Saturday, January 09, 2010

Gay Marriage Satire

I found this on Tumblr, on a blog called Sexual Frustration 69. I thought it was hilarious and satirical. I found it even funnier that so many people across Tumblr thought it was serious and were outraged over it, which shows they didn't read very much of it. As we enter the Completely Misinformed Age, this kind of smart writing is going to disappear.

The inflammatory title of this piece is "I Fucking Hate Gay People. And Here's Why":

1. Homosexuality is not natural, unlike eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.
2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can’t legally get married because the world needs more children.
3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful, like Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.
5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; just like women are property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is illegal.
6. Gay marriage should be decided by people not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.
7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
10. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why single parents are forbidden to raise children.
11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven’t adapted to cars or longer lifespans.

Frank Oz and Miss Piggy

Go Read This

Roger Ebert reminisces about food and conversation.

His illness has progressed to the point where he can no longer eat and drink. But, to his surprise, not being able to do either has brought back a flood of memories. The way he writes about this makes me want to savor every bite I take for the rest of my life. Go read it; it's very moving.

Jessica Needs to Bring This Back

This was a year ago, already? Damn, I loved that. Texas hot sauce.

I wish she'd get her shit together and get back on TV.

Meme of Honour

Via Sunday Stealing

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?
Joe Lieberman.

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?
I already can. I can turn the channel or turn the sound off and tune out any music I don't want to hear. Why take someone else's music away from them? I don't want to hear Lady Gaga, you don't want to hear Miley Cyrus, so why should either of us have to? That's why things have buttons.

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
Joe Lieberman. Or Lady Gaga. But Joe Lieberman affects my life for real, so Joe Lieberman.

4. What is your favorite cheese?
Mozarella. It's mild, but it tastes good on everything.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?
I like Ekrich Beef Bologna with Sara Lee Low Sodium Turkey Breast and a little bit of any kind of summer sausage, with mayo (real mayo, not Miracle Whip) and some spicy mustard (a little, not slathered), lettuce, and Lorraine Swiss Cheese on honey wheat bread. Simple and kind of trashy, I guess, but that's my favorite. Give me some Jay's No Salt Potato Chips on the side and a Jones Grape Soda, and I am a happy man.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?
I will have a different answer for this question any and every time you ask it of me. Today, I'm leaning towards Zac Efron or Liv Tyler.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?
Same thing; I'll always have a different answer. Today, I'm thinking Katy Perry or David Bowie.

8. Now that you’ve slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?
I'm too neurotic to spend money any more. A hundred bucks would pay for my meds and a therapy appointment with enough left over for some lunch. Or it would buy groceries. Or pay part of some bills. Yes, I'm so poor that I can't even splurge in my fantasies.

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
Mexico. It's warmer and I love the women.

10. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Shit! Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?
Well, since I'm in Mexico I guess I'll get some nachos. I love me some nachos. I make them here way more often than I should. Maybe have some beer, because Mexican beer is better than that watery shit they mass produce in America.

11. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is…?
Not a big fan of alcohol. I'm tempted to say Foster's, because hot dogs are so good steamed in Foster's. (If you're steaming them in water, you're not doing it right.) Maybe Bass Ale, though. Bass is pretty good.

12. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?
First thing off the top of my head: I'm going to stop Captain Sir Richard F. Burton's widow from destroying his unpublished writings.

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
That's a pretty enormous undertaking. Any first rule is going to kind of come off glib without anything to support it. But I think it would be that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.

14. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it called and what’s the premise?
Off the top of my head: Midshipman Barbarian. A surprisingly smart comedy about a barbarian, frozen in the ice, who emerges in 1519 and becomes a part of Magellan's crew. It's a comedy about culture clash. I don't really know where any of that came from.

15.What is your favorite curse word?
"Fuck."

16.One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren’t really doing anything, they’re just standing around your bed. What do you do?
It's still pretty creepy. Why not put them up in the spare room and then deal with them in the morning?

17. Your house is on fire, holy shit! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don’t worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what’s the item?
My external hard drive.

18. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?
Tell everyone goodbye, have one last Pepsi Throwback, and craft some pithy comment about dying.

19. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What’s it gonna be?
I want Sylar's power from Heroes; the ability to mimic and absorb all super powers. I'm a greedy fucker.

20. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
I'd like to say goodbye to my sister before she died.

21.You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
Ellen's death. Barring that, I should've spent more time with her.

22. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool shit… you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin’! What country are you going to live in now?
England.

23. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age. Check it out. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?
I don't care. I'm not a bar guy. I'm a diner guy.

24. Hopefully you didn’t mention this in the super-powers question…. If you did, then we’ll just expand on that. Check it out… Suddenly, you have gained the ability to FLOAT!!! Whose house are you going to float to first, and be like “Dude, check it out…I can FLOAT!”?
That's kind of lame, isn't it? Floating?

25. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?
Walt Disney.

26. The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn’t think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?
My sister, obvs.

27. What’s your theme song?
"Dare to Be Stupid" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Friday, January 08, 2010

Art Clokey 1921-2010

I just learned that Art Clokey, creator of Gumby and Davey & Goliath, and thus a large influence on me as a kid, died this morning at the age of 89. This news makes me sad.

Emmett Otter Outtakes

Speaking of Muppets, here's some outtakes/bloopers from the special Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Thanks, Splotchy, for shooting these over!


I love Muppet outtakes and how the Muppeteers stay in character. And check out the miniature size of the Muppets in this one. I saw the original puppets and animatronics at the Museum of Science and Industry in the mid-1980s. That was an amazing experience; you could go inside the Fraggle Rock set and everything.

Richard Hunt and Scooter

Just found this picture online and thought it was really neat. Things are all Muppety on my blog lately, and I love it.

75 Years of Elvis Presley

Thursday, January 07, 2010

He Speaks for the Trees!

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax as a grindhouse movie. If this were a real film, I would watch the hell out of it.

Ich bin Kreativ

In his infinite wisdom, Cal saw fit to bestow an award upon my humble blogs and said a lot of really nice things about me that made me blush. Thanks a lot, Cal! That was a real spirit boost, and I appreciate it.

This award has some conditions with it. The first is that I must tell you seven things about me that you might not know. Since I'm forthright to an almost embarrassing degree, I'm not sure what you might not know about me by this point, so I'm going to skip that bit.

I also must tag seven others with this award, and that I will do.

1. MC @ Culture Kills... wait, I mean Cutlery, because his take on pop culture is snarky without being vicious for the sake of viciousness. Also, his Enemies List posts were some of my favorite reads last year.

2. Splotchy @ I, Splotchy, because I love Unconnected Tuesdays and he pushes me to do those turtle comics. (Sadly, I need to be pushed, because I'm lazy and unfocused.)

3. Mob @ Dear Bastards, for doing it every day, for his Big Suck Loser reviews, for being one of my earliest and longest-lasting readers, and because I think these awards amuse him.

4. Jaquandor @ Byzantium's Shores because I love his blog, especially his thoughtful posts on movies he's just seen or is revisting, for inspiring my return journey to Prydain last year, and for sending me Twilight, which led to one of my more popular blog series of 2009.

5. Allen L. @ Septendary for those awesome Listening Posts, which he let me participate in several months ago.

6. Some Guy @ Some Guy's Blog for the Lieberman impression. Did you see his Lieberman impression? Go to his blog and watch it. I'll wait.

...

Is that funny or what? I think I watched it 96 times.

7. YOU. Because you obviously have great taste in blogs.

(Yeah, I did the Time magazine cop-out thing there. But hey, you do have great taste in blogs.)

Thanks again, Cal, for taking that blow to the head and being fooled into giving me the award. It's too late to take it back now! Mwa-ha-ha!

Happy 60th Birthday, Erin Gray!

She was at the Chicago Comicon this year, and it was a thrill seeing her in person. She's still so beautiful.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

One Is the Loneliest Number

I am very much not a fan of Jimmy Fallon, but I do respect him for having the Muppets on his show pretty often. Just before Christmas, he, the Muppets, and the Roots did a nice performance of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Well, today NBC released this video of the rehearsal, in which Fallon and the Muppets (and the Roots) break into an impromptu performance of "One." And like anything to do with the Muppets, a big smile was plastered all over mah face.

