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MISCmedia MAIL for 12/8/16: SEPARATION ANXIETY
Dec 7th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

If Eastern Washington ever does become a separate state, as some Republican politicians want, it would help the national Republican Party but hurt the people living there. (But then again, what political trends in America these days wouldn’t do that?) And we also discuss the attempt to rehabilitate the image of Pepe the comics frog; still more Seattle Times layoffs; an ex-Seahawk’s gender talk and its discontents; and whether or not Snowmaggedon ’16 will finally occur.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 12/5/16: SNOW OR NO?
Dec 4th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Snow in Seattle is rarely forecast. Those forecasts, in turn, often don’t come true. What will happen this time? Further topics today include a victory (for now) at Standing Rock; a big “March Against Hate;” Airbnb working with the Urban League; another longtime local biz asking for your help; and Husky and Seahawk football blowout wins (albeit the latter with a price).

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/25/16: CUBS REPORTER
Oct 24th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

There’s a baseball stadium that’s been in use for 103 years, none of which featured a championship home team. But it might soon. Closer to home, we mention attempts to heal the state’s political divisions (or at least understand them); a bus-shelter removal plan put on hold; a search for an alert system for sexual-assault attackees; and a guy turning unwanted LPs into visual art. Plus: the death of America’s most hate-filled cartoonist.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/14/16: CALM BEFORE THE…?
Oct 14th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The Wacky Weather Weekend® is well upon us. Be safe; if you’re supposed to go anywhere, make sure what you’re going to is still going on. Otherwise, you can always stick around and read about dueling encampment proposals; an affordable-housing project that’ll also be a center for the Black community; an idea to hip-ify Bremerton (could it ever happen really?); and the centennial of one of the region’s ugliest events.

MISCmedia MAIL for 1/26/16
Jan 25th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Today, we attempt to understand why some GOP women are acting so sexist; follow the Legislature’s halting steps toward school reform; hail an “analog gaming” initiative; and witness the second (or is it third?) coming of “mom punk.”

THE IN AND THE OUTED FOR SWEET ’16
Jan 1st, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

new years 2016 z

Would you believe, this is the thirtieth MISCmedia In/Out List? Well, it is.

As we prepare to begin the pearl-anniversary year of this adventure in punditry, we present yet another edition of the most trusted (and only accurate) list of its kind in this and all other known media.

As always, this list compiles what will become sizzling and soggy in the coming year, not necessarily what’s sizzling and soggy now. If you believe everything hot now will just keep getting hotter, I’ve got some Sears stock to sell you.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
ABC AMC
Saving KPLU Saving the Seattle Times
Turquoise Mauve
Spinach Kale
Hollow Earth Radio/KHUH KIRO-FM
“Black Lives Matter” Macho anarchists
Empathy Superiority
Gents Bros
Stopping Trumpism Treating Trump as a joke
Taking back Congress Merely keeping the White House
Ta-Nehisi Coates David Brooks
Storytelling “Branding”
Mismatched plaid separates Striped socks
High-speed rail Hoverboards
Fewer cars “Greener” cars
NHL NBA
Fiat (still) VW
We Bare Bears Teen Titans Go!
Juxtapoz Erotica Censored Playboy
Hillman City Ballard (alas)
Lalaloopsy Minions
Searching for solutions together “You figure that part out, I’m just sayin'”
Issa Rae Zooey Deschanel
Michael Fassbender Will Farrell
“Genderqueer” movement “Men’s rights activists”
Exciting machines Boring machines
Real virtue Virtual Reality
Granny shoes Skinny jeans
Justin Trudeau Justin Bieber (duh)
Sia Zac Brown
Light rail to Husky Stadium Parking downtown
Hydrox cookies comeback Crystal Pepsi comeback
Monkey Shoulder Wild Turkey
Milk stout Bud-owned microbrews
“Homey” “Artisinal”
Citizens “Stakeholders”
Uniqlo Gap
Bellingham Bellevue
Back-yard cottages “Tiny homes” in the far countryside
Millennials as defiant activists Millennials as selfish slackers
El Borracho Chipotle (duh)
Guy Maddin J.J. Abrams
Permanent progressive movements Only showing up in election years
Wisdom Data
“Snap!” “YOLO”
Moving the world forward “Taking America back”
THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS, REVISITED
Jun 25th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

jones 3 bullseye

Over the next few weeks, I’ll discuss some of the things I’ve been doing this past 10 months when I mostly haven’t been blogging.

