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Blog Posts from June 2007:

Some Wisdom of the Masters-

This time of year a lot of animated feature films are finishing up or going into OT to finish up. Ratatouille, Surfs Up the Simpson's Movie are all done, and more to come. A word from an Old Vet of over twenty features.

Take a rest between the pictures.

I know you don't want to lose your position, and maybe you don't want to risk the loss of income. But take it from me, it's some of the best advice I ever got. Not only are you physically tired, your mental battery is running on empty as well. The Disney guys used to say for animators on down take two weeks or more, dept. supervisors and directors should take a month off. Live action folks know this trick. They can do the 18 hour shoots and living in a trailor on location, because they plan in a few weeks off afterwards.

Great poster by R. Crumb that I thought about often when I killed myself on a project

I remember my crew on Osmosis coming off of the Iron Giant and looking absolutely fried. When I finished my last scene on Who Framed Roger Rabbitt I got the flu the next day and was on my back for a week.

So don't be a hero or martyr. Rest, detox and recharge. You family will enjoy the novelty of seeing you home, and your stuff will look much better when you return.

Birthday: George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair ), Marc Charpentier, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Cajun musician Clifton Chenier, Sidney Lumet, Walter Brennan, Willis Reed, George Abbott, Carly Simon, June Lockhart is 81, cartoonist Alex Toth, Jimmy Dyne-o-Mite Walker, George Michaels, Mike Myers the voice of Shrek

1630 – The Fork introduced to American dining by Plymouth Gov Winthrop.

1835- Antoine Baron Gros was a celebrated painter under Napoleon and a friend of David and Ingres. But politics and tastes change. In a royalist postwar France dominated by Delacroix and Gericault Baron Gros lived on forgotten and melancholy. This day the 64 year old artist drowned himself in the Seine.

1857- Writer Gustav Flaubert goes on trial for pornography in his first novel Madame Bovary. He escaped conviction and went on to his next book Salambo the Carthaginian princess who strangled herself with her own hair. Don’t try this at home girls!

1876- CUSTER'S LAST STAND called by the Sioux the Battle of the Greasy Grass- George Armstrong Custer and 300 of his 7th Cavalry are wiped out by Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and the combined Sioux, Cheyenne nations (approximately 1,700 warriors).
There had been defeats of the Whites like this before: Fetterman's Massacre, The Little Rosebud Battle, but nothing captures the imagination like the Little Big Horn. And for Native-Americans it marks the last coming together of the tribes and the last great victory .The Ogalala Sioux, Hunkpapa, Miniconjou, Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne all united to resist the violation of their sacred Black Hills. No U.S army commander ever expected so many different tribes could unite and field thousands of warriors at once. Custer trusted in his audacity. "Custer's Luck". The boy general –just 23 years old in the Civil War, he was always at the head of his men in costly, reckless attacks yet personally suffered nothing more severe than the flu. Now at age 36 his luck ran out.
Accounts by natives were sketchy and no one is sure just how Custer died. The last white soldier who saw him alive was a courier sent away with a message " Benteen, come up quick. Big Village. Bring packs". The trooper was an Italian immigrant named Giusepppi Martini who couldn’t speak English. The famous image of Custer standing to the last with Old Glory in hand was made up by an artist named Paxton for an Anheuser-Busch beer advertisement in 1877. One Crow Indian scout who escaped said Custer was the first casualty and that his being shot down panicked the troopers. Others say the last they saw of Custer he was crawling on all fours with blood trickling down his mouth. He was found in a pile of bodies with a bullet wound in the left side and one in the temple. The Indians didn’t even know they had killed Yellow Hair until told way later. The tribes afterwards dispersed and headed for Canada. The only 7th Cavalry survivor was Commanche, Capt. Mile’s Keough's horse. He was treated with honor by the army and fed a bucket of beer every payday for the rest of his life. Custer was hallowed with martyrdom. Ulysses Grant was quiet about the affair but privately thought it a badly botched operation. Sitting Bull was more blunt- "The soldiers were fools, they rode to their deaths." Mrs. Libby Custer lived until 1937 and met FDR. The last living eyewitness of the battle, Mrs. Kate Bighead of the Cheyenne who was taken on the battlefield by her mother at 4 years old, died in 1959.

Errol Flynn in They Died With Their Boots on. Looks good but probably not accurate.

1970- Toi Yo ta Hoooo! Richard Wagner's opera Die Walkure premiered in Munich.

