Call for Blogtoberfest Entries!

I always welcome guest posts at The Jump, but I take the collection thereof more seriously from October 1 to All Hallows Eve. The results have been varied and awesome, ranging in topic from witches to zombies to Neil Diamond.

Over the years, Blogtoberfest Guest Post submissions evolved into a full-on contest, with winners, prizes, and the bestowing of appropriate amounts of online glory.

Winners will be decided by readers via an online poll at the end of the month. There’s no length requirement or limit, and posts need not be spooky. October is also the month of harvest, baseball, and Breast Cancer Awareness. It may be that you or your organization has an annual event this month that deserves a little publicity. Whatever the topic – if it says October to you is fair game!

Prizes will be announced soon, and posts are accepted throughout the month, so get writing and send your entries to writerjax -at- gmail.com!

Oo-de-Lally: 10 Favorite Disney Films (animated)

Robin Hood and Little John walkin’ through the forest

Robin Hood

So no one else likes this one apparently? 52% on Rotten Tomatoes? Well, it’s still my favorite, as proven by watching it recently on Netflix with immeasurable glee.

Further, I swore I saw Robin Hood — and a slew of other Disney classics — in theaters as a kid, even though many of them were originally released decades earlier. Sure enough, a quick Google search reveals that Disney did indeed re-release several animated movies in the eighties to keep interest up in the new releases and avoid that pesky VHS fad. This was before they invented that stupid vault.

The marketing move seems to have had a big influence on my list, so read on with a grain of nostalgia.

 

The Little John – Baloo similarities are not lost on me.

 Jungle Book

Easily the best soundtrack of all of the Disney animated films, IMO, featuring Louis Prima and Phil Harris. Also my mum’s favorite, and one of the few animated films able to make vultures work as characters.

 

Fantasia Live at Boston Symphony Hall…

Fantasia

Another controversial pick – the critically acclaimed/panned Walt Disney passion project, a compilation of shorts set to classical scores.

I love all of the films, but what I think many people don’t love is that some sections feature dancing Hippos, while others include dying brontosauri and creepy nuns. I was a weird kid so it all sat fine with me. I understand from some friends, however, that they were emotionally scarred by Fantasia long before it was the name of an American Idol winner.

…it was a whale of a show. Shut up.

Fantasia 2000

The sequel was received a little better, and is a little less uneven. Great to watch in tandem with the original – American Rhapsody and what seems to be colloquially known as ‘the whale one’ are highlights.

 

WFRR was the first time Looney Tunes and Disney characters appeared on screen together.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Why is this – and, for that matter, Song of the South – on the animated films list and Bedknobs & Broomsticks is not? Does it have to do with sheer time of animation on screen? Regardless it’s annoying. But WFRR is still a great movie with a lot of innovation for its time, and enough animated character cameos (Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, assorted dwarves) to keep me happy, and save its spot on the list.

 

An example of the early entourage

Sleeping Beauty

I like the little fairies.

 

I had the Oliver Christmas ornament from McDonalds foreverrrr.

Oliver & Company

Billy Joel as a dog! And you know who else voices characters in this one? Robert Loggia. Bette Midler. Richard Mulligan. I bet they recorded their parts in a smoky steakhouse with red vinyl booths in West Hollywood.

 

To infinity – and aisle seven!!

Toy Story

I was working part-time at KayBee Toys when this movie came out and we all reserved our VHS copies (by now, delivered in puffy plastic binder-sized cases instead of cardboard sleeves) right off the truck. We loved Woody and Buzz until Christmastime, when the sought after toys came out, and every parent on the planet turned into a psychopath. That might be one reason why Toy Story 2 isn’t on this list.

A Bug’s Life: the niche actor insect flick

A Bug’s Life

I remember this being released around the same time as Dreamworks’ Antz, and everyone was all, A Bug’s Life is lame! Antz is where it’s at!

But I always liked this one more. It has the geeks line-up of voice talent: Kids in the Hall‘s Dave Foley, Madeline Kahn, Denis Leary, and a pre-American Beauty Kevin Spacey, while Antz was a weird powerhouse showcase including Woody Allen, Anne Bancroft, Sharon Stone, and Sylvester Stallone. Huh?

A Bug’s Life also includes a ‘blooper reel’ at the credits that I fully appreciate.

 

Finding photos labeled for reuse is often hilarious.

 The Lion King

I feel like The Lion King just sort of has to be on the list. I mean, it was great; I saw it in the theater as an adult. It’s pure animated camp to me now, but at one time, most of us were caught up in the circle of life. Not as much as Julie Taymor though.

Bonus Question: What Disney-movie toys and books do you remember from your youth?

 

 

Top Five Bowie Touchpoints for Gen-Xers

David Bowie’s career spanned six decades, and as such, fans of varying ages have different memories. For those of us who suffered diligently through the eighties and nineties, these five cultural touchpoints might ring a bell. Leave your own recollections in the comments…

5. Bowie and Bing, 1977

This rendition of Little Drummer Boy, originally recorded for a 1977 TV special: Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, became a radio standard in the eighties — adding to the long list of ridiculous things we took seriously. But heck, it’s a nice arrangement… Bowie wrote the Peace on Earth harmony, and the duo recorded just a month before Bing Crosby died, marking one of his final recordings.

