By their tweets shall you know them, eh? Following the presentation of Pope Francis today on Twitter revealed four kinds of people:
Very serious and excited
Having mild sport with the event without attacking the Papacy, Church, or Faith
Having great sport with the event with evident disregard for the Papacy, Church and Faith
I had some fun with it, mostly the coverage - the Pope needs to use social media! is this decade’s “when will we get a spiritual leader who’s really adept at Powerpoint?” - but towards the end, levity fell aside. I’m not Catholic, and I was excited. It’s the magnificent theatricality, of course. St. Peter’s is the greatest set in the world. There’s the stately confidence of ritual enhanced by their rarity. The details: the light is on in the room by the balcony! The proclamation in Latin, whose ancient DNA still twists through our daily utterances. (I would have said “Talk,” but when you’re in Pope Mode you kick up the terminonlogy.)
There’s Rome itself, of course - as I tweeted, if you’d turned the sound down on the set and shown the picture to Julius Caesar, he would have smiled broadly. For the wrong reasons, of course - his order did not survive in its specific shape, but in another sense it did. The architecture, the crowds, the unveiling would have been unmistakable to someone from Caesar’s time. They would have known exactly what was going on.
Except for the type of power about to be invested, and the manner of man who held it.
The Onion tweeted this bio of Pope Francis, and I shrugged and unfollowed. Now: does the person who wrote that think he is a better person than the Pope? I guarantee it. The writer, I’d bet, holds certain ideological positions which are the mark of a Proper Person, and whose possession insulates the holder from all sorts of criticism. The Pope, for example, does not believe in changing marriage, which means one can safely put him in the “hater” or “-phobe” category that frees one from additional intellectual expenditures. There’s the story going around about his visit to an AIDS clinic, where he washed and kissed the feet of sufferers, which the author of the Onion piece would dismiss as a PR stunt without any regard for the meaning of the act, and then also make a face and say “really, seriously? Ick.”
So it's faith, not works.
And then there’s Cosmo.
The white smoke has emerged from the chimney and a new pope was chosen in Vatican City...and at Cosmo, this was the first thing that came to our minds.
Pope Francis, this one's for you!
Of course that’s the first thing that came to your mind, because you spend all day writing the 394th variant on “Sixteen moves he’ll never expect in bed” and at least three involve fruit in the hiney, so no, your definitions of “transcendence” aren’t particularly broad.
This is valid because the Church is just wrong about women all around, and views them through an archaic sexist prism instead of the gorgeous kaleidoscope of potential. The author of the piece is Elisa Benson. Her Facebook profile:
With degrees in Art and Art History, she surely must have something to say about the architecture of the Vatican, the unimaginable wealth of paintings the Pope will now be able to study, the rarities only a few will ever glimpse. That would be an interesting use of her talents, and it’s a pity that the magazine industry, which is obviously dominated by Papists, does nothing more than let her “tweet about men.”
Like I said, I’m not Catholic. There are many teachings of the Church with which I disagree. Which is why I’m not Catholic. But there was something in that moment that either spoke to you or didn’t, and if it didn’t, I understand. Me, I’m a guy raised Lutheran sitting on a sofa in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of a continent on the other side of the ocean from Roma, and when he came out on the balcony, I stood up. For what that’s worth.
I wish him well.
The blog software at work didn’t allow me to post images today, so I couldn’t post most of what follows below. It drives me nuts. Two hours of writing and coding and snapping and resizing and it’s all for naught. Well, I’ll post it here, because it’s old hat tomorrow. It’s probably old hat today. Vieux chapeau.
If it’s news to me, it’s surely news to everyone, right? Of course not. But if everyone declined to link to something because they thought they were a beat behind the curve, no one would ever link to anything, and the web would wither and die. Anyway. There’s a new Mickey Mouse cartoon up, and it “reimagines” Mickey in a looser, more abstract style.
Croissant de Triomphe on Disney Video
I . . . I don’t know. I’m split. It’ll work fine for kids; it’ll infuriate some purists because that is or is notsomething Mickey would do, and he shouldn’t be French, and there are several key violation of cartoon physics, and so on. But it’s short and fun, and there are many more to come. If there’s one thing that bugged me, it’s the scene where he jumps off Notre Dame, and we see it from three angle in slo-mo with the “Six-Million Dollar Man” sound playing faintly in the background. This was funny for a while when Dexter’s Laboratory did it. Speaking of which!
Disney Animation has teamed with Paul Rudish (Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls) to give the mouse a new modernized look.
That explains it. Disney’s D23 site says:
Produced in 2D animation, the design esthetic for the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts reaches back almost 80 years and borrows reverentially from the bold style of his 1930s design, but not before adding a few contemporary touches. Designs for other characters have a similar approach, favoring a “rubber-hose” cartoon style for more exaggerated animation. Background designs closely reflect the graphic design sense of 1950s and 1960s Disney cartoons. And for those true eagle-eyed Disney fans, the production team has also included the occasional homage to other icons from the storied Disney heritage. That’s absolutely right. Thirties-inspired character design and stylized watercolor backgrounds.
