Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I had had cataract surgery yesterday and I'm recovering at home. Wow! I highly recommend this if you're in need of it. The world is so much more colorful than it appeared only a couple of days ago. I look around and the impression I get is that I'm in Paradise or The Garden of Eden. Everything is so deliciously clean and bright!

Since I'm temporarily stuck in the house and haven't the clarity of vision to read much I amuse myself by going to Google Images and looking up funny faces.

What do you think of these?

Friday, July 18, 2014


I haven't seen the final cut of "Cans Without Labels." Nobody has. There's still some unfinished scenes. What I have seen is a medley of finished scenes with the sound and effects cut in, and they're an absolute stunner. The film is a game changer, a pirate broadside into the hulls of the lumbering dreadnoughts that dominate the animation industry. Fans who supported this film on Kickstarter won't be disappointed.

Unfortunately I hit a computer glitch on my end and won't be able to show the beautiful frame grabs that I promised. It's frustrating, but maybe this is for the best because it may provoke John to make a much better presentation on his own site.

The man continues to evolve. The animation experiments we saw on the recent Kirk Douglas film and on The Simpsons title are now improved and incorporated into character intensive storytelling. No, it's not too wonky or too stretchy...it's juuuuuuuust right. This'll be a much studied film and If you're a cartoonist you'll find yourself drawing compulsively after seeing it.

'Nuff said.

I have eye surgery coming up on Monday morning so I might be out of action for a few days. On the other hand I might blog continuously 'cause I'll have nothing else to do while I'm forced to hang around the house. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


This woman could be Natasha in a live action "Rocky and Bullwinkle." I wish more  people who are lucky enough to have character faces would take acting lessons and create a stage persona for themselves. Hollywood desperately needs funny character actors. So does amateur theatre.

My advice to this woman is, start cultivating an East European accent. Take elocution lessons and learn stage movement.

Here's (above) an interesting figure. The girl is obviously overweight but she uses the weight to make a humorous statement, or she could if she had stage aspirations. I like her aggressive confidence and the contrast made by the light, flimsy dress. I picture her as the nagging wife of a skinny, repressed man with a bow tie...

....someone like Don Knotts. She should take acting lessons. 

I wish some girl who yearns to do physical comedy would learn how to do backward-leaning walks. You can cheat it so your weight looks unsupported even though it is supported. It must be hard, though. If you look close, the only girl who can pull it off in the dance above is the one near the middle with dark shorts.

After she finishes the walk she could stay bent back. Maybe she's at a cocktail party and she walks up to a couple and casually talks to them while in this position.

There's some of that feel in the first minute of Fosse's "Rich Man's Frug." I'll have to revise my earlier lukewarm review of this dance. The first two minutes of this video are great.

This woman's neck is concealed under all the fluff she's wearing, making it appear that she has no neck. It's not a flattering look but it is funny, and funny is bankable if you can be funny on film. You could build a character around a woman who dresses like this. Imagine Madeline Kahn wearing that wig and these clothes.

Wow! This woman is a born witch! For the stage, I mean. This is why we need more amateur theatre. Right now there's no outlet for good faces like this. Of course you'd have to write her part so it's custom-made to fit whatever assets she brings to the table. Amateurs can be great but you can't hand them one-size-fits-all scripts.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I don't take drugs but I see documentaries about it. Like everybody else I wonder why addicts do it. After all, they've heard the same horror stories that I have. Why trade a short-term high for long-term misery? My guess is that most addicts don't expect to be around for the long term...they're depressives who do it as a prelude to suicide.

'Just a guess.

I'm also guessing that some addicts are romantics at heart. They reason that if they're going to check out then they'd like to have a few experiences first. It's the poor man's equivalent of a final vacation. They figure they'll take the inner journey. They want to find out if the hippies and mystics were on to something. Before they cash in the chips they want to take that lateral step outside of the ordinary world and see how things look from there.

I don't know what it's like to do that, but here's my best guess based...I admit...only on books and movies.

At the outset of the high the world is endlessly fascinating. It's full of lights and sounds and frenetic activity. You hear the clatter of heels on the sidewalk, the hum of neon. You become aware of the city's beating heart, expanding and contracting with the passing El trains.

You notice little things that you never noticed before before, like how there's a whole world in a street puddle (above).

Commonplace objects (above) look weird and funny, and you want to laugh.

After a while though, the drug begins to wear off and the streets (above) become less and less friendly. You become more aware of people who are off kilter somehow. They stare. They walk in and out of shadows. They seem to know something you don't.

You find an excuse to go inside (above) to shake off the weirdness, but it doesn't help. You begin to notice how shabby everything looks.

Rooms seem frighteningly empty. It's an emptiness that has weight, that's full of menace,  that's somehow palpably alive.

Whatever room you're in, you take note of where the exits are. It's not a case of being afraid of a police raid, or of violent friends. There's a sense that somehow the room itself might turn against you.

Out on the street you panic. For someone like you there's no food, no job, no real friends, no money of your own.

And that's how you end up walking next to an intended victim on a dark street, waiting for the right moment to strike. Maybe the guy has a family who depends on him. It doesn't matter. The guy has money and you want it, it's as simple as that.

