Dr. Hurley’s Tonic № 005

he Means of Preservation was prescribed by Dr. Hurley for those who complained of a slowing constitution, aches and pains, and the general onset of age.  It was also prescribed to young ladies who feared the loss of their youthful complexion.  It is also believed that Dr. Hurley partook of this particular tonic to ensure his own good health on his many travels, including the one that eventually brought him to the gleaming shores of the young U. S. of A.

  • 2 oz Beefeater Gin
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 2 dash Celery Bitters

Stir with ice until very cold.  Then strain and dispense.

The Pizza Restaurant

Sitting in a pizza restaurant wedded
For ten years, young couples
Chattering away, I guess
Ten years is not much though,
But me and my wife are satisfied
With the window, cars passing
By on a cloudy day, as we
Mention a few things here and
There, enjoying the evening
As we don’t have to talk you
Know, comfortable in our own
Skins, she never really laughs
That doesn’t make her any
Less beautiful, the way we fit
Around each other like a ring
Both of us quiet, never wondering
What’s going on with each other
Because we use body language
And right now these Canadian
Geese are quiet beautiful, there
Pleasant colors as they fly over
Always in formation as if like each
Of us riding on each others wing tips.

Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week TEN

It’s been another rip-roaring week at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure!  From truly frightening fairy-tale art to grisly romantic lashings-out, you’ve missed a LOT of goodness if you missed this week!

But first!  Dr. Hurley has asked us to pass along a couple of announcements and calls for submissions.

Announcement № 01: POTUS Portraits.

Friday saw the beginning of a new series of Presidential Portraits on the Snake-Oil Cure – David DiMaria kicked us off to a good start with his intimate portrait of Andrew Jackson, but we want MORE!  If you’ve ever photographed, drawn, written about, sculpted or otherwise created a portrait of any U.S. president, living or dead, send it to us!  We’re especially looking for portraits of Abe Lincoln to start, but are interested in all of them!

Announcement № 02: Smithsonian Dialogues

Continuing on the American theme, we discovered recently that the Smithsonian Institution has a large archive of photos publicly available on their Flickr Stream.  What we would like is for you to go and pick a photo and respond to it.  Create a piece of visual art in response, write about it, write to it, write from its perspective!  Do anything you want with it!  Then send us a link to the original image along with your creation.

As always, submissions should be sent along with your brief biography and contact information to snakeoilcure@gmail.com

Now to the good stuff from last week:






avid has been in the kitchen for two minutes.  He discovered the back door open and quietly closed it.  He locked it before he went to bed, so he knows I’ve been here.  Knows I might still be here.  I left a Bel Largo chardonnay chilling in the refrigerator.  That’s the wine we shared on our first date.

In a moment David will grab the kitchen phone on the counter and dial 911. A land line will give the dispatcher his location.  That could be useful if he became . . . incapacitated. I’m sure he’ll want to mention the restraining order.

David will be disappointed when he doesn’t get a dial tone.  That’s when he will reach for his Blackberry Storm.  Pity it isn’t by the sink where he left it charging.

At that point it will be fight or flight.  Should he run to his ex-wife’s apartment, just down the block?  Sharon will call the police, but by the time the squad car gets here, I’ll be gone.  I will slip out the basement sliding glass doors, into the back yard, through the marsh, across the creek to the woods, down the tree line back to my car on County Road C.  There is no hurry.  Police response time for this neighborhood is twenty minutes.

In twenty minutes I will be back at my condo dressing for work.  Everything is laid out on the dressing table—the red Donna Karan jersey dress with black jacket, black hose, and sensible heels.

When David arrives at work, I will be there. He’s in Internal Audit.  Third floor.  My office is two doors down and around the corner.  Logistics.

But maybe David will decide to fight.  Maybe he’s had enough.  He’ll go to the oak butcher block beside the back door.  That’s where he keeps his Kai Shun knives.  He’ll select a large knife, the chef’s knife.  An eight-inch blade.  That will be a mistake.

A small knife, five inches or less—thin, easily maneuverable in close fighting—is a better choice.  With a paring knife, he might stand a chance against my Ka-Bar Becker carbon steel blade, but I doubt it.

I don’t want to cut him, but he hasn’t given me much choice.  Ironic, isn’t it?  There is such a fine line between courtship and stalking.

Exposure № 011: POTUS #07

David DiMaria shares with us this intimate portrait of Andrew Jackson, with whom we are all well acquainted.

Jackson here kicks off a series of presidential portraits here on Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure – next week we’re starting a series of interpretations of Lincoln, perhaps our most mythologized former President.

