follow us in feedly
‘Starring Frank Zappa as The Pope’ in Ren & Stimpy’s ‘Powdered Toast Man,’ 1992

Powdered Toast Man!
 
Early in the second season of Ren & Stimpy, there appeared a rollicking and utterly disrespectful segment called “Powdered Toast Man.” 1992. The character of Powdered Toast Man unified the clueless and self-important silliness of The Tick with the tendency to wreak havoc of, say, Inspector Clouseau or Maxwell Smart. Voiced by the incomparable Gary Owens—and you might not know the name, but if you’ve ever seen Laugh-In or Space Ghost, you sure as hell know his voice—Powdered Toast Man was the spokesman for, obviously, a product called Powdered Toast, which was billed as tasting “just like sawdust!” According to Wikipedia, he was based on the character of Studebacher Hoch, from the epic song “Billy The Mountain” of off the Mothers of Invention’s 1972 album Just Another Band from L.A. I frankly don’t quite see the connection, but anything’s possible.
 
Powdered Toast Man!
 
It’s kind of amazing just how dark and subversive the Powdered Toast bit is. The anti-advertising message is just the start of it. Tasked with saving a kitten from being run over by a truck, Powdered Toast Man causes a passing jetliner to crash into the truck, thus saving the kitten at the expense of who knows how many lives (the injured survivors cheer him on anyway). A few moments later, Powdered Toast Man thoughtlessly tosses the kitten out of frame, where he is apparently run over by a truck, to judge from the sound effects. Later on, he uses the Bill of Rights for kindling. He induces projectiles to emerge from his armpits by doing that “fart noise” maneuver, he uses his own tongue as a telephone…....... actually, you really need to see the video to believe it. The satire of the prevailing superhero ethos really couldn’t be more savage—or more entertaining.
 
Powdered Toast Man!
The Pope, “clinging tenaciously” to Powdered Toast Man’s buttocks
 
Appropriately enough, the role of the Pope was voiced by Frank Zappa. According to IMDB.com, it was the last time he would ever portray a fictional character (granted, he didn’t do this all that often). How did this come to pass? As often happens in showbiz, Zappa had expressed some admiration for the early Ren & Stimpy episodes, and ... one thing led to another. John Kricfalusi tells the story on the commentary track for the episode:
 

Yeah, Frank Zappa was a fan of the show, and I was a huge Frank Zappa fan growing up. I had all his records. and when I found out he was a fan, our mixer, one of the sound engineers, was also mixing some Frank Zappa records, and he ... handed the phone to me one day and it was Frank on the line. So Frank invited me to his house that weekend. ... and I went with Elinor Blake and Frank and his family and I, Moon Unit and Dweezil. We all sat around watching Ren & Stimpy cartoons all afternoon. He was laughing all through them, and after it was over I asked: “Hey Frank, you want to BE in a cartoon?” and he said: “Yeah, that’d be great” and I said: “You want to be the pope?” and he said: “Yeah, I always wanted to be the pope.”

 
(Note: Elinor Blake has had a successful musical career in her own right: After working as an animator on Ren & Stimpy, she released several albums under the name April March.) As it happens, Zappa has hardly any lines, but that’s all right.

Another interesting link between Zappa and the show: There was a recurring Ren & Stimpy segment called “Ask Dr. Stupid” in which Stimpy would respond to letters in an incredibly stupid way. Turns out, Zappa recorded a track called “Ask Dr. Stupid” all the way back in 1979.

The episode is available in full on The Ren & Stimpy Show: The First and Second Season (Uncut)
 

 
via Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘The Hunger’: An impressively repulsive computer-animated short from 1974
03.14.2014
07:31 am

Topics:
Animation
Class War

Tags:
animation


 
The availability of new technology usually inspires the artistic impulse to create something lovely and elaborate. But the pioneering 1974 short film, The Hunger (or La Faim, in the original French), feels—intentionally—both ugly and crude.  The art has the feel of rough sketches, and only in the movement of the animation can you see the computer technology at work. It’s a strange, eery effect that is intensified by an artfully unsettling soundtrack.

The film received a Special Jury Prize at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA Award for Best Animation Film, and was the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award. What’s more, it was actually produced by the National Film Board of Canada, an agency of The Canadian Federal Government (and we can’t even get our government to fund food stamps?)

The plot is simple: a piggish man eats too much and is eventually devoured by the starving masses. It’s all told in a sort of animated Kafkaesque expressionism, and while I’ve always scoffed at the “sinfulness” of gluttony (especially since world hunger has very little to do with actual scarcity, and even less to do with the dietary habits of fat Westerners), it did disturb me enough to eschew cookies for breakfast this morning.  It is grotesque, violent, nauseating, and truly stunning.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Yellow Submarine Vans


“In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life, with his Yellow Submarine Vans…”

As a lifelong wearer of Vans, I’m not entirely sure I’d wear these psychedelic puppies. I can appreciate them, though, as a novelty item and Vans fan.

