Charles Bukowski’s “Beer”

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Today is the birthday of American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920-March 9, 1994). Bukowski was a hard-living individual, as well as a hard drinker. Wikipedia gives a summary of his life, albeit a very brief one.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

If you haven’t read his work, you’re definitely missing out. I think my favorite quote by him is from an interview he did in Life magazine, in December of 1988. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” A collection of his poems, entitled “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” was published in 1977, and includes the poem “Beer.” A few months ago, an Italian animation studio, NERDO, created a short animated film of that poem, and it’s pretty awesome.

Mickey Mouse Drinking A Beer

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Today is the day when Steamboat Willie debuted in 1928, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the one that made the Disney company the entertainment powerhouse that it is today. But even though Steamboat Willie is the famous one, it actually wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon created. Plane Crazy was actually the first one made, and The Gallopin’ Gaucho was the second, but both were shelved to work on Steamboat Willie, and specifically to add a synchronized soundtrack, which is what helped make Mickey Mouse so famous.

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But the Gallopin’ Gaucho was notable for one other important reason. In the March 1929 cartoon, four years before the repeal of Prohibition, Mickey Mouse can be seen drinking a mug of beer. And not just drinking it, but really putting one away. But as he as south of the border, at the bar and restaurant called “Cantina Argentina,” he probably wasn’t breaking any laws.

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The original, of course, was in black and white.

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Below is the entire cartoon, though the best version I could find was colorized.

Buddy’s Beer Garden

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Yesterday Ken Weaver tweeted out he was watching Buddy’s Beer Garden. An inveterate animation lover, I wanted to see it, too. Buddy’s Beer Garden is part of the Looney Tunes series from Warner Brothers, and features Buddy, in the second of the 23 cartoons he starred in.

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Buddy’s Beer Garden’s is a fun cartoon celebrating the end of Prohibition in 1933. The humor is typical of animation of the time, with lots of sight gags and animated transitions (a common technique in the 1930s). In this one, “Buddy dons a variety of costumes and hawks his ‘beer that brings good cheer.'”

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“Watch what you’re doin’ ya mug! “Don’t call me a mug, you mug!”

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I’m sure this would drive the prohibitionists today into a mad rage. “But what about the kiddies,” they’d cry (as they always do). But this was made in 1933, when cartoons, believe it or not, were made for adults, and were shown, along with a newsreel, before feature films at a movie theatre. That’s why there’s so much adult humor. It’s also why the hold up so well today, because they don’t pander or talk down to the audience. They’re not trying to be educational, kid-friendly or have a moral. Even when I was a kid, when they were heavily edited for television, they were still better than most cartoons made for TV.

See for yourself, here’s the cartoon, Buddy’s Beer Garden, below:


Buddy Buddie's Beer Garden 1933 Looney… by andythebeagle

The Legend Behind Beer-y Christmas

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I thought this was a fun little video, created by Heather Arment of Seattle, Washington, for an advent calendar of beer bottles. Her animated video is entitled The Legend Behind Beer-y Christmas. And since Advent just started on Sunday, this would be a very cool way to celebrate it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if it ever actually was a real product or not. The website, BeeryChristmas.com is down for the count. But they obviously spent a lot on the design of the packaging, which was done by Dustin Wallace, and Arment did another video on who the beer advent box works.

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Of course, in the end, they were trying to sell a cardboard box, which gives it something of a pet rock vibe.

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Perhaps if they had sold them full, but it might be cool to fill one yourself. Although that is a tough commitment for a gift. It requires that the person giving it knows what to fill it with, then has to find the beer to put in it. I think that’s why the pre-packed gift boxes sell so well. All the hard work is already done. All you have to do it buy it.

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But I have to confess getting one like this would be a great gift.

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Hmm, I wonder if in fall of 2011 this ever saw the light of day? It looks like it didn’t but I subsequently discovered that Heather Arment was also the inventor, and she’s still trying to get them produced through Quirky, which is a website for inventors and their … ahem … quirky inventions. People submit their ideas, and get them posted on the quirky site, and people vote on them. Ideas which get enough votes go to the manufacturing stage and are created and sold, also through the Quirky website, but also at select retailers, too. It looks like her idea for the beer advent box may actually become a reality, though probably not in time for this year’s holidays, because the web page currently says that the “idea has been placed under Expert Review,” which suggests it’s passed one hurdle is on to the next step in their process. So now you know what to get me for the holidays next year.

Jewel Pet’s Garnet Drinks Beer

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I confess I’d never heard of Jewel Pet before now. As far as I can tell, Jewel Pet is one of those saccharinely sweet Japanese cartoons in the Hello Kitty mold. In fact, it was created by the same company, Sanrio. It’s a cartoon for kids in Japan so far at least 52 episodes have been produced. Here’s one description of the show:

In a magical land, small animals learn magic and are then turned into Jewels to travel to the magic forest. While her classmates are busy being transformed into jewels, Ruby, a rabbit, is off playing. The stork delivering the Jewel pets to the forest is overcome by a gust of wind, and the Jewels spill, falling to Earth. Ruby, who is being punished for going off and playing instead of becoming a Jewel with her classmates, is sent to Earth to retrieve her friends.

One fan, with apparently a lot of time on his or her hands was worried their favorite character, a bunny named Garnet, would lose air time as new Jewel Pets were discovered each episode, but was relieved to find that wasn’t the case.

What’s happened, rather, is that a troika of pets (Ruby, Garnet and Sapphy) has taken over. Each episode, after sharing the limelight with the new Pet of the Week, they pretty much banish it from ever rearing its ugly head in town. I’m relieved!

What surprised me about all this is the scene below shows Garnet drinking a beer! Remember this is a show aimed at kids around 8-years old, plus or minus. You have to love the Japanese when they don’t think anything at all about showing beer during a kids show. Apparently nobody screamed about corrupting the young, which almost certainly would have occurred if it had aired here. If you want to watch some episodes in Japanese, there are a few online.

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“That’s beer!! Garnet, stop that bunny!”