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eccentric

Where the more unusual news goes.

Upcoming symposium on Gef the Talking Mongoose

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In 1931 on the Isle of Man, the Irving family claimed that their farm was home to a spectral talking mongoose. Many British tabloids carried stories on Gef and various psychic investigators visited, searching for evidence of the creature. Was is a hoax, paranormal activity, or some combination of them?

The curious can attend a symposium on Gef at the University of London, Thursday 10 April. Tickets are £7, including light refreshments.

Cats Are Weird

As if that were news to anyone! Well, just in case  you weren’t sure, comic strip artist Jeffrey Brown is here to tell you about it in his collection called, appropriately enough, Cats Are Weird and More Observations. Published back in 2010 (somehow we missed it!), this hardcover collection brings together both black & white and color observations of a pair of felines as they learn about the worlds both inside and out. Earlier, back in 2009, Jeffrey had success with his first cat-themed collection, Cat Getting Out of a Bag.  You can see both of these books at Jeffrey’s Amazon page. More recently, he’s made a name for himself with the popular Darth Vader and Son comic strip series.


image c. 2013 Jeffrey Brown

Teddy takes a trip . . . to Japan?

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Always wanted to visit Japan's capital city, but don't have the funds? Now you can travel vicariously through the eyes of a beloved plushie.

Japanese travel agency Unagi Travel, a self-styled 'Japan Travel Agency for Stuffed Animals', offers a selection of holidays for cuddly critters which range from a $35 mystery tour to the top of the range, a visit to the historic city of Kyoto for $95. Plushie owners also cover the cost of packaging their pals and mailing them to their destination. (Anyone who has ever experienced a budget airline might well envy the ability to go first class by private Jiffy bag.)

Animation: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 1/8'?

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The Cartoon Brew has a critique by Amid Amidi of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 hybrid CGI/cartoon 6’46” short, “Earl Scouts”, in which Barry the strawberry and one of the pickle foodimals humorously(?) try to kill each other.

Did you know that there were any Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 short cartoons? I didn’t, but the whole “Earl Scouts” is on YouTube. Seeing is believing … well, not that foodimals are real, but that “Earl Scouts” is. Officer Earl is at the beginning and the end, but most of the short features the two anthropomorphized foodimals. Does Sony Pictures Animation plan any more shorts like this?

Cat proposed as mayor of Mexican state capital Xalapa

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'Candigato Morris', by J Carlos V Padilla 32 days before the mayoral election in Xalapa, capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz, a feline candidate is making a mockery of the ruling coalition's politicians on social networks.

"Candigato Morris" has his own iconic posters and other campaign materials, and has captured the public fancy with such slogans as "no more rats in Xalapa" and "in Xalapa it suits you to vote for another animal; vote for Morris".

According to his Facebook profile, Morris, who was born in Xalapa, "promises no more than the other candidates" and "sleeps a lot, which is the ideal profile for a mayoral candidate."

It's yet to be seen whether the candigato's weakness for "quilts, sheets, pollows, couches, and clothing in general" will be his undoing. Still, given his charisma (and the fact that his campaign page has over 18,000 'likes'), the PAN and PRD coalition candidates may be in serious trouble come July 7.

Adventures in Ugly

After their first appearance in 2001 at San Diego Comic Con and other conventions, the fuzzy little “Ugly Dolls” have become a pop toy phenomenon of their own. Now Viz Media have announced the very first Ugly Dolls series of full-color graphic novels for young readers, starting with Ugly Doll: Goin’ Places this July. From the official press release on Comic Book Resources: “VIZ Media’s Ugly Doll graphic novel series will transport readers to a diverse universe where ‘ugly’ just means unique and different, and celebrating who you are inside and out is the new beautiful. Join Wage™, Babo™, OX™, Ice-Bat™ and their Uglydoll pals as they express themselves through laughs, tears, love and adventure!”


