Friday, September 30, 2011

Anime Weekend Atlanta TONITE!

Start off your evening with Neil Nadelman's TOTALLY LAME ANIME! Starting at 8pm in the Grand Ballroom.

Followed immediately by Dave Merrill's Anime HELL at 10pm!

And if you're still in one piece by Saturday check out Daryl Surat's Panel of Doom! 9pm in the William's Ballroom.  Followed by Anime's Craziest Deaths!

So, that's, what, 8 hours of video clip show fun?  8 freakin' hours! Somebody better get some photos of all this...

Monday, September 26, 2011

RIP, Mr. Peppermint

If you were a kid growing up in DFW during the nineteen mumble-mumbles, then you probably watched some Mr. Peppermint. The show ran for over thirty years and was one of (if not the) longest running locally produced children's show.

Like any local kids' show, it was weird.


There's actually a Gaylord hotel just north of DFW, but I don't think that's where this lion got his name. It's nice that he does not like the word "war" but is very willing to explain that ward is where kids in the hospital stay.

Actually, Gaylord was kind of a dick.

And then Dr. Laserbreath, who was no Julius Sumner Miller, if you catch my drift.

Speaking of amusing German accents....

The show had a tendency to make lame jokes.

Be aware, "planes flying overhead" is a "sound of nature".

If you never watched Mr. Peppermint, this should at least give you an idea what he could produce.

Mr. Peppermint died this morning, from complications due to Parkinson's. It's been years since I watched him, but I'll still miss him.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Maaaaaaaaaah jong!

What we're missing here is cultural reference.

The "thirteen divinities" spoken of in this hand are the thirteen orphans: a one and nine from each suit, one each of the winds, and one each of the dragons. "Raising Sun" is a variant of this with an extra one of bamboo. The extra tile is a "dora", or extra tile and counts for points.

(I'll do my best to not think about Dr. Who during this.)

Say what?

The ron the Chinese score is a series of pairs. Dora dora is the two fives. It is followed by another set of pairs. Then two runs, two triplets, and a pair (eyes). Then a run, three triplets, and a pair (honorifics: winds). The "only richi" is a run, a triplet, a run, a triplet, and a pair. The ron that wins the game is, again, the thirteen orphans with the one discs as a dora, or extra tile.

Mao's kan brings him closer to a hand called jade dragon, a pair, a pair, a triplet, a triplet, all four green dragons, with a two of bamboo as the dora. Mao plays three pairs, and two triplets, all green. He follows with four triplets and 3, 4, 6 of bamboo. All green. Koizumi plays a pair of green dragons, a triplet of bamboo sixes, a run of 1 2 3 bamboo and triplet three, but Mao plays a pair of bamboo three. Koizumi plays the 4 bamboo, completing the run. Again, the rising sun is the thirteen orphans (with a red dragon as dora).

That is, of course, before they all fight Hitler.

One of the things we're really missing out on is the automatic mah jong tables.

It would seem there's a whole host of mah jong anime out there.

Маугли (1973)

What did she say?

"O Akela, and ye the Free People," she purred, "I have no right in your assembly, but the Law of the Jungle says that if there is a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the life of that cub may be bought at a price. And the Law does not say who may or may not pay that price. Am I right?"

"Good! Good!" said the young wolves, who are always hungry. "Listen to Bagheera. The cub can be bought for a price. It is the Law."

"Knowing that I have no right to speak here, I ask your leave."

"Speak then," cried twenty voices.

"To kill a naked cub is shame. Besides, he may make better sport for you when he is grown. Baloo has spoken in his behalf. Now to Baloo's word I will add one bull, and a fat one, newly killed, not half a mile from here, if ye will accept the man's cub according to the Law. Is it difficult?"

There was a clamor of scores of voices, saying: "What matter? He will die in the winter rains. He will scorch in the sun. What harm can a naked frog do us? Let him run with the Pack. Where is the bull, Bagheera? Let him be accepted." And then came Akela's deep bay, crying: "Look well—look well, O Wolves!"

"Ay, roar well," said Bagheera, under her whiskers, "for the time will come when this naked thing will make thee roar to another tune, or I know nothing of man."

"It was well done," said Akela. "Men and their cubs are very wise. He may be a help in time."

"Truly, a help in time of need; for none can hope to lead the Pack forever," said Bagheera.

Akela said nothing. He was thinking of the time that comes to every leader of every pack when his strength goes from him and he gets feebler and feebler, till at last he is killed by the wolves and a new leader comes up—to be killed in his turn.

"Take him away," he said to Father Wolf, "and train him as befits one of the Free People."

