Cow and Chicken

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Cow and Chicken
Cow and Chicken intertitle.jpg
Genre Comedy
Surreal humour
Slapstick
Created by David Feiss
Written by David Feiss
Michael Ryan
Bill Burnett
Steve Marmel
Seth MacFarlane
Directed by David Feiss
Co-directors: Monte Young (1 episode)
John McIntyre (1 episode)
Robert Alvarez (16 episodes)
Voices of Charlie Adler
Dee Bradley Baker
Candi Milo
Howard Morris
Dan Castellaneta
Theme music composer Guy Moon
Opening theme "Cow and Chicken"
Ending theme "Cow and Chicken" (Instrumental)
Composer(s) Guy Moon
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 52 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Sherry Gunther
Larry Huber
Producer(s) Vincent Davis
Davis Doi (supervising producer)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Broadcast
Original channel Cartoon Network
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Audio format Dolby Surround
First shown in Europe
Original run July 15, 1997 (1997-07-15) – July 24, 1999 (1999-07-24)
Chronology
Related shows I Am Weasel
What a Cartoon!
External links
Website
Production website

Cow and Chicken is an American animated comedy television series created by David Feiss for Cartoon Network. The series follows the surreal adventures of a cow, named Cow, and her chicken brother, named Chicken. They are often antagonized by "The Red Guy", who poses as various characters to scam them. Late into the series run, the characters I.M. Weasel and I.R. Baboon, who were part of the series' recurring segment, I Am Weasel, were given their own half-hour series of the same name.

Like Dexter's Laboratory and some other Cartoon Network series from the 1990s, the original pilot appeared as an episode of the animated shorts showcase project What a Cartoon!, the brainchild of Fred Seibert, then-president of Hanna-Barbera. The Cow and Chicken series first broadcast on Cartoon Network from July 15, 1997, to July 24, 1999, with reruns airing prominently on the network until June 1, 2008. Reruns are played on Boomerang, which are rated TV-Y7. The series was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1996 and 1998.

Premise[edit]

The program focuses on the misadventures of two unlikely yet somehow biological siblings; the sweet-natured, dim, ecstatic anthropomorphic Cow and her cynical elder brother Chicken. The series is set in an eccentric, surreal environment and humored with laughably grotesque, repulsive comedy and animation, and revolves around the surreal, strange escapades experienced by Cow and Chicken that are often triggered by their odd, naked enemy the Red Guy.

