My short story, This Is What He Should Have Said, has been sitting on Amazon’s bestseller list for Gay and Lesbian Short Reads for two whole weeks now, and today, thanks to a sudden surge, it’s up to #2! (That same surge placed it onto two other lists - Literature and Fiction Short Reads at #30, and Gay and Lesbian Short Stories (a different, broader list than the Short Reads) at #36.
If you haven’t given it a try yet, maybe pick it up? It’s only 99 cents, and you don’t need a Kindle to read it - you can get a free Kindle app for just about any platform, and it’s also available just about anywhere ebooks are sold (Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Scribd). Description below!
A fun short story about shyness and regret.
Bradford worries constantly that any new people he meets will find him boring. By and large, his fears are justified. When his co-workers invite him to a casual night out at a bar, Bradford finds making conversation to be as painful as ever. Will he realize how much his life of solitude is costing him before it’s too late?
Get six, sexy full length novels all about faery lurvin’ from six bestselling authors for only 99-cents! We’ve got dark and broody! We’ve got rich and historical! We’ve got shape-shifting shih tzus. COME ON! SHAPE SHIFTING WEREWOLF SHIH TZUS! Where else are you going to get that for 99-cents? Bought individually, this set would cost $17.96.
6 full-length novels in a LIMITED EDITION box set!
Nearly 500 reviews across the individual books, with a 4.4 star average.
"The fae. Find them here in all their forms—dark and mysterious, light and winged, shifters and schemers. From the faery lands of the ancient Isles to the uncertain streets of the modern world, six strong heroines risk everything to face magic, binding and the impossibility of forbidden love that will forever change their lives."
INFLUENTIAL MAGIC - Deanna Chase
A HEART IN SUN AND SHADOW - Annie Bellet
QUEEN MAB - Kate Danley
BLOOD FAERIE - India Drummond
BRIDE OF FAE - L.K. Rigel
HEARTSONG - Phoenix Sullivan (a box set exclusive!)
Saludos Amigos (1942) was Disney’s first “package film” - a feature made up of individual shorts. I had never seen this movie before - I had never even heard of it. Which, as it turns out, is kind of a shame…
- There are four animated shorts in this movie, linked by a live-action travelogue about Disney artists touring South America for inspiration. They were actually on a goodwill tour commissioned by the State Department to counter some of the influence of Nazi Germany on Latin American countries, because Disney cartoons were very popular there. That last part isn’t mentioned in the movie, which is a shame because it’s kind of bad-ass. Walt Disney vs. the Nazis. That’s a bio-pic waiting to happen.
- The first short shows us Donald Duck visiting Lake Titicaca and the nearby town, and everything is quaint and exotic and primitive and hoo boy is it 1942. It’s funny, though. I mean, it’s Donald Duck getting mad and there’s a snooty llama. How can it not be funny?
- The second short is Pedro, about a baby plane on his first flight, picking up the mail from Mendoza, Argentina, and bringing it home to Santiago, Chile. It’s adorable. Who’s a cute widdle baby plane? You are, Pedro! Yes, you are!
- The animators keep forgetting that Pedro is carrying the mail bag. It vanishes and reappears from scene to scene. Seeing as how the whole cartoon is about Pedro delivering the mail, that’s kind of an important plot element to neglect to draw.
- A lot of the non-anthropomorphic animals in Disney shorts act as either the straight man or the antagonist to the main character. In the third short, El Gaucho Goofy, Goofy’s horse is just as ridiculous as he is, and it works very well.
- El Gaucho Goofy ends with Goofy saying “Hasta la vista” and for a second I forget what year it is and I’m sure he’s going to end it with “baby” but then he doesn’t. Obviously.
- There are live action shots of the carnival in Rio, and there’s not a single drag queen to be seen. I don’t care if it is 1942, I don’t buy it.
