Monday, November 11, 2013

Superheroic Veteran's Day

First of all, I salute all veterans on this Veteran's Day, including my biological dad Bruce (Vietnam), my late uncle Ken (World War II), and two who are currently serving in the Navy, my friend Jen Waters and my brother Keefe Jackman.

I started off the day with the last of my wartime shorts. The controversy surrounding the Vietnam War and the younger audiences for animation in the 50s and 60s (not to mention the memory of the overload of World War II shorts) made many directors shy away from war as a subject for cartoons. One exception was featured in the Pink Panther series. Lured by a glamorous recruiting poster, Pink finds himself in the Vietnam-era Army, dodging land mines and cranky drill sergeants in "G.I Pink."

Superheroes were all the rage during World War II, but none were bigger than one who debuted a few years before the war - Superman! Also debuting just months before the war began was the Paramount Superman cartoon series. It was probably inevitable that Superman would fight the Axis in the cartoons, given the tenor of the comics of the day. Unfortunately, while the caricatures in "Japoteurs" and "The Eleventh Hour" are a bit less comic and obvious than the ones in the Popeye/Famous Studios shorts, that doesn't make them any less creepy or obnoxious. "Eleventh Hour" does have some really interesting, shadowy animation as Superman works to sabotage the enemy. "Secret Agent," the final short (and the only one to not feature Lois Lane), is better. Superman has to rescue a double agent who has flushed out a spy ring and is trying to get a list of their names to Washington DC.

Popeye and Bluto did one Army-themed short in the mid-30s. "I'm In the Army Now" was supposed to be the two of them explaining to the Army recruiter how qualified they are to join the ranks when Olive insists she loves men in uniform. It's really an excuse for a clip show of of segments from earlier shorts. Tom and Jerry's only wartime short was far more creative. In fact, "The Yankee Doodle Mouse" won the series' first Oscar for best animated short subject. Tom and Jerry start a war of their own when they take their cat-and-mouse antics to a stockpile of munitions and fireworks!

Headed to the laundromat after Tom and Jerry ended. It was a lovely day for a walk, blue and blustery, with just a few feathery clouds in the sky at that point. The laundromat was very busy, not surprising for noon on a major holiday. It was just as well that I didn't have a huge load. I was in and out in less than an hour.

I ran Care Bears Nutcracker when I got back in and organized my clothes and made a spinach-mushroom omelet for lunch. This was the only holiday special done for the late 80s Care Bears Family show. This variation on the beloved ballet takes the Bears and Cousins to a small town at Christmas. A young girl named Anna is upset because her only friend moved away. Her younger brother Peter only cares about having adventures. When a confused Nutcracker appears in their house with nasty rats hot on his heels, they both get more friendship and adventure than they bargained for.

Work was about what I figured it would be, which is to say, insanely busy until about 5PM or so, mildly steady thereafter. Today is a major holiday, and it's the last major holiday before Thanksgiving really kicks in the Christmas season. A lot of people are stocking up for the next few weeks and starting their Thanksgiving shopping. It had slowed down enough by 9 that I was able to leave without a relief.

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