The humor and storylines depicted in the series are sometimes based around traditional childhood worries, anxieties, or phobias such as cooties or venturing into the girls' restroom, but enhanced comically. Other characters include Chicken and Cow's slightly delirious, dimwitted human parents that are only seen from their legs down (even in scenes where showing nothing more would be ridiculous), and Chicken's two best friends Flem and Earl, along with the appropriately-named cousin, Boneless Chicken.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Cow (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Chicken's 7-year-old sister.[1] She is usually depicted with low intelligence and childlike naivety, and is often blind to her brother's disdain and carelessness for her. However, she is better-liked by her peers and has achieved a wide array of accomplishments throughout the course of the series, such as being crowned a beauty pageant queen (under the Red Guy's tutelage and training), becoming a model, and often masquerading as her intelligent superhero alter-ego Super Cow.
    However, many of Cow's achievements have proven to be scams pulled by the Red Guy against her or for his own benefits and pleasure, albeit she has accomplished a lot without his manipulative guidance; she has written a musical before that was performed by the school drama club in one episode and was able to temporarily put a stop to the long-running, destructive "Cheese War" that had been devastating the home of her new-found lover, only for new conflicts to be triggered shortly afterward.
    Cow is noted for her superhero alter-ego, Super Cow, who has displayed greater intelligence than she has and is capable of speaking Spanish, albeit the Red Guy has attempted to unmask the superhero. Cow owns three dolls that she greatly cherishes; Crabs the Warthog, Manure the Bear, and Piles the Beaver.
  • Chicken (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Cow's 11-year-old brother.[1] He can be mean to his younger sister, and even to the rest of the family. He has a powerful ego, but in spite of this, a powerful conscience (usually only displayed when Cow is in danger). He is more intelligent (and sane) than most characters, and his selfish actions can actually come to others help. His speech is riddled with malapropisms and sarcasm.
    Chicken is very fond of ice skating. Like other chickens, he cannot fly, and is afraid of flying. Chicken is the only character in the show who knows that his sister and Supercow are the same person. Chicken even once turned into his own alter ego, calling himself "Wonder Wattle" to save his sister. Whereas Supercow speaks fluent Spanish, Chicken requires the help of a Spanish dictionary.
  • The Red Guy (voiced by Charlie Adler) — based off the character in religion Satan in the pilot episode "No Smoking", he is no longer shown as that character, but instead as a being who is known for masquerading as different people with different occupations in order to harm, torture or scam Cow and Chicken for reasons never established in the series. Often, these characters are given pun names related to the Red Guy's bare posterior and lack of pants (e.g. Doctor Lackslacks, Mrs. BareDerriére), and sometimes he has been known to disguise himself as more than one character in the same episode in order to continue bothering Cow and Chicken, and sometimes I.R. Baboon and Weasel.
  • Flem (voiced by Howard Morris and Maurice LaMarche on occasion) — Chicken's best friend who has thick red lips. He and his father both wear glasses. Of the three (Earl, Chicken, and himself), he is the one most often sent to perform tasks because his peers consider him the ugliest or fattest. Flem is named after one of David Feiss's friends in middle school who was not good-looking but was very loyal.
  • Earl (voiced by Dan Castellaneta (using a higher pitched version of the slurred, drunken voice Castellaneta uses when he voices Simpsons character, Barney Gumble)) — Chicken's other best friend who is tall and skinny and wears a red baseball cap, a black shirt that exposes his belly button, and braces. Like Flem, Earl is based on one of David Feiss' friends in middle school. Earl lives with Flem and Flem's Dad.
  • Dad (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — Cow and Chicken's father. His brother is Professor Longhorn Steer. On screen, only his legs and waist are shown. He is identified by green pants and brown loafers. He boasts his manliness, stating that even the most mundane of tasks (such as driving in the snow) "bring out the man in him". Dad does not seem to know about Cow's birth and once stated she was born in a cabbage and claimed, "That was the best cabbage we ever had". Like his wife, sometimes he seems to be insane. For example, he once woke up his kids at 3:00 a.m. only to tell them how he and Mom met. Sometimes he indirectly refers to himself as a woman (when talking about a clock passed down to all the girls to his family, he said that his mother gave to him, when he was giving said clock to Cow) or to Mom as a man ("start your day off like a man, just like Momma").
  • Mom (voiced by Candi Milo) — Cow and Chicken's mother. Like Dad, only her legs and waist are shown on screen and is identified by a white dress with red polka-dots, a yellow apron and red flat shoes. She is prone to giving her children rules applying only to a specific situation that can also be applied elsewhere, such as "never go to the carnival naked" or "never run around in a burning school auditorium". She is sensitive, as shown in one episode, crying when Chicken asked what would happen if a guy goes in a girl's bathroom (though it is hinted she might have been worried Chicken would commit voyeurism).
  • Teacher (voiced by Candi Milo) — Cow and Chicken's female teacher who is simply called "Teacher". Her catchphrase is "basically". In class Teacher will say "Shut your pork traps!" or "Shut your pie holes!" to get her students to listen to her. She responds to Chicken's strange, even contradictory observations, such as realizing the Earth is cubic, with "That's why you go to school!"

Recurring characters[edit]

