“Private Parts,” a loose and funny short about sex directed by British animator Anna Ginsburg, was released today by the arts blog It’s Nice That in collaboration with the British TV network Channel Four.
Ginsburg made the movie by collecting a series of frank conversations about sex and then having them animated, only with genitalia standing in for the people in the dialogue.
One vagina says it’s sad when you masturbate to a fantasized projection in your mind as opposed to the lover you’re with; one glum wang receives the advice to “just be who you are” in bed—“you do you, you do yourself, you get me?” One willy compares a woman’s vagina to a “Rubik’s cube ... sometimes it’s, like, quite straightforward, sometimes it doesn’t work like that!”
The animators who participated in the short, which alternates between many different styles and feels something akin to a Sesame Street-style short, only about sex, were Ginsburg, Moth Collective, Peter Millard, Loup Blaster, Will Anderson, George Wheeler, and Mark Prendergast.
You don’t think of that happening to punk—it’s difficult to imagine Ethyl Merman covering “Belsen Was Gas” in a green mohawk—but occasionally you’d get weird things like 1980’s Chipmunk Punk, which, as my colleague Ron Kretsch pointed out, covered in squeaky fashion such “punk” legends as Billy Joel, Tom Petty, and Linda Ronstadt.
In the same vein was Pink Panther Punk, which came out in 1981 and which (seriously, guys?) ALSO featured a cover of a Billy Joel song. (Chipmunk Punk at least had the good sense to cover one of Joel’s harder cuts, “You May Be Right”; for reasons that will become obvious in due course, Pink Panther Punk selected a song of Joel’s with a far more ambiguous relationship to the punk movement, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”)
Not only was Pink Panther Punk a bizarre idea from the bottom up—why do a punk tribute album for an animated character who almost never spoke? The Panther’s fans had no real idea what he sounded like, after all. But even more palpable was the barely suppressed rage directed at the punk movement. The Pink Panther is pretty much synonymous with Henry Mancini as well as the hard bebop that appeared in many of the Pink Panther shorts, both of which decidedly represented the old guard music-wise compared to the new and vital movement ushered in by the Ramones and Sex Pistols.
The hostility towards punk evinced on Pink Panther Punk is evident mainly in the sheer ignorance of punk on the part of those responsible for the album. The album cover depicts a montage of the Panther playing such essential punk instruments as the saxophone and the synthesizer. The closest the album comes to covering a punk classic is Blondie’s “Call Me”—Blondie may have been regulars at CBGB but that song has little to do with punk rock.
In addition to “Call Me,” the album features covers of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.” We’ve already mentioned Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” which is, it’s fair to say, Joel’s more traditionally oriented “response” to the lively brew of new music forms percolating in the mid- to late 1970s, including punk.
The clincher is the first song on the second side, which was called “It’s Punk!” The song introduces a “band” that is rather lazily called the Pink Punks—the song was obviously conceived as something like a Mad Magazine style treatment of what was obviously a fad. The song itself has nothing to do with punk, and indeed would not be out of place on, say, the Grease soundtrack.
If you are unsure of how much of a fan Braden was of punk music, just read the lyrics to “It’s Punk!”:
Why do all the people point at us and stare?
At our motorcycle jackets and the crazy clothes we wear?
Maybe it’s our makeup or our green and purple hair
I’m sure they have their reasons, but frankly we don’t care!
Well it’s true that we look ragged, in a state of disrepair
But let us turn you on to a secret that we share
It’s all a great big act that we put on for you squares
Because while you’re working 9 to 5, we’ll be millionaires!
Punk—it’s junk, it’s punk, it’s bunk
It rocks, it socks, it mocks, it shocks
It’s old, it’s cold, it’s old, it’s gold
It yells, it smells, it smells, it sells
If you want to get through Jehovah’s metal detector into paradise, you’ll have to leave behind that bag full of love and inclusivity
Jehovah’s Witnesses have released a cute Pixar-ish animation intended to teach children that same-sex marriage is against the will of God.
Lesson 22 is titled “One Man, One Woman” and is part of a longer series called “Be Jehovah’s Friend!” The animation shows considerable influence from Pixar’s monster hit from 2015, Inside Out.
The video depicts a young girl telling her mother about an episode at school involving a friend named Carrie who drew a picture of her family, which has two mommies but no daddy. The girl passes on the comment from the teacher—a liberal heathen and a threat to everything right and good—that “all that matters is that people love each other and that they’re happy.” This bit of commonsense truth provides an opening for the girl’s mother to bring down the hammer and explain that Carrie’s mommies are never going to get into heaven if they persist in such unholy pursuits.
