Saturday, February 09, 2008

With Carla-pologies to Splotchy

Becca has pointed out that I've been doing a lot of memes lately in defiance of Splotchy's edict that February is No Meme Month. I had forgotten about that, so, in the hopes of keeping things loose and alright between me and Splotchy, I offer him this Razor magazine layout of Carla Gugino.

Thundermeme

From Byzantium's Shores, again.

1. Have you ever had mono? Nope. Alas, no one ever wanted to give me the dreaded kissing disease.

2. The last place you were (besides now)? The store, buying some new nondescript shirts. I tend to wear the same ones over and over. Although I did buy a Superman logo shirt. A second one...

3. The last gift you received? A poster that may or may not have been of a young pop star... I'm not going to say.

4. How many times a day do you drop your mobile phone? Never; I don't have one. I am perfectly willing to drop anyone else's mobile phone, however.

5. The top three things you spend the most money on? If I had money, I'd spend it on taking Becca to the movies more often and catching up on my animation DVD collection. And strip clubs. Haven't been to one of those in a long time, either.

6. Last food you ate? I cheated again last night and had some pizza. Don't worry, my bowels are punishing me for it.

7. First thing you notice about the opposite sex? Their eyes, although I'm sure no one believes me when I say that. The eyes are what draw me in right away, and I like to think that, even though I post a lot of pictures of a variety of women, they all have beautiful eyes. And some personality. Personality goes a long way.

9. The school you attend? None, currently. And I don't really want to go back. I'd rather sneak into teaching by being a sub.

10. Your mobile phone provider? None. I have yet to be provided with a mobile. Who needs to reach me that badly?

11. Favorite store that's usually in a mall? I don't really care to go to the mall anymore. There aren't any malls in DeKalb, and being broke it's not really fun to go to stores anymore. I like to shop online. You find more stuff that way.

12. Whats the longest job you have ever had? Let's see... I worked at Barnes & Noble from 1995 to 1997, but I worked there over Christmas in 1999 and 2000, so that might count, what with the extra time. Otherwise, probably my longest-held continuous job was delivery driving for a small printer from mid-1997 to sometime in 2000.

13. What do you smell like? I don't know, but it's probably not good. My deodorant is Speed Stick and my aftershave is Skinbracer, so something combining the two. Plus there's a little cocount, because of the hand soap in the bathroom.

14. The biggest lie you've ever heard? Anything having to do with the War on Terror, really. Still waiting for that war to pay for itself. And for the link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. And the location of the weapons of mass destruction.

15. The last time you cried was because why? Because Geraldine Page made the trip to Bountiful.

16. In your opinion, do long distance relationships work? No, would be my guess. I think it probably takes a lot more strength than I have to be solitary for long periods of time. Honestly, though, I think a worse relationship would be one were someone put their career in front of the relationship. That's hard to accept.

17. Do you drink coffee? Not anymore.

18. What do you wanna say to your most recent ex? "You're telling me you didn't know that trying to make me jealous on purpose was going to make me not trust you and not like you anymore?" (Seriously, Christy, thanks for the emotional abuse.)

19. Do you believe in God? No. Insert strident answer here.

20. Favorite color(s)? Purple, still.

21. The last person on your missed calls list on your mobile phone? Seriously, can't anyone envision life without a mobile phone anymore? Is it such an umbilical? Because for me all it does is take away the gift of solitude. There are times I want to be unreachable, dammit.

23. How many pillows do you usually sleep with? Three. I need to be elevated because of the acid reflux. Sometimes I add a fourth.

24. What are you wearing now? Charcoal sweat pants and a grey tee shirt. With black socks. It's cold. What are you wearing?

25. How many pets do you own? Just the bunny. I'm still trying to figure out who I talk to in order to purchase Bai Ling.

26. What are you doing tomorrow? Why, what did you have in mind? Actually, it looks like we might be doing a movie crawl tomorrow.