Irony

Film Week

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

MISS CONCEPTION (2008)
Not as bad as the movies I usually end up seeing just because Heather Graham is in them. Heather plays a British woman who finds out she's only got one ovum left and has to be pregnant in the next week or else she'll never conceive. But her boyfriend, a documentarian, is out of town and isn't even sure he wants kids. So decides to get knocked up any way she can. Not as silly as I figured it would be, but not really a winner, either. Heather still looks beautiful. **1/2 stars.

MY SISTER'S KEEPER (2009)
Nice try, but no. Sofia Vassilieva, the star of my beloved Eloise movies, plays Kate, a teenager who has been dealing with leukemia her entire life. Her sister, Anna (Abigail Breslin), was basically bred to provide bone marrow and other biological resources. The story begins when Kate starts to get close to renal failure and Anna, supposed to give her kidney to her sister, challenges her parents in court to keep medical control of her own body. Having lost a teenage sister to cancer a few years ago, I wanted to like this movie, but I found it ultimately too typically Hollywood (read: shallow) in its approach to something so big and dramatic. The science fiction court case is really only there to put a clock on the drama and force a sort of urgency out of the audience. The compelling stuff happens in flashbacks, and even then it's just one section of the movie that details Kate's relationship with another teenager who is also a cancer patient. That was genuinely sweet and moving, watching two kids with a tragic awareness of their impending mortality fall in love. It's enough to watch a family being torn apart by illness, but the movie make unnecessary additions and imposes a flashback structure (complete with competing narration) that doesn't work and turns the whole enterprise into sentiment porn that loses entire characters (why is that brother even there, really, other than to have his outburst in the courtroom?). Vassilieva and Breslin are very good. I felt bad for Cameron Diaz; she has a hard job. She comes across as a total bitch in everything she's in, and here she had to play a woman whose drive to care for her sick daughter has made her hard and single-minded. That she generates any sympathy at all is either miraculous or very good editing. ** stars.

SIN NOMBRE (2009)
I found this film very moving. It focuses on two young Latin Americans--Mexican Willy, a gang member fleeing retribution, and Honduran Sayra, seeking to be reunited with her father--headed for America and an illegal border crossing. It's a very moving story about the drives and motives illegal immigrants have for seeking a better life in the United States, but it's also about compelling characters. You relate to Willy and Sayra emotionally, and in personalizing the journey to America, the film succeeds in not reducing their story to a cliche or in turning them into three-dimensional characters among a bunch of cliches. No one in the movie is a cliche immigrant or an extra simply there to fill the screen. It forces you to see them for the people they are, desperate to find a place where they can catch a break and eke out a better living for themselves or their families. In an America that dehumanizes these people into a political issue, I found it remarkably powerful and necessary. One of the best films of 2009. Beautifully shot, too (eschewing a lot of today's stylistic cliches). **** stars.

AN AMERICAN AFFAIR (2009)
Fitfully interesting movie about a teenage boy in 1963 Washington, DC, who becomes obsessed with the woman across the street, a beautiful blonde (Gretchen Mol, whom I always like) with ties to John F. Kennedy. It drags in spots, but is a mostly okay, if heavy-handed, coming of age drama/political intrigue movie. **1/2 stars.

THE EGG AND I (1947)
Cute movie with Fred MacMurray giving up city life to buy a run-down chicken farm in the mountains and try to hew his life out of the earth. Claudette Colbert, as his new wife, is sort of forced to hang on for dear life and adapt to what he wants, which she certainly does. This is the movie that introduced Ma and Pa Kettle--I've seen none of their movies, but Marjorie Main is delightful in this one as Ma. It's a comforting movie about the closeness of community, and I probably would have loved it a lot more when I was 10. As it is, though, I thought it was very nice and pleasant. *** stars.

LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928)
Lon Chaney in one of his many excellent performances stars as a traveling clown who finds an orphaned girl and takes her in. When she grows to womanhood--into gorgeous Loretta Young--he falls in love with her, though she loves someone else. Rather than a simple love triangle, the film elevates their clashes of passion, as the salvation of both men lies with the girl and their love for her. The mere force of Chaney's performance makes this a film hard to look away from. **** stars.