“People have their own ideas about what is right and wrong, but what matters is what Jehovah feels,” says the mother. The mother then makes an analogy that compares the gatekeepers of heaven to a kind of celestal TSA with a metal detector to deny entry to those with false beliefs:
It’s kind of like going on an airplane. What would happen if someone wanted to bring something on the plane that wasn’t allowed? ... To get [to paradise], we have to leave some things behind. That means anything Jehovah doesn’t approve of.
At the end of the video, the girl, newly motivated to get her friend Carrie to change her parents’ ways, says, “I can tell her about the paradise, and about the animals, and about the resurrection!”
And then her mother says, “Let’s practice!”
A disclaimer at the end of the video states that it was produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, a Jehovah’s Witness organization.
So this guy created a little device where he attached an artificial tongue to a little robotic contraption, and now whenever he presses the button, the tongue swings into action and strokes a vertical surface in an up-and-down motion until he removes his finger.
He designed it specifically to lick the screen of his computer while it has images of his favorite anime characters displayed on it. In other words the device was created to enable him to worship his favorite characters without getting his regular human tongue involved. Seems to me his “worship” has certain limits…...
Then again, I suppose he intended it tongue-in-cheek, right? (runs away)
The 1983 animated rock and roll movie Rock and Rule was a failure at the box office but found its audience on cable TV a couple years later. Produced by the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, the movie is a sci-fi rock and roll allegory between good and evil, pitting a rock band of cute mutants called the Drats against an ageing, Mephistophelian rock star/sorcerer named Mok who is intent on securing a special voice capable of unleashing a powerful demon from another dimension who will make Mok immortal. Rock and Rule had a similar look and feel to Heavy Metal, which came out in 1981.
Heavy Metal, true to its title, used music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Sammy Hagar, and, er, Donald Fagen, and similarly, Rock and Rule benefited from the contributions of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire as well as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie.
Nelvana released a 25-minute promo documentary about the making of the movie. “Making of” documentaries of animated movies always have the potential to be dreadfully dull (due to the exacting and painstaking process involved), but in this case, since the subject matter of the movie is so much about rock and roll itself, it’s only appropriate to feature a lot of interviews with the musicians, which is the strategy adopted here.
Interestingly, both Maurice White and Chris Stein separately offer the perspective that they like writing music for movies because the overall artistic direction is already decided. Producer Michael Hirsh notes that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were good choices as musical contributors because it was so exceedingly likely that they would give so much of themselves to the project.
Lou Reed, composer and singer of “My Name Is Mok,” had this to say about the movie’s heavy:
I felt very positive towards Mok because there are many things to work with, with him, I could identfy with him up to a point, but he was—the way he looked, the things he said, the kind of things he believed in, there were a lot of ways I could relate to that, and even though I don’t necessarily think that way I could really bite into his character and become that way with him, you know, and make him live and breathe like a real person.
One of the major challenges for comix artists in our digital era has been to figure out how best to exploit the intriguing possibilities afforded by the new medium of the internet, browser comics, and so forth. Scott McCloud, author of the essential book Understanding Comics, was among the first to exploit an obvious feature of browser-based comix, namely the vertical bias imposed by the scroll bar.
After 10 or 20 years of experiments and a good number of successes, comix artists today have established a far stronger footing in how to make the most of the browser. Case in point, Stuart Campbell’s recent work “These Memories Won’t Last,” a short web comic about the difficult final years that his grandpa endured due to problems with dementia.
There may be more to it, but “These Memories Won’t Last” exploits three aspects of online comix that the printing press could never accomplish. The first is a soundtrack, and “These Memories Won’t Last” features a subtle, almost aquatic sound design, executed by Lhasa Mencur, that features some of the aural gestalt of a dial tone mixed with a subtly creepy scene from a David Lynch movie or a flashback sequence from an immersive video game.
The second is the ability of online images to fade right before your eyes, which printed images can’t do. “These Memories Won’t Last” is about how fragile and evanescent our memories can be, and fittingly, the frames in his comic frequently fade away to the point where they are hard to make out. This ties into the third tool that online comix can use, which is scrolling. “These Memories Won’t Last” uses an ingenious scrolling convention whereby the drawn images (in blue) scroll in one direction while the captions (in red) scroll in the other direction. The two membranes slide past each other in a way that suggests a fleeting connection between the two.