  • Crabs the Warthog (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — one of Cow's favorite dolls; he is shaped as a green warthog with wheels in his snout, as well as being dressed up in some smart and colorful clothes. His first appearance was in "Part Time Job." Crabs also has a key role in the episode, "Cow's Toys". He appeared in "Can Cow Come Out and Play?" and in "Lawnmower Chicken". Along with many other "kids' show for adults" aspects of this show Cow is heard shouting "I've got crabs..." followed by a too-long pause, finished with "the warthog" during at least one episode.
  • Piles the Beaver (voiced by Tom Kenny) — one of Cow's favorite dolls; he is shaped as a purple beaver with blond hair. Much to Manure the Bear's disgust, Piles has a rip-cord that says random things such as, "I'm Piles the Beaver. Hey!" His debut was in "Cow Loves Piles", but he was first mentioned in the episode, "Who is Supercow?" Piles also has an important role in "Cow's Toys". Like Crabs, Piles is referenced by Cow with a too-lengthy pause when saying "I've got piles...the beaver."
  • Manure the Bear (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — one of Cow's favorite dolls; he is shaped as a disgruntled bear wearing a dirty diaper. Manure was first referenced in "Chicken's First Kiss," when Earl tells Chicken that he was hit with the same doll. Manure was not introduced as one of Cow's dolls until the third season. Like Crabs and Piles, he has a key role in "Cow's Toys". He is implied to soil himself often.
  • Boneless Chicken (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Cow and Chicken's funny uncle. An older chicken who possesses no skeleton, except for having teeth. He always says strange things, but the watcher cannot tell if he is serious or just joking. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He only appeared in "Alive!", "The Laughing Puddle", "The Exchange Stüdent", "Dream Date Chicken", "Boneless Kite", and "Cow & Chicken Blues". It is unknown which side of the family he is related to.
  • Grandmama (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — Mom's mother and Cow and Chicken's grandmother. She often seems as blind as a bat; she has glasses, but refuses to wear them. She was seen in the episodes "Grandma at the Mall" and "No Smoking".
  • Grandpapa (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — Mom's father and Grandmama's husband, whom she lost, because she could not remember where she put him. She buys him again at a grandpa bazaar. He looks surprisingly similar to her.
  • Flem's Dad (voiced by Michael Stanton) — usually seen wearing Summer Camp clothing; he made appearances in the episodes, "The Legend of Sailcat", "Going My Way?", "Lost at Sea" (in which the Red Guy calls him an idiot). Flem's Dad can play the guitar.
  • Cousin Black Sheep (voiced by Tom Kenny) — Cow and Chicken's other cousin. He's the black sheep of the family. He is in fact extremely kind and cultured, but people accuse him of misdemeanors anyway, because he is a black sheep. Like Boneless Chicken and Cousin Sow, it is unknown which side of the family he is related to.
  • Snail Boy (voiced by Tom Kenny) — Cow and Chicken's other cousin. Mom and Dad's nephew. He is Cow and Chicken's maternal cousin through Mom's sister.
  • Cousin Sow (voiced by Pamela Adlon) — Cow and Chicken's evil pig cousin. Sow is Cow's favorite cousin. Sow's step parents sent her to live with Cow and Chicken as her last chance to clean up her act. Sow did bad things at school and Cow got the blame. Sow even dated Flem and Earl. Sow eventually got sent to Reform School and is never seen or mentioned again. It is never said which side of the family Sow is related to.
  • Professor Longhorn Steer (voiced by Tom Kenny) — Dad's brother who is a longhorn. Longhorn has lied to the family for years about being a college professor, until Cow and Chicken begin to get suspicious about his degree after getting a couple of lessons from him. While he is an unsuccessful fraud at first, he becomes a successful professor teaching cattle how to stampede. He states that due to his unsuccessful life, he has never married nor raised children, which is something his more successful friends are envious of. Since his surname is Steer, this hints that Cow, Chicken, Mom, and Dad's surname could also be Steer.

History[edit]

The idea of Cow and Chicken first existed as a story that David Feiss had made for his daughter.[2] Feiss was a cartoonist who had worked with Hanna-Barbera and related projects since 1978.[2]

Later, Feiss was called to submit any ideas he had for the series What a Cartoon!, a series composed of various cartoon shorts from various creators and writers. Feiss submitted three ideas for the series to Larry Huber, the series' executive producer. One of the ideas was Cow and Chicken.[3] Cow and Chicken premiered on the What a Cartoon! series in 1995. Although most cartoons in the series had never gone beyond one short, Hanna-Barbera had decided to turn Cow and Chicken into a full series (possibly since the Emmy Award nomination of the original short), following many letters from fans asking for more Cow and Chicken cartoons.[3]

The Cow and Chicken series premiered on July 15, 1997, in the United States,[1] although the first season was originally shown on Cartoon Network in Europe earlier that year.[4] The series ran for 52 episodes through 1999. Reruns continued to be shown on Cartoon Network until June 1, 2008. As a supporting segment, the show included a cartoon called I Am Weasel; this segment was spun off as an independent series late in the show's run. Typically, an episode would consist of two seven-minute Cow and Chicken shorts playing back-to-back, then followed by a seven-minute I Am Weasel short before the end credits.[1] The exception to this structure was episode 105 ("The Ugliest Weenie"), which had the Weasel short ("I Are Big Star") play in-between the two Cow and Chicken shorts, possibly because said shorts were one storyline.

Cow and Chicken was notable in that a single actor, Charlie Adler, voiced three leading roles of Cow, Chicken, and the Red Guy (much like how Mel Blanc voiced many characters in the Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series). Other actors provided supporting voices, including Candi Milo and Dee Bradley Baker as Mom and Dad, and Dan Castellaneta and veteran actor Howard Morris as Earl and Flem. David Feiss himself did the voice of a clown in an episode called "The Great Pantzini". Additional voices in various episodes were provided by Will Ferrell, Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, Dom Deluise, Michael Gough, Pamela Segall Adlon and many others.

Because the Hindu religion considers the cow a sacred animal, the series was replaced by Tom and Jerry in India.[5]

Episodes[edit]

Poster to the Cow and Chicken pilot.

