As is, of course, tradition.
I'm really proud of the expressions on these good dogs this time. Look at that Mini-Pinscher!
Thanksgiving! I wish you all a wonderful one this year even though, of course, this Thanksgiving is going to be different. But the important parts of Thanksgiving should survive 2020. And as we learned about five years ago, Thanksgiving is about family! And food. And eating a turkey!
Turkeys are birds! Prehistoric-ish birds, even! Therefore, they are dinosaurs! So we should celebrate Thanksgiving with dinosaurs! I have definitely made this joke before!
Everyone of a certain generation remembers the Eyewitness books, which I covered a long time ago. The documentary series is a little more obscure, but the couple of episodes I've watched are quite nice. They manage to feel like thumbing through one of the books, and I love the opening credits sequence! That imaginary museum is basically what my "Mind Palace" feels like. I really like how they use film clips where the books would use still pictures and art; a Good Book-To-TV Adaptation.
"Eyewitness: Dinosaur" even goes so far as to animate stop-motion versions of the signature dinosaur models from it's book equivalent. We also get a cute Aardman-ish mascot character who looks like an ancestor of Henry from "Amazing Animals", which was kind of a spinoff series. And we get a little bit of Phil Tippett's "Prehistoric Beast" to boot!
We also get the strangest variation of the 90's "little theropods are in one clade, big theropods are in a different one" Great Theropod Classification Mess-Up I've ever seen, and it's right there in the preview of the video. So basically, for a long time, little theropods like Compsognathus and Coelophysis and the smaller Maniraptors were all thought to be related and placed in the Coelurosaur clade. Meanwhile Allosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Spinosaurus and good old T. rex, since they were all large, were "Carnosaurs". In hindsight, this is obviously wrong as hell and kind of like saying "Foxes, housecats, otters, and terriers are all in one family group; wolves, lions, wolverines, and Great Danes are in another, different family group."
Well according to "Eyewitness: Dinosaur", little theropods/Coelurosaurs are in the same family group as birds and large theropods/Carnosaurs are in the same group as... crocodiles. Which is like saying, "Foxes, housecats, otters, and terriers are all in one family group which also includes pinnipeds (I guess? Look, we have a distinct lack of an entire clade of diverse flying carnivores, so stay with me.) Meanwhile, wolves, lions, wolverines, and Great Danes are in another, different family group which also includes... Dimetrodon." That is, at least, a new one.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving, everyone! I am, as always, truly thankful for all of you. 💖
Art of the Day! A nice little landscape for your holiday weekend.
At the time of writing, it's October 27. My entire enteric nervous system feels like a clenched fist. Not knowing what else to do, I am going to share some of my recent drawings of animals:
Welcome to what is effectively the Year Without a Halloween. Stupid pandemic. I'm determined to keep the spooky season alive even if I can't pass out candy or keep a running tally of what costumes I see most often, always a fun pop-culture barometer. Here are some mostly Halloweeny (or not) links for you.
* Boundless Realms - I don't think I've met a single foolish mortal, Disney Park geek or otherwise, who doesn't adore the Haunted Mansion. Foxx, of the fantastic Passport to Dreams website, has just written a gorgeous book on the Mansion and it is a must-have.
* Staying in the Disney Parks world, the always excellent Defunctland released a fantastic documentary about the original EPCOT plans.
* You're Wrong About is my new podcast obsession that goes over historical events, famous figures, and urban myths that, it turns out, we got all wrong. It's fascinating, if not exactly light listening. Get ready to scream in anger at various decibels at least once.
* If you need some cuteness after that, I suggest Kyra Kupetsky's creepy-cute "Chickn Nuggit" short-shorts.
* No stupid pandemic is going to stop the guys at Sludge Central from doing their annual Halloween special.
*You want more Michael Jackson Halloween specials and putting "Thriller" on an infinite loop isn't enough? Channel KRT just reminded the world of the truly insane "Ghosts" which is... a thing... that exists...