SALT OF THE EARTH (1954)
This film has been labeled as a communist one over the years, as are most socially conscious works that actually care about the struggles and well-being of people who do the actual work in this country. This film (directed by Herbert Biberman, one of the Hollywood Ten) doesn't propagandize an ideal, but it does focus on the struggle of Mexican-American miners in a labor dispute. For 1954, it's unusually sensitive to what happens to women in the world of poor workers; feminism ahead of its time. It's sad that now, 56 years later, this movie is as relevant as it was then, as we experience the abuse of labor rights and regulations, and prejudice against Mexican-Americans. The use of a mostly non-professional cast gives this a naturalistic feel that makes it more urgent. **** stars.

Bisexuality Senses Tingling...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Sheesh, Show Buisiness

Messing around with the camera today, trying to take some pics of my Muppet figures. Lots of bad pictures, but I like this one.

Get a Life, Moron

Someone or other called Peter left a comment on one of my G.I. Joe recaps that made me laugh my ass off:

i dont understand, YOU HATE LADY JAYE?
but in almost every episode of this ¨ ¨GiJoe review¨, there are a picture of her.
so...
Get a life moron.....

I always love this kind of quote. I mean, what would the internet be without this kind of anonymous lunacy that passes for discourse?

Where would my self-esteem be without the simple poetry of people taking the time out of their busy days to leave me a delightful missive telling me how much I'm wasting their time?

What would I do with my days if I didn't have the occasional commenter calling me a moron because, in their simplicity, they don't have the ability to come to grips with their own idiocy, and so must lash out at others over the most trifling of things?

What would I laugh at on the internet during the day if not for the spectacle of people so thrilled to think that they might catch me on some kind of inconsistency that they actually forget grammar, spelling, and the elements of style?

Yes, Peter. Truly, I am a moron who needs to get a life. After all, I just wasted all of this time reading someone's blog recaps of G.I. Joe episodes and getting pissed off about them.

Oh, wait. That's YOU.

I guess I could respond to you by simply explaining that Lady Jaye is popular with people who read those posts, or that Lady Jaye's near-ubiquity on the series makes it impossible to ignore her, since she's one of the major players of the show and has a ton of screen time.

But instead I'll pay you the respect you paid me in your dim manner and just answer you in the parlance of the internet:

Yes, there are a lot of "picture of her" That's cos' she's on nearly every episode, shit wit!

FYI: "Parlance" is a fancy word for "vernacular." Which means "way o' talkin'."

But hey, thanks for wasting your time reading Electronic Cerebrectomy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Evaluating Disney: 1956

1955 had seemed a triumph. Lady and the Tramp was a success with audiences. Millions of kids were wearing mouse-ears or coonskin caps. Walt himself was a household icon. And, at long last, Disneyland was open to the public and making money hand over fist, much of which Walt reinvested straight back into the park.

But what of the animation itself? Once the only concern of the studio, it was now one of many, and as a result it was suffering. Walt's interest in animation simply didn't exist; as animator Frank Thomas put it, "I think he had really spent himself on what he wanted to do in animation." The animation studio continued along now out of tradition and habit. As far back as 1953, with the twin failures of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan under his belt, Walt had admitted to Bill Anderson that he wasn't interested in animation, but that he felt the studio couldn't give it up completely. By 1956, Walt dreaded the studio and spent as little time there as possible; the animators had to beg him to attend story meetings and even needed to prod him to put any animated shorts into production at all.

Much of the studio's animated output in 1956 went to the long, long production of Sleeping Beauty--in development since 1952, and which would not be released until 1959--and into the TV shows, Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. The TV animation tended to be of such poor quality--simplified in order to save money on the production of the show--that there was talk of farming it out to other studios to get better quality.

Walt knew the quality was bad. He just didn't care. For him, it was all a part of raising more money to keep building Disneyland. With the park open for less than a year, he was already happily tinkering away, closing some attractions to focus on others and sketching out ideas for a skyway, a monorail, a submarine ride, and a mountain sled ride. Whatever the studio produced was, it seemed, merely a fund for Disneyland.

2/15: Sardinia
People and Places. These still aren't available on DVD, so I still haven't seen many of them.