More to the point, the sliding vertical motion the reader instigates by scrolling and the tendency of the images to fade actually addresses one of the most salient qualities of memory, which is that memories that are more frequently accessed tend to fade faster. (In effect, eventually you begin remembering the act of remembering rather than the original event.) So in “These Memories Won’t Last,” after you’ve moved some of the images up and down across the screen a couple of times, it starts to fade, and the more insistently you scroll to find the sweet spot where you can see it, the more it fades. (At least that was my experience with it.)
As Campbell writes, “I also had the idea that as the reader navigated through the story it would deteriorate, just like grandpa’s memories.” It’s an ingenious way to evoke the frustration of not being able to access information that translates directly to memory loss, which is after all what dementia is about.
Click here to start reading Stuart Campbell’s powerful animated narrative.
Last year DM writer Marc Campbell alerted readers to two excellent animations by British animator Neil Williams of “Chainsaw” by the Ramones and “Pay to Cum” by Bad Brains. As he wrote at the time, “I wish there was one of these cartoons for every Ramones song ever recorded.”
I’m happy to report that there are more Ramones cartoons by Williams, and they are well worth a look. On this page you can watch full cartoons for “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement” and “Listen To My Heart” off of the Ramones’ first album as well as “Commando” from Leave Home.
All three of these videos have a distinct theme. “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement” is a fun and spooktacular Halloween romp, placing the punk quartet alongside the gang from Peanuts, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster, and zombies from The Night of the Living Dead. “Listen To My Heart” pretty much inserts the, ahem, “Ramonestones” into an episode of The Flintstones, while “Commando” takes inspiration from the song’s military imagery, incorporating Boris and Natasha, Sgt. Bilko, Apocalypse Now, and so on.
If nothing else, the videos clearly make the case that TV executives missed a great opportunity back in the day. There actually was a TV cartoon that featured the Jackson 5, but most of that group were ciphers compared to the distinctive personalities of the Ramones. No band was ever more fun than the Ramones—they pretty much were cartoon characters anyway! They totally should have become a staple of the Saturday morning rotation of cartoons and groovy children’s classics, alongside Scooby-Doo, Capt. Caveman, Wacky Races, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Land of the Lost.
“Bow bow bow bow bow, bow bow bow bow, I wanna be an-i-mated.”
“I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement”:
Great cartoons for “Listen To My Heart” and “Commando” after the jump…...
Of all the 110 Betty Boop shorts made by the Fleischer Studios between 1932 and 1939 (she was also seen in many of the Fleischer brothers’ earlier “Talkartoons”) only one of them—Poor Cinderella—was made in color. Although in the 1980s several Betty Boop cartoons were colorized—quite sloppily I might add—of her “classic era” it was just Poor Cinderella that was actually planned from the start to be a color film.
And. It. Is. Just. Amazing. Jaw-droppingly so. If it came out in 2016 let alone 1934, Poor Cinderella would be considered an absolute masterpiece. That animation was then still a pretty young field—Max and Dave Fleischer were leaders in animation production, giving Walt Disney his first real competition—the insane amount of technical prowess that went into making Poor Cinderella (produced by Max, directed by Dave) reveals it to be all the more impressive.
A celebrity cameo from famous crooner and radio personality Rudy Vallée, the Justin Bieber of the time.
First off, the film was made with the two-strip Cinecolor process. Walt Disney had locked up the rights to use Technicolor’s new 3-strip process from 1932 to 1935, but this limitation just makes the art direction look even better. It’s not so much a full color production, as one rendered in shades of black, white, blue and red. Again, it looks all the better for this, as you will see. Poor Cinderella has been in the public domain for many years, but always in scratchy, crappy-looking, less impressive versions. A recent HD transfer—part of the Betty Boop: Essential Collection 4 Blu-ray—gives us a clear glimpse of what a perfectly cut diamond this artistically and historically important short animation truly is. It’s like watching a moving stained glass window.
Second, Max Fleischer was the inventor of the Rotoscope—he patented the process in 1915—which aided in animating movement by tracing frames of live action film. One of the really impressive elements of Poor Cinderella—besides every single thing about it—is the way they did the backgrounds. Yes, with all the other near-psychedelic eye candy going on here, pay careful attention to the backgrounds. What they did was use their own proprietary in house “Stereoptical” camera—called the “Setback”—which was developed that year. Three-dimensional miniature sets were built to the scale of the animation artwork. Then the animation cels were placed within the setup so that the action could go around and among the sets. An ingenious tabletop animation process, in other words, at least partially.
For those of you reading this who are proficient in AfterEffects or 3D animation, imagine having to work like this! Clearly the Fleischer brothers were complete maniacs.