* "Into the Spiderverse" is that rare movie that gets better and better every time I watch it and the latest Film Critic Hulk documentary goes into a deep dive as to why.
* Saturday morning and weekday morning cartoons are coming back thanks to MeTV, who will be airing blocks of classic theatrical cartoons starting in January. Consider this your early DVR alert.
* For the first time in decades, the Peanuts holiday specials are not airing on broadcast TV, which is even more upsetting than it looks on the surface according to Emily VanDerWerff's report.
* Spectember is well in the past but I'd be remiss if I didn't share Alphynix's fantastic series of spec creatures and the history of Speculative Biology.
* "Eli Roth's History of Horror" is back for another season and I'd be very happy if we got to do this every year please and thank you.
* And if that wet your appetite for horror movie docs, I also love The Kill Count, which, while it is exactly what it sounds like, is also a surprisingly good kind of a Cliff Notes of gory horror for wimps.
* As far as horror movies of a different sort, Xiran did an excellent tweetmenary of the "Mulan" remake, effectively saving us all thirty dollars.
* The Halloween Jukebox is back! Without a shuffle feature, sadly, but with 250 songs for your Halloween!
* Finally, Glen Keane has a new movie out and he sat down for an interview to talk about it, "Tangled", "Treasure Planet", and more.
Art of the week! A little Fairy Dragon.
So... how about something light and fluffy? Literally?
My sister's lovely Bobtail cat Stitch visited for a while. Before I knew it, I'd filled half an Illo Sketchbook with drawings of the little guy.
So, how was your weekend? No, don't answer that! How about a kind of Vintage Paleoart post? I haven't done that in ages.
Over the summer, I read The Ultimate Dinosaur and talked about it on Twitter.
Published in 1992 by Bantam Books, edited by Byron Priess and Robert Silverberg, and featuring art and writing by an astonishing variety of people, Ultimate Dinosaur is a pretty wild ride. It's right smack in the middle of the Dinosaur Renaissance and mere months ahead of the release of "Jurassic Park". It's also remarkably "All-Yesterdays"-y in some parts. Right away, it has a veritable roller coaster of an opening, with lovely decorations by William Stout:
The book is divided into several chapters, each of which contains lots of paleoart, a factual (for 1992) essay about life in the Mesozoic, and a science fiction story. The latter makes this one of the more unique dinosaur books of all. Most of the stories involve dinosaurs or are at least... dinosaur-adjacent, like Dave Wolverton's "Siren Song at Midnight", illustrated below by William Parsons.
I mentioned that there are some moments in the book that I can only describe as "All Yesterdays"-y. They mostly occur in the scifi stories, which almost lend themselves to "Hey, what if dinosaurs were a lot stranger than we ever suspected" speculation. The weirdest such speculation, mentioned in two stories even, is one I would have never expected: Lactating Dinosaurs.
The above excerpt comes from Gregory Benford's "Shakers of the Earth", a story about our old friend Seismosaurus, then just recently described. And in it, the big diplodocus can suckle her babies. Which she also cares for at all. (Side-rant: Anyone who grew up with "Jurassic Park" and still has a problem with feathered maniraptors can A. get off my lawn/blog, like what are you even doing here anyway, and B. ask themselves how us "Baby" and "Land Before Time" era 80's kids are coping with modern discoveries of sauropod reproductive strategies.)
And this excerpt comes to us from Barry Malzberg's bizarre "Major League Triceratops", where the titular dinosaur ends up being weirder than expected by specifically NOT lactating. I don't think I've ever come across this theory before or since.
Anyway, it is still 1992, and so according to this excerpt from one of the nonfiction essays by Don Lessem, Therizinosaurs and Deinocheirus were almost certainly brutal killing machines:
And since it’s 1992, the question of bird ancestry is... exactly that. Still even a question, I mean, like in this essay by Ralph Molnar. Megalancosaurus, if you're wondering, has a beaky face and those pesky collarbones - and otherwise looks very like a weird(er) Chameleon. But what really slays me is the "sometimes inane" comment:
Look at these 90’s raptors from Doug Henderson from the adjacent page!
