Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (watch on Amazon Video) is a 2003 animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures featuring Brad Pitt as Sinbad, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marina, Joseph Fiennes as Proteus, and (most importantly for Discordians) Michelle Pfeiffer as Our Lady of Chaos, Eris!
The animation is amazing and the story is pretty solid. According to Sinbad‘s IMDb listing, this film was the last hand-animated DreamWorks production and their first use of Linux OS for the computer-animated parts.
(How this wraps back-around to the publishing of the Principia Discordia as the inspiration for the origin of the CopyLeft, FreeWare, Creative Commons, and Open-Source computer movements will be revealed in later posts. Stay tuned!)
The mix of hand and digital animation gives the film a rare style and stunning looking sequences not seen before or since in animated movies.
Roger Ebert’s review of Sinbad: The Legend of the Seven Seas gave it Four-and-a-Half stars, saying “That it works is because of the high-energy animation, some genuinely beautiful visual concepts and a story that’s a little more sensuous than we expect in animation.” And he’s right, there are gorgeously animated moments in the film that marry hand-animation with the digital animation in strikingly unique ways. And the story is smart and well written for all ages to enjoy.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s voicing of Eris as the film’s main antagonist is pure seduction.
Here’s the opening sequence of the Sinbad with Pfeiffer as Eris that sets up the story… be sure to embiggen the video for best viewing of the animation:
As with all things Eris-related, look for the chaos. According to the Wikipedia entry for Sinbad: The Legend of the Seven Seas, the film grossed “$80.7 million on a $60 million budget, DreamWorks Animation suffered a $125 million loss on the film, which nearly bankrupted the company and caused it to abandon traditional animation in favor of computer animation.”
This should be a warning, just like with Zeus and The Original Snub, you don’t mess with Eris. Ever.
I recently contacted William “Bill” Helmer about his days at Playboy and friendship with RAW & Bob Shea. To this end, I’ll be conducting an interview with him in the near future.
In the meantime, Bill shared this essay with us on the origins of the John Dillinger Died For You Society. —Adam Gorightly
The bizarre origins but otherwise True History of
JOHN DILLINGER DIED FOR YOU
There I was, at The University of Texas, one evening in the summer of 1966, delivering a brilliantly-researched paper to a small but select American Studies class. They were spellbound by my argument that John Dillinger made a few unorthodox withdrawals from banks and therefore deserved much of the credit for improving their security at a time when Americans desperately needed a “People’s Bandit” to distract them from their Depression worries. (The fact that I also brought to class a modified tenor sax case containing a slightly-illegal Thompson submachine gun, for “show and tell,” fascinated everybody.) (You could get away with such things back then.)
As I pointed out, Dillinger had just the right style–a sense of humor, occasional pranks, treated his hostages like guests (he tied the Racine bank’s Mrs. Patzke to a tree with a shoe string), eluded every police and FBI trap, and when he broke out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail with a wooden pistol, he took a couple of happy hostages and motored out of town singing “Git along, li’l doggie, git along.”
He also was a ladies’ man—playful and romantic—until that terrible night on July 22, 1934, after he, his new girlfriend, and the duplicitous “Woman Red,” had enjoyed “Manhattan Melodrama” at Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. As they were leaving, a bunch of trigger-happy Feds set his spirit free.
(The fact that they also winged two bystanders is rarely mentioned.)
John died with his boots on, so to speak. He previously had stayed up nights nursing his girlfriend (who was ignorant of the plot) after she was banged up in a car wreck. My very own Aunt Meta was a student nurse at Cook County Hospital at the time, and she wrangled her way into the basement Cool Room to see his remains. The next day, despite the city’s hundred-plus heat wave, nearly a thousand Chicagoans patiently waited in line outside the morgue, where they were allowed to file past John’s bullet-ravaged body. Some no doubt wept. And what with the usual odors, the stench of formaldehyde, and the flies attracted to his terrible wounds, this may well have been the inspiration for what now is called “A Taste of Chicago.”
Back in 1966, however, when that particular college class had adjourned to the back-yard area of Austin’s historic Scholz Garten, our Pulitzer Prize-winning professor, Dr. William Goetzmann, after quite a few beers, proposed that we establish The John Dillinger Died For You Society. It was intended to be no more than a spoof of the Elvis Presley fan clubs that were springing up everywhere (and of the “Jesus Died For You” signs that were coming into flower), so you can imagine the enthusiasm that my Dillinger paper inspired among the other students, who also were chuckling over the Presley fan clubs and weary of hearing how anybody “died for you.”
By then Dr. Goetzmann was tipsy enough to further declare that the Society’s founder should be Horace Naismith, a mythical figure who would delegate his authority to me. That name, Horace Naismith, came out of nowhere, but it could easily be mistaken for the fellow who invented basketball. (I don’t believe anybody thought of that at the time, but it later would come in handy: “Naismith? Wasn’t he the guy who…”)
We soon had a few dozen more-or-less official members of the Society and had membership and credit cards printed, but it was not what you’d call a formal organization, like the American Legion or Rotary Club. Everyone in the Society was automatically an Assistant Treasurer authorized to sell memberships to anyone at any time for any amount and then keep it, Because John would have wanted it that way.