It's interesting that the drug odyssey that began as a last fling before suicide didn't turn out that way. My guess is that addicts are among the least suicidal people you'll ever meet. They don't start out that way, just the opposite, but somewhere along the line they change. No more inner journey, no more romantic farewell to life. Something about the drug supercharges the will to live, no matter how painful and no matter how degraded that life might be.

Interesting, eh?

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Mike just bought a rabbit ray gun (above) and he let me try it out. It's pretty good! It consists of a crazed rabbit's face (looking a little like Ren Hoek) in a bathroom plunger with rabbit ear sights. Not bad, not bad.

Before the rabbit pistol the best ray gun in the toy store (above) was the one from the Mars Attacks movie. My hunch is that the original prototype looked a lot better than the final production model, but it's still a good effort. Mike says there was an earlier model of this that looks better than the one shown here.

I love the idea that the gun is powered by a squirrel's brain. Of course the brain requires a life support system, thus the hose.

For years the best ray guns were water pistols (above) and nerf dart launchers.

Some of them were really elaborate (above).

My guess for the near future of ray gun toys is that they'll combine the best features of the Rabbit Invasion pistol with that of the Mars Attacks pistol. The next pistols may retain the cartoon head but be guided by human brains, maybe the brains of miniature plastic humans. Maybe they'll be powered by a globe full of real flies.

Yikes! I grossed myself out!

Monday, July 07, 2014


That's the old Drury Lane Theatre above. It looks like an expensive place to run and I wouldn't blame readers for thinking that it must have cost a fortune to see a show there. Actually, it didn't. There were seats in every price range. 

Most people don't realize that 19th Century Londoners of all but the very lowest class were frequent theatre goers. It's as if they had TV even before TV was invented. Even then, nobody wanted to stay home at night and darn socks by candle light. Londoners wanted spectacle and drama after dinner, just like we do in 2014 when we turn on the TV.

Frequent trips to the theatre, even for people with minimal income, was made possible by the marvelous English tradition that allowed mixing of the classes (sort of) in theatres. Almost everyone could afford theatre tickets and that's because because the uppermost gallery in the big theatres was set aside for the working poor. 

This gallery wasn't exactly luxurious. People were packed onto backless wooden benches, shoulder to shoulder. Ventilation ranged from poor to non-existent and fist fights were common. In one theatre disruptive fights were broken up by big, burly security guards who would grab the combatants by the scruf of their necks and throw them into a chute which zig-zagged down to the street outside.

Maybe the management could sell the seats so cheap because they had other ways of making money. Roaving vendors sold alcohol and food. They also made money by double booking. More tickets were sold than there were seats, even after people were crammed in. You could be stuck with a ticket you couldn't use, like the couple above. I'm guessing that some smaller theatres even profitted from kickbacks from the prostitutes who plied their wares there.

Another source of revenue was the toys that were sold. These included paper cut-out theatres (above).

Prints, too (above).

I imagine that prints or photos of the performers (above) were also sold. The amazing thing is that so many of these cheap nolveties were actually worth having.

But I digress. There's more to say about the flamboyant theatre goers and something called The OP Riots of 1809. OP is short for "Old Prices." Theatre owners tried to nudge the rowdy lower classes out of the theatres by raising the prices and the cheap seaters rebelled. I pity all parties in disputes like that.

The poor were addicted to theatre. They named their kids after famous actors, and every kid wanted to be an actor someday. For them the thought of doing without was intolerable. On the other hand the poor could be unbelievably vile. The catcalls, baby screams, body odor, fights, vomitting and pranks generated by the lower classes must have been something to see.

Eventually the middle class won. By the beginning of the 20th Century ticket prices were up and only the vaudeville-style music halls carried on some of the old traditions.

Interesting, eh?

Thursday, July 03, 2014


There it is...Old Glory. It's a symbol that I can't be owned by a Pharaoh or a Sun King, that I'm the author of my life's script.

This video (above) is from 1938, three years before America entered WW2. The song is by Irving Berlin. I like the preamble, which you never hear nowadays.

Geez, Red's reading of the Pledge says it all.

Woody wrote this as an answer to God Bless America. I don't think that song really required an answer, but you can't argue with the beautiful result. Woody expands on Berlin's lyrics about the country's natural beauty.

I like the opening title of the recent John Adams miniseries. The composer and art director might have settled for a Ken Burns-type treatment of Revolutionary War paintings and no one would have complained. Instead they wisely chose to illustrate with music and graphics that which is hard to put into words about that time.

Wow! Giametti was a great John Adams!

I like the way the series showed Adams as a tireless worker and blunt idealist who nevertheless had very little personal appeal. Franklin had to request that Congress withdraw Adams from the French court because he was alienating the French.

Poor Adams doesn't write often to his wife back in the States and she misinterprets it as neglect. When they're finally reunited he admits that the true reason for silence was that he failed in every undertaking in Europe. He was tortured by the thought that his life amounted to nothing and that he was an obstacle to his country and not an asset.

The show was produced by HBO who might be expected to emphasize only the negatives about America but the show doesn't come off that way. Even Adams' failures in the film showed greatness of heart. It was easy to imagine that he exerted a benign influence on his peers, even if they didn't realize it at the time.