follow us in feedly
Mice should not vote for cats: ‘Mouseland,’ a political parable to make you think
06:08 am


Tommy Douglas

On top of the ever-rising economic inequality and a pretty revoltingly flying death-robot-based foreign policy, we have now learned that it is possible that our current President lied through his teeth to make the assassination of Osama Bin Laden look super-action-movie-cool. It is also equally possible that our then-Secretary of State—who is also likely to become our next President—was in on it. All of this is all pretty discouraging from a political perspective, so it is during these oppressive times of despair that I return to one of the greatest political speeches of all time—here in digestible animated form—“Mouseland.” It’s a perfect little take-down of the two-party system.

It’s the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you’ll see that they weren’t any stupider than we are.

Now I’m not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws—that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren’t very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds—so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn’t put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: “All that Mouseland needs is more vision.” They said: “The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we’ll establish square mouseholes.” And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn’t take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn’t with the color of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, “Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don’t we elect a government made up of mice?” “Oh,” they said, “he’s a Bolshevik. Lock him up!” So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can’t lock up an idea.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams did a variation on “Mouseland” in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, that it seems likely was read by David Icke where lizards are the leaders. No one likes this (save for the lizard overlords themselves, naturally) but the electorate still keeps voting in these unpopular reptiles:

“...because if they didn’t vote for a lizard… the wrong lizard might get in.”


The short animation below is actually introduced by Kiefer Sutherland, who is grandson to social democratic politician, Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas, the most famous orator of “Mouseland” (though it is actually first credited to Clarence Gillis, another Canadian social democrat), immigrated from Scotland to Canada as a child with a nasty case of osteomyelitis; had a Canadian orthopedic surgeon not offered to operate under Douglas’ knee for free (for the observation of medical students), his leg would have been amputated. Today Douglas is widely considered to be “The Greatest Canadian,” on account of his introduction of the Canadian single-payer health care system, and his disdain for the false choice of a two-party system run by elites. The “Mouseland” metaphor is simple in its eloquence, insisting that mice need not vote for cats (though bringing that up might get you branded a “Bolshevik” and thrown in prison).

At least nothing’s inevitable, eh?

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ten years before Disney, Lotte Reiniger made breathtaking animated features before fleeing the Nazis
04:09 pm


Lotte Reiniger

The popular history of animation starts with Walt Disney—a tragic oversight and a considerably US-centric misconception. In addition to the pre-Disney animation in America, the Soviets were making cartoons early on (starting with cautionary propaganda, of course) and the Japanese produced amazing early animation referencing folklore. However, the most beautiful and ambitious of early cartoons have to be from Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger, a German filmmaker who produced lush, elaborate scenes using stop-motion with excruciatingly detailed silhouette cut-outs. Even more impressive was the duration of her films—which qualify as features—made ten years before Disney’s Snow White, which is generally recognized as the first animated feature film.

Below you can watch Reiniger’s most famous work, 1935’s Papageno, which was set to music from Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” While it lacked the production values of some of her later features, Papageno is the most fantastical, following Papageno the birdcatcher’s quest to find his true love. The silhouettes themselves are a perfect example of Reiniger’s cut-out style, which was inspired by Chinese silhouette puppetry. The cut-outs were generally set against brightly monochromatic backgrounds, but the painstakingly cut scenery and subjects really pop against white as well. The piece is a perfect fairy tale—richly evoked with drama, romance and humor.

Despite her success (she was particularly popular in the avant-garde scene alongside artists like Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill), Reiniger’s career was sporadic. As known leftists during the rise of the Third Reich, she left the country with her husband and collaborator Carl Koch. Unable to get permanent Visas, the couple hopped around Europe for over ten years and still managed to create twelve films, including Däumelinchen (better known as “Thumbelina”), Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and 1955’s beautifully colored Hansel and Gretel


Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Zappa meets claymation in the wonderful VHS rarity ‘The Amazing Mr. Bickford’
09:02 am


Frank Zappa
Bruce Bickford

Many Frank Zappa fans will be familiar with the strange and delightful work of animator Bruce Bickford—his are the claymation sequences in Baby Snakes that you fast-forward through the concert footage to see. Zappa was Bickford’s best-known patron for most of the ‘70s, and his work is featured in the “City of Tiny Lights” and The Dub Room Special videos, but the motherlode of Bickford/Zappa work came in the form of a one-hour VHS compilation released in 1987 called The Amazing Mr. Bickford, which bafflingly has never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray. Bickford’s dizzying stream-of-dementia, anything-can-happen-next, constantly mutating stop-motion animations are scored by Zappa’s orchestral work, culled mostly from Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger, though “Mo ‘n Herb’s Vacation” from London Symphony Orchestra is present, as well.

