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You may have heard about the new push in some states to allow guns on college campuses. The NY Times recently published this article about the latest argument some are using to justify allowing guns on college campuses.

My rage meter is on full blast and set to explode about this.

I do not make my distaste of guns a secret. I think this country needs a hell of a lot more gun control than it has. That said, I don’t have a problem with people using guns to hunt game. It’s all the other reasons people own and use guns, outside of law enforcement, that drive me crazy. But this goes WAY beyond my personal feelings about guns.

The people who are trying to push the allowance of guns on college campuses – which in most cases have already made their decisions either at the campus level or the state level to NOT allow guns on campus – have decided to exploit the hot issue of sexual assault to justify their arguments.

The argument is this: if women are allowed to carry guns on college campuses, they will be less likely to get raped. The ability to carry a gun would be a deterrent to rapists.

Are. You. Frakking. Kidding me.

Personally, I would prefer to simply NOT BE RAPED, thank you very much. The fact that it is a horrible crime against basic human rights should be enough of a deterrent for rapist scum. I should not have to carry a gun in order to prevent someone from raping me. Rape culture, in the USA especially, is still massively misunderstood, but this does not mean a bandaid (guns on college campuses) is even a remotely valid solution.

Then there’s the statistic that most rape victims are sexually assaulted by people they already know, so they might not actually think to pull a gun on them until it’s too late anyway. (Thankfully, the NYTimes article mentions this. The number is 2/3, in case you were wondering.)

The people using this argument have failed to acknowledge the fact that allowing guns on college campuses would also allow potential rapists to carry guns. So explain to me how forcing a shootout between a rapist and a victim is a good solution to this problem.

The first quote the NYTimes article uses is from Florida State Representative Dennis K. Baxley is, “If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible.”

NO.

The ONLY person who is responsible for someone getting raped is the rapist themselves. No one else is responsible for that. That is extremely unhealthy thinking. If you think you’ve ever been in a position to stop a rape, only to realize it later, do not blame yourself. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist committing the crime. Don’t let people like Baxley use guilt like this.

What about the countless women, like myself, who can’t even begin to imagine using a gun on another person, no matter what crime they were about to commit. The very idea is terrifying. I don’t want to have someone else’s blood on my hands. You can have all the training you want, but still shoot someone in a bad place under the pressure of fear.

Now, the potential ramifications for sexual assault aside, there are many other reasons allowing guns on college campuses is a terrible idea.

Lockdowns spring instantly to mind. Last year, we had a lockdown at my school because an armed man tried to rob a couple businesses north of campus, and decided to escape through campus. Students, faculty, and staff were required to stay locked in their classrooms while the authorities (campus security and the city police) searched for the guy.

Imagine what could have happened if students were allowed to carry guns on campus? How many of them would try to be the hero and go hunt the guy down themselves? How would the authorities know who the real criminal is if half the student-aged people walking around were carrying guns? Chaotic disaster.

Think about the negative ramifications for loosening gun control on college campuses, not just the potential positives. In my opinion, the negatives here far outweigh the potential for women (who actually can see themselves using a gun) to protect themselves against rapists. We shouldn’t have to carry guns to prevent people from wanting to sexually assault us. Human decency should do that on its own. I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but this is not the answer.

Award season is winding down, and I have seen NONE of the best picture nominees this year, so I figured I should at least make an attempt at one of the categories. I ended up going to see the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, since I went last year and it was pretty fun.

Unfortunately, this year none of the animated shorts really blew me away. I found most of them rather blah, actually. Also, a surprising number of them were from the USA, and the others were from England and Canada (and maybe one from Norway?). Can’t say I’m surprised, considering the nominations in the bigger categories. Yeah, ok, so the Academy Awards are hosted by Hollywood, but would it kill them to consider diversity a bit more?

But I digress. This is about the nominated animated shorts, and the runners up, and my film-uneducated opinions of them.

