Ballad of The Sneak

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Toon Category: Shorts
watch Lookin at a Thing in a Bag Mr. Shmallow
A song and dance on the high steel

The Old-Timey equivalent of The Cheat Theme Song. Performed by Paul and Storm of Da Vinci's Notebook.

Cast (in order of appearance): The Barbershop Trio, The Sneak, Old-Timey Bubs, Old-Timey Strong Bad, The Homestar Runner, Fat Dudley, Sickly Sam, Old-Timey Marzipan, Mr. Shmallow (on the box), Strong Man, Fort Wayne Locomotive, The Kaiser

Places: Old-Timey Cliff, The Field (Old-Timey)

Date: Monday, June 23, 2003

Running Time: 2:03

Old Page Title: The Ballad of The Sneak

New Page Title: The Ballad of The Sneak - DaVinci's Notebook

DVD: Everything Else, Volume 1


[edit] Lyrics

I know a lively fellow,
Who is really quite unique.
He's small and smart and yellow,
With a rodent-like physique.
He doesn't play the cello,
And he never deigns to speak.
He's The Strong Bad's Leporello,
And they just call him The Sneak...

If you've got a caper
Then you know who to call.
It's The Sneak!
It's The Sneak!
Who's that Dapper Swindler
Out of Tammany Hall?
It's The Sneak!

(Not the Panama Canal)

That charming little whatzit
Who's The Strong Man's greatest pal?
It's The Sneak!
It's The Sneak!
Who did the Hully Gully
On the Panama Canal?
It's The Sneak!

Who's that jaunty jackanapes
With moxie and pizzazz?
It's The Sneak! (Yes, sir!)
It's The Sneak!
Who's been drinking bootleg hooch
And listening to the jazz?
It's The Sneak!

Who captures all the flapper girls' affections?
Who made off with my Fluffy Puff confections?
He's dastardly!
He loves catastrophe!
His schemes are masterly!
Takes tea at half past three!
That sneaky sneaker's sneakin' all over town!

Who dropped The Homestar Runner
From his flying machine? (Humdinger!)
Is it The Sneak? (28 skidoo!)
It's The Sneak!
Who put a Bengal tiger
In The Kaiser's latrine? (Ach du lieber!)
It's The Sneak! (What's the rumpus?)
You know it's The Sneak! (Take it home!)
The Sneakity Sneak all day long!


[edit] Fun Facts

[edit] Explanations

  • A "humdinger" is slang for "one that is extraordinary or remarkable". To be a "humdinger" is also a question that is hard to answer.
  • To "deign" means "to think it appropriate to one's dignity".
  • A jackanapes is a whippersnapper, an upstart, or a rascal.
  • The poster with The Dapper Swindler has "known in the Northwest Territories as The Sneak" at the bottom. The Northwest Territories is a Canadian territory, located in the north-central part of the country.
  • "Ach, du lieber" ("Oh, dear") is short for "Ach, du lieber Himmel" ("Oh, dear Heaven"), a German exclamation of surprise, well-known from the song Ach, du lieber Augustin.
  • "Jaunty" means "stylish" or "genteel".
  • "28 skidoo" is a play on "23 skidoo", a bit of slang popular during the Roaring Twenties. It generally meant to leave quickly, sometimes specifically meaning to "get out while the getting's good" (very appropriate for The Sneak). The Phrase Finder offers a number of possible origins for the phrase.
  • "Rumpus" means "a noisy clamor".
  • The dance Sickly Sam does is the Charleston, a popular dance in the 1920s and '30s. The specific move is called "Bees Knees".
  • The Hully Gully was a hit song and dance popularized by The Olympics in 1959, but it may have existed significantly earlier.
  • Old-Timey Strong Bad flies over the Cliff in what appears to be a Wright Flyer.
  • The piano that The Sneak rides upon is a player piano, an automatic piano which reads music from pre-programmed paper reels.
  • "Dapper" means "well-mannered and/or dressed".

[edit] Trivia

  • This toon features Old-Timey counterparts of all of the main characters except The Poopsmith and Homsar.
  • Mr. Shmallow makes an appearance in this cartoon on the front of a Fluffy Puff box. This box is different from the one featured in Mr. Shmallow. The container in this cartoon appears to be a tin, while the other is a cardboard box. Also, the candies in the tin appear not to be marshmallows but a candy similar to the Choco-Lumps referred to in the aforementioned toon.
  • "The Ballad of the Sneak" also appears on the album "Shame and Cookie Dough" by Paul and Storm, two former members of DaVinci's Notebook. The CD includes the original H* version and one with commentary.
  • The Sneak is mentioned as "yellow", giving weight to the theory he would be that color before being "filmed" in black-and-white.
  • The orientation of The Sneak's tail has changed since his appearance in Parsnips A-Plenty.
  • On the Old-Timey Strong Bad clock, the hour hand is pointing slightly up. If it were really showing 3:30, the hour hand would be pointing slightly down.
  • This is the first appearance of Old-Timey Coach Z, known as the Fort Wayne Locomotive.

