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Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation

FRI., JAN. 30, 2004

January is Austin’s coldest month. It would be something worth bitching about if the average high in January weren’t 60 degrees. Compare that with our unofficial sister city, Austin, Minn. (aka Spamtown, USA), where the average daily high is 17, and you start to realize that things could be a lot worse. We could be called Spamtown, USA, for instance. Nonetheless, we still have our chilly days, those rare occasions that demand socks in the Birkenstocks, felt instead of straw, and thermals under the cutoffs. Better yet, you could just stay indoors. One of the best places to stay indoors this weekend is the Alamo Drafthouse, where Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation 2004 has set up shop. It used to be that the calling card of Spike and Mike was that they brought us Beavis and Butt-head – either a blessing or a curse depending on which side of that fence you fall, but these days they’re more widely recognized as discoverers of innovative and interesting animation, stuff that falls outside of the mainstream fare delivered on Saturday mornings or the Cartoon Network – stuff like Southpark. While only a butt head would argue that Southpark is sophisticated animé, it does, nonetheless, offer something most popular animé does not: biting social commentary mixed with crass, lowbrow humor. If anything, at its best, Southpark animation is sophisticated satire wrought with construction paper and at its worst, juvenile potty humor with paper dolls. Currently the Sick & Twisted Festival is home to “The Spirit of Christmas,” Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s wacky animated Christmas card that pits Jesus and Santa Claus in a pitched battle to decide who is king of Christmas. “The Spirit of Christmas” is the genesis of Southpark and even features a couple of the characters from the series. Other animators whose works have debuted in the festival include Eric Fogel (MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch”) and John Dilworth (creator of “The Dirdy Birdy”). Regardless of what you see, you can count on it being at the very least interesting and more often than not hilarious. The down side, if you can call it that, is that you might find some of the images disturbing and even offensive. As the promotional material warns: “This show is not recommended for those of a delicate constitution.” Powerpuff Girls it ain’t, but it’s still well worth the trip. Besides, how often do you get to watch cartoons without a bunch of obnoxious kids throwing popcorn in your hair?

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