Perhaps if one of the classic styles showcased the Blue Meanies, then I might seriously have to reconsider…

The Yellow Submarine-themed shoes are around $65 + shipping at the Vans website.


 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mick Jagger makes his TV debut with some sensible shoes

Nick Cave and David Bowie hi-top All Stars sneakers

Footwear with bite: Fancy shoes with teeth soles

Foot Fetish: Freaky faces in old, discarded shoes

h/t Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Soviet Toys’: The first Russian cartoon was (you guessed it!) commie propaganda!
03.03.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Animation
Class War

Tags:
propaganda
USSR
Dziga Vertov

Soviet Toys
Filthy capitalist swine
 
My fascination with political propaganda has no partisan allegiance, but left or right, I can’t help but think they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Those racist Tea party signs, the Shepard Fairey-designed beatification of Barack Obama—even the romantic filigree of Occupy Wall Street didn’t do much for me. My favored political propaganda is that rare combination of ambitious, angry, and optimistic—a trinity often achieved by the very coiners of the term “agitprop,” the Soviets.

Soviet Toys is the very first in a long and rich history of Russian animation, and while only a fraction those cartoons were explicitly political, the great Russian director Dziga Vertov made masterful use of the medium to produce some truly caustic revolutionary art.

Despite its explicit semiotics, the plot of Soviet Toys is a little bit of Russian history “inside baseball,” so I’ll sum up. During Lenin’s New Economic Policy (a period of liberalization where private citizens were allowed small entrepreneurial ventures to boost the economy after the Russian Civil War), a class of businessmen called “NEPmen” rose to prominence, much to the resentment of radicals like Vertov. Obviously, the fat glutton you see represents the NEPmen. Materialistic women and corrupt clergy (the church had experienced a contentious split) defer to him for favors. The industrial worker and the farmer both fail at bringing down the NEPman on their own, but eventually they literally merge (like the ole’ hammer and sickle!) to defeat him.

And as if that weren’t a happy enough ending, the Red Army comes along and forms a tree, from which all capitalists and conspirators are hanged. Though Soviet Toys might feel a little heavy-handed and technically crude by today’s standards, it’s an incredibly sophisticated little film for its time and place. Remember this is four years before Disney’s Steamboat Willie, and I don’t recall even one capitalist being hanged in that!
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Sleeping in a Jar’: Amazing naughty Frank Zappa animation from the late 60s
02.27.2014
02:44 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa


 
The advent of YouTube laid waste to the smug superiority that extreme Zappaphile fanboys had about their own deep knowledge of the history and collected improvisations of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. No matter how much you thought you knew—and I include myself in this equation—even if you’d have read every single book ever written about the man, when YouTube launched, it became obvious that major gaps existed in nearly every Zappa otaku’s mental database and record collection.

This is especially true when it comes to things that appeared decades ago on European television (most unmentioned in the major Zappa biographies). Here’s one amazing little example, an animated short set to Uncle Meat‘s darkly surreal ditty “Sleeping in a Jar.” This seems like it might have been made for some sort of demo for Madison Avenue (it’s not dissimilar from the Clio Award-winning Luden’s Cough Drops commercial Zappa scored in 1967) but it’s kind of smutty for that purpose with that not-so-subtle carbonated cum shot.

Interestingly this racy animation aired on Swedish television in 1971 on a show called Spotlight. They say the Swedes are a liberated people sexually speaking and if this passed muster for TV back in 1971, well, that’s saying quite a lot. This wouldn’t be shown on American network television today.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Domestikia: The gorgeously surreal animation of Jennifer Linton
02.19.2014
08:09 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
Jennifer Linton

111nejinfernotlinocto.jpg
 
There is always something wonderfully exciting about the serendipity of the Internet. Whilst looking for pictures of Jayne Mansfield, I happened across Jennifer Linton’s blog (Lady Lazarus: dying is an art. Musings on the macabre), which in turn led me to her fabulous artwork and these beautifully surreal stop-frame animations, Domestikia.

Linton describes herself as “an interdisciplinary visual artist working with new media, animation, drawing and printmaking.” She has exhibited her artworks in the America, Italy, and across Canada, and says Domestikia is:

A tale of love, betrayal and one vengeful butterfly. This project was inspired by the surreal animations of Lenica, Borowyck and Svankmajer, Japanese tentacle erotica, and those strange, middle-of-the-night dreams one has after spicy food.

