28 February 2013

27 February 2013

Now We're Married; Now We're Not

My spouse, Matt, and I just got back from a week in California. We love vacationing in California because it's close to us, has oceans, has Hollywood, and tons of great history. We love vacationing there for another reason: when we're in California, our marriage is legally recognized. When we cross the border into California, I remind Matt "Now we're married," and when we cross back into Arizona I remind him "Now, we're not married." It's a schizophrenic kind of existence, but it's also fun, in it's own way.

In about a month, the supreme court will hear oral arguments about whether California's ill-conceived Proposition 8 (to ban same-sex marriage) violates the federal constitution. Their decision could have quite a number of different results ranging from allowing same-sex marriage across the country, to saying it is not protected under the constitution.

On a personal level, whatever the supreme court decides won't affect me. The same-sex marriages that happened in California during that brief window in 2008 (like ours) have already been declared legal. This ruling won't change my status. However, although no one will know how the supreme court decides until probably June, the effects of the case are already being felt around the country.

Seriously, did you ever think, in your lifetime, you would read this headline: "Top Republicans urge court to support gay marriage"? That was Tuesday. Today, I was greeted with this headline: "Nike, Apple, Facebook Among U.S. Companies that Intend to Back Gay Marriage in Coming Supreme Court Cases." (insert rubbing of eyes in disbelief here)

It's been long known that the general trend around the world is to support marriage equality. America, once known for leading the world in all kinds of arenas, is lagging far behind MANY other countries in this regard. Is it that we're smarter and know better? Well, no. It's because too many special interest groups (and you know who they are) are desperately trying to keep a strangle hold on the past and their particular way of life (read: institutionalized discrimination and bigotry). Slowly, these antiquated groups are losing their grip on the world, and we're seeing many changes -- marriage equality just the latest among them.

It is possible the supreme court will not uphold marriage equality; but it doesn't really matter what they say right now. As I write this, history is being written around the world and in America. That history will one day look back at all this dithering and wonder what the fuss was all about. Future generations will look back at this debate over same-sex marriage the same way we look at some of the inexplicable elements of our own past: different drinking fountains for whites and blacks? women not being allowed to hold public office? Jews not allowed in certain hotels? I can't understand how any of those things were ever true -- just like I cannot believe marriage equality will not, one day, be a universal truth.

16 February 2013

The Rabbit that Roared

Walt Disney found early success with a group of animated cartoons featuring a human (the "Alice" comedies); but he really hit pay dirt with his first animated star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Animator Ub Iwerks created Oswald in 1927 for a series of cartoons produced for distribution by Universal Studios. The quirky Oswald possessed many zany qualities. He embodied the craziness of the times and was a free spirited character unlike most other contemporary animated characters.

Disney Studios made only a few Oswald cartoons before Universal decided to take production in-house, thereby leaving Disney out of the process. (In response, Disney and Iwerks created a new character, a mouse, that would bring them their ultimate success.)

Oswald cartoons would continue to be produced into the 1940s; but, despite being Disney's first animated star, he had lost all rights to the character. Oswald was finally returned to the studio of his birth in 2006.
You can find the early Oswald cartoons here.

15 February 2013

Create Space

Every creative genius has an office -- or at least a desk where s/he works. Ever wonder what the office of Walt Disney looked like? I'm talking about the real office, not the fake one you would see behind him on Sunday nights during the "Wonderful World of Disney." You can see his actual office in this photograph (click to enlarge). It's one of the many fascinating things you'll see if you go to "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

The exhibition is divided in two sections: the really cool early years of Disney, growing up and starting out as an artist, and the early days of the studio itself; and the more recent movies, including costumes, props, original poster art and "miniatures" from such fare as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, the "Tron" sequel and "The Avengers."

Personally, I most enjoyed learning about Disney's early years, including his first animated star -- no, not the ratty little mouse; rather, the cute and frolicking little bunny named Oswald, represented here by some early sketches and posters. It's what got Disney going, and I'm really glad to see some of these very rare early art pieces.

The exhibition continues through April. You can read more at the official site here.

09 February 2013

Cereal Warning

So, here we were, innocently walking to lunch today through our neighborhood, when we came upon this warning (click to enlarge), chalked on a sidewalk by someone desperate to save us from unknown disaster. What can it mean? What happened to the person(s) who wrote it? Did they give their lives to save ours? Will anyone ever know of their sacrifice? I've been haunted by it ever since.