27. Can you play ping pong? Not really.

28. Favorite gender? Neutral.

29. Do you like maps? I still use them constantly; they were my best friend as a delivery driver who pretended to know where everything was. Just drive off a ways and then consult the map.

31. Have you ever attended a themed party? No, but it always sounded neat.

32. Have you ever thrown a party? I've had people over, but never a party.

33. When did you wake up this morning? Around 7 or so, bloated and in pain.

34. The best thing about winter? It ends eventually.

35. Last time you were in trouble with the cops? I got arrested in junior high. I've had some tickets for speeding, once for running a stop sign. The only recent brush I had with the law happened a few years ago, when I got pulled over for having expired plates.

38. What are your plans for this weekend? Quit hitting on me!

39. How many days is it until your birthday? 159.

40. What do you want to be when you "grow up"? I dunno yet. I'm still not sure I've grown up, anyway.

41. Are you on a laptop? No. Is that a come on?

42. Are you smiling? No. I'm not feeling well.

43. Do you miss someone right now? I see this question a lot on memes. And yes, I do. I miss a few people, one in particular. Very much.

44. Are you happy? Not really. But I'm not sure I'm exactly unhappy, either.

45. Have you ever been in the hospital for an emergency? Sure. My false alarm heart attack, most recently. In high school when I nearly broke my ankle. The last time I was in the emergency room was to get the ER doctor to sign something saying I was physically capable of doing my job (teaching) without suddenly dying. He refused to sign it because, after realizing I wasn't having a heart attack but a panic attack, I wouldn't get whatever expensive x-ray he wanted me to have. He told me (through a nurse) that he couldn't sign it because I hadn't had the test. Doctors are easily offended, delicate prigs who hate to have their position as demi-god of all health questioned.

46. Last time you ate chicken? Just the other day, actually. Thursday, I think.

47. What jewelry are you wearing? Do my glasses count?

48. What are you going to do after this survey? Make some lunch. I'm starting to get hungry. Plus I wouldn't go to the store with Becca this morning, so I said I'd make it up to her by making lunch.

49. Song you're listening to? None. The TV is on.

50. The car you were in last? Mine. I still won't let anyone drive me around.

52. What color shirt are you wearing? Gray. I said already, guh!

53. How long is your hair? It's pretty short. You saw it last week. I'm already thinking of a cut. I like it short.

54. What's on your mind right now? I'm really starting to get hungry. Guess that sickness is over. Good; best not abuse the system right now.

55. Last show you watched? Hannah Montana. Hey, it's Saturday morning.

56. Last thing you drank? Sweet Dasani water. Refreshing as hell.

57. Who was hotter, Ginger or Mary Ann? Why choose just one? They were both smoking as hell. Even as a kid I was trying to figure out why the Professor wasn't trying to get them in a three-way. Why are so many people on the internet intent on choosing one thing over the other when both of them are pretty great. Too much drawing of sides going on.

That said, if a gun were to my head and I had to say one was slightly hotter than the other, a redhead beats out anyone else 95% of the time. Provided she's not Lindsay Lohan.

ScarGlo

Friday, February 08, 2008

Throwdown 2/8

Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. I’d officially like to thank Brittany Murphy for finally, finally breaking me of my insane need to see any movie she’s in, no matter how crappy it is. It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore… Seriously, though, I hope she cures whatever it is that’s causing her face to melt that way.

2. I think it’s almost cute to see the Spice Girls amid the wreckage of their undersold reunion tour claiming that their tour is ending because they decided it should, not the lack of audience. It sure was not the time for a Spice Girls reunion. No one cares. Try again when late-nineties nostalgia hits its boom in about seven or ten years. Right now we’re still sick of everything from the late nineties. Too soon. Too soon.

3. Saying you have “people” because H&R Block does your taxes is a little like saying that you’ve got a personal chef because you eat at McDonald’s.

