Saturday, March 19, 2005

In the Year 2034...

In 2004, Teen People picked its "25 Hottest Stars Under 25." Now, 30 years later, let’s catch up with those same people and see what’s happened in the intervening years...

1. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: Ashley is currently one of the most successful producers of children’s entertainment in Hollywood; Mary-Kate is a happy Brentwood homemaker.

2. Hilary Duff: After serving ten years for assault (2005-2015), Hilary has since become one of America’s favorite morning talk show hosts (network).

3. Kirsten Dunst: Now a fringe artist living in Berlin with her lover, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

4. Justin Timberlake: After deciding he should also emulate the final third of Michael Jackson’s career, legal fees drove him to bankruptcy. Now a small landscape contractor.

5. Alicia Keys: The most popular music teacher at Boston Community College.

6. Beyonce Knowles: One of America’s most popular musical entertainers, she married Josh Groban in 2006.

7. Britney Spears: Founder of the Britney’s Southern Shrimp & Pork House chain so popular in the red states.

8. Scarlett Johansson: After winning an Oscar, retired to a reclusive Swiss estate.

9. Josh Hartnett: Senator (R–Ark.).

10. The Cast of The O.C.: Benjamin McKenzie now makes money as a Russell Crowe impersonator at car dealership openings. Mischa Barton now Countess of Wickham. Rachel Bilson gets occasional supporting B-movie roles. Adam Brody killed in drug deal gone wrong.

11. Lindsay Lohan: Recovered from drug overdose (in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010) and disastrous marriage to Bruce Willis, and now makes handcrafted jewelry in Pasadena.

12. Chingy: Devastated after people assumed "Holidae Inn" was a Snoop Dogg single, went to the bottle, and is now a janitor at Jefferson High in Sarasota, Florida.

13. Jake Gyllenhaal: After failure of directorial debut Swallows of Capistrano (2007), had a brief career as a sportswriter for New York Post.

14. Norah Jones: Celebrating her twelfth gold album.

15. Veronica Carlson: Celebrating a full credit rating after scoring regular Vegas gig.

16. Chad Michael Murray: Recently won his second Oscar for his role in Currier & Ives.

17. Anne Hathaway: The First Lady of the American Stage is honored this year with a Nobel Peace Prize for her work with orphans.

18. Nick Cannon: Spent a decade as Australia’s favorite underwear model, now the producer of HBO’s original series Has Been/Never Was.

19. Christina Aguilera: Recently won an unprecedented fifteenth Tony Award.

20. Avril Lavigne: Star of MTV’s hit reality show The Long Shot: Making Avril’s Fourth Album Comeback.

21. Usher: Producer at Def Jam Records, recently divorced his ninth wife.

22. Bam Margera: Whereabouts unknown.

23. Keira Knightley: Now entering her fifth year as Queen Keira of England (married King William IV in 2011).

24. Good Charlotte: Now entering their fifth year as house band at Newark International Airport Lounge (mostly Clash covers).

25. Jessica Simpson: Working on her sixteenth album with producer husband Nick Lachey; still America’s Newlyweds.

All the Things That I Like

With apologies, this is set to the tune of "I Like Hubcaps" from Cartoon Networks's Brak Presents the Brak Show starring Brak."

I like pizza, I like Pepsi,
I like robots, I like monkeys,
I like Muppets, pirates, and Playboy magazine.

I like Conan and Tarzan,
I like Superman and Batman,
I like classical music and girls still in their teens.

I like sword duels and comics,
I like Asimov and Norse myths,
I like Flash Gordon rocketships, and The Last Unicorn.

I like porn fakes, I like filmed porn,
I like web porn, I like dyke porn,
I like chicks with dicks and horse porn – I like all kinds of porn!

Dinosaurs, and Tiki bars,
Bowling, calypso, and Hershey bars,
Oogily boogily, life is sweet – groovy, wicked, and shazam!
When I’m unhappy I like to thank of just how lucky I am,
Because of all the things that I like!

I like punk rock and psych rock,
I like glam rock and prog rock,
I like new wave, funk, and folk rock, and Genesis CDs.