The “credit card” had a hole at the top and read simply, “Present this card on the end of a pistol and ask that your purchase be charged. In most states the charge will be armed robbery.”
Also, anyone in the Society could convene a meeting at any time, so long as they left one chair empty for the “Dear Departed Member.” (This would be Mr. Dillinger, of course, although some believed that it referred to his supposedly impressive Private Member, which the Smithsonian still insists it doesn’t have and refuses to display.)
In any case, we had our first official meeting at my residence (a one-time Elks Lodge) on East 12th Street in Austin, diagonally across from the state capitol, after which we amused ourselves with a little target shooting in the basement. Soon after that we instituted what we called The John Dillinger Died For You Society Picnic & Punitive Expedition which included a Thompson submachine gun, a case of ammunition, a case of beer, and a case of dynamite, because our host (who had a ranch west of Austin) was big into blowing things up.
As word got around, the Society grew until it could boast some forty or fifty members, and it had become international (I think we had one member in Canada) by the time I moved to Chicago in 1969, where John had fallen. There I encountered other Dillinger buffs (they just didn’t have a society), including two fellow Playboy employees—Bob Shea and Bob Wilson, who just happened to have offices on either side of mine—and were hard at work on Illuminatus!, which ultimately became a cult classic. (Shea would write a chapter that involved conspiracies within conspiracies and then turn it over to Wilson, sight unseen, who would take up the story and elaborate with even more conspiracies. Oddly enough, it held together and actually made sense!)
Needless to say, Shea and Wilson were both Dillinger enthusiasts because of their frequent patronage of the Biograph, and of course I helped them work Dillinger into their story. (Shea and Wilson even mentioned Dr. Naismith as something or other, and me, as the Reverend Mr. Helmer, although the rascals gave me a social disease.)
At the time I was endeavoring to give the magazine its “redeeming social value” by way of the Playboy Forum, which published letters and editorials, and the Playboy Defense Team, with offices in the Playboy Building at 919 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the Palmolive Building); and I fed Shea and Wilson enough Dillinger lore that we soon had not just one but seven Dillingers, thanks largely to a couple of goofy crime-writers who had just co-authored Dillinger: Dead or Alive? (It was our belief that since Mr. Dillinger had been accused of robbing banks all over the country, sometimes simultaneously, he therefore had to employ doppelgängers.)
Meanwhile, I kept encountering more Dillinger buffs, and after a while we began commemorating the passing of John every July 22 at the Biograph Theatre. The management even (grudgingly) cooperated, and that was how I met Richard Crowe, fabled Ghostbuster (I call him), whose several-times-a-week bus tours include Resurrection Mary, Al Capone’s old Lexington Hotel, and, of course, the alley down which the spirit of John Dillinger still walks.
Horace Naismith remained the mysterious master of ceremonies, usually masquerading as an equally mysterious Bill Helmer who maintained an eerie silence, wore a vintage straw boater, steel rim glasses, a pin-striped jacket, and an outrageous 1930s necktie. Mr. Crowe took over the Society, arranging for members (and anybody else) to meet at a nearby tavern and drink themselves into what we’ll call a wake. About 10 PM he would lead his congregation across Lincoln Avenue to the Biograph Theatre (that’s how they spell it) to hear an inspirational speech, after which Mr. Crowe would again lead the way to the nearby alley, accompanied by an honest-to-God, properly-kilted, bagpiper skirling the mournful strains of “Amazing Grace.”
Then everybody (everybody who could remember the words) joined the piper in that sad song because—we again have to presume—John would have wanted it that way.
I, under the nom de guerre Horace Naismith, have since “passed the torch” of The John Dillinger Died For You Society to Mr. Crowe, commonly known as Col. Richard Crowe. I am confident that the faithful will continue to pay their respects every July 22, commemorating the most colorful outlaw of the 1930s who never personally killed anyone.
Well, maybe one, but the cop had refused Dillinger’s admonition to stop bouncing slugs off his bulletproof vest–if it was in fact John, for he only was accused, but never had time to stand trial. In any case, he shot low, they say, and as the officer fell, one slug stuck him in the chest. When John himself later was killed, shot in the back, his pockets yielded a mere $7.71, no doubt because some $20,000 in “git” money had been stolen from his pocket by a rogue cop from East Chicago who had set up the shooting because he had been getting it on with Ana Sage, our “Woman in Red.” (Ana later confirmed that she had seen John count out the money at her place before they went to the movie).
Let’s all remember that Mr. Dillinger was crooked but not twisted, and that he disapproved of unnecessary violence. Unfortunately, he had some colleagues who did not share his otherwise conventional (if somewhat flexible) Family Values.
CRIME MAY NOT PAY
BUT IT CAN BE A SHORTCUT TO IMMORTALITY
I just received a beautiful new Brazilian version of Principia Discordia (a translation of the Loompanics edition plus some extra goodies tagged on at the end) courtesy of Penumbra Livros.
Of all the Principia Discordia knock-offs I’ve seen over the years, I would submit that this version stands out above all the rest, and if you’re a Principia Discordia aficionado this version is certainly a gem to add to one’s collection—whether you understand a lick of Portuguese or not.
