Monday, March 29, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 19: Jungle Book

Series Intro: Series Intro: Here is Part 19 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skilled will note missing movies that will be out of order)

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Jungle Book
Release: October 18, 1967
Running Time: 78 minutes
Estimated Cost: I couldn’t find anything concrete
Estimated Revenue: $73 million 1967 ($479,157,355.62 (2010))
Overall Rating: 1 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:

Mowgli, a boy left in the jungle, is raised by a wolf pack, until Shere Khan – a tiger – decides to hunt the boy – for Khan is anti-human and believes Mowgli will ruin the jungle. So Bagheera, a black panther, takes on the task of removing Mowgli from the jungle.

But Mowgli will have none of the man’s village. He refuses to leave, and misadventure ensues as Mowgli is persued by Kaa, the python, meets a troop of elephants, befriends sloth bear Baloo and is kidnapped by the ape, King Louie.

Baloo and Bagheera go at it, as Baloo insists he’ll take care of Mowgli, that is until Bagheera inform Baloo about Shere Khan. That’s when Baloo agrees that Mowgli needs to go the man’s village.

Shere Khan attacks Mowgli as he is encountering four vultures. Baloo helps save the day and almost dies. But finally they arrive at the man’s village where young Mowgli gives into temptation (his carnal desires that is) and follows a young girl back while Baloo and Bagheera watch on as two parents seeing their child off to college.

Colonel Hathi's March
The Bare Necessities
I Wan'na Be Like You
Trust in Me
That's What Friends Are For
My Own Home

Bare Necessities and Be Like You move into the Disney musical cannon as they are songs of hope and desires that can be found throughout many of the movies.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Despite the low overall rating, this plot wasn’t too bad. The short vignettes were carried well as Bagheera and Mowgli traveled through the jungle for Mowgli’s own safety. The story was well written. I would have totally scrapped the “Beatles” bit (especially since they weren’t able to provide the voices).

Animation Rating: 1 out of 5

I wish I had decided to rate from zero instead of one. This movie was so poorly drawn.

For example, look at the two stills below. The one on top is from Bambi and below is Jungle Book. Do you notice the lack of depth and design? It’s crazy how poorly drawn this movie is. Bambi's art is more clear and light, has more character and texture. Jungle Book is darker (because they dedicated less time to it). Notice how each scene has a dark tree in the forward left; in Bambi you can see the bark, while in Book it's just shadow.The background art was just one of the many things that made this movie unwatchable.

The use of Xeroxing really took away the cleanliness of previous
films. While endearing in 101 Dalmations it was sloppy and lazy in Jungle Book.

The Test of Time:

Why isn’t this movie more represented in the parks? Adventureland is supposed to take place in a jungle, but no Jungle Book. Although I ran into Baloo and King Louie in Animal Kingdom, there could have been many more references to this movie.

I don’t think this movie has stood the test of time. It was the first of several movies that started recycling characters, voices and plots.

I also couldn’t relate to Mowgli, he was being a spoiled child and I felt frustrated the entire movie as I felt more connected to Bagheera and his desire to keep Mowgli safe.

Through the Modern Lens

Again, I think the Beatles reference really dated this movie, but I don’t think there was anything inherently wrong with it. I am please for Disney to have shown a non-white character as a lead. Although during the “shorts/packaged” films there were several Latino/Latina characters, this was the first time to have a feature length movie with an ethnic character (and one that wasn’t just a stereotype)! Kudos to Walt and WDAS for finally breaking their “white” mode.

Next Up:

In the WDAS timeline would be: Aristocats; because of a Netflix mistake, it’s Sword In The Stone.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 4: Dumbo

Series Intro: Series Intro: Here is Part 4 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skilled will note missing movies that will be out of order)

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Dumbo
Release: October 23, 1941
Running Time: 64 minutes (I happily applaud the shortness of this film)
Estimated Cost: $831,000 (1941) ($12,451,527.45 (2010))
Estimated Revenue: $1,600,000 (1940) ($24,504,851.06 (2010)
Overall Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:

I honestly can’t remember much of this short plot. But here goes… Mrs. Jumbo receives her baby elephant from the stork, Dumbo. Dumbo is constantly mocked by the circus goers (and other elephants and animals) because of his extra large ears. Mrs. Jumbo goes crazy and attacks humans when they are making fun of Dumbo. She is locked in isolation, and giving us one of the most heart wrenching scenes in the Disney cannon. Quickly followed by one of the most effed up scenes in the Disney cannon: The Pink Elephants, where Dumbo hallucinated because of drinking alcohol.