Here’s a bit of background from a wonderful piece on Bickford that ran in The Quietus:

Bickford was a Vietnam veteran whose love for animation sprung out his crude home movies. His earliest experiments involved toy cars, but a need to populate these rough little films led to the creation of tiny clay figures. Soon enough he was letting his imagination spill out with strange, ever-morphing stream of consciousness tales that seemed to revolve around demons and animal heads, hamburgers and pizzas, treacherous landscapes and excessive violence – “danger and weirdness”, in Bickford’s own words. Audiences were given an early taste when The Old Grey Whistle Test aired a portion of ‘City Of Tiny Lights’ with animated accompaniment in 1979. Baby Snakes made its debut during the Christmas of that year, containing more examples and a peak of behind-the-scenes amidst the concert footage.

One of the Baby Snakes snippets involves a castle that “would make a great disco” but leads to the creation of monsters. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense, though maybe that’s missing the point. The immediacy is what matters, and the fact that these films have the potential to go absolutely anywhere from one moment to the next. They are also clearly the product of a single mind (and single-mindedness), despite Zappa nabbing director credits on The Amazing Mr. Bickford compilation and the ‘City of Tiny Lights’ promo. In a way, Bickford is an outsider artist doing his own thing at his own pace, and was simply fortunate enough to have Zappa serve as a momentary sugar daddy.

Such are the working methods and approach to narrative that very little final product has actually been released. The Amazing Mr. Bickford and Baby Snakes made use of snippets with little or no attempt to explain or understand; they unfold beneath Zappa instrumentals and just exist, nothing more. Bickford returned to his Seattle basement in 1980 and has carried on obsessing ever since. MTV commissioned some idents and a half-hour film, Prometheus’ Garden, was completed in 1987, but otherwise he toils away with seemingly little end in sight.

‘The Amazing Mr. Bickford’ and more, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This is your brain on ‘shrooms: Why magic mushrooms make you trip
07:12 am



Speaking (writing?) as a longtime, er, aficionado of the fabulous fungi and the veteran psychonaut of many a wild psychedelic experience (I’ve had some doozies) I enjoyed watching this short animatation that explains the how and the why of tripping on psilocybin mushrooms.

There’s only really one way to do mushrooms properly, if you ask me, and that’s what Terence McKenna called a “heroic dose”—five grams of dried cubensis taken in the dark with no music (and the doors locked and the phone turned off). When you come out the other end, you’ll be… uh… reborn.

Or something like that. It’s probably the single most direct route to a spiritual experience available to human beings, like tapping into the engine room of the universe and meeting God (or gods!). Quantum physics will start to make a lot of sense afterwards, trust me on that one…

Imagine being the first person who discovered them, right?

via Raw Story

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Finally: The Peanuts gang takes on AC/DC, Led Zep, Journey, Floyd, and the Who

Everyone’s already seen YouTube videos in which Snoopy, Pigpen, and the rest bop and gyrate to the dulcet tones of Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum.” In fact, lots of folks have repurposed that dancing footage from A Charlie Brown Christmas to make it seem like the Peanuts gang is into Pharrell or whatever.

But it took YouTube user Garren Lazar/Super G to see the possibilities in the rest of the animated Peanuts oeuvre. He has made a whopping 34 videos (!) using Peanuts characters to animate videos for songs by a variety of classic hard rock acts, as seen below. These videos are remarkably good—I especially like the use of Schroeder’s impressionistic “Pathétique” sequence, which was just waiting to be used for something like this. The Peanuts version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”—24 minutes long, mind you—is especially mind-blowing.

I’ve embedded a few of my favorites here, but there’s plenty more on Garren Lazar’s YouTube page.
Led Zeppelin, “In the Light”:

More “classic rock” fun with the Peanuts gang after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Lenny Bruce animated by ‘Sesame Street’ legend
05:44 am


Lenny Bruce
Thank You Mask Man

Animator Jeff Hale was best known for creating beautiful, classic shorts for Sesame Street—perhaps most famously, those infectious counting pinball segments that continue to run today, still making an indelible impression on so many young minds. His death in February at the age of 92 has also sparked interest in some of his lesser known work, particularly the 1971 cult classic short, “Thank You Mask Man,” featuring voice work from no other than Lenny Bruce.