They include what one might call Internet research rabbit holes, obsessions with obscure corners of pop-culture arcana.

One of these obsessions is a “rabbit hole” in more ways than one.

It starts with something everybody knows, even if it hasn’t been at the pop-cult forefront in recent years.

Warner Bros.’ classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons haven’t been on broadcast TV in years. The one basic cable channel they’ve been on, Cartoon Network, had lately only shown them on weekday mornings, and only when that time slot wasn’t being used to rerun some Tom & Jerry or Scooby-Doo direct-to-video movie. CN’s not showing them at all now. You have to pay extra for CN’s premium-tier channel Boomerang to see these timeless classics.

Even worse for longtime fans, no LT/MM shorts have been issued on DVD (aside from reissues) since late last year. With the industry-wide collapse of disc sales, Warner Home Video has put any future digital remasters of old cartoons on hold.

The prolific WB cartoon studio made some 1,005 “classic” theatrical shorts over 40 years. Approximately 450 of them have yet to be digitally restored. A lot of those look really dingy in the old TV prints seen online.

Oh yeah: Almost all the LT/MM shorts can be found in unofficial online uploads. WB has gotten some of them removed from YouTube, but they just pop up on more obscure sites. (WB could put them up officially, and get whatever ad revenue there is to get, but mostly hasn’t.)

While I was on my last extended “blog vacation” earlier this year, I set out to watch every darned one of the not-on-DVD Warner cartoons. About half of them feature the studio’s “A list” characters (Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, etc.). Some of them (in the uploaded versions from old TV prints) look good enough to go on disc as is. Others look dingy, faded, and lo-res.

To keep the LT/MM “franchise” (and its lucrative merchandising) alive, WB needs to (at least) make new digital transfers of these not-on-DVD shorts, from the best existing film materials. This would make the films more viable in today’s hi-def era, for release on broadcast, cable, on-demand, streaming, and download “platforms,” as well as on disc. Perhaps some of the less “commercial” entries (the ones with minor or one-shot characters) could receive less of the labor-intensive digital retouching that was used for the DVD releases.

At the same time as I was re-viewing all those films, I also started to research the music used in them.

The studio’s great music directors, Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn, incorporated more than 500 pre-existing compositions into their cartoon scores. They ranged from classical and folk pieces, to contemporary hits and songs from Warner feature films, to obscurities that had originally been published as sheet music for silent-music accompanists.

With the aid of several existing online lists of the “sampled” compositions, I put together a YouTube playlist of most of them. It’s currently up to 434 entries. They’re all records or film clips of the original tunes—not the cartoon excerpts of them.

If you know them only from the cartoon versions (and you probably do), you’re in for a few surprises:

  • “Hello Ma Baby,” the first frog-sung tune in One Froggy Evening, was originally a novelty song about a man in love with a woman he knows only as a voice on that then-new gadget, the telephone.
  • “Those Endearing Young Charms,” used in the oft-repeated “exploding xylophone” gag, was originally a sorrowful ballad about a man promising his wife he’ll still love her in sickness and old age.

jones 2 mural and guitar cyclone

Warner might be mismanaging one of its most valuable assets; but other parties remain determined to keep the cartoons in the public eye.

They include the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, founded by the Spokane boy who became the most famous of the studio’s several cartoon directors.