4. The mainstream media has actually succumbed to the stupidity of the average big time gossip blogger. Britney Spears admitted what was already obvious—that she’d had breast implants as a teenager, then had them removed. And the media’s all scandalized and shocked about it. No, guys, it’s normal for breasts to get really huge and then a lot smaller and then really big again, especially when you’re a teenager. And are you believing she only did it once? Because that’s what she told you?

5. That’s another home run for real world copy editors.

6. Actually, this one’s even funnier. Not just because it’s ABC, but because the article was already corrected once. Stop firing copy editors to save money!

7. Russell T. Davies on Doctor Who: “I think we're an unusual science-fiction franchise in taking a very big step back from fandom and having nothing to do with them. . . . Every program on the BBC has a message board on the website. I forbid it to happen on Doctor Who. I'm sorry to say this, all the science fiction producers making stuff in America, they are way too engaged with their fandom. They all need to step back.” Love it. And he’s right; usually when producers take too much input from the fans, the shows collapse in on themselves.

8. Mitt Romney dropped out. Okay. I guess I don’t really have anything to say about it.

9. With John Edwards out of the race and the nation deciding a vague promise of change is much better than a truly progressive candidate, I’ve decided to go the opposite route and vote for Ralph Wiggum. Yes, he’s a moron with the backing of a shadowy corporation, but we’ve had that for eight years already, and Ralph is much more entertaining and likable than Dubya. So what the hell, if the country’s going to crash down around our ears, I might as well have something more entertaining than American Idol on TV.

10. Not only can I not believe that people were surprised when Disney announced they were extending the run of their Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert beyond its supposed one-week run, I especially can’t believe the level of outrage directed at the company for doing so. Why are Americans so constantly surprised by the way marketing works? Why is it that people can’t figure out how capitalism works when they’re constantly on about how it’s the backbone of democracy? Give me a break. Yeah, big surprise, you got fooled by a marketing scam. Americans may think it’s normal and even cute how surprised they are that guns kill people, not everyone thinks the same way as them, and snow falls in winter, but it really isn’t. Aren’t there more important things to be outraged about?

(That said, Max Burbank has an excellent open letter to Hannah Montana about why this was unfair to children. But adults--and the media--should get a grip.)

Occasional Links #1

The links have gotten smaller and unscheduled. I don't have as much time as I did when unemployed, so the format's a little different.

JA has this and other Hitchcock-inspired pictures from Vanity Fair.

From Cracked: The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You and The 10 Most Insane Medical Pracitces in History. Also, here are two articles that freaked me out so much I'm almost sorry I read them: the 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World and, dear God, the utterly horrific the 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World.

The Guardian: America now has only one World War I veteran still living. Did you know we had any? I didn't, but he's got some interesting things to say about the war.

Ask Dr. Helen: Some actual good insight into why men don't want to get married. We're not all overgrown children, ladies.

The Onion A.V. Club interviews John Cleese.

Retrocrush: the 25 best duets.

Johnny Yen has a lovely reminiscence about Chicago that involves some film locations.

Dr. Zaius has dozens of clips of the Runaways and Joan Jett. Long live Cherie Currie and rest in peace, Sandy West!

And finally, Jeff Kay's West Virgina Surf Report has, no kidding, the funniest picture I have ever seen in my life.

Who Was Your Favorite Mouseketeer?

I always liked Doreen.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Everybody Needs to Know It's the Year of the Rat

Since today is the first day of the Year of the Rat, I have a good excuse to put up this wonderful video for Badly Drawn Boy's song "Year of the Rat." This may be my favorite music video of all time. Idealistic? Sure. But why the hell not? It always puts a warm feeling in my heart. Why not try being decent to each other today?

Glad to Know It's Not Just Homer Simpson

UKTV Gold recently surveyed 3,000 people in Britain. Of those 3,000 people, 58% thought that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. "Oh, Homer, Sherlock Holmes is a character." "He sure is!" Also troubling: 33% thought Biggles was a real person.

Even more troubling: a number of people thought Gandhi, the Duke of Wellington, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Dickens were fictional people. 47% thought King Richard I (the Lionheart) was a myth. 23% thought Winston Churchill was made up instead of just a horrible world leader.

