Friday, May 29, 2009

What ARE you?

"The thing that drives me really crazy," Wendy told us, "Is people are always asking me 'what ARE you'. It happens all the time!"
Wendy isn't from another planet. Her family comes from different parts of the world and people are curious about her "pedigree."
Aw big deal, I thought at first. She's getting offended about nothing. The things people get unglued over!
It did get me thinking. Why did it bother Wendy?
Later I ran into George, an old acquaintance. He seemed delighted to see me and acted sincerely interested in what I was up to. Dang, I thought He makes me feel totally accepted. Like a family member. In the club. Teammates.
I thought back to caveman times. You were either accepted as one of the tribe or were considered an outsider. One of them.
A subtext of the chat with George was "I accept you as my peer. You're one of us."
The subtext in "What ARE you" can be interpreted as "What is it about you that makes you not my peer? You're not one of us. " I can see how that would get old very quickly.
At least that's my theory.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Flash Cartoon Preview

These goofballs only appear for a few frames each, but I thought they deserved more attention.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Steamboat Willie (Uncut Version)

The synchronized sound track (added after the animation,) of "Steamboat Willie" made Mickey Mouse a star.
You've probably seen it before, but have you seen all it? The version usually shown is a half minute shorter than the original. Gags involving udders and some animal abuse were removed, probably to comply with the family friendly image Disney acquired.
Even the censored version has Mickey Mouse doing mean things like swinging a cat by his tail and letting it fly into the wall. Later a parrot laughs at him ("Hope ya don't feel hurt big boy! Ha ha ha ha ha!"*) so what does Micky do? He knocks it overboard with a potato. Listen carefully and you can hear the parrot drowning as Micky repeats the "ha ha ha ha ha!" laugh.
Who Mickey was such a bastard?

*That's Walt Disney himself doing the parrot's voice. Mickey's too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bimbo's Initiation

Bimbo's Initiation (1931, Fleischer Studios) is one of my favorite all time cartoons.
It's remarkably wacky:
Bimbo, the cute little dog character, is yanked into a weird underworld. Hooded freaks from the "Mystic Order of the Hoopahoopa Hot Cha*" chant "Wanna be a member?" at him. He refuses, only to be teased and tortured through most of the cartoon.
Rooms flip over, trapdoors rise and sink, and sharp objects threaten. Our hero is jabbed, punched in the face, spanked, slammed through cement and laughed at...
...but things end happily.
It's a strange mix of cute and sinister. The first time you see it you'll never be sure what will happen next (except that it will be at Bimbo's expense!)
I'm guessing the plot was an excuse to string slapstick gags together, but it may accidentally hit a deeper chord. Myths from all over the globe send characters to the underworld...

Bimbo finds himself in a strange place...

In the upside down room. The blade about to cut him loose also stabbed him in the butt, then grew teeth and tried to bite him.

Guess what this rope is holding up?

I like the angle and the staging in this shot.

Bimbo often looks into the audience as if to say "Did you guys see that?!"

Bimbo has caught a glimpse of Betty Boop and wants more.

This part can be scene briefly in the movie version of The Twilight Zone.
The girl with no mouth watches it on television.

Yay! A happy ending.

For more stills from this cartoon, click here.

*not sure what they're really saying. Others have transcribed it as "Boom Boom a Latcha!" "Goom Gooma Hotcha!" and "Koo-Koo-Ma-Hatcha!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bat Crackers!

The strangest tongue lashing I ever got was because I was mean....
to a photograph...
...of a bat.
Nellie and I lived in the same dorm. She seemed nice, liked animals, and had lots of books about them in her room. One day I thumbed through her Field Guide to Mammals of North America.
The bat section caught me off guard. These were strange looking critters: beady eyed balls of fur with needle teeth. Ears and snouts that looked like alien leaves.
"Some of these look funny!" I giggled, holding up the book. "Check out this bat."
Nellie looked like I'd slapped her. She snatched the book away.
"How dare you make fun of him!" she hollered. "The bat can't help how he looks! What if you were that bat!? You shouldn't judge by looks, you know!"
I could understand her being upset if I'd joked about a person ("So-and-so looks funny, let's avoid her,") or if I'd said something like "And since I think bats look funny, I'm going to throw rocks at them."
Maybe I should have said "Look, lunatic. If this bat were in this room, hanging from your curtain rod, would he know I was 'judging' him? Even if he did know, why would he care? He's a bat! If he told all his bat buddies that humans looked strange, would you care?"
Instead I made some excuse for leaving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cirque du Squirreleil

Lawyer Squirrel has hung up his practice. He's Acrobat Squirrel now.
It all started when I put a rat baffle on my bird feeder pole. I knew it wouldn't stop squirrels.
Sure enough, within a day one of them was able to reach the feeders from above, with a daredevil leap from the roof. I don't know why they go the trouble, since they have their own feeder a few feet off the ground. Maybe they like a challenge.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Food Court

My yard is tiny, but I crammed in some birdfeeders.
From left to right there's
  • A hummingbird feeder
  • Thistle Sock
  • Suet feeder
  • Nesting material ball
  • Big Fancy Expensive Thistle Feeder (the sock is still more popular)
  • All purpose feeder (nuts, sunflower seeds etc..)
Mostly I get house finches, house sparrows and jays. Recently I've been getting goldfinches.

The squirrel has his own feeder. It's a little box of peanuts. He has to lift the lid to get them.

There's a crow who shakes me down for handouts too...

...and a mockingbird who chases him off.

On Saturday I got off work early and snuck into the yard, eager to see if I'd catch any new species feeding at that time of day...

...and found Jumbo Super Rat chomping away!
Now I sprinkle the feeder with ground hot pepper to keep him away from it.