View of the University of Michigan Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Printed on front: “Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.” Printed on back: “Published by F.M. Kirby & Co. Made in U.S.A.” Handwritten on back: “Howell, Nov. 16, 1911. Dear May, the stove is allright. Dear child, Ma is never so busy but she is good to see her friends but I don’t want to put you to any trouble. Uncle Andrew [undecipherable] was yesterday afternoon. Jesse would have gone but we did not learn it in time I have a card from Aunt telling us about his sickness. Aunt Mary sent me a birthday card. Mother.” Card is postmarked November 16, 1911.

  • Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

anonymous asked:

I'm a 15 year old who's never shot a gun before and I'm going to the range this weekend. I have researched firearms daily for about 2 years and since this is my first time shooting, I've settled on shooting my favorite guns: an M&P 9, SIG P220, 1911, an AR 15, AKM and an M1A. How should I step up the calibers with pistols and rifles respectively? What is recoil like?

I’d say start with the AR-15, then the AKM and M1A. Pistols start with the M&P, then the 1911, and end with the P220.

Recoil… How the hell do you describe recoil? For rifles it’s like getting pushed in the shoulder with varying degrees of force. Pistols… Well different rounds and different guns have different felt recoil. Your grip also has a lot to do with it. 1911′s feeling more like they’re pushing back into your hand where as some of the lighter guns kind of snap up more depending on the caliber. 

Have fun, be safe, and remember The Rules:
1. Always treat the firearm as if it were loaded.
2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
4. Be aware of your target and its surroundings.

“Dragons and Adults: Why How to Train Your Dragon 2 Proves Animation isn’t Only For Children”

Here it is: my Final Term Paper that I wrote for my film class this semester! I’m so excited that I got to write about my favorite film of all time AND that I finally get to share it with you guys! Yes, it is a bit long, but it was so worth it! This contains my Works Cited page as well, and yes, OF COURSE I watched the making of documentary, but my prof wouldn’t let me include it for some reason :/ (I got a really good grade on this, btw :)

This has been a labor of love of mine for the past month and a half. Enjoy!

***UPDATE*** Dean DeBlois himself has read this essay! haha I’m over the moon!

By Helen Groothuis

When the term “animation” is mentioned in conversation, one tends to think of lighter cinematic fare. Many adults have fond childhood memories of viewing films from studios such as those operated by the Walt Disney Company as well as Dreamworks Animation and others. While it is widely thought that animated films count children as their target audience, there seems to be a push within the last twenty years to tell stories that appeal to older generations as well. Here, we will discuss the content of animation throughout its history as well as the ways in which the 2014 animated fantasy How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois) exemplifies the trend toward making animated films that appeal to a wider audience.

                                                     A Brief History of Animation              

           The origins of animation as an art form have become somewhat muddled in recent years. Contrary to popular belief, the term “father of animation” is one that shouldn’t be applied readily to Walt Disney. In his book Demystifying Disney, Dr. Chris Pallant writes that “there are other, well-established candidates with more tangible claims to that title” (14). Pallant mentions that the first animated short was in fact J. Stuart Blackton’s Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, created in 1906. Winsor McKay’s shorts in the early 1910s developed distinct character animation – most notably with Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). Throughout the ensuing two decades animated cartoons grew in popularity as many animators including Walt Disney established their respective studios. Disney gained popularity through his Alice Comedies and the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit before founding his own studio and creating Steamboat Willie (1928), the first animated short with a post-produced soundtrack and synchronized sound. Eventually, Disney would release the first fully hand-drawn animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937.

           The Disney animation studio would continue to be the dominant feature animation studio for the next forty-five years; others such as the Warner Bros. animation division focused mostly on short subjects and then in television. Most of the studio’s feature output during this time was based on existing stories that were primarily aimed at children, save for a series of package films made during and immediately following World War Two. Examples include Peter Pan (1953), which was based off of J. M. Barrie’s 1911 novel Peter and Wendy, and Cinderella (1950), based on the French fairy tale by Charles Perrault. It is not to be assumed, however, that animation was always meant to be a format directed solely at children. In his 1957 article “Film: The Case for Children’s Films,” author Robert W. Wagner argues that “major studios have never produced films specifically for children” and specifically that “Disney’s work has always been directed to the general audience” (477). Take, for example, the death of the titular character’s mother in Bambi (1943) or the haunting “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence in Fantasia (1940). Though they take from children’s classics, these films are meant for the whole family.

           Why, then, is there a stigma surrounding animation as an art form meant for children? A possible explanation comes from the introduction of the MPAA rating system, developed by Jack Valenti and first used in 1968. Though it has undergone various revisions since its inception, the one constant rating has been “G”; films in this category were meant for all ages. The ratings “PG” and “PG-13” were added in 1972 and 1984, respectively. As a result, parents became more aware of the material included in films and could make more informed decisions as to what was appropriate for their children to watch. All of Disney’s films up to this point were granted G ratings, meaning these films were likely to attract more children along with their parents, and animation companies operating during this time would have likely followed this example.