- The final short is Aquarela de Brasil (Watercolor of Brazil) and it’s gorgeous, particularly the opening sequence where a paint brush creates the Brazilian rain forest. Even though they’re twenty years apart, and one is Latin American themed and the other Polynesian, I was reminded of the Enchanted Tiki Room - I wonder if there was some inspiration drawn from here. This short marks the first appearance ever of José Carioca, the cigar smoking parrot. José would go on to be hugely popular in Brazil, starring in his own series of Disney comics. He likes to get boozy, so I’m a fan.
- Blink and you miss it, but just before the last sequence the paint brush drains the bottle of cachaça that Donald just got hammered on and uses the strong alcoholic liquid as its paint for the final samba scene. Brilliant.
- If you can put up the theme park history tour, the shorts in this flick are pretty great. Don’t expect a movie, expect a couple of fun cartoons. It’s worth a watch.
Bambi(1942) was supposed to be Disney’s second film, the follow up to Snow White, but the source material was considered too adult and so the project was put on hold for several years. I saw Bambi once before, but I was older and it didn’t have quite the traumatizing effect on me that it seemed to have had for so many others. I still think it’s kind of messed up, though (but I’ll get to that).
- The shots of the forest are great - the layering of the animation cels creates a three-dimensional look that’s almost jarring after the relative flatness of Dumbo. But we already saw this two years ago, in The Reluctant Dragon, where we saw a scene from Bambi being assembled. These movies sure do take a long time to make…
- You will never convince me that the squirrel and the chipmunk aren’t post-coital. The way the chipmunk is curled up asleep under the squirrel’s tail. The way they’re both yawning and smiling so sleepy and contended - they’re practically glowing. We’re not even four minutes in and I’m beginning to see why the source material was considered too adult.
- Bambi’s got gay face.
- So what the hell is the back story with Bambi’s absentee dad? All the other animal families are looking pretty anthropomorphically nuclear, so why does Bambi Senior keep his distance from his kid and his baby momma? She should bring him on Maury and get a paternity test. Make that stag pay some support.
- This movie has probably the least plot of any of the Disney movies so far, and that’s saying something. Sure are a lot of cute baby animals, though. Every time Thumper talks I clench my fists under my chin and open my eyes real wide like I’m a character in a manga.
- The scenes of Bambi having difficulty walking are animated so well I’m sure one of his legs is going to snap.
- "That’s all right. He can call me a flower if he wants to. I don’t mind." We never learn what Flower the skunk’s real name was - forever after, he’s Flower. He is obviously crushing hard on Bambi, and i can totally identify - I’ve met plenty of guys I was willing to reinvent myself for. "Call me whatever you want, just call me!" Reclaim your name, Flower, and with it your dignity. These things never end well. Trust me. I once spent a whole date pretending I wrote crossword puzzles. I didn’t even get dessert out of it.
- So wait, Bambi’s dad is known as the Great Prince of the Forest just because he’s survived longer than all the other stags? That’s all it takes? The owl looks pretty old, how come he doesn’t get a title? He restrains himself from eating all the cute little chipmunks and bunny rabbits, I think that’s worthy of more respect than just being good at hiding and running and blending in with tree branches.
- Forty minutes of idyllic pastoral tranquility and unbounded animal cuteness and then DEATH DEATH DEATH
- "Come…my son." Was that supposed to be a surprise? I think we all figured it out when you were standing on the rock acting all cool after Bambi was born. I think even Bambi figured it out before now and he’s slower than a snail on pot. So Bambi goes off with his dad to grow up and learn to not be such a nancy boy and he comes back and proves his manliness - stagliness? - by defeating his rival for Faline’s affections (Is this our first implied threat of rape in a Disney film? Does kissing an unconscious woman count?) and the hunting dogs and a forest fire, and the movie ends with his kids being born and him up on that same damn distant rock with his dad. Faline will be left doing all the work while he goes off to bro off with his pops and get revered by all the forest animals as the Great Prince of Not Dead Yet. Bambi is a wonderful movie but it’s sure got some weird ideas about parenting.