So, either a quarter of people polled have a great sense of humor, or the British public education system is not what it's cracked up to be. Can't wait to read the British history books of the future. It's like we're in a race to see which country can forget its own past the quickest.

Reading and Meme-ing

You should really read Byzantium's Shores. It's much more than what I make it look like sometimes: a place I get memes from.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

I hate to be so pretentious, but I have to admit that if a book gets overwhelmingly great reviews from places like Entertainment Weekly or Publisher's Weekly, I file it away as something that probably isn't worth reading. They don't highlight a lot of, I guess, fringe writers I like (Joe R. Landsdale, for example), and I think they consciously look for something that's going to be the middle ground between obscure and an Oprah book. I'm not really a snob about what I read, but there is a lot of stuff that I don't like because it insists on itself. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a recent case of a book that a lot of people I know liked, but which I just couldn't get into because it was so insistent about how different it was trying to be. But I gave that one a chance. And I still really do want to read The Corrections and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and similar novels.

I guess I also figure that a lot of those books will eventually become movies, and if they're a certain kind of movie (say, a big Miramax production where the music on the trailer is all inspiring and some terrible director like Lasse Hallstrom is directing), I figure I made the right choice in ignoring them. Doesn't it ever seem like some books are just written to be bestsellers and movies?

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

I'm thinking Scarlett O'Hara, Eustacia Vye, and Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing for a, um, private party.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

The Da Vinci Code. Boring, but it would be over quickly.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

I try not to be one of those guys, really. I'm pretty honest about what I've not read. Jaquandor pointed out in his answer that he says he loves Lovecraft but has only read a small number of his stories. I guess I'm the same way. I say I love Lovecraft, but I've only read At the Mountains of Madness and a small number of stories. I also say I love Arthur Conan Doyle, but I've only read The Hound of the Baskervilles and a few stories.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?

No, never.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalize the VIP)

What a weird question. I have no idea, but any Julian Barnes novel is a good read. Well, most of them. Why not read Talking It Over or Arthur and George or England, England?

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

Spanish. I can already handle German, but I'd love to have perfect reading comprehension so I can read Don Quixote in its original language.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

There are a lot of books I wouldn't mind reading once a year. I don't care how pretentious it sounds, I absolutely adore Don Quixote and Paradise Lost. I could easily read Julian Barnes's A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters over and over. But I guess my choice would be a graphic novel, if I may. And it would be Uncle Gabby, one of the books in Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey series. The ending makes me cry, and it feels good.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I have no idea, really. I just pick up a lot more recommendations, which is good enough for me.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

I want hardwood floors. I want a desk and one of those lounge areas with the bay windows. I'm not really a leatherbound guy; my library already resembles an English professor's office, with books of all types haphazardly stacked on shelves, on the floor, in every space where cinder blocks and wood can be rigged to create shelving. And I like it that way, actually. I like the clutter. I just need a better list of everything I have. I group by author and category. What I really want is for that room to be bigger or, I don't know, a TARDIS, so I can cram more inside of it in a limited space. I'd put up more paintings--well, prints, really. I like prints. And they would all be Frazettas and NC Wyeths (especially the Wyeths). A large stereo system would be nice, too, because sometimes I like to listen to film scores or Classical music when I read. And an office area. And a very comfortable chair for that lounge area. Knickknacks everywhere, like it is now (mostly comic book stuff and science fiction toys, like it is now). I'd probably file my film score CDs in there, too, so I need a lot of shelf space for that.

It would be nice to have some author autographs, I think. But, again, I like the sort of cluttery, DIY look with hidden treasures all around, so I'd probably just have them on bookplates that are framed and hung up around the room.

Damn, I wish I had that now.

I Support These Troops

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

For Clarification Purposes

To the anonymous piece of shit going by the name "your god" who commented on a post and told me "fuck ur mather": did you mean Cotton Mather?