Then Dumbo, and Timothy (the circus mouse) wake up in a tree. Timothy assumes they flew up there in their drunken haze. Some racist black crows make fun of Dumbo but eventually help him believe that he can fly.

Finally, Dumbo performs a flying act at the circus; his mother is freed from isolation; and they get their own circus cart.

Baby Mine
Casey Junior
Look Out for Mr. Stork
Song of the Roustabouts
The Clown Song
Pink Elephants on Parade
When I See an Elephant Fly

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5

With the short plot, this movie moved at a great speed not seen with many of the other earlier films (or many of those to come). But I still wonder the necessity of the Pink Elephant song.

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5

Some of the “cartoony-ness” of the earlier films was lost for this one. Not to say it was a realistic representation of what elephants look like, but it wasn’t trying to be either. Some of the big eyes were toned down a bit. The reduced budget, although made the background art suffer a bit, I found that this really forced the characters to the forefront, and their animation was a bit cleaner.

The Test of Time:

I did not like this one as a child. It always freaked me out that Dumbo didn’t speak, and those Pink Elephants didn’t help me like it anymore.

But Dumbo’s plight is one that most people can understand, so he remains a very popular character. Dumbo has representation in every Magic Kingdom park (and in WDW’s Fantasyland redo, he will have twice the presence, with a whole circus land dedicated to his honor!).

Through the Modern Lens

Those crows! Oh my, those crows! At the time, the sambo character was a popular tool to “accurately” portray Black Americans, but looking at them today, they are just caricatures of stereotypes that are laced with racism.

Next Up:

In the WDAS timeline would be: Bambi; because of the “vault" Jungle Book.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Orleans: Part 3: Walking, Walking and More Walking

The Muddy Mississippi
From March 6 through March 8, 2010 I had a fabulous trip to New Orleans.

Here is Part 3 of a 3 Part Diary Series of the Weekend:

Monday, March 8, 2010

I woke up much later than I normally do, approximately 10:30. I packed up my backpack and checked out, left by bag with the bellhop and set off for my last day.

The weather was overcast, but I decided I needed to check out the Mississippi during the Day. So I walked on the river front, contemplated going into the aquarium (decided against it, because I can see the Baltimore one whenever I’d like. The river was muddy and it was odd to see so much industry on the other side (as opposed to my view from my parent’s house of NYC).

As I continued up the river, I realized I was starving and decided to leave the river front and find a place to eat. I left the raised promenade and ran back into Joan (from the dinner cruise)! We caught up a bit, and separated. After parting, I stopped at the River’s Edge Restaurant, for a late breakfast.

As a side note, I had a hard time finding healthy looking eggs while, both of the places I went to for breakfast didn’t offer egg white, and once the eggs came out, they were usually covered in grease! Very unappetizing.

I followed a city tour from the “Eyewitness” series produced by DK. I had used this guide series when I went to Sydney and found it most helpful finding new and interesting places to visit. But here, in New Orleans, it seemed to be a disappointment, it kept building up some of the places, only for my to be let down.

Part of the let down is due to the fact that Monday is the “off” day for many museums in the area, but even as the Eyewitness book would comment on the architecture, I would find myself saying “Yes, it’s impressive, but it’s exactly like the dozens of other building that surround it.”

The sun kept playing hide-and-seek and I decided that after lunch (at the 24 hour gay dinner) that I’d rather hang around the airport than get caught in the rain. I hopped back on the trolley walked to the bus and headed to the airport.

Then began waiting. I ate at a crappy airport bar, and read a lot of Harry. I transferred planes in Tennessee, read more Harry and boarded towards my final destination of Baltimore. I finished Harry, while enjoying all my extra legroom.

Got to my car drove home after midnight! Waking up the next morning was hard!

All-in-all, it was a great trip, and well worth it to see of the original art work from many of WDAS’ early work! But I can’t even imagine this place during Marti Gras (it was a bit overwhelming on a regular weekend).

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Orleans: Part 2: More Drinking, More Boys and Disney

Streets are cleaned using powerful machines that leave behind soap everywhere.
From March 6 through March 8, 2010 I had a fabulous trip to New Orleans.

Here is Part 2 of a 3 Part Diary Series of the Weekend:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Last we left off, I was going to reveal that naughty thing that I did twice, after sending Nigel off in a cab to his unknown hotel!