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2015

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

This short was from Great Britain, and probably had the most interesting art style. It was part 3D, part 2D, but I thought they did a cool job of blending them together. The story is of two brothers, one who takes care of their aging mother, and the other, who appears to be the favorite, and takes all the credit for the care. While I was impressed by the art style, the story was not unique. It didn’t add anything to this story, which has been told many times before. The mother dies, neither of her sons were with her, it’s very depressing and tragic, but in the end the brothers reconcile (the reason why was not very memorable), and then it’s over. This one felt like Oscar bait to me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it won, but I don’t think I’d mind either.

The Dam Keeper

The Dam Keeper

 

The Dam Keeper is about a town full of anthropomorphic animals, and focuses on the children. One of them is the Dam Keeper, a pig. The only pig. And he’s an orphan child. So already we’re supposed to feel bad for him, and then he shows up at school and all the other kids make fun of him, because he’s a pig. Also a little bit because he’s often dirty because he works at the dam, but mostly because he was a pig. Let me remind you that all the characters are animals, and the pig was one of the cuter ones. The new girl, a fox, befriends him, but then the pig thinks she’s betrayed him, and he lets his dam duties slide. For some reason, this dam keeps away noxious fumes, so when he neglects his duties, the fumes enter the town below the dam and everyone starts getting sick. Eventually he realizes that she HADN’T been mean to him, and he rushes to save the town and fix their friendship. It ends happily enough. But again, this was a very tired story, and the animation was not all that impressive to me. I’d be surprised if this won the Oscar.

Feast

Feast

 

Of the animated shorts that actually got nominations, this one was far and away my favorite. Feast was Disney’s contribution to the animated shorts, and it was MUCH better than what they gave us last year. The style was typical of Disney’s animations, so it was very clean and well-practiced. It tells the story of a dog owner and his love life as seen through the eyes of the dog. The owner finds a stray puppy and lures him into his home with delicious french fries. The puppy grows up accustomed to other scrumptious human meals and snacks… until the owner gets a girlfriend who is super into healthy food and only gives the dog veggies on top of his regular dog food. The people split up, and after seeing how sad his owner is, the dog finds a way for them to meet and reconcile, despite his distaste for her food. Eventually the happy couple gets married and has a baby, who becomes the dog’s new best friend. Like many other babies, this one finds great joy in spilling its food on the floor, straight into the dog’s waiting jaws. This was a super adorable film, and I enjoyed it for that alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won by virtue of the very well-done animation, but it wasn’t that unique. I’d be happy if this one took the Oscar, even though I’m not a huge fan of Disney.

Me and my Moulton

Me and My Moulton

 

I found this animation to be the most boring of the bunch. It is simply one girl telling the audience about a short period of her life in which she and her sisters wanted a bike. Spoilers: they get a bike. There were a few funny bits, like when she tells the doctor she feels sick because her dad has a mustache and no one else in the town does. But it’s the kind of story that only really feels interesting or important to the person living it. The narration was dull. The animation was simple, but clean. But I was bored.

A Single Life

A Single Life

 

This was maybe the most entertaining of the nominated shorts. A Single Life is a very short animation about a woman who finds a record that, when played, can speed up or slow down her life, depending on which direction it’s played in. She jumps from young adulthood, to childhood, to parenthood, to old age, to death. It’s pretty funny, and I like how simple the concept was. The animation style was also a little different, which I liked. I’d be happy if this one took the Oscar.

Runners Up:

Like last year, I found I liked the runners up better than the shorts that actually got nominated. Oh well.

Bus Story

Bus Story

This story was told in a similar style to Me and My Moulton, but it was considerably more humorous, if totally strange. It tells the story of a woman who has always wanted to be a bus driver, because she wants to say hello and wave at people and things. She finally gets her wish, but it turns out she’s pretty terrible at it. The students are weird, she breaks a mirror, she runs over a dog, and eventually she lands the bus in a ditch. It reminded me a bit of that Ed, Edd, and Eddy cartoon that used to be on Cartoon Network back in the days I used to watch that channel, at least in style. It was fun, and I wish it had been nominated, despite how weird it was.

Duet

Duet

I really liked Duet. It was a really pretty, fairly simple animation style. It tells the story of a boy and a girl from birth to adulthood – their separate lives, how they finally meet and, of course, fall in love. The animation was very fluid, and each scene morphed into the next. The story itself was not that unique, but I liked the way it was presented. This deserved a nomination.