Dumbo (1941) was made on the cheap. It’s the fifth full-length Disney feature, and was intended to recoup the money lost by Pinocchio and Fantasia. It worked - Dumbo was the first Disney film since Snow White to turn a profit on its initial release. But who cares about that? What did I think of it? That’s what matters!
- I know I saw Dumbo at some point in my childhood, but I didn’t remember it very well. I was surprised, when I fired it up, by how short it is - it runs just over an hour. My attention span is as bad as yours (I’m assuming - I mean, you’re on Tumblr, how good could it be), so I was sort of relieved. I don’t have the endurance for another Fantasia just yet.
- Did parents every actually convince their kids that they were brought by the stork? I don’t mean did the kids believe it - kids are amusingly credulous, as I learned after telling my nephew that if he had to go to the bathroom during a Bingo game at the town rec center he should call out ‘Bingo!’ and everyone would stop and wait - I mean was the stork legend a Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy kind of deal, or just a thing they said to put off talking about sex? Anyway, it’s helpful of the circus to label all the roofs of their tents and buildings so the storks can find them. Also, that’s a WHOLE lot of babies being delivered all at once to a bunch of animals with very different gestation periods. Is there a circus employee whose sole job is to tell the animals when they can have sex so that they’ll all give birth on the same night? I want that job.
- Hooray! Time for lemonade and crackerjack, Casey Junior’s back! Casey Junior’s back! Casey Junior, the circus train, is my favorite character in this movie, mostly because of his awesome theme song. The music in this movie is great (I know, it’s a shocker, good music in a Disney movie), and I’m happy to hear Casey’s theme again after The Reluctant Dragon. (I’m pretending I watched the movies in order. Just humor me.) YOU CAN DO IT CASEY CLIMB THAT MOUNTAIN I LOVE YOU CASEY COME AND TAKE ME AWAY TO THE CIRCUS
- The stork delivering Dumbo looks like he should be eating a Vlasic pickle.
- "Jumbo? You mean…Dumbo!" The elephant who thinks up the nickname is sooooo pleased with herself. She’s such a Heather. I keep expecting the elephant ladies to burst into "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little."
- "Song of the Roustabouts" is pretty darn great, too.
- Oh, sure. A woman shows a little agency and suddenly it’s all, “Mad elephant!”
- I’m not so sure that a half-empty bottle of champagne, diluted in a barrel of water, would be enough to get even a baby elephant drunk, but I’ll go with it because I love that the drunk scene is so crucial to the plot of Dumbo that it can’t be edited out. And the “Pink Elephants on Parade” number is so entertainingly disturbing that I’ll even overlook the fact that Dumbo drinks straight through his trunk, like it’s a straw. Ew. But yeah, that walking bipedal elephant, made entirely of elephant heads - that is the stuff of nightmares.
- Oh, man, the crows. Yeah, they have a lot of positive characteristics, yeah, all but the main one were actually voiced by African-Americans, yeah, the song is fun, yeah, there are way worse depictions from this time, yeah, yeah, yeah, but come on. They’re CROWS. Their leader is named JIM CROW. Please don’t pretend there ain’t hella racism going on here.
- And he flies and saves himself and exacts his terrible, terrible revenge on everyone who wronged him. Basically. And they lived happily ever after! That wrapped up quickly. Dumbo is a delight. Like most of the Disney flicks of this period it’s almost more a collection of stories than a film with one cohesive plot, but it’s completely charming. I love it.
Okay, before you watch this do you know what the Talking Carl app is? Well it’s his app where this little red fucker repeats back anything you say to him in a higher voice. That’s all I’m saying. Now click play bitch
So this is what a slow descent into madness feels like.
The Reluctant Dragon (1941) is another hybrid film from the Disney studios, though it’s a very different creature from Fantasia. It’s a 74 minute fictionalized “behind the scenes” featurette wrapped around four cartoon shorts. This is the first of the films in this series of mine that I had never even heard of before, let alone seen. So what did I think? You know…I’m honestly not sure.
