Ephemera

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Neon Whiskers

Are you in the market for an acrylic, LED tribute to your beloved feline friend? Voila!

kitty

As someone who named her first cat Girlcat I’m in no position to judge, but the infant plural ‘Kittens’ does seem bound to confuse. Though, given the note at the bottom perhaps it’s just me with my ageist boundaries between Cats and Kittens.

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ephemera banner fan 2

This October, I’m proud to present the latest entry in the EPHEMERA screenings: SAFETY FIRST!   Featuring safety and instructional videos from the 1930s to the early 2000s, SAFETY FIRST is what happens when a pile of vitally important and boring information has to be shown to an audience who doesn’t want to hear it. There’s a few general approaches, including The Paternal Condescender, The Shock and Awe (aka The GoreFest or ‘You’ll Poke Your Eye Out’), and The America’s Funniest Home Videos, but today I’ll focus on The Goofus And Gallant.

(Oh, and if you’d like to see more stills from all the films, I’ve also created a Pinterest board where you can see all the shining weirdness of these ephemeral films for yourself.)

Goofus and Gallant films feature a ‘Gallant’ – a Johnny Do-Right who follows all the rules to a T and is rewarded with health and prosperity. He’s often accompanied by a Goofus, some slacker who heightens Gallant’s proper example with his oafish slacking and blatant disregard for the rules. If he gets injured (usually he just comes perilously close), the violence is cartoonish and silly. Sometimes the relationship is supernatural, with Gallant being a guardian angel-type who must continually rescue the dimwitted Goofus from certain harm.

 

First we have ‘Domestic Disturbance’, a training film for officers responding to domestic disturbance calls. In this case, the Gallants are in active danger from the Goofuses, and following the rules becomes doubly important as everyone’s safety is in the hands of the Gallants. The film acknowledges officers’ reluctance to respond to such calls – as one office says ‘at least with a standoff you know the situation…domestic disturbances are unpredictable’. ‘Domestic Disturbances’ was filmed in 1970s Minnesota, making for an unfortunate overlay of awkward clothing and accent distracting from the serious matter at hand.

personal space

Domestic Disturbance  calm direct

 

‘Safety: In Danger, Out of Doors’  was also obviously filmed in the 70s and features Guardiana, a crossing-guard-turned-superhero. Guardiana must rescue the stupid children around her from danger, but not before lengthy voiceovers pointing out every stupid step they’re taking towards getting themselves killed.

guardiana

guardiana 1

 

‘Christmas Tree Harvest Safety’ (2002) seems to be made for a multilingual audience. Voices are dimly heard and mostly hidden behind loud ‘ding ding ding!’ noises when something’s done right, or a car-alarm when something’s done wrong. The Goofus of this film is a lanky white guy who takes every possible opportunity to chop his leg off with a chainsaw, and the Gallant, a middle-aged Hispanic man, is the one pointing and gesturing the proper steps to take. I’m going to say the film’s continuous use of The Mexican Hat Dance whenever the Gallant points out correct action is probably racist.

Christmas tree safety

 

‘Hazards In Motion’ (2001) features an actual guardian angel, helping the film’s Goofus avoid certain death at the hands of mining equipment and his own blind confidence.

Hazards In Motion white overalls

 

‘Hospital Safety’ is mostly neutral, showing people repeating actions done wrong immediately (except for the one time that guy caught everything on fire).

Hospital Safety lift

Hospital Safety  body lift

 

‘Hands In Motion’ is 90% a Shock-And-Awe film, avoiding gore by using an adorable abstract hand cutout to show the many, many, many ways you can mangle your fingers. Here we see a Gallant of a glamour shot – proper glove-wearing for handling molten metals.

On Every Hand power glove

 

From ‘Days of Our Years’, the most depressing and moralizing of the films (available as an MST3K short which helps it go down a bit easier), we see the RIGHT way to approach someone wielding a giant torch: using ‘gentle touch’. Of course the protagonist was too excited to do that and got blinded before he ever saw his first child, but that’s just the way this movie rolls.

RR sparks

RR gentle touch

 

‘Stairwell Safety’ takes a look inside the mind of the modern secretary pool. Featuring a bee woman instructing fellow ‘drones’ on how to not get killed on the stairs, the inspiration for this likely came from a whimsical Hallmark calendar sitting on someone’s desk.