If you have portraits (visual or verbal) of Lincoln or any of our other Presidents, send them along to snakeoilcure@gmail.com.

Aching Atlas

Shelves that imitate life
in a collapse of hinges,
in a spluttering of book pages
like white flags on the floor.
Sighing wood planks
that have refused to bear
the crinkling binding, a workload
of ancient words that
mean as little to them as they
do to the sun that swims through
their dull covers.
Shelves that collect dust
while they ponder their
suffering away,
flecks of gray
fainting on their scratched surfaces.
Shelves that find
no reason to
remain obedient,
they laugh in splinter of plaster,
plunging wide-eyed to the floor.

Impression № 007: You can stay my Darling, but not for long!

Graphic Designer Vladimir Stankovic tell us about his art:

I’m a graphic designer from Serbia currently working on my Master’s degree in Finland. Although I’m studying graphic design, which is a very commercial discipline, I find it hard not to develop my other side which is more inclined towards fine arts and illustration on a personal, darker, level. As long as I can remember I used to draw, whenever I had a chance and on whatever I could get my hands on: old books and notebooks, wood pieces etc. Mysteries of any kind, human imperfections, sexuality, life and of course death are the subjects that have fundamentally influenced my interests and artistic expression. The dark side is always there, some shy away from it and some accept it and explore its realms without fear.

You can stay my Darling, but not for long!

The illustrations that I’ve been working on lately
have been influenced by my childhood memories, stories I used to listen to, fairy tales and old myths. I started researching the meanings of fairytales and discovered a lot of interesting facts about them, their hidden messages and symbolism, which, once discovered, make the story more mesmerizing and magical.

Stay tuned for some more wonderful work by Vladimir Stankovic coming up soon.

From Mickey to Michelangelo: The Beginning of Training & Development At Walt Disney Studios

he Walt Disney name
carries more goodwill around the world than any brand. If you were to wish upon a star that the whole world be a Disney World, you would be among many others. Walt Disney was  creative beyond measure, but he was also one of the great entrepreneurs of his generation. It is sometimes hard for people to think that the giant Walt Disney  Company of today was once a struggling small business with some good ideas, some practical skills and a lot of energy to try and make a dream come to life. That time was around the start of the Great Depression, when Walt Disney Studios was making a living with Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons.

Some of those cartoons had been landmarks, “Steamboat Willie”, the first cartoon with sound, and “Flowers and Trees”, the first cartoon in color. But all of the cartoons were ‘shorts’, cartoons only a few minutes long that did not generate the kind of revenue of a feature length movie. Back then, TV didn’t exist, so cartoons only made money in movie theaters. Walt was perhaps the first animator to cash in on licensing his cartoon characters’ appearance on merchandise, things such as the Mickey Mouse watch that was popular for decades, but even the money earned from merchandising was not going to sustain the studio for the long haul. Walt knew he had to become a real movie producer who could attract the same ticket sales as major Hollywood movie studios such as MGM and RKO. To rival those companies, Walt would create feature length cartoons.

The decision to produce features propelled an important transformation at Walt Disney Studios. Walt did not think he could simply extend his shorts in their present form and hold people’s attention for over an hour. The art was just not good enough. To create feature length cartoons – animation, that is – Walt needed to improve the state of the art dramatically. He had used technology to improve cartoons (sound and color) and he would continue to explore technological improvements forever, but more than anything else he needed to improve his cartoonists. He needed to improve their eyes, hands, and minds. He needed his cartoonists to become artists.

Walt’s first step toward turning his cartoonists into artists began in 1931 when he arranged for them to study art at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Walt paid the tuition and even drove his people to and from the classes when they did not have the means to get there themselves. Walt was going to develop artists for his studio, and his commitment to that goal was a personal matter. People who’d spent a life as cartoonists were going to need to unlearn their habits and styles; people who were newer to animation were going to need to ignore the history of cartoons, even the recent past, and start to think as fine artists; people who’d been to fine art school were going to need to learn how to apply their talent to commercial animation. People who couldn’t evolve were going to fall by the wayside. This transformation was not unlike that of art history itself, like the transformation from naive figures to renaissance ideals. Natural movement and rich backgrounds were to replace stick figures and blank space. The audience needed to see characters similar to themselves, they needed to see reality amidst the fantasy.

