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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Neil Gaiman and Joss Wedon interview

Time.com's Lev Grossman interviews Neil Gaiman and Joss Wedon. They both have movies in the offing, thus the reason for the interview. A casual view into two writers in popular media and what they go through. There was a time when both these gentlemen's fare was fringe, you dared not reveal to your friends that you read fantasy or sci fi--unless you knew they were into it. Neil makes a note about how people will insist that he does "Graphic Novels" just to keep away from the icky monicker, "Comic Books." I got Neil Gaiman's blog on an aggregator (the man works constantly) and I might be checking out Serenity, because of the creepy mystery girl, River (Summer Glau). Check out this link for some viral marketing clips, Dr. Tam sessions.

Best quote from the interview is last one from Neil.

Last time I was at Comicom, there were like 5,000 people there, and the audience was going to try and cut me off with stuff to sign. They had to figure out how to get me off the stage. All of a sudden, I'm getting to the end of the conversation. Dave McKean and I were doing a Mirrormask thing and we're ready to leave the stage. I look up and they have a bodyguard line of 30 Klingons. They're six-foot six and four-feet wide and they have the foreheads and they had linked arms. We were being lead off behind a human wall —a Klingon wall—of Klingon warriors. And I thought, how good does it get?

Time.com Interview with Neil Gaiman and Joss Wedon.
Neil Gaiman's Journal

Link to Session 416, the first excerpt, of the Dr. Tam Sessions.
Link to Session 416, second excerpt, of the Dr. Tam Sessions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rockridge Sunday

A quiet Sunday. Rockridge had a street fair, sidewalk sale, food and drinks by the Bart Station (my daughter danced in a recital of sorts for her dance class studio. Parent promptly videos same). A band rocked out for the families and young adults. Pork Sandwich, oysters, wine, cheeses...just a relaxing day. Oh, let's not forget the coffee. No car stolen today. Ahhhh...

Intended to draw all day but never got to it. I took pictures of the sketchbook instead. After the rigmarole of reclaiming my stolen car I bought my son a used car for his eighteenth birthday. I'm not loaded, I got him one that gets him from here to there. Coudn't wait to spring it on him. We did so yesterday. Surprise!

I know that this post is rather self-indulgent, but I've had a time with the car and I could talk about writing for feature animation and writing for yourself, or drawing professionally and drawing for yourself, but such rants are too leaden for me at the moment. I've got them burning a hole in my tirade pocket. It'll still be there next week. I hope you all had a nice weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Stolen Car found. Not so fast, car owner. Welcome to the Stolen Car Economy

Where to recover your stolen car if found by Oakland P.D. People who tell me their stolen car stories in the Bay Area all remember this building, exclaiming as if haunted, "That's the place!"

We got the call at 3 a.m. The Oakland P.D. calling this early morning of Saturday, September 17, four days after it was stolen, jolting us awake and delivering the matters of fact: The car had been recovered and we need to get a release form from Piedmont P.D. then bring it to O.P.D. What? Why are they calling at this hour of the night? What follows will be an indoctrination into a not-so-hidden culture of indifference in a system that embraces the crime and fines the victims.

Around 9 a.m. I called Oakland P.D. to confirm that the car was recovered. "Just show up with your driver's license and we'll sign the car release to you." I double checked with Piedmont P.D. to make sure that they had to sign a release as well. Yup, they did. So, my son and I got two releases from two police departments.

The car had been towed to a car lot east of the Oakland airport. We drove out toward the airport and turned left to, well...parts of Oakland you'd not go unless you've had a car stolen and need to reclaim it--there to find "A & B Auto."

The wire fences, barbed at the tops, shows you that this building was designed when it had a different neighborhood than what it now has. Once inside the unlikely stone deco facade I paid $126 for towing and the one night the car spent in this car lot. "They'll drive the car out to you." I wait outside this Mad Max-like scenario and peered through the wire gate. There were six other people ahead of me. One lady discloses to another, "Mine was stolen last weekend." The other chimed, "I had mine stolen just a few days ago, " like it was a Mall trip and they had defective shoes in common. Another gentleman was off on a tirade about the whole system of car jacking and recovery. I tried not to listen. A ricketty car rolls out from within and the passengers walk out with stuff, presumably from their respective stolen vehicles. None look at all happy. The gentleman who drove them approaches us and I show him my paper work but he stops me, "We'll bring your car out to you." I already spent the better part of the morning on this quest and it's already one thirty.