Cow and Chicken has a total of 52 episodes in 4 seasons that were produced from November 1996 to April 1999. Each half-hour contains 2 Cow and Chicken and 1 I Am Weasel segment.[6]

Humor[edit]

Cow and Chicken drew on several types of cartoon humor through its run. The series often made use of cartoon violence; Cow and Chicken were frequently placed in dangerous situations and the Red Guy was frequently pummeled and beaten (usually by Supercow). The series also made fun of the clichés of cartoons. For example, Cow has an alter-ego: Supercow, who is a superhero with different characteristics to her normal character (such as flight, and the ability to speak Spanish); and the Red Guy tries in vain to discover Supercow's secret identity so he can "die happy".

Another cliché made fun of in the series is that the children's parents, who are called Mom and Dad by everyone, exist only from the waist down, and can be seen to stop at the waist (whenever their shadows appear, they are cut off at the waist). A picture even exists on the wall of the parents from the waist down. Cow can disguise herself as Dad simply by wearing Dad's pants. This makes fun of the idea of partially unseen characters and cartoons in which adults are seen only from the waist down (e.g. Muppet Babies). Many jokes of the series use adolescent humor, which made the show somewhat controversial.

Recurring jokes and gags[edit]

In some episodes, the missing upper bodies of Cow and Chicken's parents are used as a gag. For example, in the banned pilot episode ("No Smoking") the cartoon "camera" accidentally zooms out too far, and shows Mom and Dad cut off at the waist. In another episode ("Cow and Chicken Reclining"), Cow and Chicken search through a closet by throwing out everything inside, and for a small moment, the upper (human) bodies which are rumored to be the bodies of Mom and Dad are visible as part of a discarded science project by Cow (however, considering the absurdist nature of the show's humor, this may be a throwaway gag).

They are occasionally seen driving a car with their feet, writing and grabbing on to things with their toes, and dialling a phone by kicking the numbers. Mom and Dad's shadows are shown as being cut off at the waist in several episodes like "Cow and Chicken Reclining". Mama's body can be seen cut clearly in one scene when she laughs sitting on a TV in the episode "Which Came First?". A picture even exists on the wall of the parents from the waist down. In one episode, Cow disguises herself as Dad by wearing his pants, which nearly cover Cow's face. They were also seen in their only-legs form in the I Am Weasel episode "Who Rubbed Out Cow and Chicken?".

Whenever the scene showed Cow and Chicken in the school cafeteria they always ordered "pork butts and taters."

When disguised, The Red Guy often is without pants or disguise names reflect this in puns or more literal references such as "Mr. Likenopants", "Officer Pantsoffski", "Mrs. Bare Derriere", "Ivan Panced", "Lance Sackless", "Ben Panced," "Rear Admiral Floyd", "The Great Pantzini", "Larry Lackapants", "Mr. Jeans Begone", "Dr. Laxslax" and "Dr./Mr./Prof. Heiniebottom"; Supercow will refer to the Red Guy's incarnations as "El Diablo sin pantalones" (literally, "the Devil without pants").

Within the show, the characters often refer to everyone else as ladies, girls, gals, or men, regardless of their gender, as well as constantly peppering their speech with malapropisms and using sarcasm.

Mom and Dad will often say things to imply or outright say they are of the opposite gender. ("It's time you started off your day like a man. Just like Momma!")

The show often breaks the fourth wall. I Am Weasel exists as a cartoon in the fictional world of Cow and Chicken, however, this is contradicted in "I.R. In Wrong Cartoon" (a crossover between the two cartoons), when the Red Guy, disguised as a bearskin rug, says to Cow when she wants to take Weasel out of the TV to make him real, "He's just as real as you and I." In "The Laughing Puddle", when the entire population of Folsom has gone into the titular puddle, Chicken states, "Is anything in this cartoon ever going to make sense?" A few times throughout the series, some characters (usually the Red Guy) request for the cartoon to end.

Controversy[edit]