Certainly dreamlike, these animations cling long after viewing. Check out Jennifer Linton’s fantastic artworks here. They might not all be “safe for work,” as they say…
 

Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Final Jimi Hendrix interview, one week before he died
02.04.2014
04:38 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Jimi Hendrix


 

“When things get too heavy just call me helium—the lightest known gas to man.” - Jimi Hendrix

The sad (and beautiful) thing about this interview—the last interview Jimi Hendrix ever gave on September 11, 1970, a week before his death at the age of 27—is how happy the guy seemed.

He sounds neither druggy, nor in any way troubled. Full of life and excited about where his music was taking him.

The animation was done by Patrick Smith at Blank on Blank. Produced by David Gerlach. The interview was conducted by Keith Altham and you can hear the full recording at RocksBackPages.com
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Incredibly fun Cold War propaganda cartoon ‘Destination Earth’
01.20.2014
05:44 am

Topics:
Animation
History
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Carl Urbano
Hanna-Barbera


 
An amazing piece of 1950s oil industry propaganda called Destination Earth tells the story of Colonel Cosmic, a spy from Mars sent to Earth. Martian society, y’see, was one of lockstep conformity and oppression under the hyper-statist rule of authoritarian great leader Ogg, and couldn’t be more obviously an analogue for the Soviet Union. Ogg has sent Colonel Cosmic to Earth to learn how we solved the problem of friction in moving parts, but instead, he learns all about the utopian joys of free markets and the miracle of GASOLINE, THE MOST EFFICIENT MOBILE POWER SOURCE ON EARTH! Naturally, revolution ensues. The squeamish needn’t worry, it’s bloodless.
 

 
The short was directed by Carl Urbano, and DM readers of a certain age have seen plenty of his work. As a director for Hanna-Barbera, he worked on shows like Super Friends and Laff-A-Lympics among dozens of others. A collection of his Cold War propaganda is available on DVD, as is—to my surprise—a collection of his petroleum industry work going back as far as the 1930s, and the collection includes Destination Earth. But you can enjoy that one in its entirety right here.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Beauty’: Classical art animated in stunning short film
01.17.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
Rino Stefano Tagliafierro


 
The paintings of the Old Masters come to life in this wonderfully animated video by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro. Imagine a virtual reality version of this in 3-D. (They’re getting there, I tested some pretty amazing VR goggles recently)

I can’t get enough of this jaw-dropping gorgeousness. That seems to be the point.
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Warp your reality with the art of Istvan Orosz

orosz lead image
 
Around the end of the ‘90s, an art dealer friend of mine began bringing traveling exhibitions of Polish posters to town. It was eye-opening stuff—Eastern Europe has long had a tradition for outstanding poster art, its artists boasting stunning skills, married to an admirable obeisance to the visual legacy of traditional printmaking methods and jaw-droppingly inventive surrealist-influenced illustration. It was at one of those poster shows that I bought an item that remains one of my most cherished possessions: Istvan Orosz: Etchings and Posters, a slipcased, hand printed letterpress book from 1998, from an edition of only 750 (a second edition of 300 was made in 2000), published by the apparently now defunct GrafikARCHIVE Publishing of Kansas City, MO. From an archived mirror of the company’s web site:

This first book features the work of internationally renowned Hungarian designer ISTVAN OROSZ. Fold out pages, envelopes with small printed pages of art, several different types of paper; “a feast for the eyes and the hands” (International Paper). The book received the ADDY Award in 1999 for its imaginative presentation by the firm DESIGN RANCH. Slipcase, wire-O bound in portfolio form, 82 pages with numerous 1 to 3 color illustrations. Essays by Roberta Lord (US) and Andras Torok (Hungary).

 
orosz book
 
Other books of his work are more readily available and affordable, but it’s sad that this one in particular is such a rare item, as it’s a wonderful way to experience Orosz’s work—it’s a very playful book for a very playful printmaker, who shows strong influences from the likes of Magritte and Escher. But there are deficiencies. The printing technique makes it impossible to show much of his poster work in full color, and it excludes, due to obvious realities, his anamorphs and his animations.

First, feast your eyes on a few lovely posters.
 
orosz poster 1
 
orosz poster 2
&nbsp
orosz poster 3
 
orosz poster 4
 
orosz poster 5
 
Now, check out his anamorphic work. Anamorphoses are artworks that look indecipherable until viewed from a specific angle or in a distorting mirror, often a cylinder. Check out how, on top of just the basic anamorphosis, Orosz goes the extra mile and embeds a hidden portrait into the drawing, or uses the anamorphic drawing and mirror as an extension of a larger work. Stuff like this always amazes me.
 
orosz verne
Jules Verne
 
orosz poe
Edgar Allen Poe: The Raven
 
orosz anna
Anna Draws A Circle
 
orosz bodyscape
Anamorphic Bodyscapes 1

Finally, enjoy a few of Orosz’s marvelous animations. If the stuff on the printed page suits your fancy, I don’t suggest passing up the opportunity to watch his work dance.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 3 of 29  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›