August 8, 2006
August 8th, 2006

coutresy Michael Sporn Animation.

Recently my friend Mike Sporn posted on his blog, or Splog, as he puts it, a reminiscence of the great Walt Disney Studio retrospective show at New York’s Lincoln Center way back in the Watergate year of 1973. It was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Disney studio in 1923. All the famous Disney classics were screened “ Fantasia, Bambi, Pinnochio, and Sleeping Beauty in Scope, and some rarely shown films Victory through Air Power, Make Mine Music, Saludos Amigos”. Remember back in that ancient time there were no Blockbusters or downloads, this was our only chance to see these films all at once.

One schoolmate of mine liked to go behind the band shell in Leopold Damrosch Park, smoke some hash, buy a ticket for Fantasia and get in the front row just in time for the Toccata & Fugue sequence when his high hit. This was the early 1970s, after all.

But the real gem for all us young animation fans, was the seminars given at the Lincoln Center Library by the Disney animators. Woolie Reitherman, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Ken Andersen. In time I would come to call all these men my friends, but back then, for a skinny, zitty kid from East Flatbush these guys were gods! I was terrified to say anything more than a how do you do. Part of their show was to run the work reels of their work-in-progress Robin Hood. This was the first time I had ever seen rough pencil test animation and rough layouts. Milt Kahl animation and Ken O’Conner layouts. The experience was an epiphany. I never looked at animation the same again, and finished color animation never seemed as alive and vibrant to me as those rough drawings, pure thought in shorthand. Someday you should see Glen Keanes rough Ariel scenes from Little Mermaid.

I wish I had a camera to photograph the waiting line outside the library to get in. It would look like a veritable Who-would-be-Who of animation. Michael Sporn, Eric Goldberg, Kevin Petrilak, Russell Calabrese, Yvette Kaplan, John Canemaker, Jerry Beck, Mark Mayerson, Dan Haskett, Lou Scarborough, Joe Adamson, Howard Beckerman and many more. Remember Darryl McNeill and his Green Hornet hat and utility belt? The friends I made that summer on that long cue in the hot sun would stay with me throughout my career.

I recall a fun lesson in Visual Continuity. Frank, Woolie and Ollie ran a scene from Robin Hood where the little boy fox Toby shoots his toy arrow over the palace wall. He goes after it, squeezes through the bars and on the inside is befriended by Maid Marian and Lady Cluck. The child boldly waves his toy sword as he expresses his desire to be like his hero Robin Hood.

When the lights came up, Frank smiled his trademark grin: “ Any questions?” A young boy, no older than the child in the film, stood up and asked:” HOW COME THE BOY HAS NO SWORD WHEN HE SHOOTS THE ARROW, BUT WHEN HE IS IN TALKING TO MAID MARION HE SUDDENLY HAS A WOODEN SWORD, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOW HE WAS CARRYING?”

Frank thought and smiled…” next question….” He said.

courtesy chronologictiming.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
History for 8/8/2006
Birthdays: Emiliano Zapata. Esther Williams, UPA/ Terrytoons director Gene Deitch, Dino DeLaurentis, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Keith Carradine, Dustin Hoffman is 69, Martin Brest, Peter Weir, Patricia Arquette

1811- THE IRON CROSS- Before medals common soldiers were rewarded for gallantry with a few gold coins.George Washington and Napoleon made medals the things soldiers dreamed of. General Gerhard von Gneisenau urged the King of Prussia to create a medal like the French Legion d'Honneur to reward all ranks in the German Army. At first the sulky King was against anything that led common soldiers to believe they were better than the common schweinhunts he felt they were, but he finally was made to give in. The new medal was based on the heraldic symbol of the Crusader order of the Teutonic Knights, a black cross formed by four arrowheads. The "Iron Cross" medal was created. Goths, Surfer dudes and Hells Angels rejoiced.
courtesy drac in a box.

