Friday, July 31, 2009

Lessons Learned at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame

I'm in Cleveland for a Puppet Ministry Summerfest. Since I had a little extra time this morning I decided to visit the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. It was pretty cool, though there were some disappointments...No photo rule!?!?? How un-rock n roll can you get?

The museum houses a lot of classic instruments and memorabilia such as costumes and stage props. One of the things that was interesting to note about so many of the outfits that rock legends wore in concerts, in videos, and on album covers is that they really don't look all that impressive up close. You can see the flaws. You can see that they're made out of the same junk your wardrobe from Wal-Mart is made of.

The Hot Dog you see above hangs in the loby of the Hall of Fame (which is the only area where photos are allowed), it was used in concert by the band Phish. When you look at it from above you can see inside the bun and I noticed that it's made out of some of the same materials I've seen many a puppet prop made out of.

This all got me thinking that we always hear that those of us in children's ministry and puppet ministry can't compete with what the entertainment industry puts out. Why even try, right? Wrong!! Guess what, they work with the same materials we do. Same scrap fabrics, same goofy looking sequins, same spray paint, same chicken wire. The only difference is that folks like Beyonce and Prince are nuts enough to pay millions for it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Beware of Barnacle Bill

Beware of Barnacle Bill
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Available on: Popeye the Sailor Vol. 1

It's been so long since I've blogged. Doesn't quite seem right to call it "Cartoon a Day" with a such a long absence. What can I say, life gets crazy sometimes. Well, let's give it another go, shall we.

Today we return with a true classic of the early Popeye series, "Beware of Barnacle Bill," sometimes refereed to simply as "Barnacle Bill the Sailor." In this short, Popeye has come to ask Olive to ask him to marry her, but she tells him that she is in love with Barnacle Bill, played by Bluto.

This film is sort of like a mini opera, with the characters singing the song "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" as a bridge between the fights. The Fleischer studio excelled at producing cartoons where music was the centerpiece and this short is a great example of that. The cartoon is not complex, it's just three characters and it all takes place in one room. However, the way the music and the animation work together is superb.

I've got to say, the final gag involving Popeye is a classic. It seems so out of character for him to be cleaning up the mess that he and Bluto caused, but then when he undoes all that work with one door slam it makes perfect sense.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Jessica Simpson Sings for Tony the Tiger?

While getting up-to-date on current events this evening I ran across the following interesting headline over at the Fox News website.

Of course, my simple mind pictured Jessica Simpson singing for the Frosted Flakes pitchman (Tony the Tiger), not her boyfriend Tony Romo and Tiger Woods. And of course, what was the famous cereal loving Tiger's review of her vocal talents? "They're Grrrrreeeeaaat!"

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Muscle Beach Tom

Muscle Beach Tom
Directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Available on: Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection Vol. 2

Welcome to the miracle of Cinemascope! You don't run across many widescreen cartoon shorts, but this is one of them. It's a short I saw hundreds of times on TV as a child, but I never realized that was a pan and scan version.

In this short, Jerry is enjoying a day at the beach when Tom, who is trying to impress a young lady cat, interrupts. Jerry does seek his revenge but ends up being a spectator for most of the film as another cat tries to make the moves on Tom's girl and the two end up doing a fine job of beating each other up with little help from the mouse.

This film really makes great use of the widescreen format and it's wonderful to see the beautiful art work in widescreen. This one is not as over-the-top violent as many Tom and Jerry films, but does display some great pacing from Hanna and Barbera. It moves very smoothly from gag to gag and shows just how well they knew these characters. We associate Hanna Barbera with so many other TV characters now, but back at this time they worked Tom and Jerry exclusively and their expertise with the cat and mouse shows in this short.