Footprints

Footprints

The story was funny, weird, and a little mind-bending, but the animation style hurt to look at. It was that weird shaking sketch-and-watercolor style (if that description doesn’t make any sense, watch the trailer, you’ll know what I mean). It’s the animated version of shaky camera, and it was really distracting and obnoxious to look at. Footprints is about a man who is woken by something breaking his window. He immediately leaves his house and searches the globe for the “creature” that committed the crime. The whole while, we see this monster evolving and growing in the man’s imagination. Eventually, he thinks he’s found it, and shoots it, only to discover that he’s shot at his own house. HE was the monster who broke his window all along. See? Mind-bendy. It may not have been great, but at least it was interesting. I’m not offended that it didn’t get a nomination.

Sweet Cocoon

Sweet Cocoon

Sweet Cocoon might have been my favorite of all the animated shorts we saw. The concept was simple, the animation was pretty and well-done, and the ending was excellent. This short tells the story of two bugs trying to help a caterpillar fit into its cocoon so it can turn into a butterfly. The caterpillar is a bit too bulbous for its cocoon, and so it is a great struggle, and therefore pretty hilarious. Eventually, they succeed, and the two bug friends watch as the caterpillar emerges as a beautiful butterfly. Everyone is pleased with their efforts, and everything is great. That is, until a bird flies up and snatches the butterfly out of the sky. None of them saw that coming. I wish this short had gotten a nomination.

And now it is time for the red carpet! Time to make burritos and live tweet the event!

A sedimentologist friend of mine just graduated, and last week she was organizing her high school’s rock collection. We got to talking about how rocks are named, and concluded that sedimentary rocks (clastic at least) have the best naming system of all the rock groups (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic). This week in the geology 101 lab that I teach we start talking about rocks, so this seemed like an appropriate time to blog about rock names.

Let me take this moment to say that there is nothing serious about this post. I am a sedimentologist. I am extremely biased. There will undoubtedly be many flaws in my reasoning. Just don’t get your knickers in a twist if you’re a geologist and have different opinions. I’m also going to make a ton of simplifications for the non-geologists reading this.

If you’re not a geologist, which I assume most of the people reading this are, I’m gonna try to keep this simple. There are 3 main groups of rocks: sedimentary (sandstone, mudstone, etc.), igneous (volcanic rocks, granite, etc.), and metamorphic (marble, schist, slate, etc.). (I’m hoping you’ve heard of at least a couple of those rock names.) They are all united in the rock cycle. This will be relevant later.

Rock Cycle all labels

Below are a few sedimentary rock name charts. Rock names often have 2 parts: one for the grain/crystal size, and one for the composition. Sedimentary rock names are the best because they have clearly defined grain size cutoffs. The grains also don’t grow into each other like they do in metamorphic and igneous rocks, so it’s easier to determine size in most cases (this is somewhat of a simplification, but now is not the time to explain cements). When you’re looking at a rock sample, it’s pretty easy to figure out grain size with your eyes, maybe a little hand lens (magnifying glass) and one of many small charts you can take into the field. It’s even easier in a microscope, but generally that’s not necessary to determine the grain size part of the name. If the grains are bigger than 2mm, it’s a breccia or a conglomerate. If you can see sand grains with the naked eye, it’s a sandstone. If it all looks like one uniform thing, and you can’t see grains, even with a hand lens, it’s in the siltstone/mudstone range. That’s it.

sed rocks photos

sedimentary-rocks-2-clastic-size-chart

Composition for sedimentary rocks (mostly sandstones) is based on the relative amounts of quartz, feldspars, and rock fragments (lithics). A rock’s composition is plotted on a ternary (triangular) diagram, and wherever it falls determines the rock’s compositional name. The label at each corner of the ternary diagram indicates that 100% the rock is made of that grain type. The less the rock has of that grain type, the further away it plots from that corner. Most rocks fall somewhere between the 3 corners. The ternary diagram has nice, easy, straight lines dividing the different names.