Stairwell Safety attention

Stairwell Safety seriously

 

I just included this image because office dress code is ok with ‘Big Dog’ t-shirts.

Stairwell Safety bee lady

Oh, ‘Will You Be Here Tomorrow’. You are the violentest, most over-the-top safety film I have ever seen. Here is one of the brief moments in this short film where someone is not actively losing a fake limb and spattering blood everywhere.

Will You Be Here voice of experience

 

The protagonist of ‘A Safe Day’ achieves a full 1000 days of safety, because he makes it his business to be safe. He’s the ultimate Gallant example, carefully thinking through every action and stopping potential injuries before they happen. Goofuses and their horrible manglings are bloodlessly shown through double exposure.

A Safe Day smiley

A Safe Day common sense

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Picture 6

Picture 2

always-right-short

 

 

Picture 5

Picture 4

 

served-with-cheese

Picture 3

 

 

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I’ve been on a pixelated kick lately, digging up examples of early internet GIFs, Video Toaster screencaps, Game Boy sprites and After Dark screensavers. One file I’ve copied from PowerMac G4 to current laptop is a folder full of Simpsons icons, compiled by a website  so long dead its server host no longer exists. The icons are exhaustive, covering even the most obscure characters. Given the extreme gap in translation ability, they look to be the work of several hands and not a single artist. I actually like the ones that look like a 6th grader painstakingly put them together in MSPaint; their lack of shading, poor color choices and bizarre textures make them the folk art of the 90s.

 

Instead of flat orange/red, Bart’s shirt is Freddy Krueger-colored.

crappy bart

 

 

Here’s an example of the gap in ability I mentioned – two different ‘Bart from Treehouse of Horror III’ – note the use of shading, economy of space, and pleasing color scheme of the one on the right.

clockwork bart crappy clockwork bart

 

 

Possibly depicting Scratchy’s severed head instead of just a bust shot. I love the wall-eyes, gaped mouth and color scheme.

scratchy

 

Grandpa Simpson wearing 90s style Matrix sunglasses.

grandpa simpson

 

Troy McClure weirdly squished with Bob’s Big Boy checkered hair.

troy mcclure

 

Checkered Itchy; it looks like he has mousepox.

itchy

 

This Jimbo’s eyes and face are so wonky…there’s a decent Jimbo icon in the bunch, but this one’s more compelling.

jimbo

 

 

When I said these were exhaustive, they really went to the outer limits of obscure characters. These range from ‘Potentially Recognizable’ to ‘Why Would Someone Have That As A Desktop Icon’?

Worker from the lone ‘Worker And Parasite’ cartoon replacing ‘Itchy And Scratchy’ on Krusty’s show.

worker cat

 

 

The mutated laser-eyed squirrel from ‘Marge vs. The Monorail’

laser squirrel

 

 

MENDOZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

mendozaaaaaaaaaaa

 

 

Spinal Tap’s Half Inflated Dark Lord

our half inflated dark lord

 

 

Bart The Raven from ‘Treehouse of Horror I’

raven bart

 

 

Edward The Penitent: actually I might use this one as an icon. “I’m afraid ‘sorry’ doesn’t cut it with this Pope!”

edward the penitent

 

 

Llewellyn Sinclair – another appearance of Jon Lovitz as the director of ‘Oh, Streetcar!’

theater guy

 

 

Sideshow Luke Perry

sideshow luke perry

 

 

Neil Patrick Harris as Bart in ‘Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story’

bart simpson story

 

 

“You kids probably know me best as Sgt. Fatso Judson in ‘From Here To Eternity’!

ernest borgenine

 

 

Perennial kids’ favorite Garrison Keillor!

garrison keeler

 

 

Then there’s icons with no basis in Simpsons canon whatsoever, like this Klingon Homer,

klingon homer

 

…or Mad Scientist Bart,

mad scientist bart

…or Old Bart, though Older Bart has been shown several times, including as male stripper ‘Bang Bang Bart’ and Supreme Court Justice Simpson.

old bart

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Your Life

Digging around the vast Trove archives, I came across these charming icons:

Your Luck

Your Home

Your Job

Your Heart

Socially

They were part of a full-page horoscope spread in the ‘Women’s Section’ of the newspaper, because who cares about war and stuff when there’s RECIPES to be had, RIGHT LADIES?

Enjoy!

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