Well, if you know me at all in real life, I’ve been on South Beach for just under a year (and have been very successful with it). I take it serious, but do cheat every now and then; but after Nigel left, instead of turning back upstairs to my room to get some well deserved sleep, I headed across the street and got in line at the pizza place! I ordered two slices and a diet coke (yeah, because at that point the diet coke was really helpful). I waited in line with several extremely drunk co-eds and their boys, then got my slices and returned to my hotel room.

Now, as 3:30 quickly approached, I snuggled down into my pillow-top, king bed and ate two slices of some of the worst pizza I have ever had. Then quickly fell asleep with the pizza plate still on the bed!

I would love to say that I slept soundly in a drunken/food-induced coma but since my hotel room was right above a bar, loud music drifted into my room all night, and despite all my efforts, I didn’t fall asleep until about 6 am!

At 10, I had a rude wakeup call. Maid service couldn’t get into the room, since my security lock was on, so the maid was knocking loudly. I’m actually glad that she did this, as I had slept through my alarm!

So I quickly hopped in the shower, to wash away the sins from last night and begin my quest to find a place that is not a bar, a place where I can get coffee and food. My I-phone came in handy again, with its “Near Me” app, so I searched for “breakfast” and found the Café Fleur De Lis, a little eatery, where I waited about an hour for my omelet (they had lost my order – at least I had Harry with me to keep me entertained).

Hanging moss at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).
The weather was so nice in the early afternoon that I stopped back in my room to drop off my sweatshirt. Then I hopped back on the trolley away from the river towards the New Orleans Museum of Art (my review can be found here Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio

After spending several hours and $70 at NOMA I began my walking tour of New Orleans!

I started by walking past the Saint Louis cemetery, my original plan was to go in and visit some of the older grave stones. (I have a great interest in old cemeteries. I’ve even gone to several lectures about the importance and significance of tombstones). But hunger won the battle over intellect and I stopped at a café, Santa Fe.

I asked to be seated outside and had a great table in the sun. That’s when I met him. He was tall, dark and handsome! He was my waiter. I ordered a glass of wine and a salad, and began talking to him (first just about the weather and such). We continued to chat with each other, as he would check in on my status during the meal. After the meal, I continued to stay and drink (still that same glass of wine), and read Harry while continuing to chat with my waiter. He joined me at the table, and we finally introduced ourselves. His name was Eban (yes, with a “b”).

As I’m about to finish my wine I asked about the end of his shift, which is coming soon! So I hung around a little longer… Then he says “I’d offer to show you around a bit, but I have a boyfriend.” I’m a little disappointed at this point, but he continued to sit with me. He hemmed and hawed as he tried to decide if he should take me around! I tell him there’s no pressure, and he asked me to stay until his last table left so he could show me the park.

Night was fast approaching (as we had been talking on and off for about three hours) and his boss told him that he needed to stay for the next shift. We had a sad moment and I gave him my card. I told him to give me call, but that I wasn’t expecting it, given his boyfriend and all. Then he asked when I was leaving, and when I told him “tomorrow” there seemed a bit disappointment in his voice and body language. I was sad too, but knowing that I was only in town for a few more hours, I got over it.

My entire plan for the rest of the day was essentially ruined, as most museums and such were closed by now. I began a long walk back to my hotel; a little upset that Eban didn’t even give me a last name, but felt good about all the flirting that happened.

Back at the hotel, I did my own hemming and hawing as I decided whether or not I’d go out tonight. I said to myself “screw being lazy, I’m in New Orleans!” So I changed into some “going-out” clothes and headed back down Bourbon Street.

At La Bayou Restaurant, the host sat me at the bar, but the New Orleans Iced Tea and Long Island Iced Tea and eggplant made the bar seat worth it.

Then I begin where I left off last night, on my gay bar crawl. I started with Oz, which was dead tonight. I got one shot and moved on my way, afraid that all the bars would be like this given the fact that this was Sunday night.

Cafe Lafittes in Exile
I spent several hours here making friends, talking up strangers and hotties, and dancing a bit too. Until finally, I get pulled into this picture, by a gentleman that called himself Violet! I wound up spending the rest of the night hanging out and drinking with this group of twenty-somethings from NYC and DC! We danced to the songs on the video screens, as I continued to drink (mostly vodka/crans but some shots thrown in too). Tonight was the first time I made friends with the bar tender. Tonight was also, the first night that I’ve truly lost track of how much I drank.

