Recently I wrote a piece in on the history of animation training. I mentioned the wonderful animation school in Paris called the Gobelins School and their relationship to the Euro group CARTOON. Ed Jones of ILM, Jacques Muller and I were guests of the Gobelins and Cartoon in 1988. I got a nice note from the schools director Eric Riewer.
typical French animation studio

just to set the record straight, I would like to rectify some facts about Gobelins, l’école de l’image. The animation department was indeed founded by Pierre Ayma, a Frenchman and not a Belgian, back in 1974, and soon became the leading animation teaching institution in France and even in Western Europe. When Cartoon, based in Belgium, was created by the European commission’s Media organisation as its animation branch to help develop the animation industry in Europe and encourage animation projects, particularly TV series, Pierre Ayma was brought on board as a consultant because of his long experience in animation training.

Cartoon however, be it in 1998 or even before and for a few years after, helped finance adult training courses in some aspects of animation production (storyboard, backgrounds, scenario but not character animation) that was quite separate from the character animation two year course founded in 1974 – since 2005 it is a three year course - that was and still is based on strong drawing skills. So it was not exactly the Euro boost from Cartoon that made the Gobelins character animation department a leader in animation training, but Pierre himself and the strong support from the French studios who supplied many teachers, and its track record of training fine animators for studios around the world.

I myself took over the animation department in 1998, after Pierre Ayma had left the previous year because of poor health. ( Pierre Ayma died in 2004). I urge you to look at our website to see our latest student films. –Eric Riewer

Merci Eric, I shall check it out!

Birthdays: Gore Vidal, Mikail Lermontov, Harvey Kurtzman the creator of Mad Magazine, Chubby Checker, James Herriot, Eleanor Duse, Emily Post, Leo McCarey the director of the Marx Brothers Duck Soup and many Laurel & Hardy shorts, Steven Reich, Dave Winfield, Tommy Lee, Neve Cambell

1226- Saint Francis of Asissi died at 44. He seldom bathed and he asked his followers to strip him naked so he could leave the world as he came in. Whew, open the window! They all sang his Canticle of the Animals, then he exclaimed 'Welcome, Sister Death." His gravesite was kept secret until 1818.

1855- American James McNeill Whistler arrived in Paris to study painting. He had tried to apply to West Point for a military career but failed the entrance exam. Years later he joking told friends "If I hadn't identified phosphorous as a gas I'd be a major general by now!'

1895-The Red Badge of Courage first published. Despite being one of the best books on the average soldiers experience author Stephen Crane was never in the Civil War or any army. He died of tuberculosis at age 26.

1910- English comedians Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel first arrive in the U.S. with a touring British vaudeville company.

1941- Warner Bros. THE MALTESE FALCON premiered. Screenwriter John Huston asked if he could direct an adaptation of this old Dashell Hammett hard boiled mystery, which had been already made into movies twice. This version became the most famous. The name was kept despite producer Hal Wallis wanting to change it to THE GENT FROM FRISCO. The starring role of Sam Spade was originally offered to George Raft, who turned it down. Jack Warner was amazed that homely looking little contract actor Humphrey Bogart had shown the potential to be a romantic leading man in 'High Sierra', now the Maltese Falcon established him as a major draw. Warner joked to Bogie about his looks in referring to his contentious arguments with his wife Mayo-"I don't know what women see in you, but the more pots and pans she hits you in the kisser with, the more the dames love you!" Peter Lorre who played Joe Cairo in the film, provided the inspiration of the future cartoon character Ren from Ren & Stimpy. "You fat, bloated idiot! I'll kill you!"

1955- Good Morning, Captain. The Captain Kangaroo kiddy Show debuted on television. Where's Mister Greenjeans?

1955- The Mickey Mouse Club TV show premiered. Remember Spin & Marty and Adventures in Dairyland? The young mouseketeers were chaperoned by Disney story artist Roy Williams. Williams was a strikebreaker in 1941 and reportedly was so pro-company that there is a legend that he is buried in Forrest Lawn in his Mickey Mouse Club sweat shirt and ears. The series was revived in the 1977 and 1990s. Notable mouseketeers include Annette Funicello, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. Jessica Simpson was a finalist but didn't make the cut. “Who’s the leader of the Band that’s Made for you and me…?
Roy Williams, courtesy of

1957-Walter Lantz's The Woody Woodpecker T.V. show debuts. Woody was a star of shorts since 1941.

1957- Jayne Mansfield met Greta Garbo and asked for her autograph.