The Jones Center and the Jones heirs, along with the Smithsonian’s “touring exhibits” division, created What’s Up, Doc?: The Animated Art of Chuck Jones. It’s now at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

It’s got dozens of original art pieces and artifacts from Jones’s Warner, MGM, and indie films.

It’s got one of his most famous works, What’s Opera, Doc?, playing continuously (it never gets tiresome); plus a mysterious minute and a half of music recorded for “unproduced scenes” in that classic. (Wonder what they would have been?)

It’s got excerpts from several other Jones films (and one Tex Avery WB short, the defining Bugs Bunny film A Wild Hare), on flat-screen monitors around the exhibit space.

It’s got a few spots where you can take photos of one another alongside life-size cartoon props, such as under a “precariously” suspended prop anvil. (Photography’s forbidden in the rest of the exhibit.)

It’s got meticulous explanations and documentation about the now-threatened art of 2D animation.

And it’s got plenty of words, pictures, and video footage about Jones (1912-2002).

Besides hundreds of one-reel films for theaters, Jones also worked on TV specials, instructional films, and a couple of animated features (Gay Purr-ee and The Phantom Tollbooth).

At Warner he created his own characters (the Road Runner and Coyote, Pepe le Pew) and developed characters created by or with other directors (Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester).

Later, he adapted works by Dr. Seuss, Walt (Pogo) Kelly, Rudyard Kipling, and his former Warner colleague Frank Tashlin, adjusting all of their individual artistic visions to his own.

Thematically, Jones’ films ranged from Disney-esque sentiment to violent slapstick and back again. Stylistically, they ranged from slick “realism” to almost pure abstraction (and, in his version of Norman Juster’s story The Dot and the Line, total abstraction).

And while many animators were/are soft spoken and shy creatures, Jones was an inveterate and articulate self-promoter. He made books and documentaries about his works. He gave many interviews to animation historians, sometimes embellished for entertainment’s sake.

And with the exhibit, his take on “the art of animation” has an immersible, walk-through incarnation. Viewers get to enjoy the finished films, and to learn in grit-detail about each of the many components that went into them.

Can this help revive interest in “analog” animation?

And, just as importantly, can it help rescue the classic WB shorts from extra-tier-cable-channel purgatory?

SOMETIMES THE MAP ACTUALLY IS THE TERRITORY
Jun 12th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

…Especially if it’s this cartoon map of Washington from the 1930s.

It’s part of an every-state series made by Berta and Elmer Hader. It depicts the histories, industries, topographies, and agricultural products of each part of this Land-O-Contrasts place.

(Found via Vox.com.)

THREE THOTS ON YOOTOOB
Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

  1. Last Friday evening, a long line of excited but patient teenage girls gathered outside the Showbox. They were going to something called “Digitour O2L” (Our 2nd Life). That isn’t an electronic dance music ensemble, but a package tour of hot looking young men who simply post “video diary” monologues onto YouTube. These six idols (ages 15-21) don’t sing; they don’t dance. They just talk about stuff. And, with the nurturing attention of a couple of hotshot promoters, they’re raking in the bucks.
  2. YouTube itself, and its Google masters, are trying to make monetizable sense of a big part of the streaming video site’s offerings. One tactic is a subscription-based music service, to start some time this year. The company’s reached contracts with the Big Three (formerly Big Six) record companies. Smaller labels, though, are balking at YouTube’s proposed terms. As CNet describes the situation, “the massive video site requested the smaller labels automatically give up their royalty rate if a major label agrees to something lower.” YouTube is threatening to remove all videos from its main site by musicians whose labels don’t sign on for the subscription service. This could effect affect as much as 5 percent of all the music tracks on the site. There are plenty of other streaming-clip sites out there where these acts and/or their fans can place clips; but none of them has YouTube’s recognition or market share.
  3. Those other video sites also don’t have the massive inventory of clips YouTube can offer on its “Recommended For You” page, where so many users/viewers first find so much new and/or intriguing stuff. Why, just the other day that page referred me to Two Breaths To…, an educational film produced by Hanna-Barbera for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor. Hanford, Hanna-Barbera, the late beloved Casey Kasem narrating, and gruesome animated deaths—what’s not to love?

