Entries from April 2009 ↓

Disney Bites…Disney?

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It’s common knowledge that, after masterpieces like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Fantasia, and other features, Disney animated films kinda went into the toilet. This was particularly true in the 1960s and ’70s, as the studio turned out uninspired crap like The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats, and more.

However, what’s not been truly clarified, at least until now, is how demoralized the company had to be by the rampant cost-cutting at the studio during that time in order to do this: Create new films by merely retracing sequences from their old ones.

The (apparently French) editor of this short YouTube clip, above, has clipped shots from a number of Disney animated works, like The Jungle Book. Comparing them, he shows that animators of that era were not inspired by their past works, but merely sampling them: Literally redoing their cues with new characters.

Blecch. Thankfully, Disney Animation has since been taken over by Pixar, a company which it owns, and whose track record for storytelling and image quality are pretty much unchallenged. (Reportedly, they also treat their talent well. Disney had a reputation for mismanaging their work staff that, even into this century, was widely known.)

But what the Mouse’s House has made clear is that their problem was never a “2-D vs. 3-D” one. Their problem was imagination, and creating an environment in which it thrived. Sadly, the skills it takes to make that flourish can’t be copied from a movie, literally or otherwise.

Beer, Chips, and Terrorism To Go.

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That’s designer Ryan Waller‘s smart-behind entry, right, to the New York Times’ “Help Put A New Face on Freedom,” One World Trade Center logo design contest. Asked what it meant, the artist cryptically replied, “The design says everything (and it should say multiple things at the same time).”

So, I’ll take a stab at it: Stores in the 7-11 convenience chain are often run by Middle Eastern people, of the variety many Americans broadly hold responsible for the September 2001 catastrophe, hence the allusive smear. As well, the opening within the “9″ portrays the abstracted shape of a banking jetliner, rushing toward the viewer head-on, a la United Airlines Flight 175′s widely videotaped crash into the Center’s South Tower. All of which faintly suggest that Waller, and possibly someone at The New York Times, is an absurdist, a racist, or both.

What Today’s Well-Equipped Homeowner is Workin’ With.

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Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. You’d think with all the increasing hubub about the coming zombie apocalypse, more folks would be getting geared for the dawn of the dead. Leave it to blogger Zack Danger to pick up the gore-soaked slack with his official Danger Zombie Survival Kit.

The emergency wall case, above, comes done up with a blood red mat in a black frame under glass. Inside, it’s power-packed with a stockless tactical shotgun, two cartons of 12-gauge shells, and safety glasses, to protect your eyes from flying metal or bone fragments. Rollin’ up like that, zombies stand less of a chance than roaches swimming in Raid. Like I said, after catching a glimpse of Left 4 Dead‘s corpse-ridden hell, lemme at ‘em.

[via FAIL]

Why Does the Cover of Bill Cosby’s Latest Book Make a Lurid Sexual Suggestion?

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Shouldn’t the title of Bill Cosby’s 2007 book with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, above, have a comma after the word “on”?

Also, without it, doesn’t the title make an indelicate observation, or, worse, a licentious directive?

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Marijuana for Kids.

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A children’s book about pot sounds pretty much like a non-starter. So, when I found out that such a text existed, I absolutely had to see it, meet the author, and ask what on Earth had moved him to create such a reader.

What most struck me about Ricardo Cortés, author of It’s Just a Plant, was his willingness to have the discussion; his reasonable, non-combative air; and that apparently he’d completely thought through his entire argument, and was generally able to address each question I had.

That, and a definite modicum of courage. Even as a person who has never smoked or drank anything mind-altering, not even a Coca-Cola, I thought the idea of doing such a book brave, perhaps even necessary.

Mostly, though, as opposed to backing away from tough topics, I believe the fact that a subject is difficult makes a greater case for books on it, and that such treatises are the reason we have a 1st Amendment in the United States.

Since that conversation, I’ve had Cortés back to talk about his counter-terrorism coloring book, I Don’t Want to Blow You Up!, also published by his company, Magic Propaganda Mill. As well, It’s Just a Plant has been translated into other languages, including Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and, of course, Thai.

But you can revisit our meeting, as Ricardo Cortés is the guest today on this repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 10, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear this ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

We Commend You.

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If, like I, you’re an insane fan of the contemptuous Fail blog, and its archived “pictures and videos of owned, pwnd and fail moments,” you’ll relish this opportunity to hoist a critique of human high wackness off the web and into 4-dimensional spacetime. The new clear-backed FAIL stickers—6 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches high—adhere to walls, windows, other people’s property, and, most of all, human beings, like the half-snoozing drunky, above. Get five for $4.99, 25/$14.99, and 50/$24.99. Deeply gratify your inner misanthrope.

[via gomediazine.com]

Girls, I Got ‘Em Broke.

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Maybe, upon hearing Girls, I Got ‘Em Locked, Super Lover Cee and Casanova Rud’s 1988 debut CD, you immediately noted the unique nimbleness of Super’s gifted tongue. Or perhaps all you dreamt about was him giving you some of that gift, because you thought he was foyne! and would buy anything with his face, eyes, and supple lips across the front.

At least I hope so. Because, if you didn’t, reclaiming your childhood is going to really cost you. Ear Wax Records Atlanta is selling Amazon.com’s sole copy—”Open Case/Never Played Condition/MISSING BACK COVER/First Class Shipping”—of Girls, I Got ‘Em Locked…and it’s $200.

No lie. That’s, like, at least twenty regular CDs! Good thing YouTube’s still free. You can watch the title track’s little seen, negative-budget music video, or this slightly more hi-fi audio-only version. And start saving your lunch money.

The Earth Just Had an Idea.

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German photographer Christian Knoch‘s ethereal Unwetter mit Blitzlicht (“Torrential rain with flash”) contrasts a dewy terrain against the still seething energy of a lighting storm in an ashen sky.

Feeling the Lashed Back’s Backlash.

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That, above, is the startling cover for colleague Ray Winbush’s new book, Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations for the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I wrote a blurb for the book.) Jerome Thompson, a staff artist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, fashioned the kiloword-saving graphic, no doubt inspired by this famed photo of a Maryland slave, below right.

a_slavery_maryland_0327Belinda was an 18th century African woman, kept captive as a slave on the Ten Hills Plantation in Medford, Massachusetts. In 1782, explains Winbush, she

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Enter, Everyman: The Matrix at Ten.

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The Matrix is probably the film I’ve most seen that, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I never feel like I’ve really seen it all. It feels inexhaustible. Or, perhaps better, it feels like parts of it are always out of one’s reach, much like the dream that one barely remembers, but that you know shook you to your core mere minutes before.

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