I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Dave: "All right you Chipmunks! Ready to sing your song?"
Alvin: "I'll say we are!"
Simon: "Yeah!"
Theodore:"Let's sing it now!"
Dave: "Okay, Simon?"
Simon: "Okay!"
Dave: "Okay, Theodore?"
Theodore: "Okay!"
Dave: "Okay, Alvin? Alvin? ALVIN!!!"
Alvin: "OKAY!!!"

Christmas, Christmas time is near,
Time for toys and time for cheer.
We've been good, but we can't last.
Hurry, Christmas, hurry fast!

Want a plane that loops the loop.
Me, I want a hula hoop,
We can hardly stand the wait.
Please, Christmas, don't be late.

Dave: "Okay fellas get ready.
That was very good, Simon."
Simon: "Naturally."
Dave: "Very good Theodore."
Theodore: "Ahhh!"
Dave: "Ah, Alvin, you were a little flat, watch it.
Ah, Alvin. Alvin. ALVIN!!!"
Alvin: "OKAY!!!"

Christmas, Christmas time is near,
Time for toys and time for cheer.
We've been good, but we can't last.
Hurry, Christmas, hurry fast!

Want a plane that loops the loop.
Me, I want a hula hoop,
We can hardly stand the wait.
Please, Christmas, don't be late.

We can hardly stand the wait.
Please, Christmas, don't be late.

Dave: "Very good, boys!"
Alvin: "Lets sing it again!"
Simon: "Yeah, lets sing it again!"
Dave: "No, That's enough, lets not overdo it"
Theodore: "What do you mean overdo it?"
Simon:" We want to sing it again!"
Dave: "Now wait a minute, boys..."
Alvin: "Why can't we sing it again?"
[chipmunk chatter]
Dave: "Alvin, cut that out..
Theodore, just a minute.
Simon will you cut that out?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

My comment posted on Animation Nation about Triplets de Belleville. I loved the movie. All's been said. I offer my particular fascination on the storytelling and such.

Pacing. The movie would test "american" style cutting. Scenes are long by comparison and refreshing to experience. Having worked on so many reels in features I can see where our habits perpetuate a standard of pacing that is quicker and, because it is learned and replicated so well, predictable. This movie takes its time, intentionally languid and focuses on behaviour rather than gags.

Acting. There is no dialog really that had to carry the movie--voice overs at top and tail in English and in between it remained French or muttered pseudo-english. This does make a case for a movie that doesn't rely on exacting story-explaining that gives the word "exposition" a four-letter connotation. And the animation of the character's behaviours are astounding--line quality that harkens back to the Nine old Men style of "Dalmations."

Backgrounds. Amazing. Really pushed fable approach like "Brazil" or "City of Lost Children." There was shot that gets a big laugh and it was a time lapse shot of the character's home.

Story surprises. Foreshadowing is a staple in reel critique palletes. A lot would favor it over-done so as not to risk the audience (and we always choose to speak for this collective who seems to always mirror our own concerns in these discussions) "not getting it." If it raises a question before the "audience" is prepared for it then we MUST foreshadow! Triplets did the opposite of this in spades. They just showed a perplexing moment that made one wonder, "Hmmm, what was that about?" Then several scenes later deliver the "What and why" without fanfare. It surprised a quizzical audience member, me, and it was satisfying.

The story didn't have to be a grand lesson in life or dish out obvious epiphanies. Grandma learned nothing more throughout the story and remained dedicated to her grandson. Champion had no character surges after he gets his first bike. The Triplets had the task of being legend/superheroes and did that task without internal conflict. The dog just got bigger. And, now that I think about it, this is a plot movie that is enjoyable without the requirement of arcs and ham-handed themes.

There's room for this kind of story. I applaud the film makers and I feel proud for them that it was a 2D movie of singular merit. Congratulations all around. It made me want to draw.


(Image copyright Les Armateurs/Production/Vivi Film/France 3 Cinema/ RGP France/Sylvain Chomet)

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Moved houses

It's right up there with death in the family and divorce. Moving all your crap to another house. All of you will know this truism: You don't need most of it. But you carry it with you anyway. Human predilection to having stuff around us that has no discernible worth or merit but is essential to maintaining a sense of well being. Well, until you have to move it all. Then it's a season in a work camp.

Moment of sublime pause. Found an old journal from '93-'94. In it was an entry for the day that my father was in the hospital. I paused amidst the crush of mushed boxes and open crates spilling guts of life flotsam and the constant threat of it all crashing down--I began to read my old scrawl. My penmanship has been less than exemplary most of my life. My dad and I had moments of high stress when he would be so livid with frustration over my inability to organize or make my writing readable by any earthbound intellect. He grew up in a time when writing in a cursive style was a skill that was drilled into each child and viewed as a marker for having a shot at prosperity. In the Third World--long before this was a designation attributed to us on the globe who can't throw our weight around--this meant that you won't have to piece together flattened biscuit tins and downed trees to make a hovel--this could mean extinction or worse not have an office job (a western valuation that put salary earning above discovering and mining your true potential to be in the world. And for that you need good penmanship).

That wasn't what struck me. It wasn't the experience of reading the entries but the wondering, who's writing was I reading? As if space in my brain had made room for more of the immediate present by fading out older items. Impressions or just recounting of events that I would not even remember are there, plain and done in cronology. These aren't the minutiae of pencils and bills, refrigerator mold or traffic snarls. This is my own father lying in the hospital, the ocassion of my visit and stay with him in his hospital room and what I felt; the Northridge earthquake--a recounting of what I saw and heard during and directly afterwards ( there was the distant orchestra of car alarms and houses frantic with voices. "Oscar! Oscar!" a voice called below my apartment-- a voice of a neighbor looking for his cat. Me running down and come face to face with a neighbor I've never seen before, white as a sheet. I offered, "I'm your upstairs neighbor," just to alleviate any more nerves she might be having).

Standing in my basement as I read more I was feeling grateful to that younger version of myself who scrawled on these sketchbook pages. He didn't have time or enough purpose to know what this was for since the events surely will survive in memory forever since, well, nobody forgets a furshlugginer earthquake fer godsakes. I mean, the details. But I did. The calls to my parents house at the outskirts of Burbank and not raising them came first. The improbable call overseas that did get through to tell my wife that there was an earthquake I do remember but I misplaced it's occurrence. Then there was the state of mind and what raced through it as the terror of uncertainty sets in.

I kept a journal it seems of one day no more exceptional than the last and did something mundane like writing it down. Not all of it but just what can be managed. A doubling of recording it seems at the time since the events were so just a moment ago that there really is no value to the exercise. Then time, of that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other variety, happened. One thin molecular level at a time like dust making all of one substance to merge into the haze of the background. Time enough for life to make cycles and bookends in a wandering logic that still finds its opposites and repetitions. The next time I'll have this marvel of time and personal archeology will be when I pull these very same boxes out from this dark basement, have my moments of whether I toss the contents of old files, beads, coins, cards, pens, mystery wire connectors, plugs, rocks, metal ends to machinery yet to be found in other boxes, rugs, magazines...sigh, you know--and have to move them to another place. Hopefully this will be in the far future and that by then I will have managed to learn how to exist with less things because I was just too busy writing memory repositories for my addled future selves.