FolkQFL

The only group of sedimentary rocks that I find a bit confusing are the carbonates. Those seem a bit subjective to me too, but the Dunham classification (chart below) is about as straightforward as it gets.

Dunham1962Embry1971Klovan

 

15-collection-of-15-sedementary-rocks-pm-500x500

Metamorphic and igneous rocks, on the other hand, exist on more of a spectrum of names. I’ll save igneous rocks for last, because I think they are the biggest nightmare. When I teach the Geo 101 igneous rock lab, my students always struggle. The following week, they have to ID both metamorphic and sedimentary rocks in one lab, and they always find that process significantly easier.

Metamorphic rocks are mostly problematic when you’re talking about slate, phyllite, schist, and gneiss, which are all on a spectrum. Shale (a sedimentary rock made of silt-sized grains) turns into slate when it get metamorphosed by extreme changes in temperature and pressure. Further metamorphism turns the slate into phyllite, and then schist, and finally gneiss. More metamorphism generally means more shinyness, and larger crystals. I kid you not.

metamorphic-rock-series

meta rock name chart

So those rocks I just discussed are foliated, which means the minerals align themselves perpendicular to pressure (that’s how you get the shinyness). In the chart above, there are also non-foliated metamorphic rocks. Individually, these are pretty easy to distinguish and name. So metamorphic rock names get points for that. But the foliated rocks are still on an annoying spectrum. And if you want to know more metamorphic rock names, here are a few more:

metamorphic rocks

Finally, we have igneous rocks, which are the most obnoxious to deal with of all. Igneous rocks form when magma cools and crystallizes. Technically, they are divided by crystal size. Big crystals are intrusive, which means they cooled slowly in the crust. Tiny, microscopic crystals are extrusive, which means they cooled really fast on the surface. Seems straightforward, no? But then you throw in the rocks that have both big AND tiny crystals, and sometimes this makes them “porphyritic,” but it’s kind of subjective (in my experience).

igrxchart

Then there’s composition. This is where igneous rocks get their awful spectrum just like the foliated metamorphic rocks. Composition boils down to the relative amounts of dark and light colored minerals. Compositions are curvy and highly variable.

ign_rock_chart

classification-of-igneous-rocks-2-001

 

Igneous rocks are a nightmare. I don’t understand how people can comprehend how to name them. And I haven’t even mentioned the volcanic igneous rocks, like obsidian and pumice. Admittedly, those are easier to identify, but they can still be confused with things like rhyolite.

collection-of-igneous-rocks

These are the primary tools we use to name rocks. I think the sedimentary rocks make the most sense, and perhaps that’s part of why I’m a sedimentologist. You can take a look at these charts and diagrams and draw your own conclusions about which group of rocks are easier to name. If you have any questions about rock naming and identification, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to use my teaching assistant skills to answer them.

A couple years ago I read the Scarabaeus series by Sara Creasy. It was a mere two books long (Song of Scarabaeus and Children of Scarabaeus), and when it was over I felt bereft. It was the best sci-fi adventure I’d ever read. Full of suspenseful, tightly-written adventurous plot, with just the right amount of romantic subplot to satisfy the hopeless romantic in me. I wanted more of the same, but Goodreads seemed only able to recommend novels where the sci-fi plot/romantic subplot ratio was reversed. I wasn’t feeling it. So I asked Twitter for help, and someone recommended Grimspace by Ann Aguirre.

grimspace

For whatever reason, once I got my hands on it, I was afraid to try it. What if it wasn’t as good as Scarabaeus? No, it seemed much safer to revert to my urban fantasy addiction. And so, Grimspace sat untouched on my shelf for a good two years before I picked it up to read again. A couple weeks ago, my roommate mentioned that she was re-reading the series, and I remembered that I actually owned the first book. She and I have an almost identical taste in books, so I figured now was as good a time as any to jump into the Sirantha Jax series.

I haven’t regretted a single moment of it. Granted, I haven’t reached the end of the first book yet, but I didn’t have anything else I really wanted to write about this week, and I can’t stop thinking about this book, so why not write an early review?

