• If Hayao Miyazaki animated some narrative beat poetry composed by Gerard Manley Hopkins during a brainstorming session with Raymond Chandler and Edgar Allan Poe, the end product might have looked something like The Cat Piano. Equal parts sleek noir and gooseflesh-raising horror, the short film punctuates its cool palette with violent splashes of color. Sumptuously drawn and beautifully imagined, it deserves every one of the numerous awards it has garnered. (Hat Tip: Lackadaisy)Go to Diversions: Winter 2009 ...
• Speaking of animation, Von Lehe Creative has a fascinating interview with former Disney animator Broose Johnson, who worked on everything from Oliver and Company, and The Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Johnson provides insights into not only what an animator does in his day job, but also what happened during the unraveling of the Magic Kingdom's once-grand Florida studios. Additionally, in a comment on the blog he talks about the more infamous Disney Easter eggs, such as the "excited" rector in The Little Mermaid's wedding scene and writing in the clouds during The Lion King. Well worth a listen.
• Worried about all the wool gathering that goes into writing good speculative fiction? Fear no more! With the Electro-Plasmic Hydrocephalic Genre-Fiction Generator 2000, you're only a few seconds away from a custom-generated, flow-charted premise. I gave it a spin and discovered I'll be writing about a neo-noir Outer Rim world where a young wisecracking mercenary stumbles across an arcane prophecy which spurs him into conflict with murderous robots. With the help of a sarcastic female techno-geek and her closet full of assault rifles, his adventures culminate in a philosophical argument punctuated by violence. My title? The Psychobots. (Hat Tip: Brandywine Books)
• Though the genre-fiction short story isn't exactly dead, it has developed a nasty cough and lingering chills. Gone are the days where aspiring writers could support themselves by pounding out stories during the day and working on a novel at night. But short fiction is the name of the game at iPulpFiction.com. The site sells individual shorts with prices ranging from the ever-popular free to $1 apiece. Many are $0.25 or $0.50. The authors aren't fly-by-night sorts, either. Contemporary contributors include Orson Scott Card, Ed Gorman and Ben Bova, and there are classics from G.K. Chesterton, Guy de Maupassant and Phillip K. Dick.
(Picture: CC 2006 by Anders B.)