1908- Famed New York architect Stanford White was having dinner at Madison Square Garden (back when it was still a garden, on Madison Ave. and still square) when he was shot to death by millionaire Harry Thaw, the husband of his mistress Evelyn Nesbitt. The eccentric Thaw was obsessed by Stanford White, hiring detectives to follow the artist and report his amorous pursuits and he would only date women who had dated White first. Thaw’s defense attorney’s got him aqquitted of murder by reason of temporary insanity.
So instead of the electric chair Harry Thaw spent a few years in a mental home living on squab flambe' and champagne. He was cheered by the crowd when he was freed. The key defense witness was 22 year old Mrs. Evelyn Nesbitt-Thaw, one of the beautiful "Gibson Girls’. She gave juicy details of her kinky relationship with White, like the red velvet swing she would ride in the nude over the admiring architect’s head. After Thaw was released he divorced her. Before Evelyn died of old age in 1967 she admitted that the only man she ever really loved was Stanford White.The incident was the basis for I.L.Doctorow's novel "Ragtime".

1910- First performance of Stravinsky's ballet "Firebird" by Diagheilev and his Ballet Russe. Stravinsky later used to refer to the Ballet dancers as "A bunch of knock-kneed Lolitas".

1940- Young actor Ronald Reagan married actress Jane Wyman.

1951- After losing a power struggle between himself and Dory Schary, Louis B. Mayer announced he was stepping down as head of MGM. Mayer in his time was the most powerful man in Hollywood. He kept an all white office modeled after Mussolinis in Rome. His penchant for putting relatives in charge of the company’s departments caused the joke that MGM stood for Mayer-Ganz-Mishpochen, Yiddish for Mayer-And-His-Whole-Family.

1951 - 1st color TV broadcast-CBS' Arthur Godfrey from NYC to 4 cities

1967- The "Our World" Beatles concert, the first television event to try a worldwide satellite linkup. They sing and record "All You Need is Love" live in front of an audience of 400.

1968- Pierre Elliot Trudeau elected Prime Minister of Canada. For the next twenty five years he and his flower-child wife Margaret will be one of Canada’s most colorful leaders.

1997- Disney's animated film Hercules released.

Arnold Stang
June 24th, 2007

Cartoon Brew today pointed out a great piece written in the WFMU blog about comic actor Arnold Stang.

Stang is still active at age 81. In his long career he did a myriad of voices for animation. He was Top Cat for Hanna & Barbera, Shorty in the Famous Popeye Cartoons and Herman in the Herman & Katnip cartoons. I always maintained that Herman & Katnip were some of the most violent cartoons ever made, and the inspiration for the Simpson's characters Itchy & Skratchy. The blog has a link to watch one- Mice Meeting You.

I recall Arnold as the voice of the parrot in 1977's The Adventures of Raggedy Ann & Andy. And his memorable live action appearances iinclude It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Hercules in New York, where he plays a sidekick to young Arnold Schwarzenegger and his dubbed in voice.

June 24th, 2007 sun
June 24th, 2007

The High School of Art & Design in 1960

Back in New York my old High School of Art & Design is having a reunion of the Class of 1973. I couldn't make it out there this time but I want to wish all my old schoolmates congratulations! Fine memories of Mr Bellin and Mr Nagle's Cartooning and Animation class.
Our rooftop playfield, and the strange lady who lived in a condo above the Woolworths across Second Ave from the school who used to expose herself to the kids during my watercolor class. I love New York!

me in cartooning class in 1972

Birthdays: Earl Kitchener, the Sirdar of Omdurman, E.I.Dupont, Ambrose Bierce, Jack Dempsey, John Ciardi, Mick Fleetwood, Phil Harris- singer and voice of Baloo in Disney’s Jungle Book, Billy Casper, Michelle Lee, Claude Chabrol, Chief Dan George, Pete Hamill, Peter Weller, Sherry Springfield

Happy St. John the Baptist or St. Jean Baptiste’s Day.

1219- Pope Innocent III set today as the deadline for deadbeat knights who volunteered to go on Crusade to get off their ironclad butts and get going. Knights had an economic incentive to taking the Crusading vow: no one could collect a bad debt from you and you couldn't be imprisoned. So some knights would take the vow for the perks but then stall on making the dangerous trip to the Middle East where two out of three never returned.

1812- NAPOLEON INVADES RUSSIA with the largest army yet assembled.
Around 600,000. By December ,barely 30,000 came out alive. This day while inspecting the troops Napoleon’s horse stepped in a rabbit hole and threw him on his butt. This was taken as an ill omen.

1853- Joaquin Murrietta was an outlaw who ranged up and down the California midlands. Called the Terror of the Stanislaus, he and his friend Three-Fingered Jack were finally hunted down and killed in a shootout by Marshal Harry Love. This day Murietta’s head and Jack’s three-fingered hand went on display in front of the Stockton Cal jailhouse.
There is some dispute whether the man Love killed was Murietta or some one else.