2/24: Chips Ahoy
Donald Duck. Sadly, Chip 'n' Dale make their last film appearance until 1983 in this hilarious short. Actually inspired by the Little Golden Book Donald's Sailboat, this Cinemascope cartoon has the two chipmunks stealing Donald's model ship from a bottle (great sight gag) to get to an acorn tree in the middle of the pond. Jack Kinney directed, and the pacing is great. The gags are all good, and the Cinemascope adds depth without calling attention to itself. A solid cartoon, and a real highlight in the waning days of the shorts.

4/27: Hooked Bear
Special cartoon. The first of, alas, only two solo cartoons for Humphrey the Bear. All of the Humphrey cartoons are wonderful, but it's interesting here to see him without Donald Duck as a foil. Instead, he's foiled by his constant stupidity, spending so much of his time trying to get fish the "easy" way that he completely misses out on fishing season. There are some great sight gags with Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore seeding the lake with new fish (I especially loved the hatchery that looked like a garden). The animation of Humphrey himself is superb; he's such a well-realized pantomime slapstick character. (I think I noticed some reused animation from "Rugged Bear." Par for the course by this time.)

6/8: THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE
Great film based on the true story of a Union attempt in 1862 to steal a Confederate train and cut off valuable supply and communication lines. It's easy to imagine this project catching Walt's interest because of the trains (though he was very hands-off on this production, which was mostly overseen by Lawrence E. Watkin), and he was quick to cast Fess Parker in the lead role as James Andrews, the Union spy and the leader of the raid. Parker was quite the commodity because of Davy Crockett, and he was under contract to Disney. There are several factors that make this one of, in my opinion, Disney's best films: chief among them is the authentic feel of the chase itself. Disney may have taken some liberties with facts, as movies will, but the train engine used (the "William Mason") was built in 1856, and the entire sequence with the actual train chase (about a third of the movie) is the best part. Jeffrey Hunter is very good as William A. Fuller, the Southern conductor whose train is stolen and who goes to great lengths to track it down. Hunter and Parker have quite the battle of wills when you consider that they barely have any screen time together. And the Cinemascope looks great. It's just a completely enjoyable film, one that doesn't get talked up as much as some of the other live action films, but I loved it.

7/8: How to Have an Accident in the Home
Donald Duck. A fun Cinemascope short that seeks to educate about all the ways people can have accidents in their homes through carelessness. It's surprisingly modern for Disney; it pokes fun at modern conveniences and electronics. Some great sight gags in this one, especially Donald's system of plugs. Great backgrounds, too.

7/18: Jack and Old Mac
Special cartoon. Bill Justice directed this cartoon, which attempts to ape the UPA style of limited animation. It's really a double bill, with music by George Bruns. The first part, "The House That Jack Built," is great. It has jazzy music and a nice abstract look, with animals and buildings taking shapes from the words themselves. It's short, even slight, but very creative. Unfortunately, most of the cartoon is taken up with the inferior "Old MacDonald Had a Band," a jazz take on the schoolyard staple, which goes on and on forever. Even for this period of Disney, the animation is terrible (except for some of the Fred Moore animation, recycled from "All the Cats Join In"), and the song is repetitive. The color styling, by Eyvind Earle, is a high point.

7/18: DAVY CROCKETT AND THE RIVER PIRATES
Davy had been killed at the Alamo, of course, but the series (and the feature film edited together from the three episodes) had been such a runaway success that it was inevitable that he couldn't stay dead for long. This film is cut together from two more episodes which are meant to take place, I believe, somewhere between the first and second episodes. Although it's obvious this production has been lavished with more money than the first, it didn't quite grip me the way the other film did. Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen are still amiable and extremely likable in their roles, of course, but there's a kind of pall over this one that's perhaps a result of not really having strong historical points to play off of. The first Davy Crockett was, in some way, an idealized Americana in response to the social upheaval of the 1950s. This film, however enjoyable, is merely another adventure featuring some of the same characters. The boat race is the best part of the film, I think, and Jeff York as Mike Fink, king of the river, is an excellent blowhard.

