Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Secret of Walt Disney’s Head

Walter Elias Disney has some of the most controversial and hotly contested biographies. This is weird considering he’s hardly Stalin or Jesus. If you really want to piss off a Disney biographer, claim he was a Nazi. Hell, it’s even one of my pet peeves, and I’m far from a serious academic. A major source of contention amongst Disney historians is not whether his head was frozen (spoilers: it wasn’t) but where exactly this urban legend came from.

Wait... that's not Disney!

Almost all of the biographers agree that the urban legend about his cryogenically frozen head is a myth. (I say almost all because there’ll always be a fringe of extreme conspiracy theorists – Illuminati-botherers who believe Walt was a lizard man from space, shape shifted into a human form to brainwash our children and steal the brains of our leaders).

The first cryogenically preserved man was frozen a month after Disney died. Maybe this helped fuel the idea. Incidentally, we have yet to develop the ability to bring these corpse-sicles back from the dead, and until we do there’s probably no way to really tell how useful cryogenic freezing is. Until I see a revived subject in the adverts for cryogenics, smiling and saying ‘How refreshing!’ I will doubt the effectiveness of the procedure.

The privacy surrounding Walt Disney’s death has only fuelled speculation. One of the things people love to repeat is that after he died, his family waited three days to announce his death to the public. Obviously they just wanted time to grieve before the media circus started, but it looks suspicious from a certain (paranoid) angle. What does a three-day news delay have to do with cryogenics anyway? Is it one of the secret signs? Is there a three-day ritual that mustn’t be interrupted? If so, then science is stranger than I thought.

Disney was certainly capable of planning big, and a major Futurist. EPCOT was intended to be a revolutionary new city. For example, this short film was made shortly before Disney’s death, and goes on and on and on about how great EPCOT will be. For twenty whole damn minutes! It’s the kind of corporate propaganda film that clich├ęd supervillains can only dream about:

Personally, I can’t watch that film without imagining all the ways it could go wrong, but that’s because my head is full of twisted utopias like Bioshock’s Rapture, the Breen nation from Aeon Flux, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the civilization from Logan’s Run and dozens more. “Welcome to EPCOT, the utopia designed by Disney’s very own Imagineers! Just one rule: you only eat what you kill. Take my advice – find shelter before sunset or the Mouseketeers will catch your scent. Stay out of the centre of the city, that’s where they nest.”

Anyway, planning a city is pretty eccentric, but some people credit Walt with much more eccentric ideas. They say he planned far ahead in his city’s future, laying down plans for an entirely immortal population. They say he intended the city to outlast the Earth itself, and go floating off into space. As with any powerful man, you can imagine all kinds of crap about them.

Disney's father?

But he didn’t freeze his brain. The real secret of Walt Disney’s head is the lesson it teaches us: some academics will become furious, cold-hearted and spiteful monsters over the most petty and irrelevant issues. Historians and researchers studying his life go crazy when an opposing opinion is voiced, and they will tear each other’s work apart with accusations of being sensationalist, groundless and unfair or sanitised, white-washed, corporate sellouts. The question of who first suggested that Walt Disney cryogenically preserved his head is a good example of this: a massive amount of people don’t care, but a select few will probably fight to the death over it if ever trapped in the same room. In this way, it’s probably also a good example of most arguments anywhere on the internet.

Dear Disney historians and aficionados, let’s stop arguing about who has the bigger brain-dick. Instead let’s address the question we all ought to be asking: What happened to Kennedy’s brain? Answer: SHAPE SHIFTING SPACE LIZARDS!

Grr! Arg!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Variety is the spice of adverts

Long ago, the internet spread an infinite buffet of video before my starving attention span. I gorged myself. My neurons grew fat and rich and, in their own way, also delicious. Like tasty brain-spaghetti.You’re probably pretty similar. At the very least, you’ve spent hours mindlessly clicking from one kitten-sneezing video to another, right?

Then you’ll also have seen the adverts. It’s to be expected – after all, we must at some point pay for the buffet. A tap on our hunched shoulders and we look up startled, gravy and salad dressing dripping from our eyebrows. The waiter daintily places a slip of paper on what used to be a plate of sliced mutton gizzards stuffed with boiled jellyfish. Everyone groans miserably, clutching at their stretched, expanded bellies in sadness.

With some video sites you can skip the advert, scrunching up the bill and throwing it back into the waiter’s face. With some adverts on Youtube, for example, you can currently skip the advert after five seconds. On, host of hundreds of popular webshows, you must sit through them for the first thirty seconds to a minute – or mute them, for the sake of your sanity.

I don’t know why but for a very long time, the only advert I saw on was this:

If you’ve never seen it, it’s an Olympic-themed variation of the notorious UPS Logistics advert. A montage of UPS workers, Olympic athletes and London landmarks is set to a simple, relaxed tune. The ‘UPS tune’ is potentially quite pleasant at first even if it doesn’t capture your attention. But I love, which means I’ve now seen that advert over three hundred and nineteen million times (roughly). You thought you hated the Go Compare singer? You don’t know what hate is. I used to know, but it was overwritten by the advert’s lyrics. My identity is now bound to the advert. When I look at the clear blue sky, a flower or the face of a smiling baby, I see the nothing but the UPS logo. I don’t remember the words to ‘Happy Birthday To You’, or the date of Christmas. Only the UPS tune remains. I sing the song while I mow the lawn, while I shower, even while I have sex – at thirty seconds, it’s the perfect length.

Then I guess my cookies suddenly changed or I got rid of some malware or something, I'm not sure. Whatever quirk making this the only advert in my internet might have just fixed itself. The dam broke, and other adverts came pouring through. I'd forgotten that when they’re not for UPS, adverts can be fun. I enjoyed them! I’ve welcomed the cars, cookbooks, Christmas sales, anti-smoking ads and even the adverts for insurance. The nature of the tasty internet buffet changed when I realised the bill itself is also edible, and delicious.

Below is my current favourite: Generation Awake. I hope you enjoy it. It’s a positive message of consumer awareness, it’s quirky and sweet, and it has an enjoyable tune. It must be destroyed immediately and never listened to again, so it can stay that way.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

This is where Josh took over

If you’re reading this, then you’re reading it in the future. Probably not so far in the future that you’re reading it in a flying car, while a robot massages your erogenous zones, but you’re certainly not reading it today. This means you read an article on this blog which hasn’t been written yet, from my perspective. It means you liked it so much that you decided to read through the archives. Congratulations, you have excellent taste.

It also means two more things. One possibility is that you’ve been clicking from previous article to previous article, reading backwards through individual posts, lured on step by step by my charm and wit. Congratulations, the proper flow of time means nothing to you now, and you’ve been procrastinating so long that whatever you needed to do is probably no longer relevant. The second possibility is that at some point, you decided to go all the way to the very beginning and read forwards. You’ve just committed to reading over one hundred years’ worth of blog posts, you poor fool (depending on when you’re from).

So you’ll either have been confused, or will be confused very shortly. See, all the posts prior to this one were written by Henneth; my good friend, helicopter pilot, waffle cook and occasional unicorn wrangler. This was a watershed moment, when the blog changed hands. For the sake of continuity and narrative, I’ll say this: Hello, my name is Josh.

To me, the name One Click Too Many implied that I should not only bring you the successful, professional stories that Henneth used to write, but also information that made you wish you could Ctrl+Z your brain. It sounded like a place we can confess the things we found when we surfed too far in the wrong direction. A place where you can find safety after being driven crazy by that one link you shouldn’t have clicked.

So, I’m sorry about doing that to your brain. But you’re partly to blame too. You helped build this. Without you and your precious page views, dear reader, how could I have grown an audience of millions, an empire of flying cars and an army of sex-robots.
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