Canvas – The Simpsons theme song

An evening pause: About two years ago I said to Diane that I’d never seen any of The Simpsons animated TV show. Neither had she. Since then we have watched all the available episodes on DVD, covering most of the first twenty seasons.

What first impressed us about the show was how actually normal and family-oriented it was, in the beginning. It was not the “edgy” ugly portrayal of America its reputation had implied.

Over time that theme was more and more lost, though whenever the writers went back to those roots the show shined. Even so, what was most impressive was how the show managed somehow to remain fresh, for most of that time period. Except for a period around season nine, the satire and jokes remained solid for almost all of the first twenty years.

Since the last ten years have not been put on DVD, we won’t likely see them. No matter. Twenty years of The Simpsons was great, but it was more than enough.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman, who used numerous musical quotes from the series to find many great evening pauses.

Ivashka and Baba-Yaga

A evening pause: An entertaining animated cartoon from Soviet Russia, 1938. It subconsciously reveals much about Russia’s rough society of that time between the world wars. Even in the 1930s Russia was still largely an illiterate peasant culture, less than three generations since the freeing of the serfs and now ruled by Stalin and the communists with an iron hand.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

Robots

An evening pause: This sequence from the animated film Robots (2005) is a very typical scene from almost every modern Hollywood film, whether real or animated (though the difference is getting harder to see as they put more and more CGI in every film). Regardless, it is fun, and takes the idea of a Rube Goldberg device to a very strange extreme.

Hat tip Bob Robert.

Walt Disney’s MultiPlane Camera

An evening pause: This was filmed in 1957, and was almost certainly made to be shown as part of Disney’s weekly television show series for kids that began in 1954 and was one of television’s most popular shows in the 1960s. It describes one of the most important technical developments in animation, developed by Disney, until the arrival of computers.

To repeat: This was made for kids, yet it is thoughtful, entertaining, educational, and quite detailed in the information being conveyed. It treats its young audience with great respect and dignity.

I generally do not watch children’s shows today, but the few that I have seen have generally been quite shallow, overwrought, and would have insulted me, when I was a child. I don’t know if today’s kids would react the same today, because when I was a child Disney’s show was somewhat typical. I expected to be treated with respect. Today’s kids might not have that expectation.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.

The Amazing Paul Frees

An evening pause: You have heard his voice, many times. This highlight reel, suggested by Jim Mallamace, includes just a few, all amazingly different:

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion
Boris Badenov
Pillsbury Doughboy
Lion and Mouse
Voyages Through Inner Space
Burgermeister Meisterburger
The Beatles Cartoon
Morocco Mole
Ludwig von Drake

He was a contemporary of Mel Blanc (most famous for providing the voices for Warner Brothers’ cartoons), was as good, but is far less well known.

Russ Roberts – It’s a Wonderful Loaf

An evening pause:

We know there’s order built into the fabric of the world
Of nature. Flocks of geese! Schools of fish! And every boy and girl
Delights in how the stars shine down in all their constellations
And the planets stay on track and keep the most sublime relations

With each other. Order’s everywhere. Yet we humans too create it
It emerges. No one intends it. No one has to orchestrate it.
It’s the product of our actions but no single mind’s designed it
There’s magic without wizards if you just know how to find it

I suspect that readers of Behind the Black will know the answer to this mystery.

Hat tip Edward Thelen.

Educated Fish

An evening pause: I especially like the worm’s imitation of Mae West.

On a more serious note, these old animated films provide a very real window into the culture that existed in America in the 1930s. If you want to know where we are going, compare this to today’s art.

Hat tip James Mallamace.

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