Trust me, you don’t have anything better to do for the next ten minutes than to watch Poor Cinderella. I’m quite sure of it:
I don’t think this post will exactly break the Internet like Kim Kardashian’s ass or anything, but I do predict that it will become pretty popular today. Perhaps we’ll see this same clip later today on Huffington Post. I certainly think that it’s going to get around once unleashed. But I’m starting it here and now. Remember: You heard it here first.
Nope. Actually, that’s probably not true. You probably heard it for the very first time when you were in the first or second grade…
If you are—ahem—“of a certain age” and went to school in the United States in the 70s or 80s there is very little doubt that at one point or another you were shown a filmstrip in music class that (ridiculously) explained how reed instruments came about via their discovery by a mythological creature. (I saw it in a “library class” in the second grade—and if memory serves, it was my very own mother, who was a library volunteer at my grade school, who showed it to the class.)
What am I talking about? I am talking about “The Pipes Of Pan.”
As I read this one tweet, a song began to play—over and over and over and over and over again—in my still groggy brain:
“Pan, Pan, Greek god Pan—One half goat, the other half maaaaan!”
Do these lyrics ring a bell for you? I’ve had that dumb ditty stuck in my head for well over 40 years now. Your mileage may vary, but like I say, if you went to school in America in the 70s and 80s—and probably even into the early 90s—there is a very, very strong likelihood that you not only have been exposed to this earworm of a song at a very young age, it’s also probably taken up residence in your noggin permanently.
“Pan, Pan, Greek god Pan—One half goat, the other half maaaaan!”
It’s not like it would be as familiar to a generation like a “Schoolhouse Rock” number would be, but it’s close. This isn’t the first time that it’s occurred to me to blog about “The Pipes Of Pan” but in the past I was always thwarted by a lack of a video clip. Until now. Someone kindly posted it in 2014.
It is exactly how I remembered it.
Apparently I wasn’t the only person who has been looking for “The Pipes Of Pan” online. By the time I typed “Pan, Pan, Greek…” Google happily filled in the rest of it.
We get a fair number of questions asking about filmstrips from readers’ school days, and they pose a unique identification challenge. On one hand, filmstrips aren’t exactly a mass medium. Any particular one might be used in hundreds of schools across the country without ever achieving the saturation level of even the lowest-rated basic-cable TV show. So web searches for the lyrics you quoted, Erica, as well as subsets and variants thereof, turn up scattered references on bulletin boards and blogs in the form of offhand comments—no discussion of the source. (The Internet turns out to be great at locating dozens of people posting “Oh yeah, I remember that! What the heck was it?” and zero people who actually know what it was.) On the other hand, unlike songs and TV shows, filmstrips are actually kept in the collections of libraries—whose catalogs can be searched with tools like OCLC WorldCat. There don’t seem to be any cartoony filmstrips about Greek mythology that fit the bill, but one of those bulletin-boarders recalled that the academic subject matter was music. Paydirt!
“The Pipes Of Pan” is part of the Once Upon A Sound collection, five strips produced by the venerable Jam Handy corporation in 1971 to teach elementary-school students about musical instrument families—horns, drums, strings, and in this case, woodwinds. Since filmstrips became an outmoded technology, some companies have been repackaging them on DVD, and luckily for us, Clearvue & SVE did that for the Once Upon A Sound series in 2005. There’s even a brief streaming preview, and although it’s limited to the new framing video the Clearvue folks have packaged around the filmstrip, it includes a few screenshots of the filmstrip itself, confirming the “cutesy” and “cherubic” character design of the nature god. While I couldn’t locate an mp3 of Pan’s theme song, I’m confident that this is your memory. And if those bulletin-board posters are any indication, the memory of thousands of ‘70s-era third-graders like you.
And I’m pretty confident that many of our readers will remember it, too (although admittedly, my wife told me that it did not ring a bell for her).
Pamela Des Barres was the original rock and roll groupie, a founding member of the GTOs (which, as Stanley Booth wrote, could stand for “Girls Together Outrageously or Orally or anything else starting with O”), and lover to Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and many others.
The woman can obviously spin a tale, what with several books to her name; her 1987 memoir I’m with the Band is essential reading for anyone interested in the sex lives of major 1960s and 1970s rock stars. (Kirkus called it “a classic account of rampant narcissism among guitar egomaniacs,” which seems about right.)
In this amusing short animated by Evan York, Des Barres tells stories of her sexual adventures as a groupie, including encountering a naked Mick Jagger (she was still a virgin at the time), coaxing Waylon Jennings into his long-haired outlaw phase, and watching as Keith Moon perpetrated an epic prank on a major hotel.