1876 - Thomas Edison patented the mimeograph, a forerunner of the Xerox process.

1944 - Smokey the Bear, named after NYC fireman Smokey Joe Martin born .

1960 – Brian Hyland’s song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-dot Bikini" hits #1.

1963 – The Kingsmen release the song "Louie, Louie,". Many labeled it obscene, although no one is quite sure just what the song lyrics mean. In the 1980s Northwestern University staged Louie-Louie Marathons- 44 straight hours of Louie-Louie, played by punk bands, polka bands, marching bands, folk trios, and singing water glasses.

1973-Vice President Spiro Agnew vows not to resign. He resigned shortly afterwards.




DRAWING THE LINE Booksigning events planned so far...
October 13th Fri. Burbank Cal. Gordon Biersch - c/o Creative Talent Network.

November 17th Fri. San Francisco Cartoon Museum 313 Mission St., evening talk with
ASIFA/SF 7:00PM

November 18th Saturday -San Francisco- Zeum ,a childrens interactive museum.

November 29th Weds. New York- Chelsea Barnes & Noble, 675 6th Ave near NYU.
7:00PM talk & reception courtesy of the School of Visual Arts and ASIFA*East.

December 8th, Fri. Los Angeles- The Animation Guild Local 839, IATSE Holiday Party, The Pickwick Center, Burbank Ca.

December 14th Hollywood- Dec membership meeting.the preservation society Hollywood Heritage dedicates restoration of 1920s era building near Capitol Records on Yucca that was once the Screen Cartoonists Guild Local 852 offices.

AND MORE TO COME

Aug 7th Birthdays: Mata Hari, Rassan Rolling Kirk, Nicholas Ray,Grandma Moses, The Amazing Randi, David Duchovny, Billy Burke aka Glenda the Good Witch " Come out, come out. wherever you are..." Garrison Keillor, animation voice actor Stan Freeberg, Animator Rudy Ising , Charlize Theron the voice of Aeon FLux, among other atributes, is 31

1674-The Bagel is invented in Vienna. Some say the hole is a tribute to the stirrup of Polish warrior king Jan III Sobieski, more likely the hole was just so a street peddler could stack them on a stick.

1834 -Death of Joseph Jacquard, French silk weaver who invented the first loom capable of weaving patterns. Some say that the cards used in the looms were the inspiration for the computer punch card, a way of transmitting data, whether pulses of light or lengths of wool.

1882- The legendary Hillbilly Feud in Kentucky between the Hatfields and the McCoys began, supposedly over a prize hog. Ellison Hatfield was stabbed 26 times and shot in the back. The Hatfields then rounded up three McCoys and shot them. Over the next forty years over100 men women and children from both families would be killed in the argument.

1914 – The famous poster of Lord Kitchner pointing and saying "Your country needs you," spreads over UK. James Montgomery Flagg later copied the poster for the American version with Uncle Sam in a similar pose. Lord Asquith commented that by now the elderly Kitchener made "a better poster than a leader." Motgomery Flagg used himself as the model for Uncle Sam.

1919- the First Actor’s Equity Strike.

1928- The US Treasury issued a smaller leaner dollar bill. Before this dollars were two times larger and wider than the ones we now use.

1931 - Leon Bismarck "Bix" Beiderbecke, jazz trumpeter died at 29 of drink and drugs. Bix along with his idol Louis Armstrong was considered one of the first jazz musicians to popularize the solo-riff, where in the body of a song the soloist would depart from the arrangement and improvise like a cadenza in classical music. His family in Davenport Iowa were horrified that their son dropped out of school to associate with black people and become a musician. Even after Bix was famous he returned proudly home only to discover his parents had stacked up every record he sent them in a box under the stairs. They never listened to a single one.

1933-The first "Alley-Oop" comic strip.

1970 – The first computer chess tournament.

1974- French daredevil Phillipe Petit strung a tightrope between the two 110 story towers of NY’s World Trade Center and walked across it. As New Yorkers watched in amazement, Petit kept his concentration by carrying on a conversation with the buildings.(?)