And that is how Mowgli was entered into the Seeonee Wolf Pack for the price of a bull and on Baloo's good word.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ecco (1965)

Back in August, I read that Gualtiero Jacopetti had died. It's okay if you don't know who that was.

Back in the 60s, a new kind of film came out that was meant to shock its audience. Mondo Cane (Dog's World) was the first of these, followed closely by the uncreatively titled Mondo Cane 2 and a slew of other Mondo films.

One film in the Mondo genre is ECCO, which means "Behold!" The version I watched is narrated by George Sanders, a man with a bizarre sense of humor. Also, he was the first voice of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (all others being voiced by Tony Jay).

The last thing you need to know about Mr. Sanders is that he committed suicide. He left the following note:
Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.
After watching ECCO, I see why the ordinary world bored him.

Now, let's see....


We start with a shot of the sun and Mr. Saunders' dulcet narration, quoting Shakespeare. Cut to the opening credits and the most annoying title song ever.

Our first shocking and horrible thing is a mensur match in Germany. Mensur is academic fencing, but in this case, it's a specialized type of fencing whereby the opponent's face is slashed. We learn that the winner is the one who walks away with scars.

Then to Japan, where we witness both hypo-pedagogy and karate. Not really very shocking today.

The débutantes' ball isn't really much of anything, but I suppose it's been presented as a form of contrast. This section goes straight to the hobo's ball, which is not as fancy.

We're then treated to circus act that consists of two people on a ladder, slung under a motorcycle, running around on a tight wire. This isn't that exciting until the camera pulls back and lets you know how high up they are, and how narrow that cable is. I must admit, watching that bike fly through the air is unnerving.

And speaking of falling to a crushing death, we cut to the amazing monasteries of Meteora. Come the zombie apocalypse, these places should be safe.

At this point, we reach the lamest part of the whole movie. The alleged "black mass" held by "witches" to invoke the devil. I found the entire sequence stupid and offensive, and not just because of the actual witches I've known over the years. It's weak writing, its intention is obvious, as is its contrivance, and it's just embarrassing that anyone would be shocked by such a blatant set-up. I still laughed, however, because it was just so dumb. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a liberal application of Christopher Lee.

With the idiocy over, we jet down to Rio de Janeiro to see carnival (and a little bit about Pelé). The first thing that actually popped into my head was Orson Welles' It's All True, which he never got to finish, but featured a large part of carnival. Much like the débutantes' ball from earlier, this isn't shocking or exciting at all to today's audience; this is the evening news (local news if it's a Pride parade). As much as ECCO is supposed to be a catalog of shocking things from around the world, what it's really become is a catalog of quaint ideas and attitudes from the mid-60s. Oh, how the world has changed.

Cut to: a night-club in Nairobi and the native dance of the Samburu in their native and authentic form. Ah, but these girls are not natives (not authentic) but showgirls who will later put on bras and high-heels and go to a boogie-woogie club. We cut back and forth until people are doing the twist to drums and gyrating to saxophone. Hardy har, movie. You're so clever.

While we're in Africa, let's look at a fancy hotel where white people go to look at animals. This isn't shocking; it's just sad. The best part is the utter contempt with which Sanders narrates the scene. There is nothing on screen he respects.

By means of contrast, we go to Reno for a body-building exhibition. The contempt here is two-fold: Sanders' explanation of what is going on, and the body-builders, who sneer at their older, female audience.

This cuts to a San Fransisco night-club and the weirdest song and dance number, "An Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove", who bemoans her fate while tearing a telephone book in half. It is an act that has not, and perhaps should not, been repeated since.

It would not be a Mondo film unless there was graphic gore and ECCO does not slack off in that department. In this case, it's a whaling expedition, complete with blood and dramatic music. The eventual butchering of the carcass is the grossest aspect.

A sequence that really drags for me is the wild teenagers of Sweden, who drink too much, drive too fast, and ZOMG IT'S SO SHOCKING. No, not really. It's not shocking; it's boring. Sanders asks why the youth of a country with the highest standard of living would resort to such horrible behavior. Modern life, with your lack of challenge, look what you've done to these despairing creatures! Everything was wonderful and no one was happy.

Enough preaching, movie! Show me something....oh! The ritual of "Saidachi" (actually Hadaka Matsuri), held in February when it's cold. Young men who are mostly naked take a dip in some very cold water, then jam themselves into a temple and fight over a talisman. This is a surreal and dehumanizing sequence that turns individuals into a seething mass of arms and shouts.