           Toward the end of the 20th century, however, animated films began to slowly embrace more mature content. The Disney studio experimented with The Black Cauldron (1985), which attained the studio’s first PG rating but was a box office failure. The studio returned to more child-friendly material and found humongous critical and commercial success beginning in 1989 with the 10-year period known as the Disney Renaissance; all of the included films were G-rated and made millions of dollars at the box office and with tie-in merchandise. Though Disney was dominant, other animation studios established themselves in during this time, including Pixar, which released the first computer-generated film under the Disney banner. The first studio to directly contend with Disney, however, was Dreamworks Animation.

           Founded in 1994 by former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, Dreamworks Animation moved to distance itself from the Disney Studios with more “edgy” material. Their first film Antz (dir. Eric Darnell, 1998), was rated PG, and all but one of the films released by the studio since have followed suit. By the time the studio released Shrek (dir. Andrew Adamson) to massive success in 2001 and claimed the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Walt Disney Feature Animation’s success had declined. Dreamworks, along with Pixar, was proving that edgier computer-animated films were the new norm.

Dreamworks in particular found its niche in the 2000s with films that relied mainly on thinly-veiled adult humor and pop culture references. Its influence in the last five years alone is apparent: according to Box Office Mojo, of the 52 animated films that received wide releases in North America from 2010-2014, only eight received G ratings, and those films have generally earned less money domestically than their PG counterparts. Though the re-named Walt Disney Animation Studios has returned to prominence with computer-generated films, the presence of Dreamworks and other newly established animation studios has meant that the playing field is much more level.

Dragons Are for Grown-Ups, Too?

Enter How to Train Your Dragon 2, released in June 2014 by Dreamworks Animation and directed by Dean DeBlois. The first film, which was directed by DeBlois and longtime collaborator Chris Sanders (the two had previously helmed Disney’s Lilo and Stitch in 2002), earned almost $500 million worldwide and received two Academy Award nominations. The film marked a tonal departure from previous Dreamworks fare. It is not reliant on pop culture humor, instead focusing on a more serious fantasy tone. Despite this, it and its sequel (the first two in a planned trilogy) nonetheless contain elements that resonate with adults as well as children.

The main protagonist of How to Train Your Dragon 2 is Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young Viking who in the first film meets and forms a strong bond with a Night Fury dragon that he names Toothless and brings an end to the conflict between dragons and Vikings on the island of Berk. When we first meet Hiccup in this film, five years have passed and he is now courted by his father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) to take over as chief. In the midst of his reluctance, he, Toothless, and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) discover that a man named Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) is building a dragon army. Now he and his friends must work to stop Drago from invading and destroying Berk.

Unlike many recent animated features, the protagonist is neither nonhuman nor a child. Hiccup is a twenty-year-old human who in the beginning of the film is avoiding his looming adult responsibilities by zooming through the skies with Toothless. Hiccup’s character arc in the film can be best examined with Professor David Whitley’s examination of innocence. Whitley posits two types of innocence labeled “passive” and “active”; he points to the 1998 film Kirikou as an example of the latter, and that film’s messages can be applied to Hiccup. Whitley states that “being “small” has its own virtues and should not be underestimated” (84); Hiccup, while scrawny compared his large beefy father, manages to not only ride a dragon but build a flight suit that allows him to glide alongside Toothless. When Hiccup confronts Drago and tries to change his mind about conquering dragons rather than annihilate him, he embodies Whitley’s idea that one should not “accept abuses of power” but “try to understand their causes” (84). Finally, Whitley observes that an “instinct for questioning is essential for change to take place” (84). It is Hiccup’s innate sense of curiosity that drives his own society as well as the story forward and leads him to make a shocking discovery.

While on their way to find and confront Drago, Hiccup and Toothless are intercepted by a mysterious dragon rider and taken to an island covered by ice, where Hiccup is shocked to find that this rider is in fact his own mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who had been presumed dead since he was a baby. Their interactions are an example of Professor Bettina Kummerling-Meibauer’s observation that “the typical properties of children’s films are becoming increasingly similar to those films targeted at an adult audience” (39). Hiccup hesitates to embrace his long-lost mother, positing that “it’s a bit much to get my head around to be frank” and Valka expresses grief that she left her son behind only to find that he had inherited her love of dragons. Their relationship gradually builds over the course of the film and when Hiccup finally lets his mother hug him, it symbolizes that he has accepted and forgiven her. Furthermore, Stoick’s discovery that his wife is alive adds a powerful emotional nuance as he lays down his weapons and helplessly tells her “you’re as beautiful as the day I lost you;” their relationship is that of an older couple falling in love as if for the first time, and this softer side of Stoick is one that hasn’t been seen before in the films. The fact that this film spends as much time examining the adults’ story arcs as the younger characters’ is a testament to its appeal to different ages.