I like Bowie, I like Eno,
I like Halloween and Fone Bone,
I like Plastic Man and Tom Jones, and lots of nudity.

I like Pet Sounds, I like hi-fis,
Karaoke, Spock, and sci-fi,
Red Rocket 7 and chicks who play guitar.

I like postmodernism,
I like retro-futurism,
I like Disney, Mad magazine, and movies from Pixar.

Larry, Curly, Moe, and Shemp,
I drink bass ale and smoke some hemp,
Oogily boogily, joie de vivre – googaly moogaly, bangerang!
When I’m unhappy I like to thank of just how lucky I am,
Because of all the things that I like!

I like redheads, I like Spidey,
I like art by Norman Lindsay,
I like William Stout drawings and I watch Lizzie McGuire.

I like Weird Al, I like Zappa,
I like rainstorms and Amanda,
I like Cat Stevens, Madness, and setting things on fire.

I like the girls who saugen,
I like Ray Harryhausen,
I like Hunter S. Thompson, and going to the zoo.

I like Chaplin, I like Keaton,
I like watching Monty Python,
I like circus freaks and James Bond, and I love Daisy Duke.

Gardens, frogs, and Bettie Page,
Silent films and Shakespeare plays,
Oogily boogily, holy socks – semper bibendum est, y’all!
When I’m unhappy I like to thank of just how lucky I am,
Because of all the things that I like!

I like kaiju, I like Farscape,
I like piano, I like seascapes,
I like Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes, and scenes from outer space.

I like Zaphod, I like M*A*S*H,
I like King Arthur and the Flash,
I like Jessica Simpson, and Gisele Bundchen’s face.

I like Donald Duck and Daffy Duck,
Howard, and Uncle Scrooge McDuck,
Kurosawa, Lean, and Hitchcock, and Orson Welles, I guess.

I like Middle-earth and Wonderland,
The Land of Oz and Slumberland,
Opar, Mongo, Hogwart’s, and Metropolis.

Mark Twain, Harlan Ellison,
Kipling, Terry Gilliam,
Oogily boogily, shock and awe – something wicked this way comes!
When I’m unhappy I like to thank of just how lucky I am,
Because of all the things that I like!

I like South Park, I like ragtime,
And Russ Meyer’s Bosomania,
I like Don Bluth, sharks, and Vikings, and John Lennon songs.

I like history, I like mystery,
I like the Hulk and Futurama,
I like Dario and Asia, and Calvin & Hobbes.

I like epics, I like Netflix,
I like Hayao Miyazaki,
I like crosswords, B-films, and Hulk when he was green.

I like Groucho, and Harpo,
I like Zeppo, I like Chico,
I like Robin Hood and Han Solo, and coffee with caffeine.

William Powell and Errol Flynn,
Harem nights Arabian,
Ooogily-boogily, marvy, fab – fight the power, screw the man!
When I’m unhappy I like to thank of just how lucky I am,
Because of all the things that I like!

Because of all the things that I...like...

Special Achievement

My girlfriend bought me The Incredibles yesterday. If you still haven't seen it because you're afraid it's too much of a kiddie movie, you must overcome this. It's the most adult thing I've ever seen from Disney. And Brad Bird knows how to tell a superhero story so well he should be the one writing and directing The Fantastic Four.

The story revolves around Bob Parr, better known as Mr. Incredible, a svelte, handsome hero with super strength. His wife, Helen, is Elastigirl, who has the powers to stretch and collapse herself into shapes, like Plastic Man. After personal injury lawsuits, superheroes stop appearing in public, and we meet Bob and Helen 15 years later in a relocation program, trying to live as normal people with their young kids, Dash, Violet, and Jack Jack.

Their powers are metaphors for the characters themselves. Bob needs to be strong to protect his loved ones. Helen has to stretch herself to try and keep everyone happy and the house running. Dash has super speed, because as a fourth grader he's bursting with undirected energy. And shy (shrinking) Violet has the power to make herself invisible.