1876- CUSTER APPROACHES THE LITTLE BIG HORN- General Custer's scouts reported a large Indian camp at the Little Big Horn River. Custer decides to attack tomorrow without waiting for the other armies to catch up. Through his interpreter Mitch Boyer he tells his Indian scouts that after he has destroyed the Sioux he will go back east and become the Great White Father. The Republican presidential nominating convention was next month. The Crow and Mandan scouts were troubled by the signs and began their death-songs. Embedded N.Y. Herald reporter Mark Kellogg made a final entry in his diary: "I go to ride with Custer and will be there at the death...” In the dawn's light a survivor from Renos command overheard Custer's chief Mandan scout Bloody Knife tell Custer: " You and I are going Home today -but by a different path."

1901- The first exhibit in a Paris salon on the Rue Lafitte of a dark-eyed ,young, Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso.

1945- Meet the Press debuted on radio. Two years later it moved to television and it remains t.v.’s longest running program.

1947- THE FIRST MODERN UFO SIGHTING. A commercial airline pilot flying out of Seattle notices 6 silver disc shaped objects hovering over Mt. Reynier near Seattle. They then shot off at terrific speed. They are never identified nor explained. The pilot, Kenneth Arnold had impeccable credentials as an ex-combat Marine pilot and chamber of commerce member. The government response was to hit him with an IRS audit. The "flying-saucer" craze, with allegorical overtones to postwar atomic paranoia, sweeps the American imagination throughout the 1950’s.

1949 - "Hopalong Cassidy" becomes the 1st network western on television-NBC.

1950- THE KOREAN WAR BEGAN- June 25th in some records because of the International Date Line- 30 North Korea divisions armed with heavy Soviet tanks and artillery crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. The attack was a complete surprise and most South Korean officers were at a party dedicating a new Officer’s Club. The US had deliberately kept the Korean Army lightly armed to diffuse Cold War tension. Mao and Stalin were equally surprised by North Korean Kim Il Sung’s attack. The previous January Secretary of State Dulles had said during a conference that the US "was not interested in the Korean Peninsula." But when President Harry Truman was informed of the invasion he responded in typical Truman fashion:" We gotta stop those Sons of Bitches!" At this time there were only 500 US troops in Korea called KMAG, for Korean Military Advisory Group, which one Yank this day changed to Kiss My Ass Goodbye! This is considered the first war fought by the United Nations, since Truman pushed through a resolution sending troops under the UN banner. The Russians were boycotting the Security Council over its refusal to seat Red China so they were unable to veto the move.

1963 - 1st demonstration of a home video recorder, at BBC Studios, London

1970 – The movie "Catch 22" opens in movie theaters.

1997 - Brian Keith, actor (Family Affair, Dirty Dingus McGee), shot himself at 75. He was suffering from incurable cancer and tired of fighting the disease.

2004- On the Senate floor, the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, told the Democratic Senate leader, Patrick Leahy, to “Go F**k Himself!” Republican Majority Leader, Senator Tom Delay, said the Vice President “was having a hard day”. At the same time Bush Administration was getting the FCC to stiffen penalties on DJ’s like Howard Stern for his use of naughty language.

June 23, 2007 sat.
June 23rd, 2007

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Augustus, Josephine DeBeauharnais-Bonaparte, Bob Fosse, Justice Clarence Thomas, James Levine, Dan Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mayers, Joss Whedon, Dr Alfred Kinsey, The Duke of Windsor formerly King Edward VIII, Wilma Rudolph, Selma Blair, Frances MacDormand

1868- Christopher Latham Scholes patents the typewriter. In 1873 he sold his patent to the Remington Company. In 1874 Mark Twain secretly admitted to a friend that he enjoyed writing on the newfangled technology.

1940- HITLER THE TOURIST. After the defeat of France, Adolph Hitler takes his one vacation out of Germany. A plane flies him to Paris in the early morning and he is driven around to see the sites. While his Mercedes is waiting at a traffic light a newsboy, not realizing who he was, stuck a morning newspaper under his nose yelling "le Matin! Le Matin!” Hitler was back in Berlin that evening.

1972- Title Nine passed by the US Government. It called for women’s collegiate sports to be funded equally as the men’s sports.

1976- Toronto’s CN Tower opened. Called the world’s tallest free-standing structure.

1979- The Knack released the single My Sharona.

1989- Tim Burton’s film " Batman" opened.