1961- The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered. It made stars of Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and was written by ex-Sid Caesar writer Carl Reiner and Rocky & Bullwinkle writer Alan Burns.

1967- Folksinger and union activist Woodie Guthrie died of Huntington’s Chorea at age 55. His family dumped his ashes in New York Harbor then went to Nathans on the Coney Island Boardwalk for hot dogs, Woody’s favorite.

1992-Controversial and bald Irish pop star Sinead O’Connor caused a fuss by tearing up a picture of the Pope on the show Saturday Night Live. She was later booed off stage during a concert at Madison Square Garden.

1995- After a long sensationalist trial turned into a media spectacle, celebrity O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the double murder of his second wife Nicole and pizza delivery man Ron Goldman. He was later convicted in a wrongful death suit brought in Civil Court by Nicole’s family.

2003- The Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas comes to an end after a large Bengal Tiger attacks Roy Horn and tears his throat open in front of an audience. Most thought it was part of the act. This tragedy had an impact upon the Dreamworks animated show Father of the Pride, which featured the ambiguously gay lion tamers as stars.

Oct 2, 2006 mon
October 2nd, 2006

Birthdays: King Richard III, Nat Turner, Mohandas K. Ghandi known as the Mahatma- the Great Soul, Spanky MacFarland, Julius Marx known as Groucho Marx, Bud Abbot, Moses Gunn, Graham Greene, LeRoy Shield -composer of the music in the Hal Roach short comedies, film critic Rex Reed, Donna Karan, Gordon Sumner known as Sting is 55 ,Lorraine Bracco- Dr Melfi in the Sopranos, Tiffany, Kelly Ripa

Happy Yom Kippur, Happy World Farm Animals Day

1608- Dutch lens grinder Hans Lipperschei sent to the States General in the Hague a plan for an invention to see enemies at great distances. It used a tube with concave lenses on one end and convex lenses on the other. The Telescope. Another Dutch lens maker asked for a similar patent. But it was Italian scientist Galileo Galilei who read their doctoral papers and a year later invented his own telescope. He was the first to train it on the Universe.

1925-The first bright red Leyland doubledecker omnibuses appear on London streets.

1928 - This was a busy day at Victor Records Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. DeFord Bailey cut eight masters. Three songs were issued, marking the first studio recording sessions that made Nashville known as Music City, USA.

1933- Library of Congress musicologist John Lomax met with an Arkansas chain gang convict Hudlan Ledbetter, who everyone called Leadbelly. He recorded work songs of his called "the Rock Island Line, Midnight Special and Irene Good Night.'. Leadbelly became world famous and recorded his own versions 3 years later. Lomax died in 2002.

1937 - Ronald Reagan, just 26 years old, made his acting debut this day with Warner Brothers release of "Love is in the Air".

1950- Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip debuts. Good ol' Charlie Brown was the name of a fellow post office worker all the guy's liked to play jokes on. Schulz's idea 'little folks' was initially rejected by all the major comic syndicates. Three months before the strip was accepted his girlfriend broke off their engagement. He had left his job at the post office and she was convinced he would never amount to anything. At the time of his death Charles Schulz had mountains on the moon named for his characters and was arguably the most successfull visual artist in the world.

1954- Elvis Presley is fired from Nashville's Grand Ol' Opry Show after one performance. He was told :"Son, you ain't a' going no where. Go back to driving a truck!"

1955 - "Good Eeeeeeevening." The master of mystery movies, Alfred
Hitchcock, presented his brand of suspense to millions of viewers on CBS on this night.

1957- Raintree County, the first film in Panavision.

courtesy of
1958- The Huckleberry Hound Show.

1959- The television show the Twilight Zone debuts. Producer/writer Rod Serling had fought network execs for months that a mystery-suspense show could compete with all the Doctor and Cowboy shows on TV. He originally wanted Orson Welles to be the host of the show but Welles asked for too much money. So Serling decided to host it himself. He personally wrote 90 episodes. Twilight Zone is a term airline pilots used for the area when both the clouds and ground are invisible from view and you lose your bearings.

1967- San Francisco Police raid the Haight-Ashbury home of the rock band the Grateful Dead, busting everyone for possession of narcotics.

1977 - After a month following what appeared to be an attempt to steal the body of Elvis Presley from Forest Hill Cemetery, both Presley's and his grandmother's bodies are moved to Graceland.

1978- Future tv star Tim Allen was busted in Kalamazoo Michigan for selling cocaine.

1985- Actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS. The first major celebrity to die of the disease.

