Monday, October 8, 2007

57; Regular Column

It's Nobel season.

To heck with baseball, rugby, and all that stuff. Unless the SF Giants are doing well sport just doesn't interest me. But the Nobel Prizes do.

Its exciting! Developments in Medicine, Physics, Peace, Literature! And Chemistry! I don't care about Economics, but someone reading this might! Genes and Banks and Acids and Books!

And here's a huzzah to the the three scientists who won the first prize, in Medicine, for discovering gene targetting. It's really tremendously useful, speaking as someone whose parent works in biotech which has benefitted tremendously from the knowledge. If you want to make a couple mill get a PhD in genetics, work your ass off, and then study mice. More reliable than the lotterey, I'd guess.

In other news life is going well. Nothing shocking to report, I know, but sometimes, hey, life just goes well. I've started a three-year overdue reconcilliation project, met a bunch of cool alumnae this weekend and idealism is on the upswing. With regards to the alumnae this weekend was celebrating 75 years of Bennington, and lots of alumns showed up. It was really nice, although work-intensive, to chat with them and see how my dorm had evolved since back in the day. True story: There was a party in the '90's called the Fear and Loathing party which saw students breaking down the walls of the dorm, hiding bowls of stew in the beams, spackling, and sanding them up again before redisguising the holes with paint. Why? Who knows.

But things are good. And good is contagious. Considering the spread of the deaths and the plagues and the HIVs onthis campus at the momment mixing some good in the disease-pool is positive. Yeah, you might be on death's doorstep, but at least you've got a case of good to take with you when you go.

I am also looking in watching one of my favorite films this weekend if I can get my hands on it: The Three Caballeros. I will let Amazon's reviewer do the work for me:

"As a Disney oddity, they don't get much odder than Three Caballeros. Donald Duck receives a birthday package from South America, and the film proceeds to unravel like some peyote-induced hallucination. It starts out reminiscent of other Disney films, where shorts are cobbled together, such as "Make Mine Music" or "Fun and Fancy Free." The film has vignettes such as "The Cold-Blooded Penguin" and "The Flying Guachito." After them it careens straight into part-travelogue, part-stream-of-consciousness animation. Not helping out much are Donald's "friends," Joe Carioca (a parrot) and Panchito (a rooster). They spend most of the rest of the film watching Donald chase skirt. That's right, Donald Duck is a wolf in this movie, and he chases every live-action seƱorita who bustles across the screen."

I love this movie. Surreal does not begin to describe this lunatic film. If you thought Dumbo's pink pachyderms are odd this will blow you out of the water. And, hey, it has Carmina Miranda's sister Aurora! Live action spliced with insanity and surrealism that would make Salvador Dali gape in confused terror. Disney gets a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly, but they really did make some fantastic films back in the day. Although the 'Disney is sexist' argument cuts no mustard with me. As I once wrote before in response to an academic who thought Disney over-portrayed the barrel-chested hero and male dominance in fight scenes:

"So 17 films that have either a male-male fight scene, a barrel-chested hero, or both. 17 out of 46. Roughly 27%, or less than a third, if I'm not mistaken. Definitely not most. There was a string of them from 1991-1997, and a longer run from 1991-2007, but all the same the first male-male fight scene came out in Disney with Peter pan, almost 20 years in (not including Bambi). Barrel-chests are occasionaly heroes (Tarzan, Hercules, the Beast) but more often characters who do not fit this stereotype are the heroes, and barrel-chestedness is also commonly portrayed in villains. As such the physical build and body-type is not seen to be the important factor, but personality."

Statistics aren't that hard to find out. And Three Caballeros definately has none of the above traits, it is reamarkably sexist, and probably the most so in the Disney canon. But I choose to look beyond that and see the technicolor swirlings and hallucinatory mix of animation and live action. Does that make me an idealist. No. No it does not.

This just in! The Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to a team who studied the effects of 1940's animation on the mind's chemical balance! Helps add to writer's happy state!

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