I asked the Penumbra Livros publisher—a fellow named Vinicius—to tell story of how this PD came to be:
“It all started with a stolen Steve Jackson Principia Discordia. My wife stole it years ago from a former boyfriend and kept it in the bottom of a dusty old box. I have heard about PD before, but for me it was sort of like the Necronomicon—one of those books you hear a lot about, but possibly never existed, and there are some copies around, but none of them is the real thing. I decided to give it a read anyway. I decided that, real or not, it was profoundly disturbing, which is a good thing. So I went to look for a Portuguese edition, and discovered there were only some PDFs hanging around on the Internet. I took a look at them, and was deeply impressed by the effort the Discordian community (which, until that time, I assumed did not exist) took to translate it. But, having read the original version, I knew many jokes, word plays and puns in general were lost in translations. The idea to produce an “ultimate Brazilian version” clung to my head for a while, but I had other things to do. I did not work with books back then.
“Some time (years?) later, I was working with books about magic, occult, and stuff. I needed to publish some book about alternate religions, and considered The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But the thought of PD came back to my mind. It was going to be a lot of work, with all the images, and lack of high quality sources, and word plays, and it being a sacred text, and all. But I did not give up. My wife was studying Photoshop and all those graphic software packages, and needed to work on a series of fictitious assignments. So she made a King Kong saint image, a fake book cover, a fake flyer for a fake book launch, all that kind of thing for a Brazilian PD that did not exist. I made a little marketing research and found out there are some very active Discordian clusters in Brazil, and quite a few people who are generally curious about it. Which makes a lot of sense, because everyday life in Brazil is quite surreal at times, and some degree of Discordianism seems to be in everyone’s blood, regardless of people knowing or not about it. That got me excited about making it happen. So I gave the PD a ‘go.’
“Since every major edition of the PD adds some new pages to it (Loompanics/SJ/etc), and there are many active Discordians here, we decided to add some pages of original content. We opened up for public submissions. We got some shitty material, but in the end managed to filter out about 10 very good pages. We also made an effort to guarantee those new pages were not exactly in the spirit of the older PDs, but were representative of the current zeitgeist and the life we live in our country.
“The art adaptations were complicated, but feasible. But some translations were really tough. We looked a lot to other sources of information, such as Historia Discordia (and, of course, the Goddess) to find enlightenment. It came in most cases. In some cases, in which things were completely untranslatable, such as the thinking cow on p. 00028, we just threw a similar joke, which would make sense for the reader. The songs and rhymes were tricky too but I guess we made it without major casualties. The whole process, nevertheless, took a few months longer than originally predicted.
“When the book was sent to the printers, we had trouble making them understand page numbers were inverted (odd pages on the left, even pages on the right). We had to sign a document telling them they were not screwing up. The launch event was funny too. We picked a cool bar to do the event, and the owner of the place, knowing what the book was about, did not believe many people would come. In the end, the place was crowded, and the owner had to work in the kitchen, and had to call his father to help him (none of the employees were willing to show up on such a short notice on a Sunday). That was a good sign. And there were hot dogs for everyone.
“We received some curious orders via our e-commerce. One of them asked for a side order of a hot dog, a singing Rabbi and five tons of flax. Other asked for a ‘no thanks.’ Many orders contained cryptic messages about the Illuminati and Pelé (the soccer player).
“Before the book hit the bookstores, we carefully hid some PDs on major bookstores and instructed our Facebook followers that the books were gifts for the first ones who could locate them and gather the courage to leave a bookstore with a new book out of the front door. Technically that is not stealing—we, the publishers, are giving the book away—but it certainly did mix people’s feelings. All hidden books were found after about two days.
“Now PD is on all main Brazilian bookstores, and there is yet another funny thing about it. Shelf placement. Some bookstores place it on the Greek mythology shelf, some on comics, some on biographies, some on young adults, some on self-improvement, some on political sciences. And honestly, I have no idea where they should place it. Maybe it should be close to the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah. But on a higher shelf, closer to eye height. Who knows?”
According to the June 11, 1970 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle:
“Two willowy blondes walked nude down Market street yesterday, hand-in-hand with a naked dwarf who had a peg-leg and a beard.
“The three of them, at the height of the evening rush-hour traffic, commanded considerable attention.
“They said they were soldiers in the Om United New World Nude Brigade, whose objective is to free mankind from 6000 years of sexual guilt…”
This public display was all part of a “Go Nude Now” campaign sponsored by the OM United New World Nude Brigade (OUNWNB), overseen by the great religious leader, Baba Om, according to the group’s propaganda.
Greg Hill (under the guise of Dr. Ignotum P. Ignotius) sent five pope cards to Baba Om, “the girls and the little fellow, plus one extra on general principles (to accord with the Law of Fives)…”
In addition to a sermon on the benefits of chaos, Doc Iggy congratulated “OUNWNB for your masterful positively–directed-disorder, by parading about the streets baldassed naked, with magnificent effect!”
To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the Joshua Norton Cabal issued the following proclamation: