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Do you remember: ‘Pan, Pan, Greek god Pan—One half goat, the other half maaaaan!’ ???
03.03.2016
09:44 am

Topics:
Animation
Pop Culture

Tags:


 
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.”

Huh?

This morning on Twitter I was alerted to the fact that today is the birthday of the great supernatural writer Arthur Machen, who was born on March 3, 1863. Machen’s most famous work is his 1890 novella The Great God Pan which none other than Stephen King has called:  “Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language.”

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.

Back in 2007, Donna Bowman at the AV Club posted the following answer to a reader’s query about a dim and distant childhood memory of the iconic filmstrip:

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).

Why hasn’t someone sampled this?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A groupie’s tales: Pamela Des Barres’ sexy stories of Morrison, Jagger & Waylon, now animated!
02.23.2016
12:24 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music
Sex

Tags:


 
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.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Come and Get Your Love’: Meet Redbone, the world’s first Native American rock group
01.05.2016
10:01 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:


 
A week before Christmas, Netflix posted F is for Family, a new animated series based on the politically incorrect outlook of acerbic stand-up comedian Bill Burr. Co-written by Burr and frequent Simpsons scribe Michael Price, the show also features the vocal talents of Laura Dern, Justin Long, Sam Rockwell, Phil Hendrie and others. F is for Family is set in 1973, a time of prog rock, when dads were kings of their castles, kids were left to play unsupervised on construction sites and “the Japs” were beating our asses with their cheap imported cars. Burr plays Frank Murphy, a rant-prone typically angry blue collar 70s dad—we all had one—who works in baggage handling at the local airport and watches a lot of TV.

I liked it a lot, but then again I get all the jokes since I was seven the year it supposedly takes place. If you like Bill Burr—and who doesn’t love a man who can do THIS—it doesn’t disappoint. It’s smart and funny, somewhat self-consciously playing like a Norman Lear comedy with a fuck of a lot more swearing.

The show has an opening title sequence that is set to 1974’s AM radio hit “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think is one of the best songs of like all time. It’s an unbelievably catchy earworm that evokes a nice summer day, with the wind in your hair, just being young and carefree and this is what we’re grooving along to as we see a young Frank graduate from high school, optimistic and flying through the clouds, ready to go out and conquer the world before a draft notice smacks him in the face. Before our eyes we see him get paunchier, a pair of glasses and a bald spot along with the nagging responsibilities of his wife and three kids (“They’re animals”). It’s the most perfect way to introduce the character of Frank—or any father of that generation.
 

 
The reason I mention this is because if you’ve seen the show—you might know the song (or have heard it elsewhere, such as Guardians of the Galaxy) but do you recall the group who did it? Probably not. They were called Redbone and billed themselves as the first Native American/Cajun rock group. They were really amazing musicians who are worthy of “rediscovery” by rock snobs.
 

 
Redbone (not to be confused with Leon Redbone, the idiosyncratic Canadian Tin Pan Alley-style singer-songwriter) was formed by brothers Pat and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas in 1969. Previously they had been hotshot LA session musicians known professionally as the Avantis and later as the Vegas Brothers—their paths crossed in the studio with the likes of Glenn Campbell, Snuff Garrett, Sonny & Cher, Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell, Elvis and many other notables—but two Mexican guys playing surf rock wasn’t really something that they felt the entertainment industry wanted at the time, hence the switch to the more overtly Native American image with a bit of Cajun spice. They had two big hits, the first being “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” (about 19th century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau) in 1971. By the time of Cher’s “Half-Breed” in 1973—“Redbone” being Cajun slang for someone of mixed heritage—it must’ve felt like the right moment for the group to take advantage of this nascent Native American chic.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Fred Schneider has a ‘Monster’ in his pants (and it does a nasty dance)
12.16.2015
12:56 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:


 
At the end of 1984, I moved to NYC and all I had to listen to was a cheapy Sony Walkman and a few cassettes—Nick Cave’s From Her to Eternity, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s greatest hits, Nina Hagen’s Nunsexmonkrock and the first Madonna album were my soundtracks to walking around and discovering New York City when I first got there. But there was one album in particular, that to me at least, was THE SOUND of the city and that record was the first solo effort from B-52s singer Fred Schneider, called Fred Schneider and the Shake Society. I listened to this album constantly then. One early morning just a few weeks after I got there, I saw a totally trashed-looking Fred walking down 6th Avenue—he’d obviously just come from a party gone out of bounds—and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was thrilled, totally starstruck and satisfied that I’d made a good move. Seeing a hungover Fred Schneider was akin to the universe smiling at me and New York was the best place in the world to be in 1984.
 