Despite its status as an animated fantasy, the setting and logic of How to Train Your Dragon 2 is remarkably grounded in realism. Other than the titular dragons, there are no other magical elements to be found. One aspect of realism is the aging of the characters, as Dragon 2 takes place five years after the first film. The main group of teenagers have become young adults, and their physical features have been aged accordingly to the point that the male characters all sport facial hair. Animated franchises rarely make such drastic changes in appearance. Secondly, unlike the majority of Dreamworks films, the nonhuman characters do not speak. The dragons can only communicate visually, which makes for several quieter scenes that consist of little to no dialogue – an example is the scene in which Hiccup encounters strange dragons and uses a flame device to bond with them. Lastly, Hiccup sports an artificial leg for the entirety of the film. Because animation is considered an art form for children, it is common for the main protagonist to survive the final conflict unscathed; in the first film, Hiccup loses his leg in battle. It is made clear that there is no magic that will help him regain it, but in the second film he chooses to embrace his disability by concocting a multi-purpose appendage. The world of the films establishes that actions have consequences and that these consequences are be irreversible. All of these are example of the realism that adds appeal to adult viewers of the film.

The most significant indicator that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is not aimed solely at children is the way in which the film addresses the topic of death. Stoick is in fact killed by Toothless, who is under the control of Drago’s alpha dragon, at the conclusion of a lengthy battle late in the film. The film makes clear that there is no way to revive him, which is a marked turn from the way other animated wide-release films confront death, particularly compared with the recent output of Walt Disney Animation Studios. In the 2013 film Frozen (dir. Chris Buck), the main protagonist turns completely to ice at the end, only to have her condition reversed due to the magical power of “an act of true love.” In Disney’s 2014 comic-book based film Big Hero 6 (dir. Don Hall), the main character Hiro’s sidekick, a robot named Baymax, sacrifices himself so that Hiro can safely return home. This sacrifice is somewhat undermined, however, by the discovery that Hiro still possesses a personality chip that contains Baymax’s consciousness; he can rebuild Baymax and have his friend back as if nothing had happened.

An important thing to note about Big Hero 6 is that it does contain another death early in the film – that of Hiro’s brother Tadashi in a fire. While this death is treated with permanence in the film, it is not shown on screen, and the film dedicates only a small montage to the immediate aftermath. Stoick’s death and its aftermath in How to Train Your Dragon 2 is given a considerable amount of screen time. Unlike the former film, Stoick’s death is witnessed on camera – the audience sees Toothless’ blast hit him in a brief shot just after he pushes Hiccup out of the way. In a scene reminiscent of The Lion King (1994), Hiccup throws himself on his father and breaks down as Valka and other members of the Berkian tribe mourn the loss of their chief. In the midst of all this, Toothless, not knowing what he has done, is pushed away by his best friend and taken over by Drago, to which Valka comments “Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things.” Stoick’s traditional Viking funeral is shown in full, complete with sending the body on a burning ship out to sea, further emphasizing the permanence of his passing. Nearly all of the characters in this scene showcase visible tears as Hiccup, struggling for words, attempts to eulogize his own father. The grim reality of death is one that parents might be hesitant to subject their children to, but the remaining story makes it clear that Stoick’s death is not in vain and that Hiccup will reunite with Toothless to become the chief his people need – and that is a story that appeals to all ages in the present.

Ostensibly, the art form of animation has changed much since its inception. Though historically considered to be a medium aimed strictly for children, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an animated film that is capable of telling a more mature story with an appeal to multiple generations. It is a prime example of the trend of the past twenty years toward producing animated films that are accepted by children and adults alike, and, along with its peers, proves that they are truly meant for the whole family to enjoy.


How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, 2010)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois, 2014)

Lilo and Stitch (Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, 2002)

Waking Sleeping Beauty (Don Hahn, 2009)

Works Cited

“Animation Movies at the Box Office.” Box Office Mojo. Box Office Mojo, 12 May 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.

Greydanus, Steven D. “A House Divided: Broken Homes, Flying Houses, Divorce, and Death in Family Fantasy Films.” Image: Art, Faith, Mystery 70.Summer 2011 (2011): 81-90. Print.

Kummerling-Meibauer, Bettina. “Introduction: New Perspectives in Children’s Film Studies." Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society 5.2 (2013): 39-44. Academic OneFile [Gale]. Web. 8 May 2015.

Murray, Robin L., and Joseph K. Heumann. That’s All Folks?: Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 2011. 183-99. Print.

"Oscar Week 2015: Animated Features.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 8 May 2015.

Pallant, Chris. Demystifying Disney: A History of Disney Feature Animation. New York: Continuum, 2011. Print.

Ross, Sara. “Invitation to the Voyage: The Flight Sequence in Contemporary 3D Cinema." Film History: An International Journal24.2 (2012): 210-20. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Wagner, Robert W. "Film: The Case for Children’s Films.” Audio Visual Communication Review 5.2 (1957): 476-82. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2015.

Whitley, David. “Learning with Disney: Children’s Animation and the Politics of Innocence." Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society 5.2 (2013): 75-91. Academic OneFile [Gale]. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.