Oct. 1, 2006 Sunday
October 1st, 2006

So, sometimes folks ask me Hey Sito! How do you know all dis stuff? I have been a history fan who's been collecting trivia for many years. For instance I'm currently polishing off a biography of Chiang Kai Shek and the warlord period in 1930's China. Maybe when your full time job is fantasy, reality is where you go to relax.

In 1992 at Walt Disney Studio Scott Johnston helped me set up my first data files on each day, then Peter Schneider's assistant Stacy Slossy suggested I sent out an e-mail to friends with a daily gazette. The rest, is history...
Me at the memorial for the LA Times Bombing- see below, courtesy of the LA Grim Society

Welcome to Month Number 8, Octubrius to the Romans. In 138 AD the Roman Senate wanted to rename month eight Faustina, after the wife of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. But being a rare modest empress, she declined the honor.

Birthdays: Vladimir Horowitz, Julie Andrews is 70, Walter Matthau, Richard Harris, Phillipe Noiret, James Whitmore, Pres.Jimmy Carter is 81, Everet Sloane, Rod Carew, Stanley Holloway, Tom Bosley, Chief Justice William Rheinquist, Max Morath, Mark McGuire, Randy Quaid, Cindy Margolis

326 A.D. Emperor Constantine the Great bans sentencing criminals to Gladitorial schools, effectively ending Gladitorial Combat. Games continued on a little while longer using prisoners of war but all the fun and professionalism had gone out of it. The last recorded bout in Rome was in 407 AD. According to the historian Jerome Carcopino the person slaves feared more than the Gladiator trainer (Lanista) or the pimp (Leno) was the Theater Manager! You may survive the brothel or arena, but in plays audiences thrilled to special effects like when Hercules burns himself alive on his funeral pyre, the manager substitutes a slave for the actor and really set him on fire!

1857- Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary premiered in magazine installments. Flaubert was tried for pornography but acquitted.

1880- John Phillip Sousa was named leader of the Marine Corps Band and began his career as the March King.

1903- First World Series of Baseball. The Boston Pilgrims had lost the first game today to the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3, even though Cy Young was the starting pitcher. But Boston went on to win the series in best of nine games. Yes, that’s not a typo, There was no 1904 World series because the owners couldn't agree on a format.

1908- Ford announces the Model "T" the "Tin Lizzie" the first mass-produced affordable car. It was called the Model T because it took Twenty prototypes to perfect it. The Model T cost $825 dollars and paid on installments with as little as 10 dollars down. It’s top speed was 45 miles and hour and 15 million were sold. When they asked Henry Ford what color should it be, he replied: "Any color so long as it's black.' The auto goes from being a rich mans plaything to something every home could afford.

1911- A bomb blew up the L.A. Times building, killing 23 people. The Times had a hostility to unions and two union organizers the McNamara Brothers were arrested. Despite having Clarence Darrow as a lawyer they were convicted, possibly because halfway through the trial the brothers confessed . As the MacNamaras were hanged they shouted 'Hurrah for Anarchy!'

1932- Babe Ruth's "Called" Home Run. Ruth was hitting against a Chicago Cubs pitcher when he pointed with his bat towards right field. He then swung his bat and hit a home run over the right wing bleachers.
1937- After heavy lobbying by millionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst the first Federal law banning Marijuana goes into effect. The law was sought chiefly by southwestern states who wanted to have an excuse to deport Mexican immigrants. Plus Hearst had many powerful paper manufacturers behind him who wanted wood pulp to be the chief source of paper products rather than hemp, which grows like a weed.

1945- Looney Tunes director Frank Tashlin left the cartoon business to work full time at Paramount doing live action movies. He wrote for the Marx Brothers and later directed the Dean Martin Jerry Lewis comedies.

1947-THE BIRTH OF THE BURBS- William Levitt's postwar dream, a planned community of affordable pre-fab homes on the outskirts of New York, called Levittown, is born. Mr. and Mrs. Bladykas move into the first 2 bedroom house, which cost $7,990 bucks. The first true suburb. The word Suburb is from Subura, the ghetto of Ancient Rome.

1962- Johnny Carson takes over the Tonight Show after host Jack Paar in a rage walks of the set and resigned. Paar was annoyed at network censors for censoring a comedy sketch.

1966- Largest demonstrations in China of Mao's Cultural Revolution.

1968-George Romero's weird film "Night of the Living Dead' premiered.

1982- Disney's EPCOT opens. Walt Disney's orginal concept was for a planned community that he personally would oversee, but little of the original plan remained.