Yeah! The movie just found its second wind! Off to the Grand Guignol for a murder and dismemberment! This was a cheap shot and the fake arm made me laugh, although it was very well constructed. It still reminded me of Troma Studios, in its own way.

Then a "touch buttocks" society and...what is UP with France? Most of the "shocking" things in this film happen there. Is France just some cesspool of shock and awe? I know this is an Italian film, but COME ON! France is right there. You think Italians were shocked by any of this stuff? Was this made specifically for export? This is just silly.

Nnnggg.....still in Paris and now we're at an open-air market, which is cool. But we're also in another night-club! This is a strip-tease sequence with Rita Renoir that goes on for far too long and I fast-forwarded through most of this because it's frightfully dull. It wasn't shocking at all and it wasn't even a very good act.

Roller derby, on the other hand, kind of exciting. That was a fun little break.

OK, this is the part where I actually did look away. Yvon Yva is a French human pincushion and managed to put a skewer through his right tit, a rapier through his abdomen, and an ice-pick through his throat. The concept of piercing like this is not as upsetting as how jerkily he does it and watching it poke through his skin. Going in, no problem. Coming out? Yeah, I can't watch that. I've seen others do this act live and it never bothered me before, but the way in which Yvon does this is just stomach-turning. Please, dude, get some sharp skewers before you do this act again, unless you're just trying to gross us out.

Oh yeah, you are.

And here's the part of the film I've been waiting for: THE REINDEER SCENE.
North of the Arctic circle and time to rangle in the deer. Hoo-ee! It's a round-up! And just like a cattle round-up, there's going to be some steer-making (e.g.: castration). As Saunders puts it, "following an old tradition, this operation will be performed by the women."

If you've been to one of our shows, you've seen this clip. I won't go into detail.

After the reindeer work is done, the young Lapland men lasso young Lapland women and haul them off make love in the lichen (and hopefully, more Laplanders). The camera slowly pans away. Stay classy, movie.

Back to Paris. I am sick of Paris. This time it's a lesbian club and Marie Brassard sings about how Paris does not love her. You and me both, sister. I am feeling no love from Paris at all.

Now for some more "natural" entertainment and a singer in Argentina. I think the term "singer" here is being used very generously, but I was honestly more worried for her safety in that room full of men than anything else. These don't strike me as people who are capable of keeping their hands to themselves.

And now here's the part of the film that actually weirded me out.

A young man gets a package off a train and rushes by bike to a large stone building. We're in Exeter (not an alien) England and the package he's received is sperm. This is artificial insemination, which, in the 60s, was shocking. What weirded me out about this section was how it was handled.

It seems very innocent by today's standards. People donate sperm and eggs all the time, and other people pay very well for those raw materials by which they can carve out their little niche of the future. We don't think anything of it now, to help childless couples get what they want out of nature.

No, what bothered me were the head-shots of the patient.

They blacked out her eyes.

Someone went through this movie and drew a black bar on every frame where this woman's face appeared. Her identity is lost forever through a very deliberate act. They could have just edited out any frames in which her face appeared, which would have been a lot easier; but instead, they went through the pains-taking effort of drawing on the film.

And after everything in this movie, after all the horrible and "shocking" things that have happened, and the sheer exhibition that's been displayed, this is the one thing that was too shocking to show. Look at the tits, look at the blood, look at the asses, but for god's sake, don't look at this woman's eyes.

And then we have the final scene of the movie: a woman climbing stairs on her knees hoping that she'll be blessed with a child. A photographer runs up beside her and starts to take her picture and she looks it him for a moment. As she continues her climb, he takes her picture over and over again, and each time, she looks back at him, then goes on about her business.

The movie ends with a still-shot of her looking at the photographer, a look of disgust on her face. "Why is this of interest to you? Why would you look at this?"

And George Sanders says, "Ecco! Look around you! Ecco! Observe the passions of men and examine their dreams! Watch for ugliness; it exists in greater variety than you want to imagine. Witness the power of will over flesh. See all you can see of nature's grace, hope, and beauty. Ecco!"

I watched this, so you don't have to.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Before "Toy Story", there was "THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER"

"Why, if only we were all wiener dogs, our problems would be solved!"

The trip to Mars was not as successful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

They're G-R-R-REAT!

A look at Tony through his illustrious years of keeping secrets, encouraging athletics and other cornball shenanigans!


Tony... the feline of distinction!

Tony... the family man!

Tony, the international peacekeeper!

Thurl... The voice of a tiger!

Monday, September 12, 2011

La dama y la muerte

La dama y la muerte from Derecho a Morir Dignamente on Vimeo.