7/27: In the Bag
Special cartoon. Humphrey's final appearance on film is one of the most popular and most enduring Disney shorts. It doesn't get mentioned in the same breath as earlier luminaries like The Band Concert, but this is one of Disney's most memorable shorts and gets brought up again and again by people who watched it when they were kids and have never forgotten "The Humphrey Hop," the wonderful song introduced in this cartoon. In another of Disney's cartoons with an anti-pollution message (and a cameo by Smoky the Bear), Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore tricks Humphrey and the other bears into cleaning up tons of garbage left behind by campers. One of the last great Disney shorts, one of the best ever, and one of the most fun.

11/6: Cow Dog
A live action short I've been unable to find. I remember seeing it, as so many others, on a filmstrip when I was in (I think) junior high school, but I haven't seen it in the decades since.

11/6: A Cowboy Needs a Horse
Special cartoon. Imaginative, dreamy cartoon about a boy who dreams he's a cowboy. It's very much like Jack and Old Mac, modern and music-oriented, only it's not boring. It's not necessarily compelling, either, but the flat animation style is nice and colorful. This is the final animated short of 1956; all of them were in Cinemascope this year.

11/6: SECRETS OF LIFE
The fourth True-Life Adventures feature is another winner. After The African Lion had shed all of the critically-derided (and distractingly stupid) cartoon affectations and anthropomorphized silliness of The Living Desert, this continues with a film in the vein of the earlier short subject Nature's Half-Acre. It doesn't have one single subject, but takes a look at many different aspects of life on Earth--from bees and ants to flowers to underwater creatures to volcanoes--but ties them together thematically. It's an excellent documentary, well-photographed (especially the underwater footage and the time-lapse film of flowers blooming) and informative, simply fascinating and a joy to watch.

12/20: Disneyland, USA
A People and Places short which I don't have, either.

12/20: WESTWARD HO, THE WAGONS!
A feature film that I have just not been able to find at all. Disney's third Western feature this year starring Fess Parker, who was starting to get tired of playing the same role over and over again. When I am finally able to see it, I'll talk about it in this space.

12/20: Samoa
Another People and Places I have yet to see as an adult.

For as much as the studio was active this year, you can see where very little of it involved theatrical animation. Only six animated shorts were released this year, augmented by re-releases of Fantasia, Song of the South, and Bambi. Resources not directed to the television series (and to be fair, not all of it was bad--The Great Cat Family, from the Disneyland episode of the same name, is a gem of a cartoon) went also to a series of 16mm filmstrips for Disney's educational films division. These were produced for schools. You may have seen some of them as a student if you're the right age (I know I saw many of them, both in schools and on Disney Channel). The different series--The Nature of Things, You And..., and I'm No Fool (with it's wonderful theme song)--were all hosted by Jiminy Cricket, with Cliff Edwards reprising his role.

But nothing, it seemed, could stop the death knell for theatrical animation. In 1957, Walt Disney began closing the shorts units entirely, and many found themselves out of work as a result--he was unsympathetic to their offers to move to the live action units, feeling it would be too hard to "retrain" them. How ironic that, this year, he was given an award by the Guild of Variety Artists for his "increasing efforts to discover new ways to keep the greatest number of people in the field of show business gainfully employed."

The same was true of animation all over Hollywood. Paul Terry sold his studio to CBS and retired. MGM, on discovering that a reissue made 90% of what a new cartoon made, shut down their animation arm completely; Hanna and Barbera made the transition to TV as a result. Warner Bros. had shut down its animation studio briefly in 1953; once it re-opened, it limped along without its former zest and vigor to an inevitable death in the early sixties.

Walt's ineffectual attitude towards animation was only added to by the slow pace of work on Sleeping Beauty, a pace he was only making worse with indecision and disinterest. The shorts program would never see the same output again. And Walt Disney simply didn't care.

Kristen Bell Mondays


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Euphemism and Terrorism

In this case, Christopher Hitchens has it exactly right:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Song of the Week: "Orange Crate Art"

I actually didn't realize this when I picked this song for today, but today is Van Dyke Parks' birthday. Nice little coincidence. Here he is with Brian Wilson in 1995 performing their song "Orange Crate Art," from their album of the same name. I love this song (and the album), but I think it's even better just seeing and hearing Brian and Van Dyke, no overdubs or production, just one of my favorite singers of all time and a piano. Nice.

Sunday Hottie 257

ANNA FARIS