[edit] Remarks

  • The song is mostly done in four-part vocal harmony (although sometimes subtle and in octaves). The a cappella introduction comprises four voices in homophony; they are most distinct on the lines "never deigns to speak" and "they just call him The Sneak." The "jaunty jackanapes" section takes a call and response format, with a soloist calling and the other two answering in polyphony; again, a total of three parts.
  • This cartoon and That a Ghost both refer to illegal alcoholic beverages, which brings the Prohibition era to mind. However, the cartoons were supposedly made in 1936 or 1937, 3 or 4 years after Prohibition had been repealed, so strictly the illegality would have to be merely evading the appropriate taxes on their manufacture.
  • The Wright Brothers' plane was developed in 1903, over thirty years before this cartoon was supposedly made.

[edit] Goofs

  • When The Sneak's head explodes, his tail disappears.
  • The monocle of the rightmost trio member switches eyes at the end of the song.
    • Also, the trio member whose head sticks in from the top of the frame during the "Fluffy Puff" scene has his monocle reversed.

[edit] Inside References

  • The Sneak being silhouetted and going across hills may be a parody of the Old Intro 2.
  • The Sneak's head exploding imitates how present-day The Cheat's head will at times randomly detonate.
  • Ward Boss Tweed kicking The Sneak out of Tammany Hall may refer to Strong Bad's frequent kickings of present day The Cheat.
  • The whistle has an engineer's hat like Homsar's in his character page.
  • The Sneak falling off the cliff is a reference to Parsnips A-Plenty, in which Old-Timey Strong Bad fell of the cliff.
  • "Boss Tweed gives The Sneak what-for" is a reference to an Easter egg in 50 emails, where Old-Timey Strong Bad replies to a telegram with "I'll give you what-for!"
  • The Strong Bad wristwatch is an Old-Timey equivalent of the Strong Bad Clock download.
  • Bootleg hooch and the political cartoon are references to alcohol.
  • The caption of The Sneak dancing on the barrel reads "(Not the Panama Canal)".