1987- The Whittier Earthquake rocks L.A. 5.9 on the Richter Scale killed 8 and caused millions in damage.

1992 -the Cartoon Network starts. Cartoon Network reintroduced classic Hanna Barbera cartoons to a new generation and made funky shows like Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast a hit.

Sept 30, 2006 Flat Foot Floogie
September 30th, 2006

Today Oscar Grillo in London sent me a painting in his inimitable style, accompanied with a cut of music. Today it was a Swing era tune by Slim Galliard popular with G.I's in World War Two called Flat Foot Floogie (1938). It jogged a memory for me.


My father George Sito loved Flat-Foot Floogie with the Floy, Floy and used to sing it in our family car in the 1960s. When a young teenager he was a real Jitterbug. He had a Zoot Suit with the Reet-Pleat, pants worn high above the waist and a long key chain and Pork Pie hat with obligatory ostriche feather. He was from a Polish immigrant family of ten children and had to drop out of school when his father died to work in a factory near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He kept his zuit soot in a locker for fear his co-workers would laugh at his ridiculous outfit. But after work he would go out to bars and do dance demonstrations for money, twirling and throwing girls in the air.

He's 85 now and retired, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard area is now all upscale Yuppie restaurants, I'm told. But when such a melody as Flat Foot Floogie comes on, he smiles and recalls the days when it was Awlreet, Awlreet, Lay me some skin, Jackson!

Birthdays: William Wrigley the Chewing Gum king 1868, Truman Capote, Eli Weisel, Lester Maddox, Buddy Rich, David Oistrach, Deborah Kerr is 85, Angie Dickinson, Marylin McCoo, Len Cariou, Johnny Mathis, Rula Lenska, Eric Stolz, Monica Bellucci, Jenna Elfman is 35

1791- Mozart's opera "Die Zauberflotte, The Magic Flute" premieres at Emanuel Schiknader's theater in Vienna. One of the theories about Mozart's death was that he enthusiastically put so much FreeMason's secret ritual into the Magic Flute that the Masons did him in for violating their secrecy. The Papageno-Papagena duet when they meet at the end was Schiknader's idea. Mozart gave pyrotechnical trills to the coloratura aria of the Queen of the Night, but privately he laughed at such singing, calling it “Cut Up Noodles”.

1846- Dr. William Morton first pulled a tooth using ether as an anesthetic.

1868- Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women first published in installments.

1919- The Fleischer Brother's first Out of the Inkwell cartoon featuring Koko the Clown. Koko was rotoscoped- meaning traced from live action like Motion Capture is done today. Dave Fleischer put on the clown suit, created by their mother and was filmed by his brother Max. Dave joked that if the cartoons failed he could use the suit to change careers.

1930- Death Valley Days show premiered on radio, sponsored by Twenty mule Team Borax powder. When it moved to television in the 50’s the host was Ronald Reagan.

1935- George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess premiered at the Colonial Theater in Boston.

1947- The first World Series Game on Television- New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-3. Gillette and Ford paid $65,000 to sponsor the entire series.

1952- This Is Cinerama, showcasing the widescreen film process, opened in theaters.

1955-James Dean (24) dies when his Porsche Spyder crashed head on into a pickup truck on Highway 41 outside of Paso Robles, .California. He was driving 85 mph at dusk without his headlights on and two hours earlier had been given a ticket for speeding. Until now the American public had only seen him in one movie- "Rebel Without a Cause" and some t.v. work. Giant and East of Eden had yet to be released, yet the legend endures to this day. In an errie coincidence Dean filmed a public service announcement promoting automobile safety. His last lines were:”Remember, the life you save may be mine!”

1960-Hanna Barbera's "The Flintstones" debuts. For six seasons in prime time the inhabitants of 301 Cobblestone Lane, Bedrock, was one of the most successful tv series ever. Originally going to be named the Flagstones, then Gladestones, before Flintstones. Ed Benedicts' designs with Alan Reed as the voice of Fred, Jean Van Der Pyl the voice of Wilma, Mel Blanc doing Barney and Bea Bernadette doing Betty. Trivia: Wilma became the first character on television to appear visibly pregnant. Lucille Ball went through her pregnancy on TV in 1953, but she was not allowed to be seen as such, covered with a lot of big clothes and filmed from the neck up.

1982- The TV comedy Cheers premiered. The Beacon Street Bar in Boston where everybody knows your name. It made stars of Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Kirstey Alley and Kelsey Grammar.