1992- Head of the New York Mafia John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison for murder and racketeering. It had been so hard to pin anything on Gotti that he was nicknamed the Teflon Don. Finally, crusading prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani secured the testimony of the Dons top henchman Sammy ‘the Bull’ Gravano. For turning informant, Sammy dodged any penalties despite admitting killing 32 people, including killing and cutting up his own brother in law, whose pieces he buried in his backyard. Gravano wrote a best selling memoir. John Gotti died in prison in 2002.

Last night I attended the ASIFA/Hollywood Archives benefit starring animator Andreas Deja at the Van Eaton Gallery. Andreas told many great anecdotes and we shared a few laughs together about days on Lion King and with the first story crew on Beauty and the Beast in England with Dick and Jill Purdum. He brought many wonderful examples of his drawing as well as examples of work he admired. These included work by Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Heinrich Kley and Sullivant. If you never saw Andreas do his overhead projector show with drawings you should check it out, it's really quite good.
courtesy of

Little anecdote- Around the time of Beauty and the Beast (1991) The Disney Studio began running want ads for animators in European newspapers. Suddenly they began to get responses from German Brewers! These people said they'd be happy to come to LA work on Animator.
There is a brand of German brewed beer called Animator, a cartoonist who draws animated cartoons is a Trikfilm zeichner. The Disney studio said thanks but no thanks. Michael Eisner may have had some unique plans for marketing, but brewing Snow White Lite or Thumper Heffeweisse was not one.

EM-eye-Cee..See ya real soon....Kay- Eee- Why...

Birthdays: Captain George Vancouver, Eric Maria Remarque, John Dillinger, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Mike Todd, Billy Wilder, Joe Papp, Bill Blass, Oscar Fischinger, Pistol Pete Maravich, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Ed Bradley, Emmanuelle Seigner, Prunella Scales, Meryl Streep, Kris Kristofferson

1342 – According to JRR Tolkeins’ book the hobbit Bilbo Baggins returned with the one true Ring to his home at the Shire.

1876- Gen. Custer and the Seventh Cavalry ride out of Fort Lincoln. Custer was to scout for a larger army under General Terry and not to engage the Indians when he found them but wait. Custer turned down an offer of two companies of Colorado militia, artillery and Gatling guns for fear it would slow him down. Many men upon leaving the fort immediately emptied their canteens and refilled them with rotgut whiskey bought from peddlers outside the walls. Gen. Gibbon called out to Custer as he rode out: "Remember George, save some Indians for us!" Custer laughed: "No I won't!"

1894 - Harry Houdini marries Bessie Rahner. She remained devoted to him even after his death. Every Halloween for twenty years she held a séance to try and contact him.

1897- THE BRITISH EMPIRE- Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. Now considered the zenith of the British Empire. In Victoria's reign the empire grew ten times its early size, encompassing one quarter of the globe and one third of the world's population. The little queen dressed in her habitual black with a little gray bonnet started the festivities by pushing an electric button that send a congratulatory message around the world simultaneously to Delhi, Capetown, Hong Kong, Ottawa and Sydney. Praises poured in from notaries like Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and her grandson the German Kaiser.

1898- US Troops including Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders landed on the Cuban coast near the town of Daiquiri. This is when the mixed drink named Daiquiri was introduced to American drinkers as well as the Cuba-Libre, which we now call a Rum & Coke.

1938- In Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Joe Louis "the Brown Bomber" KO's German Max Schmelling in one round to regain the world heavyweight title. There was wild partying in the streets of Harlem The bout had the heavy ideological overtones of Nazis ideology claims to be a master race. Schmmeling ironically was anti-Nazi and had hid Jews from arrest. After the loss Hitler would have nothing to do with him and Schmelling joined the army.

1966 – The film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" opened. Based on the play by Edward Albee and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor it was the first to use four letter words. Just a year before comedian Lenny Bruce had gone to jail for saying the same words, although everyone including President Johnson swore in everyday parlance.

1969- Singer actress Judy Garland OD’s on sleeping pills. She was 46. Whether it was an accident or a suicide we will never know. A pillhead from early age, she had gotten hooked when MGM chief Louis B. Mayer ordered studio nurses to put her on amphetamines so she would have the energy to finish the Wizard of Oz. Fellow contract actress June Allyson explained- “You didn’t argue when the nurses brought them to you. They told us they were vitamins.” Garland was amazed by her great popularity among young gay men. She once joked: When I die, I have visions of fags singing Over the Rainbow, and the flag at Fire Island being flown at half-mast."

1990- "Checkpoint Charlie" in Berlin dismantled. John Le Carre' and other spy novel writers mourn. There is a replica and a Cold War Museum at the site today.