Peer down to where the lines of perspective converge, right around that corner is where the cars are, just out of view.

Now this was also the Joe Ranft life celebration back at work and the story artists have an offering in the program we've rehearsed--that means that I've got to be there before the ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. I'm running out of time. Another car with a different guy rides out and while still in the car he asks me, "'You the Honda?" I said, yes. "I can't drive it out. They stole the battery." Great. He tells me that I should bring him a battery and I can drive the car out. I don't have one on me, obviously. I look at him wondering if he's expecting that I do. If I leave the car there another day I'll get charged for the day's stay. Where can I get a battery? "Pick and Pull, right around the corner."

The "Pick and Pull" is a car lot as well but their commerce is about selling what you find useful in the grand array of derelicts they have. You find it, pull it out of the car and a guy pokes his head through a window to look at your harvest and prices it, guestimate style. I asked for batteries. "Over there, " the guy taking admission ($2 per head) points to nearby wall with a makeshift shelf that held all manner of batteries. No guarantees any of them work. You can return them for store credit if they don't. I didn't even know what size battery I should get. I tried to get some advice from the locals but none of them were in an advising mood. I picked one and brought it back to A&B.

Once back (you have to go inside the offices again so they can radio in for someone to drive out to get you) I was finally driven inside. It was quite a sight. Huge covered car lots, with cars in all manner of disrepair and abuse, from all years and decades it seems. I asked how many cars they have in there. "Around four thousand maybe." I wonder if anyone's counting.

The contents of the glove box are all over the floor. The parking lights smashed in. Just for kicks apparently.

"There's your car." The Accord seemed to be in good shape from the outside. I peer in and I see that they tore out the wires under the steering column and dug out the ignition, like the hot wire jobs one sees in movies. We attached the battery and the electrical system kicked in. The car still won't turn over. "You're not going to be able to fix that here." Great. Now I'm almost out of time. I have to run out of here without the car.

"I have a friend who can help," this man informs me. I take this option and have the car towed to this guy's friend's place. $40 to move the car and $250 to fix the ignition and broken park lights--make it run. Made a decision under stress about matters I know little about. More stress. I had to leave.

While at the ceremony I start to worry if I didn't just open myself up yet to another scam. Likely, eh? But I caught a break. This man who said he'd take care of it seems to actually be doing the right thing. Next time I see him I ask about the cars inside those lots where my car was, were they all stolen cars? "Most of them."

"I see around fifty cars towed in there daily. Some days more. Some cars are found torn apart. Some burned. Some are found with gas cans in the trunk. They got scared off before they torched it." I was feeling strangely lucky about my car's fate. "If they want your car there's nothing you can do to stop them."

Just one of the covered lots full of stolen cars. These seem to be in much better shape than the others out in the open. Figure $31/day and do the math.

Oakland seems to deal with the results of this crime as a matter of course. The whole stolen car industry surrounding A&B Auto is a testament to how steady this feeding cycle is. With that kind of commerce you can surmise that, at least around this area, no one wants this interdependency to decline soon.

My advice? Don't own an early 90's model Honda Accord. They are likely easy to steal and very attractive to people who do. There might be a factor in just how many of these Hondas are out there, depreciated but still running. Affordable in their older age and reliable. The mechanic says that in the short morning he's had the car sitting in his secure driveway before my first visit he's had offers to buy it from him.

Now, I'm thinking maybe I should keep the darned thing.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

E-Ville Press signing at Super 7

The brotherhood of E-Ville Press will be at Super7 in San Francisco for a group signing and gathering from 5-7pm on October 1. They've got all their respective books there and not afraid to deface them with their signatures on request. The usual gathering of folks who've been part of our independent spirit of self-publishing here in the Bay Area will be there to celebrate with our pals. They can sign books and do doodles and headstands! Just follow the loud hollering voice that will likely be Mark Andrews' and you'll know you're in the right place.