Sept 29, 2006 friday
September 29th, 2006

Birthdays: Roman Pompey Magnus, Miguel de Cervantes, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Rudolph Diesel (inventor of the engine), Enrico Fermi, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Autrey, Lech Walesa, Stanley Kramer, Bryant Gumbel, Greer Garson, director Michelangelo Antonioni, Ian McShane, Anita Ekberg, Andrew Dice-Clay, cartoonist Russ Heath, Tom Sizemore, Emily Lloyd

In the Medieval calendar this was The Feast of Mickelmuss or MichaelMass In Old London this was the beginning of the winter lighting season when every tenth store had to maintain a candle in a street lamp and light it after dark, until Lady Day March 25th.

1066-WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR LANDS IN ENGLAND. When King Edward the Confessor died childless he left the throne kinda up for grabs. Earl Harold son of Godwin kinda promised Duke William of Normandy that he would step aside and let him be king but later took the crown for himself. So Duke William kinda invaded with 30,000 Norman knights and support troops. Duke William was an illegitimate son of Robert the Devil and was called William the Bastard until the conquest when he became William the Conqueror.
When William's ship landed at Pevensey Beach near Dover Duke William leapt out into the surf to be the first to set foot in Britain. However in front of the whole army he stumbled and fell to his knees. Quickly realizing that if he didn't act fast the men would regard this as a dangerously bad omen, he grabbed two fistfuls of muddy sand in his clenched fists, raised them up and declared : "Ah Britain! Now I have you!" His men cheered and he went on to victory at Hastings on Oct. 16th.

1798- At the court of Naples Admiral Horatio Nelson was given a 40th birthday party by his friend and patron, the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton. At this party Nelson first shows the signs of getting seriously turned on by Hamilton's hot young wife Emma. Sir William was 69, Emma was 30 and was known to be sleeping around. The party was broken up when Nelson's stepson, who was serving as one of his lieutenants, got so drunk he made a scene. The love affair between Nelson and Mrs. Hamilton in defiance of all social stigmas scandalized even that notorious age. Yet Sir William Hamilton seemed more interested in his ancient Roman pottery . Hamilton got more upset at the news of a shipload of antique vases sinking than being told that his wife was shivering the admiral’s timbers.

1829- BOBBIES- Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington had been complaining for years that the city of London needed it's own regular police force instead of relying on irregular militia like the Bow Street Runners or the Horse Guards to do with urban maintenance. At this time sections of North London were so tough they were labeled on maps “No-Go”. On this day London's reorganized police force, The Greater Metropolitan Police Force based at Scotland Yard, went on duty. The constables, because they were formed by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, were nicknamed "Bobbie's Boys" or "Bobbies". They’re also nicknamed Old Bill. Some Irish groups called them Peelers.

1913-Rudolph Diesel, inventor of the Diesel engine, celebrated his 55th birthday by jumping into the English Channel from his yacht and drowning himself.

1930-Ninety year old writer George Bernard Shaw turned down the offer of a Peerage.

1930- First day of shooting on the Tod Browning horror classic Dracula. Hungarian actor and recreational morphine addict Bela Lugosi played the lead role he had already made famous on stage.Lugosi was a matinee star in Hungary but emigrated to the U.S. in 1921 when he got in trouble for organizing a union of stage actors. Lugosi was identified with the character Dracula for the rest of his life. When he died he was buried in the Dracula cape. Supposedly Boris Karloff approached the bier and whispered," Bela? You're not joking, are you..?"

1933- The movie A Bill of Divorcement introduced the star Katherine Hepburn.

1953- The television show “Make Room for Daddy” premiered, making a star out of big nosed nightclub entertainer Danny Thomas. The Lebanese Thomas had tried to break into films with no luck. He burst into tears after Columbia studio chief Harry Cohn suggested he get a nose job and forget about it. Danny Thomas at one time was the richest man in Beverly Hills. On his show perfected the “spit-take”- he always seemed to have a mouth full of coffee when someone gave him surprising news.

1959-Hanna-Barbera's "Quick Draw McGraw" tv show. Ba ba Louie and El Kabong!

1961- Russian ballet star Rudolph Nureyev, acclaimed as the greatest dancer of his age, defects to the west in Paris and was granted asylum.

1969- The TV series Love American Style premiered.

1976- At his birthday party musician Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player Norman Owens in the chest with s 357 magnum. He said he was using the gun to try and open a soft drink bottle and it accidentally went off. Owens survived and sued Lewis.

1996- The first Nintendo Game system, the first 64 bit game system, debuted in the US. It sold 500,000 the first day.