Nigel called at some point during this night, but I don't remember what we talked about, other than me telling him where Café Lafittes in Exile was, but he never showed up.

Some time around midnight (after about 3 hours at Café Lafittes in Exile) I thought it would be a good idea to head home; but not before I stopped back in Oz and got a drink. (I actually don’t have much recollection of stopping in Oz, but foursquare says I was there for 15 minutes!) Then I stopped across the street at Bourbon Pub and Parade. I ran into someone that I had met in Café Laftittes in Exile, ordered a drink and left the bar with my drink in hand.

As I walked down Bourbon back to my hotel, I thought to myself, that I needed food. Well what is better than bad pizza? (Yes, I was that drunk) So I got in line at the pizza place near my hotel and ordered two slices of pizza again! (No need for the diet coke tonight, I still had my glass of vodka/cran!)

Back in my hotel, I placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and sleep soundly in my food-induced, drunken come! (Huzzah for sleeping through the night).

Stay tuned for a way less interesting part 3 of my New Orleans adventure.

Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney

Front of New Orleans Museum of Art
Here is the long awaited review of the New Orleans Museum of Art’s (NOMA) Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio:

To begin, there was a short (8 minute) film produced for this event, that introduced audiences to the exhibit and some background into for WDAS (Walt Disney Animation Studios).

Right from the get go, I was slightly disappointed. I was kind of expecting something that could have been in WDW (Walt Disney World) or at least something produced by WDAS or Disney Imagineers. But the video seemed to be produced by the NOMA and I was left without that wonderful Disney feel.

I waited, rather impatiently, in a line for the audio guide listening devices. They ran out, just in time for me to have to wait. After an entirely too long three-minute wait, I got into the line at the exhibit entrance and started talking to the women behind me. We discussed our favorite movies and then they thought of the great idea that instead of holding the device to our heads, we should put headphones in. This was a great idea, and I will forever check listening devices for a headphone jack. It kept my arm from being awkwardly placed up near my head.

So head phones in my ears, I listened to John Goodman (who voiced the Marti Gras king in Princess and the Frog) introduce the exhibit and explained how to work the device. Then I entered the first room, the Silly Symphonies room. This room had some great artwork from Three Little Pigs and Ugly Duckling. There were some great cells (ones that could be salvaged from the washings when it was common practice to reuse the cells). There was also an interesting display case showing many of the books Walt had brought home with him from a trip Europe (they were open to several fairy tale pages that seemed to act as one of the many spring boards that influenced Walt to create the Silly Symphonies and his feature length animated tales.

In the rear of the this room was a wall with cells and info from Mickey and the Beanstalk, which was out of order, as Beanstalk was not produced in 1947 and was included in a package film entitled Fun and Fancy Free. It was interesting to learn that Beanstalk was supposed to be a feature length animated movie, but due to the war, it was drastically cut down.

The next room was dedicated to the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This room opened with a quick intro to how cartoons were made at the time; and the many different concept drawings for Snow White (one of the most interesting was seeing her in a Betty Boop style). This room had some interesting cells and original art. It also showed the massive amount of marketing and merchandizing that came with White.

This room also included a few stills and concepts from deleted scenes. John Goodman continued to narrate additional information through the listening device. The device would continue to provide more behind the scenes info that wasn’t always included on the wall plaques.

Then we jumped a couple decades into Cinderella. Again, there was some great concept art, most notably from Mary Blair (who’s art can be seen all around the world in the “it’s a small world” ride, and the dolls are completely based off Blair’s style). The room included a great shadow box that illustrated the multi-pane camera and explained how the cinematographer would manipulate the plates to create depth and movement in a rather stagnant picture.

Jump again to Sleeping Beauty. If I could I would have spent much more time in the room enjoying the art. Eywind Earle, art director on Beauty, created such a distinct style for this animation, and created such rich drawings. One display showed original cells that Earle had painted; in different phases, he would paint each cell more than 5 times, adding many different layers and textures. This new style of animation, in my opinion, led to a revolution of WDAS animation.

As the Beauty room was closing, there were some fabulous concept pieces for Maleficent. While staying there, listening to John Goodman talk about Maleficent, I heard the melody of “Part of Your World” and got a little “vaclemped.” (This song means a lot to me (check out my post about Musical Theatre for why this song means so much to me I refrained from running into the next room and finished learning about Beauty. < The Little Mermaid room began as they all did, with a comparison of the Disney version to the original tale. Then I followed along the wall that housed many pieces of concept art and finished cells from the movie. In the center of the room was a display for models that the animators used to help draw all the details.  This room was somewhat small compared the several movies that came before. (Although it might have just been that I was devouring this room so it seemed to go much faster).

