Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1987

Well, here we are in our 25th review! On one hand I'm thinking, "Yey! We're at 25 reviews already!" On the other hand, we've been doing this since February. With only 25 reviews in four months, it'll take a long time before I finally finish. Oh well. I'm liking this one review / week pace. I don't foresee myself doing it any faster again, especially with board studying coming up. Plus, it should give me more time to get those last seven shorts I am missing. Although it'll be hard with one still locked up in Disney vaults, this time without a Prometheus-like director to release it to the public, and another one considered lost. But I'll still do my best.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day' Jigsaw Puzzle

The year was 1968. Walt Disney Studios was in a bit of a funk when it came to the category that they had dominated over 30 years ago. Between 1954 and 1967, they received eight nominations in the Best Animated Short category, but Disney could do nothing but watch as films from other studios and later independent studios took home the Oscar. They had not won since Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom won in 1953. They hadn't even been nominated since A Symposium of Popular Songs in 1962. And it had been two years since Disney himself had died from complications of lung cancer in 1966. Yet before he died he oversaw productions of three final projects: The Jungle Book, The Happiest Millionaire, and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. The latter was the second film based off of A.A. Milne's classic Winnie the Pooh series, following Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in 1966. Blustery Day saw the introduction of the energetic Tigger, and the re-introduction of Pooh's very best friend Piglet. It also featured a half dozen wonderful songs from Richard and Robert Sherman. And when the Academy Awards came around in early 1969, Blustery Day beat out a NFB film, a Murakami-Wolf film, and a Hubley film for the Oscar. Disney was credited posthumously with the win for being the executive producer. It was his 22nd Oscar win, a record which may never be broken, and his final one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1988

1988 was one of the more significant years in the turbulent decade of my birth. It was the year of the Bush/Dukakis presidential race, the year Soviet Russia begins its perestroika movement that will eventually contribute to the fall of the USSR. Lee Teng-Hui and Benezir Bhutto come into power in Taiwan and Pakistan respectively. US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop releases the groundbreaking report that nicotine is addictive, which may or may not (probably not) have led to tobacco giant Philip Morris buying Kraft Foods. And Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270, all victims of terrorism.

In the sports world, the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in Seoul and Calgary respectively. Kirk Gibson, who was almost essentially lame after injuring both lower extremities, hits a backdoor slider off of Dennis Eckersley blowing the minds of Jack Buck and Vin Scully. In the film world, Rain Man was the surprise box office champ, and was later the Oscar champ, taking home four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman. Dangerous Liaisons and the live action/animation hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit were big winners as well.

Yet the most significant race may have been the with the animated shorts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1989

Ah, we have reached 1989. Not only are we at a new decade, but as a popular xkcd comic noted, we have arrived at a year which is closer to the moon landing than it is to present day. Then again, the first year of the Best Animated Short category (1932) is now closer to the birth of Old Hoss Radbourn* than it is to the present day. Beyond the fact that most people born in 1989 would now be finishing college, it was also a rather significant year in animation history, as it was the year that marked the beginning of the Disney Renaissance.

*Charles Gardner "Old Hoss" Radbourn was the earliest born of all 300-game winning pitchers in baseball, having been born in 1854. He began his career with the Providence Grays in 1881, and three years later won 59 games in one year, a record which may never be broken. He was also the first person to be photographed giving the finger back in 1886. He won his 300th game on June 2, 1891 and died in 1897 from neurosyphilis. Yet his spirit lives on - as snarky as ever - on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1990

This going backwards thing certainly makes for some interesting dynamics. We're now at the first year of the 1990s, which happens to be our last year in this decade. After that we'll be going into the 1980s and 1970s and so on. The 1990s were certainly a meaningful decade for me. It was the decade where I spent most of my formative years, since I was going on five when the decade started and going on 15 when it ended. I've thought about doing some sort of a retrospective write-up of the 1990s where I'd rank each year by how good it was, along with some special memories. But I've been too lazy to get it started, and I'm sure nobody would want to read it. So I'll just be reviewing the Oscar nominated animated shorts instead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Randy Johnson's 300th Win - 3rd Anniversary

And now for something completely different.

My other interests besides animation is baseball, and one of my favorite things about baseball is keeping track of pitcher wins, even though that has become one of the most useless stats. In addition to following the baseball scores every night, I also make sure to pay attention to the winning and losing pitchers so I can follow their career record, as they make the long and often futile trek to the most glamorous and also most elusive of the pitching milestones: 300 wins. Well today is the 3rd anniversary of the last time any pitcher reached the 300th win milestone, and I had the opportunity to be present and witness baseball history. This would be something nice that any baseball fan would enjoy, but it was extra special for me because I had been a die-hard fan of the 300-win milestone since 2005. I obsessed over the moment for around a year afterwards, collecting as much memorabilia from the milestone as I can (including the crown jewel: a game-used baseball), and watched the game enough times to remember every single play (although never to the point where I recall every pitch.) The furor reached a point where I wrote a massive six-part series on my other blog coinciding with the 6-month and 12-month anniversary. The fascination has died down since then, and I don't feel like writing another 80,000 words anymore. However, on this the third anniversary, I would like to share my posts about the milestone from back in 2009-2010.

Part I: The Introduction
Part II: The Player
Part III: The Set-up
Part IV: The Rainout
Part V: The Game
Part VI: The Aftermath 

Pictures from the big day after the cut.