Because I've never really thought of him as my Cotton Mather so much as history's Cotton Mather.

But is "ur" a misspelling, or did you mean to say "fuck the ur-Mather," as in the original Mather. If that's the case, I don't know what you're talking about.

And why Mather, anyway? I mean, he did do some bad things, but he did help a lot with smallpox inoculation in early America. And he influenced American literature before such a thing really existed. I can see not liking Cotton Mather, but hating him? It's just a little weird.

Film Week

A review of the films I've made this past week.

VICE SQUAD (1982)
This movie starts off with a serious note telling us, the audience, that it is a composite of actual events that have happened involving prostitutes, crime, and the police. Then it proceeds to be utterly ridiculous, badly-acted, overblown, and impossible to take seriously. So I was expecting some classically hilarious exploitation, but sadly, this movie thinks it really has something serious to say, and it might, but it's just buried under differing levels of badness. * star.

HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK (1998)
There's an excellent character study in this movie, but the film sometimes loses its way. Ostensibly, the film is about a successful, divorced businesswoman (Angela Bassett) who meets a man half her age on vacation and has a fling, all while dealing with the death of her best friend, the loss of her job, and the scorn (or acceptance) or her family members. But the movie focuses so intensely on the principal age difference that much of the second and third acts feels extraneous and loose; there needed to be some real tightening at the script level (though I don't know who looks to Ron Bass for tightening). That said, the love story is genuinely affecting, as are the various reactions of her family (one of them is actually downright angry and offended by it). The film could have more forecefully made its point that age can only be a number and it shouldn't keep two adults who love each other from being happy. But Taye Diggs is great (as always) as the younger man, and Angela Bassett gives the best performance I've ever seen her give. I'm sorry she didn't get more attention, especially around awards season (Gwyneth Paltrow won the Oscar for that dreck Shakespeare in Love). I can't help feeling that a white woman like Diane Lane or Julia Roberts would be hailed as "courageous" for taking a role like this. Angela Bassett is absolutely excellent and deserved a lot more recognition. ***1/2 stars.

QUEEN-SIZED (2008)
Lifetime's annual Predictable Movie About How Fatties Are People movie stars Nikki Blonsky. And she's a cutie. I hope she gets to do a real film next. ** stars.

THE STERILE CUCKOO (1969)
I admit, I hate these kinds of movies about uptight people meeting quirky people and being awkward. Liza Minnelli is excellent as the quirky girl. But it's boring as hell. *1/2 stars.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (1985)
An absolutely beautiful movie about a woman in the forties who simply wants to see her childhood home again. She lives in Houston with her weak son (John Heard) and his shrew of a wife. She hates her life and one day jumps on the bus and heads to Bountiful to see her home and her girlhood friend, along the way examining the realities of her life and accepting it for what it's been. It's a touching movie, alternately happy and sad, and it earns every emotional reaction. This could so easily have been Hollywood bullshit about an elderly person having a whimsical adventure (The Bucket List leaps to mind), but instead it's a reflective movie about the human experience. Horton Foote wrote the film, back in the days when screenplays could be edgy without having to be quirky and call attention to how edgy they were. It's edgy for being about humanity instead of about being a movie. Geraldine Page deservedly won an Oscar for her performance. Rebecca De Mornay has a small role as a fellow passenger. One of the greatest movies I've ever seen, from an era that is still underappreciated for the few gems it hides. **** stars.

TARGETS (1968)
Peter Bogdanovich's first film is an examination of violence. Half of the story deals with Boris Karloff as horror film star Byron Orlock. He's about to retire, having decided that his kind of costume-oriented movie horror is outdated in a world where bloodshed routinely makes the papers. The other half of the story follows an all-American type of young man who has recently found himself buying large numbers of guns and having violent thoughts. He doesn't know why, but the impulse is getting stronger and stronger. Both of these stories meet in an explosion of violence and anger. The first half of the movie is excellent. It has all the hallmarks of a first film--long tracking shots, long trucking shots, a reverence for older films disguised as cynicism about modernity, the director playing a director, etc. But it unfolds so well, and it looks so good, that I easily overlooked those. Karloff is giving one of the best performances of his later career (and this is even a Corman production). The characters are fascinating, and the story reveals more and more about them. But then the second act slows down too much, and the third act is a mass of confusion that seems less like an effect and more like desperate filmmaking. The very end, however, is excellent, and one of Karloff's finest scenes. ***1/2 stars.