Best part? Cerberus.

Tape Generations

Tape Generations from johan rijpma on Vimeo.

I worked on this project for about 6 months. I tried many different compositions and then made a selection. A single composition could take more than 12 hours to develop/breakdown.

(the spinning of the plate was done by hand, turnin the plate about 0,4 degree's every 30 seconds, this meant i was standing in the wind and the rain for hours watching the tape "grow" and watching the sun come up/go down)
I'm a huge fan of stop-action animation, but I'm not sure how I feel about this piece. It's very pretty, yes, and the sound-effect is nice and creepy, but I don't think he got to the point he was trying to make. It feels like the dream sequence of a larger film.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

No, Grandma. It's called "the Internet".

Yeah, and you thought the switch to digital TV was bad. Apparently, we really had trouble with the idea of dialing numbers, as opposed to telling the operator who we wanted to talk to.

Don't believe me?


Here's nine minutes on how to dial a phone. For reals. Nine minutes. I'd say it's how to dial a phone plus all the bells and whistles, but due to corporate conglomeration, there's nothing but bells left. Looks like whistles got bought out.

Why this is a two-parter is beyond me. How a dial phone is "yummy" is also beyond me.

Now here's a training film for operators. I like that they have to use a "dialing tool".

Hey, you guys are from the 21st century. Any of that look familiar?

And then we had to get used to a whole new system! Will wonders never cease?

Not if AT&T has anything to say about it! The future is now! Pew pew!

Oh wow. Americans making things. Dates that film.

Also, IN YOUR FACE, KOYAANISQATSI! Not looking so avaunt-guarde after that opening sequence now, are we?

Whaaaaaaaa....? A computer now? It'll never take off.

Next, you'll say I can carry my phone with me. Unpossible!

"Hey guys, I spent more than $500 on this thing. Pretty neat, huh?"

Just for a moment here, I want you to think about the age difference between these brothers. Ask yourself how that happened.

And now think about how much easier things almost were in the 60s. And then think about how your iPhone can never get a signal. Sweet.


BOB from Jacob Frey on Vimeo.

Wait for after the credits.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Anime Fest 2011: The Curse Has Been Lifted

A lot of people asked about this piece after the show, so here it is, so you can share with your friends.

Plus, we totally suck for not putting up a post letting everyone know about ANIME HELL at Anime Fest tonight. We were in panel room 6 and you WILL NOT believe what went wrong at the show tonight.


Nothing. Nothing went wrong. At all.

Well, there was one minor hiccup. Dan and Ed came by the house at around five, and we attempted to do sukiyaki. We had decided against the raw egg dip, so it was really pseudosukiyaki, but the entire thing was a disaster anyway, because a fondue pot will never produce the kind of heat you need for that. Keep that in mind if you ever decide to do pseudosukiyaki: no fondue pot. We moved the entire operation into the kitchen, which annoyed the cats, because ONLY CATS EAT IN THE KITCHEN.

Anyway, that pretty much sucked the bad luck out of the night. It's not that it was wrong per se, it just wasn't what I had hoped.

But as we were packing up and getting ready to head out the door, we got a call from the AV staff at A-Fest, letting us know that the room was empty and ready for us to come on down and make sure everything was going to work.

And everything did work. We had the most awesomest AV crew and staff was super-cool about everything, helping getting the stage turned so we could see what was going on, making sure there was a fifth mic for Katie, showing us the light pre-sets so we could get the house-lights up when we needed...

And thank-you, Spam, for getting us water. That really helped a lot. You have no idea. Sorry that kid shoved you during the Hard Gay pose-off and tried to make out with your buddy.

We opened with TV SHOW, which is kind of about what we do here.

Spike Spencer sat in with us for a while (on a dare, I heard) and I hope we did not hurt him too much. You were a good sport, Spike. Thanks for joining in on the madness.

We had a great audience, a great crew, and a great time. Your "Yatta" dance was one of the best I've seen in a long time and you, the audience, are why we do this show.

Dinner at Sushi World was, as always, wonderful.

We did not try to have sukiyaki, however.

Now, before I forget all over again, anyone who was asking about my shirt tonight. It's the Simplicity pattern 3852, and the fabric is similar to this, but on a black background. Someone had asked me before the show and I totally forgot to touch-base with you afterwards.

Also, sorry again to the kid I beaned with the candy cigarettes. Those things are dangerous!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Exercises in Preparation for Independent Life (Priit Pärn, 1980)

It's been a while since I posted anything up here, and this film just came to my mind right now noticing such a great copy on YouTube (having seen it first on VHS back in the day).