Except when it’s not:
That’s the Disney Castle, of course. When Mickey smashes through the window, he busts the glass slipper.
It’s just a gag, but it it breaks the look of the cartoon. The castle, the Prince, Cinderella - completely different style. It’s like a 2d animated character show up in a Pixar movie. I would also quibble with the sound the croissants make when they fall into people’s hands. They sound like slabs of wet meat.
Speaking of Pixar: here’s the thing I was certain everyone had already seen, but after tweeting the URL last night, seems it’s still news. Were you underwhelmed by the first Toy Story short? The Barbie-and-Ken vacation toon? Right. There are at least two others, and they’re much better. “Partysaurus Rex” introduces about 25 new characters, all of whom are bathtub toys. It’s delightful. The real treat, though, is this:
It’s about fast-food toys. The support-group scenes for all the failed unpopular toys is Pixar at its most clever. Meet Tae Kwan Doe.
If you haven’t seen them, you’ll be glad I assumed you hadn’t. If you have, well, good for you. Stick around for the credits, too. It's HERE.
ART Buzzfeed has a post on a new poster for an old movie. For once it’s not someone doing a “minimal” version. It’s actually rather maximal. In typical Buzzfeed style, it’s described as “absolutely perfect.” It’s good. I love this: “There is one small nit, as redditor condalitar points out : porn film Maraschino Cherry wasn't released until 1978.” That’s the only nit? How about this:
The Bond clothing store wasn’t on 42nd street; it was over in the International Casino building, and had been replaced by the Pepsi sign since 1955.
If you’re in the mood for more old New York, here’s some gritty, sleazy Times Square in the "Taxi Driver" era.. You’ve probably already seen it.
Maybe anti-hipsterism is the new thing. “Hey, let me tell you about something I like! You’ve probably already heard of it.”
One of the salvations of growing up in the 70s: Comic books. My parents worried that I was wasting my brain on these things, but they prepared me for something very important in life: criticizing movies because they didn’t conform to the exact notions I had in my head based on stories from three decades hence. Yes, there’s nothing like a Romita-era Spider-Man fan who can’t adjust to the later screen versions. Poor chap.
I gave them up in high school; a switch was flicked at some point, and I didn’t care about reading them. Never stopped caring about what I’d read, though; we’d have conversations at the Valli late into the night about Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and the rest, even though we’d all moved on.
There were three Spider-Man comics that stuck out, usually because they killed off a character. This is done all the time nowadays. Big deal. People are used to it, and expect the character to come back, or be revived in an alternate universe. It’s never final. It was quite final in those days, though.
This gave all the fans a shiver, because we knew what it meant.
The Green Goblin had kidnapped Gwen! There was something about Gwen Stacy; for one thing, her name wasn’t alliterative. Peter Parker, Betty Brandt, Otto Octavius, J. Jonah Jameson, and so on. True to the comic’s use as a wish-fulfillment fantasy, the science-guy dork got the best-looking girl, who was also smart. Every guy who read the comic was in love with Gwen Stacy.
Her abduction couldn't have come at a worse time. Spider-Man had a cold. Another reason to love the comics Marvel was putting out. The poor guy had to fight one of his arch-enemies with a stuffy nose and a fever. And he had to do so atop a bridge. He had one chance to put out the Goblin’s lights. One.
I should probably say “spoilers!” but c’mon. Anyone who cares knows what happens. The Goblin knocks Gwen off the bridge; she falls.
And she's dead. This is the moment when you're thinking that his previously unknown powers of Spider-Resurrection will be used, or he'll get her to the hospital, or -
It's not the best writing. Romantic idiot? Death will come more surely than to the person to whom it just came?
But here's the thing. The Goblin was wrong. When you hit a big moment in a comic book, and you know the end is just a few pages away, you go back a few pages. You savor what you already know. More slowly this time. And perhaps you notice something.
Her neck was broken when he saved her. Because he saved her.
There was enough controversy about this to merit later explanations:
In the real world, physicist James Kakalios shows in his book The Physics of Superheroes that, consistent with Newton's laws of motion, the sudden stop would have killed Gwen Stacy. The comic book Civil War: Casualties of War: Captain America/Iron Man (2007) concurred that the proximate cause of death was the sudden stop during a high-speed fall. An issue of Peter Parker/Spider-Man revisits the issue, and further confirms Gwen died of a broken neck due to the use of the webbing.
We'll see what came before that, and how it made Gwen's demise all the more poignant, next week.
As to why I stopped reading comics:
Approximately two years after her death,] Gwen Stacy reappears in Amazing Spider-Man #144 (May 1975), perfectly healthy but with no memory of the time since her death. The Jackal has managed to create a clone of Gwen, and uses her as part of a plot against Spider-Man in the original Clone Saga. At the end of that story, Gwen's clone leaves to find a new life for herself.
It wasn't the same after that. It wasn't real anymore.
Motels! Everyone loves motels. Go get 'em. See you around.