Sirantha Jax is a jumper – she has the special gene that allows her to fly a spaceship through “grimspace,” this world’s version of faster-than-light travel. Grimspace is a weird thing. I won’t try to describe it, but when I read the description, it reminded me of the faster-than-light space travel in Farscape. Lots of colors, like we’d imagine a wormhole or something. The weirdest part, I thought, was how every human jumper has a finite number of jumps in them. They tend to “burn out” if they jump too many times (though what exactly this entails remains a mystery), and if they don’t want to burn out they choose to retire instead.

The thing is, there are very few of these people left (that the government knows about, anyway), and Jax was just involved in a crash after her last jump – a crash she has no memory of. The government, and her employers, are holding her prisoner and interrogating her about the crash, and her life is pretty much the most miserable thing ever.

Enter March: a man she’s never met, but breaks into her cell like Luke Skywalker with Han Solo’s attitude. Under the impression that her life with the Corp (the government in the book’s universe) can’t get any worse, she decides to make a run for it with March and his ship’s crew of rag-tag criminals/vigilantes. The ship and crew have a very Firefly-esque vibe going on, but with plans like the Serenity movie.

Forgive all the pop culture references. This book just really reminds me of a bunch of my favorite things.

The plot thickens when Jax and March reach their first destination: a planet on the outskirts. They finally tell Jax their plan: they want to train a new generation of grimspace jumpers who last longer (Jax herself has been jumping far longer than the average human), by somehow incorporating alien DNA into their biology. So the team goes on a mission to recruit alien jumpers, and hijinks ensue.

The universe is a rather dark and twisted place, but our protagonists provide enough heroism, humor, and romance to balance the darker sides of the story. The story itself is tightly written, and the POV is a sort of blend of third and second person. Somehow, it works for Sirantha Jax. The cast is also refreshingly diverse in several different ways, and we need more stories like that.

When I’m at work, I think about Grimspace. When I’m home, I can’t wait to get into bed and get back to reading Grimspace. It’s been a while since I felt this way about a book. Thankfully, I can borrow my roommate’s copies of the rest of the series, but I bet I’ll be buying my own set once I graduate.

With all the buzz about the 20 week abortion ban that was supposed to be voted on in the House, but is now sitting at the individual state level, I feel the need to vent my rage and frustration. I know plenty of other people have done this before me, but now it’s my turn.

The argument around abortion rights is not pro-life vs. pro-choice. It’s anti-choice vs. pro-choice. You can be pro-life AND pro-choice. If you want to be. It’s your CHOICE.

NARAL Pro-Choice America explains what it means to be pro-choice perfectly on their website:

“Being pro-choice means protecting women’s access to safe, legal abortion. It also means working on ways to help reduce the need for abortion, like improving access to birth control. And it means supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.”

I am not going to argue about when I think a fetus becomes a person. I’m not writing this to change your opinion on that. I’m writing this because we all have different opinions about that, and abortion, and we should be free to make our own choices about what we do with our bodies. I will say this, however: in many cases, people are in the “pro-life & anti-abortion” camp because of their religious beliefs. That’s fine. I have no quarrel with that. But, this country was founded, at the very basic level, as a place to practice freedom of religion. We also practice separation of church and state. Therefore, if you want to control whether or not someone else (read: who is not you) has an abortion, it can have NOTHING to do with your religious beliefs. You cannot force your religious beliefs on another person. And since an unborn fetus is not a citizen over the age of 18 and therefore has no bearing on politics, abortion rights should not be a political issue. They should ONLY be a medical one. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Roe v. Wade was 32 years ago, yet we are still arguing about it.

I am so sick and tired of politicians, particularly male politicians, trying to control what I do with my body, trying to control how I reproduce (if I were to choose to do such a thing, but that is a whole different discussion).

I’m tired of hearing politicians (in particular, male Republican politicians) make complete idiots of themselves when they mistakenly try to make excuses for rape whenever the question of aborting a rape pregnancy comes up. I know it is not all of them. But I’ve heard it happen enough times that it makes me sick to my stomach, and I’m tired of it. It scares me more than I’d like to admit that people like that are capable of making decisions about my abortion rights. I am thrilled that the reason the 20 week abortion ban vote was thrown out because they couldn’t define rape properly, but the fact that it was on the table on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade infuriates me. We made this decision already. Why can’t people just let it go?