 
But back to the music: “Monster,” the single from the album, was one of those songs that was only really famous in nightclubs, but that was about it. HOW is it possible that a song with a hook this unstoppable, not to mention the over-the-top double entendre of the lyrics, wasn’t a massive, massive hit single, something that today would be justly celebrated as an iconic 80s novelty song??? It was even released twice and barely scraped the top 100 either time!
 

 
Actually, maybe it was the boldly double entendre lyrics. Come to think of it, that’s probably, uh, exactly what the problem was. Thirty years later, who would give a shit about something so innocuous?

Below, the original mix of the song as it was released in 1984 (The 1991 remix is a travesty and I was pissed off when I bought the CD and got the new version). Featured in the video are Talking Head Tina Weymouth, Kate Pierson, Keith Haring and the late, great drag performer Ethyl Eichelberger as the maid.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Terry Gilliam’s dark Christmas animation from 1968
12.08.2015
09:09 am

Topics:
Animation

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Terry Gilliam’s Christmas card of 2011, as posted to his Facebook page.

Terry Gilliam moved to London in 1967 after having paid his dues on a cutting-edge satirical magazine in the United States called Help! that was run by former MAD honcho Harvey Kurtzman. Gilliam actually met John Cleese while at Help!, having created a fumetto (photographic cartoon) featuring the gangly Brit. While in London, Gilliam worked as an art director for London Life and eventually—famously—transitioned into doing cutout animations for TV shows. 

As Gilliam described it to Paul Wardle in an interview included in the informative volume Terry Gilliam: Interviews, he was lucky to meet a TV producer with an acute eye for illustrating talent:
 

John [Cleese] had established himself in television, and he introduced me to a guy named Humphrey Barclay, who was a producer. What he was producing at the time was a show called Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children’s show that Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle were writing and performing. The great thing was that Humphrey was an amateur cartoonist. What he liked more than the written material that I was offering him were my cartoons. So he took pity on me and bought a couple of my written sketches, and forced them on Mike, Terry, and Eric, much to their chagrin, because it was their show. Then this loud-mouthed loud-dressing American turns up and starts invading their pitch.

 

 
In The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons Gilliam described his strategy for the assignment—important because this may have been the initial spark for his method, which would become much more widely known and admired when his animations turned up as the transitional bits in the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV shows as well as essential elements of all of the Python movies:
 

I went down to the Tate and they’ve got a huge collection of Victorian Christmas cards so I went through the collection and photocopied things and started moving them around. So the style just developed out of that rather than any planning being involved. I never analysed the stuff, I just did it the quickest, easiest way. And I could use images I really loved.

 
It’s astonishing how mature the style seems—almost fully formed, one might say. It’s difficult to detect any real difference between this animation, executed in 1968, and the many he did for Monty Python’s Flying Circus from 1969 to 1974.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie introduces classic Christmas cartoon, ‘The Snowman’
12.07.2015
03:59 pm

Topics:
Animation
Television

Tags:


 
The Snowman is an Academy Award-nominated animated short based on the wordless 1978 children’s book of the same name by beloved British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

In The Snowman, a lonely boy makes a frozen friend who comes alive and the pair get up to mischief in the boy’s house, trying not to awaken his sleeping parents. Then they go to meet Santa Claus. Or was it all just a dream? Over the past 30 plus years it has become a Christmas tradition in Britain in the same sense that A Charlie Brown Christmas has become one in America, with annual Yuletide broadcasts.

Although the original animation, directed by Diane Jackson for Channel 4 in 1982, featured Briggs himself introducing the cartoon, the following year a second version was aired featuring a live action introduction by none other than David Bowie, who, it is implied, was the little boy in the story, with the “proof” that it all really happened being an old scarf he pulls from a drawer. It’s amusing to consider that an entire generation was introduced to David Bowie first and foremost as the adult version of the kid in this story.

A word about the soundtrack music: It’s lyrical and utterly gorgeous, the best known work of composer and pianist Howard Blake and was recorded with his orchestra, the Sinfonia of London. I have this on CD and it’s wonderful, a classic in its own right. Blake later turned The Snowman into a long-running holiday theatrical play.