[edit] Real-World References

  • "Leporello" is a reference to the Mozart opera Don Giovanni. In it, Leporello is a side-kick to the Spanish legend, Don Juan (Don Giovanni is the Italian equivalent).
  • "Tammany Hall" was a political society in New York City (19th/early 20th century), known for its corruption and power. William Tweed was a strong figure in Tammany, (see below).
Boss removes Sneak from Hall
  • A political cartoon appears briefly which features The Sneak getting booted out of a door by a foot that says "Prohibition?" The Sneak has dropped a paper that says "Hoot-Smalley Tarriff" and the caption reads "Boss Tweed gives The Sneak what-for!"
    • The "Hoot-Smalley Tarriff" is a spoonerized play on the "Smoot-Hawley Tariff" that was enacted during The Great Depression, widely considered to be one of the most inept pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress. It rose trade tariffs, with intent of protecting domestic industry, but this just led to foreign countries imposing tariffs of their own on American goods in return, leading to a severe drop in export trade and further harming the US economy.
  • The scene with The Sneak and the record player is a parody of the famous Victor (later RCA Victor) trademark which features a dog named Nipper sitting in front of a Berliner Style 5 gramophone, listening quizzically to "His Master's Voice", the title given to the original painting by artist Francis Barraud.
  • "Moxie" is the name of a soft drink popular during the early 20th century. The name became a slang term meaning liveliness and daring in the late 1920s.
  • Bootleg Hooch (or "Moonshine") is homemade whiskey that is produced and/or sold through illegal methods.
  • Flapper girl, more commonly "flapper", was a slang term common in the 1920s which referred to young women who flaunted contempt for the restrictions of "decency" imposed on their gender by society. They lived lavishly and openly wore short skirts, used cosmetics, bobbed their hair, and could often be seen smoking or drinking in public, far from what was considered to be acceptable behavior for women in that era. Many cartoon characters from the time period, such as Betty Boop and Minnie Mouse, for example, were "flappers".
  • "What's the rumpus" is a reference to Miller's Crossing, a Prohibition-era gangster movie, in which it is used as a greeting by several characters. This movie is a particular favorite of DaVinci's Notebook.
  • The Sir Strong Bad watch is a reference to the old Mickey Mouse watches of the 1930s.
  • The scene with The Sneak running inside an I-beam while other characters dance on top may be a visual reference to the old Atari game Pitfall. If nothing else, several cartoons from the time period featured characters playing in the I-beams of construction sites, such as Olive Oyl when she was hypnotized by Bluto in a Popeye cartoon.
  • Prohibition was established in 1919 by the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution. It outlawed the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. It was eventually repealed in 1933 by the passage of the 21st amendment.
  • "The Kaiser" is how German Emperor Wilhelm II was popularly referred to in the U.S. and Britain during World War I. Propaganda-laced political cartoons of the time would often exact comedic revenge on this enemy of Allied forces. The title "Kaiser", however, stopped being used in 1918, following the end of World War I and the dissolution of the German Empire.
    • The Kaiser is wearing a pickelhaube helmet, a 19th century Prussian invention, which at the time of World War I was outdated, and was relegated mostly to ceremonial garb, as befits a militaristic emperor. Note the Iron Cross on the helmet, a German military decoration of the early 19th century, re-introduced by Kaiser Wilhelm II in World War I.
  • The train whistle may be a reference to many old cartoons, in which inanimate objects such as train whistles and brooms were depicted as "alive".
  • The Panama Canal was established in 1914 as a way to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean without having to go around South America. It was United States territory until December 31, 1999, when it became Panamanian territory due to the Panama Canal Treaty.
  • The mention of jazz refers to jazz's association with wild living, corruption and illegal activity from the Prohibition era, and the fear/disdain with which it was viewed by polite society.
  • "Doo Whacka, Doo Whacka, Doo!" is a reference to the Parachute Express song of the same name.
  • "Vo-de-oh-doe" is a reference to the 1926 song "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune".
  • "The Sneakity Sneak all day long!" is a nod to the "Megaphone Crooners" sketch from the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David.[1]
  1. ^  Mentioned by Paul and Storm here

[edit] Fast Forward

  • Sickly Sam attempts the Charleston again in Sickly Sam's Big Outing.
  • Strong Bad is seen flying something like the Wright brothers' plane in this toon. The actual Wright brothers' plane would be seen briefly in high school.

[edit] DVD Version

  • The DVD version features two hidden creators' commentaries. To access them, switch the DVD player's audio language selection while watching.

[edit] First Commentary Transcript

(Commentary by (in order of appearance): Mike Chapman, Paul Sabourin, Storm DiCostanzo, Matt Chapman)

MIKE: {sounding muffled throughout} All right, so for this commentary we're on a four-way conference call.

PAUL: {also muffled} This is Paul Sabourin and Greg DiCostanzo; we are They Might Be Giants and we wrote this song.

MIKE: {laughs} That's only partially true. They did write this song, but they're from DaVinci's Notebook!

PAUL: That's correct! We, uh, I— As I recall, we sort of stalked you guys, tracked you down in the early days of the website...

MIKE: Yeah, I gotta be honest, I was a little— the first couple times— 'cause I think you played a couple times in Atlanta and invited us to come, and we were like, "An a capella group?!"

STORM: {not muffled} {laughs}

PAUL: Yeah, that's what we always get.

MATT: I remember thinking— it was after The Cheat Theme Song had been made and I just thought that it'd be funny if, I— if there was an Old-Timey jingle version of it. Originally it was going to be the jingle for the product that was this wooden The Sneak thing that you trail— like, kids trail behind them on a rope. Back in the, like, thirties?

PAUL: Uh, Storm, you took the first whack at it, right?

STORM: Yeah.

PAUL: Your— this is your baby, more or less.

STORM: Well, it started out that way. They gave us the— initiated the idea for it, and, you know, we're both big, me— me and Paul are both big fans of the Doo-wacka-doo stuff, and it kinda took on a life of its own.

MATT or MIKE: That's really big these days, the Doo-wacka-doo stuff.

PAUL: Oh yeah, it's coming back.

STORM: Oh man, the kids ...

MATT or MIKE: That's really big, I was watching the TV last night...

PAUL: Actually, I hear the minuet is going to be the next big thing. From the 1780's...

MATT or MIKE: We've got interactive minuets on this DVD.

STORM: Oh, wow.