On that note, why do men have a say in this at all? In the reproductive process, they have one job, at the very beginning, and then they can walk away, if they really want to. Physically, that is. They don’t have to endure the 9+ months of a fetus growing inside them, and all the hormonal changes and physical discomfort and pain that come with it. They don’t have to worry that something could go wrong during delivery causing their death. So again, I ask, why do men get to vote on abortion rights?

I’m not saying men can’t have an opinion about it. People can have opinions about anything they want. And if a man has helped make his partner pregnant, he can absolutely tell her what he wants to happen next. But ultimately, the woman should be allowed to make the decision about whether or not she carries it to term. It’s her body, and her life, that will be affected the most in the next 9 months.

If we have to continue to make abortion rights a political discussion, the only people allowed to vote on it should be women. No uterus: no vote. I should be that simple.

It boils down to this: if you are not my doctor, your opinions about what I do with the contents of my uterus do not matter. And even if you are my doctor, I expect you only to express opinions that may affect MY health and safety.

I know nothing will come of this little blog post, but this is one issue I have very strong feelings about, and every time this topic comes up I feel like a broken record. So I thought I should write it down. Maybe someday, someone reading it will make the switch from anti-choice to pro-choice, and the world will be a little safer.

I struggled to decide what to write about last night, and it didn’t help that I got home late and began the evening by catching up on Scandal. Spoilers: things are getting intense and I want to be Abby’s friend.

Anyway, this weekend I watched Odd Thomas, the movie based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. It is currently on Netflix, if my review happens to make you want to watch it. Odd Thomas is about a short-order cook, named Odd, at a local diner-type establishment who can see the dead, and this helps him solve murders for his detective friend and possibly father-figure (played by Willem Dafoe, who I think is always fun to watch). He is a strange dude, but pretty adorable.

odd thomas

He can also see these awful creatures called Bodachs, which helps him sometimes prevent death/murder. They don’t really say anything about deaths that aren’t murders or big tragedies, so I don’t know how those work in this universe. Bodachs like to hover around people who are either about to die, or cause the gruesome deaths of other people, because they feed off the pain and suffering. They’re pretty terrifying though, because if they find out you can see them, they’ll kill you. This particular fact causes much stress throughout the movie for our hero, Odd.

bodach

Then there’s Stormy, Odd’s One True Love, they’ll be together forever, girlfriend. She is also a manic pixie dream girl. And I mean the full-on, Wikipedia definition from the first paragraph. She’s pretty, she works in an ice cream shop, she talks like she’s stuck in a dream world, and she drives a vespa. If she is not a MPDG, I don’t know what is. As a result, I found her existence annoying, even though she was a tiny bit useful in helping Odd solve the mystery (though honestly he did most of it on his own). Stormy was mostly an object that Odd had to protect, while the other two female characters were a vague mother-figure (detective friend’s wife) and a random girl who tries to hit on Odd, then gets randomly murdered.

manic pixie dream girl

It’s rather unfortunate, actually, because otherwise I really enjoyed this movie. It was quirky in a similar way to Wristcutters: A Love Story (although that movie has decidedly better female characters). I also liked the mystery aspect of it, because it kept me guessing right up until the end (although one could argue about one of the final twists in the mystery as being cheating, but I’ll leave that to you to decide for yourself).

This movie kind of makes me want to read the Odd Thomas novel series by Dean Koontz. I’ve never read any of his novels. But the lame portrayal of female characters give me pause. At any rate, it’s a fun movie, and a different kind of supernatural than what’s so often mainstream. Odd Thomas himself is a decent enough character, and I think they explain/present his backstory concisely at the beginning – which is sometimes hard to do with a story like this. The world was established very quickly, and there’s really only one thing that doesn’t fit, but this happens at the end, so I don’t want to give any spoilers, but you’ll probably see what I mean when you get to it.

