- - Monday, December 20, 2010

More dolls

“Pixar isn’t done with Woody, Buzz and the gang. … Now, thanks to Bleeding Cool and a tweet from Disney artist Floyd Norman, we may have an idea of what to expect from the first ‘Toy Story’ short: ‘Saw the Pixar “Hawaii” short. Cute. Ken and Barbie want to go to Hawaii.’ … It’s already been confirmed that the first ‘Toy Story’ short will be in front of next summer’s ‘Cars 2.’ …

“It’s surprising that the first post-trilogy ‘Toy Story’ outing won’t center around the more iconic main group of toys, but who in their right mind would willingly turn down more of Michael Keaton’s Ken and Jodi Benson’s Barbie, the two of whom all but stole the last film right from under the ‘stars’? If Pixar is going to return to this universe for future endeavors, at least it looks like they’re willing to play with the various supporting characters (pun fully intended).

“Although basic math quantifies ‘More “Toy Story” ‘ as equaling ‘Hooray!,’ hopefully Pixar will continue to produce original animated shorts in addition to further exploring established properties. Pixar shorts like ‘Day and Night’ and ‘Presto’ are better than most full length animated features and it would be a shame to lose original ideas to characters who have already been given a proper farewell.”

- Jacob Hall, writing on “First ‘Toy Story’ Short to Feature Ken and Barbie on Vacation,” on Dec. 20 at Cinematical


“[Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour] still recalls a statistic from the 1970 Mississippi census, which as a young man he helped direct. ‘The percentage of Mississippians who said they had been born here was 91 percent. Ninety-one percent! It’s lower than that now, but it’s still higher than normal, than what you’d find anywhere else. I had an office in Washington, D.C., for 19 years and I met people who didn’t know where their grandparents were buried.’ He tucked in his chin and widened his eyes, as though he’d just caught the family cat smoking a cigar. ‘In the South, that’s just unheard of.’

“As an illustration of Mississippi’s ‘way of belonging,’ Barbour mentioned the law firm his grandfather started with his brother-in-law in 1895. Haley practiced there in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s now run by one of Haley’s brothers and one of Haley’s nephews. ‘That firm has been on the same block in Yazoo City for 115 years,’ Barbour said, with great emphasis. ‘In that time it’s moved twice, from one side of the street to the other. But always on the same block.’ “

- Andrew Ferguson, writing on “The Boy from Yazoo City,” in the Dec. 27 issue of the Weekly Standard

Nature worship

“It is all too easy to get carried away, to forget that much in the world of nature is unpleasant, indeed odious. Consider typhoid, cholera, polio, plague, and HIV: What can be more natural than viruses or bacteria, composed as they are of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and the like? Do you object to vaccination? You’d probably object even more to smallpox.

“I recall returning soaking wet, cold, and miserable, more than half hypothermic after a backpacking trip in the gloriously natural Canadian Rockies, during which fog and mist had alternated with rain, hail, and snow (in August!), and then encountering this bit of wisdom from the 19th-century English writer and art critic John Ruskin: ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.’ One may conclude that Mr. Ruskin hadn’t spent much time in the mountains. Similarly, I suspect that those well-intentioned people who admire “natural” raw milk have never experienced the ravages of Campylobacter, pathogenic E. coli, or bovine tuberculosis, each spread by the unpasteurized McCoy.

- David P. Barash, writing on “Two Cheers for Nature,” on Dec. 12 at the Chronicle Review

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