- Wacky henpecked husband and nagging harpy of a wife. Even in 1941, this wasn’t original. This doesn’t bode well. The live action sequences star Robert Benchley, whose wife has bullied him into trying to sell the idea of adapting the book The Reluctant Dragon into a feature to Walt Disney. Benchley and wife don’t own the rights to the book, mind you. I guess she’s hoping for a finder’s fee?
- Benchley’s wife drops him off at the studio for his meeting (he doesn’t have a meeting, yet Disney agrees to see him anyway - maybe Walt’s lonely? I’m not sure), but Benchley doesn’t want to meet with Walt Disney, because screw that guy (Maybe? Clear motivations are hard to come by in this flick.), so he ducks out on the nerdy (but cute) (that’s irrelevant, sorry) page who’s escorting him and sneaks around the studio. The various people he meets give him lessons on how animated movies are made instead of calling security. (Seems like a bad example to set for the children watching this - sneak away from a tour and see the REAL magic!)
- Benchley is a goddamn lech in this movie. He’s super gross to every woman he meets and they all laugh it off, but, hey, it’s all in fun and his wife is a monster so it must be okay. (Ugh.) He wanders into an art class because he see a pretty woman in a robe walk in and assumes she’s a nude model. (Which, to be fair, is not an unreasonable assumption. She could have been posing for Fantasia centaur boobies.)
- He wanders - he does a lot of wandering - into a film score recording with vocals by Clarence Nash as Donald Duck and Florence Gill as Clara Cluck. It’s wonderful and gives me hope that this movie might not be entirely terrible. And Florence Gill wears an evening gown and fur coat to record her chicken noises, which is bad-ass.
- There’s a really entertaining example of foley sound recording set to the first original cartoon of the movie, which stars Casey Junior, the train from Dumbo. (I watched this movie out of release order (it’s unsurprisingly hard to find), so it didn’t occur to me until now that this was Casey’s first appearance, since Dumbo wasn’t released for another few months.) Every time there’s a sound effect in the cartoon, they cut to the foley artists using a real object to make the sound. Also, the music from this cartoon is damn catchy. It’s still stuck in my head. All aboard!
- There are a couple of hints at upcoming Disney movies - I’d call them plugs, but they do genuinely seem to be in there just because they were what the studio was working on. It’s not like they’re saying, “Go see Dumbo, in theaters this fall!” or anything. In addition to the Casey Junior cartoon, Benchley is shown an animation cel from Bambi, and he examines some three-dimensional models (called maquettes) of characters from Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan. He also steals a maquette of one of the racist topless zebra centaur ladies from Fantasia, because of course he does. (But hey, more centaur boobies!)
- The cartoon Baby Weems is our next original segment. It’s presented as a semi-animated storyboard, but it’s a full story about a baby genius and it’s amazing - genuinely funny and clever. It’s followed by a Goofy “How To” short, How to Ride a Horse. (I later learned this was the first in the series.) It’s also pretty great, and is the only one of the cartoons in this film to be released on its own. Disney should do the same for Casey Junior, Baby Weems, and the title cartoon - they’re all too good to be buried in this peculiar movie.
- Benchley finally gets to meet Disney, who’s just sitting down in his screening room to watch the premiere of his new animated short. Suprise! It’s The Reluctant Dragon, the very story that Benchley’s horrible wife sent him there to pitch. Benchley pulls out all the swag he’s been given by all the various departments and dumps it all in Disney’s lap, including the naked zebra lady, and it’s super creepy and gross. He plays it off with a laugh - “How’d that get in there?” - and everybody laughs along with him, but Walt had to be thinking, “You stole a little statue of a cartoon centaur, which was used to help make a movie for children, so that you could masturbate to it. You are a horrible, horrible man.” That’s certainly what I was thinking.