But the are other metaphors going on here, too, which is surprising for a Disney film. The most obvious one is the idea of special people. We've gone from a culture which celebrated achievement to a culture that fears it; now, rather than reward accomplishments, we pretend that everyone has accomplished something in a bizarre deification of self-esteem. When kids play organized sports, they get awards just for participating to make them feel better about losing and to encourage them, apparently. But how is it encouraging to reward mere participation? Where is the drive to succeed if you get a pat on the head just for waking up in the morning? When Helen yells at Bob for not wanting to go to his son's graduation, he points out that it's merely a jump from fourth grade to fifth, and laments that "They keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity." He's reading my mind. Even Dash, who is not allowed to try out for the track team because he risks being exposed, retorts to Helen's assertion that everyone is special with, "That's another way of saying no one is."

The villain, Syndrome, is a fanboy who felt rejected as a kid. Growing up to become a super genius weapons inventor (like you do), he plans to establish himself as a hero, and then sell his tech to everyone. "And when everyone's special," he says, "no one will be." This self-pitying reaction is evident all over this country; we have a president who assuages college students by saying, "If you're grades aren't great, you can still grow up to be president." Not surprising from a trust fund idiot who ran in 2000 on the "It's my turn now" ticket.

Why are we so insecure? Why is it that we hate accomplishment so much and refuse to reward it? Do we make someone like Paris Hilton famous when she's done nothing to merit it. Is it because we all want to be famous, to feel special, that we'll give it to anyone else in the hopes that the karmic rubberband will snap back to us? And when it doesn't, we lash out at people who really work for it, like Ashlee Simpson, because she seems to have used connections. Like no one else uses connections--we're all so afraid that we're worthless that we've convinced ourselves we are. A fair fight? Americans are terrified of one, because they're so sure they can't win that they need insurance. But they never stop for a moment to think that if you can't win fairly, you don't deserve to.

Another metaphor in The Incredibles is the male fear of impotence. Bob is handsome and trim, but as soon as he is forced to stop using his powers, he becomes hugely fat and tired, barely paying any attention to his family. He has a low-paying job at an insurance company where he takes orders from a short, officious little boss. He sneaks out at night to listen to police scanners, dreaming of the glory days. His marriage is obviously falling apart. But when he's hired as Mr. Incredible and able to use his powers again, he starts working out more. In a montage that could double as an Enzyte commercial, he slims down, becomes an attentive father (and lover), buys a sleek new sports car, and even his back problems improve. He even dies his hair to take the grey out. Syndrome, meanwhile, has a lair with a huge, penile volcano (he launches a rocket from it) and is powerful. Can we see the back and forth here?

And finally, the dysfunctional family unit must be brought together to perform as well. The very things that keep them separate from society--their superpowers--bring them together as a family. Mr. Incredible tells Elastigirl, "You are my greatest adventure," and when he leaps into battle, he tells his family to stay behind because he doesn't want to lose them. "I'm not strong enough," he admits to his wife. "If we work together," she tells him, "you won't have to be." A family must shoulder the burden together; despite his strength, Mr. Incredible cannot protect his family all the time. He has to trust in their abilities to defeat the villains; families must appreciate what makes each member's character, and encourage them to use it. With this acceptance, the Parr family becomes a functional family, one that is strong enough on the inside to resist forces on the outside.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Throwdown 3/18

15 random thoughts, observations and questions for the week.

1. We've all heard the rumors about Bruce Willis and Lindsay Lohan, but my stomach is still turning at the thought of it. I mean, this is hypocritical coming from me, but I can't think of anything more disgusting, and it's only magnified by the fact that I've come to accept the Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore pairing (the "ick" factor has been replaced by a feeling of "who cares?"). Anymore stereotypical little-girl-with-father-issues cliches she wants to play into? I hate Lindsay Lohan so goddamn much.

2. Information from my 9 year-old sister: "Life stinks when you're young." Just wait, sweetie.

3. I finally caught Gigli on cable yesterday morning. You know what the real tragedy is? It's J. Lo's best acting since Out of Sight. Her movie career is fucked.

4. My girlfriend asked me which word sounded more disgusting: "skidtastic" or "scabulous." I suggested the following alternative: "menstrulicious."

