Sunday, July 16, 2017



OUTLAW: "I'm gonna kill you right now, Lone Ranger!"
SHERIFF: "Oh no you ain't, Cal Steward! Put up your hands!"


KATE: "I wanted to cry but I couldn't. Know why? I didn't feel enough."
KITTY:  "That's better than feeling too much (sob!) me."

Thursday, July 13, 2017


The problem with animation writers, one of the many problems, is that they don't write visually. For them visual writing means lots of chases or excuses for fast cuts. When I think of visual writing I think of schtick.

Schtick has a lot to do with funny acting and funny situations. It's about small things, like the inability to find the sleeve of the jacket you're putting on.  Or maybe your guy drops his wedding ring into the soup of the bully sitting beside him and has to fish it out with his fingers without the bully noticing. Small stuff like that.

Schtick is great, and animation is tailor-made for it, but it takes some skill to integrate it into a larger plot and most writers don't want to be bothered.

In the sketches above (which are hard to interpret...forgive me, I'm too sleepy to redraw them for clarity) I tried to imagine what kind of schtick a man without control over his arms and hands would do. Imagine putting your arms behind your back and letting a friend substitute with his arms. If he was well-intentioned he could try to make his gestures fit what you're saying but it would be off somehow...somehow out of sync and wrong...but funny in a strange way. Now imagine what your own arms would be like if they were naturally independent like that, without the aid of a friend.

 Imagine what it'd be like if your arms had a mind of their own. While you're talking to friends the hand might become bored and squeeze your face, or they might squeeze the girl next to you. There's no telling what mischief they could get into.

 Or maybe it's played more subtle than that. Maybe you underplay it so the audience senses something's out of whack but they can't put their finger on it. Anyway, you see what I mean. Schtick is fun.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


For the life of me I can't understand why an artist would practice yoga. Actually, I can't understand why anyone at all would practice it. It's an awful lot of work and what do you get for it? You get to be rubbery. Since when was being rubbery so special?

What really needs to be explained to me is why artists would be interested in it. Am I the only one who's noticed that yoga poses are ugly? Why would an artist try to cultivate ugliness? We're the people who are supposed to make the world more beautiful!

Honestly, I think yoga goes out of its way to be ugly. Ugly poses occur far too frequently to be caused by random chance.

Even traditional Indian art ignores yoga. The dancing Shiva is beautiful by any standard and the Kama Sutra is informed by something resembling yoga but not dominated by it. I know nothing about Indian history but I'll hazard a guess that yoga came to India fairly recently, maybe only a few centuries ago.

India must have had a charismatic Richard Simmons-type who convinced everybody to dispose of tradition and adopt ugliness instead. Who WAS this malevolent person? Why would he do such a thing? Why did people listen to him?

Yoga not only violates traditional Western ideas of beauty, it flies in the face of an international consensus. Everywhere you go outside of India the people have developed some kind of aesthetic fitness training.

Whether it's hula or karate or tai-chi or hip-hop, the moves are all intended to be beautiful. Only yoga defies the aesthetic standard. OK, that's my take on it. I'm going to get a sandwich.

BTW: DJ, a long time yoga practitioner, wrote a thoughtful comment to this post which is worth reading. He says yoga has roots that are at least 4,500 years old.  Give it a read!

Friday, July 07, 2017


 Who's your favorite sculptor? Rodin?  Carpeaux? Bernini? Maybe the ancient Greek sculptor who did The Winged Victory of Samanthrace. Good choices, all.

 My own all-time favorite is an ancient Roman artist, whose name I don't know. The top two photos in this post are both his. Both show extraordinary men who've suffered greatly but are determined to prevail. I'm reminded of the old saying that the most beautiful thing in all the world is that of a good man struggling with adversity.

Okay, we've seen the pagan Roman view of the good man. Now for contrast here's (above) the Christian view of the good man as shown by Donatello. He's intelligent, self-disciplined, thoughtful and kind. You could ask, "Who has the better outlook, Donatello or the Roman?"

In my view they're both right. The world needs both types.

Monday, July 03, 2017


Happy Fourth of July!!!!! It's a great day, isn't it? I thought I'd celebrate by posting one of my favorite patriotic songs. It's sung by Kate Smith, from a film made in the early forties.

Yikes! I tried to post two more items but Google wouldn't accept them. That's Okay, I'm lucky to have gotten the two that you see above. Have a good holiday, everybody!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2017


Here's some old doodles that I discovered while packing. I posted these before but I figure a second view won't hurt. I wish I'd saved more stuff like this. 

All this is really just an excuse to show hands in motion. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017


A lot of animation fans don't know that Milt Kahl, one of Disney's greatest animators, was actually laid-off by the studio for a number of years. This is how it happened.....

Kahl was a well-known discontent and once every six months or so he'd throw his pencil down, storm into Walt's office and threaten to quit. "None of those idiots can animate! I help them with their scenes and then I have no time for my own. They're just a bunch of bums! I'm in there holding up the whole damn animation department by myself! I don't need this aggravation! I'm outta here! I quit!" Walt, who'd been through this many times, would just look at him sympathetically.

"Ooooh , I get it,"says Milt,  "You don't think I'd do it do you!? Ha! You just watch me! I'm serious this time Walt! I've had it!" Once again, Walt would just stare.

Finally, when Kahl was at the height of his rant, Walt would discretely hit the intercom button and whisper, "Bring me the envelope." His secretary would come in and quietly slip it to him. Meanwhile Milt would still be fulminating: "Those #$&@ lard asses couldn't do a thing without me! This whole stupid studio would crumble without me!" Walt would listen attentively while slowly nudging the envelope across the desk.

"Huh," says Milt,"What's  that!? A bribe!??? Oooh no you don't! You can't buy me off! I mean it, I'm outta here!" More ranting then something green was added to the envelope and it was nudged across the desk again. This ranting and nudging would go on and on until finally Kahl stopped in mid-rant, stared at the envelope, looked inside, then grabbed it and went back to work for another six months. This went on for years and it was a marvelously effective system.

Eventually Walt died and his son-in-law Ron Miller took over the studio. One day Kahl pushed past the secretary and stormed into Miller's office threatening to quit. "I've had it," says Milt, "I'm the only one around here who knows what he's doing! I'm tired of this %@#& hell hole! I quit!!!" Miller was shocked. All he could think to say was something like, "Gee, Milt! I'm sorry you feel that way. We'll all miss you very much!" Do you see what happened? No one told him about the envelope!!!

Kahl was dumbfounded. "You think I'm kidding, don't you? I really mean it, Ron! I'll walk out that door and never come back!" "Yes," said Miller almost tearfully, "I know. It's very sad!" Amazed, Kahl turned his back and stormed out of the office. He was gone for years!

Well, that's the famous "envelope story."

This story was told to me over lunch by John Kimball.  Pictures thanks to Creative Capers, Mike Pelensky and Andreas Deja.