They come ahead of one of the strangest stories in the entire book, Ray Bradbury's "Besides a Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?". It starts out very Dandelion Wine-esque and super nostalgic and cute:
This story is copyright 1983, not 1953.
Which brings us to Harry Harrison's "Dawn of the Endless Night", here illustrated by the always awesome Wayne Barlowe. It's haunting, and the biggest bummer in the whole book and no I am not forgetting the nonfiction chapters about the actual K-P Extinction.
Now, over the years, I've since noticed that most reviews of West of Eden focus on the world-building and not, say, the fantasy racism. Or fantasy sexism. Or actual real-life racism and sexism. It is, as the kids say, pretty cringey for it's time. Anyway, how about a strange illustration by frequent Dougal Dixon collaborator Philip Hood! I don't think context will help.
As I said, The Ultimate Dinosaur is so very unusual that I can definitely recommend grabbing a copy if you can. It also makes me long for more books combining fact, fiction, and art.
Art of the Day!
Fanart of the Universal Osprey!
Well, it sure has been a while hasn't it?
You might have guessed, given the wait between Blog posts, that your germphobe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder suffering buddy Trish hasn't been having a very fun time during the pandemic. And, you're right. The past few months have been surreal. Back in the beginning, when people were taking Covid-19 more seriously, almost everyone suddenly agreed, "Always have disinfectant spray or wipes. Use them to sanitize everything in your home and clean everything that comes into your home because your home is your Safe Place. Avoid public transportation and above all Wash. Your. Hands!!!"
And there I was, already deep in the middle of a sustained anxiety attack for everyone I care about and incidentally also myself, thinking, “Normal people DON’T do these things?"
Because if I have to fill the bird feeders or ride the subway, my entire day centers around that because for me it is a Whole Thing. My home is my Sanctum Santorum of Sanitary, so after such activities, I must go through a thorough dermatopic purification (hot shower) before entering. Everything is a potential danger you must prevent somehow or Bad Things Will Happen and it Will Be Your Fault.
What I'm saying is, in the early days of the pandemic, what people were freaking out about was my "normal." (I and a few others were very quietly hoping that maybe, just maybe, OCD people would get a bit more sympathy from all this. Or at least that most folks would start going over your phones with a wet wipe when you charge it at night because I honestly still can’t get over the fact that most of you apparently wouldn’t normally do that?!?)But I don't want to dwell on that right now. For the first blog post in ages, I want to post something silly and upbeat instead.
And so, let me share the ridiculous 1984 CBS Saturday Morning Preview show! I talked a little bit about these programs way WAY back in the Archaen Eon of my Blog, and I'm surprised I've never revisited them since. After all, if there are things I love to write about here, two big ones are 1) Animation and 2) Unintentionally Hilarious Vintage TV Specials.
So here's the preview special for the... honestly pretty bleak lineup for CBS in 1984. The highlights were "Dungeons and Dragons" (better than I remembered), the then-brand-new "Muppet Babies" (not as good as I remembered), and Looney Tune and Charlie Brown anthologies series. Lowlights include about a half-dozen cartoons based on arcade games. Mediocre-lights are the "Shirt Tales" and "Get-Along Gang". The IDKWTF-light is a live-action show I completely forgot about, kind of a precursor to "Pee-Wee's Playhouse", made by Sid and Marty Krofft, and starring Richard Pryor. (When I need to tell a kid what the 90's were like, I usually tell them, "Monks had a double-Platinum hit record." From now on, when I need to tell kids what the 80's were like, I shall tell them, "Richard Pryor hosted a children's show.")What's really interesting about this special, the reason I want to share it, is the "plot". Janet from "Three's Company" is a reporter who hates hates hates cartoons but must write about how they are made. And so Henry from "Too Close For Comfort" is going to show her. What follows is more delightfully strange than you'd expect, but hey we get to see the cast of "Muppet Babies"!
Art of the Day! And now, totally botanically accurate humor.