A NOUS LA LIBERTE (1931)
Rene Clair wrote and directed this excellent satire about an ex-convict who escapes from jail, becomes a salesman, and works his way up to factory owner. A fellow inmate gets a job working for him because the owner is afraid of being exposed. There's a love story and some great, funny mechanical effects involving how highly mechanized (and dehumanizing) the factory is. The film is so perfect for its time, cheekily tearing at industry in favor of humanity and coming out on the side of labor. But it's also very, very funny and odd; I laughed more in this movie than I thought I would. It's complicated, but never in a way that makes you work to understand it. The production company sued Charles Chaplin for, they claimed, plagiarizing their movie in Modern Times. Quite possibly the greatest French film ever made. **** stars.

WINGS (1927)
The first movie to win the Best Picture Oscar. Two men sign up to be pilots in the Lafeyette Escadrille and then realize that they're both romancing the same woman (Clara Bow--who could blame them?). It's melodramatic, of course--this is the twenties--but luckily none of the melodrama gets in the way of some truly amazing scenes of aerial combat. It's an involving movie, and Bow especially is excellent in one of her strongest performances. **** stars. Gary Cooper made his film debut here and became an overnight star. William Wellman directed.

Unmade Disney: The 1940s

Some time ago, I had a post about unmade Disney projects from the 1930s. Since I’ve come to the end of the 1940s in my evaluation/history of Walt Disney Productions, I’m now going to talk about some of the projects developed and abandoned in the forties.

Hootsie the Owl (1940): This film about a misfit owl who sleeps at night and is awake during the day was an Al Hurter concept. Walt thought the idea was cute, and there’s a lot of really great concept art for this cartoon, but the idea was just too slight. The animators worked some ideas for Hootsie again in 1969, but could never make anything of it.Don Quixote (1940): Cervantes’s novel was meant to be one of Disney’s artistic features, another follow-up to Fantasia and Bambi. Walt wanted the short to be animated with as much realism as possible, but there were fantasy sequences that opened up space for surrealism. It was set aside in 1941 with many other projects, but revived in 1946 as a possible short set to Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote: Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character for Large Orchestra. It’s unclear whether it would have been part of a package or a short on its own. Either way, it was never made. In 1951 the idea was revived again, this time in a kind of simple, flat, UPA-inspired style. But nothing came of it.

The Hound of Florence/Inspector Bones (1941): The Hound of Florence was a novel by Felix Salten (author of Bambi) about a detective who turned into a dog. Development as an animated feature seems not to have gone very far, although it also was pushed as a combination feature or even a completely live action film. It would finally surface as The Shaggy Dog in 1959. The idea of a dog detective seems to have inspired Inspector Bones, which was a direct parody of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films which were very popular in the forties. The film would have pitted Inspector Bones and Dr. Beagle against either Professor Mongrel (“The Mad Dog of London”) or Sir Cyril Sealyham. The story notes feature a lot of Tex Avery style self-referential jokes, and many who see them now think the project an odd one for the Disney of the early forties. Some scenes prefigure the 1986 Disney film The Great Mouse Detective, although the makers of that film were unaware of Inspector Bones.

Babar (1941): Disney was offered the rights to the first three novels in the popular children’s series, but turned them down.

Ditch Diggers (1941): Mickey, Donald and Goofy on a road construction crew.

Gremlins (1942): Gremlins is one of Disney’s legendary unmade films, not least because it was based on an unpublished story by RAF Lt. Roald Dahl. The combination of Dahl and Disney seems irresistible. The gremlins themselves have a very appealing design. I don’t know if it had anything to do with Disney’s decision not to make the film, but the Bugs Bunny cartoon Falling Hare premiered in 1943.

