First class, second class

About a hundred thousand years ago, I saw several episodes of the International Festival of Animation on teevee, with Jean Marsh as host. Some of the short films were wonderful; others were tedious. As the show progressed, the proportion of the latter increased, and I eventually lost patience. My favorite was a piece called “Second Class Passenger,” an account of an uneventful train ride in Europe. Once I discovered YouTube, I’d search periodically to see if someone had uploaded it. I finally found it this afternoon.

“Traveller Second Class” was released in 1973 by Borivoj Dovnikovic, or “Bordo,” of the Zagreb school of animation. There’s quite a bit of Zagreb animation at YouTube, including more of Dovnikovic. It’s sometimes good — the character designs and slapstick often remind me of Jay Ward productions — but too often the fun is compromised by an excess of message. The train ride is the only example I can unreservedly recommend.

Not Tweety Pie

There are still a few glitches, but it looks like I finally have my website back after a botched migration. (Thank you so much, InMotion Hosting, for a most memorable weekend.) To celebrate, here’s Sylvain Chomet to show why I am not a twit, featuring a cameo by President Selfie.

Update: It seems InMotion forgot to repoint both nameservers. Within 24 hours — in principle — everything should be working properly. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Update II: See also Terry Teachout.


I just discovered that Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters was made into a movie. It’s not the Discworld novel I would have chosen — Granny Weatherwax is my least-favorite of Pratchett’s recurring characters, and I’d have preferred a good adaptation of The Light Fantastic ((The title was deliberately chosen to annoy Robbo.)) — but it’s still funnier than most alleged comedies. Chrstopher Lee is a resonant Death, though his voice doesn’t have “all the warmth and colour of an iceberg.” Although Wyrd Sisters is animated, Nanny Ogg’s abundant presence renders it not quite suitable for children. She sings a bit of her hedgehog song, too.

Groucho gets wyrd

There are some things in the movie that I don’t remember from the book.

Update: It turns out that a lot of Pratchett has been dramatized, and much of it is available and inexpensive — downright cheap, sometimes, if you buy used. I just ordered these:

The Colour of Magic (which also adapts The Light Fantastic ((“You know when we were flying and I was worried we might hit something in the storm and you said that the only thing we could possibly hit at this height was a cloud stuffed with rocks?”
“How did you know?”)) )

Soul Music


There’s also a Discworld calendar, but since I already have four other 2015 calendars ordered, I think I’ll pass.


The Lavender Hill Mob by crazedigitalmovies

I stumbled across a few old favorite movies. Above is The Lavender Hill Mob, an Ealing Studio classic featuring Alec Guinness and his classic smile.

Interstella 5555 by pyke369

Probably the greatest AMV ever made. I’m not particularly fond of either Daft Punk or Leiji Matsumoto, but the combination works very well.

Yellow Submarine (1968) George Dunning with… by myfilm-gr

You have a choice of Yellow Submarines. Above is from a lower-quality source; below looks better, but the aspect ratio is wrong.

Yellow Submarine 1968 full movie by ursula-strauss

100 years ago today …

… (yesterday, actually) Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur debuted. (The live-action first half of Gertie is here.)


Today’s headline: Russia Issues Terror Alert For ‘Moose And Squirrel’


So, what is the state of animation a hundred years later? Let’s take a quick look at the winter 2014 anime season.

The only show I can recommend is the hellish comedy Hozuki no Reitetsu. Much of the humor depends on knowledge of Japanese legends and folklore as well as contemporary Japanese culture. If you’re not familiar with the story of Momotaro, for instance, you’ll miss many of the jokes in the first episode. Even so, enough of the humor survives translation, ((Sometimes excessively free translation; e.g., in the fourth episode, the rabbit’s victims are tanuki, not badgers, but “We don’t need no stinkin’ tanuki” doesn’t have the same impact.)) and this account of the life of a competent, dour oni in an underworld populated largely by flakes and silly people nicely illustrates the close relationship between humor and horror. It also features the second-most bizarre ending animation of the season, starting with the second episode.

If you’re interested in the art of animation, Space Dandy might be worth watching. (There are episode-by-episode discussions here.) The title character is an unsympathetic jerk, however, and the stories aren’t particularly interesting. It’s probably best enjoyed without subtitles and without sound.

The third episode of World Conquest: Zvezda Plot reminded me of Cold Turkey and Yasutaka Tsutsui’s “The Last Smoker,” and I wondered if it might be another Excel Saga. However, the fourth episode was merely weird, and the fifth dumb, and I’m losing patience.

Witch Craft Works has the winter’s most bizarre ending animation. It’s also the second series to feature an iron maiden (but not Iron Maiden). Five episodes in, it looks like the dweebish protagonist is caught in the middle of a war between the witches of order and the witches of chaos, and that every female he knows is more than she appears to be. It also seems that he himself has a past he doesn’t know about. I hesitate to give Witch Craft Works a recommendation. Every episode adds complications and new characters, and I will be surprised if the crew can bring the show to a satisfactory resolution in just twelve episodes. However, thus far it’s held my attention, and, despite the female lead’s over-ample bust, fan service has been negligible.

Nothing else I’ve sampled is worth mentioning.