5. Are we back on the studio system in Hollywood? I only ask because of the very obvious casting of Fox's upcoming (terrible-looking) The Fantastic Four. Directed by Tim Story, director of Fox's flop Taxi, and starring Michael Chiklis (of FX's The Shield), Julian McMahon (of FX's Nip/Tuck), and Jessica Alba (of Fox's Battle Angel Alita ripoff Dark Angel). Very incestuous. Side notes: the mere sight of Julian McMahon makes me taste bile, and my girlfriend feels that the only way Jessica Alba has gotten work has been by sucking her way into it. My girlfriend has a dirty mouth.

6. Question to Immodium: must you associate Godzilla with diarrhea? Poor Gojira deserves respect, not your immature idiocy.

7. I operate my life on a very simple equation: three hot blondes are less than one hot redhead.

8. Vegetarians and vegans commit genocide on our beautiful agriculture every day. Please keep the landscape beautiful and continue to eat animals (preferably only the cute ones).

9. Are people really stupid enough to believe that Taco Bell is rich, satisfying gourmet food, or are the commercials just hopeful and/or lying to me? Because it tastes more like they made a donkey shit on a pita and wrapped it.

10. What are they putting in the water in Hollywood? Jennifer Aniston, Katie Holmes, Denise Richards, Shannon Elizabeth, and Sandra Oh have all left their significant others in the past couple of weeks. Does marriage even have a point anymore?

11. Vin Diesel is going to direct and star in Hannibal the Conqueror, which he plans to film in several dead languages. Um, don't you have to be able to speak and act in English before you even attempt to do it in Carthaginian?

12. Is One-A-Day being sold directly to gay men? Because judging by the commercial, there's a lot of, um, caring and touching going on at that firehouse...

13. Can someone confirm whether or not Tom Waits actually said "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy?" Because the only place I've ever heard this (aside from it being endlessly quoted on the internet) is in the song "I'd Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me (Than a Frontal Lobotomy)" by Randy Hanzlick MD (aka Dr. Rock). It's a novelty song from 1981, which urges "different ways to kill the pain the same."

14. When did Michelle Trachtenberg get so fucking hot? I never understood the writhing of the Buffy idiots on the net, but all of a sudden... I swear I've seen Euro Trip five times on cable this week just because of her. She's something small and fluffy I'd like to chase down a rabbit hole. Maybe I'll go see Ice Princess. It has an important message about believing in yourself, or something.

15. Comment made by my bisexual girlfriend after a morning of lusting after Lil' Kim: "I'm like a black man; I love big, fat asses."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Where Have All the Titties Gone?

This morning, I caught the 1984 film Private School on Encore. Does anyone remember Private School? It was a Porky's rip-off with Matthew Modine about a couple who are desperate to lost their virginity. More than that, of course, it's a sex comedy, or what we used to call when I was a kid, a titty movie. Nothing but oafs trying to sneak peeks of tits, or trying to get some, or getting drunk and high, with fun eighties music and some sexy young ingenues (in this case, Betsy Russell and the gorgeous Phoebe Cates).

Now, this is a very stupid movie, of course. But as I was watching it, all I could think was, "Where are today's titty movies? Why don't kids have a good dirty movie these days with topless starlets? Whither Revenge of the Nerds?" Some movies come close--American Pie has one (1) classic nude scene, and Euro Trip was a funny attempt (boy, Michelle Trachtenberg is pretty). But they're never quite the same, always trying too hard to be ironic and innovative. Why not a good, honest sex comedy anymore with a ton of nudity and embarrassing situations? These are necessary rites of passage for young guys enterting our oversexed media.

I could also ask if the media is really as oversexed as people think it is. Into the second reign of Bush II, things are more conservative than ever. We quake in fear of Janet Jackson's boob, but the casualness and graphic quality of violence, even on TV, seems to be no cause for alarm. When I worked at Hollywood Video, there was a man who would always ask me if the R-rating for a movie was because of sex, or violence, and seemed offended when I didn't know the answer. I was offended, too, because this guy absolutely refused to let his 14 year-old son see any naked women, but violence was fine--the man's justification was, "violence isn't real." It's a real head-scratcher, isn't it?