Prostitution and War (1942): Another scrapped war film about the dangers of venereal disease. Probably this would have been one of the army-only films. Another unmade war film was called Army Psycho-Therapy.

Guerilla Duck (1942): This is one of a couple of shorts, including The Lone Raider, in which Donald was meant to take on the Japanese. As it was, after all of that Basic Training, Donald seems to have been removed from active duty after wiping out a Japanese airfield in Commando Duck. Donald was also supposed to match wits with a Garbo-esque double agent in Madame XX.

A House Divided (1942): This short would’ve seen the Three Little Pigs once again, this time working in a defense factory. Piper and Fiddler Pig would’ve learned that not paying attention to their work could end in disaster for the United States.

How to Be a Cowboy (1942): I’m sorry they never made this Goofy short, if only because the concept drawings are so expressive and funny.

Lorenzo the Magnificent (1943): This was meant to be a surreal short set to Classical music about a Persian cat whose tail takes on a life of its own. The concept for this dance short came from Joe Grant. The cartoon was never made, but the idea was never forgotten at the studio, and Mike Gabriel directed Lorenzo, which was released in 2004. It was originally intended for the third Fantasia film, which has yet to materialize (although the segments have now all been released separately).

Ajax the Stool Pigeon (1943): This project seems like it would’ve been especially promising. It told the story of a military carrier pigeon with acrophobia who has to battle with other birds to get an important message through. The concept drawings show a lot of character, including a Mata Hari type alongside Nazi vultures and bats. The project also went under the name Roland XIII. This might have made quite an exciting short or even a feature along the lines of Dumbo, but it was unfortunately scrapped. Some of it now seems similar to the recent animated film Valiant.

Democracy (1943): Joe Grant and Dick Huemer developed this short about how the common American should be proud to contribute to the war effort. Only one of a number of wartime shorts that went unmade. Another one was called Melting Pot.

Square World (1943): Another Grant/Huemer conception, this one was minimalist and dealt with a square-shaped ruler who attempts to force conformity and make everything else square-shaped. The symbolism is obvious, but some of the concept drawings are pretty neat.

How to Be a Commando (1943): For whatever reason, it was decided not to bring Goofy into the war. Another unmade short was called Army Story, although there’s every possibility that was actually a designation referring to this same film.

Chanticleer and Reynard (1945): Disney had been trying to make Edmund Rostand’s Chantecler or Saint Cloude’s The Romance of Reynard into films for over a decade now; finally, the projects were put together as a single film. Though the animators had some real enthusiasm for the project, it was finally shelved in 1945. This was not the last time this project would pop up, however.

Cuban Carnival (1945-1946): Walt had intended to follow Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros with a third Latin American feature; Cuban Carnival seems to be a consensus name, as other notes refer to it as Carnivale, Carnival Carioca, or Caxaga. Donald Duck would’ve returned, as would Jose Carioca (no word, sadly, on Panchito Pistolero). The film was meant to have a through-story, a sort of version of the Crosby-Hope Road to movies with Donald and Carioca competing for the love of a female parrot called Aurora (the name suggests that, possible, Aurora Miranda, who appeared on screen with the two in Three Cabelleros, may have been asked to voice). Segments were planned, including a sequence with a crow plantation owner in Cuba (white suit, wide hat and all) and something called Lady with the Red Pompoms. Other segments which were probably intended for Cuban Carnival were The Laughing Gauchito, Homer Brightman and Frank Thomas’s revisiting of the characters from The Flying Gauchito (in Three Caballeros); Cape Dance, inspired by a dance from Grenada and featuring contrasting color shifts and a red cloak; San Blas Boy, about a boy and his dog who are caught in a storm while fishing; La Loca Mariposa, in which Donald tries to capture giant butterflies (Wilfred Jackson would’ve directed; it was also considered as a short on its own as early as 1944); and Rancho in the Sky, a surrealist short featuring a man and a woman riding in the clouds and stars among strange shapes and colors. Since The Three Cabelleros was incrementally better than Saludos Amigos, it’s a shame, I think, the movie was never made.