Now, I must be off to get ready for the first day of the semester! My LAST semester of graduate school! If all goes according to plan…

You may have noticed that Fantasia appeared on Netflix recently (along with Fantasia 2000 but I pretend that doesn’t exist). As a person who grew up watching that movie nearly every time I went to my grandmother’s house as a child (she had the VHS, I did not), this was a joyous realization. I loved that movie to death! All the different animation styles, dancing plants, centaurs and Greek mythology, DINOSAURS, hippos dancing with ostriches and alligators… oh, and that really creepy one with demons that I forgot about until yesterday.

I’ve started watching Fantasia before going to bed, because the music is nice to listen to, and if the particular animation is boring I can read my book until it gets interesting again (the beginning with the musicians and the clouds, the sorcerer’s apprentice, the “Soundtrack”…).

As a child, there were many things I ignored because I didn’t know any better. As an adult, some of the animation choices are really strange, and sometimes offensive. This is a good time to point out that the original Fantasia was released in 1940. For whatever reason I always thought it had come out in the 60s or 70s, or even 80s (I was born in ’88). A couple days ago when I found Fantasia on Netflix, I discovered my mistake. Knowing this, the problems I see with it now are not so surprising, and some are obviously worse than others. I also still love the animations.

So I’m going to go through most of the animations and give my thoughts, over a decade after the last time I watched this movie as a child. If you’ve never seen Fantasia, I’m not sure I’d recommend trying to watch it for the first time as an adult. I’m not sure what this thing would look like without my childhood nostalgia. That said, I’m not even sure I’d recommend letting your children watch this. Especially the final animation. But I’ll get to that. The Wikipedia page has a good brief description of how each song is animated, for the ones I label as “boring.”

narrator

First, I must introduce our narrator. He’s not the conductor, or a musician. He might introduce himself. But between every song/animation, he tells us what we’re about to see. He also meets Mickey, and talks to the “Soundtrack” like it’s a person. Wikipedia tells me he’s a music critic.

1. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – Johanne Sebastian Bach

orchestra

This is the first performance, and it features the orchestra with different lighting and shadow effects. Eventually it gets into some animation with clouds and stars and random representations of sound, but I always found this one rather boring – as a child and now.

2. The Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky

Fairy1

I grew up going to The Nutcracker every year with my cousin and grandparents. My cousin and I wore matching dresses, we went out to a fancy dinner… it was a big deal. I have always enjoyed the music from that ballet, especially the bit with all the dances as they perform for the prince and princess on that random island they go to. For the most part, this animation involves performances by plants and fairies. They make everything sparkle with dew, and then as they pass through the seasons, they make the leaves fall off, and eventually they cover everything with frost.

Fairy2

I like the frost fairies the best, but then I’ve always been a fan of winter frost. If there’s enough of it, it always makes things pretty. But! I mustn’t forget the dancing mushrooms. Never have you seen such adorable dancing mushrooms as they have in Fantasia.

mushroom_film

Except for the weirdness that makes them all look generically Asian. I am not sure why they did this. It was 1940 when this was made. Although most of the dances in this part of the ballet are supposed to be ethnic. There’s a Chinese Dance (which is probably this one), a Russian Dance, and an Arabian Dance. But I did warn you – this thing is weird. The tiniest mushroom is still adorable though.

Fish

I almost forgot, this final weirdness in this animation. The sexualized fish. It’s got all this makeup to make it look human, and it’s doing this sensual dance with its fancy see-through fins. It also happens to be my favorite part of the Nutcracker suite (the one with the peacock – at least in the old Seattle performance). I feel like they could have done without making the fish humanoid. But watching it now, it just seemed creepy.

3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Paul Dukas

Sorcerer's Apprentice

This is another one I found boring. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it goes on too long for me. Maybe I just really don’t like Mickey. Basically, this is based on a poem by Goethe. There’s a sorcerer, and he has an apprentice, who he asks to carry some water around. The apprentice, thinking he’s very clever, decides to enchant a broomstick to carry the water for him. He then conveniently forgets how to make the spell stop. So while he’s playing around with magic waves, the broomsticks multiply and carry EVEN MORE WATER all over the place. And Mickey – the apprentice – falls asleep. Disaster ensues, and finally the sorcerer has to come in all angry and put it right. Maybe as a child the sorcerer scared me. There’s something about his eyes that seems very cruel.

4. Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky

Dinosaurs1

This one is my favorite. Mostly because there are dinosaurs. This song is set to an animation depicting the beginning of Earth. First we have volcanoes as the tectonic plates are created (though that’s not what they implied in the animation, because they didn’t know about that back then), then we watch as single-celled organisms evolve eventually into dinosaurs. The animation ends with the death of the dinosaurs (by extremely high temperatures across the planet rather than the asteroid, because again, they didn’t know any better back then) but not before we see a T-rex fight a stegosaurus. Honestly, I’m not sure that’s possible, because I think the stegos were Triassic and the T-rex was Cretaceous, and there’s the whole Jurassic between them, but whatever. It’s still cool to see. They also throw in an Archaeopteryx flying dinosaur, which is cool.

dinosaurs2

The funny part is at the end, though, when the dinosaurs are dying as they travel across the desert in search of water and food. Nearly all of them are dragging their tails. We now know that this isn’t true, because in all the dinosaur tracks we have, we’ve never seen the remnants of a dragging tail. They were used for balance, yes, but not as a third leg. But I forgive them, because it was 1940.

Intermission

soundtrack

At this time we are presented with the intermission, which includes the narrator/host man coaxing the “Soundtrack” into showing what he does with a little sound animation. It’s odd and random, and not very interesting.

5. The Pastoral Symphony – Beethoven

Fantasia - Pastoral Symphony

This animation is set in a mythical world of Greco-Roman beings, like fauns, unicorns, cupids, Pegasus, Bacchus, centaurs, and… centaurettes. Yes, that is what they chose to call the female centaurs. The most demeaning form of that word they could come up with, in my opinion. But it gets weirder. When we first see the centaurettes, they are naked and bathing. I mean, this sort of scene seems totally normal given the ancient Greek world they exist in. Just seems like a weird thing for a children’s movie. But I was a child when I watched this, and never thought anything of it, so who knows?

Centaurette2

 

Centaurette1

 

The whole goal of these centaurettes, it seems, is to attract one of the centaurs. They spend all this time with the cupids doing their hair and walking around like models. And then, in the end, everyone pairs up perfectly. It’s rather boring, if you ask me, but when I was a kid I loved this part. Looking at it now… I find it a bit odd that, for the most part, the centaurs match up by color. The blue ones pair up with other blue centaurs. The pink goes with the pink. The yellow goes with the yellow, and so on. I am trying not to read too much into it – it’s an animated movie after all – but this was made in 1940.

6. Dance of the Hours – Amilcare Ponchielli

Hippo

This is a dance in 4 parts: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Morning is represented by ostriches, afternoon by hippos, evening by elephants, and night by alligators. Mostly they just do a lot of ballet and then dance around together until their palace collapses at the end. I always found this one a bit boring as a child. I fell asleep watching this one last night, even.

7. Night on Bald Mountain – Modest Mussorgsky & Ave Maria – Franz Schubert

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This is the one I find the most disturbing. It begins with the devil on top of a mountain overlooking a sleeping town. The devil then calls forth all his spirits and demons, and forces them to dance for him. The imagery is super creepy. I’m fairly certain it gave me nightmares as a child, and I may have blocked it from my memory until my housemate reminded me of it a couple days ago.

Demon_Concept_Art

I won’t post more photos than that here, but I will leave you with this part of Fantasia to peruse at your own peril. One of the earliest spirits to appear are those that have been hanged – they fly through the noose on their way to the devil. So many creepy, crawly, horned, winged, ghostly beasts and figures. I KNOW I had nightmares about this animation. Also, fun fact: if this were in 3D is would probably cause children to run screaming from the theater, as there is a significant portion that consists of skulls alternating with demon women (and their boobs) flying at the screen.

I hope you have enjoyed this random snippet from my childhood, revisited. If you intend to watch Fantasia, you have been thoroughly warned.

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