1979- THE RUNAWAY WARS.-The first of Hollywood Cartoonist’s Union 839's two strikes against studios sending animation work overseas. Your kids now know Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh more than Bugs Bunny so you can guess how successful we were.


August 6th 2006
August 6th, 2006

I just spent the weekend in Hong Kong. Beautiful city. Very eclectic and lots of pubs, just with Communist Chinese red banners flapping overhead. In other words, much like Berkeley.

Birthdays: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Daniel O'Connell "the Liberator",
Dutch Schultz (real name Arthur Fleigenheimer), Louella Parsons, Lucille Ball, Robert
Mitchum, Andy Warhol, Hoot Gibson, William B. Williams, Michelle Yeoh, Sir Freddy
Laker, M. Night Shamylan, Melissa George, Soliel Moon-Frye aka Punky Brewster

1926- Warner Brothers Studio premiered it’s motion picture sound on disk system.The
film was Don Juan with John Barrymore the Great Profile. It didn’t really have
much impact until they made the "Jazz Singer"with Al Jolson two years later.

1945- HIROSHIMA.- At around 11:00 A.M. Capt. Tibbetts and his B-29 "Enola Gay"
dropped one bomb and sent us into the Atomic Age. The uranium device was called
the "Cosmic Bomb" by the scientists and "Little Boy" by the
crew. Navy Secretary Admiral Leahy had said:" It's the biggest damn fool
thing we've ever done. It'll never go off!" When it did go off one
crewmember shouted:"Wow! Lookit that sonofabitch go! This war is over!!"
The navigator wrote in his journal" My God! What have we done ?" The target
city of Hiroshima was selected because it was undamaged up until then and the surrounding
hills would concentrate it’s effect. The A-bomb killed around 130,000 people and
continued to kill survivors with radiation and cancer. 50,000 people were vaporized
outright leaving only shadows burned into the pavement. Dr. Robert Oppenheimer,
the bomb's main designer, had built it primarily to stop Hitler -both the Nazis
and Japanese had their own unsuccessful atomic bomb programs. He was still horrified
by the results. He became a lifelong pacifist and was later persecuted as a commie
for refusing any more help in developing nuclear weapons.

1970- THE HIPPIES ATTACK DISNEYLAND- A nationwide call for civil disobedience at
the famous American-establishment tourist spot was called for August 6th. Called
"Yippie Day" Yippies were considered more militant than Hippies. 750 long
haired, denim clad moppets filtered into park. Once in they quickly massed, then
invaded the Wilderness Fort in Frontierland. There they raised the Vietcong flag,
passed marijuana cigarettes to tourists and chanted "Stop the War! Free Charlie
Manson!" They were finally expelled with great difficulty by park security
and the Anaheim police. In the 1980’s Disney was almost invaded by Nazi skinheads
but this time they were ready.

1998- A chubby White House student intern from LA named Monica Lewinsky testified
to a Federal Grand Jury that she had sex with President Bill Clinton in a small
room down the hall from the Oval Office. Snap that thong and gimme a cigar!

2001- One month before the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks the CIA presented President
George W. Bush with a study that increased terrorist chatter meant some kind of
attack may be likely. The report was entitled OSAMA BEN LADEN LIKELY TO ATTACK IN
CONTINENTAL US. That the terrorists may use hijacked civilian airliners. President
Bush thanked them then resumed clearing brush on his ranch in Crawford Texas. CIA
chief George Tenant didn’t think it important enough to even show up. Later in
2003 after the 9-11 attack National Security advisor Condoleeza Rice was quoted
in the press that " No one could predict terrorists would hijack civilian airliners
and fly them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon."