Super 7 can be found here, just around lovely Japantown. See you all there!

E-Ville Press blog

Friday, September 16, 2005

Joann Sfar

(This needed it's own post all it's own. This is technically a re-post but it's only been a day) Joann Sfar is a world renowned author/illustrator who has a hit in our shores, "Petit Vampire" and more recently the first volume of "The Rabbi's Cat." He is going to be in the U.S. to do a signing tour this coming week. All east coast though. Here's the Random house page of his itinerary.

Frolific guy to say the least, just take a look at this page of what he's been up to. I was in the middle of enjoying the trip of reading "The Rabbi's Cat" when I get email from him last week (pre-car jack) introducing himself. What's this? He's emailing me? I was going to write him at some point and rave about his work! Anyway, a flurry of emails later and we're canoodling like schoolboy pals in a new playground. What can I tell you about him? He works like a fiend till 3 a.m. and consequently sleep deprived; very excitable and enthusiasm unbound, full of stories; his English is far better than my French will ever be (which is at zero), likes coffee, and somehow finds time to write me back. He commiserates about the car but really he's bolted through the starting gate about other stuff already--this guys's got no slow button, I tells ya. Ain't the internet grand?


Thanks to all who've written and sent me their links to their sites. I'm unable to update links and if I out and out forget please don't get mad at short attention span ol' me. Write me again and I'll give another go.

Speaking of other responsibilities and other mishaps: The day before the car incident my old iMac Special edition (had it for five years) went on the fritz (again) and can't connect to the internet. All the mail I've got in there I've no direct way to access and reply to(they've piled up, I know). Using my Powerbook now at home. So, if you've requested an answer to queries about where to get Paper Biscuit books you are also enjoined not to hurl philosophical rocks at me. Technical difficulties, 'is all. Instead please check out that button on the side bar "Where to buy Paper Biscuit" for getting books.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Friends checking in

Nothing like a little car theft to bring friends together, eh? Thanks to all who posted their sympathies for my stolen car and also some of their stolen car stories. It helps me mellow out about it. I get the impression that this happens a lot everywhere. Daring people who steal cars, must be a romantic notion to being a car thief. And a subset of some pedestrian logic that insurance will replace it all anyway and that they're not really harming anyone. Reminds me of some tagger saying that vandalizing private and public buildings is his way of creating jobs--the cleaning crew who will be paid to scrub his name off. That's one capillary of the independent economy I'm not willing to subsidize.

Philip Hunt of Studio AKA sent me the link to the Uk Guardian article of the recent Miyazaki interview. If you haven't already read it then look here. I'd love to grow up to be master Miyazaki, if I had one wish it would be that. I should start a small studio somewhere in Asia and give it a go, don't you think? Philip also wanted to help me get through my loss by offering a replacement. Nice guy. "Best wishes – and sorry to hear about the car - The attached automobile is currently for sale in Rome – if you’re interested!!


UPDATE. Philip was not done being helpful (thought I did a good job of making him look like a used car salesman. This certainly will help that along. Heh) and sent me these. I thought I loved the Japanese tiny cars but apparently Italy can give them a run for their money.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Theft darkens my door

I had my old '90 Honda Accord stolen in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It was parked right by the curb in front of my front door last we saw it, around 9:30 p.m. It was locked but had no disabling system--it used to have one years ago but now it didn't work--that might have offered some form of deterrent.

This is a very safe city but being in the middle of Oakland crimes like these will visit the streets of Piedmont. The Piedmont cop taking down our report was chiding me for my pessimism, "We must stay positive." I was not being negative, just accepting of realities--I was rather good natured about the whole thing really. The worst of it is that it's made my wife feel unsafe in her house, even though it occurred outside of it. I start to wonder if the criminal mind returns to where success was had and visits our street again. Do they know what they had put my family through? Would they appreciate the same done to them?

We are all safe. Disappointed and annoyed no end.