Two Breaths To…

FROM CITY LITE TO CITY OF LIT
Mar 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

As Sears’ Seattle store dies (see this blog’s previous entry), another company here in town has led a revival of shopping from home, with a “catalog” running to millions of auto-customized web pages.

But Amazon’s original business, and its most controversial presence, remains in books.

As George Packer recently noted in the New Yorker, Amazon has disrupted, and often infuriated, the champions of traditional publishing, also known as “Book Culture.”

Some of these folks gathered in Seattle in late February/early March for the annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

AWP’s main public event was a giant book fair on the convention’s final day, featuring hundreds of publishers big and small, for- and non-profit. It’s the one time a year, in a different city each year, when poetry is a business!

And Amazon was there, as a convention co-sponsor and as a vendor, with a book fair table advertising its self-publishing services.

One of the small literary publishers at the fair had a raffle for one of Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader devices. They promoted the raffle with a punching-bag toy, festooned with a photo of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ face.

More recently, Mayor Murray sent a formal proposal to UNESCO’s “Creative Cities” program, to become an officially, internationally recognized “City of Literature.”

The city’s formal application included a long original essay by Blueprints of the Afterlife novelist Ryan Boudinot.

The essay lists programs (to be supported partly by local public and private funding) Seattle would implement should it get the UNESCO nod. One of these programs would involve the city buying Hugo House’s building on Capitol Hill as a permanent “literary arts center” (that would also continue to house Hugo House’s programs).

Boudinot’s essay also gushes, in adoring detail, about Seattle and the Northwest’s cultural heritage(s) and its contributions in literature and publishing (especially Fantagraphics’ graphic novels) as well as in music and the visual arts.

And nowhere in the essay’s 7,000-plus words are the words “Amazon” or “Bezos” ever mentioned.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 1/9/14
Jan 8th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

cartoonbrew.com

  • DVD sales may be collapsing in the Age of Streaming, but cheap knockoff imitations of famous animated features keep showing up.
  • Has the City of Seattle finally found an effective legal weapon against notorious U District/Roosevelt slumlord Hugh Sisley?
  • The fallout of the Boeing Machinists’ vote is just going to get messier. And it’ll set lousy precedents all around.
  • Noah Smith at the Atlantic believes the years have proven the Seattle WTO protesters were right.
  • An especially gruesome local child-abuse scandal has made the UK tabloids.
  • No Country for Old Men novelist Cormac McCarthy’s ex wife was found arguing with her current boyfriend about UFOs, when she “gave birth” to a concealed gun.
  • Pundit Edgeny Morozov sees the brouhaha over Edward Snowden’s high-tech-snooping allegations not for what they say about modern governments but for what they say about modern business.
  • Fewer people are smoking (as a proportion of the world’s population). But more people are smoking (counting raw numbers).
  • Sir Run Run Shaw, 1907-2014: The king of Hong Kong commercial cinema essentially created the martial-arts action genre. The Shaw Brothers studio originally intended it as escapist entertainment for the international Chinese diaspora across the Pacific Rim. But many of these films, by Shaw’s and other studios, became a cinematic trope of global appeal. (Seattle’s own Bruce Lee worked for the Shaws’ archrivals Golden Harvest.) Raise a toast to the man while watching possibly the greatest studio-logo sequence in film history.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/27/13
Oct 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • It’s easy to really admire Jim Vallandingham’s project “Mapping Seattle Streets.” It’s harder to describe it. I’ll just say he’s using street grids and other map details to explain the city to itself.
  • You know I love the Clark Bar, and am eternally grateful to the NECCO people for saving the historic candy brand. So yes, I’m amused by the brand’s current ad campaign, in which women of various ethnicities say inexplicable things in foreign languages followed by a brief product plug in English.
  • Jonathan Franzen has become, alas, the very model of a modern get-off-my-lawn crank. Fortunately, Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has a lovely antidote, “The Rage of Jonathan Franzen”:

He is angry because Salman Rushdie uses Twitter, and nowadays people can buy books on the Internet, and the Home Depot, and he had to go to Germany one time, and also some women exist who have not had sex with him.