For several years I taught storyboard at the Cal Arts Character Animation Department in Valencia Ca. While there I met a lot of wonderful and talented teachers as well as students. At the center of that wildly exclectic three ring circus was dept chair Frank Terry and Adminstrator Martha Baxton. For untold years Martha was always on hand to clear up adminstrative problems, arbitrate and advise. For the teachers as well, if there was a glitch in the system, just let Martha know and it was fixed. But Martha was much more than a capable adminstrator. She was the bedrock of the Cal Arts Character animation department, the den mother of a bunch of wildly talented people. Ever providing a ready smile, a nosewipe and a shoulder to cry on. She never asked anything for herself, but tragedy has struck her, and now she needs us. I just found out there is going to be a big charity art auction to help Martha Baxton of Cal Arts. on Sept 9th. They need help and donations. For the complete story Here is the link http://baxton.mrkurtnielsen.com/
I can't begin to list all the top animators, filmmakers, producers, studio heads and Academy Award winners who at one time in their Cal Arts years relied upon Martha. Well, now Martha needs to rely upon us. Let's show what we are made of. Please support and donate for Martha's sake.

Birthdays: Guy de Maupassant, Neil Armstrong, film director John Huston, film star and HUAC fink Robert Taylor, Conrad Aiken, Roman Gabriel, Selma Diamond, Patrick Ewing, John Merrick the Elephant Man, Loni Anderson, Bill Scott -the voice of Bullwinkle Moose, John Saxon, Tawney Kitaen, Jonathan Silverman

1924 Arf, Arf ! the first Little Orphan Annie comic strip drawn by Harold Gray.

1926 – Magician Harry Houdini stays in a coffin under water for one hour.

1927- Victrola Record producer Ralph Peer realized there might be a market for “Hillbilly Music” so he set up a makeshift recording studio above a furniture store in Bristol Tennessee and put an ad in the local papers for talent. In this one session he recorded future stars Jimmy Rogers the Singing Brakeman, The Carter Family, The Tennessee Mountaineers and Ernest Pop Stoneman. This session has been called the “ Big Bang of Country Music.”

1953- The film “From Here to Eternity” opened , starring Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift. But the big story was Frank Sinatra’s Oscar winning performance as Maggio that signaled the turnaround in his slumping career.

1955- The Screen Actor’s Guild strikes Hollywood for television residuals. Between 1955 and 2000 SAG will hit the bricks at around seven times. Their president was Walter Pidgeon who had played Dr. Morbius in Forbidden Planet.

1957- American Bandstand featuring the eternally teenage Dick Clark debuts on television.

1962- GOODBYE NORMA JEAN. Marilyn Monroe found nude in bed, dead of barbiturate overdose. She was 36. Whether you think the starlet committed accidental suicide, or was done in by the Mafia, the Kennedys, a Svengali like personal physician, lesbian physical therapist or space aliens is still a mystery. She made a call to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s office in Washington several hours earlier but was rebuffed. Her last call was to her hairdresser Mr. Guilaroff. She left the bulk of her belongings to her drama teacher Lee Strassberg and her funeral was organized by ex-husband Joe Dimaggio. Her cottage suite had a tile over the doorway which read :"All my troubles end Here."

1964 - Actress Anne Bancroft & Comedian Mel Brooks wed.

1966- Caesar’s Palace Hotel & Casino first opened to the public. This was the first of the super-resort casinos, with a total theme park design and three times the space and accommodations of anything yet seen on the Vegas Strip. It’s success ushered in an accelerated era of building for Las Vegas casinos.

1966 –It a moment of youthful indiscretion Beatle John Lennon says his band the Beatles are now more popular than Jesus. This flippant comment provoked a firestorm of nationwide protest among conservative elements in the US and Beatles albums were publically burned in the streets. Lennon apologized and suggested that they were being crucified over the comment. McCartney rush up to the mike to insist that that wasn't the choice of words they preferred.

