Which Reminds Me...

Oh, the sad occasion of Art Clokey's passing has prompted me to start sifting though YouTube. Have you been? It's amazing what you can find there. I've been fondly recalling all the old classics - "Blind Man's Bluff", "The Winner", and then I was reminded of a film that I first saw on a compilation tape of post-modern animation entitled "He Was Once" (directed by Mary Hestand in 1989). See if you can spot a very young Todd Haynes. Enjoy!

Part 1:

And here's Part 2!

Stephen Harper on Zombies

No. Not that Stephen Harper. But I did interview a Stephen Harper on the subject of zombies. I'll let him explain....
“It’s worth clarifying that I’m a British media studies academic, and not your Prime Minister. Then again, inviting him to discuss zombies might not be such a bad idea: world leaders aren’t exactly known for their humanity, but yours seems to have more in common with the living dead than most...”
See, what happened was, for the zombie article I wrote for our decade-in-review issue, I tried to arrange an email interview with Professor Stephen Harper of the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at Portsmouth University. He'd written a piece I enjoyed called "Zombies, Malls and the Consumerism Debate" for the journal Americana. And, considering his name, I figured he'd be a doubly perfect source for an article looking back on zombie film in the Zero Decade. But, due to holiday celebrating getting in the way, the interview didn’t come off until after the issue went to press.

Still, Harper’s insights into the zombie genre are pretty damn impressive so I’m running the whole interview here on the blog.

But first a few highlights....
“Humanity is living through apocalyptic times – war, famine and disease blight the planet and even the ability of the environment to support human life is being undermined at an alarming rate. Such developments aren’t natural or inevitable (in fact they are all more or less preventable); they are the excrescences of a mode of production that is in terminal decline – in fact, a system that can only be described as necrotic. Especially in the wake of the recent economic crisis, it’s become more and more apparent that capitalism is a rotting corpse. Although a dead system, it blindly staggers onwards. Having enjoyed a fruitful life, it has now exhausted its potential and is now no longer advancing the cause of human progress in any way, but cannibalising humanity. ”
“Perhaps more than any other type of monster, zombies condense ideas about power and its abuse. As you know, the zombie has origins in the Haitian voodoo tradition and insofar as they are seen as slaves, zombies invite a degree of sympathy, opening up a space in which we can see ourselves, as it were, in them.”
"More terrifyingly, of course, the undead can also represent the ‘return of the repressed’, resurrecting unpleasant histories or reviving reactionary values. In many films, zombies figure forth the ‘dead weight’ of archaic or conservative ideologies, recalling Marx’s famous observation in The Eighteenth Brumaire, that ‘the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’."
Here is the complete interview with Dr Stephen Harper on the subject of zombies. It is a very good read.

And Speaking of Saturday Morning Cartoons: Art Clokey RIP

Art Clokey, creator of both Gumby and Davey & Goliath, passed away in his sleep yesterday at the age of 88. For some reason, whenever I recall getting up early to watch re-runs of Davey & Goliath as a kid in the 70's, it was always dark and snowing outside. I don't know why, but there was something really cozy about watching that show, which is strange because it was seldom comforting. Maybe it's just me. At any rate, may Art rest in eternal peace, as I'm sure he had hoped he would.
(Los Angeles Times)

Saturday Morning Cartoon

"Okay, maybe my dad did steal Itchy, but so what? Animation is built on plagiarism! If it weren't for someone plagiarizing the Honeymooners, we wouldn't have the Flintstones. If someone hadn't ripped off Sgt. Bilko, they'd be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound, Chief Wiggum, Yogi Bear? Hah! Andy Griffith, Edward G. Robinson, Art Carney. Your honor, you take away our right to steal ideas, where are they gonna come from?" - Roger Meyers from The Simpsons episode "The Day the Violence Died".

After the success of creating one of the most iconic superheroes ever, Bob Kane eventually moved out of the comics field and in 1960 started "creating" characters for cartoons. He came up with Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse - a parody of his Batman and Robin characters. Strangely this cartoon foreshadowed the more campy version of Batman that would soon follow.

The only opening credits I could find are in another language but it adds some charm to the show.

In 1966 Kane did what everyone else was doing - he jumped on the super spy bandwagon with Cool McCool. McCool was an inept spy that managed to save the day in spite of himself.

It's awfully similar to the earlier 1965 live action TV series Get Smart but with Dick Tracy inspired villains. For that matter the later cartoon series Inspector Gadget is similar to Cool McCool. They even both have mysterious characters who are always sitting in chairs (in McCool it's his boss Number One, in Gadget it's the evil Dr. Claw.) The recycle never ends.

Pick of the Day: Ice & Fire Carnival

After hibernating for a year, this festival, which is designed to reconcile Reginans to the fact that they live in a winter city, returns for a fifth go-round. Previous carnivals have been held in and around Victoria Park (pictured is a snow sculpture from a prior festival. This one will be held today and tomorrow at the Rider Practice Field just west of Mosaic Stadium beginning at 1 p.m. on both days and lasting until around 6 p.m. It coincides with the weekend the Olympic torch is scheduled to hit town, so the theme this year is World Snow Games. Carnival highlights include a snow sculpture show with contributions from established and emerging Saskatchewan artists curated by the Dunlop Gallery's Catherne Livingstone, along with a teepee, storytelling, outdoor tango dancing, a beaver hut, sleigh rides and more. For more info, you can check out New Dance Horizon's website at: http://www.newdancehorizons.ca/ Other participating organizations include Neutral Ground, Saskewewak, the City of Regina and Great Excursions Travel.

Also tonight, the Pink Floyd Experience -- not the real one, of course, but the tribute version -- is at Casino Regina Lounge. And where did the incredibly influential British art-rock band get its name? Apparently, it was the brainchild of Syd Barrett, and was derrived from the names of two favourite blues musicians that he had in his record collection -- Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.