When I worked at Barnes & Noble there were complaints, too. Some woman once screeched because her 15 year-old son was looking at FHM or Maxim or something. She should have been thrilled that her kid was developing an interest in sexuality, and not drugs or guns or shitty pop music. Why don't people want their children to develop normally? America (which, after all, was founded by religious pilgrims who thought Anglican England wasn't restricted enough) is returning to its Puritanical roots faster than a WB actress agreeing to pose in lingerie to give her career a little edge. Playboy magazine, as tame and tasteful as nudity gets, is actually called pornography these days. But all of the nudity in movies is being replaced with violence, and people don't care if their children see it or not. What the fuck is going on?

I have two little half-sisters, one 12 and one 9. Call me crazy, but I'd rather they saw people express their love than express their hate. I'd rather they saw people getting laid than people getting killed. I'd like them to grow up without feeling that the one thing everyone has--their bodies--are sinful, shameful, and terrible. Are we really such children that we even have to be afraid of our own bodies? No wonder we're thinking so backwards these days.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Evaluating Disney: 1928-1929


The first Mickey Mouse cartoon premiered almost exactly 77 years ago, on 15 May 1928. Since then, the Walt Disney Company has become an unstoppable media juggernaut seemingly bent on world domination. Thanks to a rather demonic media profile, the early cartoons are forgotten by all but serious animation buffs – a club of which I am a member. Therefore let’s journey through the story of American animation, starting back in 1928 with the first Mickey Mouse cartoons.

1928
5/15: Plane Crazy
Capitalizing on the public craze for flying, Mickey Mouse first appears as a Charles Lindbergh fan who builds his own airplane in the barnyard. Mickey is much more randy than he usually appears to be, terrorizing Minnie Mouse in the air in order to coerce her into giving him a kiss. She actually jumps out of the plane to avoid it! Mickey is much more mischevious than we will see him in later years, not so much cruel as just careless, doing whatever he wants and laughing when the other barnyard animals get upset. He's very much influenced by Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse. Ub Iwerks broke the record for most amount of drawings in a day (700); the film contains 8500 drawings, including the first trucking shot in animation history. It still holds up as a funny cartoon. Originally, this was a silent film, but sound was later added. There are also a disturbing number of jokes involving the rear ends of animals...

7/29: The Gallopin' Gaucho
Mickey is still a rogue, a wanted criminal who drinks, smokes, and dances the tango with Minnie. This film introduces Pete, Mickey's foil (a cat, of course), who battles him for the hand of Minnie. Mickey rides an ostrich instead of a horse, but despite the Mexican cantina setting, this still has a rural "barnyard" feel to it. This was the second and last silent Mickey cartoon.

11/18: Steamboat Willie
This is really considered by Disney to be the first official Mickey Mouse short. This is the first animated film with synchronized sound, and the plot is really just an excuse for Mickey to run around making noise. A goat eats some sheet music, so Mickey cranks up his tale and plays Turkey in the Straw (gotta love cartoon logic). Then Mickey runs amok, playing the music on the bodies of animals, at one point even swinging a cat by its tail and playing the tune on the teats of a pig! Dali considered Disney a surrealist, and that vision is evident here. Also of historical interest: Carl W. Stalling did all the music to these early shorts, long before he went off to make films for Warner Brothers.

12/02: Barn Dance
Pete comes across in this one like Bluto to Mickey's Popeye, as the two of them vie to take Minnie to a dance. Mickey wins, but he's a terrible dancer, stepping all over Minnie's feet. And then it's time for Mickey and Pete to fight over her a little more (interestingly, Pete wins). A nice little short, but not as special as Steamboat Willie.

1929
3/20: The Opry House
This is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon directed by Walt Disney, not Ub Iwerks. Otherwise, it's not really noteable, except for a nice gag where Mickey plays a piano too hard and it kicks him. Mickey Mouse cartoons at this point were incredibly surreal, with inanimate objects dancing and playing. The Disney cartoons, for a long time, will be about dancing and music, not plots and adventures.