Next was another small room for Beauty and the Beast. Some of the best art in the whole exhibit was on display here, in the form of the stained glass cells from the intro of the movie. This room was a disappointment though- through no fault of NOMA- by this point in WDAS’ history, they were no longer painting cells by hand, but on computers, and many of the “cells” were “prints” instead, and I felt a little cheated, as if I could have just looked at these images on the computer.

Finally was the giant four room space for Princess and the Frog. After standing and reading for about three hours I was getting a bit fatigued and let John Goodman do a lot of the talking. What made this room so much different was that instead of discussing the movie as a whole, this wing was broken up into characters and settings.  Worst of all, this time, even the concept art was digital!

The final room had some books about the art of Disney and a teaser poster for the then called Rapunzul (Now called Tangled).  Outside of the exhibit, there was a short timeline of WDAS.

I wish something like this was included in the exhibit proper as a connection between each room, to show the growth of animation between the big princess movies. 

In the other direction, was the gift shop, where I met with some more disappointment. Many of the books that were on display were no longer on sale. I was also hoping for from prints by Blair or Earle, but there weren’t any prints at all! I purchased the exhibit book and had another book (Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing Disney Animation) and a poster shipped to me.

Over all, I really enjoyed the beginning of the exhibit and loved looking at some of the art in the second third of the exhibit. I could have done with less Frog but since it was in New Orleans, this is understandable. I’m happy I made the trek down to New Orleans to check this out. This was a exquisite exhibit, and I can only hope that after it travels down under for a while, it makes its way a bit more local to the east coast of the US.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Orleans: Part 1: Drinking, Boys and The Mississippi

From March 6 through March 8, 2010 I had a fabulous trip to New Orleans.

Here is Part 1 of a 3 Part Diary Series of the Weekend:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Trolley Tracks
This was my first time driving myself to the airport (which added a whole new stress to traveling) but I was happy that I was in control of my arrival (versus asking a friend to drive).

I arrived at BWI with plenty of time to spare, so after going through security I began my trip with what the Hobbits call “Second Breakfast.” I read a couple magazines and some of Harry Potter Book 3 and soon my flight was boarding (see side bar for info on Southwest boarding).


If you’ve never flown Southwest, let me tell you, they have an interesting seating arrangement. You are not assigned a seat when you buy the ticket (or when you check in on-line 24 hours in advance of your flight), but are assigned a boarding Group and Number (for instance A24 or C8). Each letter group is called to line up in numerical order and then its general seating on the plane, so A1 lines up first and has his/her choice of seats/

A1 – 15 is set aside for business travelers and A List members (those who are frequent fliers). Then when you check in on-line you are assigned a boarding number based on when you check in. So if timed perfectly you could be A16, although for $10 on top of the ticket price, you can have Southwest check in for you, and they begin the check in process 36 hours before. (Your place in this virtual cue is based on when you purchase the upgrade).

I purchased the upgrade and had a spot of A23, A22 and A21 (three separate boardings for the round trip flight). My boarding position allowed me to take front row seats (with all the leg room I could ask for).

Southwest serves complimentary soft drinks and a bag of peanuts/pretzels. They also serve hard drinks for an about average fee. Signature cocktails (that change monthly) are about $4.00
E2 Jefferson County Transit Bus – Airport Express (A new experience)

The bus from the airport was about 20 minutes late (something that hasn’t happened to me since moving back to DC, where all busses have GPS tracking devices and can be located using a mobile browser).

I’ve ridden a lot of mass-transit busses in my time in many different states (NJ, NY, MA, MD, DC, FL, and in New South Whales, Australia) but this was the first time I ever saw the following:
• A cracked window (The windshield had several cracks running through the “passenger” pane).
• The driver eating (the bus driver was eating his fast food chicken nuggets and drinking his giant soda while driving the bus). (I actually didn’t even see a “No Eating” sign so I guess this was allowed).
• The label “Express” was a misnomer - as this was a local bus, making stops on every other corner.