The decidedly not-for-kids cartoon came about through one of Hale’s studio partners John Magnuson, who was a close friend of Bruce. Lifting some recorded audio from a 1962-ish vintage bit about the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Hale tells a story of altruism and accolades—a perfectly cynical Lenny Bruce take on heroes and their motivations. “Thank You Mask Man” tanked. The scheduled debut at the San Francisco International Film Festival was cancelled without explanation, and Magnuson believed the Academy Awards blackballed it. Regardless, the cartoon gained a following on late night 80s TV program, Night Flight, and now stands out as one of the more daring moments in animation history.

Via Cartoon Brew

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Eye-popping Bad Brains and Ramones’ cartoons that will rock your world

British animator Neil Williams (aka Stelos485) has created two of the coolest punk-related cartoons ever. The animation for the Bad Brains’ “Pay To Cum” is very much like the song and band itself: stripped-down, kinetic and as frenetic as a frog on a hotplate.

Williams’ animation for The Ramones’ “Chainsaw” is an ingenious mix of Saturday morning cartoon visuals, Tobe Hooper’s slice and dice horror films and beach party fright flicks. It’s perfectly in the spirit of The Ramones’ own obsessions and I wish there was one of these cartoons for every Ramones’ song ever recorded.

More of Neil Williams’ work can be viewed on YouTube channel.  It is definitely worth a visit. Check out his Beatles’ stuff and an animated version of the notorious Orson Welles’ frozen pea radio ad. 

The Ramones animation after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh talks of being legally blind & getting glasses, set to beautiful animation
03:08 pm


Mark Mothersbaugh

Midwesterners are quick to claim DEVO as native sons (as well we should—shout out to Akron, Ohio!), but this lovely little animation—a collab between Google Play and The California Sunday Magazine—illustrates their Hollywood migration in Mark Mothersbaugh’s own voice. But not before the prolific composer/artist/frontman/fashion designer (etc, etc, etc.) explains how he saw the world—fuzzy—until someone had the bright idea to test his vision when he was in the second grade.

I will say I feel like a complete dick after watching it. I had always subconsciously assumed Mark Mothersbaugh’s glasses were a bit of a nerd affectation/fashion choice (nothing wrong with fashion, and to be fair, they were certainly fashion for a couple of of DEVO fans I’ve met). Don’t get me wrong, I figured he needed specs, but I suspected the heavy frames of said specs were chosen more for their ostentatiously geeky aesthetic than mere functionality. Turns out there’s a lot of glass in those glasses, because he is legally blind and needs them to see damn near anything.

It also turns out that I am a cynical jerk. Sorry Mark!

Unsurprisingly, Mothersbaugh’s got his own line of eyewear. Is there anything this guy doesn’t dabble in???

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Dumbland,’ David Lynch’s remarkable animated series, lives up to its name
10:24 am


David Lynch

In 2002 David Lynch unveiled on his website eight short animated movies, each one an episode of a series called Dumbland. Featuring a blistering cowpunk score and a stark animated style that is vaguely reminiscent of Dr. Katz on mescaline, Dumbland may represent Lynch at his most unvarnished, revolving around a mouth-breathing troglodyte named Randy. It was released on DVD in 2006 and also appears on Lynch’s jaw-dropping multi-disc release The Lime Green Set from 2008.

Lynch said of it: “Dumbland is a crude, stupid, violent and absurd series. If it is funny, it is funny because we see the absurdity of it all.” It’s true, everything about this tossed-off show is violent and absurd; perhaps it is the detritus that lodges in one’s brain if one has been busy dreaming up crazed, animalistic characters like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, and Bobby Peru in Wild at Heart.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
King Diamond as the voice of He-Man in a tale of homosexual betrayal in the men’s room of Eternia
08:09 am


King Diamond

This is everything. King Diamond stars as the voice of He-Man in a tale of homosexual betrayal in the disco men’s room of Eternia. This batshit cartoon from Nancy Pagan Animation features the music of Mercyful Fate’s “Gypsy.” 

Man at Arms as the vengeful cuckold.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 34  1 2 3 >  Last ›