In 1932 the Walt Disney Studios began to build its finances and Walt was able to organize a Disney Art School. He hired Don Graham to run the Disney Art School, which first held classes at homes and later at the Walt Disney Studios. Graham had been teaching the Disney people through Chouinard’s, so the change was more one of commitment and proximity than principles. The change in the quality of Walt Disney Studio animation from 1932 onward put the studio far beyond its peers, and that progress allowed Walt to undertake the leap into feature length animation. The first feature project would be Snow White, and the artistry Walt required for Snow White would need to be pushed further.

t’s December, 1935 and Snow White, a project that would eventually use 1.5 million pencil, ink, and watercolor drawings, was in early development. To create Snow White, and a studio that could continue to produce similar features, Walt hired 300 new people, who were mostly young art school grads, and gave Don Graham the mission to turn them into Disney artists. Graham was also to retrain the older animators in the new style emerging at Disney. In the Disney archives there is a remarkable memo from Walt to Don Graham that outlines Walt’s vision for the Disney Art School and the kind of artists it had to produce. Walt described a curriculum and skills to be developed, he identified current studio people who could lead classes for the others, he waxed about caricaturists outside the studio whose work could be a model. Walt knew what he wanted in his features and knew what he needed to do to get it from his people. He was not worried about the investment, which would be substantial, he was striving for quality, for artistry, and to develop a studio that would create durable masterpieces.

The Disney Art School taught new animators, referred to as novices, in classes held all day every day. As novices improved, they would move gradually into real work for the studio. A day here and a day there until their work rose to Walt’s standards and they could become full-time animators. Older animators, the ones who needed retraining but were familiar with producing animation, were required to take at least one night class at the school. Walt spent his own money to support this novel and robust training program, and by 1935 the school was costing $100,000 per year. Meanwhile, other cartoon companies weren’t spending anything on training.

A key trait of Walt’s ideal animator is that he would understand natural movement. Toward that end, Walt also created a zoo at the studio so animators could study the movement and expression of live animals as they had studied live human models before. Animals had been an important part of Disney cartoons, but feature animation would require the animals to act and use body language much more convincingly. Later, to prepare his artists for the feature Bambi, Walt hired animal artist Rico Le Brun to lead art classes, and also dispatched a crew to Maine to film forest scenes in a variety of weather and light conditions for the artists to study.

Snow White was released in 1937, six years and hundreds of thousands of Depression era dollars after Walt began his art school program. The artistry in Snow White was far beyond anything the audience had seen before and the movie grossed $8 million Depression era dollars at the box office, the largest sum of any movie in 1937. Before feature length animation, the Disney Studio was happy to earn $15,000 for a cartoon short. The impact of Walt’s art school on the final cut of Snow White was everywhere on the screen. The characters, backgrounds, props, and action were so fantastic that one needed to watch the movie several times to begin to see it all. Leaves in forty shades of green, water flowing and rippling and bubbling in a familiar way, people dancing, animals prancing, and spectacular light and shadow effects. Walt’s vision of animation was solidified with the subsequent feature releases of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. This group of movies completely transformed the notion of animation from the crude geometry and movement of cartoon characters to the rich and refined sequences of paint, light, motion, dimension, and drama seen in the finest halls of art and cinema. Walt’s investment to train and develop his artists in the name of quality had been returned many times over, and his example of transformational leadership in his company’s early history contributed enormously to his legend.

Photos by Joe Penniston.

Background Sources

Walt: The Man Behind the Myth (DVD), Jean Pierre Isbouts; “The Disney Art School,” David Johnson; Disney’s Art of Animation, Bob Thomas; Talking Animals and Other People, Shamus Culhane; Disney’s World, Leonard Mosley; Walt Disney’s World of Fantasy, Adrian Bailey; “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Andrew Boone.

Above all

The sun leans on all passers-by
drying the breadcrumbs until
their parchment skin crackles,
wrinkles branded like black hieroglyphs
from a fiery pharaoh. Oblong mister sinister
sweetens tomatoes into succulent red,
yet he turns aqua spools of yarn
into brittle snatches of hay.
He transforms you into your sterner sister.
He converts a countryside
of flesh into a land of lesions, factories of pus.
He shatters windows and arteries with a sneer.

Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week Nine

Our ninth week at Snake-Oil Cure brought us some amazing fiction by Jude Lovell and regular contributor Emily Markusson Sorsher, as well as some non-fiction from our editors, and some great poetry from Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde.

For now, catch up on what you missed last week:


Photo essay:



We’ve also had a lot of poetry submissions, but we need some more of your great fiction! If you have something you’d like to submit, get in touch with us at Twitter, or email us at snakeoilcure@gmail.com.