1984- Welsh actor Richard Burton died of cerebral hemorrhage at 64. With a tumultuous career and sometime marriages to Elizabeth Taylor the hard drinking Burton was the most famous English thespian since Lord Lawrence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud. But unlike them he was never knighted by Queen Elizabeth. As I recall the monarchy objected to their portrayal when Burton starred in a miniseries bio of Winston Churchill.

1986 - It's revealed painter Andrew Wyeth had secretly created 240 drawings &
paintings of his neighbor Helga Testorf, in Chadds Ford, Pa


August 4, 2006
August 4th, 2006

I'm taking a flight tonight to Hong Kong, on the tail of a taiphoon. If my plane comes down in Shangrila like the film Lost Horizon, I'll say hello to Sam Jaffee for you. ( Sam Jaffee was the all-purpose ethnic actor of the 1930s. he played Gunga Din in that title film, mad Czar Peter III in Von Sternbergs Scarlett Empress and in Capras Lost Horizons was the High Llama.
courtesy movieactors.org
Yes, I did read all the stuff about that LaSalle guys jejune comments about animation in his review of Monster House in the San Francisco Examiner. I think the web blogs like Cartoon Brew, The Blackwing Diaries and the Digital Animator covered that ground very nicely. Suffice it to say last year the Motion Picture Academy's Science and Technology division in two shows made the definitive connection between rotoscope and motion capture. So anyone saying this is an amazing new technology never before seen, is engaging in baloney throwing P.R.. Performance Capture, Motion Capture or whatever has it's roots in the device invented by Max Fleischer in 1917. Check out the humans in Gullivers Travels (1939) the FLeischer Superman shorts(1941) and even some of Disney's Snow White and you'll see the same technique, only the type of finished color is different. And I like Grim Natwicks handling of Snow White better than the roto anyway.

Debuting at Siggraph right now are new mo-cap inventions that will make the look of human facial structure even more natural. But that is if you want to just do human figures. Ollie Johnston taught us " Good Animation is not about copying life, it is caricature of life. It is life- plus."
courtesy scifilm.org
History for 8/4/2006
Birthdays: Nicholas Conte'1777-inventor of the modern pencil and the conte'-crayon, Louis Satchmo Armstrong, Richard Belzer, baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, Billy-Bob Thornton.


1693 Come quickly Martin, I am tasting stars! monk Dom Perignon invented the
Method Champagnoise to create champagne.

1821 - 1st edition of Saturday Evening Post -published until 1969.

1855 - John Bartlett publishes his first book of "Familiar Quotations"

1892-" Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks, when he saw
what she had done, gave her father forty-one.", etc. In Fall River Mass, Andrew
and Abbie Borden were found brutally murdered and their daughter Elisabeth was accused.
Ms. Borden pleaded innocence and cited a long history of abuse from her parents
.She was acquitted but the murderer was never found. When Lizzie died peacefully
in 1927 she left $30,000 to the ASPCA.

1918- Young corporal Adolf Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class for bravery.
He was quite proud of it and wore it on his uniform for the rest of his life. The
German officer who recommended Hitler and pinned his medal on was Captain Hugo Gutmann,
a Jew.

1921 The Motion Picture Fund created.

1922- In honor of the passing of Alexander Graham Bell, all 13 million telephones
in the United States observed three minutes of silence.

1925- Conrad Hilton opened the first Hilton Hotel in Dallas Texas.

1942- The Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire-Marjorie Reynolds film the Holiday Inn released.
The film featured Irving Berlin hit songs like White Christmas and Easter Parade
but is hardly ever shown anymore because the Lincoln's Birthday skit featured the
cast in embarrassing minstrel blackface, singing 'bout Massa Lincoln.

1956- Elvis Presley released his version of the Big Mama Mabel Thornton song "
You Ain't Nothin but a Hound Dog".

1964- Rand Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg's first day working at the Pentagon.
Ellsberg would be the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

1984- Actor Johnny Depp opened his own club on the Sunset Strip called the Viper
Room. The original club on that site had once been owned by mobster Bugsy Sigel.


RSS