5/3: When the Cat's Away
Walt Disney directed this next short, which featured a different perspective on Mickey. While Tom Cat goes hunting (after a whole bottle of liquor--fun but not recommended), Mickey and Minnie and an army of mice go into his house and have a party. In this short, Mickey and Minnie are the size of small mice, which is a noteable difference, and the only time this really happened. Mickey has been a bit of a pill since Plane Crazy, but this was a new one, just breaking into someone's home to play their piano and steal their cheese.

6/28: The Plow Boy
Mickey plows a field, while Minnie has him milk her cow and sings for him. Once again, Mickey steals a kiss from Minnie, and she slugs him. Minnie Mouse was designed as a bit of a flapper, and is certainly fickle about Mickey. It's really Minnie's cow that's interested in him here, licking him while he milks her (he must have very talented hands). Eventually, the horse would become Horace Horsecollar, while the cow would become Clarabelle Cow. At the end of the cartoon, Mickey breaks his plow and sadistically uses a pig instead. Directed by Walt Disney.

7/31: The Karnival Kid
Walt Disney goes all-out surreal here, as Mickey Mouse sells hot dogs at a carnival. The dogs bark and bite, and when one runs away from Minnie, Mickey chases it down and spanks it. Yes, Mickey spanks his wiener. And that's only a taste of the weirdness on display here, in probably the best short ever directed personally by Disney. A milestone here: this is the first time we hear Mickey talk, and the voice is provided by Carl Stalling. Also, Mickey lifts the top of his head off at one point, inspiring the mouse ears cap that is still a seller today.

8/22: The Skeleton Dance
This is the single best cartoon directed by Ub Iwerks, and the best of Disney in 1929. This marked the first entry in Disney's second cartoon series, Silly Symphonies, which was dedicated to musical representation of animation. The plot is simple--four skeletons dance in a graveyard to Grieg music. But the animation is sumptuous, as perfect as Iwerks ever got, and it still holds up in 2005. Iwerks was animating this for so long that Disney directed the last four cartoons himself, but it was totally worth it. A broad new future in musical animation was ahead.


8/28: Mickey's Follies
Another variety show, like The Opry House, only this one created the song "Minnie's Yoo Hoo" (written by Stalling & Disney) that was the original theme song for Mickey Mouse fans. It's also the first cartoon directed by Wilfred Jackson, one of Disney's best directors.

9/7: El Terrible Toreador
The second Silly Symphonies cartoon, directed by Disney himself, but it's supposed to be what the title suggests: terrible. The Disney Company seems to be living it down, as it has not been released on DVD or video. I haven't seen it.

10/1: Mickey's Choo-Choo
Walt loved trains, so it was only a natural to make Mickey an engineer. There are some nice trucking shots here animated by Ben Sharpsteen, and the truck is kind of cute and fun with its human characteristics. It's nice, but the Mickey Mouse shorts are starting to become rehashes here.

10/10: The Barnyard Battle
Mickey joins the mouse army and has a trench battle with an army of cats in German helmets led by Pete (the cartoon used to be banned in Germany). This punchy short was directed by Bert Gillett, and has two great musical gags. The first is Mickey firing a machine gun, running out of bullets, and feeding piano keys through it instead. The second is Mickey hitting the cats in the head to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus" from the 1812 Overture. It's a fun one.

10/15: The Jazz Fool
Another variety show directed by Disney, which re-uses the piano gag from Mickey's Follies. It's pleasant, but not one of the best.

10/24: Springtime
The third Silly Symphonies cartoon, directed by Disney. These cartoons continue to follow the pattern of dancing objects, only this time with lots of animals eating other animals in a forest. It's actually a nice cartoon, though, using music like "Dance of the Hours." There's a wonderful frog that prefigures Iwerks's later creation, Flip the Frog, and he has the best moment in the whole cartoon: trying to run away while on the back of a turtle, with the turtle spinning like a log. He has this look on his face like "Dear God, why is this happening to me?!"