  • I wish NYT contributor Tim Kreider’s “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” was actually about organizing a crusade against dot-coms that expect artists and writers to work for them for free. Alas, all Kreider offers is a prepared statement you can use when you reject their “opportunities.”
  • Is long-term unemployment a “good” thing? Perhaps to Wall St. speculators.
  • The “Lofgren Corollary.” It’s a fancy term to describe how Republicans destroy government from inside, then proclaim how government isn’t working.
  • Lou Scheimer, 1929-2013: The cofounder of the Filmation cartoon studio broke through to the bigtime with a Saturday morning Superman cartoon show in the ’60s. It led to dozens of series over the next two decades. All but a few were based on established character “properties,” and almost all were considered to be factory-produced schlock. But they were all made in the U.S. by unionized staffs, with no outsourced animation. Thus, a disproportionate number of today’s top animation figures got their start under Scheimer.
  • My favorite “intellectual joke”: Rene Descartes goes into a bar, orders a drink, and drinks it. The bartender asks if he’ll have another. He says, “I think not,” and disappears.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/21/13
Oct 21st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

patchesofpride.wordpress.com

During our three-week-plus blogging absence, one of the events we failed to note was the demise of one of the unsung pop-culture greats, Samuel W. Petrucci. A logo and packaging designer, he worked on everything from the Charleston Chew candy wrapper to a Lassie lunch box. But he’s best known for the logo and box art on the original G.I. Joe dolls, often using himself as a model for Joe’s face. His daughter Lisa Petrucci is a prominent local “pop surrealist” painter and co-owner of Something Weird Video.

  • Don James, R.I.P.: He may have been the last great Husky football coach to date. He was certainly a figure of respect and sportsmanship, prior to the “Scoreboard, Baby” era of win-at-any-cost that ended up ruining the program.
  • A former contract worker at Google’s obscure Bothell office has mixed feelings about her time there; including, but not limited to, the paucity of female higher-ups.
  • Yes, there are (even in this climate of starved social needs) alternatives to “boarding” the mentally ill.
  • Alas, the extremely expensive manufactured crisis that was the govt. shutdown probably isn’t “the Tea Party’s last stand.” There will always be something else, real or made up, around which to ferment faux-outrage.
  • Meanwhile, Michael Lind at Salon sez the extreme-right-wing tactics so visible these days are simply old Southern white-right politics, ramped up by local/state operatives afraid of changing demographics permanently ruining their historic privileges.…
  • …and Daniel Goleman at the NYT says we face not only an economic gap but an “empathy gap.”
  • You can run all the exposes of the Koch brothers’ extreme-right-wing funding machine you want. It won’t persuade the conservative follower who only knows what right-wing “bubble media” tell him and who, therefore, has never even heard of the Koch brothers.
  • No, Cosmopolitan: The women who perform in hardcore porn vids indeed are “real women.” They’re just playing unreal characters.
  • As some of you know, I hated loudmouth alpha-male San Franciscans before it was cool.
  • Hollywood has successfully shut down a big BitTorrent index site.
  • Let’s close with some seldom-seen Edward Gorey art from long out-O-print satiric verse books by the undeservedly forgotten Felicia Lamport:

via brainpickings.org

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/20/13
Oct 20th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

charter construction via ronald holden, cornichon.org

Gosh, has it really been more than three weeks since I’ve done this? Time flies when you’re desperately looking for paying work (i.e., absolutely not “for the exposure”).

