Monday, July 19, 2010

Now Showing: "Betty Boop, M.D."

Initially released in September 1932, Betty Boop, M.D. features the voice talents of Mae Questel; given the mini-horror flicks that pharmaceutical company commercials (or, more precisely, their lists of potential side-effects) have become, the Pop Culture Institute is grateful for the chance to demonstrate that, as far as the business of healing people goes, 'twas ever thus... Today's doctor is little more than the snake-oil salesmen under whose thrall our beloved Betty Boop, her friend Koko the Clown, and dog Bimbo seem to have fallen here.

In order to illustrate the outrageous side-effects of 'Jippo' (which is actually just water) director Dave Fleischer and his Fleischer Studios animators - Willard Bowsky and Thomas Goodson - have resorted to some of the most surreal images committed in ink upon celluloid until the 1970s.
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In Memoriam: Max Fleischer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1883 was Max Fleischer; the man whose Fleischer Studios was responsible for Popeye, in addition to being the first to animate Superman, was also responsible for one of the greatest cartoon characters of them all: Betty Boop.

He and his brother Dave also invented the rotoscope, whereby a live action figure could be animated by tracing; amazingly the patent for the rotoscope was granted as long ago as 1917.
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Happy Birthday Atom Egoyan

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIf all a person knew about Canada they'd learned from reading our literature and watching our movies, they might think this is a bleak country where only bad things happen and nobody ever laughs...

Partly responsible for this misapprehension is Atom Egoyan, who today turns 50; because of people like him - although by no means is he the only one to blame - Canadian comedians must leave Canada in order to be funny on film.

Although his career peaked a full decade ago, when his critically acclaimed film The Sweet Hereafter* was nominated for an Academy Award, it would be a mistake to count him out just yet. Film, unlike many other fields of endeavour in the arts, is an older man's game. Something tells me Egoyan's got plenty of ghoulish, haunting images left in him yet...

*Based on Russell Banks' novel of the same name.

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"God Save The Queen" by Brian May

Here we see birthday boy Brian May - rock god, founding member of Queen, and pioneering guitar hero - performing God Save The Queen from the roof of Buckingham Palace as part of Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee Celebration in 2002; his performance, which opened the Party at the Palace held in Buckingham Palace Garden on June 3rd, was widely derided by republican elements* within Britain's punditocracy as being the antithesis of rock and roll.

Fortunately, we don't think like that around here, and relish any opportunity we can get to post the royal anthem...

*Like anyone gives a fuck what those losers think.
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Pop History Moment: The Salem Witch Trials Gain Momentum

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On this day in 1692 the Salem Witch Trials began to gather momentum when five women - Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes - were hanged for witchcraft on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts - because that's what Jesus would have done. The trials followed the execution of Bridget Bishop on June 10th, and before they ended in May 1693 would see as many as 150 people falsely accused and imprisoned...
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POPnews - July 19th

[Thought to have been named for the sister of England's King Henry VIII - a lady who was once Queen of France but is best remembered today as Mary Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk - the Mary Rose was the flagship of the Royal Navy when she sank; likely because it could not be attributed to weather, maritime hazards, or warfare, her sinking entered the common lore of the English people in a way that numerous other wrecks of the era did not... Although she was accidentally discovered by fishermen in June 1836, and a few of her treasures were recovered by John Deane at that time, the site was largely forgotten by 1840; Alexander McKee began a new search in 1965, and in 1971 a springtide, combined with a severe gale, uncovered a layer of sediment, leaving several structural timbers clearly visible. The site came under the aegis of the Protection of Wrecks Act in February 1974, until such time as funds could be raised to rescue her from the seabed.]
711 CE - Muslim forces under Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated the Visigoths led by their king Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete; this early battle in the Islamic conquest of Hispania marks the point where seemingly random skirmishes against Europeans by Berbers became all-out war.

1333 - At the Battle of Halidon Hill - the final conflict of the Second War of Scottish Independence - the Scots under Sir Archibald Douglas were badly defeated by the army of England's King Edward III.

1544 - During the Italian War of 1542-6 - which you'll remember pitted France's King Francis I and Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (who was also King of Spain) and Henry VIII - England's Duke of Suffolk undertook the Siege of Boulogne, which would last until the city was taken on September 18th... Whereupon the Emperor made peace with France, who then instigated the Second Siege of Boulogne in order to take the city back.

- The Tudor warship Mary Rose sank during the Battle of the Solent off Portsmouth as King Henry VIII looked on from the vantage point of nearby Southsea Castle; she was raised in October 1982 and is being painstakingly preserved while on display with over 19,000 artefacts from the wreck in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.

1553 - Lady Jane Grey was succeeded by Mary, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, as Queen of England after having held her title for just nine days; as Mary was being proclaimed by the people of London, Lady Jane was being escorted to the Tower of London, where she would meet her fate in February 1554.

1588 - The Spanish Armada was first sighted in the English Channel off Cornwall's St Michael's Mount.

1760 - The formal request to found the Puerto Rican city that became Mayagüez was filed by its founders - Faustino Martínez de Matos, Juan de Silva and Juan de Aponte; a charter would be granted by the Spanish Crown the following September 18th.

1843 - Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship the SS Great Britain was launched, becoming the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and also becoming the largest vessel afloat in the world.

1848 - The two-day Women's Rights Convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York, at which bloomers were introduced.

1864 - The Third Battle of Nanking - the last major engagement of the Taiping Rebellion - pitted Zeng Guofan of the Qing Dynasty against Hong Xiuquan and Li Xiucheng; as many as 200,000 Taiping rebels died as the rebellion, which had begun on March 14th, faltered.

1879 - Doc Holliday and noted gunman John Joshua Webb were seated in a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico, when a former US Army scout named Mike Gordon began yelling loudly at one of the saloon girls. When Gordon stormed from the saloon, Holliday followed him; Gordon produced his pistol and fired one shot, missing. Holliday immediately drew his gun and fired, killing Gordon. It was the first killing committed by Holliday, but it wouldn't be the last, even though Holliday was later acquitted of the crime in court.

1908 - Dutch football club Feyenoord Rotterdam was founded.

1912 - A meteorite with an estimated mass of 190 kg exploded over Holbrook - in Navajo County, Arizona - scattering approximately 16,000 pieces of debris over the town.

1916 - At the same time as the Battle of the Somme was raging 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south, the Battle of Fromelles marked the first time the Australian Imperial Force saw action on the Western Front in World War I, and was itself a slaughter; in all there were 5,533 Australian casualties on that day - an event described at Canberra's Australian War Memorial as 'the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history' - and yet it was a decisive German victory, as Allied forces failed to gain any ground from the action.

1919 - Following Peace Day celebrations marking the end of World War I, ex-servicemen rioted and burnt down Luton Town Hall.

1947 - Burmese nationalist Aung San, 6 of his cabinet, and 2 others were assassinated.

1963 - Joe Walker flew a North American X-15 to a record altitude of 106,010 metres (347,800 feet) on X-15 Flight 90; by exceeding an altitude of 100 km, his flight qualified as a human spaceflight under international convention.

1976 - Nepal's Sagarmatha National Park was created.

1985 - The Val di Stava Dam collapse killed 268 people in Val di Stava, Italy.

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