PAUL: Uh, I love that we don't give a crap about historical continuity. You know, it's not all 1936, there's the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of, you know, 1890's or whatever.

MATT or MIKE: When you're a kid, if it's the words black and white, it's all the same time.

PAUL: That's right.

STORM: Exactly.

PAUL: Um, oh that, by the way, that head blowing up is my second favorite piece of animation.

MATT or MIKE: {laughs} That's right. Yeah, because The Cheat's head's always blowing up, so The Sneak's head has got to blow up.

PAUL: This being my first one, of the growing mustache and the beard spilling over. Just brilliant. Hello?

STORM: Hello?

PAUL: Now I've lost The Chaps.

STORM: Ok. Uh, whatever you did before, do it again.

MIKE: All right, Mike is here.

PAUL: Mike is here. Matt is here.

MIKE: Ooh, look. That Old-Timey version of Coach Z's name is the "Fort Wayne Locomotive".

PAUL: Is it?

STORM: {laughs}

PAUL: {garbled} You do. I love that.

MIKE: It's never been revealed yet. It's actually written into a cartoon that we haven't done yet.

MATT: We love you guys.

PAUL: We love you guys. You're wonderful, and we await our check with bated breath.

[edit] Second Commentary Transcript

(Commentary by: Paul Sabourin, Mike Chapman, Matt Chapman, Storm DiCostanzo)


Hey, all right, welcome to the commentary.

STORM: So this is "The Ballad of the Sneak" as written by, uh, it was actually- Da Vinci's Notebook was credited, but it was actually ... Hello? Hello?

Matt from Homestar's Notebook, Storm, from Paul Runner.

The Sneak!

MIKE: Yeah, black and white, it was done in black and white.

MATT: I think Mike you should say that part about black and white again, I don't think they heard it.

STORM: Wait, so...

This is a black and white four-way conference call.

MATT: Say it really slow.

STORM: We didn't originally think this was going to be a black and white kind of deal.

Where's Storm?

STORM: They originally asked us for an old version of ...

Number nine, Number Nine.

Storm. Storm.

STORM: I'm right here.

Storm, say "black and white" really slow, I don't think they got that part.

STORM: Blaaaaaaaack annnnnnddd whiiiitttteeee.

Who is this? I didn't order this!

MATT: Ok, that's enough. We don't have time for you any more. We've gotta move on. I've got this magic trick I'd like to show you though.

STORM: So I did once...

MATT: This part was great, I remember Mike was out of town for this whole part.

MIKE: Yeah, I was at a softball game, playing, uh, in New Jersey.

STORM: I can't hear the other guys right now, but um, I can't even see the video, in fact, because I can't run the recording software at the same time that I'm actually talking {sound of phone button being pressed} because I can't see it.

Paul? Paul? Paul?

STORM: Hello? Hello? Hello? Is that Missy? Is Missy there?

You're cutting out over Paul.

I was cutting out a star-shape out blue construction paper I thought.

Is this the show commentary we're doing?

STORM: Wait a second. No one said there was going to be anything about construction paper in the commentary.

...My Michelle.

Did you just say you wrote "My Michelle"?

Did you hear from our lawyers?

STORM: Is the video still on?

I'm one of your lawyers.

STORM: Is the video still on? Is the video still on?

Fluffy Puff, I love Fluffy Puff.

Someone's at the door.

STORM: Is the video still on?

Hello, um...

STORM: Number nine

Number nine.

STORM: Number nine.

No, this is great.

STORM: I buried Paul.

When does Pom Pom show up? I want Pom Pom.

STORM: I buried Paul.

At the count of three, at the count of three let's all, we'll introduce ourselves.


STORM: What?


STORM: I'll introduce you.

This is great.

Five, four

STORM: Three, two one. Um, that's Mike over there, um, and I'm Storm, and I'm still pissed off about the construction paper. And, is the video still on?


[edit] Fun Facts

  • In the first commentary, Paul Sabourin of Da Vinci's Notebook says that the reference to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff doesn't fit in with the 1936 world. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was signed into law in 1930, not the 1890s like he thought.
  • My Michelle and Number Nine are both lines from songs by The Beatles. "I buried Paul" is a part of the Paul Is Dead conspiracy theory, and is the rumored final line of Strawberry Fields Forever, also by the Beatles. The actual line is "cranberry sauce." Number Nine is also part of the Paul Is Dead conspiracy, and the theory suggests that if you play that line backwards, it says "Turn me on, dead man."

[edit] YouTube Version

[edit] See Also

[edit] External Links

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