While I’m talking about the E2 here’s some more notices from the return trip:
• 20 minutes late again.
• The driver had to get out and manually start the windshield wipers.
• We took a detour so the cash receptacle could be replaced (I’ve ridden many DC and MD busses where they just finish the route, and more, before pulling over to fix this non-critical problem).
I boarded the flight, and as soon as possible, I started my drinking. I ordered the Signature drink (a vodka, cranberry, apple cocktail), and settled in for a long flight with Harry Potter and Rules of Attraction. We stopped in Alabama, and once we were back in the air, I had a second drink. (I bet you’ll start seeing a pattern of activities this weekend).

After landing at Louis Armstrong International, I skipped the luggage carousel – having packed in a single book bag and purse – and looked for the bus to take me to the French Quarter. Well the bus did not go all the way there, so with my trusty I-phone, I found how to get to the trolley car.

Bourbon Street
Trolley ride over and I check into my hotel: The Wyndham Chateau Bourbon, and I begin exploring the area. I walk up and down Bourdon street, noticing all the drunks at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I stop at a restaurant: Boudreaux's Backyard, for a drink and a yummy mushroom plate, then back to my hotel for a quick power nap before my dinner cruise on the Creole Queen.

Creole Queen
I walk down to the water front (ahh the mighty Mississippi River). On the paddleboat river cruise, I made friends with the two couples that shared my table. Found common ground with each of the women, but really connected with Joan. I order a Hurricane (apparently a local drink), and Joan gave me her two drink coupons! (Score). The food on the boat wasn’t my cup of tea (I had a mess of veggies and something that looked like chicken but tasted like fish – I later found out it was tilapia. I also tried some gumbo – eh). I had a couple more drinks (thanks Joan) and enjoyed the cool air out on the deck as we returned to port.

Hotel Lobby
I went back to my hotel room for a shower and a quick change for my nighttime entertainment (yes, I brought my glitter make-up with me).

I had used an online site to help me create the walking “tour” for my bar crawl. But once I tried to use it, I realized that the tour did not print out direction or addresses. It only included a map with a pin and a corresponding note that I had assigned (such as “lounge” or “dancers”), so my trusty I-phone saved the day yet again.

700 Club
Reminded me a lot of Efen in DC, a small bar with a lounge type feel, where there were a few groups of people. I had a few drinks here, but left after a while, because no one would talk with me.

Good Friends Bar
Next stop was to be Rawhide, but they had a cover charge so I continued to The Good Friends Bar. Despite the crappy sounding name, this bar, was much more welcoming to the single traveler. I had a few shots and a drink or two, and made a friend: Nigel. Nigel was a cute boy from Mississippi, in New Orleans on holiday with his friend Jeff. Nigel and Jeff had just come from Rawhide and told me I hadn’t missed much. Nigel and I flirt as we chat about traveling and things we’ve in NO. Then I decide it’s time to move to the next bar on my list. Nigel and Jeff join me.

I had heard some great things about Oz on And was very excited to be going (only to be slightly disappointed with a cover charge). But we go in, and Nigel and I start dancing. We loose Jeff (who returned to Rawhide). Nigel and I decide to make our way back to my hotel room (thus abandoning my bar crawl itinerary). On our way back, I get my first and only set of beads thrown at me, by a girl on a balcony, for the hot make out session Nigel and I had out on Bourbon Street.

I’ll stop there for today, and leave it up to your imagination what Nigel and I did back in the hotel room (though not much imagination could be needed).

Since the rest of this night technically falls under “Sunday” I’ll leave you with this: After getting Nigel a cab back to his hotel (which he couldn’t remember where it was), I decided to go out again, and do something really bad!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of my New Orleans trip to find out about: Disney, Mexican Food, more boys and that very naughty thing I did twice on this trip!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 3: Fantasia

Series Intro: Series Intro: Here is Part 3 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skilled will note missing movies that will be out of order)

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Fantasia
Release: November 13, 1940
Running Time: 121 minutes
Estimated Cost: $2 million (1940) ($30,849,857.14 (2010))
Estimated Revenue: $42,850,000 (1940) ($660,958,189.29 (2010)
Overall Rating: 1 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:

Here we go again, after enjoying non-packaged films for a few weeks, I’m back at this packaged crap.

The movie consisted of 8 classical symphonies that are represented through animation:
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" (Bach), "The Nutcracker Suite" (Tchaikowsky), "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Dukas), "Rite of Spring" (Stravinski), "Pastoral" (Beethoven), "Dance of the Hours" (Ponchielli), "Night on Bald Mountain" (Mussorgsky), and "Ave Maria" (Schubert).

Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the one stand out performance of the lot, and even that isn’t saying much. Mickey only makes this segment just a bit enjoyable.

Plot Rating: 1 stars out of 5

What plot? The one thing this movie has that the other package films behind it do not is some consistency. Having the orchestra in between segments was a nice bookend to each musical number. While at the same time, I loathed seeing the silhouette of the conductor every time he was on

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5

I wish I had watched this in the right order, because I think I would have given this a higher rating. This movie had some very exquisite animation, but seeing the soft edges that came with the earlier films gave it a more amateuristic feel. I would have enjoyed it more, if some of the segments (especially the pastoral) did not have the “Disney” eyes. Had they had the grainier feel of early 60’s releases, I think the animation would have been more inspiring.

The Test of Time:

I watched this movie just once as a child; and swore never to watch it again! It was boring. It just does not hold my attention. I did not enjoy it this time either. It actually took me two sittings just to get through it.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice has taken on a world of its own though. Sorcerer Mickey can be seen all over the world at Disney parks. His hat is prominently the “weenie” at Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Paris. Sorcerer Mickey is the protagonist on both coasts’ “Fantasmic!”

The dancing hippos and ostriches are also fun characters that make appearances in parades and as topiaries at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Show.

Through the Modern Lens

As a modern viewer, not much seemed to upset me with this movie, but I did have a lot of problems with pacing.

Next Up:

In the WDAS timeline would be: Dumbo; because of the “vault” Dumbo is also my next film. Thank you public libraries!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rosa Parks stays at the front of the bus

Barb Davis White;
The fight for LGBT rights have been long compared to those of the Black Civil Rights fights of the 1940's, 50's and 60's (and beyond). I tend to agree with this comparison. I'd also extend the LGBT fight to further into history with Woman's Liberation of the 50's and 60's (and beyond), but also Woman's Suffrage (1920 and before).

These fights have been the oppressed versus "the man" (in most of the cases, "the man" is old, white men). "The Man" tries to strip rights away from "the other." In the case of LGBT, other is defined by their sexuality.

So I can't help but take big offense to the following statement made by Barb Davis White (pictured above).

"Rosa Parks did not move to the front of the bus to support sodomy.”

White was at a legislative committee meeting discussing Gay Marriage in Minnesota. White, a self-proclaimed "tea-bagger" (yeah, I know so sexual...), goes on to say that allowing a white man to marry a black woman (and vice versa) was more fundamentally (and spiritually) sound because the only difference between a white man a black man is skin color; but the differences between men and women is too great!

Denying two consenting adults anything, is wrong. Just because I happen to be in a type of relationship that wasn't "popular" when god sent his words down to the few men who wrote The Bible; doesn't mean I'm wrong.

What does the bible say about interracial marriage?

Deuteronomy 7:3–4
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

I can take quotes and greatly exaggerate them too! But I won’t, this passage from Deuteronomy was talking about intermarrying with people who are of a different religion, so they won't turn you away from god... but taken out of context, one can see how it’s that fear of the other, that is being highlighted.

So that brings me to the title of this post... why did Rosa Parks take a seat at the front of the bus and refuse to move to the back? In her autobiography, Parks says why she didn't move, "... the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." She said nothing about being gay or black, just tired – tired of oppression.

The connection between Gay Rights and Black Civil Rights, is strong, and I believe that it is just a continuation of the same fight, the fight against oppression. I want all oppression to end, I don’t care about the color of your skin or who you sleep with or which god you pray to or if you have differenting ability; all I care about is that you are afforded the same rights granted to the majority of people in the United States (i.e. straight, white men). I’d have to say the Rosa Parks would agree that oppression of any kind is wrong; and White should look closely at what is causing her homophobia.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 17: 101 Dalmatians

Series Intro: Here's Part 17 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They'll mostly be in release date order, save for those that aren't available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers will be skipped to note missing movies)

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title:101 Dalmatians
Release: January 25, 1961
Running Time: 79 minutes
Estimated Cost: $4 million (1961) ($28,986,442.95 (2010))
Estimated Revenue: $14,000,000 (1961) ($101,452,550.34 (2010)) (That's just the original release!)
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Pongo, tired of bachelor life, tries to set up his "pet," Roger, with a woman (later revealed to be Anita) so he can end of with the lady dalmatian, Perdita. After some misadventures in the park, Anita and Roger wind up together, and are soon married.