In 2012, The Snowman and the Snowdog, a sequel to the original film was broadcast by Channel 4.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Um, wait, so is EVERYONE in this town a pedophile? Watch insane cartoon ‘The Cautious Twins,’ 1960
11.25.2015
09:22 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animation

Tags:


 
Last weekend I was privileged to have attended a performance by Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers/puppeteers/mad scientists Trace “Dr. Clayton Forrester” Beaulieu and “TV’s Frank” Conniff. They did live movie riffing in the now-familiar MST3K style, and it was really quite an excellent time. They have two shows coming up in the next few months, In St. Louis on Saturday, December 12, 2015, and as part of the San Francisco Sketchfest on January 15, 2016. If you’re an MST3k fan at all, this is a show you really have to see, especially since Beaulieu and Conniff are not going to be a part of Joel Hodgson’s forthcoming reboot of the series. (I’m optimistic about the performers chosen to serve as the new host, mad scientist & robots, though.)
 

 
I won’t reveal the feature film they riffed just in case they plan to use it at any of the forthcoming shows—I’d hate to spoil a welcome surprise. But as a warm-up, the pair also ably mocked a couple of preposterous cartoon shorts, one of which was so completely around the bend that they could have kept their mouths shut and it still would have been a riot to watch. It was a don’t-talk-to-strangers scare PSA produced by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, called “The Cautious Twins,” and was the animated counterpart to a contemporary pamphlet.
 

 
The titular twins Dorene and Dan have the opposite of a helicopter mom, who sends them off to explore the town on their own. (To be clear, I’m not being critical here, I grew up really free-range, myself.) But mom might reconsider her permissiveness if she properly understood that every adult male in town save for one cop is a sleazy, leering, predatory pedophile. In fact, merely being more watchful might not suffice. She should really consider moving as far away from this nightmarish place as possible. Her poor kids can’t go ANYWHERE without getting hit up by a creeper.
 

 

 

 
That the story is told with cheap, stilted, limited-motion animation, and narrated in awkward doggerel over a calliope soundtrack elevates it from merely creepy to completely demented, and the wide eyed, perma-grin expressions the preternaturally chipper twins wear only add to that effect.

Notably, “The Cautious Twins” was directed by one Sid Davis, a director and producer who also gave the world scare films like “The Dangerous Stranger,” “Say No To Strangers,” and the massively homophobic “Boys Beware.” If you happen to be a collector of such oddball cultural produce, you might like to know that “The Dangerous Stranger” and “The Cautious Twins” are included as extras on Something Weird’s DVD release of Hitch Hike to Hell.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This moody 1953 animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ was the first X-rated cartoon
10.22.2015
09:42 am

Topics:
Animation
Books

Tags:

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I first read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” during library class at the local Catholic school I attended in Edinburgh. I was about nine or so, and had this devilish love of horror stories, detective adventures and science fiction. Each week our class was told to bring a book we liked to help encourage our reading—this was the one subject for which I needed no encouragement, my only problem was having enough time to read all the books I wanted to read. It was really a free period and usually a cinch for the teacher.

It was nearing Christmas holidays—the first snow had fallen and the trees were blackened fish bones against the sky. Our teacher, a florid Christian brother with squeaky shoes wandered round the class checking-up on what we were reading. He stopped at my desk, and pushed back the book’s cover for approval.

“Edgar Allan Poe? Edgar, Allan, Poe.” It didn’t sound like a question—more like a terminal diagnosis to an unsuspecting patient. “What would the Holy Father say?”

I had no idea the Pope was a literary critic, and so brightly enquired—what did the Holy Father think of Poe?

“Don’t be impudent, boy. That’s the kind of talk that will get you six of the best,” he said, meaning six wallops with a belt, “And this,” holding the slim paperback aloft between finger and thumb, “isn’t the kind of thing you should be reading in class. It’s unsuitable, far too macabre. I’ll have to confiscate it.” The book quickly disappeared into one of his pockets. “Now next time, bring in a proper book. I don’t want to see this sort of thing again.”

I was supposed to feel chastened, but didn’t. If anything I felt his whole response absurd, and for the first time realized books could be dangerous, and reading subversive.

Undaunted, the following week, I chanced my luck with an Algernon Blackwood, which only merited a tut and a sigh.
 
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In 1953, esteemed actor James Mason narrated an animated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which was the first cartoon to be given an “X” certificate by the British Board of Film Censors. It’s a rather splendid animation which was nominated for an Academy Award—though sadly lost out to Walt Disney’s Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. It’s a creepy and highly atmospheric little film that fully captures the terror and madness of Poe’s classic tale.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC
10.19.2015
12:15 pm

Topics:
Activism
Advertising
Amusing
Animation
Art
Class War

Tags:


 
A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:
 

 
What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Vintage ‘Op art’ book covers from the 50s, 60s and 70s animated with psychedelic results
10.16.2015
11:10 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Design

Tags:


 
German motion designer Henning M. Lederer animated 55 retro “Op art” book covers from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The results are beautifully psychedelic and quite hypnotic.


 

 
The animation, after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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