The segment "Buffalo Gals", which aired initially on February 20, 1998, along with the follow-up segment "Cow and Chicken Reclining," was banned by Cartoon Network because of its innuendos implying that the Buffalo Gals were lesbians and its stereotyping of lesbians.[citation needed] The episode contained obvious sexual humor, which includes Mom's line "Oh, the Buffalo Gals, a motorcycle riding gang that randomly bursts into people's homes and chews on their carpet.", the name of one of the bikers being "Munch Kelly," the Buffalo Gals singing "Buffalo Gals" (Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?), and the Buffalo Gals playing softball and talking about "pitching" and "catching", slang terms for gay sex.[7] The episode aired only once, and was replaced with the episode "Orthodontic Police" in future airings, including on Netflix streaming.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
1996 Annie Award Best Animated Short Subject[8] Hanna-Barbera
for "No Smoking"
Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)[9] Buzz Potamkin, Larry Huber, David Feiss, Pilar Menendez, and Sam Kieth
for "No Smoking"
Nominated
1997 Annie Award Best Individual Achievement: Storyboarding in a TV Production[10] Nora Johnson
for "Orthodontic Police"
Won
1998 Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Television Production[11] Bill Burnett and Guy Moon
for "The Ugliest Weenie, Part 2"
Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Producing in an Animated Television Production[11] Vincent Davis Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production[11] Maxwell Atoms
for "The Karate Chick"
Nominated
Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing — Sound Effects[12] Greg LaPlante Nominated
Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series[12] Cartoon Network Nominated
Best Sound Editing — Television Animation — Music[12] Cartoon Network Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)[13] Davis Doi, Vincent Davis, David Feiss, Steve Marmel, Richard Pursel, and Michael Ryan
for "Free Inside!/Journey to the Center of Cow"
Nominated
1999 Annie Award Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production[14] Charlie Adler
as Cow
Nominated
Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[15] Cartoon Network Nominated
Best Sound Editing — Television Animation — Music[15] Cartoon Network Nominated
2000 Best Sound Editing — Television Animation — Music[16] Roy Braverman
for "A Couple of Skating Fools"
Nominated

Other media[edit]

The two main characters, Cow and Chicken, made cameo appearances as aliens in Ben 10: Omniverse. They were the second Cartoon Network characters to make cameo appearances in the Ben 10 franchise, Billy from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy being the first. Adler reprised his roles for the cameo.

During the Mad episode "Once Upon a Toon" Cow and Chicken are among the many classic cartoon characters being reunited in a spoof of ABC's Once Upon a Time.

DVD releases[edit]

Cow and Chicken: Season 1, a two-disc set featuring the complete first season which contains 13 complete episodes, was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia (Region 4 PAL) on September 12, 2007.[17] Season 2 came out on February 10, 2010, by the same company in Australia.[18] The entire series got released on DVD in Thailand as 4 season sets, containing Thai and English audio. The banned segment "Buffalo Gals" is missing from these releases.

American releases

  • Cartoon Network Halloween: "Cow with Four Eyes"
  • Cartoon Network Christmas: "Me an' My Dog"

Video games[edit]

  • Cow, Chicken, and the Red Guy are playable characters in the game Cartoon Network Racing. The PlayStation 2 version includes Flem and Earl as playable characters.
  • In the video game Fusionfall, one of the character items is based on Cow and Chicken. Cow and Chicken's cousin, Boneless Chicken, can also be seen on a billboard in the game. Though not in the game, Cow is seen as Supercow as a statue at Mt. Neverest.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Gallo, Phil (July 15, 1997). "Cow and Chicken". Variety. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  2. ^ a b "Animator Profile: David Feiss". cartoonnetworkla.com. Cartoon Network. Archived from the original on 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Cow and Chicken, and I Am Weasel — two animated cartoon series". h2g2. BBC. 2002-09-05. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  4. ^ Graham, Jefferson (July 9, 1997). "New Shorts Wear Well on Cartoon Network". USA Today (Gannett Company). p. 3D. After the first short, the network ordered 13 episodes of the show, which have already aired in Europe on TCN, and Feiss is working on 13 more.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Kempner, Matt (March 6, 2002). "Tickling the Global Funny Bone: Cartoon Network Tweaks Shows to Click with Humor Around the World". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. p. 4E.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  6. ^ Feiss, David (January 12, 2000). "Episode Guide: Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel". Archived from the original on 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  7. ^ Anthony Scibelli (August 6, 2010). "The 6 Creepiest Things Ever Slipped Into Children's Cartoons". Cracked. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ "24th Annie Award Winners Announced". Animation World Magazine (Animation World Network) (1.9). December 1996. 
  9. ^ "Cow And Chicken in No Smoking". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  10. ^ "25th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (1997)". AnnieAwards.org. ASIFA-Hollywood. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  11. ^ a b c "26th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (1998)". AnnieAwards.org. ASIFA-Hollywood. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  12. ^ a b c "Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA (1998)". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  13. ^ "Cow And Chicken". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  14. ^ "27th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (1999)". AnnieAwards.org. ASIFA-Hollywood. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  15. ^ a b "Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  16. ^ "Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA (2000)". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  17. ^ "Cow and Chicken Season 1". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-07-01. 
  18. ^ "Cow and Chicken Season 2". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-07-01. 

External links[edit]