image c. 2013 Viz Media

Animals Think, Animals Write

It’s a new hardcover book called Animals with Sharpies, created by two of the founding members of the world-renowned collective The Royal Art Lodge. Again, we’re going to defer to their description, since we really can’t top it: “Animals with Sharpies is a collection of paintings with hand-lettered texts. In each painting, Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber have depicted an animal holding a Sharpie, ostensibly writing a message. These messages are varied in nature: Political and religious tracts, confessions, recipes, arithmetic problems, and more. Above all, these paintings are funny, but they are also startlingly poignant and jarring for the humanness of the suffering and longing depicted in these animals’ simple words.” Check it out at Amazon. It’s coming to shelves this June.


image c. 2013 Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber

Profile: Turkmenistan - The Land of Horse Heaven

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Emblem of TurkmenistanThe Day of the Race Horse is coming!

In Turkmenistan. It’s the last Sunday in April, April 28 this year. It’s a national holiday there.

Turkmenistan is widely regarded as one of the more corrupt and repressive nations of Central Asia; called by the New York Times “the North Korea of the former Soviet Union”. But not for oppression of its horses. In Turkmenistan, the odds are almost 100% that they are Akhal-Teke horses, the national breed that goes back to prehistoric times.

The Akhal-Teke is claimed to be the earliest domesticated breed of horse. Alexander the Great’s favorite battle charger Bucephalus (honored on a gold coin), which Alexander named a city after, was an Akhal-Teke. Alexander praised the Akhal-Teke for its hardiness, speed and stamina. See the Embassy of Turkmenistan’s website for an official description of the horse’s status.

Review: 'Summerhill', by Kevin Frane

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SummerhillSummerhill, probably a dog, is introduced at a dinner gathering as the others try to guess what he is:

‘I tell you,’ the ankylosauromorphic cyborg said in its fluid, polished, robotic voice, ‘he’s got to be some sort of wolf. Just on two legs, is all.’
Summerhill kept his ears perked and his mouth shut. He lifted his own glass of golden, bubbling something-or-other to his lips and took a sip, his eyes meeting the little girl’s for a moment of grateful acknowledgment.
‘Oh, please. Have you ever SEEN a wolf?’ asked the Crown Prince of the Akashic Realm, lines of disapproval appearing on his otherwise smooth, pale blue face. He and Summerhill had met earlier in the evening; the two shared a taste for fizzy beverages. ‘He’s far too small, and the colors are all wrong.’
The girl quietly begged pardon and broke away from the group. As she left, she offered Summerhill a tiny wave with her slender fingers, along with one final smile of sympathy and encouragement.
A being that looked like a pinkish cloud of gas with a self-contained thunderstorm rumbling all through itself chimed in. ‘No, I saw a wolf here aboard the ship just this morning.’ Blue tendrils of electricity crackled over its wispy form as it somehow created the sounds of speech. ‘He didn’t look anything like this.’ (p. 2)

Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2013, trade paperback $17.95 (285 pages).

Korean scuplts anthropomorphic animals from recycled tires

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Jackal-man tyre sculpture by Yong Ho JiAnthropomorphic jackals, wolf-men, horses and wild boar - all made of used tires, resin, steel and foam. These are the work of Yong Ho Ji, a Korean whose art has toured the world, from Seoul to Amsterdam.

Yong, who has an M.F.A. in fine arts from NYU and a B.F.A. in sculpture from Hongik University in Seoul, originally formed his pieces from welded iron bones, wooden planks and soil, overlaid with tires, before turning for a while to death-castings. Nowadays, he works in tire-wrapped resin formed on plaster molds.

Within the medium, there is great scope for choice in materials, as noted by Trinie Dalton:

A deer's tender cheekbones and muzzle are rendered with lightly treaded road-bike tires and smooth inner tubes, lining its eye sockets and nostrils to conjure a quizzical expression. The burly neck and forehead of a steadfast rhinoceros uncannily resembles a real rhino's bust because of the broadly treaded tractor tires peering out, like anger-strained tendons, from beneath a rough outer skin made of motorcycle tires.