Anyhow:

  • The prefab apartment units (above) recently craned into place next to Dan’s Belltown Grocery on Third are not really “apodments.” They’re from a different developer than the company that owns that name. And they’re about 425 square feet each, a “regular apartment” size that’s much larger than those micro-apts.
  • Meanwhile, the residents (many of them elderly) of a Ballard apartment complex are standing their ground and refusing to be evicted from their longtime homes in the name of upscaling.
  • Use It Or Lose It Dept.: The current owners of Scarecrow Video say they’re in desperate fiscal straits. If enough former loyal customers don’t resume renting/buying “physical media” at the U District institution, “the world’s largest collection of movies” will go away forever.
  • Tom Foley, 1929-2013: The Spokane liberal (yes, there really are such) and former U.S. House Speaker thrived in a disappeared age of gentler, more cooperative politics (i.e., two-way backroom dealmaking). The end of that era was the end of his political career; he was ousted by a corporate Republican who promised to limit his own terms of office, then promptly forgot that promise.
  • As another baseball season reaches its last round, Steve Rudman claims the Mariners’ bosses don’t even know how clueless they are.
  • Stop the coal trains! (Besides, I always liked Thelonius Monk better.)
  • Great moments in market segmentation: Rave dancers now have a bottled water “made” just for them.
  • Of course, Sean Hannity’s “victims of Obamacare” were all fake. But you knew that.
  • Charles Simic at the NY Review o’ Books has harsh words for inequality deniers and other right-wing goons:

We have forgotten what this country once understood, that a society based on nothing but selfishness and greed is not a society at all, but a state of war of the strong against the weak.

rocketnews24.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/27/13
Sep 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

seattleglobalist.com

  • The thorough folks at Seattle Globalist traced UW-licensed apparel items back to the places where they were made, to the people who made them, and to how much more the people who made them would need to earn to meet the local cost of living.
  • Speaking of apparel, BuzzFeed’s got some sorry evidence of pathetic attempts to turn punk rock nostalgia into mere fashion-fad fodder.
  • Still speaking of apparel, Sesame Street really doesn’t like unauthorized “Sexy Big Bird” Halloween costumes. (You can still get the “Pho King Hot” waitress costume, though.)
  • Why is Storyville Coffee, a single espresso and pastry boutique in the Pike Place Market, spending so much on lavish pre-opening marketing (including a month of free food and drinks for invited guests)? Because (1) it’s the first unit of a planned chain, and (2) it’s got the zillionaire behind a for-profit college backing it. (And as an aside, the owners also have ties to the “hip” but reactionary Mars Hill Church.) (And as another aside, do they even know they’ve named it after New Orleans’ old red-light district?)
  • Can the scenic, low-density office “park” that is the ex-Battelle Research campus in Laurelhurst be saved? And should it?
  • Eric Stevick at the Everett Herald has the sad life story of a woman who basically never got a break her entire life, and then died in the Snohomish County jail because they wouldn’t send for medical help.
  • Bumper salmon runs! Yay! Just, you know, keep ’em away from the dogs.
  • Pasta-and-pride dept.: Barilla’s CEO doesn’t care much for the gays, but Bertolli (hearts) the gays. Or something like that.
  • Bono wants a more equitable tax system in Ireland, but will still keep his own millions stashed away in offshore trust accounts.
  • Could Google’s latest search-ranking changes finally kill off that bane to humanity that is “Search Engine Optimization”?
  • Ted Cruz apparently didn’t understand that Green Eggs and Ham is a liberal allegory about open mindedness. But he’s yesterday’s news. Today’s news is the conservatives’ next showdown target, the debt ceiling.
  • Do they serve Hello Kitty beer on the Hello Kitty plane?
  • Let’s leave you today with some visual inspiration, of sorts, in the form of “Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.”

terriblerealestateagentphotos.com

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© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).