- I sound like a broken record, but the actual titular cartoon is wonderful. I’ve completely fallen in love with the character of the Reluctant Dragon and he deserves to be one of Disney’s iconic characters. (He also deserves to be a gay icon. The coding on this flouncing, poetry writing, tea drinking dragon is not subtle.) Much like Fantasia, the animation style seems way ahead of its time and much different from contemporary Disney fare - I’d believe this was made in the sixties. In fact, the pacifistic tone of the cartoon seems to be straight from the sixties too. It surprised me that it came from the Disney studios of 1941. The war in Europe was raging and Disney wasn’t exactly known for its anti-war stance. I know that before the attack on Pearl Harbor there was a lot of debate about whether America should enter the war and to what extent - this cartoon has me second-guessing what position Disney might have taken in that debate. (But just wait until two years and four movies from now, when DIsney releases Victory Through Air Power. Teaser!)
- The film ends like it started, with Benchley being nagged by his shrew of a wife. (I was going to call her a cartoonish shrew, but cartoon shrews are more likable.) She seems to think that if Benchley had gone straight to his meeting with Disney he would have been on time to sell him the idea, and that they made the entire picture, from having the initial concept to developing the film, in the hour or so that he was wandering around. I don’t expect her to have as thorough a grasp on what goes into making a movie as her husband now does, but that seems more than a little ignorant. Then again, she seems to think that just having the idea to adapt a book into a movie means you own the rights to it, so she’s clearly not a great thinker. Benchley curses at her in Donald Duck’s voice and lovingly cuddles a bust of his own head that a pretty girl sculpted for him. Creepy to the end.
Archie Andrews appears in a ton of titles, but what’s his favorite comic?
Oh, yeah. That makes sense.
I confess - as a Disney queen, I am mediocre, at best. Oh, I talk the talk. I could spend an entire day at Disneyland (and indeed I have). I’ll defend their takeover of Times Square. I own The Life and Time of Scrooge McDuck. But there are huge gaps in my Disney movie knowledge….
how can you possibly defend what they did to times sq?? it used be authentic - seedy, but authentic. now it’s a candy colored, nightmare, tourist trap where you can’t move faster than cattle. avoid at all costs!
All right, you got me, I was probably being a little hyperbolic about the Times Square invasion. There’s a lot I enjoy about Times Square, but the slow-moving hordes of tourists, while understandable, do drive me a little nuts. I find myself wandering further and further into traffic to get around them. And the area does sort of remind my of Universal Citywalk now - you’re visiting the idea of New York more than you are New York itself. But I pin that more on Giuliani than Disney - he was going to “clean up” Times Square no matter what. Disney was the corporation he partnered with, but I think it would have been someone else if it hadn’t been them.
And it’s not as if the old sleaze is gone - there’s still plenty of authentic dirty fun to be had in New York, and a lot of it is right in that area. If you know where to look. (And I do.)
Fantasia (1940) was the third animated feature from Disney, and the first “hybrid” movie, meaning a movie that combines animation and live-action. I first saw Fantasia as it was meant to be seen - in college, really stoned. I don’t remember that viewing very well (or much else from that period of my life, for some reason), but I remember it being a whole lot shorter. The two hours and four minutes running time surprised me when I fired it up this time around, and that’s because I had only seen an edited version - before 2000, that’s all that was available on home video, and it was missing some animated sequences and a whole lot of the live-action introductions. Now we can watch the whole damn thing! Lucky us…
I am probably the worst audience for this movie, as I am not really a big fan of classical music. I don’t actively hate it, like I did when I was a kid, but it’s not generally something I would choose to listen to. I made the mistake of settling in to watch later in the evening after a long day, and…I didn’t make it. I kept falling asleep. It’s not you, Fantasia, it’s me. It’s kind of you. It took me three tries to finish this epic. That said, I do have some nice things to say about it, so Fantasia fans, sheathe those claws.
- Bach’s ”Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” (oh god I fell asleep just typing that) opens the program as we’re introduced to conductor Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. This segment rivals cutting a steak with a spoon for dullness. (The nice things are coming, I promise.)
- Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” is next. This is a lot more fun, as it takes us through the changing of the seasons from the point of view of various anthropomorphic flora and fauna. The Chinese Dance is kind of hard to watch, with the mushrooms depicted as stereotypical Asians. And this seems to be the year for sexy fish - what is up with that, Disney? Fish shouldn’t have pouty lips and come-hither eyes, it’s really disturbing.
- Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the segment you know even if you’ve never seen this movie. Mickey Mouse in the red robe, casts the spell to make his broom fetch water, things go awry. It’s as great as you remember.
- Music critic Deems Taylor is our Master of Ceremonies and he is THOROUGH in his introductions. Holy crap. I assume this is the bulk of what was cut from previous releases and it must have saved an hour in running time. Before every segment he describes in excruciating detail everything we’re about to watch. SPOILERS!
- Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” is fun. It takes us through the formation and development of life on Earth, from single-celled organisms through the extinction of the dinosaurs and IS THAT ANOTHER SEXY FISH? What the hell?
- Intermission. Let’s all sit and watch the orchestra members slowly leave their seats and exit through the center of the screen. Now let’s sit and watch them slowly file back in. Gripping. The little jazz jam session is fun, though, as is the silly demo of how sound is realized on film.
- Beethoven’s “The Pastoral Symphony.” This is the one I’ve been waiting for. It’s the one with all the mythological creatures darting about, and it’s got the only part of this film that’s still cut - for good reason. I’m keeping an eye out for the two moments where the racist depiction of black centaurs have been snipped out, but I only catch one. The pretty white centaur who’s having her hoofs done by her “maid” is zoomed in on so that the truly horrible stereotype is cut out of the frame. I can’t find the other, so the edit must have been pretty smooth. They did leave in the African centaur-zebras, though, which may not be all dolled up as Mammy-archetypes but are still a bit problematic Oh, also, boobs. Centaur boobs, right in your face. No nipples, though. Maybe they’re between the hind legs, like on a real horse? Don’t think about how baby centaurs nurse. I said don’t think about it!
- Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” is the one with the ostriches, hippos, elephants and alligators dancing ballet. It’s hysterical. It goes for the cheap fat jokes, sure, but it’s pretty funny regardless. I could watch that opening ostrich dance again and again.
- Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and a bit of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” close out the program. Disney always calls the big boss demon in this segment “Chernabog” whenever he shows up elsewhere, but Taylor explicitly names him as Satan in the introduction. So, yeah, here’s Walt Disney’s Satan, tormenting the spirits of the damned. It’s pretty metal. I approve.
- A lot of the animation in this movie seems way ahead of its time, but maybe I just have a naive understanding of the 1940s. I don’t just mean the technology, I mean the styles and the tones. If I didn’t know otherwise, and you told me this was made in the sixties or seventies, I would believe you (because I am a trusting person). I can see why this was later embraced as psychodelia.
For this year’s Free Comic Book Day, Fantagraphics released Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity. In case you were unaware, Disney comics are fricking amazing, and the best of the lot are the classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories (although the old Mickey Mouse adventure strips are pretty great, too).
Carl Barks, Scrooge’s creator, is considered the grandmaster of the Duck dynasty, but I’m more familiar with the works of Don Rosa. Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuckis one of my favorite comic collections in any genre, and you should go and buy it right now if you don’t already have it. Rosa’s stories are gripping and hilarious, but I think what I love best about his work are all the extra details he crams into almost every panel.
Please note the worm dragging the terrified bird to some kind of horrible underground doom.
Or notice how all of the air traffic controllers seem to be asleep.
And multi-gazillionaire Scrooge McDuck gleefully counting how much money he’s going to make on soda bottle deposits. These panels are all from the back-up story, “The Sign of the Triple Distelfink,” and none of the incidental jokes have anything to do with, or any impact on, the main story. Which makes them even funnier.
The worm/bird joke is my favorite.
I was interviewed by Raine O’Tierney at her “Hat Party” blog. She interviews writers. The questions are unusual and the writers wear funny hats. It was a lot of fun, and inspired my new avatar photo. Please click through and check it out - I’ve written a steamy new piece of flash fiction and detailed my harrowing escape from a horde of burning zombies, just for the party!