4. Cool World, 1992

Cool World is half live-action, half animation and stars Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne, and this young up-and-comer named W. Bradley Pitt. It ranked among my very favorite films in 1992, because I was 14, and it was on a relatively short list of PG-13 films I’d ever been allowed to see. So of course I remember it as an edgy, avant-garde masterpiece… In reality notsomuch, but its soundtrack was kick-ass and got (much) better reviews than the film, featuring a song written by Bowie and produced by Nile Rodgers  — Real Cool World — as well as tracks by the Thompson Twins, Ministry, and Moby. The video is quite the slice of the early nineties, too: we never actually see Bowie’s face, but his dance moves rival Christopher Walken’s.

3. The Breakfast Club, 1985

We all know how the movie starts… the lyric from Changes appears on a black title screen. We read it solemnly, knowingly, even though we’re confused as hell. Then the screen shatters, and we’re left with the exterior view of Shermer High School on a gray morning. There’s really not much more to the Bowie Lyric Legend of The Breakfast Club (that I can find), except that Ally Sheedy might have suggested it. Regardless, there it will always be, perplexing viewers until the end of time.

2. The Man Who Sold the World – Nirvana cover, 1993

Fast-forward to 1993, when the thrift store sweaters and plaid flannels started to emerge, along with the fast-and-furious trading of Nirvana albums bootlegged onto Maxell blank cassette tapes. The one that required two blank tapes was Nirvana Unplugged, which included the cover of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World that grungy teenagers everywhere proclaimed ‘the best Nirvana song ever.’ Such wankers, we were.

1. Labyrinth, 1986

Bowie as The Goblin King Jareth was probably the only reason my older brother would ever deign to watch a movie with me in the eighties, but I didn’t care — there he was, pretending not to enjoy one of Bowie’s five original tunes on the soundtrack. Like most of the films from my youth, this one received tepid reviews, but has since become a cult classic. On a side note, I’m really hoping to see a lot of Jareths this Halloween.

The Cosby Effect: Bastardizing my Childhood and Fouling up the Future

Photo via Ted Eytan / flickr

I wasn’t going to throw my hat into this ring, but the Bill Cosby cluster currently in the news is messing with my nostalgic head.

I’m 37 years old … I mention that because, as a young Gen Xer, I was a spectator during what were arguably Cosby’s most active years. We played Picture Pages together first, then I spent a few years imitating Fat Albert’s signature Hey, Hey, Hey greeting.

When The Cosby Show first aired, I was too young to stay up and watch it, so I would creep out of bed and crouch on the stairs where I could see the TV through a small window in the kitchen. When I did graduate to an 8:30 bedtime, I’d watch in my parents room, sitting on the floor with my knees tucked under my chin. I got a special treat once, being allowed to watch his comedy special Bill Cosby: Himself with my parents and cousins… I didn’t understand all of the jokes, but his impressions of his wife breathing through labor and after Novocaine at the dentist had me in hysterics. And even after a first taste proved I didn’t really like them, I still asked my mum for Jell-o Pudding Pops every week.

Cosby’s influence continued into my pre-teen years with A Different World, a spin-off that took place at the fictional Hillman College. In thinking about it today, I realized that the show might not be why I went to college, but it was one reason why I was excited about the prospect from middle school right on up to graduation.

I don’t know if the allegations we’re hearing now are true, or if some are true and some are false, or if Cosby’s silence is an attempt at refusing to dignify lies or avoiding an admission of guilt. Some of the stories we’re hearing have a disturbingly true ring to them, others don’t.

What’s most notable to me, though, is any other public figure from my past probably wouldn’t have me thinking about it so much. If we were hearing about Ron Howard, John Cusak, or another champion of the eighties, I’d probably absorb the headline and wait to see how the story panned out. This one just has me feeling alternately sick and sad. If Cliff Huxtable is an inescapable sod, how will we be able to rein in our cynicism and suspicion of others moving forward? Is this the tipping point at which we enter a world where every celebrity, role model, or influential figure is viewed with a raised eyebrow?

Moreover, will every explosive accusation from now on be analyzed to death by a slew of talking heads who pore over every clip, every interview, and every article looking for something inflammatory, whether it’s the truth or not? Yes, we see this kind of ‘reporting’ already, but the Cosby Circus really has me ruminating on what our media coverage is turning into. In my eyes, the women coming forward are being turned into a side show. If they are telling the truth, that’s another assault on them. If they — or some of them — are lying, they’re positioning themselves as the next permutation of low-rent reality TV. We’re in a world now where a CNN anchor has been given a platform to tell women they should just bite the penis of the man forcing them to perform oral sex. I won’t even get started on how ludicrous that is, but what’s next — a demonstration?

For decades, Bill Cosby has been synonymous with World’s Greatest Dad. I used to put him up on a shelf with the best dads I knew, including my own. I can’t do that anymore, whether it’s the result of his own actions or those of damaging stories spinning out of control. It’s getting too hard to tell… and we need to change the channel. Quick.