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Joe Grant, Disney Animator/Writer, 1908-2005.

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051105_cockrobinJoe Grant, one of the great Disney character designers, passed away several days ago of a heart attack while working at his drawing board. He was 96 and still worked for Disney four days a week. His two-part career marked what were for us the most interesting years of output by the Happiest Megacorporation on Earth — he was there from 1933 to 1949, as Disney was still getting its animation legs with shorts like "Who Killed Cock Robin?", which has surprising bite to it, and which, according to the excellent Encyclopedia of Disney Shorts, contained "some black and southern stereotypes" and "scenes of police brutality" which were disappeared, if you will (ah, Disney’s dark history), though later restored for the DVD edition of the film. Grant returned in 1989 to work on "Beauty and the Beast," and was there for Disney’s 90s period of excellence.

We don’t want to reduce someone’s death to a metaphor, but though Grant had been working on films that combined traditional cell animation with CG graphics, it’s hard not to see his death as marking the an end of an era. Disney is done with traditional animation, and, with Pixar merrily meeting with various new suitors for distribution, they’re apparently done with quality projects that, while primarily for kids, were still entertaining for those who had to accompany said kids to the cinema in order to, say, earn their allowance and finally be able buy those coveted hoop earrings.

Disney recently acquired the copyright another franchise once beloved to kids and adults: the Muppets. At the London Times, Caitlin Moran frets about what Disney will do to Jim Henson’s freewheeling, subversive creations:

The Muppets are essentially joyous and irreverent… It’s hard to see how they will fit, intact, into Disney’s cleaner-than-clean, carefuller-than-careful corporate world.

Indeed, as if to illustrate this point, when I contacted Disney its vice-president of corporate communications for Europe replied: "Disney has deemed irreverence as one of the five core equities of the Muppets (humorous, heartwarming, puppet-inspired and topical being the other four)."

+ Disney cartoon artist Grant dies (BBC)
+ The Disney Muppets (Times)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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