Some species seem more popular than others; his gallery displays a multitude of deer and eleven models of shark, but only one mink. Herbivores feature on an equal basis - there's even a zebra. [tip: JayGryph]

Animation: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2'

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When Flint [Lockwood] discovers that his [food-making] machine still operates and now creates mutant food beasts like living pickles, hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees and apple pie-thons, he and his friends must return to save the world. [IMDb summary]


Let’s see … Anthro strawberry. Semi-anthro monkey. Anthro shrimpanzees. Anthro butter pats. Anthro sandwiches. Anthro giant taco supreme. Anthro celery. Anthro hamburgers. Anthro slice of cake. (And lots of humans.) Yep, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2: Revenge of the Leftovers, to be released from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation on September 27, is an anthropomorphic animated feature.

Did anyone notice that the original children’s picture book, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (1978) by Judi and Ron Barrett, has a completely different sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh (2000)? Just in time for Anthrocon, presumably.

More coverage: ComingSoon.net - Yahoo Movies - Cartoon Brew

Mickey Mouse Club — GO!!

This is almost impossible to describe, even when you’re looking right at it! Check out this name: Chogokin Super-Combining King Robo Mickey and Friends. Then just check out the picture below! It’s a new toy created in Japan as a collaboration between Bandai Tamashii Nations and Disney. It features die-cast metal characters with names like Jet Mickey, Sky Minnie, Diver Donald, Aqua Daisy, Land Goofy, and Dash Pluto, who combine (along with other accessories) into the massive King Robot to fight… sheesh, we can only guess what! Take a look at the advertisement on Amazon to see more of what the individual component characters look like. King Robo Mickey (etc etc…) will be available internationally this April. Now all we have to do is wait for the TV series…


image c. 2013 Bandai Tamashii Nations and Disney

A Young Dog Learning New Tricks

Valley Dog is a full-color on-line comic created by Michael Adinso Rebrekal, also known as Mike Folf. “Born and raised in the affluent and bustling capital of Washington, DC. The young Francis Gris knows of nothing but a life of strict and stern professionalism, shunned from the likes of artistically creative endeavors. This all changes when, for business reasons, the coyote and his family move across the country to the small town of Silvercreek, California. In order to maintain his lifestyle, Francis’ parents enroll him into Picasso Charter High School – the one school in town that is renowned for its emphasis on professionalism. However, it soon turns out that the school (and the town as a whole) is anything but.” You can find out more and get regular updates at — where else? — www.valleydogcomic.com.


image c. 2013 by Mike Folf

Art exhibition: 'LOLCat: Teh Exhibishun'

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Wired has an announcement of LOLCat: Teh Exhibishun, avant-garde and funky cat images by 45 artists at the Framers Gallery, 36 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JT, from 23 January to 15 February 2013.

Fortunately for those who cannot get to London, the Wired article contains 27 of the pieces, and the link to the Framers Gallery’s website shows 39 of them. Click on the Exhibitors’ names to see their websites which contain many more works, some anthropomorphic.

Animation: 'Turbo' is speeding toward us at a snail's pace

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Turbo the snailDreamWorks has released its first teaser trailer for Turbo, an animated feature about a snail obsessed with speed. It is all over the Internet; ComingSoon.net has the teaser and a plot synopsis. Ryan Reynolds voices Turbo the snail; Samuel L. Jackson is Whiplash, another snail. The feature arrives on July 19, 2013; a TV animated series is to follow.

DreamWorks Animation may be able to anthropomorphize a snail, but even they can’t make him (shouldn’t it be “it”? [or “hir”?]) cute. At least they got the eyes on the stalks right, instead of putting them under the “feelers”.

Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of Whiplash the snail. Let’s see; Samuel L. Jackson has been the voice of Tendai, a falcon in Zambezia; Rumbo, a dog in Fluke … hmmm; I guess that all of his other voice work has been as humans, such as Frozone in The Incredibles. Well, I’m sure that more anthropomorphs loom in his future.

Read more: Flayrah's crossaffliction reviews Turbo

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