As winter approaches, Perdita becomes pregnant! And gives birth to 15 puppies (almost 14, but thanks to Roger's efforts all are safe). Cruella De Vill, a school friend of Anita, comes to visit and buy the puppies. Her visit both inspires and disgusts Roger (he eventually writes a best selling song called Cruella De Vill).

Cruella, not to be told "no," hires two goons (Horace and Jasper), to steal the puppies. Pongo and Perdita use the twigh-light bark to inform all of London an beyond about he puppy napping as Anita and Roger inform Scotland Yard. The twigh-light bark reveals the puppies (and 84 other, legally bought dalmatian puppies) will be turned into coats. Pongo and Perdita take action and run away to save the puppies.

Thanks to the help of various dogs, cows, horses and cats Pongo and Perdita and the 99 puppies (who were adopted by the Pongo family) safely make it back to London and the town house of Roger and Anita, who mistake the disguised dogs for labs, but are more than happy to welcome the 84 puppies into their family too! Deciding to open a dalmatian plantation, which will be a sensation!

Cruella DeVille
Canine Crunchies
Dalmatian Plantation

None of these really became stand out songs, but this would become a trend for a while, where the songs were just a side bit.

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5

What a great story! Who can't relate to dogs? I found myself wanting all of the dogs, even the unnamed puppies, to get home safely.

Cruella was a full 3 dementional character. She has a lot of depth and unlike other villains up to now, she has a reason to do what she's doing. She just wants to make coats. (I'm not saying this is a good reason, but looking back one movie to Malevicent, she was mean because she wasn't invited to a party!) She also had a bit of a history... we know she and Anita went to the same school... though it's not said if it is college or high school.

Animation Rating: 2 out of 5

One word: Xerox! After the bomb that was Sleeping Beauty, WDAS and Disney wanted to scale back. And now that they had more options, they cut the inking department and used more Xeroxing. That left more pencil marks all over the drawings.

Grant it, this was a great stylized technique, but I felt like I was watching the rough draft of a movie. The colors in the background would bleed into other objects, i.e. if a picture frame was pink, the pink would extend beyond the lines establishing the frame and into the brown of the wall. This did not help the finished product, but it did create a very distinct style for 101!

One thing that did work was the continued work of filming live actors as models for the humans. This really gave Roger and Anita some of the most realistic faces yet! (Although Walt was a bit more hands off at this point - his head was wrapping around the Florida Project (WDW) - he still insisted that all human characters first be filmed by real actors.)

Also, the animators were a bit lazy, many a time, when there were 99 puppies walking or moving, I would see the exact same puppy doing the exact same thing many times. Also at one point almost 50 had collars, because of this recycling.

Recycling is most apparent in Hanna Barbara cartoons when the background keeps repeating itself, so that Fred Flintstone now has 30 couches! Recycling puppies is lazy!

Something else that was recycled though, were character designs. Take a close look at the twighlight bark and you will see Jock (the Scottie), Bulldog and Peg (mutts who know Tramp), even Lady makes a silhouetted appearance! Now, if Lady and the Tramp took place in modern London, this would have been a great cross over, but given the fact that Lady and the Tramp took place in 1901 and in America (based on accents and such), this is a big problem! I don't appreciate the animators beings so LAZY!

The Test of Time:

I loved the dog movies as a child, but they aren't anywhere near my favorites. As with 101 Dalmatians, there just isn't a lot to write home about. They have little to no attractions in WDW (save for Cruella making an appearance in Fantasmic! trying to capture Mickey.

I hope that the new pet friendly hotel WDW is building uses their plethora of domestic animal characters to help create the atmosphere in this resort.

101 had many re-releases when it was popular to do so, and has made nearly $1 billion in adjusted figures over the life of the movie.

Through the Modern Lens

We've seem to taken a step back in Women's Lib as Perdita always follows whatever Pongo says, loosing some of the independent thinking that Lady had! But other than that, nothing stood out too badly as a gross misnomer of things to come. This movie taking place in "present day" probably helped this a bit.

I do have to say, that if PETA were around, they might have denounced the movie, for the mere fact the Cruella (who isn't actually cruel to the animals on screen) wants to kill the puppies! But in defense of WDAS, they never hold Cruella up on a pedestal, and she gets her cummupin's although she is never prosecuted for stealing the puppies (though she could have a counter suit that Roger and Anita essentially stole 84 puppies from her!)

Next Up:
Should be Sword in the Stone (but I've been sitting on Jungle Book from Netflix, afraid that it might have been pulled for the vault, so JB is next!).