and Stimpy gross cartoon
Ren and Stimpy prided themselves on gross-out gags – Name the grossest scene you’ve ever read in a book.
My Pick: John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles
This entire book is about two teens who are obsessed with celebrity deaths and the places where they exited this mortal coil, so that’s seemingly repellent enough provided you’re not into that sort of macabre entertainment. But it’s the third chapter that contains my top gross-out scene of all time and it’s the point at which I DNF’d this book. In said chapter, the lead character and her friend meet as kids while they pour over the recently splattered, scattered guts of a roadkill kitty. And, yes, the aforesaid guts do get extended, graphic, up-close attention for several pages. It’s gross, morbid, and cringe-worthy to the extreme and, for an animal lover like me, hard to read. And I don’t even like cats.

Worried Stimpy Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“A little while? What’ll we do ’til then?” – Name a book sequel that you absolutely couldn’t wait for.
My Pick: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Without a doubt, this has to be my all-time most anticipated sequel. I had so many questions I wanted to see answered, so many character storylines I wanted to see wrapped up, and I can honestly say that Deathly Hallows exceeded all of my expectations. The wait was long and difficult but the end result was totally worth it.

President Ren Ren and Stimpy cartoon
“What do you mean you don’t agree with me!? Do you know who you’re dealing with!?” – Name a book with a character who loves to have all of the power.
My Pick: The Other Mother (from Coraline by Neil Gaiman)
Coraline’s button-eyed Other Mother is one of the creepiest female baddies I’ve ever read about. At first, you assume she’s just Coraline’s real mother’s mirror image, being kind and attentive while Coraline’s mom is distant and distracted. Yet over time, we learn just how far the Other Mother’s powers reach. What motivates her? Essentially a desire to control everything and everyone who is unfortunate enough to cross paths with her, and she even goes as far as to capture Coraline’s real parents to prove that her magic almost has no bounds.

Ren and Stimpy cartoon crazy insane
Overall, “The Ren & Stimpy Show” was completely insane! – Name the craziest book you’ve ever read.
My Pick: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Normally when I do a book tag, I try not to repeat authors, but in this case I just had to bring up Gaiman again. This novel, for me, is a classic “what-did-I-just-read” moment and I mean that in the best possible way. For starters, the entire plot is enthralling and the suspense doesn’t let up for a second. I was glued to each page, wondering and fearing how it would wrap up in the end. There are plenty of good shocks, surprises, and horrors that kept me guessing. While the overall tone isn’t my usual reading taste, I think it fit the novel well and added to its atmosphere. Overall, while The Ocean at the End of the Lane may not be an in-your-face kind of crazy, it’s still an insane ride from beginning to end.

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