On the Trail (1946): Another Americana short, this one would have been accompanied by a segment of Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite. It was developed by Retta Scott, and many studies of pueblos, mesas, and sand paintings were done. My own personal feeling, based on some of these studies and the studies for Rancho in the Sky, is that Walt had intended to do, once Cuban Carnival was stopped by the box office failure (and critical savaging) of The Three Cabelleros, an Americana version of Fantasia that was set to American art music and much more of an artistic, highbrow sort of film; probably this project was scrapped in favor of a film devoted to popular music that could be animated much more as a cartoon than as an experimental film. It’s tantalizing to wonder what might have been.

Surrealist Short (1946): I’ve seen this name, but I can’t find out much other than the short was set to music. It might actually be a shorthand name for one of the Make Mine Music segments that hadn’t been titled yet, or it might have been something else.

Sonja Henie Fantasy (1946): Another possible short for a package feature, probably meant to be a combination short with champion figure skater Sonja Henie alongside animated animals. It’s worth pointing out that Melody Time opens with an ice skating fantasy, Once Upon a Wintertime.

Hiawatha (1946): Walt often liked to keep working on things in order to improve them (witness Cinderella, which had popped up in one form or another as a project after he’d done it as a Laugh-O-Gram in 1922). Though David Hand had directed an excellent, very cute Silly Symphony called Little Hiawatha, Walt wanted to make a feature based on the Longfellow poem. And he wanted to make it very artistic, more along the lines of the impressionism of Bambi. People had reservations about the project, but they loved the concept art and the project was seriously considered. But there was no money to make a film like that, and when Walt decided to get back into features in 1948, Hiawatha was pushed aside in favor of Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Ultimately, it was decided that there were too many story problems; besides that, there were people at the studio who feared the project was too highbrow and might be another Fantasia (which would not make its money back entirely until the 1970s). Hiawatha was permanently shelved in 1949.Share and Share Alike (1946): This short, featuring Donald Duck and his nephews fighting over an apple, was apparently horrible. Much of it was animated ($26,000 was spent on it), but when it was screened many people in the studio felt it was a disaster and potentially one of the worst films in the company’s history. I guess it couldn’t be salvaged, because it was never finished.

Destino (1946): This collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali was quite a legend for a while. What would that have yielded? Remember, Dali respected Disney’s artistry and at one point even called him America’s greatest surrealist. One of the intellectual artists who didn’t abandon Disney in the forties, Dali was very pleased to work with Disney. But the project fell apart; they just couldn’t find a way to make it work. Only fifteen seconds of animation were produced. The film was probably meant to be part of a package film, oddly enough. It was one of the shorts revived for the third Fantasia; in 2003, the short was released, directed by Dominique Monfery.

How to Train a Dog (1947): Another proposed Goofy short. Does that mean Goofy isn’t a dog?

In the forties, there were always ideas for features in the studio: Alice in Wonderland had been in seemingly constant development since 1931; Peter Pan had been at Disney since 1939. Both would see a release in the fifties, as would other ideas from the forties: Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty. He pursued the rights to the Mary Poppins books for two decades; if they couldn’t be obtained, he had already bought the rights to Mary Norton’s novels The Magic Bed Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks, which were similarly English stories about magic.

In 1940, with Fantasia about to be released, Walt said of his future plans for the company: “What I see way off there is too nebulous to describe, but it looks big and glittering. That’s what I love about business, the certainty that there is always something bigger and more exciting just around the bend; and the uncertainty of everything else.” But, unfortunately, things had turned out differently. By 1951, he was still excited, but he was excited over a theme park and television. He now saw animation as an ancillary part of the studio, not its driving force. He would never feel again that animation was an exciting realm of experimentation and discovery.