10/30: Hell's Bells
This Silly Symphonies cartoon has been locked deep in the Disney vault for many a year, never even shown on the Disney Channel. Here's a fascinating synopsis by Jerry Edwards from The Encyclopedia of Disney Animation Shorts (see the link below):

The hooded Grim Reaper enters and then departs. A huge spider swings back and forth towards the audience, then is consumed by flames. A snake-like dragon swallows a bat, then sprouts the bat's wings, and flies off. Satan's demons play instruments made from skeletons and skulls. Demons milk a "dragon-cow" and serve the flaming milk to Satan. Satan feeds one of the demons to Cerberus, the 3-headed dog. Satan chases the other demon, who refuses to be dog food. The demon kicks Satan off a ledge and Satan is consumed by the flames.

Now that Disney has actually released it on DVD, I can say it's not some of the best of Iwerks's animation, but it's definitely some of the weirdest. Not the treasure you might expect, but worth it just for the strangeness of the whole affair.

11/15: Jungle Rhythm
While this is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to take Mickey out of the barnyard and into another setting (an African jungle, despite the appearance of tigers). But when he gets there, it's just dancing, singing, and playing objects like instruments. It's cheaply made filler, but I like the dancing apes.

12/2: The Haunted House
This is the first short where Walt does the voice of Mickey Mouse, but Disney (acting as director) merely re-hashes the superior The Skeleton Dance by having Mickey play for a bunch of dancing skeletons (some of the animation from the original short seems to be lifted and placed directly here). Cute, but it feels like Walt trying to show up Ub as not as great as people think, and is therefore mean-spirited. Good atmosphere, though.

12/16: The Merry Dwarfs
Another Silly Symphonies cartoon, directed by Disney, with lots of dancing. I think this wasn't shown widely in the last couple of decades because the dwarfs get drunk, but little else of interest happens.

By the end of 1929, Disney had established himself as the first name in animated entertainment, despite continued competition. At the time, animation was a wide and diverse field that yielded much fruit that is, sadly, forgotten today. But Walt directed many of the shorts (the fast-working Ub Iwerks was spending more and more time on individual Silly Symphonies, having lost interest in the Mickey Mouse series), and by the end of the year a lot of work was becoming second-rate. Still, the future looked bright enough, as Mickey Mouse had, within a year, become a household name.

Governmental Extortion in Illinois

Well, it's Spring Break in Illinois, which of course means it's going to snow all week long. Two notes to SUV drivers: One, you're all assholes. Two, clean the snow off the tops of your We-Love-War-Mobiles, so that the snow doesn't fly off when you drive and hit the windshields of guys driving smaller cars because we're not insecure about the size of our dicks, you assholes.

Anyway, I was driving out to my dad's yesterday (a 2-hour odyssey), and I didn't realize that, since the new year started, Illinois has doubled the amount of its tolls. So now, instead of spending $1.45 on tolls, it ended up costing me $2.90--on THREE tolls! Magically, people with I-Pass aren't spending extra; for them, tolls are the same. Once again, the state government-sponsored extortion hits the highways (perhaps the worst-managed highways in America). Even factoring in the massive amount of corruption in the Illinois capitol, we're paying a lot for the construction on the interstates. It seems to me that an INTERstate should be federally-managed, but with Bush in the White House desperate to shuck any responsibility on state governments and private criminal organizations, it ain't gonna happen.

Ever hear the old joke about how there are two seasons in Chicago? Winter and construction.

You know, in the 1930s, people would have refused to pay the extra toll money and risen up against the state government. Today, people roll over for it. Why did people stop caring? Why do we let ourselves get taken advantage of more and more? People are pathetic, and since they don't give a shit about how expensive things are (like gas, for instance) as long as they get their dozen Krispy Kremes every week and a chance to win a TV show appearance, they don't care at all.

Governor Blogojovech, you can not promise to end corruption, and then increase road taxes. You can not force people to pay for car insurance just because you want to clear up the courts. The courts are the only place left where people can still try and get a fair hearing (for now). And you cannot force people, under threat of fine, to wear their seatbelts in order to save a few lives. When did life become so fucking valuable? It used to be that nature weeded out the weak; now life is so fucking precious that everyone needs to be saved? Explain to me how a bad driver needs to be saved to drive badly again?

Thanks Illinois. Let the voter scams begin!

Sunday Hottie 6


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